Friday, May 23, 2014

Musing on the Depression Monster

So, I was reading Wil Wheaton's post about paparazzi-induced depression and sharing it. During the share, my commentary started turning into a blog post, so here it is instead. This is part of what I posted it with:

I wish Dispel Depression was something anyone could cast. This is more than just the depression, though. But also, it is about depression.

Pretending it isn't there is destructive. You can't fight something while ignoring while it's tearing little pieces off of you. You shouldn't just fall into a ball of 'I can't', but you have to acknowledge that the monster is there, punch it in the nose if you can and just talk about the thing until it gets sick of hearing about itself and leaves. 

After I wrote that, I realized that the first thing my friends who suffer with depression would say is:

Other people don't want to hear it.

Once you let it get this bad, you're close to losing them.
I have something to say to those people.

If you don't want to hear your friend talking about their depression and pain, you aren't alone. It's hard as hell, even when you have depression, to hear someone going on about how they're hurting and there's nothing you can do about it.

Maybe you feel like they're not doing anything about it -- you would be wrong. If they're talking to you, then they're reaching out for help. They're trying to talk through it. Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it's so bad that you have to keep slogging through until you come out the other side. Sometimes it's environmental, and you can't change the environmental trigger for whatever reason (sometimes it will lead to a worse situation, sometimes you're just trapped).
...want to be happy again.
Now, if you start avoiding them because they're depressed? You're a shitty friend. No, you're not a friend at all. You can take 60 minutes out of your chirping birds and unicorns shitting roses blinders life to sit and listen to your friend who is hurting and trying to find a way for it to stop.

And if you're "sucking it up" because you're suffering and think you need to just keep it to yourself? You're an idiot. Stop it. It's not healthy, you won't get better, you're only hurting yourself for stupid reasons (because there is never a good reason to hurt yourself or suffer alone). Further, trying to apply your own crappy beliefs about suffering in silence on other people is horrible. It is a bad thing to do. Don't do it. Get help.

It's programming by a society lacking in empathy. Sure, it's probably relatively decent population control, and all nature cares about is breeding. It doesn't care about society or community or happiness or growth. It cares about popping out kids. After that, it doesn't give a shit about you. You can tumor it up and die for all nature cares at that point. And society used to operate on protecting itself from the pain of that truth. We're growing past that. Time to come into the present and leave those outdated, unhelpful models behind.

Some of the most brilliant minds were ravaged and eventually ended by depression. Things that you may enjoy today may have been brought to you by people who were suffering. It wasn't the suffering and pain that brought it (most of the time), and if they'd had help getting through it (suicidal thoughts are temporary, it's about getting through the cycle), maybe you'd have even more awesome works from them.

Yes, it's okay to have limits. No, I don't have an answer for expressing them. Honestly, if everyone would get over the whole idea of dismissing and rejecting people who are in pain, there would be a better distribution of that pain. More chances to talk it out and find things to focus on getting away from the depression monster would be available.

Because that thing is horrible, and decent human beings can't let it win.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Musing on Children of LGBTQ Parents

stock by stockxchng

So, over the last summer, I had quite a few fascinating, in-depth conversations with people across the globe in my intro to psychology class. The most provocative threads was likely regarding sexual orientation, and one man's question on whether or not it was a mental illness, because his daughter was gay. I was never quite sure if he was trolling or genuinely seeking answers, but for the most part, the threads he started stayed respectful and full of a huge exchange of information and cultural reactions.

Also, the answer is no. It is not a mental illness. It was stripped of that misguided label in the '70s, and despite the Brazilian government's backwards move, it still is not, has never been and never will be an illness, a choice or a 'lifestyle.'

Of course, the core questions he wanted to know were if he had caused it and if it could harm his grandson (which he believed strongly that it would, because he had a clear ignorance of the topic--hence asking questions to dispel it--and issues of his own to work with, as well as a belief that two women can't raise a boy properly).

In case any of my readers are under the delusion that healthy non-heterosexual parents will do a poor job (or even a statistically different job) of raising children (regardless of the child's gender), here are some of the resources I provided him:
"Extensive data available from more than 30 years of research reveal that children raised by gay and lesbian parents have demonstrated resilience with regard to social, psychological, and sexual health despite economic and legal disparities and social stigma."
"...when measuring same-sex parent households against heterosexual households on a number of key health indicators, such as self-esteem, emotional well-being and the amount of time spent with parents, gay and straight-parent families match up well.

However, the researchers found that on measures of general health and family cohesion something cropped up in the data that was quite interesting. Children aged 5-17 in a same-sex parent household scored significantly higher on these wellness measures than kids from straight parent families."
Sometimes people are concerned that children being raised by a gay parent will need extra emotional support or face unique social stressors.Current research shows that children with gay and lesbian parents do not differ from children with heterosexual parents in their emotional development or in their relationships with peers and adults. It is important for parents to understand that it is the the quality of the parent/child relationship and not the parent’s sexual orientation that has an effect on a child’s development. Research has shown that in contrast to common beliefs, children of lesbian, gay, or transgender parents:
  • Are not more likely to be gay than children with heterosexual parents.
  • Are not more likely to be sexually abused.
  • Do not show differences in whether they think of themselves as male or female (gender identity).
  • Do not show differences in their male and female behaviors (gender role behavior).

Additional resources:

“On the basis of a remarkably consistent body of research on lesbian and gay parents and their children, the American Psychological Association (APA) and other health professional and scientific organizations have concluded that there is no scientific evidence that parenting effectiveness is related to parental sexual orientation. That is, lesbian and gay parents are as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children. This body of research has shown that the adjustment, development and psychological well-being of children are unrelated to parental sexual orientation and that the children of lesbian and gay parents are as likely as those of heterosexual parents to flourish.”