The Biskeptical Podcast #46: Scientific Racism and Atheist Movement Drama

On today’s episode, we’re going to first talk about the recent debate between Sam Harris and Vox writer Ezra Klein about Harris’ interview with Charles Murray, co-author of the infamous book The Bell Curve. We’ll talk about what both Harris and Murray got wrong, and go a little bit into the science behind intelligence and genetics. For the second half of the show, we’ll talk about how stress from all the atheist movement drama led me to a suicidal episode last week, and whether or not being part of the movement is worth it.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #145: My Suicidal Episode

As you may remember from the intro to last week’s episode, I recently had an emergency where I almost drank myself to death. I’m doing much better now, thankfully, but I’ve been focused so much on recovery that I didn’t feel like booking a guest for this week, so instead I’m going to tell you what happened and how I’m re-evaluating my life.

Needless to say, this episode has all the trigger warnings, so if you’re not in a good place right now, you can skip this and come back if and when you’re in a much better space.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to do this episode or not because I’m sure I’ll write about it in future articles and mention it on other podcasts. But since most of you all know me best through this podcast, I figured this would be the best place to share my story right now.

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We Need To Talk About How Non-Binary Invisibility Affects Mental Health — My Latest for Ravishly

It’s no secret that many LGBTQ people struggle with mental health issues, but some struggle more than others.

For example, a 2011 study shows that out of 33% of LGBT students surveyed that reported suicidal ideation during the previous year, 44% of them were bisexual. Other studies have similar results, and they all suggest bisexual invisibility is the underlying cause. Indeed in my own experience as a bisexual, being caught in the middle of the binary of straight and gay often made me feel like I wasn’t queer enough for the LGBTQ community and not straight enough for the heterosexual world, leaving me feel lost in space in the end.

Recent studies reveal being in the middle of the gender binary isn’t any better. A 2017 study, for example, surveyed over 900 trans youth (ages 14 to 25) and found that non-binary participants reported struggling with mental illness more than binary trans participants. As the study authors speculate, “This group [non-binary youth] is likely to be less understood and acknowledged than transgender youth whose gender identity fits into the man/woman binary, and this may mean nonbinary youth are less likely to have social support.” Another study from last year, conducted by Transgender Europe, found similar results; specifically, that twice as many non-binary people reported struggling with mental health problems as binary trans people.

I asked my non-binary Facebook friends about their experiences with non-binary invisibility. Some, like Ingrid, said their transition would have been a lot easier if they had more support.

Read the rest here.

Bi Any Means Podcast #139: Psychiatric Abuse with Caleb Orion

My guest for today is Caleb Orion. A few weeks ago they messaged me on Facebook wanting to share the story of their traumatic experience with psychiatric abuse, so I’ve got them on the show today to talk about it.

CN: Suicide attempts, abuse

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How Dogmatic Perfectionism Nearly Killed Me — My Latest for Ravishly

When I was a Christian, one of my favorite books was The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. He was a former Franciscan priest who struggled with alcoholism for most of his life. Through his struggles he came to believe that God’s grace was big enough for a ragamuffin like him, and that he didn’t have to do anything to earn God’s love. Because of this amazing grace, he was finally able to be okay with his own imperfection.

“To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story,” he wrote, “the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means.”

While I am no longer a Christian — mostly because I read all the parts of the Bible Manning didn’t mention — I still love the idea of embracing my inner ragamuffin. Like Manning, I’m a walking paradox. I love and I hate. I’m peaceful and I’m violent. I’m honest and I’m hypocritical. I fight for liberation and I perpetuate systems of oppression. It’s just now, at 34 years old, that I’m beginning to be okay with it. As the old song goes, “I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger.”

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Bi Any Means Podcast #129: The Recovery Diaries—A Monologue

Today’s episode is going to be another monologue episode. Today’s going to be a very bare-bones episode where I talk about my drinking problem and the steps I’m taking toward recovery. It’s going to be pretty raw, just to give you all a head’s up, so you might want to skip this episode if you’re not in a good space. For everyone else—especially those struggling—I hope this episode will benefit you in some way.

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The Mental Health Guide To Handling Call Outs — My Latest for Ravishly

Let’s face it: being called out sucks. We like to think we’re “woke” and know everything about smashing the white supremacist cis-heteronormative imperialist ableist capitalist patriarchy. We log onto Everyday Feminism religiously, and our bookshelves are overflowing with Ta-Nehisi Coates and Audre Lorde. We’ve got our shit together, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case. We’re still human, and we’re all still giant fuck-up machines (as I once heard Yvette “The SciBabe” d’Entremont say), so call outs are inevitable in social justice activism.

Sometimes it’s over a simple boo-boo, like unknowingly saying something ableist. Other times, it’s over a giant fuck-up, like the time I demanded emotional labor from people in a couple of feminist groups. Either way, realizing your shit stinks as much as the next person’s still sucks.

It doesn’t help if you are in any way either mentally ill or neurodivergent. I have depression, anxiety, and Autism Spectrum Disorder, so I never know if someone is calling me out to hold me accountable or just to be holier-than-thou.

A lot has been said about toxic call-out culture among certain social justice activists where they put you through ideological purity tests and shun you if you fail. I once thought I was the target of such a witch hunt a little over a year ago. As I mentioned earlier, there was an incident where I demanded emotional labor from people in a couple of feminist Facebook groups. When they called me out on it, I wrote an angry blog post about “toxic feminists,” and then got called out on that blog post a few months later. Instead of backing away and thinking about what they were saying, though, I felt like they were attacking me and had a panic attack. It wasn’t until a trusted friend pulled me aside and told me I was in the wrong that I changed my tune. For the next month, I laid low on social media and started researching how to process call outs while staying mentally healthy, and here are some tips I picked up along the way:

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The Dangers of Antipsychiatry — My Latest for Paste Magazine

If you spend as much time as I do on Facebook, you’ve probably seen the meme that shows a picture of a forest with the words, “This is an antidepressant” and a picture of Prozac with the words, “This is shit.” The meme comes to us from the folks at TruthTheory.com, which “offers alternative news, documentaries and much more.” It sounds interesting at first, until you look at some of their other memes, which include 9/11 conspiraciesanti-GMO memes and a claim that the government is using Snapchat filters to create a database. Naturally the anti-Prozac meme met with a large amount of backlash, and for a good reason: claiming psychiatry is a “pseudoscience” is deadly.

But where did this idea come from? The main source is psychiatrist Thomas Szasz’s 1961 book The Myth of Mental Illness, where he argued mental illness is just a “metaphor,” and that psychiatry is no more legitimate than alchemy. The book became an instant classic, and the American Humanist Association named Szasz Humanist of the Year in 1973. And to be fair, Szasz was right about a few things, like the overuse of electroshock therapy. However, his main argument—that mental illness is just a metaphor—is just plain wrong.

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The Biskeptical Podcast #11: Mental Health Woo

On today’s episode, Morgan and I take a break from the train wreck that is the presidential election and talk about mental health woo. Are psychiatric meds poison? Will a walk through the woods cure everything that ails you? Where did all this mental health denial bullshit come from? Take a listen to find out.

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Zoltron Sees Sadness: How Mr. Frowney Perfectly Sums Up My Depression

mrfrowny

CN: Mental illness, Suicide Ideation, Self-Injury

If you follow me on Facebook, you know that one of my all-time favorite TV shows is Steven Universe. For a cartoon, it has a lot of deep issues: abusive relationships, queer relationships, jealousy, regret, trauma, and, in a more recent episode, depression.

In “Future Boy Zoltron,” the local arcade owner Mr. Smiley buys a fortune telling machine called Zoltron (a nod to the classic fortune telling machine Zoltar). Unfortunately, Steven breaks it, so Mr. Smiley makes Steven put on silver make up and pretend to be Zotron to pay for a new machine. At first it’s all fun, until a sad British man asks Steven/Zoltron, “Will talking to him ever make any difference?” Steven tries to help him out, but even after borrowing some of Garnet’s future vision, nothing helps. Finally the man says, “I guess the curtain really did close on Mr. Smiley and Mr. Frowney. Nobody misses our act, not even him.” As soon as Mr. Frowney leaves, Steven tells Mr. Smiley that he just say Mr. Frowney. Mr. Smiley explains that he and Mr. Frowney used to perform stand-up comedy together. Mr. Smiley eventually catches up with Mr. Frowney and tells Mr. Frowney he wanted their act to work, but Mr. Frowney was just sad all the time. But just when Mr. Frowney is about to leave, Mr. Smiley goes into their own routine:

Smiley: “You having a bad day, Frowney?”

Frowney: “Horrible.”

Smiley: “Well, why don’t you go outside? The sun always cheers me up.”

Frowney: “I did, but it rained.”

Smiley: “Why don’t you use an umbrella?”

Frowney: “I did, but it blew away.”

Smiley: “Ooh, you must have been shocked.”

Frowney: “Yeah, that’s when the lightning hit me. Smiley, what do you do when you’re feeling down?”

Smiley: “[grabs Mr. Frowney] I just take my frown, [turns him upside down] and turn it around.”

And that’s when Mr. Smiley laughs because he finally got the joke.

***

When I’m having a bad depression spell, I am Mr. Frowney. No one and nothing can cheer me up. I end up isolating myself from everyone for days, not returning any texts or emails from anyone. I feel like everything I touch turns to shit like King Midas gone horribly wrong. I cut myself to make some sort of penance to a god I don’t believe in. I obsessively look at Kurt Cobian’s death scene photos over and over again, and imagine following in his footsteps.

But then right when all seems hopeless, some glimmer of hope shines through. It’s usually something small, but it’s enough for me to keep living.

***

This is the part where I’m supposed to wrap things up with a nice little encouraging message, but to be perfectly honest, I’ve been in total Mr. Frowney mode lately. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to take my frown and turn it around.