Thank You, Lindsay

I didn’t see the announcement right away. I heard about it from a youtuber I’ve never heard of and raced to my own Twitter to confirm. The news still has me a little shaken in the way that only a parasocial relationship can. Lindsay Ellis has quit making videos and has quit social media entirely. While at first I was shocked as this felt sudden, after her Mask Off video and her canceling over a pretty non-problematic opinion; I can honestly say I’m not surprised. I wanted to quit after my pretty mild canceling and I’ve always said if this is mild, I can’t even fathom what it’s really like and the truth is: because of Lindsay Ellis and Natalie Wynn, I can and it’s terrifying.

But while I could lament and grieve for an entire post, I want to spend this time thanking Lindsay Ellis. So let’s get into that. 

I knew Lindsay first as the Nostalgia Chick under the now very Channel Awesome umbrella. She was snarky and sullen and a critic: like me. And at that time I meant the old school critic where basically you just hated everything but with “reasons”. I love that she readily called out the sexism in media and I thought she was a great foil to the Nostalgia Critic whomst I did at one time unfortunately find funny. 

It took me a while to come around to some of her solo content under her name: Lindsay Ellis. They were mostly think pieces but at the time shorter and more about comparing different versions of the same character in various mediums. I thought they were mostly funny but nothing that really sold me on her brand. That would change when Lindsay started making video essays and goddammit did I find my bread and butter with that. Lindsay was biting and intelligent and used sources and resources that seemed only rivaled by her friend Contrapoints, another video essayist and thinker I admire greatly. At the height of “Breadtube” greatness between Philosophy Tube, Folding Ideas, Contrapoints, Hbomberguy, T1J and Lindsay Ellis were staples in my media diet. If you listen to my literature podcast, you know just how many times I reference Lindsay in conversation because I think she’s just that brilliant. She has changed my mind on media I love for good and bad. I never thought of RENT as that harmful until her video eviscerating it made me see just how damaging it was. I didn’t see much value in some Disney movies until Lindsay explained what their value and legacy was. I admired Lindsay and when I started making video essays, I tried (and let’s be real, mostly failed) to be like her and try to bring the same level of thought and care to my work. 

Then the drama happened. Lindsay had been no stranger to criticism before. She had some hot hot takes back in the day trying to fit in with the boys, which is something I can very much relate to. And it seems like her tweet about Raya and the Last Dragon just stirred all of that up. She had faced criticism before but not like this and this seemed to be the instance that broke the camel’s back. I’m not here to say that her choice to leave isn’t valid; hell, if I faced criticism like she did, I would have quit forever ago. I remember messaging someone about her now infamous Mask Off video and with it’s large runtime I knew this was going to be a lot. I remember commenting that I wasn’t fond of her tone during the video at first like she owed me a damn thing and it took me thinking critically and realizing that an internet celebrity owes me nothing to make me realize that her anger in that video is so valid and earned and it wasn’t my place to comment on her anger and scathing tone. 

She continued to produce videos for a little while and I had simply adjusted to her extended production schedule. She is an author, too. I was understanding. Perhaps that was why it was a shock that she said she was done and so a part of my media diet faded. 

I want to take this time to thank Lindsay even though I know she’ll never see this and likely she won’t care. But I wanted to put my sincere gratitude somewhere. I had to put these feelings somewhere. I don’t feel like I’m losing a friend. Lindsay’s brand was always very…aware of parasocial bonding and I never felt some false closeness to her. She is unapproachable and that always made me respect her. She wasn’t my gal pal or my friend, she was a creator and someone I deeply respected and still do. 

So goodbye, Lindsay. I hope you find peace and success in whatever you continue to do. 

My Year With Executive Dysfunction

There are many words that my friends would use to describe me and lazy just is not one of them. I co-host two podcasts, run social media for both podcasts and myself, I blog for myself, write for a column, make and edit videos, am community manager for one of the places I write for: I am a busy person. So why can’t I seem to get up and take out the trash?

Executive dysfunction happens mostly to those suffering from mental health issues or are neurodivergent and it’s best described as when you literally just can’t even. And I don’t mean to make it sound like it’s a chill normal thing, it’s a debilitating and exhausting condition where cognitively, I know I should do something and just emotionally and physically not being able to. In some chronic pain/neurodivergent circles it’s sometimes framed as having spoons or not having spoons: spoons then acting as an energy unit and sometimes you just don’t have the spoons. Sometimes, it’s just a no bones day. 

I didn’t realize that I had executive dysfunction until late last year and early into 2021 when I battled with a huge depressive episode after a prolonged illness that left me bedridden and in the worst physical and emotional place in my life. I was heavy, in pain, couldn’t breathe and walking from my bedroom to my bathroom took at least a break or two in between and I do not live in a large apartment. 

I noticed then that trash didn’t go out like it should or recycling didn’t go out as regularly as it should. Dishes would pile up for the first time in my adult life and laundry just didn’t get done. I had no words for this condition and thus only blamed myself, spiraling my depression down further and making it even harder to find the will to do basic things. At its worst point, I was not showering regularly or brushing my teeth regularly even though a previous version of me would be mortified to know that I had let the care and keeping of myself fall that far. Again: cue depressive spiral and further negative self-talk and even less will or energy to get things done. 

It wasn’t until I spoke about this with my therapist and consulted some online sources (TikTok) that I realized that what I had was not laziness or just simply depression. I cognitively knew I should take out the trash or shower or clean the kitchen but I couldn’t. Rather than willfully ignoring the task, I was screaming at myself to just get up and use soap when my body and mind just wouldn’t comply. 

It’s taken a while to address my executive dysfunction as it does not simply have one cause. It’s a combination of anxiety, chronic illness, trauma and depression that make it hard to do some things and just slightly less hard to do others and even though I have had these issues for years: the executive dysfunction is new. 

You may be like when I started wondering exactly what changed and it actually hit me fairly recently why my brain has been extra mean to me just now. There’s a whole ass pandemic that happened and while many did suffer for the first time with anxiety and depression during the pandemic, many of us who were already mentally ill simply saw their mental health deteriorate further.  So while I have indeed been mentally ill for years, I have not had to survive a pandemic until very recently and that looming sense of dread and uncertainty does wear on the body. 

I’m finding ways to grapple with my executive dysfunction and so far changing up my meds, lots of positive reinforcement and just persistence have made it a lot easier to deal with but I’m still not entirely cured. It still sometimes is a struggle to do basic things but I’m getting better and that’s what matters.