Category Archives: Mental Health

Of Zen and Fury

It’s Joelmas today. I didn’t make a video, because in the interest of self-care, it seemed to be pushing myself too far this week. My day job has been particularly busy, and therefore I’ve had a much smaller mana pool as of late to create magic and mayhem from.

Self-Care, while celebrated in particular today, is something that’s an on-going process.

This past year I’ve been redefining what that means to me.

Continue reading Of Zen and Fury

TW: Suicide

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of suicide and the mentality of the suicidally depressed since the news about the exploitative vlogger disrespecting Aokigahara came out.

I ranted a bit on twitter about it in the moment, because at the time I had been so filled with anger it just sort of vomited out of me. Having taken some time to really mull over these thoughts and articulate them better… At least I hope

We have a common problem when dealing with mental illness, of looking at it from the mind-set of a healthy place and making our judgements there.

We cannot help people without empathy, and you cannot empathize with someone struggling from suicidal ideation with regular logic. You cannot apply your outside-looking-in thinking to someone inside depression.

Depression lies to you. It lies so well and so much.

Which is why you can’t scare or shock a person dealing with ideation out of being suicidal by showing them a dead body. That’s how you shock someone who WANTS to live. That won’t help here.

People who’ve struggled with ideation know what dead bodies look like. Being confronted with the dead isn’t what stops the suicidal from being suicidal. People dealing with ideation aren’t scared of being dead, they long for it. That’s what being suicidal means. Wanting that peace, being out of the anxiety of existing, getting to rest.

The living… THAT is what gives the suicidal pause.

Not living with the people you love. Not getting to see them every day, not being around, knowing on some level you are going to hurt them.

It’s when depression has snuffed those thoughts out… that it wins.

When we have convinced ourselves it would be better on those we love, if we were not around. That we are doing them a favor.

That’s why I get so frustrated when anyone says suicide is the most selfish act a person can do. It denotes a complete lack of understanding of that person’s pain. Because to that person. Depression has convinced them that it is the most SELFLESS thing they could do.

I don’t want you to know what that place feels like first-hand, because it’s not an easy edge to walk away from. But I need you to try to understand from that point of view. We cannot help people struggling with mental illness without empathy, and you cannot help someone through that darkness without realizing they will not be using your logic.

You have clearer vision on the outside. And some people, will be able to acknowledge that. But a lot of people? That Depression has been lying to their brain for so long, they’re convinced the best thing they can do for you–the most loving thing they can do for everyone–is to go away.

No matter how untrue that is.

I walked away from that edge because I saw the absolute devastation my brother’s death left in its wake. The sobs and wailing from my sister on the way to the graveyard, the look in my parents’ eyes. The tremors we still feel today. The discomfort of going out to eat and remembering we’re a family of 4 now, not 5.

You don’t get used to it. People don’t get used to it.

I’ve got a bullet wound that never fully stops bleeding. You get distracted, and you don’t think about it all the time, but then out of the blue, I remember, ‘My brother genuinely thought the world would be a better place without him. That we would be better without him’.

And it hurts again.

Everyone is different, and everyone has different motives, so I don’t want to make a sweeping generalization here… But I have seen an uncomfortable trend with addressing those dealing with mental illness and suicidal ideation with the logic of being on the outside looking in.

And you can’t do that. That’s not empathy. And it won’t help anyone.

Creativity & Healing

January has always been a strange time for me since we lost my brother in 2013. For better or for worse, I find myself feeling very introspective. What I’ve done, what I want to do, how I am mentally.

Joelmas (The self-designated holiday of mental health and self-care celebrated in the Curiosity Community on January 30th), of course is a day for taking care of myself mentally… I always treat myself to something special. Tea, a manicure, a massage, or even just a day free of guilt to play video games.

The importance we put around the new year has always struck me as a bit strange.

“New year, new me”, so many say and make resolutions of how this year will be different than the last. Some they keep, some they don’t.

But the truth of the matter is, it’s not new year, new you. It’s new day—new moment, new you. We’re these ever-evolving creatures, minutely shifting from ever experience we have, and normally we’re changing at a rate that our minds can keep up.

But then something throws us out of balance… We get out of sync.

I’ve been out of sync for a long time now.

I’ve been trying to find a structure I’m comfortable with in regards to creating, and, as I imagine you’ve noticed, I’ve been struggling. I’ve talked a bit about getting out of an unhealthy situation, and I’m sure you’ve pieced together that the past few years have been… difficult.

But I haven’t really admitted that to myself. I’ve been, for the most party, trying to carry on as if getting out was all I needed to do. As if post-traumatic stress wasn’t even a thing I could possibly have to worry about… And that’s been taking its toll.

I still have good days. I don’t want you to think I’ve been in this pit with no reprieve because that’s not true. But much like dealing with actual abuse, the recovery from abuse isn’t all bad days. So you convince yourself you’re fine. You’re not THAT hurt… all the while you’re still sort of emotionally bleeding out.

The past month or so, I’ve… really noticed where I’m still wounded. Where I’ve been using anger or distraction to ignore it.

So I’m currently taking steps to really address those broken pieces. So I can get out of this mostly numb state and back to… well… being me. 100% of the time me. Not disconnected, not blocked creatively save for the few spurts of emotional vomit or what have you…

So what does that mean? For me personally, it means a lot of things, like being a bit kinder on myself for one, and more importantly, reaching out for some professional help.

And it also  means we’re going to wander a bit you and I. Creatively. We’re going to shrug off structure and let ourselves be messy. It means I want to create one new thing a week, and I’m not going to hold myself to what form that has to be.

Maybe it will be a vlog about nothing, or a video about cooking, a song, or a long-form written confession about my latest therapy break through—I’m giving myself that freedom. We’re leaning hard into the ‘whim’ of whimsy and see where that takes us.

At least, I hope you’ll come with me. That’s your own decision to make. But I hope you will. I’ll get back to something more structured eventually—I’d really like to get back to doing regular delves into curious things. Some may even come out of this freeform wander.

But if you want to wait till I get back to that. I understand. Do what’s best for you.

But if you are game to tumble down wherever the rabbit hole leads us…

Well?

Take my hand.

And get ready to jump.

We’ve got a whole lotta worlds to see.

Emotional Labor

We don’t often give a lot of credit to emotional labor. We sort of shrug it off as this thing that’s really nothing because we don’t have a tangible result from it.

It’s not.

I have to remind myself of that often.

Reason being is I probably do a lot more emotional labor than the average person per day, and it’s an exhausting process, but because I’m without a resulting product, I feel guilty. I feel like I still should be able to write, I should be able to film, I should still have energy to create and clean, and do everything else.

But you don’t.

Continue reading Emotional Labor

Be the Ally Carrie Fisher Knew You Could Be – The Death of 2016

So I’ve been fighting a sinus infection for the past week and late at night, as these things are prone to do, it kept me up to about 3am until the decongestant did its damn job and let me sleep. But prior to this I saw a particular article circulating on my Facebook, and I’ll admit, it did not sit well with me.

That’s a kind way of saying it set off my Irish temper–which, to be honest, is not an easy thing to do.

I’m not going to repost it because I feel it’s toxic to mental health (I’ll explain) and I don’t think the author deserves the clicks, but the basic jist was shaming the multitude of people who have been personifying the year 2016, including “can this year be over?” etc etc. It was extremely condescending, called this practice “really dumb” and was out right douchey–especially as it decided to use Carrie Fisher as the jumping off point for this.

First of all, how dare you?

I haven’t spoken too much at length about what Carrie Fisher meant to me, but a huge part of who she was as a person was an advocate for mental health. She was extremely open, frank, and delightfully crass about her own struggles. So to use her at all in this argument just infuriates me.

Spoiler Alert: No one ACTUALLY believes 2016 is responsible for the terrible things that happened during this year. It’s a year. This is redirected anger/pain/frustration.

Now, this particular mental tactic CAN be harmful–for instance, this particular tactic is often used in propaganda. #NotMyPresident-Elect Trump used this tactic to win by rallying anger towards immigrants and anyone of the muslim faith by blaming them for American hardships. They were taking our jobs, they were living off welfare that we paid for, they were ruining our economy etc. This is harmful because it blamed actual groups of people to distract from the genuine issue being caused by unethical business practices by corporations and institutionalized prejudice in our own government practices.

However, this mental tactic is also used in trauma therapy. And THIS is where blaming 2016 lies.

No one legitimately believes 2016 is responsible for all the celebrity deaths this year. We know the long term effects of drug/alcohol addiction shortens life expectancy, even once someone gets clean and sober. You do not have to write a whole damn article explaining this to us. We aren’t actually stupid. We’re COPING.

In an interview with the Princess Bride’s Mandy Patinkin, he opened up about losing his father to cancer.

“The reason I made the movie was coming to fruition, which was I was gonna get the cancer that killed my father. And in my mind, I feel that when I killed that six-fingered man, I killed the cancer that killed my father. And for a moment he was alive.”

This year has been terrible. Yes, I’ve lost heroes I looked up to, I lost artists I admired. Some to terrible diseases, some to failing hearts, some to pure accidents.

But I also watched my country vote in a tyrant who may literally be the death of some very dear friends of mine who are dependent on certain healthcare benefits, or others who have been terrorized because white supremacy has been bolstered by a man who plans on calling himself our leader.

I watched the aftermath of one of the most terrifying mass shootings on US soil. And the mixed response to this attack on my community showed me that despite we had achieved marriage equality–actual equality was even further than we first thought.

I’ve watched people withstand dog attacks, taser guns, and tear gas trying to protect their home from a corporation.

I’ve seen a foreign country make a foolish and widely xenophobic decision, not fully understanding those consequences until it was too late to stop them.

I’ve seen innocent men and women gunned down just by being Black.

I have seen and wept and fought the best I could against terrible things this year, and yet every day made it feel like there was nothing I could do. I would never be enough.

Of course we know it’s not the year’s fault.

But we’re bleeding. And we’re broken. And we have so many things we need to fix to “make this all better” that it’s overwhelming. Sometimes I feel like I’m going to drown when I think about it.

And maybe, just maybe, rallying behind the idea of focusing this anger and sadness and hopelessness at this personified 2016 is the coping mechanism some of us need so we can be ready for the fight we have ahead of us.

Maybe we need to watch this year die so we can fool ourselves into having the strength to tackle the multitude of issues that caused so much of this year’s pain. Maybe we need that ONE victory, regardless how superficial it may seem to you.

Don’t police people’s grief, don’t judge someone’s coping mechanism, don’t look down your nose at someone’s mental health care simply because you don’t actually understand it.

Be the mental health ally Carrie Fisher knew you could be. And if one of your friends is cheering on the death of a terrible year–something that harms no one–don’t shame them. Offer to bring the champagne.