Archive for the ‘Depression’ Category

My baby girl is getting married today. For her and her beau, it’s a day of joy and celebration. It would be for me, too, except for the fact that I have been told I would not be welcome there.

My future son-in-law’s parents are conservative and Christian. Rather than offend their sensibilities, since I am a Trans* woman, I have been told not to come. Instead, my “normal” younger brother will be giving my daughter away.

In a way, I’m not surprised. Indeed, I should have been able to predict it—after all, she was raised in a household dominated by her grandmother, who was definitely the controlling Alpha female. Indeed, it took me years after her mother and I divorced that I was able to see that I had been in an abusive relationship.

When I was involuntarily outed—by my ex’s brother—to my family, my father and my daughters immediately stopped all contact with me. It wasn’t until nine years later that my father reached out to me. My older daughter, with whom I had been reunited years earlier, called me and said, “You need to call your daddy. He wants to talk with you.”

My father had had a stroke the previous year, and his health had steadily declined. Now he was bedridden. He and my step-mother had attended a few therapy sessions about me, and he was ready. After an hour-long telephone conversation, we ended by telling each other, “I love you.”

That was a Friday. The following Monday, my wife suggested we drive down to see my dad. We live in upstate New York, and he in Maryland. Apparently my two brothers had flown in to visit him, and had already been there a couple of weeks.
Tuesday morning we loaded the truck and headed down to Maryland. We hadn’t been on the road 30 minutes when my daughter called. “”Your daddy’s gone,” she said.

We continued our trip in silence. Rochester to Hagerstown was about an 8 hour drive, with stops for meals and refueling. It was dark when we arrived, and after a couple hours of conversation, we found a motel and checked in. The plan was for all of us to meet at the funeral home the next morning.

My younger brother was there, as were my daughters and my eldest grandson, the one who had adored my father. I finally reconnected with my younger daughter. It was a loving reconciliation.

A year or so later, I made a futile attempt to move back to Seattle. Futile, because I had forgotten that under Washington state law, between first and last months’ rents, as well as a damage deposit, it would have cost me a minimum of $2400 just to move into the cheapest apartment available.

I ended up taking the train back to Rochester, but not before my younger daughter visited me a few times. I also got the chance to spend time with my older daughter and my grandchildren.

Then, as Don Henley once sang, “I got the call today I didn’t want to hear.”

I told myself it didn’t matter, that she would change her mind. I knew I was fooling myself when she didn’t even have the courage to call me herself. Instead, she saddled her sister with that onerous duty.

And so today is the wedding. At first, when my older daughter texted me how unhappy she was that I wasn’t there, I didn’t even want to get out of bed. After a while, I got up and got dressed, ate breakfast, smoked a couple of cigarettes, and knew that today was going to be a hard day for me. All of my mental issues—my depression, anxiety disorders, dysphoria—are beating inside my brain. The wolf is howling at the door, demanding to be let in. I’ve been crying off and on for the past two hours and considering my options.

As they always do when my depression spirals out of control, my first thoughts were of self-harm. I wanted to die. But then my mantra kicked in: “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem,” and I knew that no matter how this day goes, I will still be here tomorrow. Hell, I don’t even have any razor blades in the house!

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?—Khalil Gibran, “On Joy and Sorrow”

And so I continue. Writing this story suffices for today’s therapy. I’m going shopping with my BFF later today, and we’ve got a full agenda…to be closed out with pizza for dinner….

‘“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked. “Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”’—Lewis Carroll, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”

One of the greatest coping skills I learned after yet another failed suicide attempt (have you ever had a tube inserted in your nose and snaked down to your stomach as part of a gastric lavage?) was something I realized when my therapist told me: “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”

The realization—or rather, the skill—was so simple I was amazed that I hadn’t thought of it before was this: when things get so dark that I start to consider simply ending it all, I put on my headphones, fire up iTunes on my laptop, and put George Harrison on a loop. All Things Must Pass is my mantra. I listen to it over and over again until finally, I believe it.

The other realization changed my entire outlook on life in general and my lifelong chronic depression. This time it was something I read:

The question we should be asking is not “What’s wrong with you?” Rather, we should be asking “What happened to you?”

That changed my perspective from “What did I do to deserve this?” to “What caused this to happen to me?” And even then, it took a much longer time to drop the “to me” and stop looking at myself as a victim.

I am not a “victim of depression;” I am a survivor. I now approach this struggle in much the same way practitioners of Aikido approach their opponents: find your enemy’s strength—in this case, his energy—and turn it against him.

I’ve spent years discovering my enemy’s strengths. Knowing them, I have learned how to turn them against what Churchill called his “black dog,” and what Rowling put a face to with the Dementors.

The result? Between those two realizations, new medications, and therapy, it’s been over 3 years since my last suicide attempt, and 2 years since I’ve had even so much as a thought of harming myself.

We may be, as the Cheshire Cat claims, “all mad here.” But that’s no reason we can’t fight back. That’s no reason we can’t be mental health ninjas.


Do you suffer from depression? Do you have thoughts of self-harm? Of suicide? You can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1–800–273–8255. Even though I’m on the mend, I still keep the number on speed dial.

A Distinct Lack of Energy

Posted: 3 February, 2018 in Depression, Despair
Tags:

I posted this on Facebook this morning:

AN EXPLANATION
And an apology.

If you FB Messenger me and don’t get a reply, I’m not ignoring you. If I wanted to ignore you, I wouldn’t have accepted your friend request in the first place.

It’s just that I’m plagued with chronic depression and far too many other mental health issues that I can’t carry on extended interactions with anyone.

Please don’t take it personally. Just know that I appreciate your friendship; right now, I just don’t have it in me to be polite.

The same holds true here. I know I’ve developed a following, and a few of you have even commented on some of my posts. I really do try to moderate your comments, but when it’s all I can do to even post a new entry, I simply can’t do it.

Thank you for your patience and your understanding.

Dark Days Ahead

Posted: 19 November, 2017 in Depression, Family, Sadness
Tags: ,

This week begins my annual decent into darkness. It generally starts around Thanksgiving and stays until after Valentine’s Day. So if I don’t post as often as I would like, that’s why.

Thanksgiving, because I’m reminded that I’m alone. My children and grandchildren are on the opposite side of the country, and while my wife and I are still married, that’s just a technicality. Her family has severed all contact with me.

December brings with it my mother’s birthday, followed a few days later by the anniversary of her death. Then comes thee gloom of Christmas spent alone, followed by New Year’s Eve spent the same way. January is usually pretty much of a blank, followed by February and the second anniversary of my father’s death.

All of which would be bearable were it not for my

  • General Anxiety Disorder
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Seasonally Affective Disorder
  • Chronic Depression
  • Gender Dysphoria

Yeah, I’m a mess. But as the song says,

I get knocked down, but I get up again
You are never gonna keep me down

I still have my tea and my books. Oh, yes: and my blogs. They’re really my on-line journals, which I write in to keep my sanity.

I get knocked down, but I get up again
You are never gonna keep me down

Love and hope,

Robyn Jane

The Statue of Liberty

Posted: 5 May, 2017 in Depression

Liberty Face 2

Unpacking the face of the Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World; French: La Liberté éclairant le monde) is a robed female figure representing Libertas, the Roman goddess. It was a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States.

When I look at Liberty’s face, the first thing I see is compassion. That’s what first struck me as a child, and that impression has stayed with me ever since.

Losing Liberties in the Name of Freedom

But over the past decade or so, our liberties have been curtailed in the names of “freedom” and “safety.” The so-called “War on Terror” has whittled away at our personal freedoms, and to what avail? One idiot tries to blow up a plane with a bomb in his shoe, and now we all have to take our shoes off to fly. How many more school shootings have to happen before we institute meaningful gun control?

“But it’s in the Constitution!” Yes it is. But so is freedom of speech and public assembly, both of which have been restricted. My right to vote was never before predicated on whether I had a driver’s license. And what kind of country allows its elected representatives of the people to exempt themselves from the laws they pass to control the people who elected them in the first place? Am I the only one who thinks about these things, and thinks they’re wrong? Am I crazy?

"What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms." – Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, December 20, 1787.

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." – Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

Jefferson is also reputed to have said that every generation needs its own revolution. Is it time, do you think, for our revolution against the lawmakers who no longer represent the interests of the voters but instead are nothing more than whores for the rich and the multinational corporations?

I say let the people decide.


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