My new mirror

I’ve had so much to write about since getting back that I haven’t been able to do a write up of my fond memories from my week of being a counselor at Camp Quest Ohio.  There is something I want to write about first though.

I was nervous about attending camp for a lot of reasons; being at the pool with my shirt off, insecurity about whether or not I’d be able to relate to kids, etc.  But most of all, I knew I’d pass by the cabin where I tried to kill myself one year ago.

For the last ten months I’ve been on top of my condition, and I really worried that passing by that cabin would trigger memories that might jeopardize the streak of stability I’m on.  One of the things you learn with this condition is to know what environments put you at risk and to avoid them.  This was kind of trampling all over that.

I didn’t want to spend all week with those thoughts in the back of my mind, so before any of the campers arrived I went to the cabin.  It was kind of personal for a bit.  There was nobody else around, just me, the cabin, and the past surrounded by forest.  I stood there expecting at any moment to be overwhelmed by psychological agony.

And it never happened.

It was just a building.  If anything, I felt happy; happy to be past it, and happy about all the good that came out of it for the movement I care so much about.  It was a metaphorical mirror, one in which there was none of the distortion to which I’m accustomed.  It was strangely peaceful.

Later in the week I had a sick camper.  I was in the infirmary with him and Dr. Clare, who accompanied me to the ER last year.  At one point Clare made a comment about this being like last year when a whole lot of people got sick at once.  I took the opportunity to apologize to her again for last year.  She shrugged as though I’d said Jerry Springer was on and said, as casually as noting the sun was up, that it wasn’t my fault.  And she went right back to treating my camper.

And I believed her.  I didn’t just know she was right.  I believed her.

And that was the end of it.

MENTAL ILLNESS: Today's session.
MENTAL ILLNESS: I see affection as a competition.
MENTAL ILLNESS: Time to go be a lab rat.
MENTAL ILLNESS: BDSM or Neuroscience?
About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • kevinbutler

    That’s awesome to hear, man.

    Going by my locations where I attempted was terrifying at first too. Or the fact that I am scared shitless of the winter–because that’s when my episodes have begun.

    But you learn to disassociate your mental state before and your mental state now. Those locations/times are were just unfortunate bystanders. Does it still feel weird at times passing by those rooms? Will I still dread the upcoming winter? Probably. But, more times than not, I’ve made it through just fine, and I can comfort myself with that.

  • gbjames

    Wait. Jerry Springer’s on?

  • Markita Lynda—damn climate change!

    Sorry to hear you had such a hard time. I hope it’s passed, never to return!

  • geocatherder

    Sounds like you’re healing. Good for you!!!

  • Daniel Schealler


  • Aliasalpha

    Isn’t it weird how satisfying an ending it is where nothing happened? Congrats mate!

  • baal

    Completely OT but I love the picture. I’ve added it to the folders of images I keep to look at from time to time (to remind me of myself).

  • Besomyka

    I am sincerely happy for you, JT.

  • Sid

    That was beautiful.

  • otrame

    I’m not surprised you didn’t react. You are not the same person and in the time since then you’ve learned to trust your therapy. I’ve been on antidepressants for about 25 years now, so I sympathize. Just remember that if you start feeling bad again (it happens) don’t hesitate to see your doc. And Dr. Clare was right. It wasn’t your fault. They call it an illness for a reason.

  • MaryLynne

    My daughter had a wonderful time at Ohio Camp Quest this year. She spoke very highly of you, JT. Thank you so much for being there for the kids. I can’t wait to see what else you have to say about your week!