Letter to My Depressed Self From My Non-Depressed Self

depressed woman sitting in window seat

This post has a different comment policy than usual. It’s at the end of the post.

My brain has this quirk. I’m not sure if other depressed people have it; if you do, I’d be interested to hear about it. When I’m in a depressive episode, I literally can’t comprehend what it feels like to be not-depressed, or what the world looks like through my not-depressed eyes. The pessimism is almost completely convincing: my existential despair, and my obsession with mortality and death, not only seem flawlessly logical, but feel like I’ve always felt that way and always will.

And when I’m not-depressed, and haven’t been depressed in a while, the same is true. Depression just seems bizarre. When I recently pulled out of my long, hard depressive episode, I told my therapist that I “finally feel like myself,” and the previous three and a half years looked like a grim blur. Looking at my depressed self through my non-depressed eyes — and at my non-depressed self through my depressed eyes — can feel like switching back and forth between alternate realities, alternate versions of myself on different time tracks or in different universes. That’s an exaggeration, but not much of one: there’s a non-trivial sense of distorted reality and fragmented identity.

So since I’m doing better, and I’ve been doing better for a while and expect to continue, I’m writing a letter to myself, something for me to read the next time I get seriously depressed. I may not believe my friends, my therapist, Ingrid — but I might be more inclined to believe myself.

Note to readers: I really am just talking to myself here. I realize that the first-person/second-person construction might feel like I’m talking to you and lecturing you: I promise that I’m not. My present self is talking to my future self. If you have depression, take what you need from this, and leave the rest. If you don’t have depression and have depressed friends or family members, DO NOT talk with them like this unless they’ve specifically asked you to. It’s really damaging to give unsolicited medical advice to people with mental illness: it can interfere with people’s relationships with their health care providers, and it can come across as hectoring, patronizing, unsympathetic, and judgmental.

Dear Depressed Greta,

Hi. Non-depressed Greta here, writing from the alternate reality. I’m sorry you’re having a hard time right now. There are some things I think you’ll want to hear, but you may have a hard time believing them if anyone else says them to you. So I’m writing this to you in Summer 2016, shortly after your three-and-a-half-year episode of depression had finally wound down (and right when you’re pulling out of your brief relapse). If you don’t believe anyone else, maybe you’ll believe me. Continue reading “Letter to My Depressed Self From My Non-Depressed Self”

Letter to My Depressed Self From My Non-Depressed Self
{advertisement}

“I don’t think depression is divine punishment”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

"I don't think depression is divine punishment or an obscure lesson, and I'm not racking my brains trying to figure out why I deserve it."

“I don’t think depression is divine punishment or an obscure lesson, and I’m not racking my brains trying to figure out why I deserve it.”
-Greta Christina, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life
(from Chapter 22, “How Humanism Helps With Depression — Except When It Doesn’t”)

(Image description: above text, juxtaposed above image of bare trees on an island and on a shoreline on an overcast day.)

I’m making a series of memes/ inspirational poster thingies with my favorite quotes from my new book, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life. Please feel free to share this on social media, or print it and hang it on your wall if you like. (The image above is pretty big: you can click on it to get a bigger size if you like.)

Way of the Heathen cover
The Way of the Heathen is available in ebook on Amazon/Kindle and on Smashwords for $7.99. The audiobook is at Audible. The print edition is at Amazon and Powell’s Books, and can be ordered or carried by pretty much any bookstore: it’s being wholesaled by Ingram, Baker & Taylor, IPG, and bookstores can buy it directly from the publisher, Pitchstone Publishing. Check it out, and tell your friends!

“I don’t think depression is divine punishment”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

Joani Blank, 1937 – 2016: A Sex Positive Pioneer is Gone

Joani Blank

You may not have heard of her, but the chances are excellent that she changed your life.

Joani Blank was, among many other things, the founder of Good Vibrations, the feminist sex toy store. You might be thinking, “Which feminist sex toy store? There are so many!” There are now. There weren’t in 1977. Good Vibrations was only the second one in the United States (the first was Eve’s Garden in New York). The roaring success of Good Vibrations made it clear that women cared about sex and wanted to improve their sex lives — and that sex shops didn’t have to be sleazy, shameful holes in the wall with shoddy goods. If you’ve ever bought sex toys, sex information, erotica, lube, or other goodies in a pleasant, shame-free environment (brick-and-mortar or online), one that welcomed men but focused on women, your life was changed by Joani Blank. She died of pancreatic cancer on August 6, 2016.

Like tens of thousands of women, I bought my first vibrator at Good Vibrations. I screwed up my courage and walked into the store, excited but nervous and embarrassed — and found a clean, well-lighted place where sexual products were sold openly and without shame, with clear information about which product did what, and a well-informed staff that would help you make your decision as if sex was healthy and entirely ordinary. The store Joani founded did more than just sell sex products. It changed the way people see sex. She shaped tens of thousands of lives. Probably hundreds of thousands. Continue reading “Joani Blank, 1937 – 2016: A Sex Positive Pioneer is Gone”

Joani Blank, 1937 – 2016: A Sex Positive Pioneer is Gone

A Reason to Vote for Clinton: Liberal Voting Record

Hillary Clinton
I’d been working on a piece about reasons to vote for Clinton, but it was becoming huge and unmanageable. So I’m breaking it down into bite-sized morsels.

Yes, you heard me. Clinton has a very liberal voting record. Her voting record in the Senate had a 75% rating from the ACLU, a 90% rating from the Sierra Club, a 94% rating from the AFL-CIO, a 95% rating from the HRC, a 96% rating from the NAACP, a 100% rating from the National Organization for Women, a 100% rating from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and NARAL.* As Senator, she voted with Bernie Sanders 93% of the time. She was rated the 11th most liberal member of the Senate; Roll Call described her as “center-left,” while On The Issues rates her as a hard-core liberal. Continue reading “A Reason to Vote for Clinton: Liberal Voting Record”

A Reason to Vote for Clinton: Liberal Voting Record

“I’m trying to notice the world”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

"I'm trying to notice the world around me, connect with it, and let it in. And prioritizing what's true over what I want to be true is an essential part of that practice."

“I’m trying to notice the world around me, connect with it, and let it in. And prioritizing what’s true over what I want to be true is an essential part of that practice.”
-Greta Christina, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life
(from Chapter 2, “Skepticism as a Discipline”)

(Image description: above text, juxtaposed above silhouetted image of people watching the sunrise.)

I’m making a series of memes/ inspirational poster thingies with my favorite quotes from my new book, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life. Please feel free to share this on social media, or print it and hang it on your wall if you like. (The image above is pretty big: you can click on it to get a bigger size if you like.)

Way of the Heathen cover
The Way of the Heathen is available in ebook on Amazon/Kindle and on Smashwords for $7.99. The audiobook is at Audible. The print edition is at Amazon and Powell’s Books, and can be ordered or carried by pretty much any bookstore: it’s being wholesaled by Ingram, Baker & Taylor, IPG, and bookstores can buy it directly from the publisher, Pitchstone Publishing. Check it out, and tell your friends!

“I’m trying to notice the world”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

Frivolous Friday: The Coin Toss Problem

I was playing my flashcard game on my phone, and in the “Mathematics and Measurements” section, I got this question (paraphrasing): “If you toss a coin ten times and it comes up heads each time, is it more likely to come up heads the eleventh?”

And I started thinking.

I know the “correct” answer. The answer is No. If the coin is truly random, each toss is independent of the previous ones, and each toss has a 50/50 chance of coming up heads. In any random sequence of sufficient length, pseudopatterns appear, and if you get one of those it may seem like… well, a pattern. But it’s not. In fact, if you flip a random coin an infinite number of times, it’s essentially guaranteed that any sequence you can think of will come up at some point: ten heads in a row, a hundred heads in a row, the lyrics to “Never Gonna Give You Up” spelled out in Morse code (with heads being dashes and tails being dots). It doesn’t matter how many times it came up heads before: each flip is still 50/50.

But. Continue reading “Frivolous Friday: The Coin Toss Problem”

Frivolous Friday: The Coin Toss Problem

“Doesn’t experience get to just matter?”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

"At some point, doesn't experience get to just matter, simply because it matters?"

“At some point, doesn’t experience get to just matter, simply because it matters?”
-Greta Christina, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life
(from Chapter 60, “In Praise of Frivolity”)

(Image description: above text, juxtaposed above silhouetted image of person dancing.)

I’m making a series of memes/ inspirational poster thingies with my favorite quotes from my new book, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life. Please feel free to share this on social media, or print it and hang it on your wall if you like. (The image above is pretty big: you can click on it to get a bigger size if you like.)

Way of the Heathen cover
The Way of the Heathen is available in ebook on Amazon/Kindle and on Smashwords for $7.99. The audiobook is at Audible. The print edition is at Amazon and Powell’s Books, and can be ordered or carried by pretty much any bookstore: it’s being wholesaled by Ingram, Baker & Taylor, IPG, and bookstores can buy it directly from the publisher, Pitchstone Publishing. Check it out, and tell your friends!

“Doesn’t experience get to just matter?”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

“Adulthood isn’t about any particular signpost”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

"Adulthood isn't about any particular signpost. It means painting the signs yourself."

“Adulthood isn’t about any particular signpost. It means painting the signs yourself.”
-Greta Christina, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life
(from Chapter 56, “Imposter Syndrome, and What It Means to Be An Adult”)

(Image description: above text, juxtaposed next to image of signpost with two blank signs.)

I’m making a series of memes/ inspirational poster thingies with my favorite quotes from my new book, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life. Please feel free to share this on social media, or print it and hang it on your wall if you like. (The image above is pretty big: you can click on it to get a bigger size if you like.)

Way of the Heathen cover
The Way of the Heathen is available in ebook on Amazon/Kindle and on Smashwords for $7.99. The audiobook is at Audible. The print edition is at Amazon and Powell’s Books, and can be ordered or carried by pretty much any bookstore: it’s being wholesaled by Ingram, Baker & Taylor, IPG, and bookstores can buy it directly from the publisher, Pitchstone Publishing. Check it out, and tell your friends!

“Adulthood isn’t about any particular signpost”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

“Science is why I’m alive”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

"Science is why I'm alive. I’m not going to embrace its results — the messy, uncertain, unpredictable, loaded-with-false-starts, “try a hundred things with no idea if any will pan out” scientific process — and then piss all over it because it isn’t perfect."

“Science is why I’m alive. I’m not going to embrace its results — the messy, uncertain, unpredictable, loaded-with-false-starts, “try a hundred things with no idea if any will pan out” scientific process — and then piss all over it because it isn’t perfect.”
-Greta Christina, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life
(from Chapter 24, “My Body is the Knife: The Reality of Medical Uncertainty”)

(Image description: above text, juxtaposed next to image of hand in latex or nitrile glove dispensing powdered medicine from a bottle.)

I’m making a series of memes/ inspirational poster thingies with my favorite quotes from my new book, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life. Please feel free to share this on social media, or print it and hang it on your wall if you like. (The image above is pretty big: you can click on it to get a bigger size if you like.)

Way of the Heathen cover
The Way of the Heathen is available in ebook on Amazon/Kindle and on Smashwords for $7.99. The audiobook is at Audible. The print edition is at Amazon and Powell’s Books, and can be ordered or carried by pretty much any bookstore: it’s being wholesaled by Ingram, Baker & Taylor, IPG, and bookstores can buy it directly from the publisher, Pitchstone Publishing. Check it out, and tell your friends!

“Science is why I’m alive”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

A Reason to Vote for Clinton: Government Knowledge and Administrative Skill

Hillary Clinton

I’d been working on a piece about reasons to vote for Clinton, but it was becoming huge and unmanageable. So I’m breaking it down into bite-sized morsels.

I recently did a poll of my Facebook readers, asking, “Clinton supporters — what are the main reasons you’re voting for her? Not reasons you’re voting against Trump, those are easy, but things you positively like about her and make you want to support her.” The entire thread is well worth reading, especially if you’re planning to vote for Clinton but aren’t wild about it — or you’re not planning to vote for Clinton and are wondering why other people are. And one of the themes that came up again and again: Clinton’s administrative skills and knowledge of government are fierce.

Clinton knows government inside and out. She knows how to get things done. She has years of experience in government, in the Senate and as Secretary of State: even when she was First Lady, she engineered the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), a compromise she forged from the defeat of her attempts to create universal health care. Her platform is detailed, with specific policies and proposals for how they can be accomplished (a fact that, weirdly, may be detrimental to her campaign),

And she is well-known in Washington, even among her opponents, for her policy expertise, her willingness to study and increase her already prodigious knowledge, her work ethic, her ability to work with others and make effective deals while maintaining her tenacity, and her willingness to share credit (a useful and underrated trait in long-term political strategy).

Trump, on the other hand… Continue reading “A Reason to Vote for Clinton: Government Knowledge and Administrative Skill”

A Reason to Vote for Clinton: Government Knowledge and Administrative Skill