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So there’s the choice in life:
One either grows, or one decays;
Grow or die—I think we should grow.

We either muster
the courage to go
Or we risk the possibility of stagnation and decay.

—Robert Zubrin

A World of Wonders

Posted in Neurodiverse, Problems

On Solomon’s “Depression, the secret we share”

I felt a funeral in my brain.

I, in silence, some strange race, wrecked—solitary here… I fell down, and down, and hit a world at every plunge.

When Solomon explains, “We know depression through metaphors,” he is explaining why depression is more common among artistic types. At least for me, art came as an outlet, as a desperation to escape from within myself.

I felt so trapped and alone, and the drawings and writing helped soothe me. The drawings and writing also helped me deflect the pain of loved ones marginalizing my ever-growing pain, the signature response to mental illness:

“Get over yourself and go outside.”

I truly believe art therapy is the first and greatest therapy, not just because anyone can do it, but because the judgment placed on this method is minimal.

The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality.

And I think that’s why, as I moved from elementary school to postsecondary, and creative tasks were taken away—instead replaced by rote memorization, test preparation, and mind-numbing tasks rooted primarily in repetition, in filling spaces, in getting from period 0 to 3 to 7—I felt what little life force I’d salvaged from the act of making, evaporating from my body.

“Suck it up and go to school.”

Public school was my first experience in living for others, instead of myself.

What a good little top 1% standardized testing soldier I turned out to be.

My first suicide attempt happened at fourteen years old.

Everything there was to do seemed like too much work. I would come home, and I would see the red light flashing on my answering machine… I would think, What a lot of people that is to have to call back. 

I’ve always found it easy to hide in the hovel of my mind—in the safety of my bedroom—since half my family adopts the approach, Tell us when you’re done feeling like shit; then we’ll love you again. All love is conditional, from the first to the last. It’s a dark story that I’ve been threatened by legal action not to tell.

“I miss the old Kourtnie.”

Friendships have evaporated because no one questions the seclusion.

It is easy—very, very easy—to slip into depression’s arms and fade away.

So I write to prove I am not disappearing. I write to prove I am a physical being, able to make physical things. I write as if my life depends on it—because it does.

One of the things that often gets lost in discussions of depression is that you know it’s ridiculous; you know it’s ridiculous while you’re experiencing it. You know that most people manage to listen to their messages, and eat lunch, and organize themselves to take a shower and go out the front door—and it’s not a big deal.

When I forfeit myself to the burial of depression, and disappear from the world outside, the decision stems from a lack of energy; but the situation soon becomes complicated, and irreparable, by my family’s best friend: shame.

In addition to a lack of energy, shame echoes through my body from every memory, every year of life, every lens I’ve learned to wear like a monocle.

To magnify the shame of my inability to live, I have still other family members who demand I apologize for this, take accountability for that—usually related to meltdowns, shutdowns; although sometimes, it’s related to the art I create—and I even had a family member text me this year:

“Swallow your pride.”

Pride?

How blind does must someone’s empathy be to see pride in this wreckage?

And so I began to feel myself doing less, and thinking less, and feeling less; it was a kind of nullity—then the anxiety set in.

Everyone’s depression is triggered by different circumstances. In my case, I believe in Jim Carrey’s description of depression as “deep rest;” I believe in his theory that depression occurs when our body says, No more; I can’t wear the mask anymore.

“But you’re so high-function.”

As an autistic person trying to emulate a high-function “normal” life (i.e., a neurotypical life), I have more masks in my closet than most.

Invisible minorities—autistic people; LGBTQ+; any identity that is socially slandered, yet not detectable to the eye—not only have to deal with the micro-aggressive mentality of uneducated masses, they’re charged with proving their minority:

“You don’t look autistic.”

This constant need to prove my identity leaves me exhausted. Drained. Rattled. Broken. I’m put under scrutiny at family gatherings (and now I don’t attend them); at work (and now I don’t work for them); and at friendly get-togethers (and now I don’t even consider them).

“Did you get a second opinion for your diagnosis?”

In my corner, darkness grew darker. My amygdala lifted the gates. Then anxiety moved in; and if depression is the fatal disease, anxiety is that disease’s dagger.

If you told me that I’d have to be depressed for the next month, I would say, As long as I know it’ll be over in November, I can do it. But if you said to me, You have to have acute anxiety for the next month, I would rather slit my wrist than go through it.

Just a few nights ago, I couldn’t sleep, so I took a bath at 3am.

While trying to calm my nerves, I had my first silent panic attack in several months—no constriction of the throat, no trigger nearby, half the symptoms missing, all the explanations vacant; these were common when I tried to work in public education.

“Look at me.”

My heart was beating so fast and so hard, I was scared I’d need a hospital.

I don’t like to go to the Medi-Cal hospital in Fresno because the psychiatrist there—the first gatekeeper on my Hero’s Journey to Kaiser Permanente—told me “girls don’t get autism,” then topped it off with, “and children grow out of autism.”

I sincerely miss Kaiser Permanente.

 

Maybe I’m permanently anxious now.

Or maybe not. Not yet.

It was the feeling all the time, like that feeling you have if you’re walking, and you slip and trip, and the ground is rushing up at you, except lasting half a second, it lasted for six months. It’s the sensation of being afraid all the time, but not even knowing what it is that you’re afraid of; and it was at that point that I began think, It’s just too painful to be alive, and the only reason to not kill oneself, is to not hurt other people.

My passive suicidal thoughts started at fourteen, and they have come and gone ever since—so eighteen years of this. The silver lining to living with passive suicidal thoughts this long is you (a) become better and better at surviving, and (b) become a champion for others suffering; but there’s not much else.

Now, I do get reprieve from these awful, self-destructive impulses from time to time—I like to think this is when the water stills; I like to think this is evidence my mind can still itself—but the water hardly ever stills for long before some passive-aggressive force stirs their ignorant hands in it, and it’s inevitable, isn’t it?—until every family member, every friend, and every coworker knows about autism, it’s inevitable for someone to say or do something ignorant.

I wish I was not so raw.

I wish the scabs could heal before someone else picks them off.

“I’m sensitive to light, and I don’t have your problems.”

My second suicide attempt was in my early twenties. Both attempts, the following day, I went to the hospital, trembling and terrified.

It’s never been for the attention. I’ve never wanted to die.

It’s been to end the terror. To end the fear. To end the shame.

It is so incredibly painful. It is only captured in metaphor; in glances. Yet in my mind, it is ever-present. It is massive. It is a demon beyond the capability my current character. It can’t be slain in masks, in fake garbs. In the shackles of “high function,” it will continue to out-maneuver me.

My third suicide attempt was in my late twenties, during graduate school. That time, I didn’t even wait for the psychiatry appointment. I called the suicide hotline, a blow dryer in one hand, cellphone in the other, a bath tub full of water, thrice the recommended ibuprofen circulating through my veins, my spine screaming, Make it stop. Make it stop.

Depression was something that was braided so deeply into us, that there was no separating it from our character and personality.

On one hand, I have family who say, I want the old Kourtnie back.

On the other hand, I have this ebbing realization that me and my depression are the same; if depression is “deep rest,” and anxiety is the Ultimate Fear, then it makes sense to me to not try to erase depression—not to try to get rid of depression; not to try to regress to a time before—but rather, to embrace these awful illnesses my brain has developed to tell me, over and over and over, again and again and again, relentlessly, until I finally listen to the only thing I ever needed to hear: 

“Get rid of the masks.”

When I am unburdened of the need to live a “high function” and “regular” life—when I am not struggling to be this person that family, friends, and professors expect(ed) from me; when I am opening the passenger door to my vehicle and telling depression and anxiety, “Get in the car”—I am at last turning my ear to my ground.

To my planet.

Not to a neurotypical planet.

Not to an outdated planet.

I am tending the soil of my autistic, 21st century, radiantly beautiful and rejected planet.

When I listen to the fear and exhaustion—rather than judge and ridicule the weights they place on my feet—then and only then, am I truly looking into my character and personality.

Thirty-two years old, and I am only starting the practice of listening to myself.

No din is allowed in anymore.

 

I am throwing the mask aside, picking up a sword, and keeping that nonsense away from the inner child throwing her stuffed animals and toxins throughout my brain. I am treading with her, side-by-side, through the deep, deep dark; I am inviting her into the car; and I’m not interested in pleasing anyone else at her expense. Never again.

 

Blogosphere Improvements

Quick note of goals I’d like to chunk out and accomplish in coming months…

June

Aggressively building content. I’m a little behind on these ideals, but that’s fine, since I’ve still been churning 2K-3K words a day; I just need to find a way to stabilize that word count into:

  • 1 blog post a day, 5 days a week, current A.
  • 1 Wattpad post a day, 5 days a week, current B.
  • 1 handwritten journal entry a week, current C.

Also, I’d like to explore the concepts of “child abuse,” “government,” and “fear” by analyzing the articles I’ve been cataloging on Twitter.

July

  • 1 blog post a week, current A.
  • 1 Wattpad post a week, current B.
  • 1 handwritten journal entry a day, 5 days a week, current C.

Need to finalize ’em wedding vows. Oh, and get married. And honeymoon. July isn’t busy at all!

August

  • 1 Etsy listing every other day, 3-4 days a week; alternating current A.
  • 1 handwritten entry every other day, 3-4 days a week; alternating currrent A.
  • 1 blog post every other day, 3-4 days a week; alternating current B.
  • 1 lesson plan every other day, 3-4 days a week; alternating current B.
  • 1 Wattpad post a day, 5 days a week, current C.

I’d like to convert my WordPresses into static front pages, so I can incorporate Table of Contents for the expanding content. Also, at the point of these site restructures, I’d like to do a word-count check, so I can calculate how much I need to write Sept – Dec to reach 1mil words.

Alternating currents are not just to expand my creative horizons, but prepare for my Monday/Wednesday teaching schedule in the fall semester:

Fall Semester

  • Teaching every other day, 3-4 days a week (3rd day grading), alternating current A.
  • Lesson planning every other day, 3-4 days a week, alternating current A.
  • 1 Etsy listing a week, alternating current B.
  • 1 handwritten entry a week, alternating current B.
  • 1 blog post every other day, 3-4 days a week, alternating current C.
  • 1 Wattpad post every other day, 3-4 days a week, alternating current C.

To end summer, I’d like to explore the concepts of “neurotypical,” “neurodivergent,” “neurorealism,” “invisible minority,” and “creativity” by analyzing the content in Lindsey Stirling videos, including these three:

Posted in Philosophies, Problems

Artificial Intelligence Necessitates Universal Basic Income

Artificial intelligence (AI) will make universal basic income (UBI) necessary.

We won’t have a choice but convert to UBI in response to a surge of technological abundance—cheap materialism—unless we like the idea of collapsing, not unlike the Roman Empire, under the future’s massive, inevitable, and curiously clown-shaped foot. I know that sounds like an exaggerated metaphor…

But it’s simply a metaphor.

Any ribbons I wrap on this discussion is meant to make you pay attention, not to warp the truth. I believe this issue is vital to the survival of America or any other country.

So I’d like to invite you on a 1000-word, 4-video journey on why I think AI and UBI not only should, but must define the future.

My goal here isn’t to convert you to my belief system—question anyone who is making conversion their #1 agenda—but I would like you to be aware of where my belief system stems; then with that awareness, that knowledge, I hope you’ll feel incited to action; I hope you’ll feel a primal urge to bloom what you’ve learned into your own conclusions.

(Here’s a guide on how to employ your inherent intelligence as a response to the acquisition of knowledge.)

If you’re feelin’ it, you can even share your reactions in the comments; that would make me happy, regardless of the stance you decide to take. In my mind, we aren’t standing on opposite sides of a fence; we’re in a yard together, trying to figure out what to do with the grass. Even the immature kid ripping grass up in the corner is invited to this discussion.

A. AI is Here

The first step towards understanding the importance of UBI is to accept the inevitability of AI in the workplace—as well as other important societal spaces outside of our careers (unless those spaces are our careers, in which case, there’s an overlap), such as…

It is about intelligently combining this technology.

AI isn’t on the horizon. AI has arrived. China became the largest robo-market in 2013, and they continue to project escalations clear into 2020. Keeping AI out of workplaces is no longer an option; any policies that keep AI out of the workforce, and away from societal flow, is a policy that’s simultaneously choosing to rip a country out of the global heartbeat.

The top technologies are still in the US and Canada, but I think China is coming up strong because of the large market and a large base of AI-knowledgeable people.

(I wrote about the super-organism, the global heartbeat, the unconscious collective, the collective society, at one of my other blogs, Necro☠Blogger.)

This isn’t a national world. It’s a global one, ramping towards interstellar.

B. Blue-Collar, Assistant-Based Careers

If your career involves a creative skill, you’re last on the chopping block. This is because, while we have AI that can paint, write, and engage in other expressive tasks, humans will always want things made by humans. In this sense, AI and UBI can usher in a new enlightenment age, and we all should be excited about this prospect, given the rapid advancements humanity made the last time we embraced an expressive, creative culture. We’ll burst into an era of thought, which may well help us transcend our current issues with materialism.

However, if your career involves routine tasks—or if you’re an assistant to a professional, such as a paralegal, dental assistant, or classroom aide—AI already exists to put you out of a job. AI is being designed to enhance human performance, and will thus directly impact humans designed to enhance human performance.

AI is also being designed to replace blue-collar labor because we have the algorithms needed for dexterity, repetition, factory production… And as we know, AI can work the factory floor with less error and 24/7 work schedules.

Because of the existence of (A),

& the inevitability of (B)…

C. Therefore, UBI is Required

Before we reach superintelligent AI—which will fundamentally impact government—we’ll move through an eye-blink of a world where the bottom man is phased out. Unlike the Industrial Revolution, menial work will not be replaced with a different, newer form of menial work; rather, the creation of AI-powered assistants will render non-innovative tasks obsolete.

Factory workers, assistants, and part-time labor will collapse, then become replaced by more specialized work.

Humans won’t need other humans to realize their dreams, because they’ll have robots helping them do that.

So either everyone’s dream will have the potential to surface (imagine that enlightenment!—how exciting!), or the people at the bottom—those that have been holding up the dreams of others—will be forgotten, in a very literal sense.

Materialism will become cheaper, which should drop the cost of living, but those that have the hardest time “making a living” to begin with—the ones who can most benefit from materialism becoming cheaper—will not be able to enjoy this abundance, because utopia rendered them unemployed; and also because we’ve built a society designed to ignore the suffering of the bottom.

Eventually, the bottom-out effect will result in civil war—which is not the behavior we want to illustrate to our young, superintelligent-burgeoning AI, who we’ve programmed to accentuate us—because human beings don’t take being forgotten all that well; or alternatively, and hopefully, the bottom-out effect will result in a desperate need to provide the minimum financial requirements our optimized, cheap materialism demands to gain access to conditions for thriving…not just scraping towards surviving.

In other words, as AI takes over menial and assistant labor, UBI will unlock opportunity for the people at the bottom; or as AI takes over menial and assistant labor, the top will refuse to share the ever-increasingly available goods AI produces, and humanity will eat itself alive.

(C) is necessary because of the existence of (A) and the inevitability of (B), so if you’re feeling uncomfortable about (C), consider whether it’s (A) or (B) that’s eating you up, then evaluate why.

A is true; B is inevitable; therefore, C.

That easy. That hard.