Keep them alive long enough to get HELP

So, if I showed signs of having broken my leg, would you, as a religious person, tell me to pray about it, and then go on about your life? No.

If your child was diagnosed with diabetes or cancer, would you tell them to read their Bible, and that’s it? No.

Why do otherwise intelligent people insist that mental illness has to be prayed away? “If you’re depressed, read your Bible more.”

Reading scriptures and praying may not be hurtful, but I think the reasons for not going to a Dr. or therapist have much more to do with fear of what “people” would think, along with hoping that it will just go away…but it doesn’t work that way.

The last time I checked, the same people who would REFUSE to get help for a depressed child don’t think twice about taking medicine when THEY are feeling poorly.

So, here’s my point:

Familiarise yourself with symptoms of depression.

It’s NOT normal for a (child, preteen, teenager)person to stay awake all night, every night. Or to sleep 12+ hours, regularly, for no apparent reason. Or to have noticeable weight fluctuations. Or frequent tearfulness.

Often sadness is hidden behind anger. Surliness, irritability, sarcasm, isolation, fighting…

These things alone, are not necessarily a cause for alarm. If you notice several of them, on a regular basis, you should take notice.

Talk to the person. LISTEN. Then don’t stop looking for a solution until you’ve found one that is agreeable to that person.

If it takes therapy, medication, dietary adjustments, or whatever, do it.
DO SOMETHING.
People struggling with depression (or any other mental illness for that matter) DON’T just snap out of it. They will not grow out of it.

What happens if you don’t find something to reduce the depression? Do you want to know? Really?

The person will find a way of relief.

*Self-harm (this can end in accidental suicide)

*Drugs or alcohol (may also end in death)

*Impulsive/high-risk sexual activity (same)

*ALL of the above, and worse (death)

From my own experience as a person in recovery, and a formerly depressed person, I have a good amount of insight. And, I have no reason to lie to you.

If your kid is floundering, no matter what age, do them a solid and get them help.

In case you weren’t aware, they are killing themselves out there.

I dropped her off Wednesday evening

…and on Thursday morning she was dead.

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I met X when she was in detox, about a year ago. She was pretty, spunky, and tired of living that life. She had someone bring her guitar in, and played for everyone. She was a delight. A gypsy soul.

Then later, X moved on to a women’s recovery house. She was making progress; got a job, and put together some clean time. Everybody who met X liked her. She was smart, sassy, and sensitive. I had high hopes for her.

The people who keep track of these things say that on average, only one out of 30-some people who get clean will stay that way. The odds are always against us. Addiction is so much more “cunning, baffling, and powerful” than anyone thinks.

And now I’m waiting to find out when the memorial/funeral will be. I feel numb.

Maybe it’s from having lost so many friends over the years, as a result of addiction, that I’m kind of permanently braced for it.

Maybe it’s because I’ve already been wading in the deep waters of grief. Once you’ve been completely soaked, you can’t really get any wetter, can you?

When I got the news about X’s death, I cried. I asked (her, from inside my car, as if she would hear me) “WHAT THE FUCK?!?” and I cried.

Someone said that maybe she died so that she wouldn’t have to endure any more…

Active addiction (which is usually accompanied by mental illness) is a very painful existance. Probably the only thing worse than that lifestyle is having tasted recovery and knowing that it is possible, and then finding yourself back in the misery and chaos of active addiction. Every time a person relapses, getting back into recovery gets more difficult than the time before.

I know that the activities of people with Substance Use Disorder seem crazy to the rest of the world. It took me a while to make sense of the whole “disease” model of addiction, but then I finally figured it out:

Addiction is a disease. It’s a mental illness. Like any other mental illness, the sufferers think their actions are normal, and that the rest of the world is wrong. Mental illness, and addiction,  can show up at any age, with or without any warning.

Regardless of your personal opinion on drug or alcohol abuse, it’s not a hopeless cause.

Do you know someone who needs to get clean or sober? It’s possible. Easy? Hell, no.

A lot of the outcome depends on the person and the family getting help. A lot of family members think that they don’t have any role to play in the recovery of their loved one. That’s actually not true at all.

Think about it. The odds are already stacked against them. Drugs and alcohol usually win, in that struggle. It IS a LIFE OR DEATH FIGHT. Do you want to attend their funeral, knowing that you could have done more?

Or visit them in prison? Or the psychiatric ward? 🤔

The only way the story ends for an alcoholic or addict (besides recovery) is JAILS, INSTITUTIONS OR DEATH.

Soon, I will see X’s Mom during the worst time of her life. Losing a child is hellish.

The next time you see a story about someone with an addiction, or pass an addict on the street, remember that that person is someone’s child. Look at them. In the face. De-humanizing them is the cowardly way. The next one could be yours. Do everyone a favor, and offer to take them to rehab. Detox. A meeting. SOMETHING.

I’m gonna miss you, X. So are a lot of others I know.

 

 

 “Surrender” to Win

 I was contacted a while back, and asked to view a short (14:04 minutes) film and consider sharing it with my readers. I watched it at the time and I knew it would be very helpful to many of my Tribe, and probably eye-opening to many others. 

I just watched it again, and added it to my “watch later” list on YouTube. It’s that kind of piece, in my opinion.

I don’t believe in coincidences, and I’m not organized enough to have had this pre-planned; so, on this, the last weekend of 2016, I offer you this short film. Please, tell me what you think of it, and share it on any social media you use. 

Next, a Q & A with Mark & Chris, the Executive Producer and Director of this award-winning video. 

What do you think? Is it true to your experience? Do you relate to the feelings portrayed? 

Written in my apartment above the Tea Room. 

Taking a Break

I’m thinking of taking a leave of absence from Facebook. I know, I know, many of you are saying ” good idea!” and the rest, well, you’re busy looking for stimulating new posts on your news feed. Yeah. That’s how I waste so much time, every day, as well. It’s been a while since FB really gave me that first rush, and I’m feeling like I’m chasing the dragon. I know the signs.And the thing is, I can only ignore them for so long before it begins weighing on my mind. 

There are, in ANY given day, SO MANY things I could be doing, instead of scrolling, scrolling, always scrolling…

A friend of mine advised me recently to “just write”. I’ve traded that sacred time for getting a  FB fix. I have things around the house that won’t get dealt with unless I do them. They’re waiting for me to re-prioritize. 

It’s interesting, that I didn’t have much problem cutting back on tv. I suppose that might be related to the impersonal nature of the all-seeing eye in the living room. I mean, occasionally, there are things on Facebook that are specifically for ME. But how often does that actually happen? Not so often. 

I’m not going to deactivate my account, as I’ve done before, because that takes everything of mine down, I think. But I have taken the FB icon off of the front of my phone, and I am going to be aware of how much time I’m giving to that time-suck. Really, what if there was another way that I could get info from ONLY the people that I want to hear from? And just the things that pertain to me? 

Oh, you mean like email? Or, maybe, text messages? 

I’m not going to say how long this will last, because really I’m not willing to commit. Posts here will still show up on my feed, so I hope you’ll come by here and let me know what you think of them. 🙂 

But, for now, just for today, I’m taking a break from Facebook.  I have a Book that I need to be spending time reading. I need to spend more time in conscious contact with my God.

What about you? Do you ever feel like social media is ruling your life? Have you ever taken a break? How did you feel? 

Sharing: An African-American Woman Reflects on the Transgender Movement

Yes, that just might be the longest post title I’ve used, yet. I had another subject in mind for this morning’s post, but then I read this.

Gender Identity Disorder. Is. A Thing. It’s got another name (for now), but the mental illness is the same. It’s insanity. I feel like our country is living in “The Emporer’s New Clothes”, and this is the best example of the child in the story stating what nobody else has the courage to say.
I’m not afraid of people with mental illness. Duh! I “identify” (see what I did there?) as a person with mental illness.
So, check it out & tell me what you think.

An African-American Woman Reflects on the Transgender Movement
Supporters of transgender ideology believe that they are freeing people from restrictive understandings of gender. In reality, the more our society tries to free itself from gender stereotypes, the more it becomes enslaved to them. By saying that people can be born in a body of the wrong gender, transgender activists are saying there is a set of feelings that are only allocated to women and another set for men.

My parents never bought Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, or Snow White. They weren’t stories told in our house or movies played on our TV. There was no Princess Tiana then, but my parents only showed us films with “colored” princesses: Mulan (Asian), Pocahontas (Native American), and Jasmine (Arab). We also loved the African animals ofThe Lion King. We never idealized whiteness in our house. None of this was done overtly, though it may have been intentional. Only in retrospect did I realize the kind of tacit self-love my parents were embedding in us.

Still, it wasn’t enough. Around the age of thirteen, I realized that the world was telling me that light skin and “good hair” were better, skinny was better, and whiteness was better. In fleeting moments, I wished I could be white. I begged my mom to straighten my hair, and she did. I went through sometimes unreasonable means to lose weight, and I tried to keep my somewhat light skin out of the sun.

If I had gone to my parents begging them to be white, I think they might have laughed, cried, comforted me, and worried what they did wrong as parents. But what if I had told them not only that I wanted to be white but that I actually was white? What if I had declared that the race of my body simply didn’t match that of my mind? I think they would’ve been deeply troubled.

The Bluest Eye

The famous Toni Morrison book, The Bluest Eye, parallels this idea. The main character, Pecola, is a dark-skinned girl who desperately wants blue eyes. By the end of the story, she has blue eyes—or at least, she believes that she does. We, as the readers, don’t applaud this. In fact, by the end of the novel, we think Pecola has lost her mind. We know that it’s not really blue eyes she wants, she wants something much deeper  
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An African-American Woman Reflects on the Transgender Movement

by  Nuriddeen Knight
within Bioethics, Culture, Sexuality

 

June 4th, 2015

 

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Supporters of transgender ideology believe that they are freeing people from restrictive understandings of gender. In reality, the more our society tries to free itself from gender stereotypes, the more it becomes enslaved to them. By saying that people can be born in a body of the wrong gender, transgender activists are saying there is a set of feelings that are only allocated to women and another set for men.

My parents never bought Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, or Snow White. They weren’t stories told in our house or movies played on our TV. There was no Princess Tiana then, but my parents only showed us films with “colored” princesses: Mulan (Asian), Pocahontas (Native American), and Jasmine (Arab). We also loved the African animals ofThe Lion King. We never idealized whiteness in our house. None of this was done overtly, though it may have been intentional. Only in retrospect did I realize the kind of tacit self-love my parents were embedding in us.

Still, it wasn’t enough. Around the age of thirteen, I realized that the world was telling me that light skin and “good hair” were better, skinny was better, and whiteness was better. In fleeting moments, I wished I could be white. I begged my mom to straighten my hair, and she did. I went through sometimes unreasonable means to lose weight, and I tried to keep my somewhat light skin out of the sun.

If I had gone to my parents begging them to be white, I think they might have laughed, cried, comforted me, and worried what they did wrong as parents. But what if I had told them not only that I wanted to be white but that I actually was white? What if I had declared that the race of my body simply didn’t match that of my mind? I think they would’ve been deeply troubled.

The Bluest Eye

The famous Toni Morrison book, The Bluest Eye, parallels this idea. The main character, Pecola, is a dark-skinned girl who desperately wants blue eyes. By the end of the story, she has blue eyes—or at least, she believes that she does. We, as the readers, don’t applaud this. In fact, by the end of the novel, we think Pecola has lost her mind. We know that it’s not really blue eyes she wants, she wants something much deeper—love, acceptance, respect, honor . . . the intangible human desires we all crave but are not equally given. We know that she has not received this, but instead is a victim of perpetual abuse, and there is no easy solution to her problems.

But what if it were really possible for me to become white or for Pecola to acquire blue eyes? Would that be the end of the story—the happily ever after? Would changing our physical appearance magically erase all our issues of self-esteem and self-worth?

No, of course not. The eyes and the skin color were never the problem: racism and abuse were. We would only be putting a Band-Aid on the real issue. The many men and women who “passed” as white during America’s shameful Jim Crow era may have gained the social privileges bestowed by being white, but they also lost their heritage, their family ties, and their integrity, thanks to the lie they were forced to tell every single day.

Race, Sex, and Gender

But what if, instead of wanting to be white, I wanted to be a man? What if, instead of crying to my parents that I was really a white person, I told them that I was really a man and that I desperately wanted to change my body to match my mind? If, in this scenario, you think that my parents should applaud my courage, accept my new gender identity, and run to the nearest surgeon, please ask yourself: “Why?”

There’s no doubt that race and sex are two very different issues. Race is a social construct invented during the era of slavery. Before the European enslavement of Africans, there were no united “black people” in Africa, and there were no united “white people” in Europe. Thanks to slavery, the labels of black and white became a convenient way to continue oppression, but they are a relatively new way of identifying one’s self.

But sex is not a human invention. Yes, gender roles are culturally created. Still, that does not erase the fact that every human being (except intersex individuals, who represent a tiny percentage) is born with a distinctive set of physical and biological attributes that constitute them as male or female. That is a truth that cannot be erased with time.

Self-Love as a Virtue

When we want to be something other than our true authentic selves, that is self-hate. A black person who wants to be white is practicing self-hate, and so is a man who wants to be a woman or a woman who wants to be a man. We live in a climate of incredible self-absorption, but we won’t encourage people to love the body they’re in? We tell women to love their curves and love their age and love the skin they’re in but we won’t tell them (and men) to love the sex of their bodies?

We cry out about the horrors of female genital mutilation, yet we allow the practice in our backyard. We ignore the cries of patients who wake up from surgery full of remorse. We ignore their suffering and delude them with the promise of quick fixes and instant happiness. At The Federalist, Stella Morabito quotes a man who, upon waking up from his surgery thought, “What have I done? What on earth have I done?”

Eerily, in his Vanity Fair interview, Jenner echoes this man as he recalls his own thoughts after his ten-hour face feminization surgery: “What did I just do? What did I just do to myself?” Another post-op patient says in an online forum, “I am grieving at how I have mutilated my body.” Here at Public Discourse, Walt Heyer has written about the regret he experienced after his sex-change surgery.

We are playing a dangerous game. A man or a boy whose penis has been surgically removed can’t go back in time and return to his God-given nature. What if we spent the money we spend on surgery and drugs on therapy and learning self-love? We should be teaching a message of self-acceptance instead of buying into the latest surgeries or believing we’re born in the wrong body.

The Slavery of Freedom

Paradoxically, the more our society tries to free itself from gender stereotypes, the more it becomes enslaved to them. By saying that people can be born in a body of the wrong gender, transgender activists are saying there is a set of feelings that are only allocated to women and another set for men. Therefore, they believe, those who feel things that do not conform to their sex’s acceptable set of feelings must outwardly change their gender to match their mind.

Why are we colluding with narrow ideas of femininity or masculinity? What does it mean to “feel” like a woman? Should we question that idea as much as we have questioned ideas of a “woman’s place” or a “man’s role”? When did we come to accept the idea of “gendered thoughts” or “gendered feelings”?

As a linguistic student of Arabic, I recently learned that women and men are not opposite so much as they are complementary. The idea that one could feel opposite from one’s biological gender is actually nonsensical, linguistically and in reality. Men and women are different, but not so categorically that one can feel as though he or she were the other. We are full human beings, free to think as we wish without questioning our authenticity as men or as women.

“Bruce lives a lie. She is not a lie,” says Bruce Jenner in his interview with Diane Sawyer. Bruce, now Caitlyn, Jenner, told Sawyer that he has a “soul of a woman,” that he spent his life “running away from who I was.” At the time of that interview, Jenner’s voice and appearance are strikingly different from what they have been in the past, but not drastically enough to give the illusion of being female. Admittedly, Jenner looks much more feminine on the cover of Vanity Fair. Still, if he chooses to go through gender “reassignment” surgery, he will not become a woman but merely an illusion of one. As Dr. Paul McHugh, former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital, has written, “‘Sex change’ is biologically impossible. People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa. Rather, they become feminized men or masculinized women.”

People opposed to the transgender movement are often accused of being bigots. In truth, I—like many others—harbor no hate for people who suffer from gender identity disorder. Rather, I feel deep compassion and concern for them in their suffering. As someone in the field of psychology, I hope we can one day find a more holistic, less invasive means to treat this disorder. However, I will concede that I find something quite insulting about the entire phenomenon. It is an insult to the other sex to think that by “dressing like them,” “talking like them,” or claiming to “feel like them,” you can therefore bethem. Being a man is about more than wearing a suit, and being a woman is about more than putting on makeup. If we feel confined in our bodies, perhaps it is not our bodies we should try to correct but our spirits we should reconnect with.

Nuriddeen Knight is an alumna of Teachers College, Columbia University, where she earned an MA in psychology with a focus on the child and the family.

An African-American Woman Reflects on the Transgender Movement

Posted from my cabin in the mountains.