Saturday, January 10, 2015


So... the Paris thing. I have taken a while to get my thoughts together and I'll be honest – they're still not together. Here's why: the conflict I have between respect for the belief of others and the fact that those beliefs can include wanting to hurt, kill, suppress or generally restrict the rights of others. There are awesome people with crazy beliefs. There are assholes with everything they believe rooted in scientific norms. And all kinds of mixes in between.

But I feel we need to look seriously at beliefs and we can't disassociate them from actions. And I don't mean this applies to just one belief system. I mean all beliefs.

Let's take the Paris example. I read a lot of – don't blame this on Islam. These people were unhinged monsters. They were sick. Crazy. Okay so moving past the idea that pinning it on mental illness is just fine and dandy, for me this allows us to completely dismiss these people as monsters. Whatever we may think of them and their actions, they are human beings. And if several human beings can go this far, so can others. We need to acknowledge them first as humans. After all, there are entire nations now handing out some pretty horrific punishments under the name of Sharia Law. Are they not human?

I also read a lot of condemnation from other Muslims and rightfully so. And we know of course that, in so many places (including this example) moderate Muslims are so often victims of the extremists. That is so important to keep in mind.

And yet the same basic root of the belief systems that the moderate Muslims hold gave these people the justification for their actions.

Let me take it away from Islam for a moment because the danger is that we become Islamophobic and that is unhelpful and can be dangerous in itself. Let me move on to another example – Christians hating gay people. Now I know that not all Christians hate gay people. In the grand scheme of things, I imagine the percentage is likely to be pretty damn low. And yet they exist. Are these extreme Christians? Maybe. But their holy book says that men shouldn't lay with other men and it's a killing offence. So actually if we're going to take the Bible as the core of the religion, it's not that these gay-hating Christians are extreme. It's that they're Christians. The more relaxed are just picking and choosing what works for them because they're cool and they don't like hating others.

But those Christians, no matter how relaxed, must recognise that the root of their beliefs contains words that say we should put gay people to death. Now it's important to recognise that the bible likely didn't make a lot of homophobes who they are - but it enables them and justifies it and provides an argument for their hate.

We feel we should respect beliefs. But really when it's that kind of stuff, should we? Really? Stick that in a book and tell people that it's the word of a divine ruler and no matter how cool most people are, sooner or later someone will act on it.

Extreme Christians are just Christians who are actually following what it says. They aren't twisting it. They are Christians. Same with extreme Muslims. And likely with so many other religions. So we simply can't say that the beliefs or some religions themselves aren't a problem. That in itself enables things like this. It allows them to happen. Our automatic respect for beliefs leads to horrors.

We've got to stop enabling them. So how? Well some ways include rational discussion, analysis, satire, humour and general ridicule. A general intolerance of people being assholes. One really important way - leaving their club.

I was in Ireland when it was found out not just about the molesting priests in the Catholic Church but that the church knew about it and knowingly swept it under the carpet. The entire institution was rotten to the core. And yet on Sunday people in Ireland turned up to church as normal. WTF? If I was in a club and it was shown that the club liked to punch puppies in the face, know what I'd do? I'D LEAVE THE FUCKING CLUB. Doing ANYTHING else is supporting and enabling the crime.

It's not enough for moderate people of one religion to condemn the extremists of that same religion. Walk away. Stop being a part of it. Leave the club. Anything else is still supporting it.

The bottom line here is that being part of a group that believes people should be killed, maimed, are second-class citizens or whatever is being a dick, even if you personally don't subscribe to the bad parts. Have your beliefs and embrace your spirituality but don't support the institutions or the archaic and often barbaric foundations they were built on.

We shouldn't respect beliefs by default.

Beliefs, like people, should have to earn respect.

So where are we then? You can believe the most rational or most crazy shit you can think of and I think we should all be cool with that... until one of those beliefs restricts somebody else's life, advocates removing their human rights, suggests or provides justification for violence and murder or simply inhibits rational thought or compassion. When that happens, we should call your beliefs out as being bullshit and they can go fuck right off. We need to stop tip-toeing around those beliefs. They have not earned respect and so deserve none.

Instead, embrace your nice beliefs within yourself, be cool to each other, promote the awesomeness of humanity and take us to new and better places. And please call out the bullshit where you see it.

Love to all of you.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Here comes the rain...

It's that time of year. Dark mornings. Rain. Cold. I'm finding I REALLY don't want to get up in the morning. This can be a tough time of year for those battling with depression because it's just darker and more miserable. Around us, the world starts to look and feel like those feelings we remember and want to avoid. Like a conspiracy to get it all under our skin once more.

Well I'm not playing. Not now.

But man, I'm sleepy. Who do I speak to about not having to get up in the morning? Is there a department that handles this stuff? I form I need to fill out? Just leave me in my bed with the phone and the pizza place on speed dial. Actually no. I don't want to speak to anyone. I'll order food online. Yes, that sounds better.

And then I'll do much sleeping and all will be good, right? Right?

As the mornings and evenings get darker, I hope your mood doesn't match them. Not always easy, I know. But I'm hoping for good things for everyone who stops by here. By the way, a few people have emailed me over the last while looking for help and advice and that's really good. I can't offer much beyond my experiences and some kind words but it feels good that, even when close to dormant, this little blog can help people. Some day I might think about writing a little beginner's guide to depression...

Thursday, July 31, 2014

It's very simple

This conflict is not new. It was a trigger for me 15 years or more ago. It was bullshit then and it's bullshit now. What used to rub me up the wrong way in a big way was that one side got to be all warmongery and shouty and anyone who didn't want war was expected to debate rationally. Well it's time we peace-loving goody not-into-the-whole-killing-kids-thing people got a bit shouty because the other side long lost the right to justify their bullshit.

On a whole other note, I only just noticed there were comments I had left unpublished. Sorry about that all! Hope you're doing well. I miss you guys - I just so very rarely post now.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What have we accepted?



(The full image wouldn't post here in any legible way - it's a long one!)

I have made suggested here before that maybe, just maybe, depression is in part our own body's (or mind's) rejection of our situation. Poisoned by our environment, by systems which are alien to every cell in our body, by ideas and conflicts that we're told keep our world running and yet create a black pit inside us that grows and grows. We depressed masses are not sociopaths. As much as we try consciously to accept the world as humanity has shaped it, our bodies cannot fully accept it.

I don't know if this is true for you. I do know that the one thing that cannot be taken for granted about depression is it being the same for everyone.

And so while my own depression is currently dormant, I can't help but look around for its causes. The world as it is. And I find myself wondering: what have we accepted? What have we let happen?

What world have we given to today's youth?

Speaking of which, where are they? Where are you passionate youngsters? Are you there lurking behind the troll face memes and Pokemon gifs? The old visible youth presence seems to be gone. Are there youth subcultures any more?

Online connection is wonderful and it's not like the world was better when I was young (it wasn't) but the unfortunate side effect is that you have become marginalised. The world has shafted you and nobody knows if you give a shit because the Internet is so damn vast that it's all just white noise if it's even slightly outside our own personal 'net sphere. It's too easy to ignore. It all holds such promise and gives us access to so much and all that is cool but, in the process, it is like we shipped kids off to a ghetto we never have to visit.

Speaking for my generation, I apologise for the world we gave you. If you're reading this and you're young, please consider the message in the image linked above. Feel free to share it, spread it anywhere, ignore it or do anything you like with it (no credit or link required). Make yourself known. Get together. Not just online where you can be ignored. Where you can be seen. Don't allow yourselves to be marginalised. Don't let the world stomp all over you.

The world is yours.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Animators, depression and wishes

Another winter. Here it is again. That dreary time of year. That time of year that so often reminds me of that dark place that is a part of me. Why is that? Is it just the weather? The lack of sunlight? Perhaps. The enforced jolliness of Christmas clashing with the reality of our own feelings? Maybe that's more relevant.

Don't worry, folks. I'm doing well. Very well, in fact. Since my last post, my life has gone through many changes and that's frightening and exciting rolled into one. And it's actually fun.

It has warmed my heart that I still get comments and mails from this little blog though. No I don't wish depression on you all. But I know how much reading other sites helped me when I was first diagnosed. Reading the experiences of others was a comfort – that knowledge that, really, I wasn't completely on my own with this. We're in it together and, while many may not ever understand what we go through, there is a select elite group who know all too well.

We're not alone. 

One thing that has become obvious since starting this blog many years ago is that depression seems to go hand in hand with animation a lot of the time. I am not unique. Not by a long shot. So why is that? It's a little curious, right? I don't have answers. Only questions...

Is it that there are so many little things that eat away at us?
Are we not creatively fulfilled?
Are we not rewarded enough for the very skilled work that we do?
Do we feel taken advantage of, trampled on?
Is it that we spend too long by ourselves, in a bubble of scenes?
Do we feel a clash of creative versus commercial and hate what we make?
Is it the endless struggle of having clear vision yet having to wrestle it on to a screen?
Is it as simple as just not getting thanked enough?

Or is it that animation and the whole idea of making films and TV a frame at a time is completely and utterly insane? Yeah, maybe that's a part of it.

Animators, any ideas? Is it animation? Or is it just about being a person?

I don't know but what I do know is that it is often hard to talk about. There is still a stigma attached to depression, mainly because those who don't get it... well, they don't get it. It is hard to be open about it publicly, especially when you're making happy fun little animations to make kids smile. It's not an easy discussion. I know that well and maybe I have been a coward all these years by not posting with my real name but it has allowed me to be very honest about a great many things about just one or two aspects of a far more colourful life. I am not all depression and animation (honest!). But being able to write about those things freely has been very helpful.

Let's try to write more and read more about it, whether we use our real names or not. It all helps.

To everyone who comes by this little blog (and most get here because they are searching for information and posts on depression), I wish you good health. I wish you peace of mind. I wish you fewer depths and less darkness and the strength to make it through both when you have to. This world is filled with shit and hideous things and that so often obscures all of the wonderful things we have, the amazing things that people do, the little acts of kindness, the huge life-changing acts of kindness, the wonder of nature, even just a pretty cloud now and then. The worst things in life are not all our responsibility, not all the time. Allow yourself to put it aside and see the wonder. Give yourself that permission.

I know... easier said than done. But I wish that for you.

And for the animators, what have you got yourself into? What were you thinking? You could have a nice job in retail, where you get to go home content if you just survive the day. No, I'm joking. Animation is awesome, in spite of our griping (well, my griping). For you animators, I wish fulfillment, contentment, pride in your work but not so much that it makes you a pain in the ass. I wish fun characters, great music, and lovely surprises of life and personality as you animate, or little unexpected splashes of colour in your backgrounds. I wish you a moment maybe once a week, hopefully more, when you look at what you have made, at what you created and brought into being in this Universe, and you think – that's awesome.

And lastly to everyone, animator or not, depressed or not, I wish you all a fantastic holiday season. Warmth, family, friends or even just the comfort of lying under a warm blanket on your own.

By the way, if you are in animation, there are tons of relevant posts buried in the archives. Have a browse!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

I was depressed. Now I'm not.

So I did EXACTLY what I used to be told not to do while experiencing depression. Here's how it went...

I was feeling that familiar darkness, clouding me, pushing me further away from the real world. That's often how it feels - like I am retreating into somewhere deeper and there are barriers between me and life. Not just barriers. Dark clouds. 

It was depression, no doubt about it. I know it all too well.

I was afraid. Mostly because I don't think I have ever emerged from depression in less than a year. Sometimes much longer. I didn't want to end up lying on my bed in the foetal position but I also didn't want to end up on that long medication road. I hate that road.

I have long felt that depression is situational. A reaction from deep within our core telling us that something is just not right with our life. That could be something huge and obvious but it rarely is,  which is why often we don't know what's wrong. Often, I think it is the effect of a long-term discontentment. Got to be honest, I'm not sure I buy the chemical imbalance thing but that's a discussion for another post.

One thing I was told many times while being treated for depression was not to make any life-changing decisions. Don't get married. Don't move house. Don't buy a boat. But if depression even had the slightest chance of being situational, that advice prevents you from tackling the actual cause in any way. 

This time, I ignored that advice. I made a change. A massive change.

I did something that should increase my stress and my worry - I removed the security I had in my career and set myself on a new path. An unknown path without a worked-out plan. I put myself in a situation where a life change is unavoidable, even if I wanted to back out. I blew up my old world and must now find a new planet. Metaphorically - don't worry, I didn't actually blow anything up.

Getting to the decision to make that change was horrifying.

But once I went ahead with it, those dark clouds lifted. My situation changed. I feel better. And I have never once before seen depression lift so fast. Ever. 

I feel good. 

Sure, I now have major challenges ahead. It's not going to be easy. It may not even work out. But it's exciting and it feels right. It feels so right. I wondered if it might just be a momentary rush of excitement but, no. This is right.

Depression often feels to me like the long-term cumulative damage caused by even a slight unaddressed discontentment. If I am right, then the solution is to change the situation. Exactly the opposite of the advice I have been given over the years.

I feel good.