Over on Facebook, I idly declared that I sometimes think it might be fun and possibly useful to people for me to do a kind of agony aunt/advice column thing here on my dusty, much-neglected blog. I have been told by multiple people on multiple occasions that I should write a self-help book with my characteristic foul-mouthed, mostly optimistic, no nonsense approach to life based almost entirely on my own ridiculous and often totally batshit life.

It turns out, a lot of people are kind of into this idea. So I put up an anonymous poll to gather questions, and in only a few hours, I have enough already for several such posts. So, I guess this is a thing now. You can ask me anything. I know some shit about relationships and communication, I know a bit about the beating of brain monkeys and the support of others who are doing so. I know some shit about parenting, I guess. I may or may not have useful advice – I make no promises. But for whatever it is worth, and whatever questionable wisdom I may have gathered, I am happy to share. 🙂 If you ask me something and I don’t know the answer I will do my best to point you in the right direction.

I hasten to add that I am not a medical professional, I’m just one human who has been through a lot of crap and learned some stuff along the way, and maybe has something useful to share on the matter. Some of what I have said about my own journey has seemed to resonate with people, so maybe I can help some folks. That would be awesome.

Okay, so here goes. Three questions.

Do politics ever get less confusing?

Nope.

Haha, okay I’ll do better than that. I think that in recent years politics has become a rather binary affair, and that’s unfortunate. I think maybe the simplification to tweet sized soundbites of really very complex issues has driven people into very black and white dichotomous views, and that’s a problem.

I’d like to see the nuance return, but I don’t hold out a lot of hope of that happening any time soon, because there’s so much anti-intellectual shit out there, that officially knowing what you’re talking about is almost seen as elitist and therefore negligible. So some random makes a comment about the economy and someone with a PhD in economics goes, well, no, this is the reality, and the two views are seen as having equal weight.

Which means that every random opinion has the same weight and it just makes it very overwhelming. I think maybe part of navigating it is developing a nose for bullshit – especially from the sides you agree with! I have Media Bias/Fact Checking bookmarked, and I run anything even remotely dodgy through Snopes before I share it. Staying critical so that you can make informed decisions that aren’t based totally on emotion is important.

And also stepping away sometimes. I have a habit of getting very invested and emotionally bogged down in all of it, and it wreaks havoc on my mental health. It can trigger pretty intense depressive episodes. So I have had to learn to step away. To turn off Facebook. To go play with my kid, or hang with my love, or read a book, or bake cupcakes, and just remember that the fight is important, but so is life. Keeping that balance is hard, but important.

But you know, people are complicated beasts. So of course our social order (which is what politics is all about at the end of the day) is also complicated.

Beware the simple. It’s usually hiding a lack of substance.

What’s your perspective on loneliness? Have you ever been trapped down a hole like that, and if so what was/is/will be your way out?

and

Despite my outward mask of outgoing geniality, I am often lonely in a crowd, even among people I know. How do I overcome this?

I’m going to answer these two together, because they’re related. Have I been trapped in that? Yes. And the ridiculous thing is I have always had lots of people on my side. But my particular brand of depression likes to try to convince me that no one really likes me, everyone is pretending, I’m actually totally horrible, and I have no one at my back. Even though this is demonstrably untrue.

So, yes I have felt that way. I guess, for me, the way out was learning that it was lies, having just a few people who I could trust enough that I could go to them and say, “Hey, my brainmonkeys say that no one loves me” and they’d go, “Oh Jax, your brainmonkeys are full of shit,” and talk crap with me until I felt better.

I have never been in a position where those people didn’t exist though. I have always had someone. Even if I didn’t believe it, necessarily. Here’s the thing. I don’t know who you are, but you do too, because you’re on my friends list. 😉 Even if you’re someone I don’t know that well, I am happy to be that person. ❤ Most people have SOMEONE like that, even if they don’t know it.

As for being lonely in a crowd, I think maybe we all feel this way sometimes? (Maybe not everyone, but I don’t know anyone who I am close enough to know that about who doesn’t feel like that sometimes.) I think sometimes the trick is try to let go of that external analytic thing that is always evaluating your social performance. (I have that, I am sure I’m not the only one!) That little voice going, “Oh hey, you’re here with all your friends. Are you having fun? Is this fun for you? Are you having the right sort of fun? Do you think they think your jokes are funny?” and etc. If you can try and train yourself to let go of that voice and just enjoy the moment, it may help. That’s easier said than done, I realise.

BUT here’s the good news! Brains are really just habit machines. And habits can be broken and rewired. It takes practice, but it’s doable.

For me, I guess the thing that helps the most is developing safe friendships. You know, those people around whom you can say whatever random shit enters your head and they’re amused and endeared by it. People you don’t have to watch yourself with. People who are weird and oddball in a similar way to you. If you don’t have anyone like that, start looking a bit closer at your acquaintances. There may be one or two who could be turned into that, with a few coffee dates. 😉

Loneliness sucks, man. Humans are social beasts and we don’t deal well with lack of companionship. But one of the awesome things about the internet is that there’s always someone in reach. And if there isn’t, there are communities and fandoms and places that can turn online friendships into real life ones. Be brave. Reach out. That’s how friendships are formed.

 

I love you, awesome nerds. Stay magnificent. ❤

 

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Got a question? Here’s a totally anonymous poll where you can leave it for me. I’ll probably get to it someday. Unless I get distracted. 😛

 

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