Daily Archives: June 23, 2017

Let’s Talk About Social Security

I don’t pretend to be in the know on current political matters. However, I do subscribe to several things that deliver ‘news’ to my email in box.

Yesterday’s instant panic came with an email about President Trump’s plan to essentially gut social security. Now it’s not the first time I’ve heard or seen discussion on the matter. The fact that it’s coming closer to being reality, now that is what’s terrifying.

More galling is how the wealthy are getting more breaks, while necessary programs for those of us living at poverty level continue to go through the shredder.

Let’s be honest, my readers, who, like me, rely on social security disability just to survive…If this new regime has no qualms taking the paltry sums for older and elderly people…The disabled are just screwed. It may sound selfish but I look at my daughter and think, if we lose my disability income, we’re going to be homeless.

It’s terrifying. Because after a day or two of a quiet mind, today the Bad Voices have started mumbling, telling me I should just stop trying because we’re all doomed anyway. All those sheeple working class who thought Trump was the answer…You’re doomed, too. Because the rich are catching all the breaks. And if you’re a woman, well, the current regime wants to set womens’ right back fifty years. DOOMED.

I know political posts are frowned upon in the wordpress establishment but this is less about what party you vote for or how you like/love the president. This is about his plan to gut social security, something this country desperately needs. If you think it doesn’t impact you, then think about your parents or grandparents.

We should all feel some apprehension. And some of us are entitled to feel plain terrified.

Tooth Troubles

So my tooth turned out to be one of the few that wasn’t already crowned, so they drilled out the filling and the cavity that had developed around it and put a crown on it.  I have to go back in two weeks and get the permanent one put on.  $800 for my portion after insurance.  Bleah.  And then it ached last night.  I took a hopped-up ibuprofen for it and slept really soundly.  SO that helped.  Now I’m looking at laundry and all such as that today.

My middle one is having friends over for a final get-together before they scatter for college.  Of course its here as all of their parties have been ever since they started playing D&D. They’re going to play around a bit today and spend the night here, then go to ComicCon tomorrow.  Bob and I are going to pop in to ComicCon and see what it is like.  We’ve never been to one.  SO we will see.

I really want to go back to bed.  I am sleepy.  But there’s too much to do, so we will see how much of it gets one once I get moving.  Hopefully all of it.  We will see.  My mood seems to be pretty goo; it’s just my motivation needs some kickstart.


#FeatureFriday: Meet blogger ‘Without Grace’

Every once in a while I throw the line out to fish for more bloggers. Not only because I’m sure our readers get bored of our voices but I like […]

Overcoming the “8 Reasons Why People Don’t Get Treatment for Mental Illness” by Dr. David Susman. 

Pretty great article for anyone struggling to accept they have a mental illness. So many reasons not to accept that we have these wretched illnesses. Dr. Susman offers alternative ways of looking at things, more helpful and constructive ways. Would be a great read for relatives of those struggling with mental illness as well. 

Me, after my first depression, at which point I had no idea what the hell happened to me, but after that, I realized and accepted that I suffered from a mental illness. My first manic phase when I was Alice in Wonderland, and what a wonderland it was, well it was quite difficult to disavow my illness. After that first manic phase, I of course had to accept that I had bipolar 1. And though I’ve lost my baby brother to this illness, 31 years after my diagnosis, I’m still here. 


June 1, 2017 by David Susman
My most popular blog post to date is “8 Reasons Why People Don’t Get Treatment for Mental Illness.” In it, I described several common obstacles and barriers which often keep people from seeking or obtaining treatment for mental illness.

This post clearly struck a chord with a lot of people, including those who have had negative experiences with treatment and family members trying to persuade their loved ones to seek help. You can read the original post here.
I thought it might be interesting to go back through this same list and outline some of the common thoughts which underlie each of the reasons why people don’t get treatment. These thoughts can range from totally factual and real concerns to unrealistic or even irrational beliefs.
After each group of thoughts, I’ll suggest alternative ways to think about the issue, which may help you be better equipped to work through these barriers to seeking treatment.
1) Fear and shame – common thoughts:
“I’m afraid to ask for help.”
“I’m embarrassed and ashamed to talk about my problems.”
“I’m scared of getting labeled as ‘crazy.’”
“I don’t want to know if I’m sick or that something bad is happening to me.”
Instead, consider this: It’s completely ok to have these feelings. But know that 1 in 4 adults has a mental illness; you are definitely not alone. While the negative stigma surrounding mental illness is still strong and undeniable, more and more people are feeling comfortable about being open and stepping forward to ask for help.
2) Lack of insight – common thoughts:
“Nothing is wrong with me.”
“My friends and family are worrying about me for no reason; I’m fine.”
Instead, consider this: Maybe there is nothing wrong, but if people who truly care about you are concerned, humor them and go for a check-up. If they’re wrong, make them buy you dinner. If, however, a professional also expresses concern about your mental health, at least listen and be open-minded about their recommendations.
3) Limited awareness – common thoughts:
“Things really aren’t that bad.”
“Everyone has issues.”
Instead, consider this: Sometimes you may recognize you are struggling but try to minimize or deny your difficulties hoping they aren’t that serous or they will go away. But there are times when you do need professional help for significant mental health concerns. Since you aren’t trained to formally diagnose yourself, you need a professional opinion to gauge the nature of your problems and to determine which effective treatment options are available.
4) Feelings of inadequacy – common thoughts:
“I hate to admit my flaws and shortcomings.”
“Asking for help means I’m inadequate or a loser.”
“I should be able to cope better with things.”
“I blame myself for my problems.”
Instead, consider this: Would you consider yourself inadequate or a loser if you had cancer or diabetes? Asking for and receiving professional help for an illness does not mean you are an inferior person or that you are to blame for your current challenges.
5) Distrust – common thoughts:
“It’s hard to trust someone with my deepest secrets.”
“I’m afraid my personal information won’t be kept confidential.”
“I don’t want anyone to know I’m in treatment.”
Instead, consider this: Health care providers are trained and required to respect and honor the privacy and confidentiality of personal information you disclose in treatment. Other than some rare and extreme situations involving threats of harm to yourself or others or certain court-related circumstances, the information you provide is very secure and cannot be released to anyone else without your permission.
6) Hopelessness – common thoughts:
“Nothing will help me.”
“I’ve tried treatment before and it didn’t help.”
“I messed up before so I might as well give up.”
“My last episode of treatment was horrible and made me worse.”
“I saw a therapist and they were incompetent. I’ll never go back.”
Instead, consider this: There are many medications and psychotherapy-based treatments for mental illnesses with solid research evidence for their effectiveness. Also, just because a previous provider or treatment was not effective or even stressful, trying a different approach or a new provider could be very helpful.
7) Unavailabillity – common thoughts:
“There are no therapists or treatment programs near me.”
“I don’t know how to find a therapist or treatment program.”
Instead, consider this: Lack of availability of appropriate mental health treatment or a lack of understanding about how to locate a competent professional can be real problems. If so, reach out to your family medical providers and local mental health organizations for information on how to find care and for suggestions of recommended professionals.
8) Practical barriers – common thoughts:
“I don’t have transportation to get to treatment or child care during my appointments.”
“I can’t afford to pay for treatment.”
“I’m too busy; I don’t have time for treatment.”
Instead, consider this: These practical obstacles are real and often difficult to overcome. Start by talking with friends and care providers about options to reduce or remove some of these roadblocks. Ask directly for assistance with transportation or child care. Explore public assistance programs or lower-cost treatment services to reduce the financial burden associated with treatment. Make time to get help; it’s just as important as anything else on your schedule.
I hope these suggestions for managing these common barriers to treatment will be helpful as you or a loved one consider getting help for a mental health concern. Just remember that treatment is available, it is effective and you don’t have to suffer in silence. But you do have to take the first step and ask for help.
Here’s a question: What have you found helpful in removing one of the barriers to seeking help for mental illness? Please leave a comment. Also, please subscribe to my blog and feel free to follow me on Twitter, “like” my Facebook page, or connect on LinkedIn. Finally, if you enjoyed this article, please share it with a friend. Thanks!

My Little Surprise & Humiliation at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk!

Dear Friends, Prepare yourself for a post filled with thrills of the amusement park ride persuasion…. and chills I’m getting from the thought of proofing my book yet again! Yesterday I received a PDF file from my managing editor at Post Hill Press. It was the paginated interior of my book! It was a surreal experience … Continue reading My Little Surprise & Humiliation at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk!

Cis ‘Allies,’ You Probably Think This Work is About You

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told by cis “allies” that if I don’t directly appeal to them in the most generous terms possible, I can’t expect their support. And as far as I can tell, this is a pretty explicit way of saying, “I will not affirm the humanity of transgender people unless their movement caters to me.”

I mean, at least you’re being honest so I know upfront that I can’t count on you.

A lot of fake allies came out in full force when I wrote an article in late March, really unpacking different trans-antagonistic microaggressions (in plain terms, acts that hurt trans people in subtle but important ways). I put an incredible amount of labor into that work, trying to hold space for cis folks’ emotional realities while also being firm about what is and isn’t acceptable when interacting with folks from my community.

“Oftentimes, as we try to support the people we love, we can make mistakes – and that’s a normal and expected part of the process,” I explained. “The best way to make it right is to learn a little more, do some self-reflection, and not just apologize, but commit to changing our behaviors.”

Wow, I’m so mean. Look at how mean and demanding I am!

I offered a piece that I believed could bridge gaps in understanding for cis folks, particularly loved ones, who were struggling with their own emotions around transition. I put an incredible amount of intention behind every word that I wrote. And I wrote from the place of someone who has firsthand experience trying to hold space for my family, my friends, and my own pain all at once.

I’ve often said that when I write these rare pieces that are designed to reach folks of privilege, I’m (in some ways) giving them my heart. And a few months out now, and thousands of responses later, I find myself questioning why I did that in the first place.

Cis folks, I’ve been told over and over again that I’m not patient enough, nice enough, generous enough. That if I’d just be a little more understanding and a little less hostile, you’d come through.

(And this is a familiar refrain for folks who are marginalized. This isn’t new. “Allies” love to hold their support hostage, making it as conditional as possible so that they feel justified in doing nothing. I see white queer folks in my own community doing this right now. White folks who are looking at Black folks protesting at Pride for the right to exist, telling them they’re too angry, too disruptive. As if the comfort and feelings of white people somehow matters more than Black lives.)

Allies, most having never shown up for these communities beyond a filter on their profile pictures, love to tell folks that their tactics are wrong. As if marginalized folks haven’t lived in these bodies and persisted through these struggles their entire lives. As if allies are somehow better positioned to determine how communities should advocate and care for one another.

Allies, just seeping with entitlement, think that they know better and that they’re owed the emotional labor and warmth of marginalized people at all times… otherwise we’re not worth the time of day.

Cis people, you’re breaking my heart. But that’s what I get for putting it on loan, right?

In fact, some of you are so self-obsessed that you find it more offensive that I’m calling you “cisgender” than you are with the rampant amount of violence waged against trans women of color. You’re outraged by a label, a category that does nothing to endanger or disempower you — one that names the safety that you possess in this world because of your identity, and asks for you to acknowledge it.

A simple acknowledgment. And you accuse us of asking for too much, of being too much.

But this was never about me. I’ve held your hand. I’ve even stroked your egos on more than one occasion, applauding your good intentions and giving you the benefit of the doubt, even when you didn’t deserve that from me. This was never about what I did and didn’t say, how I did or didn’t say it — I know this because I’ve coated it in honey for you and you still said it was bitter.

When it comes to privilege, it’s almost always about comfort. Your comfort. And until you’re willing to sit with that discomfort, my approach and my labor are irrelevant at best. I could hand it to you made-to-order, to every specification, and it still wouldn’t be enough. If you’re not ready to be made uncomfortable, not just once but many times over, you were never going to be my “ally” in the first place.

And to be clear, I’m not here to make you feel good.

My work, first and foremost, has been giving folks in my community resources to help them survive — whether it’s a tool to start a conversation, or the affirmation they need to feel a little more whole in a world determined to irreparably fracture them. Even when I’m taking the time to teach cis folks, I’m doing it because I want trans people to live in a world where we don’t need to have these conversations anymore.

It was never about you or courting your favor, though I’ll admit that it was nice in those rare occasions that it worked out that way. But I’m not your pet, and my articles aren’t designed to be shiny apples sitting on your desk.

You emailed, and you tweeted, and you commented, determined to make it about you and what I apparently owed you. You told me that I was unkind, and that I’d never get allies if I didn’t cater to you.

That article had sugar on top and ice cream in the middle, and you said it had a bad aftertaste. (Guilt, maybe?)

(If I had a dollar for every time a cis person tone-policed me, I could buy a damn island for all the trans folks who are fed up with you. …Not a bad idea.)

Instead of sitting with those feelings, wondering how you could process in a way that would translate to meaningful action, you rejected everything out of hand. You unloaded your feelings and fragility onto me, demanding that I take it all back. You lashed out, as if to say, “If I have to feel uncomfortable for even a minute, I’m not interested in the pain and fear that you experience every minute of every day.”

I’m not going to claim that I’ve never been defensive, uncomfortable, fragile. I’ve encountered my own learning curve around my privileges, particularly around race, class, and education. But I’ve learned (and oh-so-generously spelled out for you in this article about call-outs) that navigating this graciously is part and parcel of being a decent human being.

Cis folks, I’ve never asked you to be perfect. I know better than anyone that when we’re trying to unlearn all this toxic shit, it takes time and intention. Marginalized folks have been saying ad freaking nauseam that showing up for us and doing the work is a process, not a destination or a title that you earn after you collect enough cookies.

(The concept of “ally” itself is dubious at best. Bless Indigenous Action Media for this article about the “ally industrial complex” and being accomplices rather than allies, some further reading if this conversation has miraculously sparked your interest/you haven’t angrily tweeted me already).

But when I hand you my labor and my heart on a silver platter, and your instinct is to withhold your Very Precious Allyship™ (as if trans folks can’t get on without you — talk about self-important), the problem isn’t with me. It’s with you. 

The amount of labor (emotional, intellectual) that goes into directly engaging with attitudes and people that dehumanize us is, in itself, far deeper and more difficult than any momentary discomfort you experience when a trans person asks you to do better.

And your inability to honor that labor tells me that my approach here isn’t the problem. It was never the problem. Your unwillingness to engage in conversations that don’t flatter or comfort you is. And if that’s your idea of allyship, you can keep it. I won’t miss it.