Posted in mental health, Personal Post, Uncategorized

Thanksgiving

When I think about this past year, it’s hard to not get discouraged. I’m talking about my own personal struggle–not the political turmoil and rampant depressing events that occurred this year (though some of that played a part). My mental health has been the forefront of this year, especially towards the latter half of it. I struggled with suicide and deep, dark bouts of depression and crippling anxiety. I questioned whether or not it was worth even continuing this life that I was living, and a small part of me still challenged that thought but it was exhausting and I was beginning to lose hope.

I enrolled in the Partial Hospitalization Program to avoid a full term hospitalization where they would keep me for god knows how long. The PHP is a program that helps people who have been hospitalized for mental health issues get back on their feet, and it serves as another way for those who are on the precipice of a hospitalization. I was there for two and half weeks, I won’t go into detail of the therapy or the medication changes–but it helped me immensely.

I say all of that to give a background as to how important my friends and family are to me. When you’re going through a depressive episode, you can be very reclusive and isolate–because you don’t want to be a burden to others, or you feel scared that they won’t love you anymore for whatever reason. I pushed people away, people that I shouldn’t have, people that I love dearly, and would rather die than hurt them.

But my family and friends persevered, they knew that it was not me but the illness that was doing this. They loved me, they called me, they kept pushing against this wall that I had built until it came crashing down. I wanted so much to just fall off this precipice, to make the pain stop but they kept pulling me back. They never gave up on me, nor did they allow me to give up on myself.

This Thanksgiving, I wanted to share with you how lucky I am to have such amazing people in my life. It is hard sometimes to remember them, especially when I’m falling back into depression. I remember them, I remember the coping skills that I learned, but most of all I feel that love searing through my veins. It keeps me grounded when I want to fly off the handle, and it keeps me sane when I want to curl up in a ball and give up.

I want to let you all know that you matter to someone, more than you ever know. You are their entire world and you are important. Someone is thankful for you.

Happy Thanksgiving dear friends.

Posted in feminism, Personal Post, Uncategorized

Taking a Tough Look at Myself

“I am a human being, nothing human can be alien to me.”

Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto

Maya Angelou introduced me to that particular quote by Terrance, a Roman playwright and philosopher and ever since I saw her talking about him, I’ve done my best to try to internalize it. But unfortunately I am human and I tend to forget it, forget that I have all of the components in me to be the next great inspiration or the next element of destruction.

As human we tend to forget that we are indeed flawed and there aren’t many differences between you or I. I won’t be so presumptuous as to say that I have never said anything racist or hurtful, I won’t pretend that I am perfect. That would be stupid and haughty.

A very dear friend of mine and I met for coffee yesterday and I always enjoy talking to her because she is everything that I believe a person of faith should be: understanding, empathetic, compassionate, nonjudgmental, and accepting. She considers herself Christian, but she is not radicalized–I absolutely cannot say how much I respect her.

We talked about several things, the main thing being about the results of the election–if you want my thoughts and feelings you can click the said links. Both being self-proclaimed feminists, we feel about the same. We talked about how hate crimes have run rampant since the election of Donald Trump, and how people are one way in front of a crowd but another way in front of their peers. I referred to a particular photo I saw on Humans of New York’s Facebook page (here is said photo), it wasn’t the photo that really captured me, but the caption underneath:


“I think a lot of people live on the borderline of racism. I work in a machine shop with about thirty older guys. I don’t think there is one bad guy in the group. You’d like them if you met them. All of them love their families. But I’d say that I’ve heard eighty percent of them make racist comments of some sort. A lot of the older guys drop ‘n bombs.’ But if a black guy walks up, they’ll be friendly. They’ll even go out to lunch with him and share a meal. I honestly don’t think they see themselves as racist. Every one of them will deny it. They’ll point to the black guy that they’re friendly with. They won’t point to the things they say when he’s not around.”


It struck a chord with me–but I wasn’t really sure how to process it. I was ignorant to think that I hadn’t been guilty of doing that myself, but I wasn’t ready to face it. Then my dear friend sent me this video:

I realized that I had been guilty of saying racist things and condoning racist behaviour.

I also realized that a lot of my racism was simply born out of the environment that I live in (super conservative, narrow minded thinking, small town that meets all of the stereotypes), and being young and stupid. Before I became the person I am today, I was a super radical christian who was on the precipice of a mental breakdown because I also had a strong sense of justice. I chose to be that way because it was the only way I thought I could be, I was a naive kid who had just lost her mother and was looking for anything to make the pain go away. I don’t condone my behaviour, looking back now I know why I was that way but I’m not going to say it was right. I am rather ashamed of it because I abhor hypocrisy, and I feel like a hypocrite. However I also realize that I can’t really focus on that now because it is in the past and there’s nothing I can do to change it now. I can only focus on being a better person today.

I want to be a force  of good in this world, I want to use my talents to make it better–even if it’s just a little bit. To do that I need to constantly look at myself and make sure that I’m practicing what I preach. I also have to be gentle with myself, remember that I am a flawed human being and accept that I will make mistakes but I must learn from those mistakes an be better.

I think we all can learn something from each other, if we just take the time to sit down and talk. We can be a force of good–and I intend to use my talents constructively instead of destructively.

Posted in feminism, Personal Post

“You voted for WHO?!”

The struggle I’ve been facing is dealing with people in my immediate family, or some acquaintances/friends, that voted for Donald Trump. My first knee jerk reaction is to just  not talk about it and avoid it like the plague–however that can only work for so long.

I’m an “avoider,” I haven’t always been that way but it’s how I am in this current moment because its a coping skill that I’ve developed in order to basically deal with all of the stuff that was surrounding me. Avoiding can be a healthy skill to an extent, you deal with it when you’re ready, but avoiding something forever is just not plausible. As I can attest to, it causes more anxiety the longer you avoid it.

So how to deal with such a volatile cocktail? How to face it with an open mind when you feel in your heart that they voted for someone who is a sexual predator, someone who treats women worse than the very ground  he treads upon. How could they vote for someone like the very person who assaulted you?

I have to remember that this is not the reason that they voted for him, nor can I demean or belittle their intelligence. I have to find a balance of not agreeing with them, but also still being respectful and loving them. I don’t have to worry about many of my friends, I tend to surround myself with people of like minds and pretty easy-going. However you can’t choose your family, you can’t just not speak to them either–at least I can’t.

I was talking to someone about this, I was expressing my distress with the issue and they said something that was very helpful (forgive my butchering of the quote): “To vote was their right, and it’s a right that we must treasure. They voted for the candidate that they believed would bring the most effective change–not because he was a sexual predator. I know that it’s hard to accept.”

To my family who voted for Donald Trump, know that I still love you but I will have a hard time accepting your decision because of my past experiences. I am still living with and dealing with my sexual assault, and I will be for the rest of my life–I’ll overcome and not be as fragile, but it will always be a blemish on my heart. I want to have a civil conversation with you, because that is how understanding is bred, that is how ties are strengthened.

Love is productive. Hate is counterproductive. Peace is constructive. Violence is destructive. I wish to be a force of positivity against such negativity.

Remember dear reader, at the end of the day, if you want to be the change in the world–it must first start with love.

gandhi

Posted in feminism, Uncategorized

What is the State of Our Nation?

I’ve been asking myself that since about two in the morning last Tuesday. I haven’t slept much since then, as my anxiety and my racing thoughts have been running wild across the plains of my mind.

You may be thinking: “Oh you’re a feminist, so you voted for Hilary cause she’s a woman.” or “This is just another post where a whiny millennial didn’t get their way.” or even better: “Trump won, get over it–it’s not the end of the world.”

Maybe not the end of your world. Why? Because you, you who feel like Washington has turned it’s back on you. You who feel that our capital needed to be “shaken up.” I get it, truly I do. You were tired of the same old politics, and the corruption.

So you elected someone you thought would change that. You practiced your right to vote, I’m not condemning you for something that so many people don’t have the liberty of not doing. To be honest you have the right to stop reading this now, this is America and freedom to do what you damn well please is a blessing. But if you don’t stop reading, if your curiosity is peaked, then I want to state this:

These are my opinions, this is my blog, and I will exercise my right to say what I want and how I feel. Feel free to leave a comment, but know that you won’t change my mind.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let me start by saying that yes I did vote for Hilary Clinton, no I didn’t do it because she was a woman, yes I consider myself to be liberal in some sense, no I don’t believe all Republicans are evil, and yes I am a feminist. There, now let us dive in to why I am wondering what has become of our country.

I am a survivor of sexual assault. I was assaulted just five months after the death of my mother. I am a survivor of suicidal thoughts, and I have PTSD, severe depression, and generalized anxiety disorder. I struggle every single day to find a reason to get out of bed and to keep living. Now my nation, my home, has told me that I am less of a person because I am female, because I have a mental illness, because I stand in solidarity with those who are “different.”

Why do I feel this way you may ask, to which I respond: “How can I feel any different?” Look at his campaign, all I saw was a complete and total disregard for women. I can’t respect someone who says “Grab em’ by the pussy, they’ll let you do anything.” or something along those lines. To the men I ask you: What if he was talking about your daughter? Or your mother? Sister? Aunt? Girlfriend? You must have at least one woman in your life that you care about. If there isn’t then you are excused from reading the rest of this.

Imagine how I must feel. For most of my adult life I was ashamed of what happened to me, why? When someone molests you, you go through what is called a “grooming” period. This means that they are basically gaining your trust, making you believe that everything is okay. They make you believe that it is you who is in the wrong, not them.

Add that to the cesspool of how we as a society treats sexual assault, it’s not easy. A fact sheet from the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault states this:


 

Not all survivors find it necessary to report sexual assault to the criminal justice system in order to move forward from their experience. In fact, some feel that the criminal justice system re-victimizes them in its process. Some survivors find that the services provided by a rape crisis and recovery center or similar provider are the only services they feel comfortable pursuing. While measuring rates of sexual violence can be difficult, there is no uncertainty in the national data that the majority of sexual assaults are never reported to police.

It is believed that only 15.8 to 35 percent of all sexual assaults are reported to the police.

Due partially to low reporting rates, only 9 percent of all rapists get prosecuted. Only 5 percent of cases lead to a felony conviction. Only 3 percent of rapists will spend a day in prison. The other 97 percent walk free.


The report goes on to list why people, particularly women, do not report sexual assault:

Survivors cite the following reasons for not reporting a sexual assault:
• Fear of reprisal
• Personal matter
• Reported to a different official
• Not important enough to respondent
• Belief that the police would not do anything to help
• Belief that the police could not do anything to help
• Did not want to get offender in trouble with law
• Did not want family to know
• Did not want others to know
• Not enough proof
• Fear of the justice system
• Did not know how
• Feel the crime was not “serious enough”
• Fear of lack of evidence
• Unsure about perpetrator’s intent

Society is quick to point the finger at any other criminal but a rapist. In a report done by CNN, it is actually scary as to why women do not report their offenders. This tweet sums it up perfectly I think:

@RachelintheOC (Rachel Thompson)

Because people require proof, even for children, and accuse us of lying or wanting attention when we did nothing wrong

That is why those women didn’t report until just a few months ago. That is why I am so upset that a sexual predator is now in charge of our nation. How can I feel safe now? I’m scared to even walk down the street, I’m scared for my female friends, for my sister, young girls…I am legitimately terrified.

fullsizerender

I honestly don’t know what else to say, I’m hurt by this decision and I need time to heal; as do the rest of us. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way when 97% of rapists walk free. So if you do feel this way, if you are upset and hurt–I am here to validate you. I want you to know that there are people who feel the same way.

So what do we do now?

We March.

We Speak up.

We fight.

I am not one to stand before a crowd and profess my beliefs, but I am one who will take up the pen and use it to fight.

donnatroyquote

So let us rise.