First of all, I have an announcement! After a lot of planning, some friends and I have launched a Facebook support group for atheists struggling with mental health issues. It’s called Help Without Heaven. In just a few days, it’s grown to over 100 members and is really active, supportive, and helpful. It looks like this was really a need that hadn’t been filled, and we’re really excited about how it’s going.
Soooo unfortunately, our community being what it is, we (the admins) can only accept members we know personally, or who can get another group member or a mutual friend to vouch for them. This is to ensure as much safety for the group members as possible, and it’s unfortunate that this means that much fewer people can benefit from this group than if we let in anyone who wanted to join.
However, if you’ve had a good record of commenting here and you’d like to join, you can email helpwithoutheaven[at]gmail.com from the email address you use to comment, and I can send you an invite to the group. You can also take a look at the group and see if you have friends in it, or if you have mutual friends with one of the listed admins, who could maybe vouch for you.
And like, I just gotta say for the record, if you try to sabotage this in any way or use this as further ammunition in some dumb vendetta against “FtBullies,” you are really, really sad and pathetic. This has nothing to do with FtB and everything to do with atheists getting the help they need to be happy and healthy.
Anyways! On to the links.
1. Angele on Thought Catalog writes about depression:
But see, that’s the thing — depression doesn’t care what life looks like on paper. It doesn’t give a damn about what you tell yourself about how great life is and could be. What it does is slams the sheer gravity of being down upon you when you least expect it, ties weights to your ankles and drowns you in a sea of anxiety, of “what if”s and “not good enough”s. And that is something that took me a long time to understand and an even longer time to talk about.
2. Janani on Black Girl Dangerous talks about the intersections between eating disorders and race (TW):
I remember being hugely troubled by the language many of the speakers and health educators would use about their experiences: that ‘eating disorders were about power and control, not beauty’. As if this were a dichotomy. As if beauty were something other than a system of control and domination. There is nothing shallow about beauty; I have drowned in it. My anorexia had everything to do with affluent white womanhood, something not available to me, but that I was systemically surrounded by. It had everything to do with heterosexuality: an aspiration for ‘proper and dignified’ white womanhood – that is ultimately desirable to white masculinity.
3. People love to claim that nonbinary gender is some dumb #firstworldproblems thing, but Foz put together this amazing list of nonbinary gender identities from cultures around the world. There’s even one from Jewish religious texts. (By the way, even if nonbinary genders only occurred in the Western world, that wouldn’t mean they’re not legitimate and worthy of respect.)
4. Captain Awkward has some wonderful advice on first taking care of yourself in order to be a better friend when things aren’t going well:
“You are the only person who understands me!” “You’re my only friend!” sound like compliments, but they come with too much pressure and too much…self… to actually be compliments. Your friend, even if she promises to be your best friend forever, can’t actually fix your bad feelings about yourself or fill up all your lonely places. I get why you feel abandoned, I get why you are panicking, I get that you would do anything to make this right, and I have oh so much love and empathy for you right now. But my honest advice is, take massive, radical care of yourself and do what you can to comfort and distract yourself until you can meet her on more solid emotional ground.
5. s.e. smith discusses all the snark about women saying “I’m fine” and not really meaning it:
There’s an almost hostile attitude behind the frequent demands for “women” (as though women are an amorphous, interchangeable mass) to explain why they say, “I’m fine.” It’s a sharp reminder of the demanding tone that tends to prevail in situations where women are pressured to talk when they’re not ready or need time to deal with something before they can approach a conversation. There’s an expectation here that women should be ready on everyone else’s schedule to deal with everything, including their own emotions.
6. Heina writes about being labeled “angry” when she isn’t:
He was hardly the first or only person to dub a carefully-worded, cautiously-approached conversation an expression of anger, despite my avoiding of words like “sexist.” Being read as angry when you are not does not require bad faith on the part of the person interpreting your words. All it requires is the skewed perspective bequeathed to us by the world: that anyone not upholding the status quo is disrupting it, and that such disruption is, by nature, angry.
7. This article from the Belle Jar about men who ask women to debate feminism with them is simultaneously a steelman and a snarky rebuttal, and I love it:
After all, if you’re going to call yourself a feminist, you should be willing to back that belief up with facts, right?
And if you’ve got all the facts, it should be easy enough to convince him, shouldn’t it?
And after all, how is he supposed to understand anything if you won’t educate him?
He just wants so badly to understand.
If you don’t mind, could you start by providing him with some kind empirical data that women continue to suffer from systematic oppression? He doesn’t care about the past, and doesn’t want a history lesson. He wants to talk about the here and now. And from what he can see in the here and now, women are doing pretty well. Just look at you! Smart, well-educated, pretty. What about your gender could you possibly imagine has ever held you back? If anything, it’s probably done you a few favours!
8. Another one from the Belle Jar, that I can also relate closely to:
If you live with a volatile person for long enough, it’s hard to maintain a consistent personal narrative. Every event is re-framed by how they saw it, and no matter how hard you try to hold on to your version of events, the force of their overreactions starts to erode your confidence in your own perspective. Trying to fight against them begins to exhaust you – they’re too good at pushing your buttons, know too well exactly what to say to hurt you most deeply, and you can’t keep up, can’t maintain that level of mean-spiritedness. You start to accept what they tell you, because it’s just easier. It’s easier to be wrong all the time. It’s easier to apologize. It’s easier to lie down and let them walk all over you. Of course, you lose yourself in the process, but what does that matter? By that point you believe that that self was worthless anyway.
9. This sexual boundaries checklist from Scarleteen is one of the best I’ve ever found. I love how many things the author considers a necessary part of a conversation about boundaries.
I used to think I was getting away with something.
“Girls don’t count,” I’d say, running my fingers up her arm at the bar. “Don’t you know that?”
We both had boyfriends. Long-term boyfriends. Mine had introduced me to the concept.
“I wouldn’t feel threatened,” he’d say. “I know they could never compete.”
He meant that a woman, no matter how attached I got, could never “steal” me away from him. He meant that he’d only care about male penetration, about “sex” in the most typical terms. I was young and I didn’t value myself and I hadn’t been taught a lot about feminism or how relationships should work. I said nothing, because I wanted it to be true.
What have you read/written lately?