Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine (no. 2) in action

For those of you who are interested in such things (and as a follow up to my post from the other day related to Babbage), I embed a youtube video of a Babbage Difference Engine, created from Babbage’s drawings and plans.  The original one was (mostly) completed in 1991, but the one on the video, which is currently on display in Mountain View, CA, was completed several years ago.  The video has details.

It’s fascinating to watch:

The machine in the video is the property of Nathan Myrhvold, who is a former CTO at Microsoft, who plans to eventually display this machine in his living room.  Man, I hope if he has guests nobody spills a drink on it.

I don’t know if i will be in California again before it’s taken off display, but if you end up near Mountain view while it’s still there check it the museum.  Hell, stop by anyway, the place looks pretty awesome.

Feminism and Artificial Intelligence

Yet while Ada was lucky in the education she received, she has scarcely more ground for optimism than any other intellectually enthusiastic women of her day as regards finding an outlet for her mental energies after her education was completed.

For a woman of Ada’s day and social class who wished to lead a mentally fulfilling life, the opportunities were close to non-existent.  There was generally little alternative but to marry, produce children, and live for one’s husband.

Jacquard’s Web, p. 126.

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace

The Ada above is Ada Byron, the only legitimate child of Lord Byron, later known as Ada Lovelace (after marrying a man who later became the Earl of Lovelace).  If you don’t know the name Ada Lovelace, you should.  A close friend of Charles Babbage, who is sometimes referred to as the father of computers, she was inspirational and influential in the development and the spreading of Babbage’s Analytical Engine, which was the conceptual framework for the eventual practical creation of computers.

Over 100 years later.

The reasons why the development of computers happened closer to 1950 than 1850 is in part due to Babbage’s poor diplomatic and interpersonal skills, but also to politics of 1840’s England (Sir Robert Peel, then the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, had a part in this, being the miser who refused Babbage’s funding in 1842).  Ada Lovelace, a woman of enthusiasm and wonderful ability to explain the concepts that Babbage ingeniously foresaw, was not able to be the spokesperson nor the valuable colleague that she might have been had Babbage’s stubbornness not been so potent.

The ‘Interpretor’

Charles Babbage
Charles Babbage

Many men in academia and technology may have some traditional precedent, with Charles Babbage, in treating women collaborators as mere assistants or, in this case ‘interpreters,’ but at least there is no evidence or reason to believe that Babbage sexually harassed Lovelace (although it would not be impossible that they were lovers, although there is little evidence of this as well).  Babbage was not especially misogynistic or awful, he was actually generally liked as far as I can tell, especially by Ada herself.  But this was the 19th century, and misogyny was simply a stark truth about the European world.

Suffice it to say, Ada Lovelace may have had a much more profound influence on the earlier development of information technology had Babbage’s stubbornness and selfishness not been so debilitating to his obvious intellect.  Perhaps there is a lesson in there for all intelligent and yet stubbornly selfish and short-sighted men in the various places where skepticism and technology reign.

But more universally, there is a lesson for all of us.  Our intelligence, even if great, is often insufficient.  We need more than mere processing power and memory to be wise, and perhaps it is wisdom which we should seek in addition to intellect.  In too many cases, we see people with obvious intelligence (and memory, especially with everything logged online), but not as often do we see actual wisdom, perspective, or a willingness to challenge oneself.  Had a man like Babbage been more wise, we might have had computers by 1900 rather than 1950.  Further, the name Ada Lovelace may be remembered for much more than a mere interpreter or (dare I say) cheerleader for Babbage’s work, but as a fully recognized pioneer in information technology of which she was more than capable.

Notes of the ‘Interpreter’

I made reference, above, to Charles Babbage shrugging Ada Lovelace off, despite their very close friendship and collaboration, as a mere ‘interpreter’ of his work.  This flippant title was bestowed upon her due to her translation of a paper about Babbage’s Analytical Engine by an Italian mathematician, Luigi Menabrea (Lovelace’s translation can be found here). But in addition to translating the paper, she added 20,000 words or so of ‘Notes’  which give more detail and depth to Babbage’s ideas.

For example:

A new, a vast, and a powerful language  is developed for the future use of analysis, in which to wield its truths so that these may become of more speedy and accurate practical application for the purposes of mankind than the means hitherto in our possession have rendered possible. Thus not only the mental and the material, but the theoretical and the practical in the mathematical world, are brought into more intimate and effective connexion with each other. We are not aware of its being on record that anything partaking in the nature of what is so well designated the Analytical Engine has been hitherto proposed, or even thought of, as a practical possibility, any more than the idea of a thinking or of a reasoning machine.

The “idea of a thinking or a reasoning machine.”  This was written in 1843, but the fundamental ideas were older than that, possibly tracing back as far as the night when Babbage conceived of the idea of the Analytical Engine in December of 1834 when he explained the idea to three women, one of which was a 17 year old Ada.

Mind and Machine (skip this section if philosophy annoys you)

I have been thinking a lot recently about the so-called mind-body problem.  I remember when I first was exposed to this philosophical problem, when I started reading philosophy around age 16 or so.  I also remember, when I got to college, being surprised that people still thought it was a problem.  I remember listening to people, usually Christians, that would defend a form of dualism, or at least of perceived difference, between their personal subjective experience and the seeming objectivity of the matter that was their brain.  For many people, there really seems to be a disconnect here.  I honestly don’t get it.

An illustration of Plato’s Cave

The idea that my subjective experience simply is what it is (like) to be my brain (well, my whole body really, but mostly my brain) seems intuitive to me.  I don’t feel the disconnect between subjective experience and an objective (projected, really) external reality of ‘my brain.’  I recognize that the illusion is that separation, not either of the sides of the proposed dualism (I’m getting overly philosophical, I know).

This is why I understand idealists sometimes, I just think they are making the same basic error that dualists make–the conceptual distinction between subjectivity and where that subjectivity occurs.  (stupid subject-predicate language making it really difficlt to express that idea!)

Some might balk at this and claim that they have no idea what it’s like to be a brain, but I will argue that this is all you know.  You may say that you have never seen your brain, so you can only assume it exists, but this is disingenuous.  You don’t literally see the light reflecting off of any surface of your brain, to be focused and sent to your brain for processing, but everything you think is your brain.  You could use the same argument for the back of your head.  You will never directly see the back of your head (this bothers me for some reason…).  All of the light reflecting and refracting, entering your eyes, etc happens somewhere else.  You are your brain, and so you have intimate knowledge of what it is like to be a brain.

Continuing with Plato’s cave as the basis for explanation, it is the (metaphorical) shadows on the wall–what Plato called the illusion– which are real.  In other words, all that we ever really experience is our physical body.  Our subjective experience is what it is like to be that body, experiencing the world.  There is no separation of mind and body, because your mind is your body.

Believe it or not, this image was woven with silk on the first automated loom
Believe it or not, this image (1839) was woven with silk on the first automated loom (first demonstrated in 1801) by Joseph-Marie Jacquard.

The looming question of AI (getting less philosophical)

Our brain is a machine.  It’s a complicated machine and we don’t understand everything about how it works, but it is a machine.  It is unlike computers we build, because we designed our computers to work in a different, logical, way (one that is largely based upon the technological ancestors of computer architecture, such as Jacquard’s Loom; the subject of the book I’m currently reading).

The bottom line is that our mind is a process which exists within matter–neurons and supporting tissue–within the brain.  We are fully physical beings, made up of actual material stuff, like chemicals, atoms, and quarks.

There is no soul.  There is no supernatural or dualistic spirit or soul here.  There is no reason to believe that, and the very idea of dualism is fundamentally broken, in that to even talk about some supernatural substance has to steal from naturalism at very least, and that if it were truly separate, they could not interact (creating a more perplexing problem for dualism that I will not dwell on).  Mind, put overly simply, is a process of matter arranged in a complex and delicate way.

And at some point, it may be possible to replicate this type of process artificially.  Now, I’m not much of a transhumanist, at least in the sense of being overly optimistic (or pessimistic) about some potential Singularity which may occur at some point in the (near or distant) future, but I do believe that it is technically possible to create intelligence with computers, and I’m fascinated that Ada Lovelace seemed to foresee this possibility 170 years ago.

Learning from mistakes and successes

For those of you who are disappointed that I didn’t make any horribly misogynistic jokes about women and being artificially intelligent, fuck off.  For those of you who see that our ability to progress–socially, politically, culturally, and technologically–is hampered by our inability to see past the mundane and conservative elements of our nature, then I gladly embrace you as a collaborator, no matter your gender.

We as a culture have come a long distance, and we have a long way yet to go.  We must learn from our errors, yes, but we also must pay attention to when, and how, we succeed.  Babbage didn’t succeed with his project to create an Analytical Engine in his lifetime because he was stubborn, unwilling to re-consider his abilities and deficiencies, and because some of the powers to which he was subject were more concerned with politics than the potential of human ingenuity.

Babbage dropped the ball in arguing his case for government funding to Sir Robert Peel (who was, it is agreed, already prejudiced against the project) in complaining about mistreatment and loss of reputation from people in his community.  And yes, hindsight makes judging Peel’s refusal more biased for us living in a computer age.  But it is worth remembering that rather than take the time to humble his admittedly great intellect and challenge himself to see the problem from another angle, or even to accept Lovelace’s suggestion to be his spokesperson in procuring funding for his work, he never succeeded in creating his Analytical Engine probably because of those faults.

But he left plenty of notes behind, and people used them.  The eventual development of the computer was largely dependent upon the work he and his colleagues did in the middle of the 19th century.  Imagine how much more, and better, they would have done had they not excluded more voices than they heard.  Imagine how much Babbage could have accomplished had he not been so stubborn and, well, conservative (I realize the term ‘conservative’ in this context, is anachronistic).

Further, imagine how much we can accomplish if we all start being inclusive in all aspect of our social, cultural, and technological pursuits.  Or maybe, it will take the Singularity to reach such inclusiveness, since so many people seem unable to escape their own tribalistic nature.  And  then ironically accuse others of tribalism.  Much like the inseparability of mind and body, the great rift is the community.  The problem, of course, is differentiating between the healthy tissue and the cancer.

When a community has some individuals with an un-drifting mission to merely replicate and spread with more concern for freedom than safety, while other parts listen to the world in order to to decide what to do and how to do it better, I think that is called brain cancer.

Coming soon: Masters of Sex! And reviews!

There are three new shows coming up this fall that I’m super-excited about. Agents of SHIELD, because Whedon! Blacklist, because Spader! And Masters of Sex, because duh, I’m a sexologist and Masters and Johnson were two of the most influential sexuality researchers of the 20th century.

The history of sexuality research is almost as fascinating as the study of sexuality itself. Pioneers in the field cannot help but wrestle with both personal and social implications of their chosen field of study — and in a field that’s less than two centuries old, in some ways every sex researcher is a pioneer, even to this day. The movie Kinsey gave a great look into the complicated interpersonal, social, and professional issues connected to choosing to be a sexuality researcher in a profoundly anti-sex world. I’m excited to see Masters and Johnson getting the same treatment.

I know a lot of people are curious about how accurate the show will be, and to help with that, I’m planning to review each episode weekly. (I’m notoriously bad at keeping this kind of regular writing commitment, but I’m hoping between my passion for the subject and the nagging of my housemates, I’ll get it done.) Most of my knowledge about the lives of William Masters and Virginia Johnson comes from Thomas Maier’s biography (also called Masters of Sex), which the show is also supposed to be based on. There aren’t a lot of other sources out there, particularly when it comes to Johnson, as I discovered when I was writing a paper on her last year. (I feel a strong natural affinity towards her for some reason.) As far as I’m aware the biography is pretty reliable: it draws from a wide range of sources, and while it gives a central interpretation of the characters, their personalities, thoughts, and motivations, it also includes other people’s differing perspectives and interpretations at many points. (It’s also a great read, if you enjoy biographies or are interested in sex research, and you should be!) So my accuracy commentaries will mostly be based on how true the show stays to the biography, with any additional information I happen to have thrown in.

To get you started, here’s a little basic info about Masters and Johnson (without giving away anything that will likely become plot points in the show.) They worked primarily in the 50s and 60s, a decade or so after Kinsey’s groundbreaking sociological research into human sexuality. Unlike Kinsey, they took a laboratory approach, using medical facilities and sometimes technology they’d developed themselves to measure physiological responses during sex in both male and female volunteers. Most of what we know about physical sexual response (apart from what’s obvious from the outside) comes from their work. Unsurprisingly, there was all kinds of secrecy, controversy, and scandal surrounding their work at various points. Their first and second books, Human Sexual Response and Human Sexual Inadequacy, are hugely important works in the history of sexuality research. (Their later books are increasingly less validated and less important.)

It’s a bad idea to make a hero of anyone, and Masters and Johnson are no exception. We owe them a tremendous debt in terms of our knowledge and understanding of sex, and they helped normalize many, many aspects of human sexuality that were previously stigmatized (like clitoral orgasm.) But they had a number of problematic areas as well, which I hope to see explored in the show. Their work on homosexuality was frankly terrible. And the entire working dynamic and balance of power between William Masters and Virginia Johnson is complex and often troubling. I hope the show digs deeply into the issues of feminism, research ethics, and power in the workplace that are entwined through their story.

So far, everything I’ve heard about the show tells me it’ll be great. I feel good about the casting, although of course both characters (especially Masters) have gotten the Hollywood Looks Upgrade. Stay tuned for more!

black-and-white photo of Masters and Johnson
William Masters and Virginia Johnson

World Religion Tree

So, this is pretty awesome.  I have spent many years reading about the history of religion, and i think that the subject is very interesting.  I could have spent all of those years doing nothing except reading about religion, and still only scratched the surface of this:

Just a segment of the awesome.



That’s just a snapshot.  To see the whole thing (and to zoom in and scroll around), click here or the image itself.  The complex history and sheer number of religious traditions is astonishing to see displayed this way.  I could get lost in this image for hours.

Perhaps it’s worth pointing out that the fact that we can categorize religious traditions into a tree says something about the nature of religion, and of human culture in general.  Human culture, including religion, does not come out of a vacuum.  Religion is not revelations from up high, it is natural, organic, and growths from us.

In one sense, religions are beautiful in that they represent not only what is amazing and sublime, but also what is terrifying and dangerous, about our ability to create and to interpret the world.  They are windows into our “souls;” glimpses of what we could be–both good and bad.  They are dreams and nightmares all at once, prying under our mundane lives into the engines of possibility.

And yet, for all that is good in them, there are paths which can clean up the mess and the grime attached to these fantastic reveries.  There is a way to drain out the dirty water of fantasy and to know what is real, and as we advance in our understanding we learn more and more about how to do this.  The growth of this religion tree will not cease, but it may be pruned by this method.  There will always be branches of this religious tree, I’m willing to wager, but the branches which survive will have to contest with another tree.

Science, empiricism, and skepticism generally owe much of its existence to the  intellectual traditions of this religion tree, but it is a different type of organism.  Entangled, all too often, with this massive faith tree, skepticism takes root in a part of us which seeks to avoid the siren songs of Nietzsche’s old metaphysical bird catchers.  That ground is fertile, but for many it is foreign soil.  I hope that changes, because our culture needs better soil, if we are too grow, thrive, and survive.

So, once again I get to quote my favorite passage from Nietzsche, referred to above, because I think it encapsulates my values better than just about any collection of words I’ve yet seen:

To translate man back into nature; to become master over the many vain and overly enthusiastic interpretations and connotations that have so far been scrawled and painted over the eternal basic text of homo natura; to see to it that man henceforth stands before man as even today, hardened in the discipline of science, he stands before the rest of nature, with Oedipus eyes and sealed Odysseus ears, deaf to the siren songs of old metaphysical bird catchers who have been piping at him all too long, “you are more, you are higher, you are of a different origin!”—that may be a strange and insane task, but it is a task

Alright, I Think That’s Enough for This Week, Yeah?

This week I have done several rather difficult things and I think my brain might be ready to crap out on me at any minute…so of course I choose to blog.

On Monday, I worked myself to the bone until a meltdown happened and only gave myself permission to myself to stop both working and melting down after both Shaun and Wes had to tell me to stop folding laundry.  There is little more pitiful looking than a scraggly haired girl in a tie dye dress weeping helplessly as she attempts to fold a pair of jeans.  I curled up on the couch for a while and switched back and forth between staring at the ceiling and staring at the dog, who was staring at me and raising her hilarious ears as opportune times.

Indeed, I have been looking the part of the non-functioning depressive lately, putting off showers until late in the day and arriving places with wild hair, a skinny look to my face and a distinct inability to laugh at most things.

Except I can always laugh at the dog’s ears.  They’re amazing.



Yes, she is dressed as turtle.

Yesterday, I fired my therapist before we had even begun because she was completely irresponsible, unprofessional, and patronizing.  Sure, sure, maybe my standards are too high, but you know? Sometimes you just have to take a gamble and hope there’s something better.  Please tell me there’s something better, because seriously I’ve about had it with the profession at this point.



Today I wrote a letter that I have needed to write for years but was too unhealthy and afraid to write it, let alone put it in an envelope and then take a special trip to the post office to physically put it in a mail box before I had a chance to back out.  Family is hard, especially when you have spent 20-25 years not saying how you feel, what you want or what you need.  I feel a bit like a hollow shell of a woman at the moment, but I know that this just means that I can fill it back up with the right things.  I don’t know how the message will be received and I don’t know what will come of it, but at the end of the day I did something incredibly terrifying that needed to be done quite desperately.

And I’m proud of myself because I haven’t gotten any actual successful talk therapy, with the exception of my very competent friends and I have gotten myself to do these things.  This is mostly because I am finally allowing myself to not be alone.  Our problems do not exist in a vacuum.  We must accept support when it is given from an honest, loving place and I have that in spades.  How lucky am I?

As I made the final decision to push the letter into the mail slot, all I could think was:



And that might be true, but I think I am prepared now.  I have plenty of water (especially in hot tub form), delicious food, supportive people, and of course an entire case and a half of homemade red wine.

wine therapy


Ok, yes, I know that’s a terrible philosophy.

But, sometimes it’s pretty fucking true.

Stop judging me.

Oh, you’re not judging me.  You just want me to pour you a glass.  Well, sure!


Alright, I admit it.  This entire post was just an excuse to look for funny illustrative pictures on the internet.  I mean, that’s what the internet is for so I guess I’m approaching normalcy? Sure?  Yes.  I’ll take it.

Tomorrow is Thursday and I am hoping beyond all hope that I will have a mind that is functional beyond handling incredibly difficult and cathartic emotional activities.  I’d say I can’t take much more, but that’s not true.  I can take a lot more, but it would be nice to have a break, you know?

Then it’s Friday.

So, I’ll end with an obligatory Rebecca Black reference.



You’re welcome.  OK.  I think I’m done now.  Can I go home yet?


Yesterday, I sat next to the pond for a while and read.  There is a park in Collingswood.  It has soccer fields, trees, and a pond.  There are benches there to sit on, ducks, geese, and even some fish.  It is a nice place to sit on a beautiful summer day.  Those summer days will end, soon enough.

When spring came around, I yearned for the warm days and sunshine to be able to go outside.  I dislike the cold.  Hell, it’s summer still and my feet are still cold, so Winter is not my friend.  And now as summer is nearing its end, I find myself feeling reflective and I think about aging and appreciating youth and health.

Autumn is beautiful.  It is still warm enough, at least in the beginning, but I love the summer.  The sounds, the smells, the warmth!  And each year that passes I find myself more and more aware that all of this is temporary.  I have not reached the point where I believe all is downhill from here.  I have many healthy and vibrant years in me still to come.  But I am more aware of the finite nature of life.  And I must say that I think that I am now experiencing the full bloom of my summer, these last couple of years, and I hope that there are many more to come.

Anyone who thinks that without a god, or other transcendent perspective we cannot truly value life, is not thinking clearly.  It is the limitations of life, its brevity, and it’s frailty that makes it valuable.  I must keep reminding myself to not let all of this pas unnoticed or under-appreciated.  I must keep reminding myself that this will not last, whether it ends happily or in great pain.  There will be a day, hopefully many decades from now, when my consciousness will fade into the oblivion, and I will be no more.

But not today.  Today I will go back to that park, sit next to that pond, and I will listen to the sounds, smell the scents, feel the breeze and warm sunshine on my face.  I will watch the ducks (perhaps feed them a little) and I will know that geese are assholes.  I will live today, and appreciate all that I have.

I appreciate all the wonderful people in my life.  We all struggle, together, through this ultimately pointless life, creating meaning together.  Except for those whom insist upon fabricating or perpetuating false narratives, we as a species are condemned to the reality together.  I have no time to make up stories, as I have too much that is real to enjoy.

Therefore, I do not bow to theologies nor to mere social convention.  I am capable of loving who I want to and believing what is true.  I will not waste this short life pretending or lying to myself.  There is too much that is true to keep my attention and appreciation busy.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have reality to enjoy.


Adventures in Therapy: D^$&(^@+*(&D*(HFJKHJKG($*)@*

You know, I’d be laughing if my experience with therapists (other than the nurse practitioner who gives me Zoloft prescriptions) thus far hasn’t been so ridiculously infuriating.  I mean, when I got the latest bit of ridiculousness I DID in fact laugh, but it was more maniacal and tinged with tears and a general desire to claw things.

So, some review of my adventures with therapists.

Attempt 1: I dig around on my insurance website and find various options who are covered.  I make a lot of calls and leave a lot of messages.  One organization calls me back.  I go to an appointment (for which I take off work) and the therapist does not show up.  After being told by another therapist there that there is nothing she can do to help me, I leave in tears.

The therapist calls me later and apologizes profusely, explaining that the people who made the appointment with me got the location wrong or something.  She puts me in touch with someone who has night hours.

Attempt 2: I start going to a relatively useless therapist who not only fails to help me find useful incite, ignores my requests for medication consultation, but also seems to not be able to schedule properly.  Out of the 5 sessions I went to, 3 of them were rescheduled from the original proposed times because she couldn’t keep her DayPlanner straight.  Finally after a final session where she watched as I tore myself apart, she finally agreed that I might be a candidate for medication and gave me a name.

Attempt 3: I call the person that Attempt 2 told me to.  I did not receive a call back for about a month after the initial call (and that was after calling and leaving a few more messages).  This one, however, was ultimately a success because I see her regularly for my Zoloft prescriptions and simple check-ins to see how I’m doing with my dose.

Which brings us to the present.

As I wrote about recently, I went to see a new therapist after realized that I never dealt with a rape from a few years ago and also that I have some really painful and incapacitating believes that are keeping me from living my life happily.  As you might guess, these are not easy or fun things to process and things have been rough.  In short, I need help and I went in search of it.

What I’m trying to say here is that my mental state and emotional well being has been feeling like a disease that needs immediate treatment before it spreads and I have to cut off a leg or something.  Like, I’m not fucking around here.

In my last post, I didn’t go into much detail about the session itself other than the PTSD diagnosis.  But there were several yellow flags about it.  In no particular order:

1. While she was working on the day I called, she did not call me back.
2. Her reason for not calling me back was that she did not have her appointment book with her for some reason.
3. When I went to the session, she once again did not have her appointment book with her, but assumed that the same date and time would be fine for this week.
4. She was intrigued by the concept of polyamory and uncomfortably asked how Wes, Jessie, and I *eyebrow raise, eyes bulge* and I said “What?” More eyebrow raising. “We share a bed.  Privacy isn’t really an issue.”  This woman asked me to talk in relative detail about my sexual assault but consensual bed sharing (whether sexual or not) is super weird to talk about.
5. She called me Interesting and thanked me for sharing my story. NONONONONONO.  I am TIRED of being a speciman.  Yes, I get it.  I’m not like other people you know apparently but I do not go to therapy to feel weird.  I go there to feel better.
6. She said that she was going to get an education talking to me, what with the polyamory and all.  NO, YOU’RE NOT.
7. She asked if I was a spiritual person.  I quickly and unequivocally said “no”.  She then said, “Well, I don’t mean spiritual like religious.  I mean like accessing your ‘higher self’.  You don’t have to be religious to be spiritual.” AHHHHHH! I just told you that I’m not spiritual.  DO NOT try to convince me that spiritual but not religious is a good avenue for me.

Finally, we made an appointment for this Wednesday, but since she didn’t have her book (again) we couldn’t confirm right then.  That was last Wednesday.  She proceeded to text me yesterday (one point in her favor, texts) to say that she had overbooked my appointment on Thursday, could we do Wednesday an hour earlier than we agreed instead.  I was annoyed but willing to work it out.  I proposed solutions and asked that she confirm and also asked that she please bring her appointment book with her to the next appointment so that we can make firm commitments for the future.

For your reading pleasure, here is what was she said:

Gina. I can tell u already that next week my 630 appts are already booked. I was to book several 630 appts with u after that however I do this.k at times we need to be flexible le and open to change. I usually do have my book at all times and I remember saying to u I would call u if there was a problem. Sorry this has caused u stress. It was not meant to

I proceeded to get pretty freaking angry.

First of all, this scheduling horse shit is your fault, ma’am.  You are the professional that I am paying to help me with some pretty intense and difficult issues.  The fact that you didn’t have your book at the first time I called you AND you didn’t bring it to my first session with you shows that you do not tend to have your book with you at all times and that you generally disrespect people’s time.  My aggravation with this is not a symptom of my particular set of neuroses.  It is a symptom of being a responsible human adult who has a life to plan.

So, like, just because you are a therapist and I am seeking help doesn’t mean that you get to say that my annoyance and now down right ire is due to my inability to be flexible or open to change.  You do not know me yet.  You asked nothing to find out the fact that I am, in fact, ridiculous committed to flexibility and change.  How dare you text me this as though being pissed off that you were not prepared for my session and that you didn’t consult your book until yesterday (when you had 5 other days you could have looked at it and communicated) is my fault and my problem to solve.

Damn right this has caused me stress! How could it not cause me stress?  I am asking for help with emotional issues and am on medication for depression and anxiety.  Your JOB is to helpfully navigate the choppy waters of neuro atypical people.  It is NOT to make US feel like douchebags (and whack job douchebags at that) when YOU are the one who has caused the problem with your unprofessional behavior!

Breathe.  Breathe.  Ok.

In response, with a lot of help from a wonderful friend, I crafted a short and sweet text of cancellation of this and any further interaction and this same friend sent me some resources to help me find someone who I can work with.

I will keep trying because it’s important and I feel broken and scared.  But seriously, folks, what the fuck?

Therapists: It is hard to not only make the decision to come to you for help, but also to actually make the call and show up at the appointment.  Dealing with issues of the mind is stigmatized and undervalued by our society.  The most common thing I hear from others dealing with a variety of issues is that we feel like we should be stronger, better, smarter than this.  We’re not the sickest we could be, so why should we get help?  So, please, do not treat us like what we’re trying to do here is not important.  Many of us are working full time, demanding jobs, have families, and have lives that we want to live.  We are coming to you so that we can live them in ways that are healthier and happier for us.  Cancelling and changing appointments hurts and takes away some ability to trust you.  Trust is the only thing that matters when fragile people come to you for help.

Right? Yes.  This is fucking obvious and I am sick of people screwing with me when I am brave enough to some to them to fight the good fight.

I am feeling angry and beat up and a little on the hopeless side.  But I know that there is a light at the end of all this.  The light illuminates a happier more self possessed version of me, without the heavy baggage of self loathing and old scar tissue.  I know it will happen because some of it already has happened.  I am strong, good, and smart enough to know when doing something alone isn’t the best way and to ask for help and guidance.  And there is no magic “How Fucked Up Are You” scale that says when you are “allowed” to get therapy.  When you are hurting you get help, plain and simple.

Deep breathes and affirmations. And Dalek Relaxation videos.