At Skepticon last weekend, JT Eberhard gave a very brave speech about mental illness. It was brave because he suffers from one of the most common forms of mental illness himself, anorexia. You wouldn’t know it now, given how buff the guy is, but as he explains, this is a form of anorexia as well. I had to leave early and missed it at the time and was disappointed, so I’m happy that it is up on Youtube now. He’s also asking others to come out of the closet, to talk about their mental illness.
If you’re a blogger who lives with a mental disorder, write about it. If you don’t, learn something new about mental illnesses and write a post about what you learned or dispel a myth or share how knowing someone with a mental illness has affected your life and ways you’ve learned to help. Write a facebook status if you’re not a blogger. The adoption of this issue by the skeptic community will change the world. It will save lives.
This talk will make you cry. And it will make you cheer. And it will make you admire JT as much as I do for his courage. I’ve never suffered from any kind of mental illness, but I’ve known and loved many who have. But the whole issue still exists in this nether world of shame and no one wants to talk about it. Immense respect to JT for getting up in front of a thousand people and then putting this up for the whole world to see.
Here’s what I learned from the video: Appearances can fool the hell out of you. Just like I would never have guessed that JT has an incredible singing voice, I would never have guessed that he suffered from a mental illness. You meet him and he’s in great shape and he’s gregarious and engaging and the life of the party. You’re naturally drawn to him because of his energy and his intelligence. You would never, ever guess that there can be such torment going on inside his head at times. And that is why it was so important for him to give this talk.