Posts from the ‘Mental Health’ Category

Transparent.

If you think mental disease isn’t real, look at me.

If you think systematic abuse of women just doesn’t happen where you live, look at me.

If you think living with a daily fear of violation isn’t necessary to survival, look at me.

If you think bi-sexuality isn’t a thing, look at me.

Look at me fight, look at me cringe, look at me tremble, look at me love.

Look me in the eye, and TELL ME MY REALITY IS FALSE.  But watch out.

Watch out for the anger, watch out for the fire, for the flood, for the slap-bang-pop of the hurt-rage-scorn.

Scorn of your willful ignorance, your patriarchal nonsense, your social and emotional indolence.

Indolence, laziness, sloth, idleness, apathy, inactivity – whatever you call it, it is a crime, a sin, a choice you make to ignore this world.

This world where my brain has been killing me slowly since I can remember.

This world where my lovers have also been my violators too many times to count, because though I can enumerate them, even one is too many.

This world where I cannot sleep safely because one of my neighbors has decided he owns the right to look at my body.

This world where I have found love in all sorts of people.

All sorts of problems, all sorts of pain, all sorts of words that sting-bite-ache.

Ache with their effective lies that permeate this culture.

This culture which tells me to sit down and shut up because my genitals and glands make my opinions-hopes-desires, not to mention rights-needs-demands, invalid.

Invalid because they demand-need-have a right to a shift-change-advance to something bigger-better-brighter than we are now.

Now is the time, now is the place, now is the moment to speak.

Speak I will, speak I must, but if you cannot stomach my words, you WILL stomach the silent message screaming from my eyes.

Look me in the eyes.

Look at me.

See me.

Then tell me I’m not real.

_______________

This has been sitting in my head, spinning around for a while.  It’s my first time working with the spoken word format, but I really don’t think these thoughts would have made it out any other way.  It’s been a rough year and a lot has been weighing on my mind about things I’m told I shouldn’t talk about.  I think that’s bull.  Complete and total bull.  Hear me shout, people.  Look at me.  I don’t hide.  I live a life that can be known by seeing.  Don’t take that gift – because it’s a hard one to maintain – and be adamantly blind.

That’s how problems like the ones I’ve been encountering start.

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Speak out!

WARNING:  I said I few months ago I was going to start talking more about my experience as a multiple-times abuse victim and, ultimately, as a survivor.  So, this is not a humorous blog, nor is it a place where things are to be taken lightly.  If you mistreat this subject in the comments, I will delete and block WITH PREJUDICE.

So, I saw this article yesterday.  TRIGGER WARNING: ABUSE, RAPE, VERBAL VIOLENCE.  I probably shouldn’t have read it, much less watched the accompanying video.  Much of the content was absolutely sickening, especially as a sexual abuse survivor.

There were no graphic images at all.  All the triggers are verbal and if anyone doubts the power of words, this is the place to learn it.

The article is about rape culture within comedy (and the wider world, as comedy is a reflection of it).  The writer, Lindy West of Jezebel, entered a debate with a male comedian, Jim Norton, about the appropriateness of rape jokes.  Norton argued that comedy is how we deal with terrible, horrible things and nothing should be off limits.  West argued that the jokes perpetuate victim blaming and perpetrator glorifying and that, in that case, some things should absolutely be off limits.  I fall somewhere in the middle of these two sides of the debate, but appreciate that the debate is out there.  As a survivor of one of the most shameful things a human being inflict on another living thing, I cannot fight my own shame (personal and social) without these discussions.

The response was truly horrific.

Months ago, I learned of Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency.  I LOVE her (though I don’t always agree with her). She talks about things that must be discussed.  She talks about women’s roles in popular media (including video games, which are rarely the target of feminist critics).  This brought a vicious hate campaign to her doorstep.  An online game centered around beating her bloody was created just because she dared to say video games could treat women better. She responded to the campaign and the threats by continuing her work and talking at TEDxWomen 2012.

The responses are truly horrific.  Still.

These are places I probably shouldn’t go.  They trigger so many things for me – awful memories; feelings of helplessness, faithlessness, terror; terrible shame.  I’m still trying to balance being part of the discussion and being so part of the discussion that I’m feeding my brain poison.

But I needed to talk about one facet of the abuse of these women that I just cannot let stand without some of my own words, and it is the comments along these lines (AGAIN, TRIGGER WARNING):

“Noone would want to rape that fat disgusting mess [West].”

“Jaba [West] has nothing to worrie about, not even a prison escapee would rape her.”

“I would totally rape Anita Sarkeesian.”

These are a TINY sampling taken from a horrifying amount of rape threats, death threats, other personal safety threats, death wishes, and name calling, among other harassments.  But these are FAR MORE disturbing to me than those other abuses.  They seem to be innocent, but the attitude they represent is downright alarming.  And that attitude is this:

Rape is a compliment.

I’m going to let that soak in for a minute.

.

.

.

Rape is a compliment.

WHAT?!

The wrongness of this cannot be expressed.  Many other comments spoke about the rape fantasies West must surely have, West’s disappointment at being too fat for them to be fulfilled, and other inherently disgusting things like unto that.

Some of the other inexcusable attitudes expressed by these comments are: women who don’t fall “in line” deserve rape, over-weight women don’t deserve physical affection (violent or otherwise), and women wish for these violations to confirm their desirability.

Ew. Ew. Ew. EW.

Those attitudes are bad enough and thoroughly sickening.  But that over-arching tone of “rape is a compliment” makes me physically ill.  Why does this exist in our society?  Why is this remotely okay?  Useless questions, I know, but they should be asked and answered, if only to help some people think.

In the mean time, let me set this record straight:

When I was sexually abused, it was not a testament to my desirability.  It was not a compliment to my sexual attractiveness.  It was a complete and utter disregard of me, an affront to my humanity.

It was my babysitter, my fiancé, my boyfriend’s need to control a situation and an inherent selfishness in which the desires of the one (them) were more important that the needs and safety of the other (me) or the whole (the relationship).  I was not sexually abused by my babysitter because she saw me – a sexually immature seven-year old – as sexually desirable.  I was sexually abused by her because she felt I deserved the most shameful of punishments for being a typical, annoying seven-year old.  She made that patently clear.  She also made it clear she enjoyed abusing me.  She did it for recreation.  Her pleasure, sexual or otherwise, was more important than my health, safety, or needs because she was older, wiser, more behaved, and – in her mind – better.  She felt she deserved that pleasure more than I deserved a loving, caring, or protective relationship.

I cannot speak so clearly for my other abusers, because they weren’t nearly so open with me as to why they abused me.  But I can tell you from their behavior that my needs and wants were always subordinate to their wishes and whims.  I do not say needs because abuse is never a need, just as it is never a compliment.  It is a choice, a choice that should not be made.  It is a choice to discount the needs of a living, breathing human being because it is inconvenient to see them as anything other than a tool for the abuser’s wantonly selfish fantasies.  It dehumanizes beautiful, ugly, skinny, fat, exceptional, and utterly ordinary people alike, because rape and abuse are NOT compliments.  They are power plays and selfish expressions of this simple and terrifying attitude:

The only person who will ever matter is me.

And if I have to scream from every rooftop in Christendom that THIS IS WRONG, that is what I will do.  I will speak out.  Because no matter how unhealthy it can be for me to read these things and be in these situations, there is NOTHING less healthy than letting these things pass me by.

I will speak out.  And I will be heard.  And I fight until these attitudes, or I, are gone.  There is no other option because too many people are silenced.

____________________________________________

As always, if you are a victim of abuse, please reach out to me.  I will help in any way I can that is respectful of your and my private lives.  You are not alone and you never have to go through that again.

They’re for me.

Over the past year, there’ve been a lot of relevant discussions in public discourse to me and my beliefs and identity.

For reference:

  • I’m Mormon (election season was murder sometimes)
  • I’m Bipolar (health care reform is a vested interest)
  • I’m bi-sexual (gay marriage/rights are always on my mind)
  • I’m a democrat (I repeat, election season was murder sometimes)
  • I’m a victim of sexual abuse (so the cultural discussion of shaming (and the prevention) is a big, huge, happy, sometimes not-so-happy deal)

And I decided, with the furor NOT dying down (which is good and bad, depending on the case), it was time to talk about it.

You see, this is the way I see religion, sexuality, politics, experiential perspective, and all the important decisions we make day to day about the way we live our individual lives: they’re for me.  The LDS church means something VERY different to me than it does to other members.  Being bi-sexual means something WAY different to me than it does to other people in the LGBT community.  Being a democrat is TOTALLY different for me than it is for some of my best friends.  How I take everything I’ve learned from being mentally broken and shunted from doctor to doctor thanks to insurance (or lack of adequate insurance) and from being abused is COMPLETELY different than it is for people with almost identical experiences to mine.  These things: they’re for me.

Not anyone else.

This is why it bothers me when I see blanket statements like, “All Mormons are dumb.”  Or, “Democrats want to destroy America.”  Or, “Gay people are evil.”  Or, “Crazy people should be taken out of the gene pool.”  Or, “People who say they’re abused are just trying to get attention.”

On the flip side, this is also why it bothers me when I see things like, “Atheists are just idiots who are scared.”  Or, “Republicans are backwards morons.”  Or, “Straight people hate gays.”  Or, “Healthy people will never understand.” Or, “Sex offenders should be culled.”

It hurt just to write most of those.  Like, the kind of soul hurt that makes your heart twinge.

Because you know what? These things are for me.  I take all these things, characteristics and choices, and I make BAD DECISIONS.  With disturbing regularity.  But I also make good decisions.  Intelligent decisions.  Righteous, civil-minded decisions.  Decisions that would make me an amazing mother.  Decisions that take me out of the spot light, so that I can do more good.

And I know other people, who take these essential parts that are for them and no one else, and they make these great and awful decisions.  They defy all those blanket statements.

One of the bravest people I have ever known is an atheist.

The person with the highest IQ I’ve ever met was a Republican, and his critical thinking skills were WAY beyond mine.

My strongest advocate friends are straight.

The most supportive person of people with diseases I have ever met is also one of the healthiest people I have ever met.  And she gets it.

And I personally know two sex offenders who are doing everything they can to be better than their pasts.  Who have acknowledged the wrong they did and are becoming good, contributing members of society.

There is no box big enough to fit me.  There is no box big enough to fit you.  It hurts my soul more deeply than I can express to see those boxes forcibly placed around strangers and friends alike.  Because their decisions and intrinsic qualities, those big things–bad and good–that make them who they are, are for them. And no one else.

Just like mine are for me.

And NO ONE else.

And I think that the better we are at recognizing that, the more awesome this world is going to be.  Because instead of making a war set to tear down everything precious out of our differences, we’re going build something sweet and beautiful and incomprehensibly amazing.  And it will be for all of us.

And everyone else.

A series of silences.

Last night I went radio silent.  Which was necessary.  And will likely continue to be necessary every so often for a while.

I’ve been really stressed and sometimes social interaction is more than I can handle, but I’ve been trying to handle it.  I’m turning myself into a basket case trying to be there for everyone all the time.

It was certainly impressed upon me last night my need for self care.  Hence the radio silence.  Hence the decision to let y’all know it’ll be happening again.

So, I’ll do what I did last night: post a start time on Facebook and Twitter, then turn off my phone from that time until I go to bed.  It’s not that there’s something wrong, it’s that I’m trying to make sure it’s all right.

So, worry not.

Anger: Learning how to deal with me.

Here’s the deal: I am ANGRY right now.  My entire life just angers me.  This is a new experience for me, as I have never been this persistently ANYTHING in my entire life.  I have been on an emotional roller coaster since I was four.  I don’t know how to be this constantly and frequently and deeply angry.  I have no idea.

And that pisses me off, too.  It’s pretty recursive and one of those exponential growth graphs that you swear have to collapse sometime, but  never do.  They just keep going until someone calls stop.

I don’t know how to call stop.

Now, I know this is a Bi-Polar thing.  I know that what I’m feeling is real and true and yet, at the same time, totally a function of my disease.  It’s not that the source material for these emotions is fake, but that the reaction to it–this absolutely out of control, stomach sitting hate–is not how I, Joie the human being, react.  This is how Joie the Bi-Polar robot reacts.  The fact that Joie the Bi-Polar robot and Joie the human being are the same person, think the same thoughts, and some how come to entirely different conclusions of how to react is something that still, to this day, baffles me.  Usually, I am on the same page with myself.  Usually, I don’t feel like there’s a Bi-Polar robot inside of me, riding on the whims of my brain chemistry and visceral reactions while my human side gets shoved into a corner to view but not participate.  This has been especially the case since I went off meds–I finally get to sync myself and not have this medicinal barrier preventing me from being my whole self.  So, when the barrier is created because of something I have yet to identify, it is all the more frustrating.  On medication, I had an excuse.  Off medication, I have only work to do.

And, I promise, I am working.  It’s just very slow going.  So, I will be angry for a while.  I will make bad decisions.  I will do my best to fight through it, to be Joie the human being.  But, in the mean time, I’m sorry if I snap or am rude.  Tell me, and I will do my best to fix the error.

In the mean time, happy five years no cutting to me.

Yippee skippy.

Destructive: my views on cutting.

#CutForBieber is a REAL THING (graphic pictures in that link, you have been warned).

Okay, not real real.  It started as a joke on 4chan (more evidence that I should never, ever go there).  But it was real enough for these tweets to get posted and posted often enough to trend.  Even if every single tweet was a joke (and I fear not all were–let me tell you as a former cutter, when you see pictures of people cutting, it’s very hard not to join in–I was physically ill for a moment, combine that with impressionable teenagers and you have a downright dangerous alchemy), I cannot imagine the kind of mind it takes to conceive of this sort of joke.

This is not okay.  Thankfully, Bieber fans aren’t *actually* mutilating their bodies to convince him to stop (in the main).  If there were poor, misguided girls and boys who “joined in,” I feel for them.

But, more than I feel for them, I am angry at the society that promotes this level of intellectual and spiritual rot.

I am a recovering cutter.  I haven’t cut in almost five years (six and a half weeks away–I plan to make it), but that doesn’t mean it’s easy not to.  Some days, I literally have to spend the whole day rubbing my arms and holding my elbows until I am sure I can go back to my apartment where there are any number of razors and kitchen knives in easy reach.  My roommate and I have a standing agreement that if I ever come home in a state when I am still struggling, I am to wake her up and not go through it alone (I must have looked monster scary to Mikki the day after I was up all but one hour of the night for that exact reason, she needs her sleep as much as I do).  Each month, I celebrate another month I was able to not take a blade to my skin in an effort to forget how much I HATE myself.  Most of those months, I can even celebrate that I am loving myself these days, but the sad truth is sometimes the celebration is for the barest of minimums: I didn’t act on that hate.

I’m not blaming culture or society for the decision I made to cut.  Ultimately, it was mine.  It was stupid and irrational, but it was mine.  However, what I am blaming on the world in general is that this is not something we talk about.  Why?  We give attention to drug abuse, eating disorders (mostly for women, but men are getting the recognition and help they need, too–hallelujah), all sorts of self-destructive behaviors and yet–unaccountably–we IGNORE PEOPLE CUTTING INTO THEIR OWN FLESH.  When we don’t ignore it, we PUBLISH PICTORIAL AND VIDEO DEPICTIONS OF IT.  How WRONG-HEADED is that?

Completely, in case you were wondering.

Cutting is not a phase, or an emo thing (I’ve heard both).  It’s not a sign of a deviant personality or an irreparable-from-birth mind.  It *is* the sign of a broken mind and, more often, a broken heart.  A person so convinced they are unworthy of the most basic of love and respect that they can no longer hurt anymore without doing something about it.

And this is what we sweep under the rug?

We’re nuts, people.  This cannot fly.  Thankfully, there are good doctors and nurses and friends who reach out to help.  There are teachers who watch and clergymen who listen.  There are groups like To Write Love on Her Arms (love them) which try to teach children and adults to take an expression of self-loathing and turn it into something positive and loving.

But these people are in the minority.  And it kills me to think they are.  It kills me to know that we’re teaching boys and girls that they must be better, not personally or mentally, but physically.  I’m all for health, but society does not promote heath, it promotes mutilation, both personal and cosmetic.  I hope my children grow up knowing they are loved–from all sides–as they are, but that even if every side doesn’t love them, the most important side that loves them is the inside.

This is not okay.  Even if it is a sick joke, it’s time for us to be accountable for the broken hearts we’ve created with our unattainable standards of perfection, both personal and media.

Be imperfect.  Be loved.  PLEASE–be yourself.

And please–friends, parents, loved ones, strangers–let’s start talking about this.  It’s GOT to be done.

___________________________________

You would not believe how different today’s post was supposed to be.  It was going to be cheery and a report of things good in the world.  But this is too important to ignore.  Parents, friends: watch how people interact online and respond.  I know, it’s not your job (friends) and it’s not easy to restrict something kids have such easy access to (parents) these days.  But it MUST be done.  Who better to call out inappropriate internet behavior than a loving friend?  Behavior like this cannot be brushed off or taken lightly for the future health of our children.  No joke on this level is okay.

Abuse.

I talk about a lot of things on this blog.  I’m very open about my faith, my disease, and my life as it happens.

I also don’t talk about a lot of things.  Some of them I have alluded to in the past, but never fully discussed.  Some I haven’t even TRIED to talk about because I recognize that once it’s on the internet, it’s forever public.

Today, and I don’t know why today and not some other day, I feel like one of those things I have alluded to deserves some discussion.  Three weeks ago in my Thanks to Thanksgiving post about being different and understanding, I wrote the line, “I am proud to be an abuse survivor.”  I deleted and rewrote that line three times, people.  I was so worried that I was somehow stepping across some line of appropriateness by talking about it on my blog.  It was the first time I could remember mentioning it and even though I’m open about it in my day to day life, some how the internet made it a scarier thing.

Obviously, I chose to include it.  It’s the truth–I am proud to be a survivor.  Furthermore, I believe in being open about abusive situations so that people can have the tools they need to recognize abusive situations.  I would like to talk about this more in depth here, so I thought I’d just give some basics of my history and where I am now.  This is not a woe-is-me post.  This is a so-you-know post.

  • I have been abused by four separate people (none of them family), all of whom were in positions that should have made them concerned about ensuring my personal well being.
  • All of these situations had a sexual component PLUS something else. (Don’t worry, I won’t be going into detail, but it’s an important detail nonetheless.)
  • Two of these situations happened when I was VERY young and so informed my adult relationships–which led to the other abusive situations.
  • The way I interact with people–emotionally and physically–is very much so informed by this part of my past.  Sometimes for the worse, sometimes for the better.
  • None of these cases were prosecuted–lack of evidence and he said/she said situations made it impossible in three of these situations.  In the fourth, my parents made the choice to seek alternative avenues of punishment and I am GRATEFUL for it.  It was exactly the right thing to do.
  • I am still putting the pieces back together from the aftermath of these situations.  Some days, almost all the pieces fit.  Other days, I barely have enough pieces put together to function.
  • I have learned so much about myself and what healthy relationships are that–while other methods of education would have been preferable–I cannot regret having been in these situations.
  • I forgive them all.

I promise, I will explain all of these as  time allows.  I’ll talk about who I was and who I am because of all this.  But I wanted you to know, more than anything, that this is something I have experienced.  This is something I am VEHEMENTLY against.  I have forgiven my abusers, but that does not excuse their actions, nor does it excuse those who do.  If you are in an abusive situation, let someone know who is willing to help you do the work to a) leave and b) heal.  Do not let it go on.  I will be here to help should you need it.  This is something I feel people need to know about me, but also be aware of in general.

Abuse is never okay.  It is always emotional so don’t feel bad for being a little broken.  It will not stop unless we do something about it and the first step is talking about it.

Welcome to the conversation.  Please join in.