On Martin Luther King Day

On Martin Luther King Day

When I think of the famous speeches of Dr. King, I am always reminded of this fact. We have always seen certain groups of people as less deserving of the rights we willingly claim for ourselves. Be it blacks, immigrants, prisoners, those with mental health struggles or disabilities, members of the LGBTQ community, or addicts, it is far too easy to look at them with judgment and disdain. Maybe even fear. They’re different than me. What happens to them is not my concern. They probably brought it on themselves anyway.

Those are all too easy to say. The hard work is in looking at people who are different from us, who live different lives, make different choices, and recognize our common humanity. That’s what Dr. King was talking about. Not being blind to our differences but being aware that we are all human and deserve respect based on that. So when a black man is lynched, or a prisoner dies from a lack of medical care, or someone struggling dies from suicide without access to mental healthcare, or because their own family won’t accept them for who they are, we fail as a society. We fail to see human life as human life.

Social Connections Don’t Solve Everything But They Matter, A Lot

Social Connections Don’t Solve Everything But They Matter, A Lot

On the other hand, when we are struggling, our first instinct is often to not get in touch with someone. It’s to isolate. I suspect that is because we live in a world that has been telling us to be positive. That feeling down shouldn’t be shared, lest we negatively influence our friends and be cut out of their lives. (Good vibes only, am I right?)

That’s not the way any of this is supposed to work.

Loneliness and the Loss of Third Places

Loneliness and the Loss of Third Places

We are much more likely to watch Netflix instead of spending time in a third place. We are a culture that is seeing less and less interest in churches, club memberships, leagues, etc., and one that provides fewer clubs, small events, and other spaces for people to hang out in. That has hurt us socially. Media has made us much more afraid of each other, pushing us away from forming communities. (Fox specializes in terrifying their own audience and telling them to keep coming back to learn all the things they should be scared of, and others have followed in their footsteps.)They have helped us become less and less interested in creating third places. If we do gather, it’s usually for some specific purpose or event, not something we do on an ongoing basis. So, we never form the bonds that give us a sense of belonging.

We are lonely. That loneliness is causing immense harm. We don’t belong anywhere, but we should belong and try to find ways to create a space where people can belong.

Anxiety and Depression as Evolutionary Response to Adversity

Anxiety and Depression as Evolutionary Response to Adversity

We evolved to feel depression and anxiety in response to difficult experiences because it serves a purpose. We’ve also evolved to depend on each other as a community. One without the other is going to go poorly for us, and I fear that is exactly where we are now. The large increases in rates of depression and anxiety, not to mention what seems like our complete inability to make a dent in the rates of suicide in the US, might just be because of this imbalance.

So be good to each other, and stay connected to each other. It’s what we need most in times of adversity.

There’s a New Form of Stigma Around Mental Health and It’s Extremely Dangerous

There’s a New Form of Stigma Around Mental Health and It’s Extremely Dangerous

If you can’t read that, or Twitter starts blocking embeds again – at the mention of a pediatric psychiatric hospital Rep. Cox said “You might want to check that place for grooming”.

Yes, the very mention of providing mental health care for children is met with a suggestion that it is a place for grooming. Because, of course, anyone who encourages kids to talk about their mental health is out to groom them for sexual abuse.

This is a dangerous path that we are on.

Heal Without Judging How Others Heal

Heal Without Judging How Others Heal

The same can be said for inpatient treatment, therapy, exercise, gardening, micro-dosing, meditation, religion, etc. There are so many things that have worked for some people in healing. The list could get long, but no matter how many items we add, one thing will be true for every item. They all worked for some of the people some of the time and never for everyone all of the time.

Healing is hard. Those who are trying to heal from trauma deserve our respect and encouragement. They don’t need a ton of judgment about how they are healing. Stop making it harder with your judgment.