What a time What a time

mental health, art, trauma, it's all here folks!

I keep getting those annoying spam calls about my car warranty having expired and how they’ve been trying to reach me for several weeks. I hate those calls and I wish they would stop. The calls have also infiltrated my dreamscape because I’ve had a recurring dream where someone is frantically trying to reach me about my brain’s warranty. Sometimes that dream makes me anxious but most of the time I laugh it off in the morning. It’s really nice that my brain is reminding me that it’s something that needs taking care of. I know that dreams don’t actually mean anything but that’s how I’m choosing to interpret this one.

Someone told me recently they had “finally hit the COVID wall.” Imagine both of our surprise when my face turned into the human version of the brain exploding emoji. Smoke and everything. Is this the same thrill and awe scientists feel when they discover a new species? I had found someone for whom this once in a lifetime global pandemic had been manageable this entire time and only now was it finally getting to them?! People are living like this?

I know that some people really do not have any mental health issues and I truly love that for them. Imagine having your factory issued neurotransmitters still firing correctly after all this time? Gorgeous. But my unscientific poll showed that even most of those people cracked around the Season 2 finale/early Season 3 episodes of the pandemic so this person felt like an extreme version of the mentally always wells.

Personally, every single day since last March, I have a 15 minute spiral in the morning where I think I have COVID and then I calm down. And that’s the chill part of the day. It’s only downhill from there. I have hit many walls over the last year.

One thing about me you have to know is that I am obsessed with fairness particularly when things aren’t going well. I’m always relieved when everyone is experiencing the same level of discomfort in a bad situation. Equal distribution of bad vibes makes me feel better. I cannot explain it and I know it’s terrible but it makes me feel alive. Shoutout to COVID-19 for being such terrible and abnormal unprecedented times that even the mentally well are challenged. I kind of love that for all of us.

The person who was telling me about finally hitting the wall did the thing that so many of us do when we start talking about how we are doing these days: minimizing the situation and explaining to me that others have it worst. It’s true that it’s always worse for someone else and it’s also true that we are all living in incredibly challenging circumstances. Incredibly challenging circumstances under mental duress I should add. We are in a global mental health crisis.

Mental health stigma come in many shapes and forms. Sometimes it’s fairly subtle. Other times it’s very obvious and blatantly discriminatory but no matter the magnitude it all leads to harm and hurts every single one of us whether we struggle with mental illness or not. I think it’s fair to say that we would all have a slightly easier time navigating some pandemic woes if we lived in a society that previously prioritized talking about mental health in a constructive way and showing compassion for people who struggle with mental illness.

Inexplicably, February was overall a good month for me. My store-bought neurotransmitters are working as they should and I have managed to have the kind of routine that makes me feel sane. But I also know that this feeling is ephemeral. It is the dragon I will spend the rest of my life chasing.

Every once in a while, usually when I am drafting a professional email or about to hop on a business call, I experience acute but fleeting moments of feeling outside of my right mind. We are living in madness but America expects all of us to perform work as if this were normal. I manage to shake the insane feeling off so I write the email or get on the call but this is not OK. We are not OK. I don’t know what to do about it but I do know that if we don’t talk about it, it will harm as many or more people than COVID has taken from us.


Links

  • The combination of email + mobile phones is the worst modern intervention ever. Sorry if you’re reading this and I owe you an email.

  • Sometimes I wonder why families aren’t marching in the streets demanding better childcare legislation and then I remember that by and large the moms do all the work and they’re too overworked for revolution. This is untenable.

  • "Making a living as a chef in America wasn’t just a job, Smile understood; it was a performance." A fascinating, well-researched read on a complicated figure from early 20th Century America,

  • Good news for the art lovers! Related: The studio museum has been doing the work. I really needed to read that. I really miss museums and am very sad I didn’t see this show last year.

  • A thousand times this: "I think we’ve lost hold of the part of art that’s centrally involved with challenge, with the pursuit of surprise, with the widening of tolerance."

  • This really tugged at my heart strings because getting a correct diagnosis of any kind requires a lot of effort and so does living with ADHD. Related: if you are an adult woman with ADHD, this subreddit is very helpful.

  • You’ll never unknow the feeling” hard agree! Everything is making me emotional today so I am of course extra emotional about the ubiquitous fuzzy blanket of globalization.

  • This article is the reason I don’t get too stressed about polarization and I roll my eyes when people say that blue America and red America should find some common ground because the coaches of team red America are dishonest thieves who never intended to play fair.

  • Don’t be fooled by the headline and framing, this is not a feel good story. The vaccination rate should not depend on a 14 year old’s free time. Related: it turns out that distrust for medical research is higher among Black folks who have never heard of the Tuskegee study. So stop citing that when talking about vaccine hesitancy in our communities and focus on why this country’s healthcare system is untrustworthy. Thank you.

  • Michelle Obama’s husband is hellbent on trolling me.

  • Don’t colonize Mars, please and thanks.

  • My take on the n-word (it always cracks me up that we call it that honestly) is that white people are allowed to say it if they want (why do they want to say it so badly?!) and that they should live with the consequences of that. Good luck to everyone.

  • My home country is facing another ebola outbreak.

  • There is a lot of conflicting information about trauma online, not because the science isn’t clear but because a lot of self appointed armchair psychologists share misinformation. The most surefire tell for me is language along the lines of “I hold trauma in my hips”. Honestly anytime someone says that you, ask them to point to their amygdala. If they don’t know where or what the amygdala is they have no business giving professional advice about trauma responses. Of course, I agree that there is a physical component to dealing with trauma. I also know that a lot of garbage science and online scientific clout chasing is masked as a concern for people dealing with PTSD. Let’s not promote garbage science because it is a slippery slope to QAnon and all sorts of wacky conspiracy theories. That said if you want to learn more about trauma in the body, I did find this podcast episode and Bessel van der Kolk’s overall body of work really helpful and grounded in sound scholarship.

  • Caity Weaver and Cleo Wade each came on the podcast recently and I feel incredibly lucky to have talked to them.

The good tweets

Most tweets are bad but sometimes they are good.

This newsletter is supposed to go out on Saturdays. Last week, I got stoned and forgot but this week I just wanted to give myself the day off. I recognize that giving yourself the day off is a privilege but maybe there’s even a tiny task you can put off for later and choose rest instead. It feels nice to give yourself permission to not feel guilty about it. See you Wednesday.