Another udpate

I got home from work and got everything in order to check myself into a hospoital if need be and then I crashed.  I napped for an hour at work and woke up feeling like I could finally sleep.  Boy, could I ever.  I got over three hours of sleep and am about to go get some more.  I never thought sleep could feel so good.

Upon waking up I called a counseling hotline and talked to a counselor for a while, had myself a good cry, railed about the perceived injustices in my life, and now I’m just hanging out until I go to sleep again – which will be damn soon.  I’m now feeling much less depressed and a lot more angry.  Not just my usual justifiable and well-managed anger at all the shit in the world I don’t care for, but intense, reason-destroying anger at lots of things.  At least I can acknowledge it and realize it’s probably best that I sit in my room and read, write, and don’t do shit else.

There are a lot of things in my life right now that make me feel trapped.  As you’ll learn in your first five minutes studying depression, that’s not a good thing.  When you admit to yourself that you’re sick, one of the first things you learn to do is control your environment.  You learn things or situations that are a danger to you and you keep them out of your life.  I’ve recently had a bunch of new triggers added and avoiding them is all-but-impossible.  But I’m taking steps.  It’s a long process, but I’m taking steps.

There’s no amount of knowledge and preparation that doesn’t make this scary.  I think it’s not having control that is most frightening.  If you have cancer, all you can do is hope for the best.  There’s very little you can actually do, and having what happens in your life taken out of your hands is scary as hell.  It feels helpless.

This feels very much the same.  It feels very dualistic, because I know the same brain that constitutes me, and is trying with everything I am to get through this, is also trying to harm me.  I can literally feel it telling me to do things that other parts of my brain are telling me would be terrible (I’ve written about the feeling of keeping the monster in your head restrained before).

If you bump into someone who wants to do you harm, usually you can run away.  But when someone with my affliction is in the middle of an episode, there’s nowhere you can escape.  It’s with you everywhere, wearing you down until you’re just so mentally exhausted (also physically exhausted if you’re not sleeping) that you lose it and break down and/or do something you’ll regret.  You can’t actively make it go away.  There’s very little you can do but depend on others to make decisions for you and hope.

Knowing what can potentially happen if I get to the point where I really can’t take it is what has had me considering self-admitting myself to a hospital.  I’ve been here before, and my experience tells me to get ahead of it.

For the time being, I’ve elected not to admit myself.  After getting some rest and seeing the shift in my mood, it’s clear to me that carrying a pretty hefty sleep debt was part of the problem.  I suspect I’ll be able to sleep tonight.

Lastly, reading the supporting comments and seeing people willing to take care of me, I’m honestly tearing up just writing this sentence.  Thank you.  It means the world to me.  When I’m at the bottom of an episode, it’s very tempting to think all kinds of horrible things, like everybody, even those close to me, are shaking their heads when I’m not looking.  I know it’s not true, but mental illness fucks with your ability to see things as they are.  Reading those comments helps so much.  I can’t thank you guys enough.

Also, give me something to focus on. See any lousy arguments from believers on facebook? Get an email from a religious friend telling you how good the lord is or how evil atheists are? Email it to me. Meticulously going through something like that might just perk me up.

MENTAL ILLNESS: Today's session.
MENTAL ILLNESS & PERSONAL: Pictures of my brain.
MENTAL ILLNESS: Today's session.
MENTAL ILLNESS: Time to go be a lab rat.
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.

  • Marc Dutro

    Glad you’re feeling better. It was nice meeting you again at the picnic. My daughter really enjoyed the Camp Quest tables you guys had set up. Keep up the great work!

  • Marc Dutro

    And she loved the card tricks too!

  • http://polyskeptic.com Wes

    We’re all with you, JT. Get well soon.

  • neatospiderplant

    I have no arguments, but I have no shortage of e-hugs. Here, take some! Also, note that e-hugs can be exchanged for real ones next time I see you in person.

  • jaranath

    Yeah…I know you know, but it bears repeating: I’m SO much the opposite of head-shaking here. I admire the hell out of you and look forward to meeting you whenever I manage to make the time for a conference. Wish I could do something more. I’ve found if I spend too much time on the fence with a decision like this, the best thing is to make the call. I would love to chip in toward the bill if you decide to go. We got your back.

  • arbor

    You are much loved.

    Take care and be kind to yourself.

  • iknklast

    JT, coming from someone on the inside of a similar head, I genuinely sympathize with you. I’ve been having a hell of a summer myself, and I’ve lost myself in my writing. Perhaps starting a novel? I don’t know if you like to write…I wrote six plays this summer, and when I get over the depression, I’ll reread them to see if any of them are any good. Meanwhile, hang in there.

  • Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven

    You know, despite all the trouble it gives me, I have to admit my brain actively trying to kill me would be worse. >.>

    One small thing that MIGHT help. CostCo, at least around here, sells a store brand of melatonin capsules with a white bottle and a red lid. They’re pretty cheap and I’ve found they’re amazingly effective at getting me to sleep, seemingly more so than other brands with similar dosages. I don’t know if they’re contraindicated or accessible to you, but it’s something. x.x

    • aspidoscelis

      Yeah. I have sleep problems, too, and melatonin certainly helps. Not a perfect solution, but it helps. And sleeping does help my mood…

  • skepchris

    I don’t actually know you, JT, but I’ve been following your blog since it arrived at FTB.

    And what I’ve seen during that time is you trying to make other people’s lives better. Whether that’s fundraising for CQ, promoting FBB, speaking at conference for peanuts (or candies?), making safe spaces for students via your SSA work, trying to increase mental health awareness, or unapologetically criticizing religious bigotry and intolerance.. whatever the flavor of the day is, you’re usually out there marching for us.

    Plus, you seem pretty cool.

    So this support we’re offering? That’s all you. Not obligation, not societal pressure, just us caring about someone who has consistently shown himself to care about us, and who has consistently shown himself to be a pretty awesome human being, flaws and all.

    tl;dr, We’re genuine. Pinky swear. And I think you know that, but I know how those irrational doubts can be so I’m saying it anyway.

    Happy birthday. I send you many counting sheep for zzzz.

  • IslandBrewer

    … but intense, reason-destroying anger …

    I have to ask: do you black out and later wake up in an alley wearing nothing but ragged purple shorts?


    • Rory

      The “puny god” line from ‘The Avengers’ seems particularly amusing if you imagine JT as the Hulk.

  • Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    Sleep well, JT, knowing that there are many atheists out here who sleep better for the fight you’ve fought alongside some of us, and on behalf of all of us.

  • hjhornbeck

    I just did my part, by sending you an argument to tear apart via Facebook. Enjoy! In the meantime, take it easy and get as much rest as you need. We’ll still be here, ready and willing to support you in the same way you’ve supported so many others.

  • http://www.facebook.com/allen.hall.3152 allenhall

    I may have missed something, but did you go off your pills? I know they don’t always help–believe me; as somebody with bipolar disorder, I know there are days where they only barely manage to take the edge off–but I also know I’ve had weeks where I felt like, hey, I’m doing great, I don’t need these.

    In any case, I don’t know about you, but ponies always make me feel better. Here’s Twilight Sparkle going crazy about missing a deadline.


    And here’s one of the best songs in the second season.


    And here’s the show’s principal writer singing the original version of the song at a convention.


    And here’s an episode with Tabitha St. Germain chewing the scenery into dust.


  • http://www.facebook.com/allen.hall.3152 allenhall

    And, if all else fails, here’s Alan Rickman, Eddie Izzard, Vic Reeves, and some bloke called Harry Enfield deliberately mangling a classic comedy sketch.


    • http://www.facebook.com/allen.hall.3152 allenhall

      Also, I have no idea why two of these videos posted previews and the others didn’t. At least, that’s how it ended up looking in my browser. Feel free to edit accordingly if it clogs things up. c.c

  • Rebecca Hensler


    Glad you didn’t have to check yourself in, but just as glad you are willing to if it is necessary.

    JT, what you are doing, writing about your depression while it is happening, is one of the bravest things I have ever witnessed. I don’t even have the words to express how deeply I admire and appreciate it.

    Next time I meet you, I hope you’ll let me give you a hug and thank you.

  • F

    Hell yeah, just sleep deprivation, minus any existing conditions, will do terrible awful things to you. Things… stop working properly.

    So I’m hoping that most of your current issue will be brought back into the normal coping zone with some


    You are calm and relaxed.

    Your arms and legs are heavy and warm.

    • Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven

      From what I’ve read, sleep deprivation can actually cause depression-like symptoms, which I assume would at least be additive with depression per se… O.o

      (My experience tentatively supports the former; I was misdiagnosed with depression, however, so I don’t know if it feels the same).

      • F

        My personal experience is that one can cause the other, and then they feed on each other. Although sleep deprivation would also put me into the tired & wired state with dramatically altered perception, but without depression being involved as well. If sleeplessness was caused by depression, then all bets were off. I do get a general minor depression factor from not operating on schedules that everyone else wants and expects, though.

        It certainly can cause depression, even if it is acute and alleviated just by getting sleep. It can also cause all sorts of other conditions, including psychoses.

        And crap I’m just going to stop talking about it in JT’s thread.

        Take an appropriate one of these and call someone you love in the morning. (Whenever morning is for you.)

  • alex

    Hi JT, one thousand people have probably told you this over the last couple days, but anyway: you don’t know me but you, your writing and your videos have helped me through a boatload of crap in the last year. Thank you.

  • Lurker111

    I’ve enjoyed your posts for a while. While I haven’t dealt with the Depression Monster as such, at times when I get really, really down, these YouTube vids always cheer me up:

    Richard Dawson in “September Song”


    Tim Conway’s “Elephant Tales”


    Carol Burnett’s “Went with the Wind”


    Hope these help, just a wee bit …

  • Lyfa

    Nothing quite like getting some shut-eye after a strech of not being able to sleep. Best feeling in the world, hands down.

    I have no mental illness issues, but I do have trouble sleeping, and it can make you feel real ratty.

  • http://faehnri.ch/ faehnrich

    To help cheer you up, I guess this is as good a time as any to thank you for all you write. I’ve taken notes on your arguments from your posts and videos to use when I have to deal with theists.

    You said to email you stuff, but I don’t have your email and others here might appreciate this lousy argument.

    We’ve all seen how theists try to say their stuff is special. They think their religion is the true one, so they make post facto rationalizations about it. Well, I came across one that was the first I’ve heard of it.

    You see, Aramaic is the perfect language. God would only have his holy book written in the bestest language of all. They argued that this was the clearest language to understand to spread his word. Also, Aramaic is perfect in that it has never changed.

    Ignore the fact that this was just what people spoke at the time. And wasn’t some of the bible written in Greek? I don’t know the history, so I avoided arguing that.

    I didn’t argue with the “clearest language to understand” part, that’s subjective any way, and I bet this person couldn’t read Aramaic.

    What I did argue was Aramaic did change over time. Other languages came from it.

    They said once something change in the language, it became another language, therefore Aramaic itself has never changed. It’s perfect!

    I said that was like saying the English of Shakespeare has never changed. Sure, what we speak now came from it, but as soon as something changed, our English became a seperate language from that original English. So that language is perfect. That must mean Shakespeare’s plays are divinely inspired!

    But really, the language a claim is made in has nothing to do with its validity*. The bible is wrong in any language.

    They responded with just “ok”. This particular person sometimes dismisses and ignores arguments made against them, so I don’t know if this was a concession, but it was better than I thought they’d do.

    *unless that claim is something like “This sentence is written in English.”

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/biodork Brianne Bilyeu

    I’m not praying for you, JT. Big, sincere HUGZZZZ (the extra Z make them better. Just go with it) – Brianne

    • cag

      Let’s have a group not pray-in.

  • http://www.rodeobucket.com Stephanie

    I’ve seriously had a month or so like this with a blow out 2 days ago. I’m new here and to FTB in general. This is my first comment. When people are triggering me, one minute I see messages reminding me that ignoring them is in my best interest and the smarter thing to do. Then, I turn around and the opposite presents and I’m reminded I shouldn’t have to repress myself, my feelings, opinions, etc. and have a valid right to confront and express. I get so exhausted trying to decide what is truly best for my mental health. I’m learning to take my time with myself though, like you did.
    I’ve also finally decided to unfold, slowly, at a pace I can handle and yet be able to finally be myself and let the rest drop away as it needs to.
    I was glad to find your post in my inbox today.

    • Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven

      Then, I turn around and the opposite presents and I’m reminded I shouldn’t have to repress myself, my feelings, opinions, etc. and have a valid right to confront and express.

      That sounds wonderful. :(

  • J*

    I can’t speak for anyone else but coming from out here in Internet land I have way better things to do than offer fake support for someone I haven’t seen in 13 years. If I didn’t give a fuck I’d go do something else. But I do give a fuck. In fact take two, they’re small.

    Been thinking of you. Hope you can get past this quickly. Feel better!