Thank you for being here. We’d like to focus more on building community and sustaining our lil D-land ecosystem here on Substack, so we’re opening up the floor on a regular basis to get your feedback and *discuss*
We’re going to start doing short Q&A segments, so please feel free to ask us any questions — this can be relevant to previous episodes or ideas for future episodes you’d like to hear!
You’re welcome to talk about whatever, but here’s a few prompts:
What’s the weirdest targeted ad that the algorithm keeps feeding you about mental health? (we wanna investigate!)
Have you seen any studies lately that feel off to you, but you can’t quite say why? (we wanna debunk!)
What’s the biggest contradiction you’re struggling with in trying to deconstruct capitalist logic around mental health? (we wanna discuss!)
One of the biggest contradictions I'm struggling with right now in trying to deconstruct capitalist logic around mental health is how I deal with unstructured time. I feel like I've wired myself to "function" best i.e. fulfill ordered tasks when I'm at work and ONLY when I'm at work. When I get home, I feel sudden freedom from that emphasis on structured time and in trying to make the most of it, I find myself falling primarily into aimless nothingness/numbing out time on my phone or watching television (I used to do this with drugs too). Ironically, I am most able to benefit from hobbies I enjoy doing when I'm avoiding work tasks while I'm at work either by reading or researching topics at my computer, doodling at my desk, or drawing/bird watching/playing sports during my lunch break. I sometimes feel like I'm giving my best self to my job where it isn't valued unconditionally but I also feel like if I don't bring myself to work with me, I won't be able to get through it enough to sustain the work that feeds and clothes me and my loved ones under capitalism.
I was recently let go from a position I had aspired to since my undergraduate years. Fortunately, my partner makes enough for the both of us to be comfortable, so I'm not struggling to survive.
I am a Black/mixed race autistic femme with a long history of significantly traumatic experiences growing up in poverty. The expensive energy involved in masking, code-switching, working myself to burnout (for the theater of it all); the necessity of reading into & anticipating the constant lying and deficiency of empathy inherent to "neurotypical" social dynamics that I find so alien; and attempting to survive & integrate my experiences with dehumanization, have all thoroughly disillusioned me from the idea that I can, "do anything" if I just "work hard enough." I often find myself quite literally devoid of the will to survive these conditions at all.
Although my life cannot compare to hers, I am reminded at times of Margaret Garner, and some part of me, screaming in the distant corners of my consciousness, understands. However, I also know without a doubt that I am one of the lucky ones. I have a degree from a nice college, no debt, a supportive partner, loving if imperfect family members, and the gift of education in particular to relieve me of the dead-weight myth of individual responsibility.
I often think of those who do not "make it;" those souls who are extinguished by the incessant grind toward the myth of infinite expansion. I often feel that capitalism is this ghoulish playground in which death is just the finishing act of lives haunted by it. So many of the "lucky ones" are disassociating through life at work. While the "unlucky" ones are living through even more intense forms of precarity, oppression, & imprisonment.
Sometimes I wonder if there is as much of a meaningful distinction as we think. There is a sort of dehumanization inherent to the meta-logic of oppression. Like, we use the idea of privilege to illustrate what it would be sorry or distressing to be in comparison. But as someone who experienced a drastic shift in my material circumstances, when I visit my family at home, I realize how much peace I have personally from growing up poor. I am deeply connected to the deliciousness of simply surviving, even if it disappoints people. Of deciding to go to Chipotle when you have just $40 to your name. Of you and your extended family living in one dirty, dilapidated house, and everyone works at the same fucking Walmart bc it makes carpooling is easy; but it's a fucking house! It's where you eat sugary cereals with your step-dad who really needs to see a dentist, and light up, and watch movies together.
That's a long way to say, sometimes the beauty that I find in life under capitalism, is just the wonder and joy of continuing to be alive, despite everything that hopes to consume you. So I'm decorating my apartment for autumn, and moving slowly. I feel grateful, and lucky, to experience moments of complete serenity & contentment.
I'm taking a class on eco-anxiety and something that came up in one of the texts we're reading
(Generation Dread by Britt Wray) was whether or not to have eco-anxiety as a diagnosis in the DSM. Wray is against it, as am I and I would guess both of you, but I'd love to hear y'all discuss that in more depth if that's something you'd be interested in doing.
Hi, just stopping by to say I've followed Jess for a long time and they have been instrumental in my personal journey. Ironically Jess is both the reason I got tested and diagnosed ADHD and the reason that diagnosis now means so little to me. THANK YOU for your content Jess and thank you both for the pod.
Re: the prompts-- I've been reading about BPD to better understand my partner and I've have been absolutely slammed with online therapy (betterhelp, talkspace, etc) ads. I don't recall seeing quite this many ads researching my anxiety, depression, or adhd.
Some things I'd like to hear y'all discuss: intersection of gender and mental health diagnosis, intersection of queerness and mental health (including the term neuroqueer), what feels like a mad rush to use psychedelics (in a clinical setting) to treat mental health, and the disease model of addiction.
Do we invest mental health therapists with at least some of the vital social functions that more healthfully would remain the functions of friends and community leaders? What might be some of the vital social functions that, otherwise the domain of communities, are now domiciled off as better left to the professional? Thank you.
What do you think of the book 'What Happened to You'? I liked the book because it delves deep into the science of trauma and epigenetics. And it doesn't separate people based on 'neurotype', so they have a very holistic understanding of trauma. In fact, it uses the word neurotypical in a slightly different context: meaning one who doesn't have a sensitized stress response. This definition feels better than how the word neurotypical is used in the ND vs NT context. I know plenty of people (of all skin colors) whose personalities could be described as autistic. However, they do not have complex trauma, so they end up being classified as neurotypical by both definitions. Ah it's all too complicated for my throbbing, burned out brain to comprehend.
The book isn't explicitly anti-psychiatry, but they do talk about how a lot of what the dsm attempts to label is actually due to trauma. And diagnosing people with a psych disorder overlooks that. Hence, the title of the book (as opposed to the dsm's way of thinking, which is essentially what's wrong with you).
On a slightly unrelated note..
One thing that feels 'off' is explicitly autistic characters in shows. Because it implies that no one else is autistic, and creates almost an invisible barrier between people where you think you're more different from then than you actually are. It's like 'oh, you are not a natural part of human diversity anymore. You have autism, and are separate from the normal people.' Context, Thomas the Tank Engine is getting an autistic character. Also the autistic sesame street character. I'm too tired to unpack my feelings about this.
It's devastating to constantly be too tired to do the things I want my brain to do. I think that's my biggest struggle under capitalism. I'm disabled by factors outside my control and I have to somehow live with that fact. At the same time, not accepting things the way they are is how I've been able to understand the extent of capitalism.
I am struggling with 3 different paradoxes in capitalist logic around mental health:
1. Devices and social media can connect people in solidarity or become this addictively polarizing comparison-heavy echo chamber. How does one find people who are not 'subscribers' that aren't already outward activists themselves?
2. I heard of a study anecdotally that white men with ADHD were more likely go into law enforcement while Black men with ADHD were more likely to end up incarcerated. How do I shift in being determined to find the origins of this statement (giving it the benefit of the doubt that it's probably true) rather than cast doubt on the 'officialness' of studies that become useful for certain ideologies?
3. Having a Patreon where I kindof want to joke/complain about some company trying to sell someone something in relation to a supposed 'deficit'. What direct actions could maybe take the place of this cynical mindset? Usually it's uncertain work/'shoulds', sometimes it's just an info dump/unorganized curiosity, but did I monetize a hobby or am I just not able to fully 'own' what valuable things I have to offer? Is that even necessary or am I overthinking it?
First off, I'm so glad to have found a podcast that truly challenges the status quo in mental health circles and genuinely makes me think instead of just being an echo chamber. Thank y'all for the work you make!
I'm a sociologist focused on deconstruction but also someone who discovered that I'm autistic in my twenties and finally felt things make sense. I still find myself falling into the biomedical mindset when it comes to neurodiversity because a diagnosis was very useful in my specific case, for support, personal understanding, and community.
Something I'd love to hear y'all's take on would be an area where I still struggle with that intrinsic differences in brain chemistry mindset. (Though, of course, it's always society acting on biology, not one or the other.) I think a lot of the ADHD creators online have co-opted typically autistic language and traits, making ADHD the more desirable diagnosis in a way Jess has talked about before. I don't want to rely on constructed, ever changing diagnostic criteria, but I do think anything and everything being included in "things you didn't know we're ADHD" TikToks can be harmful to people in other self-labeled communities.
I've been trying to work out how to phrase this, since it's been on my mind for months. If Fictional Influencer Greg decides that x trait that has long been associated with autism by autistics is suddenly part of the ADHD boss branding, it feels like it's not deconstructing diagnostic labels for the good of all and is also making a community who has been talking about trait x for years invisible. I'm not as familiar with other psych labels, so curious if anything similar is happening with white washing traits of schizophrenia, bpd, etc.
I'd also just love to hear some other people's experiences with valuing their disabled identity or diagnostic label while still wanting the system to burn. It's a lot like gender for me --- mentally and politically, I'm nonbinary, but because of the world we live in, my forced womanhood still has value to me. I'd love a more micro level episode hearing lots of experiences.
Hi! I love your podcast. Have you all read Legacy by Cree Two Spirit author Suzanne Methot? This book discusses trauma and healing for First Nations people. I was wondering if you had read this book because it talks about how western therapy in it of itself is not enough to help people heal - many First Nations people need access to cultural / traditional healing practices and spaces as well as #landback. I appreciate this book because it lets me know that under racialized capitalism, so many ways of healing are not allowed (let alone something to bill insurance under). Anyways, this book is incredible. Hope you read it if you feel compelled. Link: https://www.amazon.com/Legacy-Trauma-Story-Indigenous-Healing/dp/1770414258/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1663614421&sr=8-1
I’ve started getting ads on Instagram and tiktok for Neuralli (“dietary support for neurological conditions such as ASD”) and would love a good debunk sesh on their science and related wellness products that have started targeting autistic and ADHD adults. Probiotics can be good, sure, but I’m dreading the Goop-ification of neurodivergence. At the same time, if empirical evidence told me a $300 yoni egg made from stone quarried on the moon would stop my IBD symptoms, I’m in 🤷🏻♀️
Hi, I’m still working my way through all the episodes but I want to dig deeper into hyperfocus. You’ve talked about it like it’s pathologising this type of flow state that people can get into when they’re really interested in things, but for me I don’t want to be cataloguing toothpaste ingredients at 2am with an empty belly and a full bladder, I’m not interested but I can’t stop. I want to understand why my brain does that, but I wouldn’t call it interest or flow, hyperfocus to me is a malfunction of inhibition, or failure to switch tasks, or me not understanding how else to give my brain what it needs. I think it’s much more complex than flow and I’d love to understand it outside the framework of pathology
Can you please skewer and shish kebab the "Mcmindfulness" industry? Did you know they be charging $7k to get a certificate to teach mindfulness? It's like they figured out how to charge people for breathing air lol. And don't get me started on those apps. It's all so much colonialism, appropriation, and individualistic nonsense.
Many therapy modalities include it now but as an experienced meditator I don't see how people can actually get used to meditating without a community (like a sangha) to support them. And it's all again this vague McChicken called mindfulness, which misses the vast richness of different meditation traditions.
I see capitalistlm in practise & the capitalist worldview of privatizing & monetizing everything to benefit a minority as deeply harmful in all those ways you discuss. Also pre-capitalism the framework of patriarchal Christistinity still has its legacy.
But i aso struggle with the idea of community as solution. Community can give you a sense of acceptance & connectedness that isnt based on capitalist productivity (whether cultural, ethnic, religious, social-political whatever) but can also alienate you by demanding some comformity, loyalty & submission to community values. People get ostracized & others protected for sake of preserving community. Or someone's way of being just doesnt fit a community narrative.
From my own experience (w parents who rejected consumerism & capitalist productivity in favour of spiritual practise & learning for its own sake) it can be as unhelpful to be really struggling & having family who believe mental illness is a western construct, that you just need to try harder and get out of your head, or its a crisis of spirituality etc. as it is to try & get help and deal with the bs of psychiatry.
External expectations aside, it doesnt feel good to be in a stuck in state of confusion or distress & unable to do anything you want to do. But having to worry about rent & bills, enough to eat, being judged by others while in this state makes it so much worse.
Area of interest is education system & learning disabilities. How kids need to get a label or diagnosis in order to have any needs aka 'accomodations' within the existing system, rather than changing anything about the system.
Hi! Thanks for your podcast, it really opened my eyes on many things.
I just found out firsthand how the ADHD industry works in Europe. I am very confused, they keep on telling me they just treat ADHD and not anxiety or other stuff. Isn't it all connected? I have to find different psychiatrists/therapists to help me with each thing separately...
Anyways, I was wondering what are your thoughts on certain types of therapy? Like CBT - isn't it the most capitalistic kind of therapy? At least the way it is used to treat ADHD. Quickly train your brain to be more productive?
And from my latest targeted ad: "Nerva": your anxiety will disappear if you do this hypnotherapy for IBS... (?)
I've been getting a lot of Hims & Hers ads -- they are gendered subscription products that are designed around the idea of wellness. The Hims ads point to hair products, ED meds, and recently started covering anxiety & depression. The Hers ads are exclusively anxiety & depression with some covert body image references (eg - the one fat model talks about taking down mirrors when depressed)...
I'm non-binary and will get both Hims & Hers ads back to back, which is kind of infuriating but also hilarious.
It just feels like they are pushing this outdated 1950s gendering (also if I'm remembering correctly, I'm pretty sure all the models/actors are white), but using modern language to repackage it into a wellness vibe - like you'll be so much more abled & productive & happy if you admit you are broken and use these products to fix yourself. 😑