Gonna take a personal day today. I’m feeling much better, but just want to make sure I stay that way as long as possible as I’m still waiting to get into therapy. Also people are moving into the apartment above us and I can’t hear myself think (though, even moving in furniture and drilling things, they’re still only making slightly more noise than the apartment’s old occupants, so this could be a great thing on the whole).
But I did want to post something that I don’t think gets said enough. This morning I got a letter from a woman. To protect her identity, let’s call her Samus Aran. She asked how I stay sane following what seems to be the worst of humanity on a daily basis:
I hope you get this letter. I am a huge fan of yours and while I was battling my insomnia tonight I kept thinking about you. Specifically, how do you do it and not go insane? How do you blog about all the horrible shit in this fucked up world and hold it together?
I have been having a really hard time lately. I battle mental illness and have a bunch of other physical medical conditions as well. When I became and atheist I began to look at life a little different. Because of my medical conditions and the effect they have on my life, I now look at life a little different than I used to. Life is fleeting and we are all extremely lucky to be here to experience it. This is all we get, just this one short ride, and we should cherish it and make the very best of it. So why are human beings so FUCKED UP? I mean, I know this answer, mostly it’s religion and the feeling of superiority.
I don’t even know how to put all this in words, and probably seem like I am rambling and not making much sense, but I just felt the need to reach out to you. You are open about your mental health issues and I knew you would understand, but I also wonder: battling mental health conditions, how do you blog about horrible human beings doing horrible things to each other day in and day out?
I find it harder and harder just to keep up with current events because I know every time I turn on the computer there is going to be an article about something terrible. I don’t understand, JT. What are we humans doing to one another, to other animals and to the fragile world we live in? I feel like I just can’t handle it anymore and want to disconnect from the world somehow.
I don’t even know what to expect from writing you this, but I felt drawn to you with these feelings I have been dealing with. I’m gonna close now because there are so many things running through my brain right now I can’t even put into words. Anyhow, thank you for everything you do in the community. You inspire me to keep going, somehow, some way.
I wrote back:
Thanks for the sweet message. I’m a bit rushed this morning so I can’t write much.
As for keeping sane, therapy is awesome. But in the practical sense I keep perspective. Human history is rife man’s inhumanity toward man, as Miguel de Cervantes put it. Yet who can argue that we are not better off now than we ever were? That’s because for every atrocity, every cruelty, there are far more people who demonstrate compassion. In the wake of a suicide bombing you can look at the carnage and the people who thought the bomber did the right thing, but there are way more people picking up the pieces and helping the victims.
For every person who accepts Jesus nowadays there are two who walk away from faith.
The world continues to get better, slowly but surely, just like it always has. This, frankly, is why I do what I do. I think for the world to get better people must be reminded that there is still work to do so they don’t get complacent expecting society to change on its own. My work reflects a reminder of the present, not a representation of the future.
That’s how I stay happy. People are generally good.
I’m also made happier whenever I get nice letters from friends (I don’t like to think I have “fans”, just friends) who tell me that I’ve affected them in some positive way. The mental illness stuff, it’s hard (harder than a priest on a playground). Being open about it, even after a few years of positive response, remains one of the most difficult and exhausting things I do. To know that it’s been productive, that other people find solidarity in my efforts…it means the world to me. Thank you so much for contributing greatly to my own happiness.
Your grateful friend,
Hope everybody’s having a good day. <3