Skepticon IV

So there haven’t been any updates lately. Part of that is that I found Zach Wiener (of SMBC fame) is doing his own teach-yourself-logic sort of thing  on his blog with his posts on discrete math, and doing it much better than I was, so I kind of lost motivation. Maybe I’ll go back to it at some point, but for now I’m done with boring incomprehensible logic posts.

Anyways, the last two days I’ve been watching videos of talks from Skepticon IV. I watched a talk about rationality and Vulcans on Star Trek (which appealed pretty much directly to me). I watched talks about angry atheists, genetics, and feminism. And these were all great.

Then I watched a talk by JT Eberhard about mental illness. I finished watching it about 10 minutes ago. And I am blown away.

I went into this video knowing basically nothing about JT. I had heard his name here and there on blogs and/or podcasts. I knew he was associated with the Secular Student Alliance, which is an amazing organization. But I had never really read anything by him or heard him speak. Three minutes into that video he sings Happy Birthday on stage in front of a crowd of people and I thought to myself “This man is really brave to stand up and sing in front of all those people.” And then the rest of the video happened and I realized how big of an understatement that truly was.

This is hard to write. I’m at something of a loss for words over it. So bear with me as I try to sort this out in words.

I don’t know if I have a mental illness. I don’t think I do, but I’ve never really been checked for one. I feel lonely a lot, and sometimes depressed. I don’t contemplate suicide. But the part of that talk that really made me think to myself was when he spoke about how it felt to be put on pills. Or to admit that there’s a problem. Sometimes when I’ve been depressed I’ve had a friend recommend therapy. I haven’t done it. And part of the reason for that is that it scares me. It scares me to admit that maybe I do have a problem. It scares me to think that I might have something that prevents me from being as happy as I might be. And as messed up as it is, it scares me to think that somehow it might not be my fault that I can’t just make myself happier. Which is odd: you’d think it would be comforting to think that it isn’t my own doing.

I don’t have problems as severe as JT or others. But I can definitely relate to some of the experiences he spoke about and in a strange way, I think that gives me strength: just to know that someone else feels like that and that it’s surmountable.

JT is definitely right, this needs to be something that the skeptical community leads the charge on. Judging from the reception this talk has been getting, we have a lot to look forward to. The future should be pretty cool.

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