So last week I made a series of posts about depression and recent comments and ideas being batted around within the fandom. The response has been pretty amazing, and I’m so happy to hear from so many people who are dealing with mental health issues themselves or have been touched by people who are. I sincerely believe that the more we talk about these things openly, the less stigma they’ll carry and the more understanding there will be about what these issues are exactly. Coming out of last week, I’ve resolved to be more open about my own experience with depression and other issues and encourage other people who are going through their own challenges. (Sorry, I’ve adopted corporate-speak so hard here.)
I’d like to find a more formal approach in continuing the discussion. There are so many people in the furry fandom and other geek spaces who have dealt with severe depression, conditions on the autism spectrum, traumatic events and their fallout, personality disorders and other issues of brain chemistry; I think it would be really helpful to promote information and discussion about all of these things, and gather resources that might help people manage these conditions a little better or help others get the treatment and advice they deserve.
This blog will continue to be a space where I talk about my experience with my own issues, and insights I’ve learned about coping with them on a day-to-day basis. But I’m only one data point. There’s a whole community of us out there with our own specific relationships with our minds; we’ve learned how to cope in different ways and through different situations, and have made different choices based on our own ideas of what’s tolerable and what’s not. I’d like to find a way to explore all of that, to bring in other voices and discuss not just what professional advice there is out there but how that advice has been enacted through experience.
What’s the best way to do this? My instinctive idea is to work on a podcast or YouTube series that focuses on mental health in furry/geek spaces, the specific histories each of us has with our issues, how we’ve learned to cope with them and the challenges we still face in our personal lives and in our communities at large. I would hope to discuss commonly-accepted definitions of various mental health issues, the different ways they manifest in people, how those issues are treated through medication or therapy and how symptoms of those issues can be managed through daily techniques, diet, exercise and the like.
I already know there are a couple of issues with this. First and foremost, just because I have the potential platform to speak about these issues doesn’t mean I have the authority. I’m not a medical doctor, a psychiatrist or a counselor. I’ve taken a Psych 101 course in community college and that’s it. The podcast, or YouTube series, or blog would only be one facet of dealing with mental health issues and not at all a replacement for professional treatment and care. It would really suck to put something out there that turned out to be not all that useful — or worse, inaccurate and damaging. I’d want to be very careful about the content of such a thing.
There might also be an issue with offering up lessons from other people’s experiences and extrapolating that out to more general recommendations. What works for one person may not work for others, and it would be important to note that. By saying “This is one person’s experience with depression,” it could be interpreted as “This is what depression is” — and if someone doesn’t share many similarities with that experience then the whole affair could be alienating and discouraging instead of connecting and hope-inspiring.
I would almost certainly make mistakes with this, at least at first. It would take a little while for me to find my way through the presentation and work on a format that is helpful. But it’s something I really do believe *could* be helpful.
So, I turn the discussion over to you, dear readers. Would a podcast, YouTube series or website about mental health issues in the fandom interest you? What sort of topics would you like to be discussed? What kind of information would be most useful? What form would you like the presentation to take? What pitfalls should I look out for? I’m really interested in your feedback; it will help me to know how to move forward on this, or if I should move forward at all.