Call Your Girlfriend: WINTER BOOKS 2019
Why You Should Be Listening…
The other day I was talking to a coworker of mine, and he said I seemed really high-strung. I honestly started to laugh and was a bit shocked because I almost always get the opposite from people who aren’t my close friends; instead, they typically say I seem “really chill” and that’s always been the biggest comedy to me. I chalked it up to me being a “high-functioning” anxious person who did a great job of hiding everything in her head, yet in these past few weeks, I’ve found myself falter in that definition. While I’ve been feeling even more anxious and depressed in the last month, I started to wonder if I wasn’t as “high-functioning” as I thought and that that meant something bad. Though I identify as someone who is well-versed in regards to mental health issues, this week’s episode recommendation made me check myself a bit. It wasn’t until I listened to it for a second time that I began to think about how damaging certain categorization within mental health discourse can be and how little I knew about other mental health disorders outside the realm of anxiety and depression.
This week’s Tuesday Pod is an episode of Call Your Girlfriend, which is hosted by Aminatou Sow, a writer, podcast host, and the co-founder of Tech LadyMafia (among other things), and Ann Friedman, a journalist, essayist, and media entrepreneur. These two cross-country best friends have created a podcast where they both are able to keep in touch and explore with each other. This episode, titled “Winter Books 2019,” surprised me. What I thought would be a literature-based episode focused mainly on books and their content, ended up being a deeply informative one about mental health, the liminality of being mixed race, and how to navigate your life alongside your creative pursuits. For this episode, we get to hear from not only one but two authors, Esmé Wang and Nikki Darling, about their newly released books and how their own lives impacted the creation of them.
In the first section of the episode, Aminatou and Esmé discuss Esmé’s book, The Collected Schizophrenias, and break down the stigma that exists through low functioning and high functioning classification, the misconceptions about psychosis, and how Esmé navigates her own diagnoses in relation to her work. They also touch on the way cultural background, such as being a part of an immigrant family, can affect treatment. I appreciate how much Esmé dissects the many difficult factors that can come up with having a mental illness and how it doesn’t just affect your relationship with yourself but also with the people in your life that you love and care about. Her sharing her own experience allows not only for new discourse to emerge, it also provides helpful ways to think about either your own mental illness or a friend’s (whichever that is). I would describe this interview just as Aminatou first describes Esmé’s book: highly intelligent. There is a softness and strength in the way that Esmé speaks about this subject and it only makes me want to know more about the work that she is doing.
In the latter section, which is a bit shorter than Esmé’s interview, we get to hear from Nikki Darling about her book Fade Into You, her time growing up in L.A., and how she navigates her mixed race heritage as a person who “passes” as white. Nikki is frank in her communication and adds an animated energy to the episode. She explains the New Narrative style of her book and reminds us creatives that not all the work we create is meant to be seen by the masses and that rejections may end up being blessings later on. Through that, both Esmé and Nikki address the conflict many artists face: where do you draw the line between your personal experience and the content of your art? And, by the end of the episode, Aminatou and Ann stay true to the title, offering up other great book recommendations along with Esmé and Nikki’s. If you’re looking to feel more informed, empathetic, and empowered, you’ll definitely want to check out this episode.
Quotes You’ll Want to Write Down