Here’s Something that Makes Me Unaccountably Happy…

… So, let’s spend a few words trying to account for it…

“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is getting a second season.

*Does a happy dance, which seems to be a weird combination of the Snoopy dance and the Carlton*

I loved the first season of this show.

The cast, the writing, the humor, the emotional swings – all of it.

Take an upper-middle class, Jewish Housewife, circa 1950s New York. Give her a husband that is trying stand up comedy as a hobby. Then let said husband leave her, and the kids. Take all of that, wrap it in the drama of a new life and two intertwined families in an era where that sort of thing just wasn’t done. Then, as it turns out, the housewife is actually better at stand up than her husband ever was.

There’s a lot more that goes into it. And you should get into it and find out.

I promise you, it will be well worth your time.

(The show plays on yet another streaming service that isn’t paying me, so fuck them. Let them do their own advertising. But I’m sure you can find it if you look.)

Anyways, all that to say the trailer for season two dropped yesterday, and I am unabashedly excited for this show to come back.

Oh, and the guy playing Lenny Bruce…

…Nails it.

If you’re looking for something good, and a bit upbeat, check it out.

Until next time…

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Welcome to the Vaguely Uncomfortable Side of Sharing, Make Yourself a Drink…

I had plans today.

Plans to go to the gym. Plans to work on my current novel. Plans to write back cover copy for my self-publishing marketing push.

None of those things happened…

…Because my brain is being an asshole.

So that I can count at least one thing as an accomplishment today, I fixed a drink (Southern Comfort and Coke Zero – and yes, I’ll take a sponsorship if it’s offered,) put my ever-widening ass in the chair, and started typing.

This is what’s coming out.

(If you’d rather not read anything about depression just now, I understand. I won’t be bothered if you visit content more jubilant than you can expect in this post. I really won’t.)

Got to take care of yourself.

Speaking of self-care, and depression, let me talk a little bit about what I do, you know, self-care-wise. The depression requires no effort on my part.

I do a lot of things – coping strategies they are sometimes called – to mitigate the deleterious effects of my mental illness.

  1. I meditate, regularly. (mindfulness, mantra, and auto-hypnosis, depending on the day and what I need.)
  2. I exercise, for about 75 minutes, six days a week. (I lift weights, because it’s what I enjoy.)
  3. I watch my diet. (Not so much calorie restriction, although that has been on my menu for a good long while, but I try not to eat things that make me feel shitty.)
  4. I’m strict with my sleep hygiene. (I usually get 7.5 hours a night, a little more on the weekends.)
  5. I try to spend a little time, every day, doing a thing I love – something that excites me. (This is usually productive: writing, planning, learning, etc.. I still love a good movie/ TV show/ book/ comic [and sometimes a bad one] but I save that for when I’m exhausted or a need a distraction.)
  6. I force myself to make contact with the outside world. (Text friends, make phone calls, try to get human interaction, that kind of thing.)
  7. I take medication. (I’m on two separate ones right now. They do pretty well, most of the time. I still have bad days.)
  8. I try to use my awareness to redirect my thinking, when I notice I’m crawling down a dark hole.
  9. I look for inspiration/ motivation wherever I can find it. (Even small doses help.)
  10. I spend a good amount of time, every day, learning to work with my emotions, when they occur.
  11. I’m a big fan of caffeine and nicotine. (Black coffee, diet sodas, and I vape. Vaping isn’t necessarily good for you, but it won’t give you C.O.P.D. That’s called harm reduction folks.)
  12. I go to therapy. Every appointment, like church. It helps.
  13. I talk things over with my wife. (She’s supportive, and it keeps whatever hell is going on behind my eyes from leaking out and fucking up our relationship.)

There’s a lot that goes into my self-care. And I’m learning more and more as I go.

And, even with all that, I don’t know what it means to feel normal most of the time.

I have days, oooooh those days, where it feels like the weights have been wrenched off my soul. I don’t get manic. But there are days where it feels like I’m not walking around, draped in my bodyweight’s worth of sodden blankets. And everything feels different. Mostly, everything feels.

Those days don’t last, and I have not yet figured out from what alchemy of circumstances they arise.

And sometimes, they aren’t days. Sometimes they’re hours. Moments. A moment.

Days like today are more prevalent.

Days where I lack the energy to do any of the things that I was excited to do, and all I can do is drag myself from errand to errand, zombie-eyed and frayed at the edges, trying not to step on the sharp points of all my broken plans.

That’s today.

I wish I had something hopeful to say.

Something in me knows that would be the right thing. The expected thing. The thing people want to hear.

But I just don’t have the fucking oomph to get across that finish line.

All I can do is keep plodding forward, falling if I have to, step after step, until I can get to a day, or an hour, or a moment where I can continue to try to progress towards the goals and dreams I’m striving for.

So, until then, I’m having a drink, and telling you about it.

Thanks for listening.

Until next time…

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So, Here’s a Thing I’m Enjoying the Hell out of…

Castle Rock.

It’s a TV show set in the semi-shared universe Stephen King created for his books.

And it’s awesome.

5 episodes in right now.

Great writing, acting, directing, and cinematography.

And if you thought Bill Skarsgård was creepy as Pennywise the clown in the newest iteration of IT, wait until you watch him barely speak in this show. Chills.

So far I am both impressed by the mystery at the heart of this season, and by the atmosphere of the episodes.

If you’re worried about the horror aspects of it, don’t so much.

So far it has been more eerie and foreboding than actually scary, save for one or two moments.

I highly recommend the show. It’s definitely worth your time.

It airs every Wednesday, on a certain streaming service that will remain nameless, because they aren’t paying me. You have the internet. I trust your research abilities.

Anyways, give Castle Rock a look.

You won’t regret it.

Until next time…

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PCBC: Argumentation – Pt, what is it, 4? Yeah, sure, Pt. 4. Why not?…

 

And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

… (and waiting much too long for. BTW, sorry about that) …

 

Logical Fallacies

 

First off, what the hell is a Logical Fallacy?

Glad you asked.

A logical fallacy is a piece of faulty reasoning.

Dig that? It’s bad. Incorrect. Doesn’t make sense. Is, uh, not so good.

And there are a ton of logical fallacies.

I’m not joking. There are a metric-fucking-ton of them. Go weigh them yourself. I’ll wait…

…See?

Yep, knew you would.

All of these fallacies, these bits of bad reasoning, fall into a number of categories, which you don’t need to know.

Feel free to take a minute and thank whatever deity/ nature spirit/ guru/ unnameable eldritch horror fits your bill.

Like I promised before in Pt. 1, Pt. 2, and Pt. 3 of this series, I’m going to stick to the fallacies I see most often in common discourse. At the end of this post, I’ll link to more exhaustive resources, if you find yourself so inclined.

So, there are 8 logical fallacies that I see all the time. Briefly, they are:

Straw Man

Bifurcation

Ad Hominem

Genetic

Equivocation

Begging the Question

Argument from Ignorance

Argument from Tradition/ Authority/ Popularity

 

(I’m leaving out False Premise, because usually you can tell when someone has constructed their argument, completely or in some part, out of pure bullshit.)

 

So, let’s jump head-first into the shallow end with the fallacy you’re going to see more often than not – especially if you watch any of the cable “news” shows:

Straw Man:

Have you ever tried to make a point, only to have the other person completely misrepresent that point, or blow it all out of proportion? Then, instead of arguing against your actual point, they argue against this monster of language they’ve created?

Then you’ve fallen victim to the straw man fallacy.

(in philosophy there is something called ‘the principle of charity’ where you attempt to give the best representation of your opponent’s argument. The straw man fallacy is its diametric opposite.)

A straw man is a distorted, or completely fabricated version of an argument that is easier or more favorable to argue against than the original argument.

You can see why this is bad reasoning, because it is a sneaky way to change the subject or avoid a contest that is untenable.

Once you start looking for this, you’ll see it more than you’ll be comfortable with. Trust me. And sometimes, it’ll be so subtle that it’s hard to detect. That’s one of the reasons it gets used so frequently. Often, people don’t know that they’re doing it; a side effect of learning discourse from television.

 

Next up on our tour of the generally wrong-headed:

Bifurcation:

(you may also know it by the name: Black and White fallacy)

Ever have someone present only two options to you while completely ignoring the possibility that there might be a third or fourth or fifth out there somewhere?

That’s Bifurcation.

It’s that, “You’re either with us or against us,” type of shit.

Either you love chocolate and puppies, or you’re a sociopath.

Either you think our country is beyond question/ reproach, or you’re not a patriot.

(Did that last one resonate? Yep, me too.)

The aim of bifurcation is to try to trap you into acceding to an artificially limited set of options, usually one which has been heavily weighted towards the negative on one side.

There’s usually more than two options. Be seriously skeptical when anyone tells you there isn’t.

 

The next steed on our carousel of credulity:

Ad Hominem:

(I know. Latin, right? It just means: ‘to the man’. Because we’re not as sexist as the Ancient Romans, we’ll modernize it to, ‘to the person’. Makes me feel better, at any rate.)

Have you ever had someone try to dismiss your argument by saying you’re an Asshole, Dipshit, Democrat, Republican, Man, Woman, Child? I’ll bet you have. And that motherfucker was committing the Ad Hominem fallacy.

Ad Hominem favors, instead of arguing the point at hand, attacking the person making the point.

This one is so similar, they damn near go hand in hand, so, now joining Ad Hominem on stage:

Genetic:

Whereas Ad Hominem seeks to dismiss your argument because you may or may not be whatever the opponent is claiming you are, the Genetic fallacy seeks to negate the argument by attacking the origin or background of the argument.

Both of these fallacies attempt to discredit the argument. One by directly attacking your person. The other by attacking where the argument comes from.

 

A little example:

J: (some cogent, valid, sound argument.)

B: J is an asshole!

-or –

J: (some cogent, valid, sound argument.)

B: J’s argument is wrong because assholes thought it up!

 

See the subtle difference?

It’s often so subtle that they can almost be thought of as interchangeable. But you can see why they’re both bad thinking, yes?

It’s because neither engages with the actual point of the argument.

It’s a dodge. A sidestep. It’s hiding the ball in your mitt until the runner is too close to stop the slide. Basically, it’s misdirection – trying to trick one’s way out of the argument.

 

Now batting for the Muddville Slingers:

Equivocation:

(You know this one, even if you don’t know you know it. And as soon I give the example, you’re going to have the epiphany. You’re welcome, in advance.)

Ever been arguing with somebody, and it feels like the argument just twisted out of your grasp? Ever look back on it and wonder, “What the hell happened there?” Only to then realize the direction of the argument changed because the person you were arguing against changed the meaning of one of the important words in the discussion?

Of course, you have.

(you might even be feeling a bit sheepish right now because you’re realizing you’ve committed this fallacy yourself. Don’t feel bad. I’m right there in the wool with you. In fact, I’d say just about every human being has committed this fallacy at some point in their lives. It’s an easy one to slip into. And it happens a bunch. So much so that I almost put it at the top of the list.)

Equivocation happens when a word has more than one meaning, or connotation, and the person using it in the argument switches between meanings to make the argument work. If the meaning of the word substantially changes how the word operates, this is a fallacy of reasoning.

Here’s the simplest example:

The word “Law”

A: “If there are natural laws, there must have been a law giver.”

(Theists love this one, BTW.)

The problem is we understand that “Laws of Nature” is a colloquial term for the complicated physics and mechanics of the Universe. They’re not legal statutes. By switching the meaning to legal statutes, the opponent here is swapping connotations. But changing the meaning of the word changes how it operates, and thereby changes what the whole argument means. Arguments don’t float when one tries to change ships in mid-stream. And often if you blink, you’ll usually miss this type of fallacy.

Yet another reason to have as large a vocabulary and understanding of your native language as possible.

(That means read, people. Read a lot.)

 

And now, as we circle the drain of discourse:

Begging the Question:

(This is probably the least understood, by the general populace, of all the fallacies. I’m about to fix that, for you anyways.)

First off, Begging the Question does not mean ‘raising the question’.

Start chewing on that fact now. If a statement leads to a question, it does not beg the damn thing.

Begging the Question is a form of circular reasoning where the conclusion, in some part or whole, is stated as one of the premises that are meant to logically lead to the conclusion.

Confusing enough for you?

(The appropriate answer to that question is: Fuck yeah it is!  You know, if you were wondering.)

Here’s an example out of S. Morris Engel’s book, “With Good Reason”:

“God Exists.”

A: “How do you know?”

B: “The Bible says so.”

A: “How do you know what the Bible says is so?”

B: “Because the Bible is the word of God.”

 

Did you see it? There is a God, because the Bible says so. The Bible is correct because it is the word of God.

It’s a neat little circle, that I see here in the South all the fekkin’ time. It just also happens to be completely nonsensical.

How about a less religiously charged example:

A: “Politician X lies.”

B: “Why do you say that?”

A: “Because X is a politician.”

 

You see how that’s just an unsupported statement twisted up to try to look like a proper argument?

I knew you would. You beautiful geniuses you.

A conclusion cannot prove itself. This is why circular logic is faulty logic.

(Like I said, I run into Question Begging a lot, while arguing with theists, but you’ll generally run face first into it when arguing with any ideologue that isn’t introspective enough to examine their own deeply held positions. It’s a favorite of Johnny-Come-Latelys that are too lazy to actually do the research.)

 

 

Speaking of theists, here another faith-based exercise in non-critical thinking:

Argument from Ignorance:

Have you had a conversation with someone, where some version of this happened:

“Well, we don’t know how X came about, so it must be Y.”

(usually the Y in question is something else we can’t explain.)

-or-

“We don’t know how X came about/ works, so X must not be the case.”

A version of this fallacy is more commonly known as the “God of the Gaps”, wherein specifically, anything we don’t understand the mechanics of is attributed to the supernatural workings of a deity.

Don’t know why the planets and stars move in the sky? God did it. It’s part of God’s plan.

You’ll notice that the Argument from Ignorance also does not suggest an explanatory answer to whatever question is posed.

There’s another type of the Argument from Ignorance:

Suggesting that something just is not so, because the opponent does not know/ understand how it works.

(You see this a lot with idiots trying to argue against evolution. Just because one doesn’t understand a thing does not mean that the thing is non-existent.)

There’s a phrase we use in philosophy that’ll keep you out of trouble:

The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.

Meaning, just because one can not explain a thing, that does not automatically mean that the thing is not the case.

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy”

  • Shakespeare

Also a good quote to keep you from veering too far off the track.

 

Pulling into the final station on our whistle-stop tour of the wildly illogical:

Argumentum Ad Populum:

(Yeah, I know. More Latin. Roughly translated it just means argument from the population/ masses. You could also think of it as: argument from the majority.)

There are three of this type of argument:

From Majority

From Tradition

From Authority.

I’ll address them together because they use the same reasoning to get where they’re going, they just aim at different targets.

 

First at the plate – majority:

Ever called somebody out on some piece of bad behavior only to be told, “But, everyone’s doing it.”?

(The parents feel this already. ‘If Tommy Anderson jumped off the bridge, would you jump off it too?’ Maybe I’m getting old. Do parents still say that?)

The “everybody’s doing it” part, that’s the fallacy. A majority of the populace can agree to something, and they can still be wrong.

Having numbers on your side doesn’t make you right. Neither does going along with the majority. Sometimes you’ll hear this version referred to as the Bandwagon Fallacy.

An easy example:

Probably a majority of small children in America believe in Santa Claus. Does it mean he exists because so many believe he does?

 

Second at bat: tradition:

Ever been told, “But we’ve always done it that way,”? Then you’ve been hit by, you’ve been struck by a smooth argument from tradition fallacy.

Just because a thing has been the case historically, that is no argument that it should be continued or approved of.

“Everyone used to keep slaves,” is not a reasonable argument for keeping slaves.

(No, there actually isn’t a reasonable argument for owning another human being. I know some idiots in the media have said something like the contrary. But they’re jackoffs and shouldn’t be listened to with a serious ear. Generally, don’t let jackoffs into your head, it never ends well.)

We’ve been pumping pollution into the air and water at huge rates since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. That doesn’t make it right, and it isn’t a reasonable argument for us to keep doing it either.

 

And now, on cleanup: authority:

(parents will also recognize this one, from the other end.)

Ever been told, “Because I said so!”?

Yep, everyone of us, in all likelihood. I excuse exasperated parents, mainly because children aren’t logical. Not until about the age of 28, at any rate.

But there are plenty of other examples of people saying a thing is right and proper because someone in perceived authority said so.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a parent (in the case of adult children), the President, or God. An argument does not carry weight just because of the status of the person making it.

(Now, if someone is an authority/ expert in a given field, I usually give them the benefit of the doubt on factual matters pertaining to that field. I mean, I’d like to know everything about everything, I just don’t have the time. But I don’t accept their argument merely because they are an expert.)

In my experience, all arguments from authority boil down to: “Because I said so!”

But we’re grown and don’t have to take anyone’s word for anything.

Especially non-arguments like this.

 

That’s the eight we should all love to hate.

What do we do with this information?

(Thanks for asking. I knew I could count on you.)

For starters, learn to recognize them. You don’t have to point them out to everyone you notice using them; unless you are the occasional sleep deprived, too-literal asshole that lurks beneath my skin from time to time.

Just notice them.

As you notice them, and digest this information, you’ll be able to stop using them yourself. Around that same time, you’ll be able to stop people from using them against you.

(Now, there are plenty of other ways to persuade that don’t involve logic. But that’s a whole other series I’m not keen to fuck with just now.)

Do I think understanding these 8 fallacies will cure all the ills of our society? Fuck no. But being able to recognize them will make you a better thinker, and a better advocate for change.

Once you’ve figured these out, and mastered how to get around them, you can begin to teach others – mainly by example, and if they ask.

Maybe, just maybe, we’ll reach a critical mass at some point.

I don’t suggest you hold your breath, but it’s a lovely dream.

There really isn’t a conclusion to this essay that approaches satisfaction. Not for me anyways. I might write a final post that wraps everything up, if I recover from the writing of this one. I’ll think about it later.

For those of you whose thirst this essay has whetted, here are some links to more exhaustive resources:

https://www.logicalfallacies.info/

http://www.philosophicalsociety.com/logical%20fallacies.htm

and one more, just for fun:

https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/

And there is always S. Morris Engel’s Book: “With Good Reason”

I’m sure you can find that somewhere…

Until next time.

 

 

 

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Updates on Arguments…

So, it’s been a hot minute since the last installment of the Argumentation series.

It turns out understanding something and putting into a form that is readable, comprehensible, and enjoyable for others are very different animals.

The feed and stable costs alone…

But I digress.

Anyways, yeah, the primer on logical fallacies is coming, once I nail down a format that isn’t going to make either of our eyes spontaneously bleed.

I’m going to be explaining and giving examples for each, but I also want to be able to link to reliable outside sources. Something that you can dig into, if you want. Something that lets you explore a little more. And, unfortunately, Wikipedia – for as much as it is a handy reference – isn’t quite what I’m looking for here.

So, while the search continues, so does the wait.

Sorry.

To fill in the lonely moments between, I’m going to start posting about some of the good things I consume; movies, TV, books, maybe music.

Life can be a dour bitch as it is, and I’d like to brighten it up a bit with some things that make me happy. Maybe they’ll make you happy too.

Don’t think I’ll do proper reviews. Not just yet anyways.

Loving a thing and wanting to dissect it don’t share much space on the Venn diagram in my head. I’m weird that way.

But I’m not discounting the possibility, if I can come up with something cogent and interesting to say about the larger meaning/themes/motifs in any given work.

Again, no promises there.

In other news, I’ve been experimenting with new depression meds – under my doctor’s supervision – and they seem to be working well. They’ve given me the energy to come back here and post. I’m calling that a win.

I hope you’ve got a win of your own, no matter how small.

Until next time…

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Managing Symptoms…

As part of my quest to burn down/ salt the earth of the stigma against mental illness in this country, I occasionally post about my depression.

I don’t want this to be the blog where that’s all I post about, but it is part of my life, and has been for as long as I can remember, so – if I’m being as honest as I need to be – the subject will tend to creep into the discussion from time to time.

Usually the content revolves around how depression and anxiety intersect with my work life, creative endeavors, and attempts at fitness. (I’m finally back in the gym on a regular basis, btw.)

Today I want to talk about an aspect of the thing itself: energy.

Don’t worry, this isn’t some woo-woo, Chakra-balancing, incense burning, everything will be all right of you just think positively and do yoga, infomercial bullshit.

It’s just a discussion about something I’ve noticed.

But yeah, energy.

I know how much baggage that word carries with it in our culture. So, let me define it for our purposes here:

Energy is the ability to do work.

That’s it. Eat, drink and breathe. Covert the chemical energy of plants, animals, and oxygen into chemical energy your body runs on.

We’re absolutely NOT talking about spiritual or mystical energy.

Nothing supernatural here. Plain old, down and dirty human stuff. That’s all.

SO, WHEN I REFERENCE ENERGY IN THIS POST, THIS IS WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!

Got it?

Cool. I knew you would understand. Go you. You’re every bit as awesome as I’d hoped.

Our bodies run on energy. Every part of our bodies. This includes our brain.

That squishy, gray fat-battery sloshing around in your skull.

In fact, your brain uses roughly 20% of your body’s total energy needs.

That’s right, a fifth of everything you consume goes into keeping your hard drive spinning.

Anyways,..

It’s easy to think of emotions and thoughts as being ethereal things, because we don’t normally “see” those things. You can feel your heartbeat, breathing, see your limbs moving, feel the trickle of sweat as it works its way down the crack of your ass, but you don’t have a physical reference for thoughts and emotions.

I’m not going to talk about the roots of consciousness, or really any other weighty philosophical topic, (I can hear my friends cheering even before they read this), but I do want to point out that thinking and feeling are physical processes, even if we don’t have a physical reference for them.

The things that go on in our heads, regardless of what you think about them spiritually, can be described as chemical processes. Compounds – neurotransmitters – have to be synthesized and metabolized. There is no free lunch.

It takes calories, energy, to think and have emotions.

And, as we have established, it takes a bloody lot of them.

One of the main symptoms of Depression is a lack of energy and motivation.

You just end up feeling tired all the time.

Part of this, according to a theory I read in college, is to encourage the organism (us) to ignore distractions (the world and everything we love in it) in order to be better equipped to deal with the internal struggle.

I don’t know if that’s correct or not. Sometimes I think it sounds nice.

But one thing is certain, depression requires a shit-load of calories from your brain.

(We may appear generally numb from the outside. We may even be generally numb to the outside world, but ask any depressive and they’ll tell you, there’s too much going on inside. Often, way too fucking much.)

All that internal work takes a ton of energy.

And humans do not have an infinite supply, regardless of what some people would have you believe.

We all have only so much energy. (The levels vary, sometimes wildly, between individuals). There is no “inexhaustible well” from which to draw. It don’t exist. And if you’ve been kicking yourself because you can’t seem to winch up the bucket of that mythical well, STOP IT RIGHT NOW! You’ve been lied to. There is no well. Never was.

All you have is your own, particular bucket.

All you can do is look to manage the levels in your bucket.

That’s it.

So, how can we do that?

(Ok, here’s the part where I tell you I’m not a doctor or any kind of licensed professional. This is just my experience. Your mileage may vary. And for fuck’s sake, go talk to your doctor. Seriously. Go.)

First thing: Start getting some exercise.

Yep, that thing you don’t feel like you have the energy to do.

Force yourself to do a little of it. A 5-10 minute walk, once a day. Start small and work your way up to something you like. You’re not training for an event, you’re looking after your health. Exercise helps us to have more energy to use, by convincing the body to produce more. (Really you’re tricking it into thinking it needs more on a regular basis, but whatever works eh?) Exercise also has been known to ease the symptoms of depression. I like lifting weights. Find what you like and do it, even if it’s only a tiny bit at first.

Second thing: Fix your sleep.

Seriously. Regulating your sleep can raise you several notches towards the light. Try to get 7-8 hours a night. Get up at the same time every day. That helps. Have a pre-sleep routine that you do every night. Total darkness. After that, it’s whatever works for you to start getting regular sleep. You’ll know it’s working within a week, usually within a couple of days. If you don’t get regular sleep, your metabolism goes straight to hell. A Damned metabolism equals diminished energy production.

Third thing: Fix your food.

Yep, diet. Look at it and ask yourself if you’re really getting all of the macro & micro nutrients, and calories you need. You’ve been on a calorie restriction, trying to lose weight? Lay off and return to maintenance calories, (between 13-15 calories per pound of body weight for maintenance), maybe for a few months. You’ve not been eating enough fruits and veg, relying on supplements to get your vitamins and minerals? Learn to eat better. Supplements are not anywhere near as bio-available as whole foods are. Start adding in more fruits and vegetables. Try one serving  per day, until it becomes normal, then add another somewhere else in the day. It might take six months, but you’ll get there. Probably sooner than you think. And there is plenty of variety, so find something you actually like to eat. Have you been eating super low-fat? Stop that shit. Your body needs fats. It’s how you produce hormones. Your brain is mostly fat. If you’re not getting at least 25-30% of your calories from fat, you need to up it in a hurry. All the research says it’s perfectly safe and healthy, as long as you avoid trans-fats. Are you getting enough protein? 0.6 grams per pound of body weight should do the trick – slightly more if you’re working out regularly or trying to lose weight. Drinking enough water? How much, you ask? Unless you have a disorder with your thirst mechanism, or you’re really hot and sweaty – which causes an issue with thirst perception – you should be drinking liquid (not alcohol) when you’re thirsty. We evolved that mechanism for a reason, use it.

Fourth thing: Do the things that give you energy.

There are things that make all of us wake up a bit. Things that energize us. It varies from person to person. Find those things that light you up like Christmas, and do them. Doesn’t matter how small. Doesn’t matter if you’re the only one doing them. As long as no one gets hurt, it doesn’t really matter. Depression feels like it steals our joy. Things we used to enjoy lose their flavor. That’s how it feels, anyway. But that’s not the case. You have to think of depression as a loud noise, drowning out most everything else. Imagine talking to a friend at a noisy bar. You could just let the din of the space overwhelm you, but you like your friend and you try focus on the conversation you’re having. You might not hear all of it, but you’ll get most of it. This is how it is with depression. The things that used to give you joy are still there, they can still lift you up, but depression is trying to deafen you like that one asshole who keeps playing Conway Twitty on the too-loud jukebox. Keep doing the things that wake you up and make you feel energized. Just keep doing them. You’ll get better and better at feeling them again. I promise.

Final thing (because this list is getting long and I’m running out of steam):

Pay attention to your Mental Hygiene.

What the fuck does that mean?

Simply put, pay attention to the things you think about. Pay attention to your thoughts.

(not all the time. you don’t need to turn into some navel-gazing vegetable. sheesh.)

Some thoughts are going to make your depression worse. Learn to recognize those thoughts, and redirect them.

Here’s how:

Become aware of how your thoughts make you feel. Often you will begin by noticing after the fact. That’s normal. The more you practice, the earlier and earlier you will pick up on it. Pretty soon you’ll become aware of them right as they start.

Become aware of these thoughts, and how they make you feel, without judgement.

That’s the important part: without judgement.

If you judge your thoughts, you’ll either run towards them or want to run away from them. Either option gives the thoughts more energy.

You dig?

Judging your thoughts dumps more calories into thinking them.

(And you only have a limited amount of calories to go around, remember? Of course you do, you’re fekkin’ awesome.)

So, once you’ve gotten some practice noticing your thoughts and not judging them, you can take the next step, which is trying to turn your thoughts to a neutral subject. I often use my breath, or immersion into my physical senses (trying to see, hear, smell, taste, etc everything I possibly can at that moment). Again, these are things you are observing. Just watch them for a moment. Let yourself float in neutral for a few minutes. Let your heart rate and breathing come back to normal. Let the hormonal response to the painful thoughts ebb. A couple of minutes. (Ok, could be as long as 20 minutes, if you let yourself get deep into the negative shit. But really, what’s 20 minutes for sanity?)

Once you’ve got practice at that – and this can happen fairly quickly, it doesn’t take years, or even months – you can practice thinking about things that give you energy. Your next workout, next project, dreams for the future, whatever gives you the git-up-and-go.

This is redirecting your thoughts to revitalize your energy stores. It’s not weird mystical shit. It’s just something we’re not generally taught.

But it is all scientifically describable and provable.

This doesn’t require any belief, only action.

Action and practice.

You’ve likely heard, somewhere, about the Cherokee grandfather telling his grandson about the two wolves. Or, maybe you’ve heard the Buddhist saying that what grows in your garden is what you water.

Both of those sayings, and countless more like them, boil down to one thought:

It’s about what you give your energy to.

That is what flourishes in your mind.

This is just one method of learning to redirect your mental energy. I encourage you to research others. This one works for me. As do a few others I’ve tried.

And, I know I’ve avoided the topic of weird mystical shit, but if woo-woo works for you, go get your woo-woo on. I will not judge you for it. I might ask for detailed information, but I won’t judge if it helps you climb out of the hole.

So, that’s it.

I hope this helps some.

I encourage you to do more research on the subject. Sometimes just realizing there is information out there is enough to get me off my ass and moving. Maybe it’s the same for you.

Whatever the case, if – like me – you deal with depression and/or anxiety, I hope you come to the help you need. Professional or otherwise.

I don’t know if there is a cure for depression, but I do know there are ways to manage it that are productive and healthy.

I’ve tried to outline some of them for you here.

If you have different methods that work for you, feel free to leave a comment describing them.

I wish you well on your journey.

Remember, all you have to do is keep walking.

One foot, in front of the other.

Until next time…

 

 

 

 

 

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Another Short, Sharp Argument…

This series, (I didn’t think it was going to be one), could also be called, “Killing Your Sacred Cows with a Single Stroke”.

Today’s target:

“The Free Market”

I can’t type that phrase without quotation marks because “The Free Market” has never existed.

Never.

It’s a theoretical/ hypothetical construct that pundits and politicians use to convince people to vote against their own interests.

There is no such animal. Never was.

As a theory/ hypothesis, it’s clean and nearly convincing – that’s because it leaves out the reality of human affairs.

A “Free Market” system would only work if, and only if everyone had free and open access to all the information.

And that can’t happen in reality. There’s just too much data.

More than that, it has never happened in reality because people, business entities, and governments have never allowed the free flow of information. That’s just history.

Without free access to information, consumers can not make rational decisions about how to vote with their dollar.  And the whole argument of “the Free Market” hinges upon consumers being able to make a rational decision.

And, has everyone forgotten about incentives?

If the main goal of any company is to make a profit, then it becomes an incentive to that company to hide any information that would harm that ability. And to cut whatever corners are necessary to make that profit happen.

How do we know this? Like I said:

Just. Fucking. History.

Take some time to check it out. You’ll be enraged, aghast, maybe even a little afraid.

But if you’ve grown up in the Western World, you sure as shit won’t be surprised.

And another thing: human beings are not completely rational animals. We can use reason, but it’s clear, from observation of our behavior, that we often default to emotional responses. So, any hypothesis that counts on us being rational actors is falling on its face and eating the gravel off the track, before the starting pistol even fires.

So, people who advocate for the free market ether:

A) Haven’t thought about the realities of human interaction.

– or –

B) Are the very people who would limit your access to information because it suits their purposes.

There, that about covers it.

Until next time…

 

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