Monday, August 25, 2014

Of Ice and Memes

So, yesterday, my dad called me out for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Now, if you've been living under a rock or something, and you've chosen today to come out and check on the rest of the world, first of all, welcome back. Secondly, the idea behind this is to raise money to study and fight ALS—amyotrophic lateral sclerosis—which you might know better as Lou Gehrig's Disease. It's a degenerative nerve disease, and it is, as of today, always a fatal disease. So, if you are tagged, you have 24 hours to either donate $100 to an ALS-related charity, or have a bucket of ice water dumped over your head. I'm a bit outside the 24 hours already, but we're going to be breaking several rules here today. You'll get over it.

I knew it was only a matter of time before I got tagged for this, and I've been very torn about it. ALS is a worthy cause, no doubt. So is supporting victims of domestic violence or sexual assault. And animal welfare. Literacy. The environment. The list is practically endless. Only a very limited portion of the population could afford to donate to all of them (and let's be honest—you don't amass that much wealth by donating to every cause there is). The rest of us have to choose. And most of us do. It's not fair to pressure someone into giving to your particular cause, or shame them for not doing it. We all have our causes. You probably have one, or a few, that you give to already. If ALS isn't yours, here are some websites that can help you find something that suits you better (there are surely many more, but these few will at least get you started):

There's been a lot of controversy over this. Some people have complained that it wastes water. You could say the same about swimming pools, but this is, of course, a much easier target. So that's where I'm getting the water, from a swimming pool, where it was already set aside to be sloshed over humans. People also complain that the icy bit is being done to get out of giving to charity. Maybe that's true, but those people probably weren't going to donate to anything anyway. Think about how many people have decided to help who wouldn't otherwise have done so. What's important to remember is that, imperfect as it may be, it's still about helping people, and that is always a good thing.

Personally, I'm going to do both. Icy water over the head, and an undisclosed amount of money to some equally undisclosed charities. As most of us would have done anyway, regardless of any meme (well, the charity bit, anyway).

It's a bit too dark out for a video at the moment. You'll get it soon.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"Of course it is happening inside your head, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?"

I've been mostly avoiding the internet since last night, and I'll probably continue to do so for at least the next few days, given that basically everything online right now comes with a giant trigger warning for depression and suicide—doubly so if you are a humorist dealing with either of these issues. To compound all that, I stupidly let my meds lapse last week, so I missed taking them for several days, and I haven't quite gotten back on track again. And so it's really not good for me to be writing about this right now, but it's also very important to me, so I want to share some things that other people have written, and to remind you that depression lies. It does it very convincingly sometimes, but it still lies.

If you're considering suicide, or you know someone who is, please, please call a suicide hotline: It's free. They've been in your shoes, and they listen.

The Bloggess has written a number of posts about depression: "Strange and Beautiful" has a lot of tricks that can help. You can print a "Depression Lies" bracelet for free from the post with that title (also, there's a video). I made one about 2 1/2 years ago. I still have it. (I found it again this morning.)

Allie Brosh (Hyperbole and a Half) has written a couple of posts about her struggle: Adventures In Depression, Part 1 / Part 2. Some psychologists have actually described it as one of the best contemporary portraits of depression, so if you're not suffering from it yourself, but you know someone who is, and you want to understand what they're going through a little bit better, you should also read it.

Boggle the Owl is also helpful.

Please, if you need to, talk. If someone needs you, listen. Remember, we're all in this together.