Depression, Isolation, and Social Shaming

Bullying in the Wake of COVID-19

Depression and Isolation

We are supposed to be living in a time where we are trying to end the stigma around mental health issues and yet, everywhere I look, there is something tragic going on, social shaming. As of right now, there is a rallying cry for people to stay home, isolate, and immediately end the spread of COVID-19.  We are at the critical containment phase, based on our best scientific information.  The current directive is to self quarantine for 14 days if you have any symptoms, and to seek medical assistance if your health gets worse.  But with that directive, something else is bubbling up.  People on social media are starting to panic, get incredibly passionate, and emotional about the current events.  And sadly, this is leading to actual bullying and social shaming of all of those who are socializing in public spaces.  And for me, it is difficult to watch.  Why? Because I have a very close connection to depression, and part of what keeps this at bay is socialization. 

Hanging out with friends, going out into the sunshine, and interacting with strangers is all part of my house holds mental health regime.  Whenever we are feeling low, the boost that comes from getting out of the house is enormous.  In fact, it is necessary for both of us to ensue that we keep a clean bill of health.  And yes, I know what you are going to say, that we are selfish.  That the only way to stop the spread of this virus is to just stay home.  That it is only for 14 days. But at what cost is this to individuals around the world who are social extroverts and need human interaction?

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I recognize this is a complicated matter.  And no, I am not saying I have all the answers, or even that my opinion is valid in the grand scheme of containment.  But, I am very much attached to the humans in my household.  And I fully believe that small bars, breweries, and pubs are doing everything they can to sanitize their facilities and try to keep their patrons safe.  And this is why, I will, for the time being continue to support their businesses.  And no, I am not doing this to be selfish, or with a blind eye to the pandemic we are facing. 

I am doing this because my mental health matters too.  We cannot just pick and choose which parts of ourselves we are willing to protect or keep safe.  We need to understand that we are whole human beings, and with an increase of depression, or increased stress levels, the science does back up the fact that we become more susceptible to disease and infections.  Perhaps not with corona virus, and I doubt there will be any time in the rampant spread to conduct studies about this, and nor am I asking any doctor to spend any time investigating this. It is far more important to try and find a cure, vaccine, and to treat all the individuals currently facing this incredibly fast moving infection. 

COVID-19 is spreading.  And it is spreading at an alarming rate.  But please, understand that there is new information coming out hourly about it.  So please, stop bullying or social shaming those who absolutely have to get out of the house.  Let those who require socialization to remain calm in the wake of this panic do what they need to do.  Isolation is hard on all of us, but, it can be life or death for those with depression.  Do not waste a minute more shaming or judging others.  Instead, concern your efforts on protecting yourself and your family.  And for goodness sake, wash your hands, and stop hoarding toilet paper!

Edit: After writing this post, and really listening to the information out there, and all you kind readers who took the time to say I was right out on left field… thank you. Sometimes I blog to work through something, vent my frustrations, or just simply voice an opinion that I may change with more information. And with that additional research and information I was able able to write a positive resource on Non-monogamy in Isolation that I hope helps us all!

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My Life is Not Perfect and It May Never Be

My life is not perfect

Over the past year, I placed a big carrot in front of me.  I wanted to achieve something I have never had in my adult life, and I focused my attention on that one thing.  At the age of 36, I was finally going to be debt free, by making a huge life change, and sacrificing home ownership for the removal of this mental burden.  Why am I sharing this with you?  Because, it hasn’t happened yet.  And in the interim of this will it, or won’t it scenario, I am learning a whole bunch about myself, and my mental health.

It turns out, having a carrot to work towards, is not something that gives me peace.  It is just too big a goal, and far beyond my direct control.  Thus, I placed my mental happiness on something in the future, and one that was not a sure thing.  I am going to tell you with complete honesty, that it came close to destroying me.  I forgot to find joy in the day to day.  I became consumed with this idea, that my happiness depended on this far off event, and if I just held out for a few more days, weeks, months, then I could finally smile again.  Then, I could breath a huge sigh of relief. 

I’ve made this mistake in the past.  I put all my eggs into a basket, that seems like a sure thing, and allow my mental well being to just kind of simmer, until this goal is achieved.  I’ve done this with my career, with my past relationships (maybe even my current one, but that is too close to home to analyze right now), and I just snapped myself out of doing this for a moment longer with my debt.

The thing is, I do have to make sacrifices right now.  I have put the exploration of my sexual fluidity on hold.  I was so excited to have a first date with a female, but the reality is, dating is expensive and very time consuming.  I know this.  And it would not be fair or even rational to put myself out there right now.  But, as I am figuring out, not everything I do has to feel like I am giving something up.  I can enjoy my 20 minutes of yoga a day, with clarity.  I can take breaks to play video games because it makes me happy, and my brain needs mental breaks throughout the day.  And yes, I feel proud of all the writing and progress I am making working from home part time. 

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In the past little while, I have resisted posting pity me social media status’s and it has been difficult.  I cried out loud to my partner, that I just wished someone would finally feel sorry for me, and tell me that I have come so far after such a difficult journey.  Let me just have one person feel sorry for me, I sobbed.  And you know what?  He did the complete opposite.  He told me that I could be proud of what I had done, and reminded me, that it is OK to take breaks and not work so hard.  I don’t have to prove to myself that I work 80 hours a week, to feel good about myself.  I can work half that, and enjoy my breaks and the little things.  And that my friends, is when I realized that I was using this carrot as my permission slip to be happy.  And, well, that is change I am making in my life.  I may never be out of debt, and I may never enjoy the financial freedom that I believe I would as a child.  And you know what?  I very well still could.  This isn’t that I am giving up on achieving a goal.  Instead, I am trying to be more aware and conscious that I can be proud of myself right now.  That I can celebrate small victories with as much intensity as the big ones.  And well, just writing that, the lump in my throat went down.  I breathed a sigh of relief, and the tears that were brimming as I typed, slowly just went away.  I don’t need to spell out all my obstacles and hurdles to you all to elicit sympathy.  Instead, I can let that go, and focus on the joy and the smaller moments.  Life is what you make of it right? 

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Sex and My Mental Health

Is the mischief being managed?

No matter how hard I try to pretend that my sex life is not intrinsically linked to my mental health, I cannot.  When I do not orgasm for a few days, my capacity to handle day to day tasks diminishes.  And when I have not been hugged, kissed, cuddled, or am starved for intimacy for any length of time I flounder.  I want to be better than this.  I want to be independent of my dependency on intimacy, but I just cannot do it.  I can be brave and strong for a while, and then, before my eyes, I see my judgement and basic autonomy over my own emotions faulter.  I see my confidence fade and worse, I begin to make negative correlations such as, my life is this way because I must have done something dreadful in a past life, and other such rhetoric.  And to be clear, I don’t even believe in past lives, so this dialogue makes absolutely zero sense.

I will admit, that I don’t enjoy asking for sex or intimacy.  It is one of those things that I take for granted and usually just falls into my lap (this is not a brag, just a pattern I have noticed).  Or I have developed a dynamic with a person who loves being the instigator and we fall into an incredible thing whereby I never quite know when I’m going to get laid (and I love that!).  But this time around, things feel different.  I’m not sure if it is age sneaking up on me, or what, but I just feel like I am looking for connections in all the wrong places.  And that is making me fail even harder.  I mean, I usually love a great challenge, and the thrill of something forbidden. This works well for me, because up until recently, I have always had something to fall back on.  So coming back from the “hunt” empty handed, was never an issue.  I have never felt this starved before. 

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And it is wearing me down.  I have questioned my self worth, my sex appeal, my value, and basically the whole, do I even deserve to be loved?  I can honestly tell you that being non-monogamous (a post about where I have been in the non-monogamous world for too long) does not make any of these feelings easier.  I feel the same loneliness I would if I was in a partnership with just one person.  Just because I am able to see multiple people does not mean that I am free of feeling this void, this emptiness.  And it would be melodramatic to state that it is even harder, because I am doubly or triply lonely.  That I should already have my tribe and never feel this way.  That somehow the whole point of this expansive relationship norm, should prevent this total collapse into my pity party.  But, I am no different from any other lonely person, figuring life out, and trying to get their needs met, both emotionally, and physically.

I just want to love with my whole being, and be loved the same way in return.  And until I can find a rational, and ethical way to get my physical needs met, I am going to struggle mentally.  I need the orgasmic release of endorphins to get me through this next little while.  I cannot fight this battle as it’s just a part of who I am.  I want to be wanted, and I want to continue going after things that make me feel amazing. And in this, there is no conclusion, simply putting out into the void the rock and hard place I find myself in. 

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Getting Back to Nudity and Nature

Nudity and Nature

For the past few years I have been running on empty, treading water so to speak (not that I actually knew what was happening or what was wrong at the time).  I found myself in a situation with too many changes at once.  I was forced to pick a new career, and that put everything I had and was into flux.  I was completely overwhelmed by uncertainty.  My default mode was to just stay positive.  Remain optimistic and hopeful that things would inevitably get better, because they had to.  If I just kept putting good things into the universe then at some point, the good would have to flow back to me.

Well, that dam finally broke and I was no longer able to hold it together.  As I watched everything around me crumble, I felt despair in the realization that hope was no longer going to feed me, or keep a roof over my head.  It was terrifying.  After what I believe was akin to a panic attack I reached out for professional help.  There was no way I could reset myself alone.  I was done.  What I had been doing for 3 and a half years was no longer working.  I needed guidance, and a new way to approach the seemingly insurmountable stress and help me find meaning in my new direction. 

At this point, I want to point out that I am not trying to give any medical or professional advice when it comes to mental health.  I knew I was in trouble, but the whole, you don’t know what you don’t know was rattling in my head.  And it took a highly trained professional to hone in on exactly what I was missing.  And that, was to give myself permission to recharge.  To take a break in my day, and do an activity that I loved, could bring me joy, and allow me to give myself a mental, physical, and emotional break.  For you see, I had been treading water for so long, that I got myself into a feedback loop whereby I could only get ahead if I gave it everything I had.  And if I failed, it was simply because I was not working hard enough.  But I wasn’t getting ahead, so I need to push harder, and not stop until I reached the goal.  In all that struggle, I lost myself.  I lost the joy in life, and I couldn’t relax.  Every single time I watched TV, guilt would strangle me.  That nagging voice telling me I should be writing, I should be networking, I should be taking photos, and podcasting and creating and on and on and on.  I was burnt out. 

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It took a professional for my stubborn self to let go, and accept that I needed this recharge.  And not only once.  I needed to work into my daily and weekly schedule a time to rest, relax, laugh, and just have some fun doing an activity outside of my normal routine.  Life will always have stress, and life will always have difficult times ahead.  It’s how we choose to react, and how we interpret the events that really matters.  Perspective is everything.  And if that perspective is based on facts, then guess what?  You’re laughing.  And I could only see that, once I had allowed my mind, body, and soul to stop running on empty.  To take a real break.  And to incorporate joy and rest into my day. 

So why then did I call this post nudity and nature you may ask?  Well, because for the past 2 weeks, I have been getting out into nature to write, and I am celebrating this momentous change in my perspective.  Or perhaps, more of a refresh, back towards something I used to do when life was just a little bit easier or at the very least with a clear path.  Once I got into nature, and found a beautiful secluded place, all I wanted to do was strip down and become one with it.  Cliché or not, I just felt incredibly joy in standing with my bare breasts in the sunshine, taking all the beauty in, and knowing for the next few hours this was my sanctuary.  To celebrate all the joy, to smile, and to sit down and write completely distraction and internet free.  If anyone wants to share in my joy, please check out my Patreon to see the full images of me at one with nature. 

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And, if any of you resonated with this post please reach out.  There is no shame in it.  We need to ensure that we are working together to end the stigma around mental health.  And that starts with talking about it.  Normalizing the stresses we feel, and removing shame or guilt in not being able to do everything on your own.

Being Triggered is No Reason to Censor

I honestly strive to be level headed, compassionate and understanding, especially to all those around me who are going through difficult times.  I earnestly try to keep my overly critical comments to myself, and try to understand why I feel the need to be so harsh, rather than, whatever the opposite of an opinionated, judgemental so-and-so.  In this post, I am breaking that silence, and saying to hell with it.  I have a strong opinion on those who feel triggered by things in our society and then take great strides to try and ban or censor those things for other people.  And basically, I think these people to need to grow up, and not project really shitty things that have happened to them onto others.  I believe censorship teaches us nothing, and banning things directly violates our freedoms, and yes, I think less of you for wanting to impose your skewed belief onto me.

A few weeks ago, I had a friend tell me that she supported the banning of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” because every time she heard the lyrics, “what’s in this drink?” she felt triggered.  It was a painful reminder of the situation that lead up to her first rape and she was in complete shock that I wrote about not wanting to ban it here.  Now I know she shared this very painful moment with me to illicit sympathy and understanding as to what she went through every time she heard the song.  The pain, is for her, still as fresh today as it was many years ago.  And while I wanted to pause, and give her a shoulder to cry on, the realist in me took over and basically told her that regardless of her specific situation, banning a song would accomplish nothing.  You cannot shelter yourself from that specific phrase for all time, and you have zero right to impose your pain on the rest of us.  That is plain wrong.  To take away something from me, that I love, because it causes you pain is the epitome of selfish.

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Here is what I equate this thinking to, in all it’s ridiculous form.  Imagine, as I know many of us can, myself included, that the word rape makes you uncomfortable.  Now imagine, for example that any form of that word would trigger in you some form of emotional response, as again, it does for so many of us.  Now, let us imagine that you are shopping for peanut butter, and decide to quickly peruse the ingredient list to ensure that it is appropriate for your specific dietary needs, and BAM!  Without warning, you see the word “rapeseed” listed innocently amongst the listed inclusions.  And you, understandably, do a double take.   Now, here’s where we see rational get overtaken by the emotional, because in that moment, you vow that you will never look at the word rapeseed again.  You vow further to ensure that you a) never read an ingredient list again, or b) start petitioning food manufacturers to take this obscene word off of the list (screw anyone whose allergic to it) or c) you work in earnest to get this seed renamed for the sake of “all the children” who will be exposed to such a vile word (again not taking into the fact that this could have serious consequences for those who are unaware of the change and ingest it accidentally).

Yes, this example is ridiculous and way out in left field, but I do feel it makes a pretty clear point.  When you are triggered, you do not think rationally, and that is completely understandable.  I am not trying to shame your gut reaction.  What I am hoping to accomplish here, is that you take a step back, perhaps remember this crazy illustration and maybe, take pause, to remember that censorship will not in fact heal you.  It will not make you feel better in the long term, and it is selfish to try and impose your will on other people, especially when you have become overcome with emotion.  Hiding behind the word triggered is just that, hiding.  If you need to hide for a while for your own mental well being, then please, do what you need to.  But know, imposing your pain on others does not make you a do-gooder… it makes you selfish.  There, I said it.  Sorry, not sorry!

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