Daily Archives: December 24, 2014

The Best Christmas Gift of All

It’s Christmas Eve, and I’m sitting here at the computer looking over at the spot in front of the big picture window where the Christmas tree used to be, and the empty floor where piles of presents used to sit. There is no sign of the impending holiday anywhere in this house, unlike in times past when I’d draped twinkle lights over everything that would stand still. Will and I don’t even have gifts for each other this year. It would be a bummer of epic proportions…..if not for something wonderful that happened this morning.

About two years ago in one of my fits of remorse over the way I’d treated my kids growing up, I wrote a letter to them expressing my sorrow over my inconsistency in raising them, at the same time praising them for their successes in life and telling them how proud I am of them. I published it on my nursing website and promptly forgot about it, at least until last night when I was going through some of my old posts on that site. On the spur of the moment, I posted it on Facebook in the hope that at least a couple of the kids would read it.

Imagine my surprise when I checked my page this morning to find that all four of them—even the daughter in Afghanistan—had indeed read it and posted comments of their own! To my delight, it was a virtual love-feast…..all of them talked about how much they loved their Dad and me, the way we’d always made the holidays special, and that they knew how much I loved them despite the personal difficulties that disrupted our family life. They even said they wished I wouldn’t be so hard on myself, and that there was nothing to forgive because they all knew I did the very best I could with what I had to give.

Naturally, I did what every mom would do under the circumstances and promptly burst into tears. But they were tears of joy, not only because of the great love my children hold for their Dad and me, but because I can now forgive myself for my shortcomings as a parent. As the oldest daughter said, the past is past and there is no resentment. All that’s left is the love.

This is the best Christmas gift of my life. There may not be anything to unwrap tomorrow morning, but the love of these four human beings to whom I gave birth is more precious than diamonds. I don’t have to feel guilty anymore. They know how much they were, and are loved, and that’s really all I’d hoped to accomplish with that letter. I never dreamed that they would respond with such tenderness and so many good memories of their childhood.

So I wish my beloved children a Merry Christmas filled with everything and everyone they love. And I thank them all for making me feel like a Mom worthy of the name.

While I’m at it, I’d also like to wish my readers the happiest of holidays, whether or not you celebrate it. I hope you find that the world is a little bit warmer at this time of the year. As for me, I’m taking tomorrow off to be with my family, in whom the light of love—and the spirit of Christmas—live for me all year round. <3

 


NIMH Outreach Connection: December 2014

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GREETINGS

NIMH Director Insel

NIMH Director Thomas Insel, MD
It’s that time of year when I like to reflect on what progress has been made in our field over the course of the past 12 months. In my latest blog, I share what I believe to be the most exciting achievements in mental health research for 2014. Topping the list is the RAISE(Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode) research program. It was a watershed moment when, in the fiscal year (FY) 2014 appropriation bill, Congress set aside funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Community Mental Health Block Grant program for dissemination of evidence-based interventions for first episode psychosis similar to those tested in RAISE. SAMHSA and NIMH are collaborating to take full advantage of this unprecedented opportunity to move research into practice swiftly in contrast to the widely reported 17-year lag in adoption of evidence-based treatments by clinicians. Congress reaffirmed its commitment to this effort with continuation of this set aside in the recently enacted FY 2015 appropriation. We estimate that RAISE-like programs, called Collaborative Specialty Care (CSC), will be available in at least 29 states by October of 2015. While states are beginning to implement these models, or expand upon existing programs, outreach to individuals who experience first episode psychosis will be critical so they know about treatments that can help in the earliest stages of their illness. This issue of Outreach Connection features an example of how Partners are working to make communities aware of the RAISE approach. Your work engaging youth and young adults, families, providers, and other key stakeholders is all the more important now as states’ efforts get underway. The Voices of Recovery video series is a good example of a number of educational resources from the RAISE Connection program that can be used for outreach to the community. NIMH wishes you all the best this holiday season and as always commends you for your efforts to improve the lives of all those affected by mental illness.


PARTNER SPOTLIGHT

Getting Research Out

Outreach Partners inform their communities about the latest NIMH research through social media and other venues.

NIMH Science News Photo

The DC Behavioral Health Associationshared NIMH science news reporting findings about schizophrenia’s genetic profile with executive directors of mental health provider organizations at its regular membership meetings.

To highlight suicide prevention research and efforts, NAMI New Hampshire featured Dr. Insel’s Greeting from OPP’s Fall 2014 Outreach Connection in its e-newsletter.

NAMI New Hampshire E-newsletter

The Pennsylvania Behavioral Health and Aging Coalition postedNIMH research findings on genetic regions linked to schizophrenia in its e-newsletter.

Older PA science news

CTSI Enews

The Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute (SC CTSI), the co-Outreach Partner in Southern California, featured the latest issue of Inside NIMH in its Mental Health News You Can Use e-newsletter.

NAMI Virginia Research News

NAMI Virginia created a quarterly research e-newsletter to highlight NIMH-funded research findings and share announcements about studies seeking research participants.


Pushing Out Resources

Outreach Partners get NIMH materials and information directly in the hands of community members through a variety of forums.

NIMH Older Adults and Depression

NAMI Indiana used large print and regular print NIMH materials for a training session to senior housing case workers about mental illness and the elderly.

The NIMH video on the symptoms and treatment of depression was shown at a suicide prevention workshop at the annual conference of the Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas, Inc.

NIMH Depression Video
MHA LA Bullying Prevention Summit

NIMH materials on suicide anddepression were made available to middle school students by Mental Health America of Louisiana at a school assembly about bullying prevention.

The Mental Health Association of Maryland incorporated the NIMH men and depression brochure into a training event for older adults.

NIMH Men and Depression brochure
MAMH Elder Summit

The Massachusetts Association of Mental Health distributed NIMH materials at a Summit on Elder Behavioral Health, which brought together a range of stakeholders to dialogue on the challenges serving the growing aging population.

The Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska providedNIMH materials in Spanish to pre-kindergarten through public high school staff for distribution to educators and families.

Stock Photo-Girls Standing Near School Bus

The Mental Health Association Oklahoma co-hosted a girls’ and mothers’ conference for the African American community in Tulsa. NIMH resources were distributed to supplement the open discussion on issues facing teen girls, including depression, suicide, and addictions.

UND CRH Enews

The University of North Dakota Center for Rural Healthhighlighted the availability of NIMH publications in its e-newsletter.

The Puerto Rico Outreach Partner, the Institute for Psychological Research, distributed NIMH publications as part of outreach activities to University of Puerto Rico students.

University of Puerto Rico Outreach
NIMH Social Phobia Pub

As part of its “back to school activities,” the East Texas Area Health Education Center disseminated NIMH materials about depression, social phobia, and anxiety to its partners across the state of Texas.

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Tackling Disparities

Outreach Partners conduct outreach projects addressing mental disorders among children and adolescents, or mental health disparities.

MHA MT Youth Diversion Project

Mental Health America of Montana Youth Crisis Diversion Project

Rural and frontier communities in northeast Montana have been significantly impacted by the oil boom of Bakken Oil field in Montana and North Dakota. While the influx of jobs and job-seekers has been a positive for these largely underserved communities, there are also downsides. With stressed infrastructures and families, youth in a psychiatric crisis often end up in a jail or detention setting rather than a nurturing environment focused on utilizing the strengths and resources of the youth, family, and community. In response to this growing challenge, Mental Health America of Montana (MHA of MT) has created the Youth Crisis Diversion Project (YCD) to work directly with law enforcement, youth probation, youth mental health, schools, and other community stakeholders who may determine a youth to be at risk and in need of temporary safe diversion associated with a mental health crisis. Most diversion interventions are six hours to 24 hours in length and involve MHA of MT YCD workers engaging the family and community resources to secure a mental health provider and support services to maintain the youth in the community.

YCD on-going activities in these communities include the development of “safe” local solutions within each county and community; recruitment of staff who have diversity and expertise with families and children who have been involved with the children’s system of care; and collaboration with community stakeholders who are “first responders” to youth in mental health crisis. MHA of MT is collecting data about the youth served by this new project, and an evaluation of YCD is planned to begin next year.

MHA of MT has used NIMH materials and information as part of its outreach and training activities to stakeholders in these communities. For example, recently YCD trainers distributed NIMH publications and showed the Development of the Young Brain video at three law enforcement trainings on children’s mental health, and how to best stabilize and provide safety for youth in crisis.

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Promoting Research Opportunities

Outreach Partners are informing their communities about NIMH-funded trials actively recruiting participants.

NIMH Participants Guide

NAMI Alabama promoted NIMH studies at a number of community events in partnership with Hispanic and African American serving organizations. Participants received copies of the NIMH’s A Participant’s Guide to Mental Health Clinical Research and were encouraged to check out study information on the NIMH Clinical Trials webpage.

MHA DE Newsletter

The Mental Health Association in Delaware used content from the NIMH A Participant’s Guide to Mental Health Clinical Research to create a newsletter article about participating in clinical trials.

Mental Health America of California shared an NIMH DIRP announcement about a severe mood dysregulation trial recruiting participants on its Facebook page.

NIH Clinical Research and You

SC CTSI shared through itsenewsletter an NIH Record article about the NIH Clinical Research and Youwebsite which puts clinical research into familiar terms, and offers resources for potential participants to explore clinical research.

NAMI MN Clinical Trials Item

Through its e-newsletter, NAMI Minnesota linked to a list of studies in Minnesota seeking participants on ClinicalTrials.gov.

NAMI New York State’s (NAMI NYS) 2014 Education Conferencefeatured a session by NIMH DIRP staff on the importance of participating in NIMH Clinical Trials. Participants learned the benefits of research participation and the role it plays in understanding and improving care for psychiatric diseases.

MHA TX IRP Posting

Mental Health America of Texas posted study information aboutNIMH DIRP studies currently recruiting in its “Stop Suicide” Daily online news.

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Taking Research to the Community

Partners provide opportunities for NIMH scientists and grantees to present their findings at local meetings and conferences.

NAMI NJ Conference: Michelle Burns

NAMI New Jersey’s 2014 Annual Meetingfeatured NIMH grantee, Michelle Burns, PhDof the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, addressing her research on behavioral intervention technologies.

NAMI NYS Glatt presentation

The NAMI NYS 2014 Education Conference featured NIMH research in a number of sessions, including a presentation about the NIMH RAISEstudy and the keynote by NIMH grantee, Stephan Glatt, PhD, Director of the Psychiatric Genetic Epidemiology and Neurobiology Laboratory at SUNY Upstate Medical University. In addition, Dwight Dickenson, PhD, of the NIMH DIRPClinical Brain Disorders Branch led a workshop about his schizophrenia research.

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Outreach Connection is a service of the National Institute of Mental Health’s (NIMH) Outreach Partnership Program (OPP).

2014-2015
Winter


Pre-Solicitation Notice for OPP Proposals

The NIMH Outreach Partnership Program Pre-Solicitation Notice – HHS-NIH-NIDA-SSSA-RFP-15-34for all states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico is available on the FedBizOpps website.


New from NIMH

NIMH PPD Facts Image

NIMH’s Postpartum Depression Factsis now available in Spanish.


NIMH Website Goes Mobile

NIMH Goes Mobile

With NIMH’s new mobile-friendly website, visitors can access NIMH information and resources anywhere, anytime, and on any device—from desktop computers to tablets and mobile phones.


NIMH Staff Honored

NIMH Director Receives Distinguished Scientist Award

NIMH Dr. Insel at Child Mind Institute

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and NIMH Director Thomas Insel were both honored at the Child Mind Institute’s fifth annual Child Advocacy Award Dinner.

Susan Amara

Susan Amara, PhD Receives Julius Axelrod Prize

The Society for Neurosciencerecognized Dr. Amara’s crucial research in understanding the pathophysiology of mental illnesses and her exemplary efforts in mentoring young scientists. Dr. Amara is the Scientific Director of the NIMHDivision of Intramural Research Programs (DIRP).


Upcoming Observances & Resources

National Drug Facts Week
(January 27-February 2, 2015)
Check out National Institute on Drug Abuse resources available to educate your community about addiction.

American Heart Month
(February 2015)
Consider using the NIMH Depression and Heart Disease brochure.

Brain Awareness Week
(March 16-22, 2015)
NIMH offers educational resourcesthat can be used in schools and other community settings to help explain how the brain works. The Teen Brain: Still Under Construction brochure is available to help explain the changes in the teen brain. Consider using videos about the developing brain and the brain’s wiring in 3D in your activities.

National Autism Awareness Month
(April 2015)
Take a look at the NIMH publication, A Parent’s Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorder, and other NIMH resourceson autism.


National Partner Activities

Social Media

The Brain and Behavior Research Foundation blogged about a recently launched NIMH-funded studyto develop and test a personalized, computer-based suicide risk screening tool to help emergency departments identify troubled teenagers.

NAMI National blogged about theMental Health Block Grant program for First Episode Psychosis, and highlighted the NIMH Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode(RAISE) study in an accompanyingfact sheet.

The American Psychiatric Nurses Association tweeted the availability of a meeting summary of an NIMH meeting on childhood irritability.

News

The Children’s Mental Health Networkhighlighted recent findings from theRAISE study in its e-newsletter.

Podcasts

The Depression Bipolar Support Alliance interviewed two NIMH DIRP scientists for its Educational Podcast Series: Daniel Pine, MD, addressing anxiety and depression in children and adolescents, and Ken Towbin, MD, discussing the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children.

Awards

NAMI honored NIMH grantee Lisa Dixon, MD, MPH, Professor of Psychiatry at the Columbia University Medical Center. Among her accomplishments, Dr. Dixon is a principal investigator for the NIMH RAISE study.


NIMH Twitter Chats

Thank you for promoting NIMH’s recent Twitter Chat on Seasonal Affective Disorder. The chat reached over a million accounts.

OH Twitter Chat

NIMH’s next Twitter Chat will be held on January 12, 2015 at 11AM. Join us on Twitter to discuss participation in clinical research.


Studies Seeking Participants

The NIMH DIRP in Bethesda, MD is seeking participants for the following trials. Spread the word.

NIH Clinical Center

Depression Research Studies Enrolling Participants
Several studies are identifying the physical traits of adult depression and investigating medications that rapidly reduce symptoms. For info and eligibility criteria go to webpage.

Descriptive Study of Severe Irritability
(Outpatient: 1 day evaluation, and may include follow-up visits until age 25) This study describes, over time, the moods and behavior of children and the associated brain changes. Participants must be in treatment with a physician, medically healthy, and not currently hospitalized, psychotic or suicidal. Symptoms include chronic anger, sadness, or irritability, along with hyperarousal (such as insomnia, distractibility, hyperactivity) and extreme responses to frustration (such as frequent, severe temper tantrums). The study procedures include research and computer tasks, neuropsychological testing and brain imaging. Recruiting ages 7-17. [02-M-0021]


About the Program

The Outreach Partnership Program, a nationwide initiative of the National Institute of Mental Health Office of Constituency Relations and Public Liaison (OCRPL), works to increase the public’s access to science-based mental health information through partnerships with national and state nonprofit organizations. The core component of the program consists of55 Outreach Partners representing all states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. In addition, over 80 non-profit organizations participate in the program as National Partners, including professional, consumer, advocacy, and service-related organizations with a nationwide membership and/or audience.


Comments?

The Outreach Connection provides a vehicle to share how the Outreach Partners and National Partners are disseminating NIMH research across the country. If you have feedback about the newsletter, please contact[email protected]


Filed under: Mental Health, Mental Health Advocacy, MHA, NAMI, NIMH, Recovery Tagged: Mental Health, NIMH National Institute of Mental Health

Happy Holidays!

The post Happy Holidays! appeared first on Insights From A Bipolar Bear.

24122014 brainwank and lunatic chic

All of nextofkin’s life (I just have one member of my immediate family left), Christmas happened on Christmas Eve – because my mother’s happiest Christmases were spent in Germany. It’s impossible to wander too far down memory lane, or get wistful and misty eyed, because reasons. If you’ve been subscribed to this blog for a while, or you know me, you’ll know. If not, you probs guessed correctly anyway.

Around 6pm, we’d go and stare at the sky, looking for Father Christmas. By the time we got back into the house, voila and amazeballs, there’d be presents under the tree. My mother went to enormous efforts and – actually I can’t think about it anymore now. Nextofkin tends to maintain radio silence over the festering season, which makes me sad, but the poor dude has his own issues. And a much nicer family than ours was, thank fuck.

Tomorrow it will be xmas day and I will go spend some time with the hospitalised neighbour and, if my driving stays safe and my nerves quiet long enough, I’ll visit friends afterwards. I didn’t think I’d be in the city for it; what a strange year 2014 has been. Highlights? Lost job, diagnosed bipolar 2 … 1 liftoff and two lovely visits from dogsarebestpeople.

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(I made the meme.)

About that diagnosis – seems that process is as progressive as the disorder itself eh? Have any of you still got the same diagnosis (version of bipolar) as you started with?

Me:
Bipolar ii
Bipolar 1
Bipolar 1 & psychotic features
Bipolar 1 with psychotic and mixed features
Bipolar 1 with psychotic and mixed features, rapid cycling & continuous cycling.

And I’m a noob.

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This blog is only as old as my diagnosis (five months) – as you can see, I read and write fast and obsessively. It’s my way of demystifying and disarming manic depression to some extent. Also, plenty of virtual friendship, support and advice. I’m glad to say too, that it’s gone beyond bipolar, that you guys just … get it and that I don’t have to patiently attempt to convince anyone that I’m not actually a lazy, malingering waste of space. Hahaha I need to convince myself too. That really did amuse me btw, please don’t stroke my self esteem today, it’s all too exhausting.

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Top search terms that pointed to this blog were:
Many, many variations along the lines of I’ve got bipolar disorder, my shit’s out of order. It’s Secrets, by Mary Lambert.
Negative bipolar stereotypes – why do we search for stuff like that? Obvs I’ve done it myself, or I wouldn’t have written a post about it and people wouldn’t get here that way.
Lots of terms about lithium – make sure you get blood tests, stop freaking out, you are not going to die. Either it’ll work for you, or you’ll try something else. Badger your psychiatrist as much as you need to – that’s why they earn the big bucks. Make ‘em work for it.
My uncle is bipolar – I’m sorry, me too. Hope you don’t have it, try not to panic. I think your odds are around 20% but don’t quote me.
Mental illness diary – aha I know what you want. Here you go …

Diary of a raving lunatic:
06:00  woken by nurse ratched with a bucket of icy water.
06:05 took cinematically visible ribs, thorazine shuffle feet, ill fitting white underwear and singlet, hands protectively over crotch and head bowed, to the showers.
06:25 had a nice pesticide shower and then pulled on asylum uniform and headed for breakfast – soupy porridge.
06:45 drooled a bit and laughed like this, nyuk nyuk haw.
07:00 alternated slumping and pacing, swallowed pills. posed for Diane Arbus.
08:00 escaped, murdered some people and burned something down (the voices told me to). Ten nice men took me back.
09:00 twitched. Polished manacles.
09:00 painted a masterpiece with my faeces and sold it to Monsieur Dufy for some lovely beads. Oooh shiny!
10:00 a little light electro-convulsive therapy. Screamed hoarsely. Met Dustin Hoffman. He stared a lot and took notes. Tom Cruise popped in, took my wallet and gave me a pamphlet. Nice man, so cheerful.
11:00 snuggled into straitjacket and rocked. No idea who or where I am, or why all my hair sticks up. Tweet tweet tweet!
12:00 margarine sandwiches eaten by bending head to plate. Clucked like a chicken. Lots of jokes about shoving Sylvia into the oven instead of dinner. Oh how we laughed.
12:30 swallow a thousand more pills. Meet an interesting man who knew a lot about baseball and seemed to have a lot of ideas. I felt afraid, and yet intrigued.
13:00 attempted suicide, but foiled by the intervention of a tragically beautiful french woman and an orchestra.
14:00 embroidered an incredibly intricate manifesto that only I can read.
15:00 had the usual afternoon beating. Howled like a howler monkey.
16:00 frontal lobotomy.
17:00 …

Hope I got that right, I think it’s what they want when they google mental asylum insane spooky ghost diary lobotomy cuckoo. Yup, that’s how we roll. Lunatic chic. Ugh.

*eyeroll* Lunatic chic is a thing, I just googled it. Here’s an example of the interior decor aspect of it.

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Oh humanity. Really.

So It’s Begun

I woke up this morning and the feeling of overwhelming stress hit me. It’s that holiday feeling. Not that good one but one of panic!

There will be 4 children and 5 adults here later tonight and I am planning on not drinking and just trying to deal with everything. At least I was but as the hours pass and it is getting closer to everyone being here I am thinking about just a couple relaxing bottles of wine to help me relax.. err glasses wow think there was something going on in my brain there.. Like it will take 2 bottles of wine to relax. hahaha.. I’m funny sometimes.

Christmas won’t be that bad because it will be all adults. There is the opening of presents which I am embarrassed by. I never know if I react properly .. lots of stress.

Needless to say it will be tough couple of days, then we mix and repeat new year’s eve. I can make it through it though. I may have anxiety attacks and I may feel like running, but I can do this. It’s something normal family’s do.

Anyhow I hope you have a wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, see you tomorrow!


At Times, I Am Impatient

benice

Illustration by Jessica Krcmarik

[The image features an illustration of the author, an androgynous white person, holding up a sign that reads: “Trans* rights NOW.” Surrounding the author are other indistinct and faceless people, ignoring the author as he protests. The text above the author reads, “BE LESS AGGRESSIVE! BE KINDER! PEOPLE WOULD LISTEN IF…”]

I have been told that if I were just kinder, if I were less aggressive, if I were less loud, if I were gentler, people would finally respect me.

If I weren’t so impatient, they tell me, transgender and non-binary people would find the acceptance that they are looking for. Slowly but surely, from the mere power of our kindness, people would come around.

It is true – at times, I am impatient.

But to ask me to be patient in face of oppression, invisibilization, and violence is laughable. To ask me to swallow my emotions, not to buckle under this weight, to behave and wait for my dignity to be handed to me, is so terribly naïve.

Systemic oppression and hatred have never been dismantled by playing nice, by saying “please” and “thank you,” by remaining in the margins and hoping they’ll notice you there.

Smiling doesn’t change the reality that transgender and non-binary people disproportionately carry a burden of homicide, homelessness, suicide, and street harassment.

Smiling won’t change the leering I get on the bus, the clenched teeth and the pressed brow, lip curling with disgust, as if to say, “You do not belong here. You do not belong anywhere.”

Smiling won’t change the man who burns holes into my chest, staring intensely, searching for the faintest indication that I have breasts, as my body is a spectacle to unravel, and not a mere part of a breathing, whole human.

Smiling won’t change the woman who says to me, “I don’t care what you say. No matter what you do, you will always be a woman.”

Smiling won’t change the man who comments on my article and says, “Miss Finch, do you pretend to be a man because you think you’ll get more readers that way? Miss Finch, why do you lie?”

Smiling won’t change the man at the restaurant, who glares at my non-binary partner and me, undressing us with his eyes, not once looking away until we leave because we are afraid of what will happen if we stay.

Smiling won’t change the transphobic “feminist” on Twitter who threatens to post my birth name and my address because she doesn’t like what I have to say.

Smiling won’t change the woman, visibly uncomfortable in the middle of a tutoring session, who interrupts me to ask, “What were you born as?” As if that’s relevant to what I’m teaching (writing), as if she can’t go forward without confirming what my genitals look like.

It’s true – I am impatient. I am worn down. I am tired.

It’s every “miss” and “ma’am” at the cash register, it’s every “hello ladies” when I sit at a restaurant with my partner, it’s every “but you were so much prettier before.”

It’s existing in a world that does not recognize you exist.

It’s when there’s a burning, beautiful truth in your heart that says who you are with perfect clarity, and all you want is to live that truth. And every day with passion, with determination, with courage, you pursue that truth in spite of a world that seeks to extinguish that fire.

A truth that, even when you are crying out, people will still refuse to see it.

I am loud because so few can hear me.

They’ll say you are a criminal, an imposter, a liar, an abomination; they’ll say you are less than human, an oddity, a freak, a mistake.

And they’ll tell you in the same breath that if you were more patient, they might listen.

They accuse you of lacking empathy because you were bitter, because you had the nerve to say, “I’m sorry I fucking exist.”

Well, empathy is a two-way street, and while I try my best to nurture the love inside me, I get tired.

I get tired, and then I get reprimanded for being tired.

Every day I contend with people who won’t listen, people who spit at me on the streets, people who would rather me be dead than be myself, people who can imagine so perfectly what my skull would look like split open because they’ve dreamt it.

But you should be loving, Sam. Be kinder, Sam. Be patient.

As if my humanity is something I’m supposed to earn if I’m nice enough, if I’m kind enough, if I play the game, instead of something that is inherent, something that I possess by virtue of being alive.

I’m impatient, it’s true.

But this impatience is a reminder that I am fully, totally, perfectly human. And this impatience stems from a pain that so few can understand. It’s the fissure that splits through me because I’ve carried that weight for too long, because the wound has been reopened too many times.

My impatience is a testimony. It speaks to this struggle that I’ve lived from the moment I confessed in front of that mirror years ago, “Oh my god, I am not a woman,” and muttered, under my breath, “I’m trans, and I’d give anything not to be.”

Until you’ve lived my struggle, no, don’t you dare tell me how to feel and how to act, as if this burden is my own fault, as if I asked for this.

I never asked for this.

Asking me not to be impatient is asking me not to be human.

And that’s exactly what the oppressor wants.

Sam Dylan Finch is a freelance writer and queer activist, currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is the founder of Let’s Queer Things Up!, a queer and feminist perspective on current events and politics. His twitter can be found, unsurprisingly, at @samdylanfinch.

Visit his official website: www.samdylanfinch.com


Home for Christmas

Make yourselves comfy in the bipolar chair.

Make yourselves comfy in the bipolar chair.

Warning! This blog is rated PG. Your Parent(s) may need Guidance. Bad language, ranting, & potentially offensive mug shot. Of a mug.

Christmas’s Terrible Twin is New Year’s Eve and Day. I like the Eve bit (Jools Holland’s “Hootananny!” Bagpipes! Cups ‘o kindness!). As for New Year’s Day, bah. And also humbug. As a child, I had to sit through too many Rose Bowl parades, and American football games, on the telly.

Let’s face it, one Rose Bowl parade is one too many. Roses, on floats?

No.

I am home for Christmas … well, part of it. The most important part, which, as anyone who has read this blog will know, happens at 18:15 on BBC1 on Christmas Day.

The bipolar chair isn’t mine, by the way. It belongs to Time to Change Leeds, a lovely bunch of folks who are doing great work fighting ignorance, stigma, and the like around mental health problems.

The offensive mug is mine. It was a gift from an old friend, and is an excellent summary of what I’m like when I’m flying high with mania:

Aka "Sheila Queen of the World"

Aka “Sheila Queen of the World”

Space Hamsters card is courtesy another friend. I have interesting friends.

I’ve thought about giving up feckin’ swearing for the New Year, but, bollocks to that. I can swear, and keep functioning (1). Or I can stop swearing, and lose my CRB check. Or just lose it, full stop.

By “home for Christmas”, I mean my home in dear old Donny Town, England, UK. I am not, as previously stated, originally from these parts. However, like it or lump it, Britain (2), I’m here to stay. Polluting your fine Anglo-Saxon GreenandPleasantland with my innate and inimitable foreignness.

And, of course, a cup o’ crazy, too.

The sun is going down on Christmas Eve, and the house is only partly decorated. I have finally got the holly and ivy up, but no tree. This is partly because:

(1) I am not very organised.

(2) I work long shifts, and

(3) I cannot find the tree (see 1) above).

Which is fine. The term “eccentric” was recently bandied about in my presence (3). I always thought “eccentric” was code for “crazy people with money and/or influence”. No more: these days, us plebs can be eccentric, too.

I am largely resigned to this. I hope it doesn’t stamp me as claiming Special Snowflake Status, seasonal though that sounds. It is only by reconciling myself to my own brand of middle-aged crazy (4) that I can keep on, keeping on.

At home.

I once spent a bit of Christmas at home, but a lot more of it, plus a good slug of the new year, on a ward. The staff did their best. One of the best parts of that particular holiday season was when one nurse took pity on me, and drugged me to the twitching eyeballs.

Ah, memories …

There is no freedom like the ability to just go about your business, and not worry about when your “leave” runs out. So, whilst I have some of the maudlin feelings typical of people my age at this time of year, it could be so much worse.

The tree has just appeared. Enjoy your seasonal festivities, folks. And your freedom. I certainly plan to enjoy mine.

Take it away, Noddy, old son:

“Look to the future now
It’s only just begun … “

If you think this is my tree, I know a bridge you may be interested in ...

If you think this is my tree, I know a bridge you may be interested in …

(1) After a fashion.

(2)Yes, Nigel & co., I’m talking to you.

(3) Not aimed at me.

(4) Not the “I’m buying a red Corvette, dumping my husband, and getting a toy boy” variety.

 

 

 

 

Mid Winter

Solstice 2013

May you all find warmth in your heart-fires and comfort in gathering those you love close.  While Solstice is past, we are still in deep mid-winter, and Peter Mayer’s song burrows in there with us in the dark.


The Anatomy Of Anxiety

Christmas Eve 9:53 a.m.

I’m dressed, the spawn is dressed. We have to take my mom out to the hospital for a test. It might be nothing, might be cancer. And she has a history of it. Of ten children in her family, eight have died of cancer.
And still…
Me, me, I, me.
Because there is much to be done today, in addition to this, and my little brain can’t handle the pressure. So rather than focusing on my mom’s issue, I am selfishly worried about my own ability to get through this long day and night without completely coming undone.
Mental illness makes you incredibly self absorbed.
But the fact is, everything in your life is tied to your mental disorders and it’s a valid concern even in light of the problems of others.
It doesn’t make you feel any less evil for indulging your own neuroses.
It does explain it.

Anxiety is treated like little more than a personality quirk or drug seeking behavior. There is even more of a “snap out it” mentality when it comes to anxiety than it does to mood disorders.
I don’t like my anxiety. I’ve tried everything but shock treatment and exorcism for it.
So for it to be bastardized with condesending “suck it up” mentality is offensive.
There’s not one person out there who’d expect you to run a marathon if you had a broken leg. They’d have empathy and compassion for that.
It’s not your fault, after all. It’s a legitimate issue.
But mental stuff…
Oh, suck it up, get over it, snap out of it…
Which makes the anxiety even worse, not that those ignorant creatures can grasp that.

So here I sit, breaking out in hives, my heart slam dancing in my chest and my kid is making noise with a toy computer and my anxiety is creeping over the horizon…
And in addition to worrying about my mother, Christmas…
I’ve got this little war going on in my mind, feeling shitty because I have anxiety and I am not tough enough to conquer it.

It’s this that leads people to physically injure themselves. No one believes mental illness is as bad as it is. There is little compassion or empathy. But if you fall down a staircase and break a leg or cut your arm open on a piece of glass…
OMG, you poor thing, you’re injured, let me help you out, you should rest and not push yourself…
How is physical injury more legit than mental injury? Because it’s visible?

And this just keeps feeding the anxiety and making you feel lazy and weak so you’re more anxious. You beat yourself up for not being tough enough to snap out of it.
Rinse, lather, repeat.
Vicious cycle.
The anatomy of anxiety.
The futility of mental illness.


mindjunk: the xboxmenmas edition

I’m so punny. This is for the curmudgeons, the lost, the sad and the lonely. Xmas eve. Here we go.

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Waiting to hear whether the neighbour can cope with a hospital visit. Waiting for one fierce hellhound of a headache to relax its jaws. Waiting for the latest increase in meds to work, or not.

Other than that, it’s business as usual round here and xmas isn’t hurting today. Still, I don’t want to fuck with my bah humbug reputation, so without further ado, some melodramatic Macbeth.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

That’ll get you in the holiday mood eh? Haha.

Are you okay? Coping? If your sense of humour is as warped as mine, this’ll cheer you up slightly.

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