(This was originally written as an e-mail to be sent out at 10:58. Turns out, Gmail will suspend your account if you send out an e-mail to more than 100 people at once.)
Chris Gethard here.
Over the past few months I went and got married, went on a honeymoon, and toured around the United States and Canada doing some stand up comedy. This gave me a lot of time to think about our little public access show, if I wanted to keep doing it, and where I think it might go.
The answer is – yes, I want to keep doing it. In fact, we’re about to go live back on the air for the first time in a whole bunch of weeks in just a few minutes.
This type of negativity might sound like apostasy by American standards. Norman Vincent Peale’s 1952 classic, The Power of Positive Thinking, sold 5 million copies and was a New York Times bestseller for 186 weeks. One of the most common things to say when someone expresses worry is, “Just think positive!” Optimism does have its health benefits, but according to Julie Norem, a psychology professor at Wellesley College, trying to force positivity is a bad strategy for the truly anxious.
Khazan: What’s the opposite of a defensive pessimist? What are other strategies people use to help with their anxiety?
Norem: The biggest one is self-handicapping: People feel anxious, they’re worried about failure, and so they try to give themselves an excuse in case failure happens. You’re anxious about the party, so you get drunk, and if you make an idiot of yourself you can blame it on the booze. Or much more common is procrastinating. If things don’t go well, it’s because I put it off till the last minute."
“If I’m entirely honest, and you say I must be I want to stay with you all afternoon evening, night and tomorrow pressed into you so tightly that we don’t know whose belly made what sound, whose heart it is that is thumping like that until I don’t know if the sweat on my chest is yours or mine or ours.”
Yrsa Daley-Ward, ‘bone.’
now available at amazon.com
No, not many of us would count depression as an old “friend”, but for many Moodscope users it is a familiar acquaintance which comes and goes or, too often, comes and stays far too long. And, however brief its stay, depression is always an unwelcome visitor.
I was speaking to a friend this week who has just met depression for the first time. Because this is the first (and hopefully the only) time she is experiencing it, she is feeling that she is in unfamiliar territory without a map; it’s a scary place as well as a dark one.
So, for anyone going through this illness for the first time, or anyone who needs a reminder of the basic A, B, Cs of it, here’s some basic advice:
• Depression is an illness, not a moral failing or weakness. You cannot just “pull yourself together” or “snap out of it” any more than you can “snap out” of a broken leg.
• Even if you feel you have contributed to it yourself, self-blame and beating yourself up about it does not help, it makes things worse, so don’t do it! (And yes, I know that’s easier said than done.)
• Although depression is a mental illness, having it does not make you “mad” (except sometimes in the sense of being angry).
• If you have been prescribed drugs, then take them: they do often help and will enable you to recover more quickly. There is more than one drug available; if the first one doesn’t have an effect, another one might work.
• Find out all you can about your illness and take responsibility for your own health. Moodscope can help enormously with this. Try to work in partnership with your GP.
• Give yourself as much slack as you can. You may have to continue working, but cut down your commitments as much as possible and give yourself permission to let your standards slip – just for a time – while you recover.
• You may want to hide yourself away and feel you cannot face people. That’s fine, but ensure you have just a few people around who understand and can support you. Leave a comment on Moodscope’s blogspot page and you will be surprised at the positive response you get. Be honest with as many people as you feel you can trust: many more have gone through this than you would think, and will empathise with you and offer support.
• Try to eat healthily and to take moderate exercise if physically possible.
• Try to avoid alcohol and sugar: it feels good in the short term, but the bill comes in later and it’s usually more than we want to pay.
• Hold onto Hope. Depression does usually lift and you will get better. While you are ill you may feel that there is no light and that you will be stuck in this place for ever, but hold fast to the belief that you will one day be well.
Let’s hope that day will come soon – for all of us.
A Moodscope member.
This review is from: Lightphoria 10,000LUX Energy Light Lamp (Health and Beauty)
First, this light is super-zany bright. It’s blink your eyes bright, but not all weepy like “be a kitten and pass me the Kleenex” bright. But, it throws no heat. It’s odd. Even the chassis doesn’t get hot. Not like my halogen lamp which almost set the sprinklers off when it charred my pastrami sandwich wrapper. This Lightphoria by Sphere Gadget Technologies is cool as a summer cucumber.
If you click on the company, Sphere Gadget Technologies on the Amazon listing for this light, they make only this freaking light! Shouldn’t it be Sphere Gadget Technology, then? This is, strangely enough, version 2.1— I had diet Dr. Pepper come out of my nose when I noticed that. I’m sure there’s been significant upgrades since version 2.0. Many of you are thinking now, “Maybe I should wait for version 3.0? Maybe it’ll be thinner. Or have 10,500 lumens or something.” I wish I could answer that for you, but those buggers at Sphere are one tight-lipped group.
Okay, but how’s it work, you ask? I first used this light near my face at work for about two hours every morning for over a month straight as a test. It could be placebo effect, I have no idea, but I feel more alive all day at work. Not stand on my desk and beat my chest like Tarzan alive, but pretty close.
I’d think that, if it was only placebo, it would have worn off after a couple weeks. And I’m not that gullible for placebos and such. Sure, sometimes I’m down to my last nerve, and everyone in the office is plucking it. But, I’m no patsy.
The used car salesman who sold me the PT Cruiser with oatmeal in the transmission said it best when I pushed it back into his lot: “You, buddy, are just too cunning.” God, that’s rich. Trust me, he was as nervous as a hog at a luau when I bought my next car from him. I have that effect on people, I really do.
You’re going to catch some major flack when you first place this 6 inch by 6 inch meteor on your desk, let me tell you. I thank the Lord that the unique novelty of the light has worn off and my co-workers no longer look at me like I’ve got a blood-sucking tarantula in the middle of my forehead. They’ve stopped saying, “Hey, Jersey Shore, you’re tanning only one side of your face.” Or, “Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close up.” Or, “Mind if I reheat my coffee next to your ‘gloomy lamp’?” Or, “Okay, okay. I confess. I’m the one that stole your mojo. Now turn it off, I beg you.” Honestly, could I make this stuff up? A real witty bunch of intellectuals, they are.
Why the stars deduction? This is a cheaply built light. It’s lightweight, but made of thin plastic. It feels like one drop on the floor and this thing will smash to pieces. The cord has a transformer on the wall end that takes too much space, and it attaches via a jack plug to the light that looks flimsy as heck. Hit the jack, break the light. This light feels like something you could win at the water-gun horsie race booth at the county fair, right next to the lead paint cupie dolls and the stuffed bear that smells like formaldehyde and has one eye dangling on a loose thread.
So, when you get the light, do an experiment: ask your friends and co-workers, how much do you think this light costs? The answer will be around $20. Sure, you could argue 10k lumens takes some LED bulbs and what not. But when I can get a full floor lamp with bright natural light for 1/2 this price, this little thing is pricey. Frankly, the only reason I didn’t buy the cheaper floor lamp is that my co-workers would probably call the asylum if I sat at my desk for two hours each morning staring at a floor lamp only 8 inches from my kisser.
In addition, the different intensity settings on this Lightphoria are useless. Low, medium or high, the brightness changes little. I use it on the brightest setting, regardless of how bummed out I am on a particular day.
Will I use it? Let’s just say that sometimes my attitude stinks stronger than a startled skunk hit by a dirt clod. I’ll admit it.
So, yep, the light seems to make me feel better about myself. And when I feel better about myself, I treat those around me like human beings. So, yes, it helps. Will it break? Probably. Is it worth the price to feel like a six year old on a long summer day? If it keeps working, sure.
I feel light as a feather now, you know, getting all this heavy stuff off my mind. I might even take a morning off from using the old strobe in the face. On second thought, I’d better at least give myself a 30 minute “booster” to ignite that twinkle in my eye. And I know what you’re thinking, and no, I’m not addicted to light box therapy. Sheesh. Get a grip, will you.
UPDATE!!!: Jan 21. Okay, I’ve had it now for several months. I have not budged it from the corner of my desk for fear that I will break it. I have not smashed it yet. I even tuck the cord under the corner of my desk with Scotch tape to prevent one of my unhappy colleagues from stumbling on the cord and yanking my $60 light off my desk and smashing it and then saying, “Hey, I’m sorry. I’ll replace it — here’s twenty bucks. Keep the change and buy yourself a cup of coffee.”
The big question, do I still use it? Answer is: yes. The lights are still bright, no burned out LED bulbs, and still strong beams in my face every morning at my desk for 90 minutes. If I’ve got a big meeting or something, I might stare at it for an additional 30 minutes, but by then my eyeballs feel like two Fig Newtons, so I stop.
I really appreciate the timer feature for 15, 30 or 45 minutes. Without it, I might get distracted and leave the thing on all night and the janitor would think some blind lunatic sits at my desk.
I don’t know if it’s the lamp or the one lb. bag of peanut M&M’s in my desk drawer, but something gives me a smile. Something is preventing me from meandering down to the company boiler room, throwing my necktie over a waterpipe and kicking a desk chair out from under myself. So, I guess, all in all, I’m happy I bought this light.
A cute girl in the corner cubicle just got this same light. She never asked me about it—it just appeared on her desk one morning. She’s cute as hell, with curly red hair and an ice cream scoop dimple in the middle of her chin.
But, her eyes look like two burnt holes in a blanket. No wonder someone gave her this “pep” light. And, just so you know, even with light box therapy, she still avoids me like fresh paint on a park bench.
I do not have clinical depression or SAD, so if someone has those conditions, ask your head shrink about using this light. I, honestly, have no idea if this light, plus a fistful of prescription pills, will be enough to ward off depression. I know that wolfbane inhibits werewolves, and that spinach makes Popeye strong as a kicking mule. Those are scientific facts.
But, I haven’t the foggiest notion how this light will affect you. I’d help you if I could, though. I really would.
My review is for us folks who get the blues from dank office conditions while schlepping the old “ball and chain” for “the Man” to earn a measly paycheck that’s barely enough to buy a hot pizza pie, a six pack of liquid “therapy”, and this Lightphoria lamp. Then, we sit like brainless twits in the stinging glare of this light to burn on a “game face”, and do it all again the following week.
Cheers to you all! Don’t be all bummed out, like me. In the summer, stare at the sun until you’re weeping like a newborn. In the winter, eyeball this flimsy light until you see rows of LEDs on the backs of your lids in your dreams. Your wallet will be lighter, but your day will be brighter.
Please have a bright day!!!!!!!
My next book, Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free, comes out in November, but the reviews have just started to come in. Kirkus gave it a stellar review. Many thanks to neil-gaiman and amandafuckingpalmer for their wonderful introductions!
In his best-selling novel Ready Player One, Ernest Cline predicted that decades from now, Doctorow (Homeland, 2013, etc.) should share the presidency of the Internet with actor Wil Wheaton. Consider this manifesto to be Doctorow’s qualifications for the job.
The author provides a guide to the operation of the Internet that not only makes sense, but is also written for general readers. Using straightforward language and clear analogies, Doctorow breaks down the complex issues and tangled arguments surrounding technology, commerce, copyright, intellectual property, crowd funding, privacy and value—not to mention the tricky situation of becoming “Internet Famous.” Following a characteristically thoughtful introduction by novelist Neil Gaiman, rock star Amanda Palmer offers a blunt summary of today’s world: “We are a new generation of artists, makers, supporters, and consumers who believe that the old system through which we exchanged content and money is dead. Not dying: dead.” So the primary thesis of the book becomes a question of, where do we go from here? Identifying the Web’s constituents as creators, investors, intermediaries and audiences is just the first smart move. Doctorow also files his forthright, tactically savvy arguments under three “laws,” the most important of which has been well-broadcast: “Any time someone puts a lock on something that belongs to you and won’t give you the key, that lock isn’t there for your benefit.”
Enjoy a reading of “Song (Is it dirty)” by O’Hara himself, an audio excerpt from the TV programUSA: Poetry: Frank O’Hara, a 12-part documentary series produced and directed by Richard Moore for National Education Television. This episode was filmed on March 5, 1966, at O’Hara’s New York City home and originally aired on September 1, 1966.
Is it dirty
does it look dirty
that’s what you think of in the city
does it just seem dirty
that’s what you think of in the city
you don’t refuse to breathe do you
someone comes along with a very bad character
he seems attractive. is he really. yes very
he’s attractive as his character is bad. is it. yes
that’s what you think of in the city
run your finger along your no-moss mind
that’s not a thought that’s soot
and you take a lot of dirt off someone
is the character less bad. no. it improves constantly
you don’t refuse to breathe do you