October 6, 2017

Mental illness and its intersections.

Here’s what I know: my experience with mental illness is a privileged one.

When I speak about my experience, I am conscious that I am one of the lucky ones; that there are so many others who do not get the same standard of care, support, and integration as I do—and that there’s so much we need to do to make it better for those people.

Rudayna Bahubeshi, in Let’s really talk about mental illness and who’s most vulnerable, underlines the importance of race and sociology-economic factors in the way we treat, look at, and talk about mental illness. Specifically, she makes it clear that we’re not doing a good enough job in understanding that intersectionality:

Until we recognize the ways some of us are more vulnerable when it comes to mental illness and poor health interventions, we’re not having a meaningful conversation.

Let’s talk about prejudices that affect whether people are treated with dignity and care.

Let’s talk about individuals who are precariously employed and can’t take mental health” days or afford costly medications.

Let’s talk about studies like this one, funded by the Wellesley Institute, that connect the dots between poverty, racism and barriers to healthcare. […]

Until our support extends to those who are in greatest need, we’re only scratching the surface when it comes to talking about mental illness.


Since my last post about going back on my medication, a few people have asked me about what else I’ve shared about my mental illness over the years. Here are a few selected posts I’ve written on the topic, in reverse chronological order:


A few things to read and explore:

I am drowning in whiteness, Ijeoma Oluo:

People tell me to stop making things about race all of the time. But when you are not making things about race, you’re making them about whiteness all of the time.

Every decision that you make with ease is made with whiteness. Every door that opens for you is opened by whiteness. And I know this sounds like I am taking away all of your achievements, and I’m not. But I need you to understand that from the Constitution to our education system to our pop culture — everything that we do is steeped in whiteness.

And when you do not acknowledge that, you make it about race. Because then I have to navigate what you won’t see. I am tripping over the roadblocks that you don’t even know that you’re placing in front of me.

I am drowning in the whiteness, and you can’t help me if you can’t see it.

We Are Forever Merely Bodies, Eternally Just Things, Courtney Enlow:

Monroe’s life was filled with pain. Her legacy one of body, one of debates over her dress size, words she never said and an endless existence as concept, never complete person. And even her remains are a prize, something to be won, literally, by the highest bidder. Hefner purchased his crypt space for $75,000 in 1992. Mob-adjacent businessman Richard Poncher purchased the crypt above her from Joe DiMaggio, telling his wife, If I croak, if you don’t put me upside down over Marilyn, I’ll haunt you the rest of my life.” He was placed upside-down above Monroe, as his wish indicated, in 1986.

Monroe is exceptional for her beauty, sex appeal and iconic status. But no woman is safe from the dehumanization that comes with being a female in possession of a body in the presence of a man. Every woman has experienced, in one way or another, what it is like to be reduced to parts, like an old Chevy or a broken laptop. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately in the wake of discussions about Harry Knowles, Devin Faraci and the Alamo Drafthouse, and the women who’ve come forward, who’ve been ignored for years, who are now being dismissed by film legends like Lloyd Kaufman under the guise of fairness and due process.” Every single one of those women was reduced to parts. Parts for touching, for groping, for clumsy, unwanted hands. They are reduced to parts now under the guise of debate and conversation, as though there is debate, as though there are sides.

To be a woman is to be a series of parts. Parts to judge and discuss and to touch, and they are always, always entitled to these parts, our consent acting only as a hurdle, the word yes” both optional and perfunctory.

There Is No Middle Ground Between Racism And Justice, Ijeoma Oluo:

The average American will easily agree that they believe that freedom, justice, and equality are basic rights, rights we are born with. These ideas are woven throughout the entire narrative of our democracy. But in practice, very few people actually believe that freedom, justice, and equality are rights that every American deserves. When you enjoy your freedoms, and you tell those who want their freedoms that they have to wait, that they have to go slowly, that they have to give you time to make uncomfortable adjustments to the amount of privilege that their inequality has afforded you, what you are saying is, You were not born with these rights. You were not born as deserving as me. I have the power and privilege to determine when it is time for you to receive freedom and equality, and my approval is conditioned on how comfortable and safe you make me feel about how that freedom and equality will impact the privileges I enjoy.”

What is the compromise between justice and oppression? What grey area between inequality and equality exists? There is none. You cannot have a little injustice and call it justice. You cannot have a little inequality and call it equality. And whenever you decide that you have the power to slow or stop justice and equality for others — you are immediately ensuring the continuation of injustice and inequality by placing yourself above those seeking justice and equality. There is a claim of superiority inherent in believing that you have the right to slow racial justice. It is a claim of superiority that white supremacy has granted you, and that you cannot accept without becoming a willing proponent of this white supremacist system.

Walking While Black, Garnette Cadogan:

Serendipity, a mentor once told me, is a secular way of speaking of grace; it’s unearned favor. Seen theologically, then, walking is an act of faith. Walking is, after all, interrupted falling. We see, we listen, we speak, and we trust that each step we take won’t be our last, but will lead us into a richer understanding of the self and the world. […]

Walking as a black man has made me feel simultaneously more removed from the city, in my awareness that I am perceived as suspect, and more closely connected to it, in the full attentiveness demanded by my vigilance. It has made me walk more purposefully in the city, becoming part of its flow, rather than observing, standing apart.

Does Even Mark Zuckerberg Know What Facebook Is?, Max Read:

What shared values might Facebook enforce? Zuckerberg’s own personal values, such as his admirable commitment to immigration activism, tend to align with what’s good for Facebook. It would be difficult to think of a better real-life representative of the globalists” bemoaned by Breitbart and other hypernationalist outlets than Zuckerberg, but his platform has also been those publications’ greatest asset in distributing their message. Zuckerberg’s commitment to liberalism — and to not alienating wide swaths of his user base — is deep enough that when Facebook was accused of suppressing” conservative news, he met in person with conservative media figures to assure them Facebook was committed to giving them a voice.

Which may explain why in Building Global Community,” Zuckerberg hesitates when he tries to lay out a foundational value system for the community he’s hoping to build. The guiding principles,” he writes, are that the Community Standards should reflect the cultural norms of our community, that each person should see as little objectionable content as possible, and each person should be able to share what they want while being told they cannot share something as little as possible.” That is: The guiding principles should be whatever encourages people to post more. Facebook’s actual value system seems less positive than recursive. Facebook is good because it creates community; community is good because it enables Facebook. The values of Facebook are Facebook.

This Future Looks Familiar: Watching Blade Runner in 2017, Sarah Gailey:

I would not call the world of Blade Runner strange, because it’s the opposite of strange. It’s familiar. If you subtract the flying cars and the jets of flame shooting out of the top of Los Angeles buildings, it’s not a far-off place. It’s fortunes earned off the backs of slaves, and deciding who gets to count as human. It’s impossible tests with impossible questions and impossible answers. It’s having empathy for the right things if you know what’s good for you. It’s death for those who seek freedom.

It’s a cop shooting a fleeing woman in the middle of the street, and a world where the city is subject to repeated klaxon call: move on, move on, move on.

It’s not so very strange to me.

The People vs Donald Trump vs Twitter, Mike Monteiro

Changing the rules to fit the situation is the exact opposite of principles, and the exact meaning of subjectivity. It’s cowardly. And it’s opportunistic. […]

I’m assuming that one of the principles Biz believes he is referring to is free speech. I’m a big fan of free speech as well. (I tend to curse a lot.) But free speech isn’t free of repercussion. Also, the First Amendment, which is very short and to the point, states that the government can’t restrict your speech. It doesn’t apply to Twitter, which is a private service. You know how bartenders can kick you out of a bar for being a belligerent dick? They have a right to do that. You don’t have the right to be a belligerent dick in their bar. Twitter has a right to kick you out of their private service for acting like a belligerent dick too. Donald Trump is the asshole in the corner screaming at everyone and grabbing every woman’s ass and telling the bartender not to serve the darkies. And Twitter thinks that guy is the reason people go to the bar. Twitter believes it’s protecting free speech, but it’s really protecting that belligerent dick at the bar, at the expense of the other patrons. That’s not a principled stance. That’s a cowardly act.

I moved to London, Ontario about 18 months ago, and I love my new adoptive city—despite its flaws and its sometimes backwards-looking tendencies—for all the potential that it has. This video and poem (by Holly Painter and James Shelley) are a good encapsulation of why I’m happy to be here.

This aerial photography by Niaz Uddin is absolutely stunning:

Aerial photography by Niaz Uddin

Aerial photography by Niaz Uddin

All of the winning photos in Scuba Diving Magazine’s 2017 Underwater Photo Contest are stunning, but this one of an octopus by Kevin Richter has to be my favorite:

Photo of coconut octopus, by Kevin Richter

And a few more: