Where Gaynip Returns, Sorta

The thing I hate most about depression is the way it steals your drive and your ambition.  I tend to feel hopeless, lost, frustrated and stuck in a rut.  I acknowledge that I need to do something to get out of it, but then I lose the ability to copy, the ability to push myself into action.

It feels like falling into a cavernous hole.  Knew it was there, tried to edge my way around it, but one misplaced step and I’m ass over teakettle into the pit.  It’s not a straight decent to the bottom, either.  You might hit the sides on the way down.  Land on a ledge and try to climb out using weak footholds and old bits of root.  Eventually, I’ll hit the bottom.  I might lie there a bit, feeling defeated and sorry for myself.  Sink into the gloomy depths before I sit up and take stock of the situation.

When I’ve faced depression before, I haven’t had much of a support network.  Even my former doctor ended up in tears when I’d tell him stories about my childhood.  He’d stand at the top of the hole from a safe spot, and eventually, after telling me where the handholds were, and watching me scrabble along, I got myself out of the hole.  Where was everyone else?  My parents stood off to the side, shaking their heads.  To them, that hole didn’t exist.  They were ashamed of me for being weak and not able to cope as adults are supposed to.

My friends, limited as they were, knew the hole existed.  Been in the hole themselves, some deeper than others.  But they weren’t interested in lending a helping hand.  In some cases, I didn’t blame them.  Hard to help someone else out when you’re busy with your own climb out of a deep, dark place.  Others just didn’t feel like getting down and dirty with me.  Part of me understands that too but part of me is angry, because I’m the type of person to get down and dirty for my friends.  Even if it means sacrifice.

This time, it’s really weird to be depressed.  I’ve got friends at the top of the hole, shouting down encouragement.  I’ve got friends who are willing to repel part of the way into this abyss to lend a hand getting out.  And of course, I’m better equipped at the bottom this time.  I’ve found some tools that will help me get out.  When I get out I’ll be able to backfill some of this pit in so I don’t fall so deep again.  Or at all.  Wouldn’t that be great?

Yesterday, I had my assessment done.  I still need to get a proper diagnosis.  As it turns out, my aversion to pills aren’t completely unfounded.  I’ll hear back in a month again.  The wait for the kind of therapy I need (specialized) will take a little longer.  There are a few options for me.  It’s really a huge relief to hear someone else tell me that I’m not crazy and that this isn’t my fault.  I come from an extremely dysfunctional family.  I’ve been told that the steps I’ve already taken (visiting Momar and Jo) are healing ones.

I feel better today.  I woke up feeling happy.  I’m dealing better.  Tomorrow I’m shelling out $260 for two new tires for the car and I’m not spazzing out.  This is what the savings account is for, after all.  I’ve still got some nasty side effects happening.  Dizzy.  Headaches.  Tiredness.  Aggravated restless leg syndrome.  Insomnia.

On a side note: I may not be as big of a lesbian as I had initially thought.  How odd.  Cortejo and Reyl are always talking about how sexuality is fluid.  But the funny thing is, when I see a naked woman, I can’t imagine wanting anything else.  Yet, I find myself contemplating men.  It’s very strange.


To Write Love on Her Arms

I’m going to be serious this morning, so brace yourselves.

Tomorrow is the day “To Write Love on Her Arms”, a movement that got started in February of 2006.  It’s a non-profit movement “presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.  TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.”

Their vision for those who suffer:

The vision is that we actually believe these things…

You were created to love and be loved.  You were meant to live life in relationship with other people, to know and be known. You need to know that your story is important and that you’re part of a bigger story.  You need to know that your life matters.

We live in a difficult world, a broken world.  My friend Byron is very smart – he says that life is hard for most people most of the time.  We believe that everyone can relate to pain, that all of us live with questions, and all of us get stuck in moments.  You need to know that you’re not alone in the places you feel stuck.

We all wake to the human condition.  We wake to mystery and beauty but also to tragedy and loss.  Millions of people live with problems of pain.  Millions of homes are filled with questions – moments and seasons and cycles that come as thieves and aim to stay.  We know that pain is very real.  It is our privilege to suggest that hope is real, and that help is real.

You need to know that rescue is possible, that freedom is possible, that God is still in the business of redemption.  We’re seeing it happen.  We’re seeing lives change as people get the help they need.  People sitting across from a counselor for the first time.  People stepping into treatment.  In desperate moments, people calling a suicide hotline.  We know that the first step to recovery is the hardest to take.  We want to say here that it’s worth it, that your life is worth fighting for, that it’s possible to change.

Beyond treatment, we believe that community is essential, that people need other people, that we were never meant to do life alone.

The vision is that community and hope and help would replace secrets and silence.

The vision is people putting down guns and blades and bottles.

The vision is that we can reduce the suicide rate in America and around the world.

The vision is that we would learn what it means to love our friends, and that we would love ourselves enough to get the help we need.

The vision is better endings.  The vision is the restoration of broken families and broken relationships.  The vision is people finding life, finding freedom, finding love.  The vision is graduation, a Super Bowl, a wedding, a child, a sunrise.  The vision is people becoming incredible parents, people breaking cycles, making change.

The vision is the possibility that your best days are ahead.

The vision is the possibility that we’re more loved than we’ll ever know.

The vision is hope, and hope is real.

You are not alone, and this is not the end of your story.

  • According to the World Health Organization someone commits suicide every 40 seconds.
  • In 2008, 815,000 lost their lives due to suicide.  That is more than double the amount of people who died as a result of armed conflict (306, 600).
  • Suicide is the 4th leading cause of death for people between 15-44.
  • Suicide is the 6th leading cause of disability and infirmary worldwide.
  • Men are more 4 times more likely to commit suicide while women are more likely to attempt it.
  • Research shows there is a direct correlation between sexual abuse and lifetime attempts at suicide.  This is twice as high for women.
  • The rate of suicide in Canada is 15/100,000 but higher for certain groups like Inuit Peoples (65-70/100,000).
  • Christmas is not when suicides occur the most, in fact, memories of family and loved ones act as a buffer.
  • Late July and August hold the highest suicide rates for the entire year.  Studies show that it’s the time of year when personal changes are most likely to occur.  Either people feel crippled by the dramatic changes or powerless when things continue to stagnate.
  • In the last 45 years suicide rates have gone up 60% worldwide.
  • Mental health disorders are linked with 90% of all suicides.
  • Youth suicide is increasing at the greatest rate.

It’s no small wonder suicide is happening at such an incredible rate.  The social stigma attached with mental illness is so great that it keeps people (between 1/2 and 2/3s) from seeking treatment.  Did you know that among teens, 8.3% of them will suffer with depression for a year at a time compared to 5.3% for the rest of the population.

Self injury is almost always a result of depression, and it starts out providing some relief from the symptoms of depression.  In 1996, Princess Diana admitted to struggling with self injury for 10 years, and up until that point it had been considered something of a mystery.  Experts say that 4% of the population struggles with self injury, and it happens equally between males and females (even though pop culture would have you believe it’s prevalent with girls).  It is an addiction.  It is a coping mechanism to deal with internal struggles.

I’ve had both friends and family deal with all of these issues.  That’s why I believe in something like TWLOHA.  I know that it’s really something that kids and some  young adults are going to do, and probably not adults.  But that’s alright, because if we start with these new generations (and work on my own) and completely destroy the stigma.  We need to reduce these numbers.  We need to make it okay for someone feel safe to admit they have a mental illness, that they are feeling suicidal and that someone will listen, will not judge them, and will help them get better.

Tomorrow, write love on your arms.