In Defense of the Ice Bucket Challenge

Let me preface this post with saying that it is not directed at any one person.  I have seen these issues brought up time and time again and suffice it to say, I have strong feelings about the challenge and the people dumping all over it. (see what I did there?)  This is my opinion and that is all.

It’s gotten me quite downhearted to see all the negativity that has arisen around the challenge, something that is supposed to be a good, positive thing that we can do to help with ALS.  But of course humanity being humanity, we can never keep the good, we have to tarnish it somehow, and seeing these arguments all over facebook is enough to make me want to delete my account so I don’t have to see it.

It’s not even the specific thing – in this case the ice bucket challenge.  I don’t know anyone with the disease, I don’t have a special passion for the cause.  It’s just that it has been fun to watch and done a lot of good.

People call it “slacktivism” but hey it’s totally important to post your bra colour on your facebook status for Breast Cancer.  Surely doing so will help the cause and I’m sure there’s a woman somewhere who has just had a double mastectomy who is totally comforted and thrilled that you posted “pink with polka dots” as your status.  I’m sure she’s not at all fucking offended by the fact that everyone thinks they’re helping breast cancer that way.  You wanna help? Donate some money.  And not to the shitty Susan B Gorman pink ribbon bullshit either.

That aside, there have been a few common issues raised in all these positions against the challenge, so I’m gonna try and address them one by one.


1. People saying “if you really want to help, donate!!”

Guess what? You still have to donate if you pour the bucket of ice over your head. The original deal was, donate $100 to ALS OR pour a bucket of ice water over your head and donate a lesser amount, say $10.  To date the challenge has raised over $90 million dollars in the space of a few months, in comparison to the $55 million that was raised in all of 2013.  That’s amazing.  And it wouldn’t be possible if it were only people who didn’t do the challenge donating.  The people dumping the water are donating too.  They have to be, with numbers like that.

2. Waste of Water

Ok, sure.  To a degree I get this.  Fresh water is a limited resource.  There’s a drought in California.  So many people don’t have the access to water that they need. True, true and true. And if you don’t feel comfortable doing the challenge because of your feelings about these things, I applaud you.  Convictions are great.  But judging other people for doing it is shitty. I’m not saying all water loving challenge deniers are judging, but some certainly are.  But I’m sure they don’t:

-take showers

– take baths

– run the water while they’re brushing their teeth

– use swimming pools or sprinklers (for them OR their children)

– run a half loaded dishwasher

– rinse dishes unnecessarily

– wash your clothes

– water a garden

– drink bottled water

– steam food

use the toilet

I think you see my point.  I’m not saying the ice bucket challenge doesn’t waste water.  I’m saying it’s negligible and before you get up on your high horse about other people doing the challenge, well, remember that you shit into clean fresh water every day.

3. People doing it for attention

The challenge is highly populated by celebrities, who certainly do not lack attention, and a lot of the non-celebrity types loathe being the centre of attention.  I don’t want attention and I did it.  And yes, there are certainly people who are doing it for the attention.  But who cares?!  They’re still raising awareness and raising funds.  Win/win.

4. Let’s hope the charity uses it as intended

The ALS association of the united states gets 4 out of 4 stars on charity navigator.  They have a 90% score out of 100. Broken down, for financial they score and 87.2% and for accountability and transparency they score 97%.  I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling pretty comfortable with that. There are some radically uniformed people citing a 2012 report stating that the ALS association only donated 7% to research in 2012, and that is just not true.

If you look at the amounts going SOLELY to research grants that money was 17% of their revenue.  If you include the structures necessary to doing research (salaries, telecommunication, publishing, etc) that number rises to 25.3% That’s not a lot, you say? No, but it also doesn’t mean that the charity lines their pockets with the other 75%.  People forget that research isn’t the only thing this charity does. They also cover patient and community services (30% in 2012) and public and professional education (12% in 2012).  Administration costs were 11.5%.  Salary accounted for approximately 5% of revenue/assets.

Which, I might add, was just over $20 Million in 2012,  Current status of the money from the ice bucket challenge?  94 MILLION since July 29th.  So, based on the 17% directly to research grants in 2012, if we apply that to the 94 Million that brings us to 15.9 Million DIRECTLY to research grants. (Compared to 3.4 million in 2012.) And that’s not including education and services, which I have no problem having part of my $10 go to.

5. There are other charities that need it more

Yeah. maybe there are.  Go ahead and start your own grassroots fundraising campaign.  More power to ya.  Or do the ice bucket challenge and donate to a different charity, I’ve seen people do that.  Regardless, no one has the right to tell me what the “best” charity for me to spend my money on.  How do you know I don’t already donate to other places? (I do.  Over $1000 a year to the United Way.)  Besides, who gets to decide what charity is the Best? Do you have time to research every charity in the world?

At the end of the day it comes down to this.  There is no “wrong” way to do charity.   It’s as simple as that.

O Captain, My Captain


I am hardly the first to write a post about the death of Robin Williams.  Two days ago the brilliant, fantastically funny and talented actor committed suicide at the age of 63.  It’s been plastered across the media with virtually no pause in the onslaught.  And it’s definitely been on my mind.

Like Williams and countless others who have ‘come out’ since his death, I also suffer from depression (and anxiety).  It’s been an issue all my life.  It may be built in, or it may be situational (some situations last a long time!), but whatever else it is, it can be debilitating.

I won’t go into the standard lecture, everyone has heard it already.  Depression is a disease, depression is like a trap, it is a dark, heavy second skin.  Depression lies, depressions wants to kill you, why don’t people have as much sympathy for people with depression as they do for people with cancer?

All that is true, of course.  But it’s also incredibly, incredibly frustrating.  There’s only so many times that you can hear “If you’re sad/struggling/facing dark times/etc. Get help.  You are not alone.”

Which is fucking bullshit.

I’ve been on the edge of that cliff, staring down into the abyss while it stared back at me.  It looked pretty damn inviting. I reached out to someone close to me.  We were arguing at the time, but we were close enough that I thought for sure they would still respond.  I mean, who wouldn’t when you tell them you’re close to losing the fight?

I received no response to my multiple messages.  They were too busy running errands.

Valid reason or not, when you want to disappear, when you want to die, there is pretty much nothing worse in the world than reaching out for help and getting no answer.  Nothing.  It’s fucking horrible.  Everyone always says after a suicide like this “If only they had talked to me! I would have tried to help!”

Easy to say after someone is gone.  I mean, how do you know they didn’t *try* to talk to you? Maybe you were too busy washing dishes or watching a movie, or just didn’t feel up to talking.

Personally, I would rather not reach out and deal with my issues alone, than risk finding out that no one can or will help me.

I’ve been lucky enough to be able to get some help from professionals, but that wasn’t easy either.  Mental health services are incredibly expensive, and even when you have insurance, the coverage is limited.  Once upon a time I was paying $600/month to see a therapist once a week for an hour.  The next one was limited to 8 sessions, which we didn’t even finish because at session 5 we were “clearly done here.” I’ve settled in with a new therapist for 20 sessions, and it wasn’t a sure thing that he would even take me on.  Whether it was because I was too messed up or not messed up enough, I’ll never know because he did finally agree to see me.

It shouldn’t be this hard.  It shouldn’t be this hard to live, and stay living. Would you say to a paraplegic who had fallen out of their chair to “pick yourself up!” or “Get help!”?  Of course not!

Then again, given the reaction to Williams’ suicide, maybe a fair chunk of you *would*.

Book Review: Fiendish

I received my copy of Fiendish through a Goodreads ARC giveaway.

I have never read any other books by Brenna Yavanoff, but I definitely was intrigued by the summary about a girl who was trapped in a closet for 10 years then finally freed. And true to that description, Fiendish is the story of Clementine, a girl who was buried in the basement closet with her eyes sewn shut when she was seven years old. If you think that sounds rather horrific, you’re not alone. Horrific but intriguing, because a boy named Eric Fisher finds her and sets her free 10 years later.

So who trapped her there and why? How is she still alive? What impact does it have on her? All these questions definitely piqued my interest and not only got me reading Fiendish, they kept me interested until the end.

While overall I really enjoyed this book, it also left me with some questions. Why were her eyes shut? Are fiends alive, dead, what? Why are those particular 5 people special and how does Eric’s grandmother know? The last one is the most important I think, and could use some further explanation. It would be easy to add even just a line or two to clarify. Of course it’s possible I just missed it.

I really enjoyed Fiendish! The writing was good, and allowed for a quick read. If you want some creepy, suspenseful Young Adult fiction in your life (and who doesn’t?), I heartily recommend this book.