Daily Archives: November 23, 2015

Officially Down

The following essay goes in tandem with the post directly previous to it. Please take the time to read them both. Well, the ‘no depression’ grace period from the ECT is officially over. My doctor has put me back on Latuda (for depression), upped my Lithium, and put me back on Klonopin (anxiety). He has […]

When To Know

How do you know when things are starting to slide for you, one direction or the other? You don’t for sure. But, the longer you live with the disease the more you sense a change. Today is one of those days. It started yesterday, actually. All I wanted to do was go home and go […]

When To Know

How do you know when things are starting to slide for you, one direction or the other? You don’t for sure. But, the longer you live with the disease the more you sense a change. Today is one of those days. It started yesterday, actually. All I wanted to do was go home and go […]

A pleasant diversion

thanksIn the midst of the chaos which is my life right now, I received a pleasant diversion of another award. Although after the feedback I received when attempting to pass on the last award, I’ve decided that I’d rather be an award-free blog.

Jenny from Peace From Panic has kindly given me the Versatile Blogger Award. Jenny writes a heartwarming and informating informative (I don’t know, I kind of like that first word) blog about dealing with her own anxiety while raising a family which includes a daughter with anxiety as well. I can tell you from experience, it’s difficult enough to try to raise a family when you have a mental illness; but when one or more of your children has one as well, it’s even worse.

So thank you Jenny, and any one else who may think of me. Knowing there’s someone out there reading my important informating, as well as receiving amazing comments is enough for me.

Tagged: awards

Still in School

So I have a teleconference today with my professor, but my kids are out for the week.  We will see how this works.  I don’t have anything due this week thankfully.  ALl I have to still turn in is my final portfolio and my artist’s statement.  So I feel like I’m in a pretty good place so far for the semester.

Trying to get laundry done before we go out of town later this week.  Fun fun.  My middle one is doing church work this week so she will be busy.  The young one is going off with a friend today and should have fun. I’ll have the house to myself for a lot of the day, which will be nice to get things done.

I really screwed up yesterday.  I took my night meds in the morning.  And then had to take my morning meds on top of them. Luckily I managed okay.  I’ve caught myself almost doing it before, but this time I just swallowed the whole set before I realized that it was the wrong set.  A little scary to realize what I had done but like I said, I managed okay




I have started to wonder exactly what the correlation between bipolar disorder and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is. For the longest time the doctors have always treated these as two separate disorders. Reading blogs as of late in which people who were doing okay-ish for awhile, then BAM, comes the season/weather change, and the depressive abyss pool is filling up fast. Not to be flippant, at all. It just makes me wonder if it’s two separate disorders at all, at least for bipolar sufferers. Is this why it’s so hard for us to find the right cocktail that sticks? Because at least four times a year the weather changes and thus so do our cycles? Is the weather aspect primarily geared toward bipolar two because we are more prone to the long depressions?

Today the scope of the seasonal/weather affect on my mood hit me like a sledgehammer. The alarm went off at 6:30 a.m., 6:45 a.m., then 7 a.m. And still I hit snooze until 7:15, told my kid to get up, dozed off until the next alarm, and bam, it was 7:35 and she’s still wandering around half naked and marveling over the dollar the tooth fairy left for her second lost tooth. Um..MOOOOVE. When it’s warm and I’m not laden with sleeping pills, I don’t have much trouble getting up. But with the sleep problems and taking melatonin two, three times a night and a xanax, just to resume interrupted sleep..Come morning, it’s still dark out, it’s cold, and…I become Lethargy Girl. The doctors blame it ALL on the sunlight issue and while I am not as dismissive of this factor as I once was..

For me, the cold is the problem. Even when toasty warm, I still feel cold and I can’t function because I am shivering. My thyroid’s been checked to high heaven so I guess it’s thin blood. Maybe the start of menopause? But it’s been an issue, a huge one, for me and the depressions since I was a kid. The doctors won’t stop banging their sunlight drum long enough to entertain any other possibility. If bright light solved all, I’d set up shop at a busy airport landing strip, ffs. Not gonna change the fact that it’s cold. I need only hear a cold breeze and get chilled to the bone and I dive under the covers and can barely think until I thaw out.

Maybe that’s exclusive to me, I don’t know. I just find it curious that the season change from summer to fall heralded so many bloggers slipping downward. Especially when so many of us live in different states, countries, seasons, climates. It’s worth some study, it might actually help target a med cocktail that would last through the season  changes. Which means of course it will never happen. About the only true progress in mental health treatment aside from a slew of medications is they don’t automatically lobotomize us anymore.

I have declared today Grumpday. Because I can’t find any new shows to watch. Stupid fucking hellidays messing with my fiction soup. So I found a documentary called 9/11: The Falling Man. Probably not what a depressive should be watching but…I knew in the first five minutes I was gonna watch, and finish watching it, because they said the picture of the falling man upset too many people and was never seen again, instead the press focused on how human spirit triumphed. I don’t enjoy seeing pictures of people jumping out of windows to avoid burning to death. But at the same time…it happened and pretending it didn’t and all that mattered was for a brief period asshole human kind banded together is asinine. Horrible things happened that day. So many lives were lost. Turning away doesn’t change that. And to a degree I think turning away from the horror invalidates the death of that person. It’s not so much embracing tragedy. It’s just acknowledging it. It happened. You don’t get to cover your eyes. LOOK at what humans are capable of pushing each other to while waving your pompoms about human spirit. Yeah, people can be good. People can also be the most vile evil demons that ever roamed the earth.

The thing about 9/11 that has always gotten me is in fact the “triumph of the human spirit.” Yep, for a year or two we were united against terrorists. Then everyone went right back to their fancy phones and devices, banging away on the like button over every asinine thing on the planet. (Including this blog, which at times, is pretty fucking asinine but it’s my silly reality,key word being REAL.)  If  people were to lose the ostrich disorder and take their heads out of the sand they’d realize..9/11 didn’t change the vapidity of humankind. It delayed it for a bit. Am I being pessimistic? Maybe. But it’s also factoid.

I suppose it’s mass coping mechanism. Life has to go on. But it changed me as a person, that’s for sure. I think that one day in history taught me more about the ugliness of life than anything else could. To my credit…I don’t hate Muslims. I don’t view any ethnicity as a probably terrorist. I fear everyone equally because everyone has the capacity for evil. 9/11 just proved my paranoia accurate. The Falling Man picture is haunting. It should haunt us all. To realize when we do the most inane thing, like click a like button or laugh at a screaming goat video on youtube…We could have just as easily been one of those poor souls forced to choose between burning to death or jumping to their death. Don’t pretend it didn’t happen. Never forget that it did happen. “No one jumped, they were blown out of the building.” Because the truth is too awful. Such a crock of shit.

Okay, okay, off the soapbox. Just one of those topics I’ve always found a hot button.

Otherwise uneventful weekend. I binged on horror movies. Saturday we got our first snowfall (dusting) which made my kid go all Elsa insane joyful. I wanted chili and needed to set the mood so I watched the original Shining. (That snowy tree maze is creepy as fuck.) Watched a couple of B movies that weren’t awful,weren’t great. Yesterday I watched Final Destination 5, which was frigging awesome. Of course, my kid was offended when I’d make exclamations, she thought I was cheering on death. No, I was actually impressed with the special effects. Oh, and the irony of basically becoming a human fireball waiting for a flame only to roll to safety and get your head bashed in by a falling Buddha statue…Call the Buddha fat again, bitch. After that, I ventured outside my comfort zone and watched some cheesy movie call “Girl” about a grunge groupie. It was cute.

For all my inane bitching about inane stuff…I may be the most inane of all. But to my credit, I did drag my butt out Saturday to go get my kid’s glasses fixed and I did do dishes yesterday and cooked my first roast chicken injected with italian marinade. It was good, but good enough to do it again. I hate cooking, I hate cooking that takes that much effort. Tastes better when someone else who likes to cook fixes it. Then it’s made with love instead of contempt. But hey, I roasted a chicken for the first time at age 42. Twenty years my family put me down for not being as good a cook as my sister so I stopped trying…Fuck you now, bitches.

Housework today… maybe. Only cos the catboxes reek and need thoroughly emptied and cleaned. Which means more money on litter. Endless fucking cycle, this cleaning thing.

On the plus side, I’ve barely been taking xanax, my anxiety has been bearable. (After Friday when the maintenance guys were banging around next door and making me all panicky and paranoid.)


I’m gonna go buy a 24 pack of the softest most cushiony toilet paper and start padding my butt for Thanksgiving. Maybe the family will get more tissue from chewing me butt out than they will my flesh.

Yeah, I know, it’s too funny to think I’d ever spend good money on posh toilet paper.

Mental Floss Mondays: Quotes and stuff for the Holidays

I started off this post with the title “Mental floff Mondays”. My brain is fried after the long year. I’m sure many would agree that it’s time for a break. […]

Tentacles Spotted in the Midwest!

I apologise for the lack of photos of tentacles. Will an alligator in a tutu do?

An alligator in a tutu acts as stand in for a Cthulu-like creature

More November fiction for you – an excerpt from my current work-in-progress

A Yorkshireman in Ohio

A man sat on a quiet bench in the small, fashionable suburb of Shaker’s Depths, a few miles outside the state capital. A long, thin, green something was twisted around his neck, like a scarf.

It wasn’t a scarf. It glistened and glooped in a faintly unpleasant way in the soon-to-be-heat of an early July morning. Probably because the man looked asleep, he wouldn’t be found for several hours, and in fact was quite dead.

From violence, not boredom, despite the fact he was in Ohio.

Ashburton, Devon, stands in for Sweetheart Springs, Ohio.

Ashburton, Devon, stands in for Sweetheart Springs, Ohio.

“Cultural exchange visit, my giddy aunt!”

Slowing his rental car to an Ohio crawl, Inspector Thwaite pressed the window controls, and let a blast of hot Midwest air into the air conditioned chill.

Welcome to Sweetheart Springs.” Thwaite’s colleague, Jake, who was sitting on the passenger seat, read the sign aloud. “Twinned with Doncaster, England. Pop: 4,800. You’ll like it here! Fine for littering $5000 max.”

Jake swiped his tongue across one paw, then said, “Littering? As in – ?”

“Not your sort of litter, Sgt Cat,” the inspector replied. “Although I understand that the town has limits on the number of pets which people can own.”

“Ownership! Pets! Limits! So much wrong, so little time!”

Cat befriends penguin: film at 11!

Cat befriends penguin: film at 11!

Jake’s ears were flat against his furry head, and there was spit on his whiskers. Which was unusual, as he had stopped washing his face.

“We’re in Ohio, now,” the Inspector reminded his sergeant, as he steered the silver Kia Rio in the direction of the nearest parking space. “They speak American, not English, or Feline. They mean rubbish.”

“Like that leaflet about local church services which you found in the glove box, and put in the bin?” Jacob asked.

Jake jumped off the passenger seat, and onto the tarmac, copper eyes widening at the heat beneath his paws, and leaving Thwaite to park the car, and get his suitcases from the Kia’s boot. Cats don’t bother much with luggage.

“Putting things in the bin isn’t littering, Sgt Cat,” Thwaite said, as he locked the car, then put down his bags, and gazed at the quiet, tidy streets of downtown Sweetheart Springs.

“Is Ohio a dry state?” he asked.

Jake blinked as he gazed up at the plentiful trees, and bright blue sky, eyes blissful in the morning sun. An American flag flapped gently from a flagpole high over both their heads.

Thurber style dog spotted in Devon: 2012

Thurber style dog spotted in Devon: 2012


“Looks fairly green to me, sir.”

“Not dry, as in desert, Jake. Dry, as in alcohol. Where are the Bird, and the Tap, when I need them? Or the Masons’?”

Jake knew the Inspector wasn’t talking about his, Jake’s, kind of bird, but the Bird and Baby, the Inspector’s favourite Doncaster pub, whilst the Tap and the Masons’ were the Doncaster Brewery & Tap, and Masons’ Arms.

“Ohio has bars. I believe you have to be 21 to drink in them.”

“Does that mean you won’t be able to go into the pub – sorry, bar – with me, Sgt? You know I don’t like drinking alone.”

Jake, who was eight, thought to himself that it wasn’t the drinking which his inspector didn’t like to do by himself, it was paying for it. Thwaite’s tab at the Bird and Baby was the stuff of Doncaster legend, whilst his habit of having people buy him rounds at the Tap, and never paying for one himself, was as notorious as the Aardvark Record Shop across the road.

Quaint: Asburton, Devon, style.

Quaint: Asburton, Devon, style.

If you enjoyed this story, and would like to read the rest of it, please purchase (1) one or both of my short story collections, “What! No Pudding?” and “Koi Carpe Diem”.

To listen to local authors including myself read from our books, visit the Doncaster Brewery & Tap on Thursday 26th November from 19:30. I’ll be selling print copies of “Koi Carpe”, featuring cover art and four additional drawings (2), by artist Tom Brown.

(1) Yes, this is a buy my books plea. I am so subtle …
(2) “Additional” as in the drawings are only in the print version, & not the e-book, of “Koi Carpe Diem”.


Choose to Be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier.

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There is a gene variant: CD38, (an immune system gene!) that is associated with more grateful people! But don’t worry, even if you aren’t lucky enough to have this gene variant, there are many other things you can do to be grateful and happy!

1) Just pretend you are grateful and your mind will be tricked into it.

2) Just pretend you’re happy, smile for 20 sec, especially while crinkling up your eyes, and your brain will get fooled into thinking you are happy :)

3)Keep a list of what you are grateful for, and ten weeks after starting this list. you will feel grateful and happy :)

4) Choose to focus on good things :)

5) Gratitude is the attitude yo! Interior gratitude, where you feel grateful, and exterior gratitude, where you externally express or show gratitude.

6) Apparently gratitude for useless things is key, things like poetry… ummm not useless… neither is a sunset, or birdsong, or a rain shower, nature is surely something to be thankful about.

So, let me say to all my blogger friends, old and new, and my readers, and followers, I am seriously grateful for each and every one of you. Thank you for visiting my blog over 16,700 times in the last 14.5 months.

I hope all of you have a wonderful family holiday.

With love and gratitude,




By Arthur C. Brooks

TWENTY-FOUR years ago this month, my wife and I married in Barcelona, Spain. Two weeks after our wedding, flush with international idealism, I had the bright idea of sharing a bit of American culture with my Spanish in-laws by cooking a full Thanksgiving dinner.

Easier said than done. Turkeys are not common in Barcelona. The local butcher shop had to order the bird from a specialty farm in France, and it came only partially plucked. Our tiny oven was too small for the turkey. No one had ever heard of cranberries.

Over dinner, my new family had many queries. Some were practical, such as, “What does this beast eat to be so filled with bread?” But others were philosophical: “Should you celebrate this holiday even if you don’t feel grateful?”

I stumbled over this last question. At the time, I believed one should feel grateful in order to give thanks. To do anything else seemed somehow dishonest or fake — a kind of bourgeois, saccharine insincerity that one should reject. It’s best to be emotionally authentic, right? Wrong. Building the best life does not require fealty to feelings in the name of authenticity, but rather rebelling against negative impulses and acting right even when we don’t feel like it. In a nutshell, acting grateful can actually make you grateful.

For many people, gratitude is difficult, because life is difficult. Even beyond deprivation and depression, there are many ordinary circumstances in which gratitude doesn’t come easily. This point will elicit a knowing, mirthless chuckle from readers whose Thanksgiving dinners are usually ruined by a drunk uncle who always needs to share his political views. Thanks for nothing.

Beyond rotten circumstances, some people are just naturally more grateful than others. A 2014 article in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience identified a variation in a gene (CD38) associated with gratitude. Some people simply have a heightened genetic tendency to experience, in the researchers’ words, “global relationship satisfaction, perceived partner responsiveness and positive emotions (particularly love).” That is, those relentlessly positive people you know who seem grateful all the time may simply be mutants.

But we are more than slaves to our feelings, circumstances and genes. Evidence suggests that we can actively choose to practice gratitude — and that doing so raises our happiness.

This is not just self-improvement hokum. For example, researchers in one 2003 study randomly assigned one group of study participants to keep a short weekly list of the things they were grateful for, while other groups listed hassles or neutral events. Ten weeks later, the first group enjoyed significantly greater life satisfaction than the others. Other studies have shown the same pattern and lead to the same conclusion. If you want a truly happy holiday, choose to keep the “thanks” in Thanksgiving, whether you feel like it or not.

How does all this work? One explanation is that acting happy, regardless of feelings, coaxes one’s brain into processing positive emotions. In one famous 1993 experiment, researchers asked human subjects to smile forcibly for 20 seconds while tensing facial muscles, notably the muscles around the eyes called the orbicularis oculi (which create “crow’s feet”). They found that this action stimulated brain activity associated with positive emotions.

If grinning for an uncomfortably long time like a scary lunatic isn’t your cup of tea, try expressing gratitude instead. According to research published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, gratitude stimulates the hypothalamus (a key part of the brain that regulates stress) and the ventral tegmental area (part of our “reward circuitry” that produces the sensation of pleasure).

It’s science, but also common sense: Choosing to focus on good things makes you feel better than focusing on bad things. As my teenage kids would say, “Thank you, Captain Obvious.” In the slightly more elegant language of the Stoic philosopher Epictetus, “He is a man of sense who does not grieve for what he has not, but rejoices in what he has.”

In addition to building our own happiness, choosing gratitude can also bring out the best in those around us. Researchers at the University of Southern California showed this in a 2011 study of people with high power but low emotional security (think of the worst boss you’ve ever had). The research demonstrated that when their competence was questioned, the subjects tended to lash out with aggression and personal denigration. When shown gratitude, however, they reduced the bad behavior. That is, the best way to disarm an angry interlocutor is with a warm “thank you.”

I learned this lesson 10 years ago. At the time, I was an academic social scientist toiling in professorial obscurity, writing technical articles and books that would be read by a few dozen people at most. Soon after securing tenure, however, I published a book about charitable giving that, to my utter befuddlement, gained a popular audience. Overnight, I started receiving feedback from total strangers who had seen me on television or heard me on the radio.

One afternoon, I received an unsolicited email. “Dear Professor Brooks,” it began, “You are a fraud.” That seemed pretty unpromising, but I read on anyway. My correspondent made, in brutal detail, a case against every chapter of my book. As I made my way through the long email, however, my dominant thought wasn’t resentment. It was, “He read my book!” And so I wrote him back — rebutting a few of his points, but mostly just expressing gratitude for his time and attention. I felt good writing it, and his near-immediate response came with a warm and friendly tone.

DOES expressing gratitude have any downside? Actually, it might: There is some research suggesting it could make you fat. A new study in the Journal of Consumer Psychology finds evidence that people begin to crave sweets when they are asked to express gratitude. If this finding holds up, we might call it the Pumpkin Pie Paradox.

The costs to your weight notwithstanding, the prescription for all of us is clear: Make gratitude a routine, independent of how you feel — and not just once each November, but all year long.

There are concrete strategies that each of us can adopt. First, start with “interior gratitude,” the practice of giving thanks privately. Having a job that involves giving frequent speeches — not always to friendly audiences — I have tried to adopt the mantra in my own work of being grateful to the people who come to see me.


Next, move to “exterior gratitude,” which focuses on public expression. The psychologist Martin Seligman, father of the field known as “positive psychology,” gives some practical suggestions on how to do this. In his best seller “Authentic Happiness,” he recommends that readers systematically express gratitude in letters to loved ones and colleagues. A disciplined way to put this into practice is to make it as routine as morning coffee. Write two short emails each morning to friends, family or colleagues, thanking them for what they do.

Finally, be grateful for useless things. It is relatively easy to be thankful for the most important and obvious parts of life — a happy marriage, healthy kids or living in America. But truly happy people find ways to give thanks for the little, insignificant trifles. Ponder the impractical joy in Gerard Manley Hopkins’s poem “Pied Beauty”:

Glory be to God for dappled things —

For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;

For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;

Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;

Landscape plotted and pieced — fold, fallow, and plough;

And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

Be honest: When was the last time you were grateful for the spots on a trout? More seriously, think of the small, useless things you experience — the smell of fall in the air, the fragment of a song that reminds you of when you were a kid. Give thanks.

This Thanksgiving, don’t express gratitude only when you feel it. Give thanks especially when you don’t feel it. Rebel against the emotional “authenticity” that holds you back from your bliss. As for me, I am taking my own advice and updating my gratitude list. It includes my family, faith, friends and work. But also the dappled complexion of my bread-packed bird. And it includes you, for reading this column.

Another link between inflammation and mental illness! “Could a runny nose make you depressed? Hay fever sufferers may be four times more likely to develop the mental illness.”

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I have horrible seasonal allergies, I have food sensitivities, I have manic depression, aka bipolar disorder. My grandmother had rheumatoid arthritis, my mother had RA and elements of lupus. My brother had bad seasonal allergies. A case study in inflammation, immune and autoimmune responses and mental illnesses in the same individuals!  And here is yet another link between inflammation and mental illness! Hay fever sufferers may be much more likely to develop depression. Hay fever peaks during spring, the rates of suicide also peak in Springtime all over the world. There may be a simple cure for allergies, as simple as Ibuprofen, a non steroidal anti inflammatory (NSAID). Hope scientists     figure out the link between inflammation and mental illness, it could save many, many lives.

Could a runny nose make you depressed? Hay fever sufferers may be four times more likely to develop the mental illness.


Hay fever sufferers may be four times more likely to develop severe depression, according to new research. But it’s not just a runny nose and itchy eyes that triggers mood slumps.

Scientists think inflammation in blood vessels and tissues throughout the body caused by an allergic reaction to pollen has a long-lasting harmful effect on the brain.

This inflammatory response – the cause of typical allergy symptoms, such as sneezing – is the body’s way of trying to get rid of an allergy trigger, such as pollen. But there is a growing body of evidence that sustained exposure to low-level inflammation for several months, such as during the hay fever season, could have serious psychiatric effects later in life. However, treatment such as simple ibuprofen could help.

Around ten million people a year in Britain suffer during the hay fever season, which peaks during the late spring and summer. Researchers are investigating whether inflammation can trigger depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

In the latest study, scientists at the National Yang-Ming University of Taiwan looked at nearly 10,000 teenagers with hay fever and 30,000 without it.

They monitored both groups for almost a decade and recorded how many went on to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder – a condition characterised by periods of mania (when people appear over-excited and have an inability to concentrate or sleep) followed by deep depression. The results, in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, showed that adolescents with hay fever were four times more likely to be diagnosed as bipolar as adults.

An earlier Danish study, in 2010, discovered people with allergies such as hay fever had a 30 per cent higher risk of suicide than those who were allergy-free.

Researchers from Aarhus University came up with the findings after comparing allergy rates among suicide victims with those of a group of healthy people.

But how could something as innocuous as a runny nose be linked to mental illness?

Scientists are not completely sure, but it’s already known that during any allergic reaction, the brain churns out substances called pro-inflammatory cytokines.

These are proteins that then trigger inflammation and the release of chemicals in the blood in a bid to flush out foreign ‘invaders’, such as pollen. Inflammation develops in order to alert the immune system that the body is under attack. Normally, it subsides once the threat has been eliminated and the inflamed tissue heals. But problems develop when the inflammation does not dampen down.

More recent research also suggests cytokines can cause a dip in the brain’s levels of serotonin, the so-called happiness chemical, low levels of which can lead to depression.

This could be a vital clue to why allergy-induced inflammation leads to psychiatric illness.

Now, researchers are investigating whether anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, could treat depression.

Earlier this year, King’s College London began the largest ever investigation into inflammation in depressed patients by scanning their brains.

In the past, inflammatory markers have been found in the blood of depressed patients, but this does not prove that inflammation is also present in the brain, which is what is thought could cause depressive symptoms.

The scientists will now test if anti-inflammatory drugs can help patients who have not responded to antidepressants by improving levels of serotonin.

Dr Valeria Mondelli, one of the researchers, said that because inflammation is a natural response, up to a certain level it can protect the brain against infection. ‘But if it is chronic, then it appears to start to damage brain cells,’ she says.

Here’s a link to a video that talks about Immunotherapy to treat allergies: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3321143/Could-runny-nose-make-depressed-Hay-fever-sufferers-four-times-likely-develop-mental-illness.html#v-3789507278001

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3321143/Could-runny-nose-make-depressed-Hay-fever-sufferers-four-times-likely-develop-mental-illness.html#ixzz3sHb4yitQ
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