[Noisebridge-discuss] [hackerspaces] Please reach out

Ben Mushol ben at sixgirls.org
Fri Nov 25 22:23:50 UTC 2011

I've been following this disussion and I would like to contribute 

Mitch and other participants are correct in what they state. Depression is 
different for everyone. Unfortunately I am currently at a stage that still 
makes it very difficult to fully empathize with an experience outside of 
what I have experienced.

Because of this it is near impossible for me to imagine something I have 
not experienced first hand. This is relavant as I am going to assume that 
most people in the discussion also have that limitation. I currently can't 
think of an easy way or even a disciplined way to really empathize with 
someone on a level that I have not experienced myself.

This creates a caveat: If Paris Hilton were depressed because she made a 
gross social faux pax and were ostrisized by her social circles would the 
resulting depression be as valid as the paralyzing depression of a person 
whose development was affected in a way as to result in chronic long term 
depression or inability to experience an average of joy, exuberance or 
light hearted spirits enjoyed by neurotypical populations?

Do the differences in the causes and effects invalidate either side? Maybe 
it is most important for anyone examining these things to simply have a 
realistic expectation on their and other's positions on the issue in 
regards to this discussion. If Paris Hilton were depressed because she 
stopped getting invited to the A-list parties for a period of time a part 
of me wants to smirk and think "You deserve it and possibly worse" but 
this is classic primate us versus them programmed thinking and also 
a highly detrimental thought process. That doesn't mean it can be "turned 
off" with an immediate conscious thought.

Paris Hilton will have to deal with her own depression her own way and 
others will have to deal with their own depressions in their own ways as 
well. Personally I detest psychotropic medications as solutions for issues 
like these because their side effects far outweigh their benefits short of 
crisis intervention. I knew someone who lost their business and a large 
number of their social connections in the collapse of the WTC. They fell 
into a deep depression (also possibly due to the trauma of being right 
there when it happened) and they stated to me emphatically "Ben, when I 
was on Prozac I could not cry..." They were physiologically unable to 
engage in a classic grief relieving activity because of the chemical 
limitations the medication placed on various pathways. Really toxic 
unpleasant stuff imho.

If someone is feeling a level of despair that medication would help 
getting over the hump and beginning the rest of the steps to get out of 
the depression than I am not against it. I am against being on medications 
like that for a lifetime however as treatment for depression.

I thought for awhile the one thing that was always sure to bring joy to 
myself and I could easily bring it up. Music makes me feel joy. Music 
always makes me feel joy and a variety of physical sensations one would 
almost associate with certain recreational drugs. This is because when I 
was an infant classical music was played at high volumes and certain 
physical sensations were tied to the music. My parent flew me around the 
room like an airplane and my brain was developing at that time. When I was 
an adolescent I discovered that certain kinds of music could make things 
happen in my brain without fail. Later I discovered those sensations could 
be reproduced by empathogens and recreational substances. In short, techno 
gets me high and no matter what kind of mood I'm in it can light up the 
pathways associated with joy and temporaily relieve depression.

When people start thinking of their brains as large blocks of myelin based 
storage media and digging to find the triggers that were programmed into 
them they can play their own minds like choosing an environment to boot 
into to complete a task on a workstation. Different environments, 
different resulting emotions. The triggers do not change. Knowing them is 
critical. They are very different from person to person.

Everything everyone has already said is valid regarding the above 
statement: To get out of depression try physical activity. Get some 
sunlight. Socialize. Create something. Pet an animal. There are lots of 
activities that can get you a temporary respite to depression. There is 
also a tendency when you are in a depression to continue activities that 
will continue the depression. To resist help. To resist admitting 
something is wrong especially and that is programmed into the genes as 

Socially homo sapiens found biological success when it was able to argue, 
and hang onto an irrational and losing arguements even when faced with 
overwhelming evidence supporting an opposing arguement. So if someone is 
crushingly depressed if you try to show them another viewpoint contrasting 
their depression you are likely to meet very strong resistance and 
irrational reasoning. It can be very difficult to convince someone to get 
help at a time of crisis for this reason but there are manuals on how to 
do this. I know that when I was at my lowest points no one could have 
offered a solution that would have turned things around if it didn't jive 
with my outlook at the time. A person trying to intervene should be aware 
of this and try trickery to be honest. If you can trick someone into 
trying a new way if they recover from being so depressed then in my 
opinion the trickery was justified and maybe the involved parties would 
agree after the fact.

All of this is in regards to my own certainty that if I was suicidally 
depressed no one would be able to convince me of opposing ideas to the 
conclusions I would be arriving at telling me that suicide was looking 
like the best solution to the depression.

It also brings up other interesting points in regards to building new 
pathways where there were none in other non-neurotypical individuals. A 
popular term in some schools of psychology is reparenting oneself. However 
like language, there are certain phases of development that cannot 
currently be turned back on in an adult. Like learning a new language 
trying to program new patterns of thoughts resulting in desired emotions 
sounds like it would require conscious thought like converting a language 
one were raised with to a new learned language for verbal output as an 
adult. How can one correct long term depression in exceptions? I think of 
some new medications coming no the market with unexpected novel properties 
that trigger some truly interesting activities in the human brain that may 
lead to new findings. Aside from those there are also stem cells in 
general but this email is already a book and I have no sources to cite 
(not that I had any anyway but it's a great excuse to stop presenting a 
lot of opinions as anything other than what they are.)

tl;dr If you're suicidal it will pass. That may not help when you are 
suicidal because you are programmed to resist an opposing viewpoint. If 
that opposing viewpoint is that your life has value and there is 
absolutely no reason to consider suicide as a solution your resistance to 
it is other biologically programmed human behaviors getting triggered with 
the end result being a very undesired outsome.I have no idea how I would 
deal with the situation if I were presented with it. Since I classically 
do the absolute worst thing for many things I consciously think about 
prior to acting it is probably best to not think about it period. That 
comes from a lot of introspection and self-understanding of classic 
"nurture" in developmental years. What I wish for everyone is transparent 
self knowledge to see things outside of themselves for their own and 
other's benefit. The subject is still very valid. Please reach out. If you 
are intervening understand the mesh of what you're dealing with and even 
unorthodox approaches may be justified if you are close to the individual.

  On Fri, 25 Nov 2011, Mitch Altman wrote:

> Date: Fri, 25 Nov 2011 05:57:19 -0800
> From: Mitch Altman <maltman23 at hotmail.com>
> To: hackerspaces-discuss <discuss at lists.hackerspaces.org>,
>     felix.sargent at gmail.com
> Cc: NoiseBridge Discuss <noisebridge-discuss at lists.noisebridge.net>
> Subject: Re: [Noisebridge-discuss] [hackerspaces]   Please reach out
>> Date: Thu, 24 Nov 2011 12:34:59 +0100
>> From: gmc at sonologic.nl
>> To: felix.sargent at gmail.com
>> CC: will.sargent at gmail.com; discuss at lists.hackerspaces.org; noisebridge-discuss at lists.noisebridge.net
>> Subject: Re: [hackerspaces] [Noisebridge-discuss]  Please reach out
>> Hash: SHA1
>> On Tue, Nov 22, 2011 at 01:47:13PM -0800, Felix Sargent wrote:
>>> On Tue, Nov 22, 2011 at 1:27 PM, Will Sargent <will.sargent at gmail.com>wrote:
>>>> 1) Direct sunlight.
>>>> 2) 8 hours of sleep.
>>>> 3) Movement outside.
>>>> 4) Social interaction.
>>>> 5) Regular meals.
>>>> 6) Satisfying work.
>> These are all very good suggestions, and doing the above will help you feel
>> better overall.
>> Yet, there is a chemical process at the heart of depression, the serotonine
>> balance in the brain is a huge factor in this. I've been depressed ever
>> since I remembered, even while all of the above were part of my upbringing
>> for the first decade and some of my life. If you are born with a small
>> defect in the production or re-uptake of serotonin, you can exercise all
>> you want: it won't fix the defect.
>> SSRI medication can help with that in part (always in combination with the
>> above as far as i'm concerned), even though many in the community are very
>> eager to bash anti-depressants. It can be a life saver! Everyone is unique, and so everyone will have various results with various methods of dealing with depression.  If you're suffering from depression, and have time to explore, then it's way worth exploring all the methods that may work for you -- see what works, and do more of it.  If you are feeling suicidal, or feel that you do not have time to explore on your own, please know that you can seek help, either from friends or people in the geek community (if you can force yourself to do so, people *will* help), or from a professional (most places offer free services, including calling 911 in the US). Mitch.

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