All posts by Steven Williams

How far should our sexual identity influence our identity in total?

I recently took part in an event called “Live Honest Talks” within my college at Durham University. It was an extension of “Honest Talks” which were two videos released during my college LGBT Pride Week”. The video featured myself and four other students talking about life in Durham as an LGBT student (and can both be found on YouTube by searching “St Aidan’s College Honest Talks”). The “Live Honest Talks” where the same five people (plus a new sixth member) on a panel who all spoke about a different LGBT themed topic. Again I was one of them and I chose to discuss something I have been thinking about a lot recently, how far our sexual identity influences our identity as a whole.

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Me (Standing) and some of the other members of panel at “Live Honest Talks”

This whole issue is dominated by the conflict between the idea of being proud in your sexuality but also not letting it define you. While these two aren’t entirely contradictory, it is often hard to navigate the line between the two. A lot of people I have spoken to (mostly people my own age) seem to be of the view that their sexuality has minimal impact on their identity and focus on not letting their sexuality define them more than they would focus celebrating their LGBT* identity or being proud. While this is certainly not universal, it is certainly something I have noticed within my social circles. Before a few weeks ago I certainly used to agree with this. However I have recently revaluated my view on the matter and have started identifying much closer with the “queer movement” over the “pride movement”. The main difference between these two movements is the “pride movement” aims to reach equality through normalising LGBT* life whereas the queer movement aims to reach equality while also celebrating the LGBT community, and to maintain the LGBT identity. In the previously mentioned “Honest Talks” video, I even briefly mentioned that I didn’t think people knowing my identity is that important, however I now see everything a bit differently.

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I do want equal rights and to not be seen as to inferior, but my bisexuality is a large part of my identity and does -to an extent- makes me different. When I say my bisexuality is a large part of my identity, I’m not referring to being attracted to males and females as being a large part of my identity, instead I’m referring to  having to come out, experiencing bi-phobia, questioning who I am and eventually realising who I am. All od this had effected me and I have come to realise is that, in my opinion, sexual orientation has become more than who you want to have sex with. It now encapsulates entering a world of discrimination, being a part of a much larger community and having to come to terms with yourself. For example While my attraction to people didn’t affect my identity everything else about being bisexual and being a member of the much larger LGBT community has done. Not only has it made me (in a very cliché sense) stronger, but it’s pushed my academic work and my extra-curricular activities onto a completely separate path. As previously mentioned I am involved in my universities LGBT* community, I also now write about LGBT* issues, have attended LGBT* conferences and have chosen to focus my dissertation on queer theory and heteronormativity in my archaeology.

Me in attendance at an LGBT Leadership conference, a conference I only attended due to my sexuality and identity
Me in attendance at an LGBT Leadership conference, a conference I only attended due to my sexuality and identity

I recently attended a talk from Dr Jamie Lawson, a lecturer in the anthropology department in Durham University. In his talk he said that when he was younger he said he is an academic and his sexuality wasn’t important, but now his matured he thinks his sexuality is probably one the most important aspect of his identity as an academic. Hearing his talk is one of the main things that made me question my current views on this topic. Listening to him made me realise that a large part of the reason I used to think that my sexuality wasn’t important for my identity, was that I was scared of other people making this decision for me. I was scared that my identity would become so heavily influenced, not only by something I didn’t have a say in, but also something that was, in my head, so controversial. I was scared it would impact my future in ways out of my control, notably that if I applied for a job I would be either rejected for my sexuality or accepted only for my sexuality (so that the company can seem more diverse), and that my sexuality would over shine my other skills. As a result I fought the idea that it was a big part of me for a long time, it’s only now I am more confident in my sexuality that I’ve come to the conclusion it is a big part of my identity and decided that I present myself in such a way. A realisation that is probably quite obvious to most people (after all, I am writing this while wearing a “Love Durham Hate Homophobia” wrist band and rainbow laces). By no mean will I say it defines me, and by no mean do I suggest everyone should consider it a big part of their identity, as for many people it’s not. For me I have been heavily influenced by my experience as a member of the LGBT* community and I have been heavily effected by my status as a bisexual, so for me it is and what I think is the most important part of this argument is that the individual should have the choice of how far their identity is effected by their sexuality and it should not be decided by an exterior force.

I want to return to blogging, if you will let me

Hey Friends 😀 

I apologise for my immense, and prolonged absence recently. I believe it has been around 3 months, and I’ve really wanted to write again, but it has been the 3 months from hell, there were alot of times I refused to speak to my closest friends, so I wasn’t really up for talking to the internet, but everything getting a bit better now! so I want to restart my blog.

In the past my blog has been very sensere and intimate, and while I want to keep it that way I would like to change it a bit. I want to keep the sencirety (as I hope that my sencirety and honesty makes up for the shabby quality), but I would like to have a bit more interaction with the readers and comments from now on, and less of my rambles. I know this is probably a bit of a cop out, but I have tossed and turned for hours trying to think of something clever to write, but have been unsuccesful, so I thought it might help if I answered questions or comments. So feel free to ask about one of the topics I write about (such as depression, bisexuality, disabilities) or just me, or just comment with what you would like me to write about. 

I am sorry for my absence, and I am sorry for the underwhelming return, next time will be better. 

love Steven

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p.s. this is me, I thought it might help create the positive/some what intimate relationship between me and reader if I was more than a page of words, but instead a face. Though when I write, I usually have my glasses on and a mug of tea.

Universities approach to mental health and my issue with it

My last blog a larger amount of attention than any of the previous ones. Which I am stoked about, out of all my blog entries, that one had the most potential in my mind, but this entry changes format from the last. My focus is not on myself, or on other people but this is instead an opinion article about how universities treat students with mental health problems and the issues I have with it.

The reason I have decided to write this is I was recently in a conversation with several other people about how good our university was at treating people with mental health problems. At the time I was in a bad way and was struggling with personal things, so was unable to weigh in to the conversation as I would like to have, so this is my belated opinion on the matter. The university I attend is very good with regards to mental health, they let me switch to a part time course, they give me any extensions I want and are in general very accepting and understanding. As far as universities go, it is a good university for students with mental health problems. However the problem I find with it, and the problem that makes me think universities approach to mental health is wrong is that there is a minimal focus on recovery. I have to meet with academic advisors, lecturers, senior staff, tutors and counsellors on a semi regular bases and (as previously stated) they are all understanding, but their focus is solely on how to cope with your current problem. This is fine, but a university is in a position of care and I believe should have some focus not only on dealing with the present, but also on the recovery of students and dealing with the future, no amount of extensions are ever going to make me not depressed and even the counselling service only helps people deal with the current, day to day problems and fails to address any long term turmoil or negative internal processes, both of which is required before any substantial recovery can occur. I have said, and I reiterate that my university is very good with regards to mental health for a university, but in general I think the approach adopted by universities to mental health is inappropriate.

                An appropriate analogy is to compare what institutes of academia currently do to the act of a doctor giving a patient morphine. It removes the pain, and cures the problem in the short term but at no point does it address the central cause of the problem, and as a result the doctor would need to pursue further treatment before recovery can be made, in most cases a doctor cannot simply cross his fingers and hope the problem goes away. I do appreciate that an argument exists that the current effort put in by a university to manage mental health problems is enough and the role of recovery should be entirely separate from them, I respect this train of thought and intend to address it later. I don’t like to criticise without offering a solution. This, like all this entry, is just my opinion, but my experience with my university is that they are effective at signposting students to services that may help them in the present situation, but research should be put into broadening their sign posts to include services that offer treatments that encourage long term recovery, such as cognitive behaviour therapy or courses in anxiety. I have been told about both of these, but not by my university, by my friends (and have yet to try either of them unfortunately as I have no idea how to apply). I am not in a position to comment on how hard it would be to achieve this, but my opinion, forged from my own experience is that it would be beneficial.

                A secondary problem I have with academia’s approach to mental health is how accepting they are of it. It is known that a lot of mental health problems stem from the stress that comes alongside a degree, and universities do put some effort in to reduce the chances of students developing mental health problems, but the feeling I get is that there is a high level of acceptance that students are likely to develop mental health problems, and in my mind that acceptance shouldn’t exist. Developing a mental health problem is horrible, I won’t go into detail but my most recent term (trying to study while managing a newly diagnosed mental health problem) at university was the hardest few months of my life. I’m not blaming the university for this, I am simply stating that no one should be put through what I went through if it can be avoided.

                I accept there is a possibility that I am wrong when I say there is a high level of acceptance, but that is the impression I get, and getting this impression is just as damaging as if it were true. I ask you to put yourself into my shoes, or the shoes of someone like me- when your mind tells you that you don’t matter and that you deserve to be suffering, it doesn’t matter if the idea that you don’t matter is accurate or not, the fact you are allowed to think it and that enough evidence exists to hold onto this impression is what matters and what allows your mood to plummet and your depression to grow. Yet again I am not certain how this can be fixed, I think it would need a big change in focus. Students are allowed to think that their degree means everything, and while it is important, the world of a university student is a world which is heavily warped. I’ve been told by friends “We need you to finish your degree” and they speak as if that is the highest concern. I think work needs to be put in to keep students priorities in check and worldly. Health should come before your degree, if you mess up an assignment it is not the end of the world and nothing within university is worth losing yourself. In my mind the best way to do this would to be to constantly remind people of the outside world and to stop students forming “university bubbles” which I believe play a large part in warping their priorities and allowing them to think their degree is worth destroying themselves over. Though as I have stated (many times) this is my opinion, and very possibly wrong.

Thankyou for reading. As I have stated many times, these are just my opinions and I don’t wish to force them onto anyone, I just offer it as a form of feedback to universities.

Stay Brilliant,

Love Steven  🙂

A message to anyone who needs help

I haven’t done anything for ages, so I’ve made up for it with a video.

I spend alot of time talking about myself, because I am frankly quite self centred at times, but this blog changes that. Instead of talking about how depression makes me feel and what life is like for me, I’m aiming this entry at other people. This is what I wished someone would say to me when I am upset, down or struggling and I know everyone is different, but if this helps me I’m crossing my fingers it will help someone else.

Please watch.

Im sorry I don’t know to embed it into the blog all fancy like 😦

Keep smiling,

Steven

Depression and Acceptance

Hey guys! I’m not sure if this blog is as good as the previous, I am simultaneously having quite a bad depression day and not drinking tea at this exact moment, both of which may have a negative effect on my writing, but I’m going to give it a go-I want this blog entry to focus on acceptance and there’s two elements of this theme I want to focus on:

1-      There’s a quote that’s been rattling around my head recently. I have no idea where it came from, but I like to think I made it up. It is “I would rather buy you flowers, than buy them for your grave”. This applies to the first element of acceptance I want to focus on, that is how acceptance is relevant to other people. I know of people who look at me, or may look at anyone with depression and just accept that I am broken. As I have said before I have some fantastic friends, but there are some people who I can’t help but feel have simply accepted I am depressed and given up. They look at me and think “you can no longer do x, y or z, so you should stop trying” and accept that this is the case. This is where the quote I previously mentioned comes in, these people who have just accepted that I have lost are, in essence, buying flowers for my grave. They’re not supporting me, or helping me get better, they have just accepted I am broken and have decided my failure is just an inevitability. I understand how hard it can be to be friends with someone with depression, I honestly do and can see how people can get fed up of supporting a friend with depression, but I find it hard to believe that it can be harder than being made to feel your friends don’t think you deserve to get better, or being made to feel you can’t turn to them.

Despite what I’ve said I do also understand that my view may get warped sometimes, I may simply be just too far down the rabbit hole to see sense, but I don’t think you should ever tell someone that they simply cannot do something. I live in a world where I get such a small say in what I do. I feel so out of control, like a marionette with one string held by depression, one by my my M.E., one by fear, one by pain and the last thing I want is someone to grab the few remaining strings, even if it in an attempt to help, and take control. It just enforces the idea that it’s not my life to live any more. In my mind it is far more helpful not to take the stance of “you can’t do this- stop” but instead take the approach of “this is going to be a struggle, let me help you”.

2-      The previous section is about how acceptance works with regards to third partied. I want to now discuss the two ways in which acceptance is relevant to the individual. The first is acceptance of your own health, in the sense I believe you should always fight it. As I’ve said before, depression forces you into a world of doubt and darkness, and it is so easy just to accept that this is your life now and just grit your teeth and deal with it. When your mind is telling you that you are useless and that no one likes you, you need to fight it. I’ve been given the advice before to just “keep your chin up”, but I don’t think that’s right, it implies that you should accept you’re in a storm and bear it. As much as it feels like it at times, depression does not make you like a boat trapped in a storm with no way out, it’s better to look at it as you’re in a boxing match against someone of a considerably higher weight class, it’s awful and it will hurt, but you can fight back, and a lot of the time you may lose but there’s always that time where you turn it around.

I understand that this is hard at times. The main reason is the harder you fight depression the healthier you look. I’ve been having a really bad depression relapse the last 2 weeks or so. The reason I mention this is not for sympathy, it’s because I’ve adapted the previously mentioned strategy of constantly fighting it (though there have been days where I just haven’t), and as a result I think people haven’t appreciated how awful I’ve felt. I say again that I don’t say this for sympathy, I say it as a reminder to people that just because someone seems well doesn’t mean they are. Just because someone can laugh louder than they cry doesn’t mean you should stop trying to help them, because the only true way to indicate someone’s level of well being is to ask them.

I’ve just realised that this blog was titles acceptance, but then was about how you shouldn’t accept. It was quite a misleading title, but thank you for reading this far.

Keep Smiling

Steven

Emotional Dishonesty

I’ve had a couple of rough days (two of which I only left my bed because I was bribed out by one of my friends and his millionaire shortbread/cookies), but todays been a bit like that and it’s raining- and I can’t help but think that it is some type of pathetic fallacy- but it reminded me of a quote from Rowan Atkinson, “I love walking in the rain because no one can see me cry”. I have never thought about this quote much, I originally interpreted it as comparable to the tears of a clown motif, where a man can hide his sadness behind comedy, but only now have I thought about it more. I think it’s more about being enabled to feel genuinely and unsuppressed emotion. So much of culture encourages us to be controlled, social etiquette encourages a “stiff upper lip”, your pride tells you crying is weakness, from a young age boys are told not to cry, this idea of emotional suppression is woven throughout many aspects of our lives.

I can’t talk for everyone, nor would I want to, but I can talk about me and why emotional suppression can be damaging. To people who have read my blog, the fact I have depression is no surprise, it’s largely why I started blogging and it’s largely what I talk about, but having depression forced me to be emotionally dishonest a lot of the time. When I say emotionally dishonest, it doesn’t mean I lie to myself, it means I lie to others. A lot of time people will look at me and ask if I’m ok and I will say I’m fine or I’ll play down how bad I really am. This is common of almost everyone, people often ask other people “How was your day” or “How have you been”, and they doing it expecting the other person to simply say “fine” instead of answering honestly. This is what people do, we wear masks and we pretend to be what is expected of us. I (and I imagine a large amount of other people) do all this while wanting simultaneously wanting people to see who we really are and see that we’re struggling. There are a lot of days where I feel like I’m falling apart, and frankly I just want to be held. But for various reasons feel unable to express this and instead fall into the typical “I’m fine” lie, but all I want is for the other person to look at me and say “are you sure?” Just to clarify, this isn’t to say that every time I say I’m fine I’m lying. I am generally quite emotionally open and wear my heart on my sleeve, but ever since getting back to university the pressure to fall back into emotional dishonesty has grown.

All of this reminded me of the film “Girl Interrupted”. I love that film, and think it’s portrayal of mental health is very good. A lot of Winona Ryder’s quotes in the film are ones I strongly relate to, notably “how the hell am I supposed to recover when I don’t even understand my disease?”, and the general sense of confusion and vulnerability created by her character. However the most relevant quote for the point I am trying to make is made by Angelina Jolie’s character; “There’s too many buttons and they’re just – there’s way too many just begging to be pressed, they’re just begging to be pressed, you know? They’re just – they’re just begging to be pressed! And it makes me wonder, it really makes me f*****g wonder, why doesn’t anyone ever press mine? Why am I so neglected? Why doesn’t anyone reach in and rip out the truth and tell me that I’m a fucking whore, or that my parents wish I were dead?” It’s the moment in which it becomes clear that her whole character was built upon emotional dishonesty, all of her actions are done because she wants someone to look at her and say you’re not ok and help her. In real life a lot of the time people run is to see if someone will chase them, people push people away to see if they will come back and they shut down because they want someone to open them up.

This idea of conflict (the want to be safe through shutting yourself away, but be loved for who you really are) is built strongly into my character and personality and I think many other peoples. The purpose of this blog was to try and encourage people to think about the effect their emotional dishonesty may have. I admit a lot of the time saying “I’m fine” or forcing a smile has none, but on rare occasion it does. I feel I can’t truly capture the point I want to make, and this is a bit more like the rambled musings of someone trying to sound smarter than they are, but I hope some of my (few) readers may take something from this.

Stay Brilliant

Steven 🙂

Why Frozen is the best thing ever

 

I was going to originally write a review of the film “Frozen” but when I did, it was just the sentence “Frozen is the best thing ever!!!” and while this captures my feeling perfectly, I thought I should probably write slightly more than one grammatically incorrect sentence. So instead I wanted to write about why I like “Frozen” so much.

I’m going to start with a slightly serious point, when I watched Frozen for the first time, I thought the character Elsa was symbolic for depression and I related to her on that bases. Both situations involve the fear of hurting people you love, both involve self-isolation and unfortunately both involve a level of self-imposed and undeserved shame. it was only much later when I read articles written by people with disabilities or people who have struggled with their sexuality who also stated that they relate to her that I realised I have been rather egocentric and had been projecting onto her and in fact she has the potential to represent many people who struggle for different reason. Many people have compared Frozen to the musical “Wicked”, I think this comparison is quite obvious and largely because they both feature Idina Menzel staring as a misunderstood witch. I think a far more fitting musical to compare it to is “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”. The reason being because both attract people from various walks of life that for some reason are unconventional. It’s no secret that Rocky Horror thoroughly embraces the unconventional and as a result has developed a cult following, but I believe “Frozen” offers a similar experience is through the character Elsa.

What you need to know about Elsa is that she was born with the power to control ice and told to conceal herself away and keep it a secret, she is told that people will hate her if they find out, and that the only way to li ve is to be “the good girl” everyone expects her to be. On a fundamental level Elsa’s character (and the plot of Frozen) represents the internal conflict many people face at some point in their life between conforming to what is expected of them, or accepting their oddities and embracing who they truly are. This is why so many people relate to the struggles of Elsa. In addition to this, unlike Rocky Horror, Frozen presents this conflict and balances it out by including the character Anna. Anna is, in my opinion, the embodiment of unconditional love. Something that people constantly need to be reminded exist, especially people who are in a situation that forces them to identify with Elsa. This creates a situation where the audience is simultaneously presented hardships they may relate to but also constantly reinforced with the idea that unconditional love exist and consoled.

Giving Anna the majority of screen time strengthens this as the audience is never allowed to dwell on the possibility of Elsa being a villain, nor the possibility of maybe she should hide who she is. The effectiveness of Anna as a main character is that whenever any minor character brings up the possibility of Elsa being wrong she instantly shoots them down. At the end of the day Anna’s opinion is largely forced upon the viewer, usually I don’t like when films do this, but because Anna’s views are morally correct and is simply that people should be honest with who they are, I think it’s for the best. This combined with the films focus on the much more stable and grounded family love opposed to the more idealised and turbulent romantic love is why I think Frozen is so effective, especially for people who may be struggling to accept themselves. It provides people who are struggling a character to relate to and take solace in, and not only provides them with a happy ending to take solace in, but throughout the film consoles them and forcefully reminds them that they will still be loved regardless.

Depression and how it’s changed me

Hey guys! The last blog took a detour away from talking about depression and as a result was much less personally driven, but whether it is for good or bad, this blog has very much returned to it’s roots. I’m not sure how good this blog will be, it stands very much on the border of what I’m comfortable writing about and what I’m not and I’m not sure how that will effect the blog. I’m returning to university tomorrow (after spending the majority of the holidays deciding if I was going to or not) . This fact has set a scary thought in motio that this term at university is not going to be the same as the last one. Not only because of me being unwell still, but also because everyones going to come back to university refreshed and happy, and I’m not, instead I’m returning as a very different person. Basically I’m writing about this because I’m scared and have no control, and when I feel like this I take control by writing.

This is hard to convey and probably the simplest way to do so is to explain that I don’t think of depression as being a part of me, I think of it being an alternative force within me, the Jeckle to my Hyde (or the other way around, I don’t know which one is bad). I believe who I was is still somewhere in me, but having this other force capable of yelling louder or punching harder has dampened it’s existence and very successfully hidden it. Essentially I live in fear that I’ve completely lost myself due to everything thats happened. The main reason I think this is when I think back on the past, I remember stuff that’s happened and really important life events I’ve gone through but when I think of them I don’t feel anything anymore. It feels as if they happened to someone else who recorded those events in writing, and I’m just reading it, the sense of warmth that radiated within me when I was sentimental just isn’t there anymore. I simply don’t identify as the person who lived those events. I feel much more like an actor who’s just finished a long stint with one character and is looking for another.

I remember so clearly getting so excited over little things a few months ago. When I say little things, I mean like curly fries or a surprise hug or someone complimenting my obnoxiously colourful trousers. I rarely speak about myself in a positive way because I’m scared of sounding obnoxious, but looking back at past Steven, he was very good at grabbing the positive things the world presented- though this worked both ways of him also being very good at grabbing the bad. I think the most poignant way to describe this change is that whether good or bad, I have always been very emotionally driven but now access to my emotions has been significantly stifled and limited and as a result changed quite a fundamental part of myself. I’m not saying I no longer enjoy the small things (still love hugs), but my reactions are now much quieter, and much stiller. Less like river and more like an ocean. Everything’s still somewhere, its just much less obvious, and there are always the considerably large periods of time where I don’t feel at all.

The reason I am writing about this now is because I going back to university means seeing my friends again, and I’m super excited to see them, I’m just scared there not going to like the new me, some of my relationships have already been tested by all of this. I have spoken in the past about the self isolating nature of depression and my fear of hurting the people I care about, but this change introduces a new aspect of how my relationships altered. They are altered by the fact I’m different and is perfectly possible people simply won’t like what I’ve become. As I said previously, I have always been emotionally able and expressive, I always thought that was a large part of who I was and it’s just gone now. Also the fact I am going to people to lean on or catch me when it goes wrong will create a strain on friendships. I am still perfectly capable of being there for them when they need help (and I will always be there is needed) but I am going to need them a lot more than I did before, and some people aren’t stable enough to bear the burden of a friend like me. I understand all of this and it is fair, I don’t like what I am, so theres no reason for them to like it.

Thankyou for reading, sorry if it was no good (as I said previously this is somewhat more spuradic as an entry than previous ones)
Big hugs to anyone who read this far down
Steven 🙂

Hey guys!
I don’t know how well this blog is going to go, I always drink a cup of tea while I write and unfortunately throw the majority of said cup of tea over myself before writing began. So I am writing with a now soggy lap, and very little tea. In addition to this, this blog isn’t about my depression, it is in fact about something I believe in quite strongly which is how society should be much more open with people about certain aspects of society. The video that inspired me to write this is the video “Children react to gay marriage”, but I want to take it further than gay marriage.

I have included the link to the video at the bottom of the blog and you may want to watch it first, but it is not essential

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TJxnYgP6D8

The general idea of the video is that children are shown 2 clips, one of a man proposing to a man and one of a women proposing to a women and then questioned about it. The children are generally positive and pro gay marriage. There are two that are especially interesting, one is a young boy who is strongly against gay marriage and one is a young girl who has never heard of the concept of homosexuality before. The young boy is very against the concept and says “Gay is wrong” but when asked why he thinks this, he can’t answer. The young girl is interesting because of how quickly she changes from being surprised by the idea, to completely accepting of it. This captures the main point I want to convey in this blog, that stigma is not a naturally occurring phenomena, it is instead something man made. The reason I say all of this is that I believe children shouldn’t be kept in the dark about homosexuality or other issues. If a child is old enough to be taught about the concept of love (just to clarify I mean pure, child friendly love, not sex) they should not only be taught about love between opposite genders but also love between the same gender. At the end of the day, the emotion felt between a same sex couple, is the same emotion that is felt between a couple of the opposite sex and by making children aware of the love between heterosexuals at a different time than making them aware of the love between homosexuals, we encourage the belief that they are different from each other, which just isn’t true, love is love.

In addition to this I believe making children aware of homosexuality from a younger age may have a knock on effect that makes the process of “coming out” easier for them. The reason I say this is because I believe that if homosexuality is shown to be a viable and accepted concept, then when the time comes for a person to come to terms with their sexuality, it may be easier for them to accept if they have always been told that there is nothing wrong with it. I’m not suggesting that coming out will be made easy by this, it is still a confusing and scary time, but if we try to remove any slight suggestion from the persons mind that homosexuality is wrong, then it should make it slightly less scary, and in my mind the easiest way to do this is to make children aware of the concept. Just think of it this way, if a gay couple attended a party with young children, they and the other guests will usually refer to them as just “friends”, but if an opposite sex couple was at the same party they would be described as “boyfriend” and “girlfriend”. The problem with this is that when those children grow up and realise that the people described as “friends” where in fact a couple, they will naturally wonder why they felt it had be hidden and it is possible that they will reach the conclusion it was hidden because it must be wrong. I believe in this situation it should never have been hidden, if they were open and the young children where told that they were a couple, it would give them the idea that it’s not something that needs be hidden and is something that is/should be accepted.

Finally I just wanted to go on a slight tangent. I wanted to talk about P!nk’s music video for the song “Perfect”. This isn’t about homosexuality, but this video received a lot of controversy because it depicted a girl self harming. I want to clarify now that I am not suggesting children be shown images of self harm at all. What I am suggesting is that it should not be tabboo. Unfortunately self-harm happens, and it is something which very few people actually seek help for. It is hard to say why people don’t, as there can be a multitude of reasons, however one of them is sometimes that people think it is wrong and are ashamed. This thought process is a very damaging way for sufferers to think as it hinders them getting help, and I’m not saying showing images of self harm helps because I am aware it may act as a trigger, what I am saying is that hiding it and saying it is inappropriate definitely suggests that it is wrong and give support to the incorrect view that people should be ashamed of it. At the end of the day, self harm is a coping mechanism. It is a damaging coping mechanism, and something people can rarely get over on their own, which is why it is so important to create the image that it is something that can be discussed without shame. However this must be done without trivialising the issue. In contrast to this Urban Outfitters have released a shirt that says “eat less” on it and one that says “depression”. I need to clarify that this is not a case of bringing issues such as depression and eating disorders into main stream culture and showing it as acceptable, its a case of trivialising the matter and is insensitive to sufferers of either condition as it implies it is not a big issue. I want to draw attention to the hypocrisy, P!nks video showed self harm as an issue, it told the story of a girl struggling and shows her overcoming it, and this was deemed inappropriate by some. However urban outfitters shirts that trivialise mental health issues are deemed acceptable. In my mind the only difference between these two is that one offers a understanding view and hope and the other offers neither, but it’s the latter that is accepted.

Thank you for reading 🙂 I hope this made sense. Steven

Depression and the storm

I’ve frequently mentioned in this blog series the feeling of emptiness that comes with depression, or a better phrase is the absence of feeling. However the absence isn’t fully permanent. Think of it like this, imagine a tunnel that runs between the part of you that receives information and the part of your brain that controls your emotional response. Depression collapses the tunnel and blocks the path. This means most of the time your emotions aren’t active, they’re blocked by the tunnel collapse, but every now and again the build up of emotion is enough to knock down the blockage and get through all at once.
When talking to my friends I make reference to a “break down”, “A moment”, “crumbling” or many words to that effect, but rarely elaborate on what it means, when I use one of those words I am referring to the times where this blockade is broken. I know this is probably strange, I spent the first entry in this blog talking about how painful the feeling of emptiness can be, and it is painful, so why would I then complain for the small amounts of time when I get to feel again. The reason is that I don’t return to a state of emotional wellbeing, I am thrown into a storm. It’s not just feeling again, it’s feeling everything all at once. It’s massively overwhelming and this may be hard to understand if you’ve never experienced it, but when they happen, it is one of the most scared I’ve ever been. In addition to this fear, it’s also one of the most destructive sides of depression, when you mix together all of these feelings, they become something very similar to anger.
It’s so hard to describe these moments, I don’t know if I’m good enough with words to capture something that just feels like pure, organic terror. I’ve done research into this, and it is often described as like drowning. It’s just completely overwhelming, its like being surrounded and screamed at and having every thought or feeling or doubt magnified so each one has grown into something huge, large enough to crush you, individually. When this happens to me, theres no other real way to describe how I feel than just completely raw vulnerability.
I spend almost all of the day standing in the eye of the storm, constantly scared that I’m going to fall into it. The main reason I’m so scared of falling into it is not because of how painful the moments inside it can be, but because who else may be struck by it. When forced into such vulnerability, I react with aggression, and I’m not going to blame that solely on depression- it has always been character flaw on my part, but depression seems to have exaggerated it. I live in fear that I’m going to be knocked into the storm while with friends and then lash out against them. A large part of this fear is because of how easy it is to be knocked into the storm. It’s happened every day since I’ve been diagnosed. The force that pushes me does not need to be large. It can be as simple as someone bumping into me and catching me off guard, it can be me seeing my reflection and not liking it, it can be me getting paranoid someone doesn’t like me, frankly it can be anything. This has created a world in which I am scared of hanging out with people as I don’t want them to see this and I definitely don’t want to lash out at them when they don’t deserve it (and they will never deserve it). The combination of all of this is why I haven’t been able to attend any social event I have been invited to since been diagnosed (really big apologies to Izzy whose party is right now, but I couldn’t make it due to my depression being really bad today, Izzy will be getting a nice present when I next see her).
I hope this entry makes sense, it took much longer to write than usual. 3 cups of tea instead of the normal 1. If there is anything anyone wants me to write about, or any questions people have, please comment boor message me. Finally a massive thank you to everyone for reading and being wonderful 😀