Wishing, But Not Hearing

This long quote.  It’s a thank you to someone for their endurance under depression.  It captures the place well.

I suffered in dysphoria for 50 years, and one of its horrible side effects was depression.  Staying alive was a pretty big achievement. And yet there are people in my life who communicate something to me very different than this quote…or just don’t speak at all.

The words spoken are awful to read (at least I am spared them being given face to face)…but the silence is the worst.  Looming, frozen, hot hell…where there used to be the core and comfort of my heart.

If you know someone in your life who wrestles with despair, and gets up alive everyday?  Say something like the below to them…it will mean the world.

“I am so unbelievably proud of you. Every day you get out of bed even though all you want to do is stay under the covers. Every day you take a shower, you get dressed, you put food in your body, and you leave the safety of your home for the chaos of this world.To me that’s an act of profound bravery. You are choosing to live and try despite your tiredness, hopelessness, and brokenness. You cling to the light instead of the dark. You leave your comfort zone every day for the unknown.

I’m proud of you. I hope you are proud of you. I hope you know how those seemingly little acts of courage are really the greatest moments of bravery. I hope that you will continue to rise each day and live your life.

Thank you for living. Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting. Thank you for trying. Thank you for being in this world with me. Thank you for holding on when you want to let go. Thank you for trusting in tomorrow.

Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.

I am so proud of you. These words cannot explain the depths of gratefulness I feel for your life. I pray that you would always rise just as the sun does every morning in the blue sky.

With a whole lot of love,

Dele”

Victo-Ngai

Well Intentioned, Missing the Mark

Dear Constance…there is a graphic floating around Facebook these days, and it creates quite a few conflicting emotions inside me.  Generally speaking, it shows up on pages of people who are known to be compassionate, usually also quite passionate, and also people who are pretty gosh dang strong spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually.  They are enthusiastic, with big hearts and even bigger tents, and they do not suffer fools lightly and they do not suffer shirkers at all.

I like that they post the graphic because they are doing what they do best in the action:  establishing ally-ship and striving to exhort their fellow human on to better places.  It is sort of a reverse litmus test for me, in that it shows me someone who cares enough to reach out…enough to listen…and most likely won’t bail when the going gets tough because they eat tough for breakfast and spit out butt-kicking for lunch.

But the graphic is problematic for me…and I suspect likely is for others as well, who have fought for our lives against that relentless Nazgul crossed with a Balrog called depression.  Churchill called it his “black dog”…um, Winnie allus was known for his gift of understatement.

So the graphic itself is at the bottom of the post…scroll down and read it please, or wait til you work your way thru my thinking (your choice)…

Please know that these are my thoughts and conflicts regarding the graphic itself and are in no way, shape, or form any sort of comment on the motive or intention of anyone who posted it.  As I said, I know the places I have seen it the context of that person’s online presence is as an ally and friend and nothing else.

*Deep Breath*

First off, it is generally preceded by a line that says something like “I am a therapist, and I have this poster in my office.  Apparently it has saved lives so I am posting it here”.  Now that is the first thing that I find troubling, because the therapists I have seen wouldn’t have a poster like that in their office, because generally speaking their offices tend toward the neutral or the abstract, because therapy isn’t about the therapist, it’s about the client.  And that leads me to believe that the graphic was in fact created by a well meaning person who has given their decidedly normal thoughts about a decidedly abnormal condition…one that is truly not depictable in terms of what it is, how it feels.  I have tried for years and never found a way that suffices.

If you don’t suffer from depression, and I don’t mean feeling sad, or going thru a trial, or grieving, I mean depression, then you just do not really know.

Now, in general I don’t like things that are posted and purported to have occurred, even when I might like the story or the outcome…if we need to rely on a fabrication to make our point, then we are using a shortcut to relationship and not being fully authentic…I read of miracles that supposedly happen, or students who supposedly said things to professors, or any number of things like that which get passed off as real and are in fact in urban legend territory.

So to summarize my initial take, the actual poster being in an actual therapist’s office I question…it could be…but wow does it not jibe with my own experience.

Secondly…I would never say something like what is reported to someone who would then call me “somebody”…like people are just coming up right and left and saying something like that so blatantly and clearly.

No…it just isn’t like that.  First off there is a huge cloud of shame that overlays a person with true depression.  They have been told all their life to “snap out of it”, to “straighten up and fly right”, to “wipe that puss off yer face”… “Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone”… and worse.  So you internalize right away that your very existence is transgressive because you feel something that is not okay and you should not feel it and thus it is a self-fulfilling prophecy about how awful you are and depression increases and over and over again.

So that shame itself would preclude such a straightforward statement.  No…that reads to me like someone has an opinion and something to say about depression and about their acquaintances who suffer from it.

The cries for help are far more subtle and conflicted, and quite often are hidden…even from the one making them.  It is not until after the fact that they are seen as cries for help…and here is the real killer.  When I was in the worst of it, I did not think there WAS any help to be had, so I would not waste breath asking for any…it was a deadly f**king duel to the death between me and depression, and it took everything I had to make it to the next minute, and the next and the next…and it is never halftime, it is never the end of a set…it is f-ing triple match point ever g dam second of every quadruple match minute in every hail mary hour of every we need a miracle day.

And this notion of helplessness is introduced by the maker of the graphic…not the person who reportedly made the statement…notice that?  Supposedly someone has reported they have severe suicidal ideation and they are asking for a reason not to do it…and from that the word helplessness is entered into the discussion…a straw man that is then whipped on the rest of the way.  I won’t even get into the legal aspects of a therapist’s obligation as a mandatory reporter when someone has made such a direct statement of intent.

Helplessness has nothing to do with this.  It comes from the imagination of someone outside of the cloud, who imagines what it is like for the one they imagine to care about (I am speaking of the creator of the graphic, not anyone who posts it).

Thirdly…depression is more like mustard gas than it is like Hitler.  It is a fog, a smothering force that slips thru your fingers when you seek to wrestle it and defeat it.  It doesn’t “beat you up” or call you names…it just chokes you, drains you, takes you captive and enthrall…and after you have breathed it long enough, for all intents and purposes you are those things, ugly…stupid…pathetic…or in my case, you simply think it would be better if you simply had never been.  Suicide is tempting but it doesn’t fix anything because then you hurt everyone else around you and it is the utter proof of your failure…so you just hang there like Prometheus, ravens and vultures gnawing away at you…and you suffer…and suffer…and suffer…

Fourth…my tummy hurts when I read the simile of a marine…honestly, I detest that comparison first of all, and secondly the marine has it easy by comparison.  The reality is more like this:  you are America and you have the might of history’s greatest military at your disposal…and your enemy is immune to every attempt to repel it…without exception.  So you would never be like this “Give me a stick. I’m not dying out here.” (Nevermind how this contradicts the beginning place of the person who has ideated suicide to the place of a plan even…)

Here is where I started to get agitated…the assumption that a cry for help is an obligation to the listener to “take pity on you”.  And do you see the phraseology in the graphic…the writer says “…makes it sound like I’m supposed to take pity on you.”  There is a bit of a combative undercurrent here…a peeved ness that masquerades as exhortation and bucking up someone…it pretends to be a “hail fellow well met” bonhomie and backslapping encouragement…but the back slapping is that too hard by half walloping that the tricky conniving bully gives the lil kid so as not to get caught…and it communicates to me “hmmm…better be more careful to keep my guard up around this person.  Mustn’t let them see beneath cus they feel like what I may or may not say creates a “supposed to” for them.

I have never asked for pity…that is a worthless appearance that says more about the giver than who it is offered to.  In fact, part of the issue with depression is you never ask anything of anyone!  And to have someone think that they know the slightest thing about my insides and that war and then characterize their perception as me asking for pity!!??

Yeah, no.

And then the last lil part sadly feels like a mini-lecture to me…correcting me in however I might be mischaracterizing things as depression when in truth I am mistaken:  my depression is just the manifestation of the will to stay alive.

Wow…it is hard for me to look at the sunny in disposition, the asskickers and asskissers who get thru life with an emotional get out of jail free card…and have them lecture me about the will to survive.  It soo reminds me of men who mansplain how “not all men” and privileged people who complain at how hard they have it and see how they overcame so just do like I did and yada yada yada…

and then at the end…after the walloping, having the whole thing said to be someone handing out a stick…rather than hitting me with one.

The end result of this is that I just avoid those sorts of people.  They are so far into their own desire to quantify my depression so that they feel better about it that they do not even see the bruises their words have raised.

I have survived it…and I think at last I am coming to some deep places of strength.  Suicide rarely crosses my mind these days, after living inside my bone marrow half a century…this is a literal truth:  one of my earliest remembered thoughts is that I should not ever have been born, and the fact I was even here was a huge disorder in the universe…and that all would be better if I just had never been…I was about 3 and a half when I thought that.

I used to walk around the house crying and wailing at that age and when asked what was the matter, I just said “It’s the end of the world”…and that story told hundreds of time as pertaining to how overly dramatic I was and overly sensitive and so we need to tease her more and toughen her up (except it was “him” in those days…)

It is beyond my abilities to communicate to you what it is like…but I will be damnified if I would ever even be capable of saying what the graphic purports to be a common communication…let alone undignify myself that much to say something like that…I would be far more likely to say something like in my poetry.  But that’s just me.  I speak only for me…depression has its own unique horrors for every one of its slaves…and if you are in its grip and still here you deserve something far more than platitudes purporting to be sticks…and by the way?  Why sticks?  Why not a gun, a knife, a nuclear bomb?

Because to me, as a sufferer of depression, that graphic is actually a mere placeholder for something like that Carl’s Jr advertisement that says “Don’t bother me…I’m eating”.

Centuries ago, a man named Job suffered horribly.  He had some friends who came to him…they started off so well.  They sat with him over 3 weeks in the ashes without saying a word.  But then they went to giving out sticks and the phrase “Job’s comforters” was born.

“So Charissa, what should we do, then?”  Well, first of all, whenever you feel a “should”, you should just leave me alone…I am not your mission field.  I made it this far without your help, and if you come in the power of should your corn will be mealy anyway.

But if you wanna know “what can I do?”  Well…looks straight into the eyes that show compassion and kindness and also some black humor…those are great.  Hugs without words are fabulous.  A tear in the eye that you let me see.  A card.  A timely visit or phone call checking in on friendship…a willingness to sit in the blackness together.

And then just follow your heart.

But really…shortcut graphics designed to communicate a priori what is okay and what is not is a bit like dressing in certain fashions to let everyone know how you roll so they don’t bother you while you eat.  Take that spark which makes you attracted to the graphic, and refine it, identify it, and feed it with the fuel of true friendship.

As I conclude, I want to emphasize this:  I am not judging anyone here!  I am showing the insides of me…how I react when I see this graphic and what I think about it in light of my own life.  I take all insistences of good faith as exactly what they are.  Oh…and if anyone can give me provenance for the poster and therapist, I would happily correct that part of things, my feelings and reactions about it notwithstanding.

Do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly.
Charissa

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Depression in Transgender Youth Eases with Recognition, Treatment | Psych Central News

Depression in Transgender Youth Eases with Recognition, Treatment | Psych Central News.

“But Charissa…isn’t this all in your mind???  Cus demons and stuff??”

A young man has recently befriended me.  He accompanied me out one day, all day…he later reported that he had never been so uncomfortable as he was when he was watching the way that other people stared at me, looked at me…the reactions of disgust, fear, slack-jawed amazement, or derision.  He was flabbergasted that they would be that way…because he knows me.  We have spent hours talking, and he has had the “benefit” of my counsel regarding his relationships with women.  So he knows me to be an astute observer of human nature, a tender hearted intuitive listener, a gentle teller of truth that is at times somewhat hard to swallow, and above all a valuer of his life which is of priceless significance.

So when he saw them looking at me…like that…he knew for real that it was not “all in your mind, Charissa”.

The link is a good read.  Please head over and acquaint yourself with the dynamics of how (surprise!) getting help to someone helps them.

Do Justice.  Love Mercy.  Walk Humbly.
Charissa Grace

To those of you with mastery over your feelings…

…be merciful to those of us who don’t.

Either you are really strong and awesome, possessing all the skills of Siegfried and Roy combined with the Crocodile Hunter mixed together with Dr. Doolittle…

…or our feelings are Godzilla to your Gollum, and untameable.  And the fact that we are surviving speaks of unspeakable courage and persistence and never say die stubbornness…

either way, if you can master your feelings, take it easy on the rest of us mere mortals

 

The Enemy Depression: are you an unwitting ally?

Constance, we see the results of depression brought home to us in the recent tragic death of well known public figure Robin Williams.  But what about the ones no one knows, around you?  Many of my friends have brought forth stories of relatives, acquaintences who succombed to its deadly siren song of release that is only a final tragic dissolution.

And, even more poignant, simply because of numbers and a vital extra lil addition of pure hate, is the plague of suicide that rests like a curse upon the shoulders of transgender people.  There is a post that says it well over at the blog The Girl Inside…you can check out the full thing there:

http://www.thegirlinside.com/tg/in-requium/ 

Let me quote a startling paragraph or two:

It is certainly well known within our community how prevalent the attempted suicide is among our brothers and sisters who are transgender. The most recent and best survey on the subject reports that 41% of surviving trans people surveyed reported having attempted to take their own life, and there’s no accounting for those who not only attempted and succeeded in that figure.

This in contrast to a rate among the general population .under 5%. Certainly compared to almost any demographic you might imagine, we relate to the phenomena of suicide. It is hardly possible to offer any new argument that has not already been offered as to why we should struggle against that temptation and not give into it, but more so it is perhaps adds a certain obligation to those of us who survive.

It is well understood by those who study such things that the incidents of actual psychological disorder among trans people (of the sort Williams may well have struggled against) is not significantly higher than in other populations but what is, is the sort of “environmental” depression that arises from the circumstances of your situation. Which is to say that when you know you are a member of a reviled community, one who is quite possibly going to be rejected by everyone you might reasonably expect to love you if they knew the reality of your heart and mind then you are prone to depression even to the point of suicide.

It is not enough that we resist giving in to temptation, rather it is incumbent upon us to step out of the darkness and into the light and challenge our society to build a culture that does not reject us for who we are.

As long as they are allowed to shame us, reviled was, and mock us then we will continue to bury members of our community who took their own lives.


Enough of that.

Well?  Constance?

Mental illness rates, psychological rates virtually identical, and yet 41 % of trans individuals have already attempted suicide?  I have heard stats that the general population’s suicide attempt rate is somewhere between 2 and 3 %.

How is this not blaring news?  If 41% of all middle schoolers were attempting suicide, or of all females were attempting suicide, imagine the furor.

But trans-individuals? Nah…tragic waste of a good man/woman in the first place, and thus they deserve what they get…right??

At ease in Zion…how does that taste?

Join me as an ally of transformation, and make your wealth rain down like spring rain.

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Depression

Still, unseen but felt, lurking, looming
pressing against my bubble pushing hard
against my present center fading spinning wobbly.

You off balance me with your certainty, your finality
and you insinuate your monstrous purr vibrating
into my mindful choice to be…

…as you wait there, blacker on black, darker in dark,
shadow become substance as you steal essence and draw form
from eating my tentative, furtive choice to chance it

and be.

You snarl, silent, unheard except for those who cannot sleep
and you creep, forward-sideways-higher until your breath
fetid and cold punches my face with the death of stars and galaxies

and little creatures too, like me.

I turn away, and think of Her, and remind myself that
you choked one time…once…and took a beating, a hiding
as He tattooed you inside and out with His victory dance

you got greedy, thought you could swallow a god,
having dined on Their image like river runnings.
Your razor teeth ugly and crooning are close

but no cigar.

I slide my hand in Hers and pull me close
nose pressed firmly into Her garments of
sandalwood sashes and cedar cloaks jet blue and brilliant warm…

and turn away again from your awful there-ness

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I hate that Robin Williams and I have something in common

I hate that Robin Williams and I have something in common.

Constance…

I have to post this, by Transgirl at the Cross.

It is about Robin Williams taking his own life, depression, and the disproportionately, tragically high suicide rate amongst transgender people.

Please know…this is real, the black hole that gapes, its teeth sharp and hungry and dully glinting in the dark.  Its breath is foul, but its breathing is hypnotizing, intoxicating and seductive…

I know…I have been there, mesmerized in its presence and mind filled with visions of pain finally stopping and rejection finally ending and never ever feeling fractured and ugly and worthless ever again…I thank God for Their preservation!  They were always there, protecting me, activating Their word within my heart, and ever always placing in my heart the faces of my beloved family.  Haunted, remember?

If you are out there reading this, and you have despaired and given up, please…go see someone, call someone!  Your brain chemistry is messed up and the cycle of thoughts and feelings and off balance chemistry feeds itself in an unholy fusion reaction od death.  You will never regret walking away from that dark place…and even better, you will find out just how much you are loved and cherished.

If you are reading this, and you know someone who is in that place of horror, go to them!  Take their hand, and lead them to a place that specializes in helping the despairing.  You will be saving a life.

And if you are reading this, and you smirk in pride and lord it over the weak, then humble yourself, and fall on the Rock and be broken, lest the Rock fall on you and grind you to powder.

I am mourning tonight…weeping for Robin.  He did a stint of rehab out where I live, and he is a cyclist, as am I.  Word was he was out, riding…often.  I used to pray that I would be able to run across him, and share with him the Love of Jesus the Merciful, and Lady Grace the Compassionate and the Father so Just and Pure.

I never did.

Now he is gone…and we are here, those who didn’t even know him and weep…and those who knew him deeply and fully, and feel as if they will never laugh again.

In Sorrow and Ashes,

Charissa

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