Think First, Speak Later

It was 2010.  I had come home from work early because I was having a bad episode of anxiety.  As soon as I came home, I was harped on by my sister’s boyfriend.  I couldn’t deal with that and the anxiety that was overwhelming, but I couldn’t retreat to my room because he wanted to drag it out… yell at me more, make me feel even worse about myself.  I suffered through that and eventually ended up in my room and on my bed crying.

Shortly after, I was told by someone very close to me that my mental illness was affecting everyone else and that it made people uncomfortable to be around me.  At this point, especially considering who it was, I was at the end of my rope.  I was basically told to not express my issues when around others because they would then get depressed, etc.  I was not in a good place, but no one knew how to “deal with me.”  I felt lost and I felt I couldn’t turn to anyone because I was convinced that everything about me was wrong and I shouldn’t bring it up (luckily I had amazing friends that I COULD talk to about and two friends in particular who basically let me sleep on their pull-out couch on weekends for at least 2 months).

Thing is, even when you’re frustrated about someone’s mental illness or anything related to that, you can’t just tell someone not to associate with people while they’re depressed or whatever.  You can feel that frustration.  You’re allowed to.  But walking away from someone to take a breather is better than taking it out on the person with the mental illness.  You have no idea what a flippant frustrated comment could do to person in crisis… or someone close to being in crisis.  And you can and allow yourself to have moods, so why tell someone else to suppress theirs?

Now, I look back.  The person who told me those things has a whole different perspective on things and my disorder.  They realized that sometimes I can’t hide when I’m depressed.  Or I can’t sleep when I’m a little bit manic.  Or that me walking away from a situation isn’t being rude, but trying not to have an anxiety attack.  Or that sometimes, no matter what, I’m going to have an all-out panic attack.  Or that if I shut down and listen to music when everyone else is talking it might because I’m hearing or seeing things.  I honestly think their perspective changed when I was admitted to a psych ward three times in one year.  That they couldn’t change me.  I am who I am.

And, thanks to my medication (even if they do make me gain weight) I can control a lot of these symptoms and I just wasn’t on the right ones before.  So, just, mind what you say to people… to anyone.  It could affect them more than you realize.

 

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Telling the Truth About My Church

So, I’m in the middle of writing a post on being Christian and a part of the LGBTQIA+ community, which is entirely possible because I AM.  But, this is not that.  This is a heart-wrenching thing I go through in my church all the time, and I think it’s time for me to be honest about it.

My church is part of the Assemblies of God denomination.  It is a highly Evangelical church, and we seek out new members and yes, evangelize.  I love the people I interact with in my church.  We do share a lot of the same views and they are almost always there to lift you up when things are going on, and they almost always pray for you and with you.  And I love our Pastor and the sermons he preaches (and may I mention he NEVER preaches against things, even the LGBTQIA+ community).  BUT… almost everyone in my church is not affirming.  Meaning, basically, they do not accept the LGBTQIA+ community.  They are very against it.  They think prayer will “cure” it.  They enjoy “shaming” those within the community.  Only one person in the congregation knows about my orientation, and she’s very liberal like me.

I’m sure you’re wondering why I stay in such a church.  Well, among with what I said before, my orientation is between me and God.  I don’t find reason to bring it up.  But I don’t go recruiting people to my church often because of the beliefs about my community.  I still have all the other beliefs and I want to talk to people about Christ.  A lot of times, though, I get asked if our church is accepting of the community because a relative has come out, or their daughter has, etc.  And I tell them the truth.  We’re a loving church, but they (and I always stress they) do not approve of the LGBTQIA+ community.  I also, however, tell them that Jesus does, and point them in the direction of the affirming churches in our town.  I’m sure if those in charge of my church knew I did that they definitely wouldn’t be too happy with me.

But yes, that’s the truth.  And I’ve learned to ignore it for myself because of the positive things.  I would, however, never refer anyone who is affirming to come to my church.  I don’t want them to feel like they have to change for anyone when God loves them the way they are.

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The Gray Areas of Sexuality

For years I never understood where I stood on the lovely roller coaster ride that is human sexuality.  At least, I never FULLY understood.

When I was 15, I started to identify as a lesbian… yet something prevented me from going full-steam ahead with it.  Instead, I decided to come out as bisexual.  I thought it would be easier that way (WRONG, but I digress…).

I remember a phone call I had with my friend Lauren (who is my longest-ever friend in history right now lol) and I wanted to tell her.  I wanted to finally get the thought out of my mind… to say SOMEthing to someone, but I was terrified.  Funnily, I learned quite quickly that I shouldn’t have been.  Her question to the statement of “Lauren, I have to tell you something”  was “You’re gay?”  I kinda stared at the phone for a few seconds and went on my bisexual rant and absolutely nothing changed between us.

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18 Years of Scars

Trigger warning: self-harm

 

When I was twenty, my parents got divorced, my father remarried, and I gained a sister and a brother.  Those were all good things (yes, even the divorce).  The big change happened in April of that year when dad, my brother, and I went to live in the (newly updated) house that my stepmother, Jill, lived in.  It definitely felt like a home.

A couple of months after living there, I noticed I wasn’t interested in things or motivated.  I withdrew into myself and kinda was just… there.  I brought all this up to my dad and Jill and they agreed they had noticed this.  Jill sent me to her primary doctor (since mine was so far away now), and when I left the office I left with a sample dose of Prozac and a prescription for when that was done.  Now, here’s the tricky part…  I had been diagnosed as Bipolar twice before I was prescribed Prozac.  I had even been on anti-psychotics before this.  I never told this to the doctor.

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The Letter

Years ago, when I was going through a fairly deep depression, a friend wrote me a letter.  It consisted of things that I would never have to go through and how much better off I had it than others.  It told me that I should appreciate what I had.  Now, I know this letter came with the best intentions because you could tell it was written with concern.  I never even got mad at this person about it, but I found myself replying to it with an apology because, well, it made me feel worse.

And that’s the thing, right?  Telling someone who is going through depression of any sort that they have it good and they shouldn’t be so depressed just makes the depression more all-consuming.  They feel like they’re letting people down with their sadness, and it pushes them down even deeper, and that’s what happened to me.

I was careful not to mention my sadness or loneliness around this person as much as I could.  Suppressing my depression, though, was excruciating and almost impossible for me.  I mean, it was “easy” to do it around co-workers, etc., but they weren’t a friend.  I counted myself quite lucky that I didn’t live with this person and that I had people I DID live with that I could legitimately talk to about it.  I also didn’t see this person as much as I could have, so I could breathe more often than not.  But those times I couldn’t breathe were horrible.

It was an unintentional side effect of the letter.  The person who wrote it actually suffered from a form of situational depression at times, so that’s why they didn’t understand being sad when a person is in a good situation.  They didn’t understand being sad for “no reason” or how all-consuming this type of depression could be.  I forgave them for writing it because of this.  Because they didn’t understand.  The thing is, most people DON’T understand.  I, personally, don’t understand the depression that comes with MDD.  I suffer from bipolar depression and that’s completely different, even if it’s just the knowledge that it might end… that I might feel better at some point… remembering the happy times.  But that means it feels like my happiness was ripped away from me, which is crippling.

In the end, this person never knew how their letter affected me.  I didn’t feel as though I could explain how and why I felt the way I did, so I “became happy” and waited until I was away from them to fall apart.  Now, I don’t see them all that much, if ever.  But that’s pretty much true of most of my friends.  I don’t have to hide if I’m depressed or manic (which is pretty impossible to hide) or hallucinating (another hard to hide thing), or having a panic attack.  In a way it’s a relief, but I do miss seeing people.  In the end, though, the only thing I’d like anyone to take away from this is to think carefully what you say to someone with a mental health condition… it could affect them in ways you never even know.

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