September 26, 2017

Back on my medication.

After almost a decade without them, I have recently (today, in fact) gone back on my medications to treat depression.

I spent several years taking a mélange of anti-psychotics, SSRIs, and benzodiazepines to treat bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety, and chronic depression. About ten years ago, I began—under the supervision of medical professionals—weaning off my medication and supplementing my treatment with cognitive-behavioural therapy, a mindfulness practice, a daily journaling routine, and regular check-ins with my doctor.

Until today, this worked just fine for me. Today, I walked into my doctor’s office and together, we decided that it was time to re-explore the idea of medication.

I am not ashamed of this change at all. In fact, I am proud: I am proud that I was able to recognize when I needed help, proud that I was willing and able to ask for that help, and proud that I am taking the steps necessary to make sure I stay healthy.

It’s no secret that these have been among the hardest six months of my life, physically and emotionally—the reasons are unnecessary to discuss at this time—so I am proud that I was able to identify when things were at risk of going poorly and to take action to stop any decline or full relapse.

I am back on my medication because I know this is what I need right now. Just being able to recognize that and do something about it, I think, is something to be applauded.

I might be a little slower, a little more tired, a little less alert for the next few days and weeks until I’m used to this change. I appreciate your patience and understanding.

In the meantime, here are some things for you to read and explore:

Americans Have Given Up on Public Schools. That’s a Mistake., Erika Christakis:

In the centuries since, the courts have regularly affirmed the special status of public schools as a cornerstone of the American democratic project. In its vigorous defenses of students’ civil liberties—to protest the Vietnam War, for example, or not to salute the flag—the Supreme Court has repeatedly held public schools to an especially high standard precisely because they play a unique role in fostering citizens.

This role isn’t limited to civics instruction; public schools also provide students with crucial exposure to people of different backgrounds and perspectives. Americans have a closer relationship with the public-school system than with any other shared institution. (Those on the right who disparagingly refer to public schools as government schools” have obviously never been to a school-board meeting, one of the clearest examples anywhere of direct democracy in action.) Ravitch writes that one of the greatest glories of the public school was its success in Americanizing immigrants.” At their best, public schools did even more than that, integrating both immigrants and American-born students from a range of backgrounds into one citizenry.

At a moment when our media preferences, political affiliations, and cultural tastes seem wider apart than ever, abandoning this amalgamating function is a bona fide threat to our future. And yet we seem to be headed in just that direction. The story of American public education has generally been one of continuing progress, as girls, children of color, and children with disabilities (among others) have redeemed their constitutional right to push through the schoolhouse gate. But in the past few decades, we have allowed schools to grow more segregated, racially and socioeconomically. (Charter schools, far from a solution to this problem, are even more racially segregated than traditional public schools.)

I have a foolproof plan for success. Succeed less., Morra Aarons-Mele:

Growing up, I was sent to the best private schools, and it never occurred to me to do anything less than achieve. Those of us fortunate enough to be raised with expectations of academic or financial success learn that when we achieve, we garner praise and positive attention — even if we’re faking our own enjoyment. Through childhood, adolescence, and into adulthood, we keep achieving, craving the external validation that comes when we get all A’s or are chosen to captain the team. I was, and am, extremely ambitious. But the more we achieve in order to win the approval of others, the further we get from our own goals — and happiness. 

Anatomy of a moral panic, Maciej Cegłowski:

The real story in this mess is not the threat that algorithms pose to Amazon shoppers, but the threat that algorithms pose to journalism. By forcing reporters to optimize every story for clicks, not giving them time to check or contextualize their reporting, and requiring them to race to publish follow-on articles on every topic, the clickbait economics of online media encourage carelessness and drama. This is particularly true for technical topics outside the reporter’s area of expertise.

And reporters have no choice but to chase clicks. Because Google and Facebook have a duopoly on online advertising, the only measure of success in publishing is whether a story goes viral on social media. Authors are evaluated by how individual stories perform online, and face constant pressure to make them more arresting. Highly technical pieces are farmed out to junior freelancers working under strict time limits. Corrections, if they happen at all, are inserted quietly through ninja edits’ after the fact.

There is no real penalty for making mistakes, but there is enormous pressure to frame stories in whatever way maximizes page views. Once those stories get picked up by rival news outlets, they become ineradicable. The sheer weight of copycat coverage creates the impression of legitimacy. As the old adage has it, a lie can get halfway around the world while the truth is pulling its boots on.

I’m done with not being believed, Amber Tamblyn:

For women in America who come forward with stories of harassment, abuse and sexual assault, there are not two sides to every story, however noble that principle might seem. Women do not get to have a side. They get to have an interrogation. Too often, they are questioned mercilessly about whether their side is legitimate. Especially if that side happens to accuse a man of stature, then that woman has to consider the scrutiny and repercussions she’ll be subjected to by sharing her side.

Every day, women across the country consider the risks. That is our day job and our night shift. We have a diploma in risk consideration. Consider that skirt. Consider that dark alley. Consider questioning your boss. Consider what your daughter will think of you. Consider what your mother will think of what your daughter will think of you. Consider how it will be twisted and used against you in a court of law. Consider whether you did, perhaps, really ask for it. Consider your weight. Consider dieting. Consider agelessness. Consider silence.

Welcome to the new Toronto: the most fascinatingly boring city in the world, Stephen Marche:

This ludicrous state of affairs — money wasted in one corner of the city while it’s desperately needed elsewhere — is the typical result of Toronto City Hall’s idea of consensus. The council is a pack of hicks and rubes, a visionless amalgam of small-c conservatives and vaguely union-hall lefties, all of them living resolutely in the past. Both sides want to stop what’s happening in the city.

The lefties want to slow gentrification, and the conservatives think we’ve all been taxed enough. Of course, when most people think of hicks and rubes in Toronto City Hall, they think of Rob Ford, who died of cancer earlier this year. But Giorgio Mammoliti, councillor for Ward Seven, has proposed a floating casino, a red-light district on the Toronto Islands, and an 11pm curfew for children under 14. He has blamed a few of his erratic comments on a brain fistula he had removed in 2013, but nobody has since been able to tell the difference in his behaviour. Add another contradiction to Toronto’s growing list: it must be the best-run city in the world run by idiots.

Short Trip’ by Alexander Perrin is beautiful, mesmerizing, and meditative. Play it again and again.

Short Trip by Alexander Perrin

And a few more:

→ Weekend Reading