Lots going on this week

Oct 12 2016 Published by under navel gazing, queer, Uncategorized

This week was both World Mental Health Day and National Coming Out Day. It is surely not a surprise to anyone reading this that I am a lesbian. I'm out, and continue to come out (over and over and over again). I love my queer family and community. BUT! I do not want anyone to feel like they are required to come out. I am lucky to feel safe and supported, and being out is important to me. Everyone has to come out (or not) on their own terms and in their own time.

I'm less outspoken about my struggles with mental health. So here goes: I struggle with anxiety and depression, and I have ADHD. My brain chemistry can really fuck with my life, but with self-care and therapy and meds I'm doing pretty fucking well. Still, it sometimes feels that anxiety and/or depression are lurking in the corners, just waiting for me to let my guard down. There are days that it is hard/impossible to get out of bed. I have days that the best I can do is to stare at the wall and not cry. I have days that I can't sit still because I am overcome with fear and must "do" something.

There is still real stigma around mental health problems, and that is not OK. My parents still tell me that taking antidepressants is a (and I quote) "stupid waste" and that I should just "face my problems instead of hiding". That hurts. And it made me wait to actually get help, which totally fucking sucks. Then my (now ex) wife tried to use the fact that I was on meds to argue that I shouldn't have equal custody of Twig during the divorce. That really fucking hurt. This kind of bullshit has to end. I hope that being straightforward about my own struggles helps.

I believe in being out as a lesbian because it feels authentic and honest to me. I want to be honest about mental health, too. Because it is part of me. Sometimes a struggles, but more often a gift. I'm creative and smart and hilarious. I wouldn't be me without all the parts of me.

Getting help does not make you weak. Taking care of yourself takes courage and strength. Depression lies. Let your friends love you. Because you are awesome and important. And you are not alone.


5 responses so far

  • Former Technician says:

    Until we get rid of the stigma, this country will never be able to face our mental health problem. People are (scared, embarrassed, insulted, insert your sentiment here). Families who hide or enable the problem are not helping. Covering up a problem does not solve it. We no longer have institutions where we can hide our relatives away from the world and the "shame" they bring.

    It is time to acknowledge that mental health is a part of health. Taking a pill for depression is no different than taking a pill for hypertension or high blood pressure. Sometimes it takes time to find the right combination for the patient.

    Thank you for being willing to talk about things others would prefer to avoid. Please keep being you.

  • chall says:

    Good post. It's sometimes the people closest to us, that we open up to, who hurt us the most. It's a rough thing for sure.

    I keep thinking about the mental health week and where I want to stand on this. I almost said something in a meeting, talking about side effects/targets of SSRIs. One of the chemists said "wow you really know this stuff, how come?". I almost laughed since it was such an obvious clueless academic/chemist with no social skills question. I was tempted to say "because I grew up with a parent who is bipolar" and "didn't have the greatest divorce myself". However, since I know that a lot of people in the conversation would start reading in "is she bi[polar] too?" I just skipped it. Of course, I could take the stand "look at me, I survived and this is how we cope" but I'm just not interested in taking that role at work. Cowardly maybe? But there are a lot of things I play close to the vest, especially in bigger groups.

    I do however, to many surprised comments here in the USA south, keep referring to the love I share house and life with as "my partner". SO MANY times people lower their voices and say "I thought you lived with [male name]? You know that partner makes it sound like you .... live with a girl". At least then I can say "...and?" It would be like me saying spouse too, right? I don't know though, maybe that doesn't help others since it doesn't allow for coming out but part of me would like people to stop being to interested in judging the sexuality of others.

    • gerty-z says:

      I don't think it is cowardly to keep personal details to yourself. It is no one's business, and you are not helping anyone by disclosing if it ends up hurting your career. You don't have to take on any role that you aren't interested in - either as the "mental health survivor" or the "wife". It would be awesome if folks could stop judging on either criteria. I think your use of the word partner is helpful - at least it makes it clear that you don't think it should matter. It's stuff like this that can make it easier for folks that are feeling alone or scared.

      • chall says:

        thanks for letting me know that I'm not too scared and also that the use of partner word makes sense. Sometimes I get stuck in my own head....

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