How to Stop a Conversation:
Mention that you have depression. One of the reasons I still can’t put into words my feelings about SXSW this year is that the project I’m most excited about at the moment had the effect of causing folks to run away from me as soon as possible after hearing about it. This is not good for networking. I guess I should not have been surprised by the reaction, but I was. Partially because I’m sure that at least half of the folks that reacted that way also have depression. Partially because since I have found that talking about it is much more healthy than denying it, I assume that everyone else is on the same page. They aren’t. That fact is the reason why I think Jangly Ganglia as a community project, rather that as just my own means of coping, is important. Mental health issues need to overcome the stigma attached to them, and the only way that is going to happen is if we all stop denying them. I am no activist. I have tried to be an activist for a couple of different issues in the past, and it just doesn’t work for me. But I see an opportunity for a kind of “stealth” activism here— we can use the crazy-easy publishing power of blogs and the community potential of the web for our own benefit— to help us focus on the postive in life— and just by the fact that the site is there be helping to reduce the stigma that we all face. The great thing about this is that it allows each particular person to be anonymous if they so choose, which may crucially important factor in the decision to talk about depression. But even being anonymous, you would be part of a community that is furthering understanding of your issues. And I find the project easy to do; I have been spending about 5 minutes a day on posts. That is a small chunk of time, and it has has a had huge payoff for me. Anyway, I am excited about this project and wanted to tell everyone I met at SXSW about it. I didn’t really accomplish what I set out to do there, hence this post. I have recently won a license and hosting package that will allow me to get this project off the ground and keep it non-profit and expense-free for me. If you are interested in joining the project, please see this post over at Jangly and get in touch.