03 December 2016

The fight we must

*warning I do not hold back on language in this post*

This is something that's been bugging me & I just saw an article that kinda summed things up. And it's about voting for &/or defending t-ump.

I did say a couple days after t-ump was elected "hey maybe he was saying that shit just to get elected. He's already started taking back some of the shit he was saying." But I was wrong. He's still doing the same shit and even worse shit than what he was saying. And I'm pissed at myself for blocking out all of the shit that he did up til that point and thinking "maybe he won't be as bad as we think he is. maybe we can work together"

And I think this is a big fucking problem. Maybe we weren't the ones that elected this bigot. Maybe we were. But I fear that we're going to forget all thing anger come January. And we can't. We can't let what he is become normal. Y'all he mocked a gold star family. He mocked a disabled reporter. He insulted John McCain and said he wasn't a hero for being a POW. He insulted women so many f'ing times that we lost count. He said it was normal for rich men to say they could grab women by the pussy and do what he wanted with them. He said that all Mexicans were rapists and murderers. I won't even get started on what he said about Muslims and immigrants to this country, because I fucking lost track!

And I started to normalize this ish as a trans woman. WTH is wrong with me for even beginning to think that this asshole might be better than we think? That's where a lot of my anger & desire to fight comes from lately. That I started to normalize this. And so many others I think have too.

And I get some of it. We don't really wanna fight. We're tired. We're seeing friend against friend. Family against family. And this is something that America hasn't seen in a long fucking time. And I think we don't really know how to deal with it and our method has been to go "ehhhh whatever. It'll be ok. I'd rather have peace." But we can't. Not now. Not this way.

This is the line that is drawn. There is no longer a middle ground people. You either stand and fight against t-ump and his hate-supporters. Or you allow yourself to become a part of them. Maybe you aren't saying the things they are, but you aren't condemning them either. You aren't stopping them. You've passively allowed yourself to become one of them because you said nothing.

This sounds harsh and I'm sure I'm going to lose people I care about over it. But this is reality. I'm not saying you have to go out and picket and protest to show that you don't support him. But give to those that do. Don't let his supporters yell and harass another person. Don't let them corner someone alone. I know. It's scary. But so are the times we face.

The line is drawn. Where do you stand?

13 November 2016

The way is dark take this spark

Friends I don't need to tell you how dark this past week has been. You've seen it. You've experienced it. You've felt it. Instead I'd like to tell you a couple of stories. About me. It may seem like it rambles but...bear with me.

Growing up I used to day dream a lot. I'd let my mind wander any chance I got and I would dream. I'd dream big. I'd dream small. But I'd just keep dreaming. I'd dream about waking up and finding myself turned into a girl over night, which...obviously never came true. I'd dream about playing baseball or doing other things. But there were two reoccurring ones that I had.

When I was younger I used to watch the Care Bears. If you aren't familiar with them they were bears (and later other animals) that would go out into the world to fight darkness. They had a symbol on their stomachs that would give them items they needed, but would also let them combine their powers into the Care Bear stare which would defeat the villain through love. At least that's what I saw it as. I was a strange little kid growing up. Never really had many friends. And I'd see or hear things in the news and I'd worry about it. I'd worry about the people that were hurting. The hate in the world. And I decided that I could be a Care Bear also. And I would sit on the swings and I'd send my heart out into the world. I'd send it to people that I didn't know, to countries I'd never been, to whomever to spread love where it could. I lost count the number of times I did that. I lost count the number of times I wished I could end the hate. To make people happier.

The second day dream I'd have is when I got into my teen years. I'd gotten into reading and was reading whatever I could get my hands on. And I had read the Hardy Boys and the Lord of the Rings and I wanted to be a hero like them. But I couldn't imagine myself that way. But then I read a series called "The Dark is Rising" by Susan Cooper. It was a series where King Arthur had been real, where Merlin had stood by him, where the dark and light were forces in the world battling each other! And the main characters were young children, one of whom was the last of the old ones born. He was the last watcher. And that idea stuck into my head. I decided I was the last of the old ones reborn into the world. The last knight. But last had a different meaning to me.

I had grown up as the oldest child and always felt that it was my role to watch out for my siblings and later this extended to friends or people that I cared about. I had read somewhere that mama animals walk behind their children to protect them from things that might sneak up on them, but also to have better view of what was coming. So I started trying to be last in the line. To protect them. To stop what came around. I was the last line of defense. And that's what I became. Not that I was much of a deterrent being kinda scrawny ass kid, but I stood there none the less. And in my day dreams I would fight in the last big battle but I'd stay behind. I'd guard the door. I'd keep the way shut. So that others may escape. That they may live yet a while longer in peace.

This is me. The spark that I keep handing out to people? My heart. My love. My hope. My joy. Take it. Carry it with you into the dark places ahead and pass it on. Make it grow stronger. Make it grow brighter. Make it into a fire that will cover the world. And I'll stand at the back. Sword drawn cutting down the demons in the dark. But I am not alone.
Please take this *spark* to help light the way. If it goes out I've got more. I'm here. You're here. We'll keep going. We'll cry & we'll keep fighting. If you need something let me know.

23 July 2016

No more silence

I hate discussing politics. Really. If you're a good friend and I know where you stand on things, I don't mind discussions about things. But in general? I don't like the arguments I know that it will cause. I don't like the hate that gets hurled back and forth on some things. I don't like the pain & the hurt it causes. So I stay silent. But the cost for that has become greater than I can bear sometimes.

In recent years I outed myself as battling depression/anxiety and being on the Autism Spectrum because these things matter to me. But I've stayed silent about a lot else, because I told myself that I couldn't bear the cost. Cost of losing friends, cost of losing opportunities...the cost of just standing. But those were all things that I put aside when I outed myself for other things. Because they mattered.

In reality, I'm scared. Scared of losing things that honestly...maybe I don't need.

So the first thing I share. I wrote last year that I was genderqueer. Which is true, but not the whole truth. I read this piece recently about an author sharing that she's a transwoman in the closet. And I shared on Facebook that I relate to his piece a lot. Actually I said:
not that my parents were that way, but the wishes. the desires. yep that's me. & i've had the same types of interactions from women that the author does. that i couldn't understand something because I'm "male" & it's made me feel afraid to say anything somedays. i've been disowned because of what my outer appearance appears to be vs how i feel. & this is probably as close as I'll ever get to talking about it. bc I'm afraid. bc i fear the loss that may come. bc i fear the backlash. i get why things are the way they are but it doesn't change anything if we can't listen & understand each other. there is still good in this world. but it will be lost if we don't listen to each other. & i know its hard but its worth. it has to be.
So I was trying to say what I really feel like, but chickened out. But I can't do that anymore. Hell, its part of a comic I'm finishing and I'm still almost to scared to put it in there. But I can't. I won't. Not anymore.

I'm trans. I think I've wanted to be a girl since I was 8 years old. I've never felt comfortable in my body or how it looks or how it feels. I just..I don't. It sucks that there's no magic wand or magic pill that will change it. I don't know if I'll ever go through the transition process, because honestly genetics was not kind to me and my body will never match my head. But par for the course. I am who I am. And I've wanted to be a girl for a long time.

I shared this with a few people a couple of years ago and then stopped talking about it. In part fear. But also in part, because I had a huge falling out with the first person I shared this with. Not over this, well not directly, but other things, like some of what I shared above. And it hurt. A lot. I lost not only their friendship and a lot more in the process because of how I handled the loss, but a lot of other people as well. I still miss them. But I miss not being open and honest. And I'm tired of being scared.

To family & friends, yeah this is a shitty way to spread the news isn't it? And I'm sorry. But I...I don't know a better way. I've been silent and scared for so long, because I was afraid of losing you. I mean, seriously I'm tearing up writing this because I don't want to lose y'all. And trying to have the conversations for me in person or on the phone or even in email would have been so much worse and I would have chickened out. But...this is the truth of who I am. And I can't keep hiding it.

If you were someone that I shared this with a while ago, I'm sorry being silent on the truth, but thank you for not deserting me.

If you're one I lost because of the fallout, I'm sorry and I wish things could have been different.

But I'm done apologizing now. This is me. Hi.

04 July 2016

Trying to understand

I think in life we often look to make sense of...well everything. We want the world to make sense, we want to understand why people make the decisions they do. Hell, I just want to understand why my cats wake me up so early in the morning to demand pettings and attention. We just want the world to make sense. Its this innate behavior that I think we all have. It's why we try to organize things, put things into categories, etc. And...unfortunately life doesn't give a shit. It doesn't give us clean answers or clean stories to answer our questions. 

And this can be difficult for anyone to take. Its been especially hard for me a lot of the time, being on the spectrum, that I have to know why. There has to be a reason something happened. There has to be a reason for why someone doesn't want to talk to me anymore or something that I can do to fix a relationship that's been broken. There jus has to be!

But life doesn't work that way. And it's hard to recognize this, much less remember it. In my head I want to call these people names and call them out for their behavior. And then I remember the things I did or see in past communications where they were trying to tell me something and I didn't see it. And then I wonder why they were friends with me to begin with. And I fall into a hole of wondering how anyone at all can like me or ever want to be friends with me.And it's a hard cycle to break.

Why write about this now? Because its the cycle I'm in now. I want to scream and cry and shout out and beat my fists against the ground. I want people that stopped talking to me to explain why and to come back and talk to me. And at the same time I want to write to them and tell them how much I miss them and how much I was they could forgive me for the mistakes that I made and the hurt that I caused. And how I wish, oh how I wish we could just talk one more time.

But I can't do that. And I won't. Because it wouldn't do any good other than to bring up the pain for them again of why they walked away. And I don't want to do that to them.

And so I cycle. Wanting the world to make sense and knowing that it never will. Wishing that doors and opportunities and memories weren't closed off. Knowing that I'll have to move on past the hurt and pain at some point, no matter how hard it is. And how many times it comes back. And hope that new memories begin again.

22 May 2016

Everything is the same. Everything is different.

Dr. Stephen Shore once said “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”

I've been thinking about this quote a lot lately. And it applies to so many different things. Buttons. Cats. People. Gender. Religion. Mental Health. But we as humans have this bad habit of trying to put everyone into groups and saying they'll all act the same, because they have some characteristic in common.

And on the surface it doesn't appear to be a problem right? I mean, hey if people are in a group they must share some things in common right? It's like buttons right? Buttons are all the same after all. They're used to keep things together. I mean, they all come in the same size, shape, color, and number of holes right? So they all function the same way. One button is just as good as another right? Same with people! You've interacted with someone with autism before so you know how they all function. And hey! You've had depression before, so you know how to help your friends with it!  
"I've met people with autism and you don't act like them.""I've had depression before, you just need to get more exercise""I've had depression before, why aren't you over yours yet?"

But...man. When you look at those sentences...don't they sound kinda mean? I mean sure, I'm taking them out of context of the larger conversation, but...they mean the same thing even in context don't they? The problem is the other person. They aren't listening to you. They aren't acting like you. They aren't being you. Not a problem with you at all. Nope, no siree bob. It's a problem with them. They need to be like you.

Oh? It's not? That's not what you meant when you said "I've had depression before, why are you over yours yet?" Well...what exactly did you mean?

I've had people before tell me all of the best ways to cure depression. Walks. More exercise. More sunshineeeee!!! Hang out with people more! Talk less. Eat better. On. And on. And on. Some meant well. Some didn't. I'm sure most of them thought they were trying to help on some level, but...man. Have you ever thought about what it really sounds like when you tell someone:
"I've had depression before, why aren't you over yours yet?"

I mean...have you?

I had someone in a position of power tell me this. Someone that I trusted and came to when I was diagnosed. Someone that shared things they did that worked for them. Some worked for me. Some didn't. After a while they became frustrated and told me "You should be better by now. Why aren't you better yet? I got over mine by this point." And man...that was devastating to hear. I did something wrong. I fucked up. I wasn't doing something right. They spent the remainder of that conversation telling me everything that was wrong with me. I lived in the same apartment. I dressed the same every day. Same haircut. Same, same, same.

It took a while for me to realize...I didn't do something wrong. This person? This person that I trusted. This person that was in a position of power...wasn't trying to help me. I don’t know what they were doing to be honest, but I call them a sociopath now.

I’m still undoing the damage they did on me.

I lost people along the way. Ones that I cared about and trusted. Ones that I think believed whatever this other person said. That the problem was me. And some of it was of course. But a lot of it? A lot of it started with that statement “Why aren’t you better yet?”

It’s affected a lot of things along the way. It led me to where I am now. And I know its led me to some of the problems that I’ve had in the last two years. I don’t trust a lot anymore. And I ask too many time if things are ok. I hold on too tight. I take fewer chances. And have my heart broken more. I see more of what I've lost than I've gained and man have I lost a lot. I’ve gained some too.

And I’m still finding my way back.

Everything is the same. Everything is different.

20 May 2016

Death is not a blessing

I started this as a Facebook post and then thought, nope...I need to make this a blog post for others to see. And it's a rough post, not as well written as some of my others, because...well its not an easy topic to talk about and I'm talking about some things I haven't shared before. And maybe I shouldn't share them here, but...sometimes stories need to be told and this is one that I need to tell. And yeah there are some triggers here.

I apparently missed an article that was titled "My former friend's death was a blessing" because this person suffered from mental illness and ended their own life. There are obviously a lot, and I do mean a LOT, of problems with this article and subsequent interviews with the author. The article has been removed (because no shit it should have never been published), but I read this article where they interviewed the author of the article where she say's something that caught my eye:

“I tried to help her many times, but I also realized when I had discovered this that there was nothing I could do to help her,” said Lauren in response. “I am not as powerful as that illness. I have other stuff going on in my life twenty four hours a day. I really thought about helping her, but I also realized this was not going to be a battle I was going to win.”

Cold hard reality, isn't it? If you're friends or know someone that's been dealing with depression maybe you've thought something like this. Maybe you've said something like this. And I get it. I do. It's a hard thing to help someone...but. Man. It sucks to hear that from people that you trust and care about. And all it does is create an even bigger spiral. I've had people tell me something like this before. That they couldn't be there for me as much as I need it. That I was depending upon them too much. Nothing as harsh and callous as this, but...all the same.

I've half talked about it, but the last couple of years have been rough on my mental health. But last year? Yeah...the spiral I experienced last year included a relationship ending where the person told me something like this. That they couldn't be there for me all the time. That I was depending upon them too much. And I knew it. I worried about it. In the weeks before it ended I knew something was wrong when they wouldn't give me honest answers about things. Little lies of promises of things we were going to do. When I asked if I was depending upon them too much and they told me "no" something didn't feel right. I got that bad feeling in my gut and wondered. 

And I started falling. Falling hard. I was ready to die. To no longer be alive. Whether by my own hand or to just vanish into the night. I didn't care. I was lower than low and I struggled hard and I wasn't sure that I'd make it through each day. I had begun to make plans to end my own life. Like real plans to be done with it. What would happen to my things. What bills would be left. What could be wiped out because I was dead. And when those words finally came? To have them suddenly go "nope we're done" jerked the carpet out from under me. And I feel even harder.

I had people that reached out. Kept me from sinking. Got some help that I needed. And was starting to recover when I was blindsided again by someone else that said they would help me out suddenly and quickly, ended whatever it was we had. And rumors. Oh god, the rumors that came after...and other relationships ended or suffered because of it.

And just to be clear I am NOT, NOT, NOT holding any of these people responsible for what happened. My own brain did that. These things didn't help though. Maybe things would have been different if I had talked about just where I was and things wouldn't have ended so badly. Maybe it wouldn't have made any difference at all. I don't know. I know I wish things had been different. I wish things hadn't ended as they did. I wish a lot of things had happened differently. But they didn't.

I know one thing I wish I had said sooner was that I didn't need them 24/7. I know it seemed that way, but...man. Depression is a hard thing and it makes for tunnel vision on who you can trust and call on. It makes it hard to reach out to other people to lean on, so you aren't leaning on one person. It makes it hard to do much of anything to be honest.

It's been a long fucking year to be able to get back up again. And I'm still not where I want to be, but I'm better than I was.

All of this to say...if you know someone that's dealing with depression and they're leaning on you hard. Maybe too hard.  I can't and won't tell you what to do if you're in this position. You've gotta do what's best for yourself also. But, please, get help for yourself. Talk to a counselor, a professional, someone to get advice from. The person leaning may not realize how hard they're leaning and hurting you. Read an article like this one that talks about how hard it is to be the friend. To be the family member. To be the support. I can speak from experience that the person dealing with depression isn't trying to put you into this spot and blinders can be hard to remove.

And if they walk away. If they end their life, please, please don't blame yourself. Ever. No matter what was said, mental illness is NOT any one person's fault.

08 May 2016

The Silence is the Worst

"The Silence of our Friends." It's a powerful idea and I first came across this quote when I read Nate Powell's book "The Silence of our Friends" and it's stuck with me ever since. It resonates in my head far too often on how that silence, that not knowing, that just quietness that comes from people...that's the worst.

Lately its been in my head more often than not. The last couple of years have been rough on me and taken a high emotional toil on my health and well being. Things in GA that happened. Things that happened here in VT. But the worst part of it is all has not been the conflict between people and myself, but the silence of others.

People not wanting to take sides so they stay out of things. People that don't know what to say, so they say nothing at all. And I get it. I do. They don't want to create more conflict or drama or whatever. So they say nothing. They do nothing. And they remain silent, never realizing that by not saying anything, even if its just a kind word or two or just a simple touch, they make things so much worse.

Some did reach out and helped keep me from sinking too far. But others...Perhaps they did do something and the darkness in my head missed it and so they didn't try again. Perhaps they think they did. Perhaps they wanted me to make the first move. Perhaps they were waiting for me to stop being depressed.

All I know is...the silence is the worst.

02 March 2016

Please remember


In these days when spring struggles to overcome winter, please remember:

To be kind
That we all struggle
That we are all different
Even if our battles seem the same, 
they are different and can be so very, very different
so please, please, please be kind.
To yourself
To others
To all

Please remember, that your battle does not = someone else's battle. Even if you fight something with the same name, it will not, and does not appear the same from person to person.

Just because you fight something called depression or anxiety or anything else, and you meet someone else that does as well, you can't get mad at them or disappointed in them, when what worked for you doesn't work for them. Its great to share stories and offer advice, but the best thing you can do is stand by them. And let them know that you care. Even in the darkest moments when all seems lost, just sit with them.

Please don't tell them that they are cowards if they talking of giving up. Please don't insult them & hope that it shocks them into getting well. Don't try to point out all of the things they have that other people don't. Don't give up on them. Please, PLEASE, just stand by them. Their journey is dark and cold and lonely. And offering a spark in the dark, no matter how small you think it is, can help. 

And if they leave this world, by their own choice or not, remember that they fought a hard battle, even if you don't see the scars. Remember their fight, remember that they did their best to be brave, even in the darkest of nights.

And for the love of all that is holy, if you ever, and I MEAN EVER, tell someone battling depression that they aren't solving it fast enough for you, or still struggling with it after so many months when it should be over, then I hope you are never put into the same spot. And I hope that if you are, the people you belittled with your comments show you mercy that you never gave them.

postscript: Just to reassure people before they ask I'm fine. I'm in a better place mentally than I was a year ago. And I'm writing this about things I've learned in my battle. Things that didn't help. Things that did. Yes all of these happened, mostly from well meaning people. And yes the last one really did happen by someone that wasn't so well meaning, despite calling themselves a Christian, and was in a position of power. I can only hope that one day she is shown more kindness than she ever gave me or many others.

21 January 2016

Autism and the Media

Please be forewarned this is a ranty post.  All because I heard a radio program today. That made me want to go to the radio station and smack the crap out of the hosts. But I can't do that without getting into trouble. So...I write this post instead.

Dear media hosts, please stop talking about autism. Because you're doing way more harm to those of us on the spectrum than helping. Seriously. Unless you're talking to Dr. Temple Grandin, someone with autism, or people with ACTUAL credentials (and I mean advanced degrees that haven't been discredited) just...stop. Don't talk.

Because every time you talk about the increase in the number of people diagnosed and how something in the world changed, whether it be vaccines or food or f'ing space aliens mucking about with our DNA, you make things a thousand times worse for those trying to help people on the spectrum and 10,000 times worse for those on the spectrum. Because all of those things that you say, whether you mean it or not, make it sound like we're less of a person. That we're an accident caused by something that our parents or doctors should have controlled. And that those of us on the spectrum...we shouldn't be alive.

Maybe you don't say that last thing. Maybe you don't support it. But you keep talking to people that do. That treat those of us on the spectrum like we're some type of disease that shouldn't exist. The anti-vaccers basically say it. They would rather have dead children or children with debilitating diseases like polio, than a child on the spectrum. And I get it. They want the "normal" happy child everyone does...but "normal" is bullshit horrible term that doesn't exist.  You treat us like we're a mental illness that can be wiped out. That can be solved. But that isn't us.

Maybe some real facts will help you understand why all of this is a dangerous thing for non-experts (and even for experts) to talk about. Take a look at modern medicine in relation to "mental health" care that many people with autism fell into.

  • We didn't really understand germs and washing hands until well into the 1900's. 
  • Gave mental health patients typhoid fever in the 1920's to rid them of the illness. They won the Nobel Prize in 1927 for that theory.
  • Put people with mental health issues into diabetic comas in the 1930's
  • Didn't understand that x-rays could give radiation poisoning until the 1950's. 
  • Preformed electric shock therapy and lobotomies into the 1960's
  • Well into the 2000's many people on the spectrum were misdiagnosed as ADHD, bipolar, shy, anti-social behavior, etc.
  • and this doesn't include the numerous other theories or institutions that people were shoved into in order to "help them" disappear from "polite society." 
People on the spectrum are not a mental illness. People on the spectrum are people. We've been around since the beginning of time.The reason you see an increase in numbers? That's because people finally stopped trying to shove us out of sight or diagnosing us incorrectly because god forbid we use the label autism, and went "Oh...oh. They are real people."

It's not that we need treatment "to get better." It's that we need understanding. Why does that matter you ask? Because it changes how people treat us. Because more than anything, it changes how we treat ourselves.

I was a misdiagnosed as being ADHD in the 1980's during the boom of, if a kid is weird, different, can't pay attention, seems shy, it must be ADHD. I took medication all the way up until college when I decided to stop. That it wasn't really helping. That often times...it seemed to hurt. It killed my creativity. It stopped my imagination. 

I was told I was shy, that I'd grow out of it. That when I was turned down on dates that I was a nice guy and one day girls would magically mature and fall for the nice guy. They didn't. And I didn't stop being shy.  

Things didn't get better when I got into the "real world." Things that had been over looked when I was younger, the way I worded things, the way I would approach things, suddenly stopped being acceptable and I couldn't understand why. I still had trouble making friends. I alienated people. I put them off because I did things that weren't "normal." And I had trouble to keep going. I had trouble to understand the point of life and where I fit in. Because maybe since I wasn't "normal" I didn't fit in anywhere. And my life wasn't worth living.

It wasn't until a conversation with a friend whose daughter was on the spectrum. When she described her I kept thinking..."that's me. I do that. Maybe I'm on the spectrum." And when I was diagnosed it helped. It didn't magically change the world. But it made me know that I wasn't stupid or abnormal or whatever else popped into my head. That the things I did, the way I behaved, the who I am, was ok. That the things that I needed to change to fit into "polite society" I could at least figure out. But more than anything it helped me know that I wasn't alone. And that my life was worth living.

So please. Stop talking about Autism. Please stop spreading the lies and inaccurate facts about how "we can be cured" or that this is a disease that needs to be stopped. It isn't. We aren't. Please. Let the world know that we're real people too. And that we deserve respect and understanding. We deserve to live as ourselves.