Gun Control

discriminationOur country’s gun laws are ridiculous. That, for example, civilians can rather easily get access to war weapons is unconscionable, even if it is covered under the 2nd Amendment (a dubious assertion; one that seems to miss the point: even if something is within your “rights” to do, are there not other, higher, standards by which to evaluate whether or not you should do it?).

But targeting people with so-called “mental illness” is absolutely not the way to fix them. I’ll be putting the phrase “mental illness” in quotes for the duration of the post, not because I question the suffering of those who experience mental and emotional distress but because the entire field of “mental illness” is an utter mess. Continue reading Gun Control

Sad Lady and the Halfway Point


wandering2016, the year I was warned would be the hardest year of my life, is half gone today.

Should I think of it as the top of this gnarly crag and it’s all downhill from here? It’s been harder for me to hike down a mountain than up it; I’m not only shaky-tired from the climb up, but my jello joints can’t withstand gravity’s suck nearly as easily as they brace for my muscles’ pull against it. Continue reading Sad Lady and the Halfway Point

Sad Lady, Sounding Mad in Mourning

cliffside pathUnless you are willing to take care of me for a while, or take something off my plate, or spend time with me to ease the burden of aloneness, stop telling me to practice “self-care.” That’s a nice-sounding excuse not to show up. Self-care? How about community care? As Bessel Van Der Kolk writes in The Body Keeps the Score, “We barely exist as individual organisms.” A genuine thank-you to friends who have made a consistent effort without making me feel guilty for “taking” their time. Continue reading Sad Lady, Sounding Mad in Mourning

Sad Lady, An Introduction

cracked stoneThere’s a story in the Old Testament where Moses strikes a stone and water gushes out. Nevermind what he strikes it with; de- and recontextualized, this is my story of self protection. Literally, self preservation. The stone is my anger. The water is sadness so deep I don’t perceive how I’ll outlive it. It’s been there since I, age four, learned that trees can die and so can bunnies and flowers and dreams. My porcelain-doll sister was only five months old at the time; she, too, would die? Even if she (and I) did everything right? Continue reading Sad Lady, An Introduction

What If My [Mental Illness] DOES Define Me?

Finger pointing to word in dictionary
Finger pointing to word in dictionary

It’s heartening to see the media take up the call to action to talk about mental health after decades of silence. The problem is how its talking about it. The first major issue I see is with the unquestioned propagation of the biomedical model as if its science-verified fact. Look, folks, even mainstream The Guardian is running pieces that are saying that it’s pretty clearly not. Mental health advocates, communities and support networks perpetuate this model – not as a highly specious one or one of an array of options but as back-uppable fact – not because they’re trying to be deceptive but because they really want people to understand that it’s not the sufferer’s fault. If something is wrong with your brain, then your depression is not a moral failing, your anxiety is not a choice, your OCD is not a character flaw, etc. You are the victim.  Continue reading What If My [Mental Illness] DOES Define Me?

“Just Mercy,” A Review

Just Mercy
In preparation for lawyer, activist and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative Bryan Stevenson‘s visit to Seattle on Feb. 24th (Queen Anne Methodist Church), I read his gripping and heartbreaking work Just Mercy. Working at a law firm that specializes in protecting the vulnerable, giving the underrepresented their day in court and fighting for the voiceless, I know how fierce the fight for justice is and expected that Stevenson’s story would be one of great difficultly and constant struggle. But not even I, cynical and way-over-informed as I am, was prepared for just how deep the brokenness of our ‘justice’ system goes. Not only does it seem to be this country’s first response to those who have been traumatized, but it itself is incorrigibly traumatizing to those who fall into its claws, which barbarically include children, women, people with mental and intellectual disabilities and, as I’m sure we’re all aware by now, a vastly disproportionate number of people of color. Continue reading “Just Mercy,” A Review

The Body Keeps the Score, A Review

The Body Keeps the ScoreBessel van der Kolk is a Dutch psychiatrist with 30 years of experience and infinitely more compassion. Reading his work felt like a hug, firm against my railing and flailing but not constricting or threatening. I have a friend who met him, and that’s apparently how talking to him “in the face” (a concatenation of “in person” and “face to face” I made when I was young) feels, too. I’m tempted to simply repost all the quotes I’d put up on Facebook, in an effort to be seen and known, while I was reading this book, right here because they really are the best reasons to read this book. You don’t have to be a therapist or doctor to benefit from this book; its technical precision and ‘shop’ language don’t obscure the message for the lay reader and his gentle yet urgent tone belies his deep concern for those who suffer, both at the hands of those who are supposed to care for them and under the care of the system that is supposed to help them heal. Continue reading The Body Keeps the Score, A Review

Pledging Allegiance

In my Paris post last week, I briefly mentioned a controversy over the pledge of allegiance not being included in the Veteran’s Day service hosted by Seattle Pacific University a week ago. The university chaplain cut the Pledge of Allegiance, as well as the presentation of the colors because “there is a diversity of views on campus” and SPU was the subject of national contention. The school’s chaplain has even received death threats. What I find interesting is that the controversy was over whether or not people should be allowed to say the pledge of allegiance, not, say, whether a Christian university has any business holding or hosting a Veteran’s Day Service at all. Continue reading Pledging Allegiance

Emotions are Not The Enemy, Part 2

flagAs I said, there is always a reason for a particular emotion. Depression, for example, means a lot of things to a lot of people; rather than ask people, we do brain scans. Then we medicate feelings with drugs that have side effects similar to the symptoms we’re trying to treat. But, as one psychotherapist says, depression is the pysche’s way of saying, “I’m not going any further until you stop this bleeding.” So how do we stop the bleeding? Continue reading Emotions are Not The Enemy, Part 2

Movie Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

weeping-wallflower-jerry-cordeiroI’m inching closer to outwardly, rather than secretly, pursuing a long-held interest: the mental health field.  I cringe to use the phrase because I think we need a better linguistic system to discuss these lived realities but for now, I’ve got to use the common vocab so everyone else will know what I’m talking about. Until very recently, I haven’t admitted to myself or anyone else that this is and has been a consistent draw for me throughout my life because, well, I didn’t trust myself. I have assumed my thoughts, ideas and desires needed constant scrutiny, refining and shaping – all from the outside, of course – since I was a child and it’s caused me to do so much out of fear.  Continue reading Movie Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower