Monthly Archives: September 2013

Free Speech and the Value of Social Punishment

So, this happened the other day:

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The first part was a question by me. The second part was the other guy’s answer. It was part of a discussion about the value of boycotting Barilla pasta. Other Guy was arguing, basically, that people should never be punished for voicing problematic opinions because “free speech.” Needless to say, this is a problem.

Freedom of speech is one of America’s founding principles (no – that does not make it magically a good idea). It is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution. It has been a stated value of most democratic societies dating back to ancient Greece. It’s an incredibly important bulwark against tyranny. Freedom of speech is a cornerstone of a free society, without which democracy cannot function.

But here’s the thing: freedom of speech only applies to the government! The reason it’s important is that if the government can censor the public, the government can get away with anything by suppressing all dissent. It also has tons of exceptions, and is a sophisticated legal doctrine, which incorporates a healthy dose of nuance and weighing of factors. “Freedom of speech” does not, and never did, mean that there are no consequences for saying problematic things.

The suppression of ideas is not always a problem. In any movement to change public opinion on a topic, a big milestone is the point at which advocacy of the offending idea is no longer safe to do in public. The fact that voicing an anti-gay opinion in public is now a liability is kind of a big deal. As few as five years ago, it probably wouldn’t have even been news. Now, not only has it cause a public uproar, competitors are now rushing to express their support for homosexual relationships. Not only is this a sign of progress, but it’s actually helpful to the movement.

Descriptive norms are one of the most powerful ways to change public opinion. Saying “support gay rights” is much less effective than saying “everyone else supports gay rights.” When people see negative reactions to anti-gay sentiment and positive reactions to support for equality, people are much more likely to support equality themselves.

And at the risk of stating the obvious – suppressing ideas through social disapproval, far from being a violation of free speech, is a validation of it. Criticism of speech is also speech. Expressing our collective disapproval of an idea is a form of political speech, which is the most protected form of speech.

Tl;dr: if you’re not talking about government censorship, “freedom of speech” doesn’t apply. If your CEO publicly expresses bigotry, I’m not going to buy your pasta.

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Whirling, Twirling Towards Sanity

As you saw in Shaun’s most recent post, there’s a lot going on at Polyskeptic Compound in terms of new people appearing on the scene.  It appears everyone has new partners and is excited about them and that is pretty awesome!

Well, not everyone has new people. I don’t…but I have something else: an increased Zoloft dose, a new therapist (soon) and emotional development!  And really, people, isn’t that the BEST partner?

I’m sure it’s easy to read sarcasm into that statement, and sometimes when I am feeling alone in the ginormous emotional task I have presented myself with maybe I feel a little broken and bitter.  But honestly, this time I don’t feel alone.  I feel loved and supported, and despite all the newness around everyone has been there for me.  I feel very cared for, which will make my recovery speedier.

The last few months have been harrowing, to put it gently.  In this time I have: Come clean about the fact that I was raped with those who love me, had terrible experiences with unprofessional and uncaring therapists, made a final attempt at civility with a biological family I already felt abandoned by at the time of the attempt, finally said things in a not-so-civil way so that we could just get this shit over with, ceased communication with said bio family, spiraled deep into depression and anxiety, made an appointment with a therapist my dear friend goes to and thinks will be an excellent match, lost my sense of humor and had panic attacks about my partners replacing me with their new partners and my chosen family falling apart because I am not worthy of them, got a Zoloft dosage increase, got my sense of humor back, and am happy for my family’s new connections.

I cannot say enough good things about antidepressants.  I fought with myself about the dosage increase, calling myself weak and undisciplined.  I was also depressed and depression lies.  When I made the decision, I let everyone in the house know (since adjustment before was really tough).  The first night was awful.  I had been really depressed all day (and all week, which is why I made the call to up my dose) and taking the second pill in the evening threw me for a loop.  Meanwhile, Wes had one of our friends over so I felt inclined to try and hide my anxiety, but that never works very well.  In addition, Shaun was in the process of getting things to work out with his newest partner and was bringing her over.

I was convinced that this was the beginning of the end, that I was obsolete and imminently replaceable.  I envisioned everyone in the house finding families that fit better with them than me.  I was waiting to be told that I am the weakest link and that everyone would be happier if the family I want didn’t exist.  I was absolutely terrified and had the closest thing I have ever had to a full blown panic attack.  Wes came upstairs to comfort me and as I fall deeper into chaos I whispered, “I would die without this family.  I don’t want to live without all of you.”  When I uttered these words, something crystalized for me and I gained a greater level of understanding. Then Wes said, “Me too.”

All the while, I was very aware that this was my depression lying to me and that these fears I have are deep rooted and persistent as they were taught to me at a very young age.  It is so easy to learn the wrong things, harmful things when you are young and unaware and soaking everything up like a sponge.

While this may sound dire and horrible, it was actually somewhat positive.  For one thing, I wasn’t feeling jealousy.  I was feeling fear of abandonment while also feeling in favor of the new relationship.  I recognized the fear for what it was, and while that did not make it go away, I was able to see a light at the end of it.  Forcing myself to think through what is happening while have an emotional meltdown meant that I clearly saw the problem and that pinpointing it allows me to have well defined, achievable goals for therapy.

The next day I woke up still not doing too well, but I took the next dose anyway and hoped for the best.  By lunchtime I was a different person.  Or, more to the point, I was what I have learned to accept as Normal Gina.  I was talking to people, getting work done, laughing, cracking jokes, and being helpful to coworkers.  Even better was I was observing myself and felt confident and could see, finally, why people would love me and want me around.  This may sound trivial and absurd, but the belief that I am worthless is entrenched and ruthless.

It has been a few days and I am still feeling like myself.  I have a lot of work to do, but I feel capable of doing it and know that I will succeed.  And though I am still feeling some of the stress and fear of new people replacing me (it will take a while and a lot of effort to remove that fear) or of being treated poorly because I am now Old News and Broken, I will trust in my loved ones and let them show me that neither of these things will come to pass.

Don’t get me wrong, antidepressants are not a cure-all.  I am still having a very hard time with life but I can manage and even have fun and have some release.  I was getting to the point where I wanted to be a hermit on a hill somewhere, and the Zoloft brought me back down to the village at the foot of the hill.

So, no, I don’t have anyone new in my life.  But I am working towards something just as exciting: A new me.  A freer me.  A happier, more self-possessed me.  A sexually liberated me.  A me without constant shame and fear.  And then? Maybe new people.  Maybe not.  Who knows what the future holds?

The Fat Kid, 1994-2013

When I was in 5th grade, I found out that I was fat. I was cast to play Santa Clause in the school Christmas play, Some kid, I don’t remember who, said something to the effect of “heh, you won’t even need any stuffing.” It wasn’t until that moment that I learned to be ashamed of my body. Before then, I didn’t really think about it. But at that moment, it was revealed to me that my body was ugly and unpleasant. That was the moment where I changed from being able to watch “Stand By Me” unaffected to flinching every time Jerry O’Connell got referred to as “the fat kid.” That was the moment where I stopped wanting to take my shirt off at the beach.

Being “the fat kid” makes life difficult in a lot of ways, but none so much as dating. I’ve been interested in girls since first grade, and probably before that. Dating in elementary school is just weird, so I don’t really count that. I even had a girlfriend in 5th grade. It seems like a ridiculous thing, to have a girlfriend in 5th grade. I don’t think we even kissed, but it because very important to me later. She and I didn’t particularly interact after we dated, and I can’t even begin to remember how or why we broke up, but I it meant a lot to me all through middle school that someone was willing to give me that kind of attention.

Middle school (6th-8th grade, in my district) was a near-constant stream of rejection. I watched my classmates form romantic connections and hold hands in the hallways. I would hear stories of experiments with adolescent sexuality. Girls would express interest in my friends. I would look around, and clearly see what all of these people had in common – no fatties. The point was driven home by social rejection in other ways, most notably a regular outpouring of teasing for my weight, my fat ass, my “tits.”

Remember how I said that my 5th grade girlfriend ended up being important to me? That’s this part of the story. That “relationship” was probably the only thing that kept me from feeling like a complete loser throughout middle school. As with most adolescent boys, I was obsessed with girls, not only because I had strange new desires, but also because I wanted to be a person with a girlfriend. Somewhere along the line, I internalized the idea that having a girlfriend was the most important thing a person could do to be worthwhile. The longer I spent single, the more pathetic I felt. The only thing staving off complete despair was the fact that I had a girlfriend and one point in my life, so clearly I wasn’t completely worthless to girls.

Except, really, I always knew I wasn’t completely worthless to girls. Girls liked me. I had a number of female friends, and I tended to get along well with girls in general. There was only one part of me that was worthless to girls – my body. No matter how much of a connection I formed with a girl, she would be repulsed at the idea of touching me on any level beyond a friendly hug. My body was disgusting to girls. Sometimes, they would tell me so. Most of the time, they would give me one of those so-called “polite” rejections, e.g. “I just don’t feel that way about you,” or “I don’t have time to date right now,” or “I’m busy on [every evening you ask me out].” Until Mandy.

met Mandy in 9th grade. Well, back up. I met Mandy in 7th grade and thought she was really cute, but she disappeared over the summer. I next saw her again once I got to high school (turns out she skipped a grade). Mandy changed everything. Mandy liked me. Mandy like-liked me. She was beautiful, and smart, and fun, and soft, and amazing to touch, and she. liked. me. Naturally, I had no idea what to do. We dated for over a month before I would even kiss her. But I did kiss her, and she kissed me, and we didn’t stop kissing each other for two months. I, being 15 years old, made some poor decisions, and Mandy left me in July of that year, but I never believed that it was because of my body.

After Mandy, I didn’t date again for almost six years. Oh, I went out with girls. But they would make it clear that we were not on a “date.” As before, girls still liked me, just not my body. In the latter half of high school, I started developing real, deep feelings for girls. I started getting emotionally close with people, even intimate. But none of that changed the fact that my gross, fat body was undesirable at best and repulsive at worst. And every year, I got fatter.

By 2002, my freshmen year of college, I was 275 pounds, and my body-shame was at an all-time high. I was a 19-year-old virgin and hadn’t kissed a girl since 1997. I would fall in love with any woman who even looked in my direction. My shame was so great that I felt unable to turn away any attention, even if it wasn’t the kind I wanted. I let myself be used as not much more than an emotional sounding board. I had a drunken makeout with someone whose name I didn’t even know at a party and I looked at it like I’d just been awarded a Nobel Prize. Hey! A girl who was near-falling-down drunk could stand to touch me! It was pathetic. By the time I went home for the summer, I was convinced that college was going to be a lot like high school.

The Fat Kid, 2000

The Fat Kid, 2000

Mandy saved me again. She randomly came into the record store where I worked that summer. It had been four years since we dated, but she was as attractive to me as ever, probably moreso, since I was now convinced that nobody else would ever be interested in my stupid, fat body. The situation was a complete mess. She was going to school in Pittsburgh, and she had a boyfriend that she would break up with, and then get back together with in the course of a week. But I didn’t care. I wanted her so badly, and we finally had awkward sex in the front seat of my Oldsmobile 98, ducking to make sure nobody on the not-10-feet-away sidewalk could see us. It didn’t matter to me how awkward it was. It wasn’t the sensation that was important. It was the status. I wasn’t a virgin any longer. I wasn’t a total loser. I wasn’t undesirable. This person desired me. She desired me so much that she was willing to massively complicate her relationship situation to be with me.

The Fat Kid, 2001

The Fat Kid, 2001

Unsurprisingly, the situation went to hell within a few months. I visited her in Pittsburgh a few times, and those are some of my fondest memories of that entire time period. She made me feel amazing, and sexy, and she reminded me that not everyone saw my big belly or my fat face as revolting.

Sadly, and to my shame, I didn’t do the same thing for her. While all I wanted was someone to take an interest in my body and my sexuality, she was all-too-familiar with such things. Her life had been a mirror image of mine, and she was convinced that her body and her sexuality were her only assets. While the relationship did wonders for my self-esteem, I suspect it did the opposite for hers. In retrospect, I used her as a self-esteem booster and a status object. I think she just wanted to be valued, and didn’t know how to say “no.” She tried to tell me, and I didn’t listen. Mandy, if you’re reading this, thank you, and I’m sorry.

The Fat Kid, 2002

The Fat Kid, 2002

Around that time, I tried the Atkins diet. It was in vogue at the time, and it was the first time that I tried any kind of rigid diet. It worked amazingly well. I lost 10 pounds in a week. 5 pounds the following week. Another 5 pounds in the next two weeks, for a total of 20 pounds in a month. Eating bacon. I was still 250 pounds, but I felt great. My clothes fit looser, and when I looked in the mirror, I looked thinner! I decided to keep it going, and signed up for Weight Watchers (I figured Atkins would give me a heart attack if I actually kept it up). Over the next year, I lost about 40 more pounds. The need for smaller pants gave me indescribable joy.

Spring 2003 was when I got to know Gina, and fell for her almost immediately. This, also, was a mess. She had a boyfriend at the time, and we were all in a 6-person show together. This was not new to me. By this point, I was used to having unrequited feelings for “taken” women. Even with my new smaller size, I was still “obese” according to my handy BMI calculator, and didn’t harbor any illusions that my body looked good to anyone but me.

It’s a long story, mostly involving me being too desperate to give up and Gina not wanting to admit her feelings. BUT it all worked out, and we’ll be celebrating 10 years together this January.

The Fat Kid, 2005

The Fat Kid, 2005

My body image issues got better after that, but they still weren’t great. I still saw my body as unattractive, but actually having a girlfriend, especially one as great as Gina, was helpful.

Wanting to feel wanted while in a monogamous relationship is a strange thing. Up to that point, I always wanted to be wanted for practical reasons – I hated being single, and I wanted somebody to be with. Now, I was with somebody, and didn’t need to impress anyone but her – but I still wanted to. I still wanted to be wanted, not for any practical reason, just for how it made me feel. Or, more accurately, how not being wanted made me feel. Being wanted by one person was great, but I still didn’t feel attractive, and I still didn’t like what I saw when I looked in the mirror.

The Fat Kid, 2009

The Fat Kid, 2009

It wasn’t until Gina & I opened our relationship, and I lost another 30 pounds, that I started actually feeling good about my body. My first relationship after opening up was kind of a disaster. I was still feeling vulnerable due to my body issues, and she represented all the girls I couldn’t “get” when I was younger. She was skinny, outgoing, popular, and every guy I knew wanted to be with her. When she kissed me, I felt like the coolest kid in school, like I’d never felt before. She was also self-absorbed, inconsiderate, and within a handful of weeks, her attraction to me waned, and she started seeing a much skinnier guy. Like I said, kind of a disaster, but she meant a lot to me at the time.

The Fat Kid, 2011

The Fat Kid, 2011

In February of 2010, I started dieting again. March 27, 2010, was a big day for me. That morning, I weighed myself, and the scale came out to 201.5 pounds. That number might not mean a lot to you, but it meant everything to me. For my height, weighing less than 202 pounds moved me from “obese” to “overweight” on the BMI scale. I honestly never thought I would get there. It felt great. Over the next year, I lost another 25 pounds, and bottomed out at about 175.

More than the weight loss, my body image was improved by joining okcupid. On okcupid, I could meet women who actually found me attractive, and who were ok (or even enthusiastic) about dating a married man. I stopped being able to count on one hand all of the women I ever knew who found me attractive. I started seeing real evidence that my body and my sexuality were not generally looked at as disgusting and repulsive. Women appreciated my body. I even met women who didn’t seem to like me that much, but were still interested in my body. It was surreal at first.

Since then, things have gotten much better. I’ve gained back about 30 of the pounds I lost. I’m not happy about it, but I no longer believe that I need to be thin in order to be attractive. I’ve also stopped viewing women as status objects that I can use to prove to myself how not-hideous I am. Because my insecurities are under control, I’m able to connect with people on a much deeper level. It still hurts when people tell me that my body holds no value to them, but it’s bearable. I love Gina more than I ever did, and I have an amazing fiancee who can’t get enough of me. I’m performing in a burlesque show (and yes, I take my clothes off).

This week is weight stigma awareness week. This morning, I weighed 208 pounds. I’ve eaten 1,397 calories today. My pants fit a little tight. The buttons on my shirt are pulling a bit. I have a lot of love in my life. So it goes.

The Fat Kid, 2013

The Fat Kid, 2013

The First of Likely Several Angry Tirades about Feelings

Writing about what is going on with me these days is difficult to do coherently and concisely.  In the coming weeks, I will likely only be able to muster fragments that will perhaps give you insight into my head and my process.  I am unpacking 25 years or so of consciousness and pain and scars.  Hopefully, brighter days are coming.

I am angry about the emptiness of words.

Or rather, I am angry about the empty way people throw around words and phrases that should be packed with truth and meaning.  We’re taught this early on in our lives.  When you say hello, ask how someone is.  It’s the polite thing to do.  You don’t have to care or even want to know, but the other person should believe that you would like to know.

And then you hear people whine about if you ask a particular person how they are, “They will tell you EVERYTHING.  Jeez, I didn’t actually want to know.  What an annoying jerk!” Why do you ask if you have no actual desire to know anything about how that person is doing?

But there are countless other examples of this.  Take, for example, the sentence, “I am here for you”.

Some people mean this when they say it.  I am lucky enough to have 5 people in my life who mean that.  How do I know they mean it?  They show me.  They swoop in when I am sinking and do their best to lift me, to help me work through the feelings, whatever is needed.  They sometimes ask how they can help, but mostly they know me so well that they know what I need or what would help without me telling them.  It can be as simple as wrapping their arms around me and helping me ride out the badness.

But many people say this because it’s what you’re supposed to say when people confide difficult things.  They say it, but they don’t know what it really means.  When they say it, it translates to, “See? I am a good friend/family member!” But if it is not followed by any action, any actual effort to be present and to help lighten the load that the afflicted is bearing, then it is empty and ultimately hurtful, because you likely won’t follow through with anything.

For instance, I am currently dealing with some major Emotions about my biological family.  Recent communications have resulted in my making the decision to not speak to them anymore, at least for quite a long while.  Why? Well, there are a bunch of reasons, but there are too many to enumerate here and it’s painful to speak about them at length on here.  But it was revealed that none of them knew how depressed I have been for years, and all of them suspected that they have been “losing me for a while now” and my recent communications served as a “final blow” to my relationships with them. Everyone ignored my rather obvious depression and watched as I drifted away and chose to do nothing, because doing would require effort and possible discomfort on their part.

But they claim they are there for me and always have been.

In addition, they have gaslighted me about my experience growing up and in recent years and have made statements about my being selfish and inconsiderate.  I am the black sheep.  I am the bad one.

But…they are here for me.  Every message has contained this sentiment.  Well, I call bullshit.

Another loaded but often meaningless thing people say is, “I love you”.  All of the communications claim this as well, but I think that people say this without knowing what that really means.

People tell each other that they love each other because we’re supposed to love our family.  We’re supposed to love our partners. But I think it loses its meaning when there’s nothing there to back it up.  How do I know I love my people? Because when they are happy, I am happy, even if what they are happy about scares me (new relationships, being far away).  Because I try to be as available as possible for them for when they might need me, and if I fail in knowing what they need, I take the criticism and learn from it so that I can offer better care the next time.  Because envisioning my life without them is a bleak and desolate landscape that I want no part of.  This is because my life with them is bright and full of potential.  It is full of potential for long term happiness and continued blossoming into the people we want to and can be.  I love them because their presence, the people that they are adds to the person that I am.  To say that you love someone when it is conditional or simply a sentiment that requires no action or growth on your part is meaningless and ultimately hurtful.

What I’m saying is that lies hurt, even the vague societally approved lies of everyday language.  Happiness, I think, has a lot to do with trusting the people close to you because trust in the people around you results in feeling safe and we cannot flourish unless we feel safe in our intimate lives.  Trust cannot be attained with the use of empty words.  A thin veil of care does nothing but give way immediately when pressure is applied, and the person needing care will fall fast, this time knowing that you were not prepared to follow through with your claims of love and presence.

I’m going to go look at pictures of otters now.

Adventures in Therapy: PICK UP THE PHONE

Life is…life. No, let me not be so cynical.  Life right now has a lot of good going on, despite the anger/sadness/anxiety party going on in my head here and there. Our burlesque show opened and has been going wonderfully well, and generally dancing around in awesome costumes and allowing myself great vulnerability amongst happy patrons has been exactly what I need at the end of the day.  I often feel this way about Arcati Crisis shows.  I have spent many a show getting my stress out with the power of rock.

I think I would have become “certifiably crazy” years ago if I didn’t have a very healthy and eclectic sense of humor and multiple artistic outlets.  I have very bad days where I can’t seem to laugh at anything and I have zero inspiration for creative endeavors.  Those days are the bleakest.  But most days are at least peppered with moments where I laugh a lot to myself or out loud and where I have ideas for projects I want to do.  Thank goodness.

The show yesterday was absolutely awesome (a blend of no technical problems and fun and appreciative energy from a fab audience).  My final piece takes a lot out of me, as it is about peeling away the artificial layers in order to reveal the true version of myself…yes, I’m such a fucking artist.  Stop rolling your eyes.  Anyway, it is emotional and I haven’t been getting enough sleep.  Long story short, I cried hysterically all the way home out of a sense of loneliness and loss and it was great.  (Note: it was not great)

I have a lot going on and am in the process of making some difficult and life changing decisions to finally rise above the much and mire of my teens (I know…I probably should have done this, you know, in my teens, but whatever…better late than never).  I’m also still dealing with that whole sexual assault thang and in the process of learning to think about myself as important and worthy of considering.

As you might imagine, this is not easy.  So, you know, a competent therapist would be hella sweet right about now, but…GUESS WHAT? Apparently, therapists don’t check their voicemail for days at a time.  And if they do, it doesn’t matter because they have no time for me, but they totally have some names of other therapists I can call and wait around for!  Aren’t they helpful?!?

Dear therapists, I know you are busy because a lot of people need help and I am really happy that some of the stigma is lifting and people are coming to you for the help you need.  But…I really don’t understand why it’s this hard to just get a call back from people.  I know that my experience thus far is not a reflection of the profession as a whole, but what exactly am I supposed to think?  Has therapy really been reduced to an “I know a guy” industry?  I feel like my experience in finding a therapist has been similar to the search for a non-awful/cheating/unethical mechanic.

Look, all I’m saying is if you are going to insist that people call you and leave messages (because for some reason you don’t want people to email you), CHECK YOUR VOICEMAIL AND RESPOND TO PEOPLE IN A TIMELY GODDAMN MANNER.  It’s not hard.  But you know what is hard? Calling a hundred therapists and being treated like you’re just calling to shoot the shit or something.

I cannot say this enough: The process of coming to terms with the fact that you would greatly benefit from professional therapy is a hard one.  If you’re like me, you think that you can do everything on your own and that you should leave the doctors and the therapists and the flu vaccinations and everything else to the people who had it the absolute worst.  I am strong and can take the hit, so if you need this resource please don’t let me take it from you.  This is me giving too much credit to my own privilege and ignoring how much I am hurting and all the stupid shit I believe.  Does that sound easy to you?  It shouldn’t and you should be pretty happy that I have gotten that far without you calling me or respecting me.  But the process of actually finding a therapist should not be this hard.  Picking up the phone is hard, but you shouldn’t have to keep worrying after you get the nerve to do that.

So yeah, I’m aggravated.  I thank all the people who gave me recommendations.  Perhaps it’s me or something though…because people either cannot see me or don’t want to talk to me (apparently).  What I’m really good at finding are useless therapists who do more harm than good!  So if anyone is looking for one of them, hit me up.

I know, I know, I’m sounding cynical again.  Let me assure you that despite the fact that I am developing a general distaste for the therapy industry, I am actually making a lot of progress on my own (well, not strictly on my own…I have some pretty amazing people helping me on a daily basis and I can’t emphasize enough how grateful I am for their presence in my life now and for years to come).  I am a different person than I was even a month ago and things that were hard for me to do before are getting easier and I am learning quickly how to be my own person in a way that others can see.  I knew after my ridiculous therapy appointment a couple of weeks ago that this whole finding not-a-douchebag was going to be long and arduous, so I couldn’t wait around to start the work.  So I’m getting there and I’m functioning well, even if I still have some meltdowns.  It’s ok to have meltdowns.  Things are upsetting right now but I’m living with it and showing it whose boss.  Or something.

Soon I will write a great feminist triumph story that was a light in my life recently.  So there’s that!  But if you have a therapist you love and you are local, ask them if they have evening or weekend hours available and I’ll give them a call.  I will keep calling.  I will keep trying.

Keep moving forward.

Alright, I Think That’s Enough for This Week, Yeah?

This week I have done several rather difficult things and I think my brain might be ready to crap out on me at any minute…so of course I choose to blog.

On Monday, I worked myself to the bone until a meltdown happened and only gave myself permission to myself to stop both working and melting down after both Shaun and Wes had to tell me to stop folding laundry.  There is little more pitiful looking than a scraggly haired girl in a tie dye dress weeping helplessly as she attempts to fold a pair of jeans.  I curled up on the couch for a while and switched back and forth between staring at the ceiling and staring at the dog, who was staring at me and raising her hilarious ears as opportune times.

Indeed, I have been looking the part of the non-functioning depressive lately, putting off showers until late in the day and arriving places with wild hair, a skinny look to my face and a distinct inability to laugh at most things.

Except I can always laugh at the dog’s ears.  They’re amazing.

143_520365720866_8487_n

 

Yes, she is dressed as turtle.

Yesterday, I fired my therapist before we had even begun because she was completely irresponsible, unprofessional, and patronizing.  Sure, sure, maybe my standards are too high, but you know? Sometimes you just have to take a gamble and hope there’s something better.  Please tell me there’s something better, because seriously I’ve about had it with the profession at this point.

cthulhu-is-a-terrible-therapist

 

Today I wrote a letter that I have needed to write for years but was too unhealthy and afraid to write it, let alone put it in an envelope and then take a special trip to the post office to physically put it in a mail box before I had a chance to back out.  Family is hard, especially when you have spent 20-25 years not saying how you feel, what you want or what you need.  I feel a bit like a hollow shell of a woman at the moment, but I know that this just means that I can fill it back up with the right things.  I don’t know how the message will be received and I don’t know what will come of it, but at the end of the day I did something incredibly terrifying that needed to be done quite desperately.

And I’m proud of myself because I haven’t gotten any actual successful talk therapy, with the exception of my very competent friends and I have gotten myself to do these things.  This is mostly because I am finally allowing myself to not be alone.  Our problems do not exist in a vacuum.  We must accept support when it is given from an honest, loving place and I have that in spades.  How lucky am I?

As I made the final decision to push the letter into the mail slot, all I could think was:

Funny-Animals-Storm-s-a-comin

 

And that might be true, but I think I am prepared now.  I have plenty of water (especially in hot tub form), delicious food, supportive people, and of course an entire case and a half of homemade red wine.

wine therapy

 

Ok, yes, I know that’s a terrible philosophy.

But, sometimes it’s pretty fucking true.

Stop judging me.

Oh, you’re not judging me.  You just want me to pour you a glass.  Well, sure!

I mean…GET YOUR OWN.

Alright, I admit it.  This entire post was just an excuse to look for funny illustrative pictures on the internet.  I mean, that’s what the internet is for so I guess I’m approaching normalcy? Sure?  Yes.  I’ll take it.

Tomorrow is Thursday and I am hoping beyond all hope that I will have a mind that is functional beyond handling incredibly difficult and cathartic emotional activities.  I’d say I can’t take much more, but that’s not true.  I can take a lot more, but it would be nice to have a break, you know?

Then it’s Friday.

So, I’ll end with an obligatory Rebecca Black reference.

Rebecca-Black-Friday

 

You’re welcome.  OK.  I think I’m done now.  Can I go home yet?

Adventures in Therapy: D^$&(^@+*(&D*(HFJKHJKG($*)@*

You know, I’d be laughing if my experience with therapists (other than the nurse practitioner who gives me Zoloft prescriptions) thus far hasn’t been so ridiculously infuriating.  I mean, when I got the latest bit of ridiculousness I DID in fact laugh, but it was more maniacal and tinged with tears and a general desire to claw things.

So, some review of my adventures with therapists.

Attempt 1: I dig around on my insurance website and find various options who are covered.  I make a lot of calls and leave a lot of messages.  One organization calls me back.  I go to an appointment (for which I take off work) and the therapist does not show up.  After being told by another therapist there that there is nothing she can do to help me, I leave in tears.

The therapist calls me later and apologizes profusely, explaining that the people who made the appointment with me got the location wrong or something.  She puts me in touch with someone who has night hours.

Attempt 2: I start going to a relatively useless therapist who not only fails to help me find useful incite, ignores my requests for medication consultation, but also seems to not be able to schedule properly.  Out of the 5 sessions I went to, 3 of them were rescheduled from the original proposed times because she couldn’t keep her DayPlanner straight.  Finally after a final session where she watched as I tore myself apart, she finally agreed that I might be a candidate for medication and gave me a name.

Attempt 3: I call the person that Attempt 2 told me to.  I did not receive a call back for about a month after the initial call (and that was after calling and leaving a few more messages).  This one, however, was ultimately a success because I see her regularly for my Zoloft prescriptions and simple check-ins to see how I’m doing with my dose.

Which brings us to the present.

As I wrote about recently, I went to see a new therapist after realized that I never dealt with a rape from a few years ago and also that I have some really painful and incapacitating believes that are keeping me from living my life happily.  As you might guess, these are not easy or fun things to process and things have been rough.  In short, I need help and I went in search of it.

What I’m trying to say here is that my mental state and emotional well being has been feeling like a disease that needs immediate treatment before it spreads and I have to cut off a leg or something.  Like, I’m not fucking around here.

In my last post, I didn’t go into much detail about the session itself other than the PTSD diagnosis.  But there were several yellow flags about it.  In no particular order:

1. While she was working on the day I called, she did not call me back.
2. Her reason for not calling me back was that she did not have her appointment book with her for some reason.
3. When I went to the session, she once again did not have her appointment book with her, but assumed that the same date and time would be fine for this week.
4. She was intrigued by the concept of polyamory and uncomfortably asked how Wes, Jessie, and I *eyebrow raise, eyes bulge* and I said “What?” More eyebrow raising. “We share a bed.  Privacy isn’t really an issue.”  This woman asked me to talk in relative detail about my sexual assault but consensual bed sharing (whether sexual or not) is super weird to talk about.
5. She called me Interesting and thanked me for sharing my story. NONONONONONO.  I am TIRED of being a speciman.  Yes, I get it.  I’m not like other people you know apparently but I do not go to therapy to feel weird.  I go there to feel better.
6. She said that she was going to get an education talking to me, what with the polyamory and all.  NO, YOU’RE NOT.
7. She asked if I was a spiritual person.  I quickly and unequivocally said “no”.  She then said, “Well, I don’t mean spiritual like religious.  I mean like accessing your ‘higher self’.  You don’t have to be religious to be spiritual.” AHHHHHH! I just told you that I’m not spiritual.  DO NOT try to convince me that spiritual but not religious is a good avenue for me.

Finally, we made an appointment for this Wednesday, but since she didn’t have her book (again) we couldn’t confirm right then.  That was last Wednesday.  She proceeded to text me yesterday (one point in her favor, texts) to say that she had overbooked my appointment on Thursday, could we do Wednesday an hour earlier than we agreed instead.  I was annoyed but willing to work it out.  I proposed solutions and asked that she confirm and also asked that she please bring her appointment book with her to the next appointment so that we can make firm commitments for the future.

For your reading pleasure, here is what was she said:

Gina. I can tell u already that next week my 630 appts are already booked. I was plan.ing to book several 630 appts with u after that however I do this.k at times we need to be flexible le and open to change. I usually do have my book at all times and I remember saying to u I would call u if there was a problem. Sorry this has caused u stress. It was not meant to

I proceeded to get pretty freaking angry.

First of all, this scheduling horse shit is your fault, ma’am.  You are the professional that I am paying to help me with some pretty intense and difficult issues.  The fact that you didn’t have your book at the first time I called you AND you didn’t bring it to my first session with you shows that you do not tend to have your book with you at all times and that you generally disrespect people’s time.  My aggravation with this is not a symptom of my particular set of neuroses.  It is a symptom of being a responsible human adult who has a life to plan.

So, like, just because you are a therapist and I am seeking help doesn’t mean that you get to say that my annoyance and now down right ire is due to my inability to be flexible or open to change.  You do not know me yet.  You asked nothing to find out the fact that I am, in fact, ridiculous committed to flexibility and change.  How dare you text me this as though being pissed off that you were not prepared for my session and that you didn’t consult your book until yesterday (when you had 5 other days you could have looked at it and communicated) is my fault and my problem to solve.

Damn right this has caused me stress! How could it not cause me stress?  I am asking for help with emotional issues and am on medication for depression and anxiety.  Your JOB is to helpfully navigate the choppy waters of neuro atypical people.  It is NOT to make US feel like douchebags (and whack job douchebags at that) when YOU are the one who has caused the problem with your unprofessional behavior!

Breathe.  Breathe.  Ok.

In response, with a lot of help from a wonderful friend, I crafted a short and sweet text of cancellation of this and any further interaction and this same friend sent me some resources to help me find someone who I can work with.

I will keep trying because it’s important and I feel broken and scared.  But seriously, folks, what the fuck?

Therapists: It is hard to not only make the decision to come to you for help, but also to actually make the call and show up at the appointment.  Dealing with issues of the mind is stigmatized and undervalued by our society.  The most common thing I hear from others dealing with a variety of issues is that we feel like we should be stronger, better, smarter than this.  We’re not the sickest we could be, so why should we get help?  So, please, do not treat us like what we’re trying to do here is not important.  Many of us are working full time, demanding jobs, have families, and have lives that we want to live.  We are coming to you so that we can live them in ways that are healthier and happier for us.  Cancelling and changing appointments hurts and takes away some ability to trust you.  Trust is the only thing that matters when fragile people come to you for help.

Right? Yes.  This is fucking obvious and I am sick of people screwing with me when I am brave enough to some to them to fight the good fight.

I am feeling angry and beat up and a little on the hopeless side.  But I know that there is a light at the end of all this.  The light illuminates a happier more self possessed version of me, without the heavy baggage of self loathing and old scar tissue.  I know it will happen because some of it already has happened.  I am strong, good, and smart enough to know when doing something alone isn’t the best way and to ask for help and guidance.  And there is no magic “How Fucked Up Are You” scale that says when you are “allowed” to get therapy.  When you are hurting you get help, plain and simple.

Deep breathes and affirmations. And Dalek Relaxation videos.