The overwhelming interest in this content has moved a traditionally private game into the realm of performativity and the public. Good Morning Me! Combating anxiety in my morning routine At 4am I feel the brisk morning air awaken my starved subconsciousness. As I spring from the bed to carefully make the sheets a small trick I learned to cool my ever present, but totally manageable anxiety I hear my partner groan from exhaustion. But first, I go to the kitchen to decide whether to have a sugar free breakfast did you know? I quit sugar!
Finding it too hard to decide by myself, I flip a coin, a simple yet awesome way to activate my decision-making muscle. My jog through the forest surrounding my isolated bush bungalow begins. Breathing in the strong smell of eucalyptus, I count myself fortunate that my life has been carefully sculpted by a team of professionals to be independent from all the noise and pressure that comes with modern living.
I moved out here after the stress of work overwhelmed me and I decided seclusion was more suited for my job of editing an online wellness journal,. And thank GOD I did! A run-in with a bush turkey has me questioning how far south cassowaries can actually be found, so I pause my jog to take a casual walk or, as the French call it, a flaneur. This neat little action helps me to live entirely in the moment, away from the stresses of the past or future.
As planned, my partner will have left for their job by the time I get back. Life naturals! How wonderful it must be to be genetically unable to feel anxiety! Besides, they still eat sugar. As I begin my walk back I feel a little guilty for these thoughts. To combat this, I climb a tree and watch the world go by below me for a while. Nothing is happening on the dirt track below, but I am now literally and figuratively above all my worries. This feels right to me.
This works. I feel okay in this moment. I am okay. All of these mentioned methods of relaxation have been lifted straight from self-help books, lovingly provided to you here in the same voice they were imparted with. Reflections like these are the result of a twenty first century answer to a long-suffered condition—anxiety. Today we live in a world where the public eye is wider—with more eye shadow, eyeliner and foundation than ever before.
We love to look at ourselves, both collectively and individually. So much so that this introspection has become an industry in and of itself. The bookshelves, forums, channels and cinemas are now brimming with inspiration for those who require direction in this chaos, filled with advice for every hypochondriac, depressive, selfdoubter and compulsive worrier. And in this seemingly chaotic echo chamber full of unique voices clambering to give an opinion on mental health, anxiety. Many experts agree that anxiety is a serious mental health issue and not something to be ashamed of, with professional help and Medicare rebates widely available for those tackling mental health issues.
Anxiety can have any number of causes: genetic, traumatic, biological or even just an extended look at the global political climate. Unfortunately, this is not the case and an oversaturation of advice on a singular topic, particularly one that inspires indecision and panic, can be more confusing than helpful. There is an unfortunate disconnect between the reality of managing anxiety and the image that the most popular of these books present.
But first, while I have many problems with self-help books relating. Moreover, these books are often well researched, engagingly written and of course—made by people with anxiety, for people with anxiety. To demonstrate these problems, allow me, a young man who effectively manages anxiety on a strictly no strings attached basis, to give you my perspective. In the preface, Wilson explains that this is an animal that has become more beautiful with our under standing of it; it is intelligent and motivated by million neurons to communicate and connect with humans.
Now, as poetic as this is towards. Now, to be fair, the ocean can be a very secluded place and there are not many sea creatures that could easily represent. This particular creature I feel represents anxiety far better, in that it spends its entire life chasing an unreachable bright light that it uses only to feed itself. As an added bonus it is also a hideous creature and, appropriately, more difficult to romanticise. And romanticisation is certainly the name of the game when it comes to the image presented by Wilson and her self-help book writing cohort: the gurus, the meditation experts and the people who tell you that you will never feel your shoulders unclench again without a monthly massage.
As explained in the opening, her attitude towards anxiety is heavily rooted in remaining proactive against its advances. My anxiety often manifests as a crippling fear and acts as a type of tunnel vision dictating my behaviour, and there are many anxiety sufferers whose condition is worse than my own. If your work is less morning television and more poorly-paid retail or hospitality, showing up may not be all that simple.
Wilson quotes F. Because for many anxiety sufferers, relating to someone whose anxiety is consistently framed in the context of a highly successful life can be difficult. When I was eighteen I decided that the best use of my dinner plate sized hands would be to take Year 12 Music Performance with contemporary piano. While studying this subject there remained an unescapable and building pressure to achieve. I was constantly on edge but unable to acknowledge the problem, so my unease only grew until it began to seep into other parts of my life.
I stopped trying to do well on. I made destructive life choices in my diet, relationships and lifestyle. I did anything to avoid facing reality and those anxious thoughts. Of course, this was all particularly unconducive to playing the piano. My hands shook more than an arthritic nonagenarian who plays the tambourine at the mere thought of touching the keys, so I actively avoided practicing.
To say that I choked when it finally came time to. While others might have used the threat of failure as a positive reinforcement to know their performance pieces backwards, my anxiety caused me to seize up and hide from them. And, as any sufferer will tell you, once. And therein lies the rub, unfortunately. So while my opening anecdote of a would-be Wilson-believer may seem unrealistic and even ridiculous to some, the danger in first, we make the beast beautiful is that it presents these techniques in a way where a person with strong anxiety could easily see them as necessary to living a healthy life.
The diet required to live a de-stressed life. Not all of us can be the kind of people who are at any given point in time running in slow motion across a beach with digitally enhanced hair and a Border Collie. Anxiety is not a moderate condition and it works by presenting extremes and building up fears around them.
It follows that restructuring your life as you know it on the word of a singular writer is going to be about as effective as flash dieting. If you are an intense person, you may find catering to every single one of your extreme fears and becoming a sugar free,. We all need all the help and support we can get, whether that comes from friends, family, medical professionals or the occasional self-help book. But, ultimately, while anyone can tell you the best ways to cope with anxiety, only you get to decide how to live with it.
For those who struggle with anxiety and mental health, in the event that you believe you are losing the battle professional help is widely available. Free counselling is available for those up to the age of 25 thorough headspace. Medicare rebates are available for appointments with certain psychologists if you discuss your symptoms with your GP and Beyond Blue have professionals you can talk to at any time, any day, on 22 Whoever might perch on this velveteen couch never ate pizza off a grease-soaked paper plate, alone in their underwear at 1 am. In the Urban Collection bookshelf, several uncracked guides to Danish architecture and a stack of foreign journals keep their canny distance from framed photographs in black and white.
And note the smug restraint of those two shelves, empty save for a few ceramics and a thick-skinned plant. The balance of iconic rock to soul to classic jazz, seasoned by a few obscurities, may have been calibrated by a physicist. The same guy, perhaps, who stocked the pantry with its photogenic jars.
The pillowcases free of snot and tear stains where no one grieves or fucks or dreams too long. And in the corner where the tempered morning gleams, a well-appointed desk. More often than not, cars fly past it, their drivers barely throwing a glance in its direction.
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No matter. Pedal to the metal, regardless. The driver—no older than twenty-two—has his window rolled down. He leans his entire upper body out of the car, smiling broadly at the local guard standing nearby. I stare in shock at the local guard as he smiles back at the driver, offer. This is definitely not Australia. From September to May, Amioun loses a chunk of its young residents to international work or study. I am excited to see the streets that my parents speak so fondly of, and the people that fill their childhood stories.
At a weekend wedding held in neighbouring Chekka, the bride steps out of a s Rolls Royce to a backdrop of fireworks specifically for the occasion. In the opulent reception hall, a chandelier with hundreds of glimmering pieces dangles above the dance floor. Introduced to an elderly relative, I compliment her on her dress. She laughs and leans in close. A random house. And in this case, that sounds like a good thing. Until recently, that single traffic light served more as a marker of progress than of actual order. These days, two men are positioned on either side of the road at the intersection that it serves— local guards.
They are responsible for manually noting down number plates and issuing fines of roughly , lire AUD to unruly drivers, those not accustomed to being held accountable to the rules of the road. These men are the human equivalent of a speed camera A local tells me that there are two reasons why these men will deliberately look the other way. The first: everyone knows everyone. That guy who just passed the red doing 30 over the speed limit? Well, his mother cuts your hair. And the woman texting while missing the green?
She lives next door. Who wants to be the guy that fines his own neighbour? The second reason: because everyone knows everyone, they also know where everyone lives. And when the average income is as low as it is here. Translation: move away from trouble and sing to it. Basically, why risk it?
The first correctly states that. Amioun is the capital of the Koura district, which includes 52 municipalities and is located roughly 73 km from Beirut. It is a fortified town dating back to before the second millennium BC, and its highest elevation point can be reached at metres. Amioun is home to two major political parties the Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party and the Lebanese Communist Party , eleven Eastern Orthodox churches of which St George el Dahleez is the biggest , three public schools and two private schools.
It is said that the battle was fought after Byzantine troops destroyed a monastery sheltering Maronite monks, and effectively ignited war. A Google image search also returns little information. This month, banners for the upcoming concert adorn the streets, billowing back and forth against sandstone buildings older than my grandparents. The locals are counting down the days, and every passing greeting is finished with a reminder that you will see one another at the event. In complete juxtaposition, the image search also returns pictures of homes that look more like they belong on the streets of Beverly Hills or Miami rather than in the small town of Amioun: triple-storey facades, infinity pools overlooking the distant Mediterranean, garages filled with luxury cars, and gardens so large that they require daily maintenance.
Mansion after mansion has started to pop up over the past decade, with each new construction looking to rival the one prior. Loyalty is big in Lebanon but competition is bigger. None of the locals seem to know who this one belongs to. Mansions are the norm now, and with money pouring in from the Lebanese men and women working tax-free in places in the Gulf, like Saudi Arabia, Amioun is figuratively dripping in oil. Locals here attempt to explain to me how ridiculous the mansion rising They drive me past two mansions sitting side by side.
Both are made of sandstone and each rise at least 15 metres into the sky. They look more like high-rise apartment blocks than single homes. The mansions belong to two brothers. The story goes that the first brother, the richest of them, built the first mansion.
So he simply gifted it to his brother and built another one next door. Thus, two mansions side by side.
Surprisingly, not an unusual sight in Amioun anymore. Nor is it unusual for siblings to be living in such close proximity. I mean close as in a second walk. For example: in the early s, a husband and wife lived in a one-room stone house atop a small hill in the old town centre. They had eight children: four girls and four boys. That brother had his. When the children grew, one of them married and built a house 10 metres away from the original two rooms. Another of the children moved into the building across the street, no more than five metres away.
Those children raised their own children and the families and houses continued to expand, five metres. Before long, one family was occupying an entire street. A mother could wake up in the morning, step out onto her balcony and wave to her daughter standing on the balcony across the street. Children were raised with two parents but dozens of guardians, all somehow related to them. In , houses remain with the same families that built them, albeit occupied by new members.
In , that first one-bedroom stone house finally closed its doors. Her bright blue window shutters remain untouched but she lives on through her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren—me being one of them. She, like those around her, also lives on through Amioun, where she lived and died within a five km area. And the cemetery that my great-grandmother.
A hundred metres from those blue shutters that she opened every morning and shut every night. It was in this vicinity that she— and those around her—heard announcements and welcomed births, avoided accidents and mourned deaths. It was where she saw the streets being torn apart as civil war ravaged the land, and as soldiers pillaged through homeby-home stealing every last item, right down to family photographs.
Without them, many of the townspeople here are unable to recollect their own faces as children. At night, when the sun has long set and mosquitoes fill the air, a glance down the winding cobblestone streets of Amioun reveals the town elderly all perched on their respective verandahs and balconies. In the summer, many of their children who have moved abroad return on vacation with their own families. They nod or smile at the quiet passers-by, few and far between at night. They seem content with the simple life, where water only trickles from old showerheads and where electricity cuts like clockwork three times a day.
Nowadays, many homes and venues have installed backup generators. But plenty have not. And, unlike big city dwellers who would likely resort to looting,. If the power outages bother them, you would never know. If the heat bothers them, you would never know. The locals are strong and resilient.
Of course washing detergent is not a revolutionary item here. Like I said, Lebanon is a country of juxtapositions. In one home, the electricity will cut for hours each day, the water will trickle without pressure and the heat will be unbearable. The car parked out the front will be older than the residents, hit more times than you can count and most likely on its last bar of petrol.
But metres down the street, a husband and wife will sit in their mansion, dressed in Versace pyjamas as their air conditioner cools one of their ten bedrooms, and as one of their housemaids—usually, who has been flown in from Ethiopia—practically raises their children and runs the house, right down to the changing of toilet paper rolls. The car will not be parked out the front. Instead, a man also employed by the family will drive it through iron security gates and park it in one of many secured garage spaces.
It will be a white Porsche or a black Range Rover and the petrol will never hover below the halfway mark. Make no mistake; Lebanon is certainly making advancements for a country that has spent decades embroiled in. But the process remains slow and tedious. From an outside view, one would be excused for accusing the Lebanese youth of lacking real work ethic. Usually, the teens here don't hold part-time jobs. Instead, they finish high school, then finish university, then often complete a Masters degree abroad and then they start working.
Their parents fund them for this entire period, saving and saving to pay hefty upfront education and housing fees, or otherwise rely on scholarship funding. With 1-in Lebanese people studying to become a doctor, you can imagine how high the competition for these scholarship places is. And that comes with a lot of pressure to make something of yourself. The mentality is an old one and only slowly beginning to change.
Well, they do what most teens do. They drink and they smoke and they party. They spend. They hike up mountains to thousand-yearold monasteries and then rush down to dive into the freshwater rivers below. They hunt for birds in the winter and wild boar in the summer. They date one another, break up with one another and then date again. At Loco Beach resort where the entry fee sits at 10, LBP, a blonde couple with pink sunburnt skin sits by the poolside.
I tell him that this is unfair and that Lebanon has so much to offer. He smiles at me then shrugs, ending our conversation by expertly diving into the pool. I sit and I listen as the locals around me expertly alternate between speaking Arabic, English and French to one another. And smoke. And party. The part of them that needs Amioun.
Earlier this year, Emma Watson waltzed down a massive marble staircase and onto big screens all around the globe. Beauty and The Beast is the highest grossing film of so far, outranking Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and numerous Marvel productions, as well as becoming one of the highest grossing films in history. Yet the movie itself is very much like its predecessor—at times it follows the classic animated movie shot for shot.
So why did so many people still go to see this film on the big screen? Hollywood is an industry built on retelling stories, adapting popular books into motion pictures. Disney is perhaps the biggest contributor to these retellings. We also see satirical mash-ups of different fairy tales like Into the Woods, which was very successful when it came out in But not all of these remakes are considered good cinema; many of these films have been criticised for their unoriginality.
If originality is a synonym for quality, a sentiment that many critics and viewers seem to share, why do we go and see the same stories again and again? Understanding why fairy tales are so timeless helps us understand why we keep going back to see the same stories unfold on film. The oral tradition, surely, must get a lot of the credit. Back when stories were not written down, storytelling was a very different craft—medieval bards had to learn everything by heart. Bards were highly esteemed in Ireland and Wales because of their ability to memorise information.
In fact, their services progressed the act of storytelling: monasteries employed bards as genealogists and historians, bards were the only reliable sources of news, and were pretty much depended upon to store information such as stories and songs. Bards were respected, they were considered truthful and trustworthy, so they also had a fair bit of influence. But because a person can only learn so many tales, the same stories must have been repeated over and over. The younger generations would learn to tell those stories, passing them on from parent to child, until the Grimms came along with a notebook and some ink.
The characters have little interior life; their motives are clear and obvious … The tale is far more interested in what happens to them, or in what they make happen, than in their individuality. It is widely known that Disney softened up a lot of fairy tales before they made it onto the screen—for example Ariel marries Eric in the film, whereas the prince from the original tale ends up with another woman while the little mermaid dies.
The suppressed darker side of fairy tales is of constant fascination to academics. In the original story, Snow White is only seven years old when the Queen orders the huntsman to kill her, in Sleeping Beauty the prince rapes her as she sleeps and the wolf feeds Little Red Riding Hood the liver, heart or kidney of her grandmother—depending which version you read. And while the original fairy tales are fascinating, I doubt that they are something we want to return to. We want fairy tales just far enough out of reach to still be dreamlike, but just familiar enough to relate to.
There may be more severe losses,. Fairy tales have become idealistic. There are other reasons why redoing a film makes a lot of sense: films have been around for over a century, and during that time our society has changed in a number of ways. One example is the huge number of high-school-based Cinderella adaptations. Cinderella is undoubtedly a classic—we love a rags-toriches story, a good romance, a happy ending. But it is hard to. Many film companies seem to focus only on the commercial, and not at all on the cultural, aspect of making films.
Romantic comedies are often criticised for this, as rom-com after romcom follows the very same outline, to the point where the audience can pretty much predict every move. The films then become void of new material; nothing that can shock the audience, or prompt rethinking and challenge perspectives. While there is undeniably a large audience that appreciates.
Originality can seem scarce in the midst of all this. We all know that the hero is going to win in the end, what we want to know is how. Does originality then lie in the subtle details rather than in the major elements of a story? Music is definitely an art form where listeners will return to the same songs over and over. While the market is flooded with music that seems to disappear within weeks, good artists will create music that fans will listen to perhaps for the rest of their lives. A good song will be covered again and again, because a musician will not be able to resist taking on a song they love.
Another art form that relies on repetition of performance is theatre, which by its nature must be rehashed again and again. Not only does the cast have to perform their show countless times, but different companies are always doing the same classic plays. There are at least fifty different films available of Hamlet, so we can only imagine how many times the play has been performed by different actors and different directors.
And directors bring their own personal interpretation to the play even more drastically than the actors do. When the new Wonder Woman movie came out midway through this year it was met with excitement—finally,. The commercial and popular success of the film show that director Patty Jenkins has given Diana Prince a new life by showing her as a complex and vulnerable, but still fierce, woman. With their importance to contemporary storytelling, directors have in many ways replaced the bard of old.
If we look back to before the printing press and before bookbinding, the survival of stories was totally reliant on retellings. No one knew where the stories came from, who had made them up, or how long they had been around; there was no ownership and no copyright the way there is now. Songs and poems were handed down from bard to bard in a long oral tradition. Travelling bards spread news, going from city to city. It is easy to imagine him arriving at the inn late one night, exchanging a performance of stories for food and lodgings.
Stories of myths or legends, of battles and brave feats, they grew and changed depending on who was telling them—the art that mattered back then was not the writing of the story, but the telling of it. This is exactly how movie directors work: they are visionaries, not writers. When Avatar came out a lot of people criticised it for having a weak story—it was too easy, basically just another Pocahontas story. The unobtainable material that was so important to the humans was actually called unobtanium.
I, however, loved it. I thought it was beautiful, the world created in the film was so wondrous that I was more interested in watching the ground light up as feet ran over it than in the actual story. To me, Avatar was a film where the mastery lay in the details of the world—that was the novelty, not the plotline.
The possibilities for a story to be tweaked and twisted are endless, and they can be as surprising as an unknown story. And this is why I, despite having seen the animated movie and read at least five different versions of The Beauty and the Beast, eagerly awaited the release of the new film earlier this year. It is not about not knowing what story will be told, but rather how it will be told this time.
She is currently working towards a PhD in Anthropology at the University of Melbourne with a focus on parkour, action research, embodied cognition, and social poetics. She is particularly interested in female empowerment and feminist punk. Social change is most effectively achieved through active engagement. Too often attempts to change behaviours in society are derailed by ineffective dialogue. The concept of activism requires its members to be active but this aspect appears to have been lost on many claiming to want to challenge the status quo.
As a PhD student interested in exploring the idea of using parkour as an agent of change I was particularly interested in sharing ideas with Nicole. However, our discussion evolved into exploring the importance of reflexivity and how fear can be a great motivator. Other points of interest that arose included the Jesuit tradition of the Daily Reflection and how it has been incorporated into education systems, the role of sport as a way into self-reflection, and how we can bring ideas into direct problem-solving.
I was looking at the outline of the project mission, which is incredibly ambitious. Did you found the Project? Nicole: Yeah, it was me and a good friend, her name is Aubrey. In our sophomore year of college, we were feeling a little lost in the space that is Loyola College. So it was about creating a space that would reach the goals that we saw in feminism, the ones we wanted to reach. A: Those were different from the other groups how? N: You said it yourself: our mission is ambitious. N: It was more about action, rather than discussion. And granted, discussion is important.
It just seemed more like class than anything. A: I wonder if those things seem to be contributing to this skewed idea of what feminism is these days, instead of feminism in practice. N: Right. N: Kind of. And sure— but then the conversation would stop after that. It would end on that note. And Aubrey and I would leave, being like, what are we going to do about it? That was something that we found lacking. How do we actually enact the change we want to see, in the things that really trouble us and other women in our world. A: And this was in ? N: Yes, I guess so.
It took a year to write the constitution, get approved funding. So, it was a place for men to speak with each other and question traditional masculinity. It was amazing. N: Absolutely. And I think in all those men I had seen such growth and change in a span of a few weeks. They were talking about their behaviour, their attitude. A: Which really is our central discussion point here—the importance of self-reflection. N: Yes. Seeing the men do that as well was inspiring. Do you talk with each other? N: We do talk, we run events together sometimes.
The truth is not a lot of men seem to want to do that. And I get that. A: It sounds like something that would be useful in most universities, really. For men and women. Do you have any idea of starting something like that here in Melbourne? N: Yeah, I want to. Having the structure, the topics to cover each week—and over time, you get comfortable with people, comfortable enough to discuss any issue, really. You learn more once you interact with someone.
A: Absolutely. How have you found the transition to Australia in that sense? I think in a university setting especially, it has to be okay to talk about issues from different perspectives. And self-reflection! I mean, there are so many little things. Back home I surrounded myself with people who were very progressive, so hearing someone call someone else a pussy is just… I mean, I forgot that you can equate weakness with womanhood.
I forgot that was a possibility. I would like to create a space in the larger university community where we can discuss all these things. A: Casual prejudice is really ingrained here. Like it has no impact or meaning. And, I mean, the United States has its problems… A: [Laughter] But at least the conversation is starting to happen there. I know I want to do something.
The same issue arises here as it did in Loyola, though. The people who are going to join in those discussions are already people who are likeminded. And to make things happen. A: Right. Not just sitting around confirming your beliefs, but turning that into action.
It would be sitting down with a group of men who really believe catcalling is fine, and asking them to delve into that. Without it becoming a self-help group. Or a therapy session. The only way I think it could happen is if it is a required class for people coming through the university. A: That could work. It could be an interesting thing to start, to see where it goes. Where anyone present can explore something, without all the value judgement.
My favourite event we put on was about homelessness. Particularly for women of colour, the numbers are disproportionate. Particularly sanitary items. We collected everything—bags, clothes, tampons, whatever. And we talked about why women experience homelessness differently. It approached feminism through different causes.
A: That actually sounds like a great way to move the conversation forward. It continues to be interesting and relevant. N: Right, the fact we have to keep talking about the same things … I think people perceive feminism as one track. Like, I want equal pay for all women, because it will affect me.
I think people were able to digest some of those things better, we offered more than the hot topics. A: I wanted to ask you about how you think action can impact systems and structure. Here, possibly not so much. A: So, maybe we need to identify practical things we can use, here? How can we identify things that will speak to larger groups of people? N: Right! I think self-reflection is the number one way to bring about change. No one is perfect. Every day you reflect on something that happened today, and your response—and how you might have responded differently.
A: I really like that. What do you really believe, and what do you want to change? You have to be reflexive about it, and have another conversation. And make it a weekly practice of being better. Maybe physicality is the way in? Is there a practice which is the. N: I wish! I loved playing sport.
I played softball, basketball, volleyball, soccer. I did them all. I really pushed myself to practice. Maybe sport is the way in. A: I love that about physical practice. It should be a big part of our education system. Getting physical. N: So maybe we should start a team, get women happy showing off their strength. Do you read Rupi Kaur? A: I have, yes. A: I love that. I want to stop saying beautiful when I mean strong, you know? A: How we talk about it is how we think about it. And that determines how you interact with it.
N: I wish there was a way to teach people that, an easier way. I was thinking about fear, earlier. Life is a joy to live. Fear of action, or failing, is often just comfort in ambiguity. He said for the weeks leading up to it, he was nervous, anxious, and going up in the plane, and then he did it—and all the fear went away.
Half of life is just that build up. Half of the joy is all the fear. A: Hell of an ending, Nicole. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young. If you saw this script in action—you never will—these comments would be hidden from you. I should be working, debugging a legacy site for a client. But how am I supposed to concentrate? I need to be prepared.
But people do die: about ,00 every year. When we went to the clinic, your doctor seemed distracted. It was just before lunch. I need to take a break and check on you. The birds struck dumb. The internet cuts out when it rains. It rises from the slate floor. The fire, well stoked in our kitchen, hardly takes the edge off. Woodsmoke smell permeates the house. I work and I visit the shops, and I spend too long trying to cook good broth. While you are laid up, I feed the chickens and check on the sheep.
I might make a mistake and keep you too cold, or too hot in your bed, stewing like a snail in an oven. I might give you water or food at the wrong times, in the wrong quantities. I might miss some important sign that marks a change. You stirred, told me I love you. For someone who has known you in health, your face is marked with suffering.
If you reached out your arm toward me, we could be art models for some Pre-Raphaelite deathbed scene. You can be rough with the animals, so I was surprised. You made me raspberry jelly and I ate strong painkillers and I beat you at chess, four times. I knew you were a good one. You would stick with me. In our bed, too.
You are tall and robust-looking. When we met, the idea that I could be with a farm boy was funny. I was studying, enjoying my twenties, not looking for anything permanent. But Ollie was thirty-one, and persuasive. Six good years together and though he worked too hard, he never let himself go. When he collapsed on the treadmill I buried him and wept with his family. Afterwards, a report described an atrial septal defect, a hole in the heart. Subtle and undiagnosed; Ollie had never known.
Still, it caused the stroke. Ollie taught me to keep the edge cases in mind. You lift hay bales and you walk with long strides. Children, especially, had no cross-reactive antibody response to the new strain. But there are new variants all the time. Types that kill quickly. It was about everything—our house, the mortgage, my work, your work, my first husband, your mother. Children and the lack of them. You trod the paddocks in your gumboots, spending long days answering the demands of this place. Now your struggles are simpler: for lucidity, for healing. Your chance of dying has tripled.
Or would it become less accurate, more subjective? Machines are easier. Before you wake up, it will have been corrected.
That would mean your condition is. The hospital may not help, though. You have been admitted to hospital. All those horror stories must be the exception, not the rule. This is the roll of the dice.
You survived the flu! What will happen if you are damaged, never strong enough to work? Losing one partner does. Usually, you live. Almost always. Bring you back. And on the next try, you will make it through. And when I go in to check, when I listen to you breathe, I know how fragile you are. The unfairness of a single iteration. Get well soon. Sometimes he bites his tongue and howls, blood dribbling down his chin like cherry juice; otherwise, he clamps his lips and shies away when fingers or faces come close. He never spits up or goo-goo-gaa-gaas and his burps are tiny, muted, whistling through his regretfully parted lips.
It seems he senses his difference from the start, keeping the metal spikes hidden behind his pinkish, thin mouth. Or lack thereof. She shrugs a lot, a tic the boy mimics, adopts as his own. At day care—she is a lawyer, the father an architect, neither willing to abandon their career—the boy is quiet, never crying or yelling or screeching for attention. Nails aside, he is cherubic, already swinging his arms with athletic grace.
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Mrs Schrader, the lead teacher, thick red glasses dangling from a gold chain, jokes that the boy will break hearts. Her subordinates draw straws to decide who will help him with his juice box and apple slices at snack time. In science they learn about sharks and their jagged mouths and his classmates begin calling him Shark, so he takes up swimming, embracing their chanted nickname rather than fighting against it. He grins when he successfully dives for the first time, morphs into a creature of the water. His individual medley times are record-breaking for a ten year old.
Dental hygienists pass him around like a hot potato, not wanting to break their instruments or smell the constructionsite odour of his breath. The nails turn rusty orange, tarnishing his gums and hard palate, leaving a runny stain that waggles behind his body. The dentists suggest implants, or dentures,. He shrugs, flashes his steely teeth. They never fall out. X-rays show that he has only toadstool-shaped nail heads embedded beneath his gum line rather than the dotting of adult molars and bicuspids waiting to shove baby teeth out of the way.
Do I have wisdom-teeth nails that need to be removed? The boy goes to college on a scholarship, an all-star butterflier. He wins national championships. Women flock to him, surround him at parties. They swoon over his malaise, the lift of his thick shoulders when they flirt with him. He buys them shots at bars and sleeps with them, leaving them satisfied despite the jaggedness of his incisors, the impenetrability of his kisses.
The marks he leaves on necks and shoulders and. They leave tender, remorseful bruises. Some of them press their tongues into his mouth, relishing the sharp cuts that cross their tastebuds. They demand he go down on them and they swoon at his delicacy, ask him to pinch them just-so with his teeth. They make terrible puns about being nailed. He falls into bed, once, with a boy, a tennis player, legs thick and chest gaunt, his tan lines making him look like two different people. Women and men swoon over his buttocks, plump in the pool like baked bread. He does not smile. He receives raunchy fan mail, nude photos.
His agent suggests he accept commercial deals with hardware stores, maybe mimic biting two-by-fours. Buys two houses. Keeps swimming. They hate pretty, trim men like him with tapered waists and broad shoulders, bodies that have been thoughtfully developed, each muscle sculpted by work and grunting and sweating. They look away in hostile silence. Even the bartender ignores him at first until he throws a twenty on the greasy, slippery oak and lets him keep the change for a cheap longneck.
The girl, the only female in the place, shines through the haze of cigar smoke, flatulence and rancid buffalo wing sauce. She wears thick leather gloves even though the weather is warm. He nods at her and when she slips onto the stool next to him she smiles, pearly white. He shrugs. She gestures toward a booth in the corner and when they sit she slides in next to him. Instead of swaying on the swings they sit in his old Dodge Caravan that smells like mint evergreen gum because of the overpowering air fresheners that dampen the odour of his gym bag, batting away its sweat and chlorine and protein shakes.
It reminds her, she says, of her job, selling Christmas trees. She runs her tongue around with care, a bit of fear coursing through her, fleshy tip flashing across the metal where it meets the ridge of his gums. He slips her other glove off, and she rakes the needles over his flesh, not hard enough to bite through skin, but the caress leaves him with goose pimples, a shudder. In the back seat their clothes come off and they stare at one another in the moonlight: milky and smooth.
Both peel strands of hair from their mouths. Her metal fingers, his iron teeth flash in the darkness. He exhales and inhales and feels the bite of her hands against his skin, pores lanced by her touch. They do make love, finally, slow and gasping and with out hurry, and they are still slipping and sliding along one another when day begins to break, pink sunlight bleeding over treetops through the windshield. His toe slips against the side window, a cramp runs through her right calf. They both moan. She slips a phone number in his pocket when he grabs his jeans.
Her hair is mussed and golden like the morning light spilling over them. A blessing, a sign. She lives in a suburban apartment, all beige brick and fenced-in patios staring at storm drains and asphalt. She invites him in for coffee but he shakes his head. The party favours are syringes filled with vodka and sugar candies shaped like nails. Aside from his parents hers: dead , no guests are over thirty or younger than twenty. She drinks too much and he falls asleep on the limo ride to the honeymoon suite.
His mother squeals when he calls to tell her they are expecting, says she would hug both of them if she could do so through the phone, so please imagine it. The authors of DSM-V attempt to capture this less than black-and-white picture by dispensing with the approach taken in previous DSMs, which was based on cut-and-dried checklists of symptoms. One of the goals is to help medics identify mild forms of severe illnesses such as schizophrenia before people have experienced their first serious psychotic episode, in the hope of stopping the disease progressing.
The aim is to help doctors offer patients the most appropriate treatment. But an important by-product will be that researchers working on the psychiatric drugs of the future will be able to test them in genetically engineered animal models that more closely resemble human reality. The proposed changes, however, worry some psychiatrists, who see in them a creeping medicalisation of normal behaviour. They point out that the DSM carries a lot of weight. Pharmaceutical companies devise new drugs for the conditions it defines, lawyers use it to sue doctors, ordinary people use it to diagnose themselves.
They fear that by blurring the boundary between health and disease, DSM-V loses sight of a doctor's first duty: to do no harm. To overcome this, there have been suggestions in the past that the DSM should be divided into two: a scientific version, for use by researchers and psychiatrists, and a pragmatic version, for everyone else. Now the WHO has taken the initiative with its Intervention Guide, in which the organisation's own classification of brain disorders—itself in the process of being revised to make it simpler for non-specialists to use—has been distilled into pages of easy-to-follow flowcharts.
The WHO points out that in the developing world nearly 95m people with depression and more than 25m with epilepsy receive no treatment or care. In the end, says Dr Krystal, the dichotomy between the valid and the useful may turn out to be a false one. The most commonly prescribed psychiatric drugs are effective for many diagnoses, precisely because those diagnoses have underlying features in common. In his view, society's demands are not mutually exclusive.
Doctors can continue to do no harm, while researchers brace themselves for exciting, and unsettling, times to come. Join them. Subscribe to The Economist today. Media Audio edition Economist Films Podcasts. New to The Economist?
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