On depression

I don’t usually like to talk about depression. Because it’s depressing. And because I don’t want to depress anyone. I read once that humans can only stand about 20 minutes of exposure to someone who’s highly depressed before needing to get away, by leaving or by shutting down. I understand that. I can barely stand myself at all when I’m highly depressed.

When I was about 14, I wrote an essay for a class about my experience with depression. I don’t remember how, but a few of my classmates got to read it and came to me to say how much it had touched them. I actually made a few friends over this. It gave me a powerful sense of relevancy. Kinda like this blog has been doing, I realize. I’m very sad to say that I have lost this piece of writing, which is funny because I’m such an OCD archiver. I wish I could remember what it said.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this post. I guess I don’t really know where I’m going these days.

I haven’t struggled like this in a long time. Or maybe it’s more like I can’t believe how long and how good this previous stretch lasted. It felt like I had reached such an incredible new height, the view from up there was so shiny and bright, that I confused a plateau for the summit. Well, no, that’s not right either. Life is not a singular linear ascent. Life is more like you’re a big snow ball, being rolled around on the ground, growing as you pick up more snow on an all over the place path. In this metaphor, it would be like, I found myself into a real nice patch of good fluffy snow, that seemed to promise to last and last, but now I’m stuck on the dry concrete.

I believe words are just placeholders for what we want to express, for what we actually experience. That’s why I try to tread carefully around definitions and their repercussions. Like diagnoses. Those are real tricky ones. Especially with mental health. If you forget that it’s always only to the best of our current understanding, it’s easy to miss out. On the other hand, without a diagnosis, you can also miss out on understanding what’s happening to you. I mean, it’s kind of like that with everything, isn’t? If you see a red flower, you’ll register the color whether you have a name for red or not. It’s the same thing with different kinds of pain. You’ll register their experience whether or not you know how to name them. But not having a name for it means you can’t connect it to the knowledge we may have of it.

Wow, I really have no idea what I’m trying to say. This might be too complex an issue to address tonight. Or it might be the brain fog. Trying to think feels like trying to breathe when you’re all stuffed up. It’s like my mind is congested. And my heart feels like someone took a big bite in it, and chew off the part where my faith was. When I try to summon it up now, a big bunch of nothingness comes up.

I wonder if this is the kind of stuff my 14-years old essay was describing. Or if this is the kind of stuff people can’t stand more than 20 minutes of.

(I wrote this late last night, but didn’t trust myself to post it. Writing it must have made me feel better though, because I was able to fall asleep after. I don’t know if that is a sign that it is actually worth sharing, but I’ll take it as one).

(I didn’t publish it all day, because I don’t know even know why. It’s so easy to do nothing, and watch the disconnect grow. That’s why I gotta do the opposite, and make myself remember.)

On moving on from missing out

Still haven’t heard from Vimeo.

I just came back from visiting a place where I used to live a few years ago. Being there, I got flooded with reminders of how difficult that time was for me. Not because of the place itself, but because back then I was still very much the living dead.

It’s so hard to feel like you missed out on your own life because of your own self. I know more than I did back then about the nature of my struggles, and yet the reflex thought is still, I fucked up. I missed out, now it’s gone, and it’s on me.

I so often end up in that place where I think everything is my fault. It comes from my childhood. From too much stress at an age when reason cannot help you make sense of anything, so you make unreasonable assumptions which stick with you and later cannot be reasoned with, because they’re not reasonable to begin with. Stuck being a whatever-age-person living out a 3-year-old conceived world view.

I have gone through a lot of things in my life. It all adds up to make me who I am. Yet all the riches of experiences I didn’t choose for myself can never make up for what I wanted but never had. And ain’t that a pain vortex. I spent my teenage hood missing out from feeling so sad and weird for not having had a regular childhood. Then I spent my early adult years missing out from feeling so sad and weird for not having had a regular teenage hood. The same track on repeat over and over. Believe me when I say, I am so aware I could hear myself say the same thing for the rest of my life…

A few years ago, something clicked that helped me with this. You cannot mourn the things you never had. It’s not the same as with the things you’ve lost, the process of grief doesn’t work with unlived time. The belief that time is relative and that it’s never too late for anything, that’s what helps you get unstuck. Because then you’re not trying to move on with a heart full of holes, you’re moving towards what will mend it.

The trick is, relative doesn’t imply equal. Equal is not necessary. You can have one night of true ecstasy that makes up for a decade of not going out. You can have one brave interaction that makes up for years of fear and isolation. You can have one video that makes up for a lifetime of feeling like you don’t exist.

On abuse

I’m still thinking about abuse. What it is and what it isn’t.

I’ve never been raped but I’ve still had to deal with disturbing behavior. When I was 10, a car pulled up next to me as I was walking on the sidewalk and the driver asked me, how much? It took me a long time to realize what he meant and to start walking away. Some guy pressed his erection on me in a crowded subway when I was 13. I completely froze and it lasted a few stations. I couldn’t talk about it for years. I got caught in a jerk off phone call while at work when I was 15. I was so scared that the person would call again or try to show up in person. Again I didn’t talk about it to anyone. A man once followed me from way too close into the laundromat, where I ended up calling a friend to pick me up because he clearly had no other business there than to stare at me. He left before the friend got there and I still don’t know if I should have confronted him instead. And once, I said yes to anal sex when really I didn’t want to do it at all, but the man I was with kept asking and I didn’t know how to get out of it. The experience was devastating and I regretted it instantly and it broke the relationship. Well, I broke the relationship after realizing this person had not respected me enough to respect what I didn’t want.

I realized today that I needed to say all this here. I don’t fully know who reads this blog and for what reasons, but I know that I’ve started it to tell the truth. Of course the truth can be told in different ways, but in this case these added details feel appropriate, essential even, to a conversation about sexual violence.

I am not ashamed of what happened to me. Not anymore. But only because I have done and continue to do extensive work on myself. And because I have found resources that taught me healthier ways of relating to what had happened. Before I wasn’t sure what to do with it, how to see myself and others in it. Now I am clear with the fact that I did not cause any of these events. I am not responsible for other people’s behavior.

It might sound crazy, but I still can’t help but feel compassion for those who have done these things to me. Somewhere in me, I think I can understand how even the worse things can happen. I believe that violence is bred, not born. I think that everyone who hurts someone else has been hurt before, and is somehow trying to resolve what happened to them, just in very very inappropriate ways. But sadly, society doesn’t always teach us healthier ways to deal with what happened to us and so a lot of people don’t know better, or can’t do better.

I think it’s a beautiful gift, to see the humanity even in what others might call evil. But it can also be a curse if you don’t learn to put up appropriate boundaries. Paraphrasing here from something I heard on Oprah, if you get in an elevator with someone that gives you bad vibes, you don’t want to stay and be stuck there just because you didn’t want this person to feel bad. Your priority should always be to keep yourself safe first. You can have respect for everyone without having to engage with everyone.

Jeez, I honestly didn’t know I was going to say all this when I started writing. I guess it’s like with my videos, start and see where it takes you… Now I don’t know how to end so I’m just going to leave it at that.

On not being ashamed

I want to talk about something that’s difficult but extremely important. Sexual abuse.

I have never been sexually abused, but my mother was, and so were her sister and her cousins, by the same family member who was still around while I was growing up. It’s a heavy inheritance.

I am inspired to talk about this today because Layla Martin just released a video in which she talks openly about the abuse she suffered as a kid. Layla is an incredible woman who has been very influential on my own healing journey. I first discovered her work two years ago and it has tremendously helped me in reclaiming a positive sexuality. I highly recommend her to everyone who’s interested in sex. (www.layla-martin.com)

I’m also adding the link to her video here because I have never seen anyone be so open and vulnerable about her experience, especially in talking about how the abuse has impacted her life. I cried along while watching, because I could feel her pain and also because I could relate to a lot of what she describes, even though I have traumas that originate from different circumstances. I could also feel the pain of my mother and the pain of all the women and men who have experienced this kind of abuse, the pain of everyone who’s ever experienced any kind of abuse. Actually, I think we all can feel this pain. It’s in the air and it’s in our genes. Call it pain body or epigenetics or haunting ghosts, but it’s there.

It’s distressing to look at the statistics; every 109 seconds, 1 in 4 women, 1 in 6 men… No matter how you count it, it’s a real gigantic problem that we’ve only just started facing collectively. I think there’s been progress but it needs to keep going, and talking about it openly is one of the ways we can do to help.

I feel compelled to end this post by talking about a book that’s also been very important in my healing process. Victims no longer, the classic guide for men recovering from sexual child abuse, by Mike Lew. I stumbled upon it through a friend, and even though it wasn’t directly related to my circumstances, it spoke to me like nothing else I’ve ever read. I think that’s a testimony to the fact that there are more similarities than differences in the ways we get hurt. It’s also a testimony to Mike Lew, who’s one of the most compassionate person I have ever encountered. Even though his book deals with a devastating subject, he offers hope and help in a deeply respectful and kind manner. I also highly recommend this book to anyone whose suffered abuse and to anyone who knows someone whose suffered abuse. Which means I recommend this book to everyone.