A Furry Mental Health Podcast?

Fandom 150So 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.

4 thoughts on “A Furry Mental Health Podcast?

  1. I think this is a fantastic idea! There are a lot of ways in which you could structure such a podcast and still maintain both a respectful atmosphere as well as keeping from presenting the show as either medical advice or a generalization of specific syndromes. I think a good idea would be to come up with a formula for how each episode is run, so that you can pull together a show within a reasonable time. That way, you can talk a little bit about psychology, psychiatry, personal experience, and techniques each episode.

    I’d love to help however I can! This sounds like a really awesome project.

  2. Yes! Definitely.

    You don’t want to do anything damaging, for sure, but there is a plethora of information out there to be collected and assembled and properly mixed into a show. I would say that you can interview and find professionals and people rather easily.

    Your starting point is probably going to be http://transom.org/topics/tools/ no matter what. They’re the folks that are dedicated to helping people create great podcasts. This American Life and Radiolab have mentioned them many times.

    Your main issues are probably going to be fact-checking and set up costs, though you may be surprised at how easy it is to get started in a basic way. You don’t have to be amazing right off the bat. There have been amazing things made by everyday people, even, thanks to http://storycorps.org/ . They aren’t directly relevant, but I think it’s very encouraging.

    Good luck!

  3. Have you ever heard the song “Radio Orchid”? It’s by an obscure 80’s band called Fury in the Slaughterhouse. This post brought it to mind. Worth a listen, though its subject is dealing with grief and loss rather than depression. The song tells the story of a woman who loses her husband and starts a radio show to talk about her loss. She ends up taking callers and the show becomes a platform for people to share their own losses. There’s no advice given. There’s no attempting to “fix” callers’ grief. People share, people listen.

    The most healing experiences I’ve had have come from those moments when I’m reminded that, while I’m struggling alone, I’m not alone this fight. A show that offers up others’ experiences WITHOUT trying to analyze, advise, or extrapolate would be incredible. Let the experiences speak for themselves as much as possible. Good experiences. Bad experiences. If dialog happens, let it be organic. If enough people drop comments asking for analysis, advice, or extrapolation after an episode, then perhaps devote a small part of each following episode to responding to those.

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