Greek gods, trained teens, and old typewriters
No, it's not the title of an eccentric country song, it's a newsletter!
Rachel Smythe of Lore Olympus on the podcast
Lore Olympus by this week’s podcast guest Rachel Smythe is a gigantic comics series and I mean that in three ways.
One, it’s about the larger-than-life Greek gods of mythology. It focuses on Hades, king of the underworld, Persephone, goddess of spring, and their very complicated relationship with each other. Various other big name gods make appearances as well. As with any reading of mythology, the gods aren’t perfect. They’re jealous, nasty, conniving, petty, and all sorts of forms of deeply flawed.
Gigantic way number two, there is a whole lot of this series. The publisher sent me three massive bound volumes of the comics (a fourth arrives in May) and I think the shipping cost them a lot. Lore Olympus started as a webtoon on Webtoons.com, where you read the comics by scrolling down like with a social media feed. Let’s just say when I tried to read it, my scrolling thumb got really sore.
And three, it has gigantic sales. Lore Olympus hit the top spot for its genre on the New York Times bestseller list. People love it. I think that can be partially attributed to the fact that people have always loved the Greek gods - they’re gods! and yet just like us! - but I think Rachel’s art has a lot to do with it as well.
But beyond that, is Rachel’s writing. Persephone has to deal with a lot and, despite god status, is not at all omniscient. She struggles. Horrible stuff happens to her and she has to find ways to move forward. She’s not at all sure of what she’s supposed to do.
In our interview, Rachel talks about growing up as the social outcast of her school, searching for like-minded people who just never showed up. She has struggled with depression, anxiety, night terrors, and trauma. And now she faces the challenge of what to make of being adored by a devoted fan base.
Teens getting trained in the areas where society has failed them
We are in a mental health crisis in general in America but we’re also in an even worse youth mental health crisis. The Washington Post has an article about mental health first aid training being made available to young people so they can help each other. Getting and giving help is good even when our healthcare system is such that connecting people with therapists and psychiatrists is a nightmare labyrinth.
Teen Mental Health First Aid is adapted from Youth Mental Health First Aid, a training designed for adults who work with or care for teens. The latter program was developed about two decades ago in Australia and has been taught in the United States since 2008. The benefits of both programs are supported by peer-reviewed scientific studies. In teens, the training has been shown to increase mental health literacy and reduce reported psychological distress. In one randomized controlled trial, teens reported a significantly higher level of confidence in helping a friend who was anxious or suicidal, as well as a lower stigma around mental illness, and were also more likely to choose the correct, helpful course of action.
Since 2020, the number of people trained in mental health first aid in the United States has more than doubled, to more than 1.1 million, says Tramaine EL-Amin, the assistant vice president for strategic partnerships and a client experience officer at the National Council for Mental Wellbeing. The reasons for the growing interest are clear. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the state of children and teens’ mental health since the coronavirus pandemic qualifies as a national emergency. The latest national numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show “mental health among students overall continues to worsen,” with more than 40 percent of high school students in 2021 showing signs of depression.
ChatGPT prompt: tell people to donate to Depresh Mode but get distracted by otters
Ah, otters! They are such cute and playful creatures. Their playful behavior and joyful chirping sounds can easily capture anyone's attention.
However, as much as we love otters, it's important to remember that there are many important causes that require our attention and support. One such cause is mental health, which affects millions of people worldwide. That's why I encourage everyone to consider donating to Depresh Mode, a podcast hosted by John Moe that explores depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues in an honest and relatable way.
Donating to Depresh Mode can help support their efforts to spread awareness about mental health and provide resources and support for those who are struggling. So, while otters are certainly adorable, let's not forget about the importance of supporting causes like Depresh Mode.
A headline that should be shouted from the rooftops
You can’t just cheer up people who have depression.
Apparently, England’s National Health Service is planning to offer classes in art, music, and gardening to patients dealing with depression. Instead of meds.
In the article, a real therapist who knows a thing or two takes the plan to task:
These people – the seriously depressed – just do not have the capacity to go out and do a bit of weeding.
And this is where the problem lies; it is hard for the non-depressed to really get depression and how to “cure” it. A brisk walk doesn’t cut it. So this is where drugs come in. I understand the fear of the threat of a Prozac nation (to borrow the term of the groundbreaking 1994 book) but in my experience antidepressants can feel like manna from heaven for the seriously depressed.
It’s a fallacy to assume therapy alone – or therapy combined with, for example, joining a choir which, don’t get me wrong, can lift the spirit and enhance human connection – can “cure” depression.
Please remember, this song was meant as satire:
Neat simulator of an old typewriter
Want to know what it felt like to type on one of the old machines? Type on your current machine to find out!
The simulator was built to promote the upcoming book Shift Happens, which is about keyboards.
Every time I have restarted anti-depressants after not being on them for some time, I think, "I should have done this long ago". Sure it doesn't *fix* depression, but it sure takes a lot of weight out of depression "backpack". Makes it *so* much easier to function. They are an indispensable and make it possible to contemplate classes in art, music, and gardening.