Pride Parade 2015

It has been a long, exhausting yet exuberating day. I marched in the pride parade today with my employer. It was awesome and an honor to march along side with my co-workers and clients. Many of the clients were quite surprised that many staff were not getting paid for their time marching in the parade. The cool thing about marching in today parade is that I had an option on who to march with. I could have marched with the Warm Line and Crisis Clinic staff and volunteers since I’m a volunteer with the Warm Line. I also had the opportunity to march with fellow volunteers as well as “guest” of the young adult homeless shelter I recently started volunteering at. In fact a couple of “guest” of the young adult shelter were disappointed I wasn’t marching with them however they understood why I would be marching with my employer.

My fiancé, Junior, even marched the pride parade. In fact he was with his employer. Junior is a firefighter and plays the bagpipes. Yes, that means he was marching in his rainbow colored kilt playing the bagpipe with the fire department pipes and drums. Junior, is quite the talented bagpiper. Unfortunately, I was unable to see Junior march in todays parade because I, too was marching in the parade.

Marching in todays pride parade had me thinking about my junior high and high school years. I was in marching band and loved it. Marching in todays parade had me realize how much I miss being in band.

Enough with my marching band days in junior high and high school and back to Pride Parade and its festivities. Today, was a warm, humid, cloudy day. In fact while marching in the parade, the weather decided to throw a thunder and lightning storm in the mix. In fact the rain felt good. The clients loved it. In fact they broke out into song. Not just any song. They sung “Dancing in the Rain.” Yes, they even started dancing. I wish I was able to get a picture of it however due to HIPPA laws I was unable to do so. In fact even some of my co-workers decided to join in the singing and dancing in the rain. I didn’t because I was enjoying the fact that the clients were enjoying the moment. It was a blast had by all.

After the parade I decided to go and volunteer at the booth my employer had set up. I volunteered for about an hour an half. It was nice to be able to educate the community about mental illness and homeliness and the effects it has on our community. The reason I decided to volunteer at my employers booth was not only to be able to educate the community but because Junior was farther down the parade route than I was and was wanting to do something productive as he was finishing up his portion of the parade.

When Junior was done with his portion of parade he stopped by my employers booth to come and “pick me up.” We then walked around the pride festivities and enjoyed our time together. In fact we discussed our wedding and how we are thrilled that one of his sister is now able to get married to the woman of her dreams anywhere in the United States as soon as she finds her. Isn’t it the most wonderful thing that now anyone can marry the person that they love despite their gender and the gender of their partner?

As we walked around the festivities we noticed some people holding up religious signs. In fact some of those signs were just plain ole hateful. I thought Christianity was a religion of love and compassion and not of hate and ignorance. Not only did the signs say hateful thing, the people holding the signs were saying hateful things. In fact one person told a little girl of 7 or 8 years old that not only are her daddies going to hell but she is as well. A nearby uniformed police officer stepped in and spoke up for that family. I just cant comprehend why people are so hateful especially to children.

Now that Junior and myself are home, we are relaxing. It has been a good day and am grateful that I was able to be alive during a part of a positive event in American History. I hope to blog again soon. Have good rest of your weekend. Peace out!!!

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Love Wins In The United States; Same-Sex Marriage Now Legal in All 50 States

As many people in the United States (and around the world) are aware of by now, the United States Supreme Court ruled yesterday that same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states. Yes, all 50 states. I, like many around the country shed tears of joy when I heard the joyous news.

I shed tears of joy because this means that many people are now able to marry the person of their dreams, just like I am able to do so. I may be madly in love with Junior and engaged to marry him, I consider myself pansexual. For those of you that don’t know what pansexual is, the definition is as follows: not limited in sexual choice with biological sex, gender or gender identity. Yes, Junior knows I’m pansexual and he is fine with it. For me falling in love with the person of my dreams has nothing to do with the persons gender, gender identity or sexual orientation, it has to do with the persons personality. I fell in love with Junior because of who he is on the inside. I am thrilled I am able to marry Junior and just as thrilled same-sex couples are able to marry now.

Unfortunately, many people aren’t exactly thrilled with the Supreme Court ruling. It seems that the people who aren’t thrilled with the ruling happen to be people of faith and not just any faith; Christianity. The reason I say this is because I’ve noticed that on many social media sites (including WordPress) that Christians were being out right hateful. For example, I had posted on my the Facebook account I have for my given name, that I was beyond thrilled that same-sex marriage is now legal. Many people who are Christians on that particular account started messaging, texting, calling and emailing me saying they were offended and that I was “going to hell” because I support “gay marriage.” I even had a handful of people block me. I’m fine with that because if they are going to get offended for something I support then I don’t need them in my life. I just cant comprehend why a particular religion that preaches love and compassion can be so hateful when it comes to people getting married to the person they love even if that person is the same gender as they are. I am trying so hard to not be so judgmental toward that particular faith because I know many kind-hearted Christians out there and some of them even support same-sex marriage.

The ruling of same-sex marriage couldn’t have come at better time. It’s not only came in Gay Pride Month but the biggest weekend for the LGBT community; pride weekend. Yesterday, was a historical moment in United States history. I am beyond happy that this happened in my lifetime. I am sure that there are going to be many people and various types of groups that are going to try to get this ruling overturned. No matter how hard people may try to get the ruling overturned its never going to happen. Too many people will fight just as hard if not harder to keep the ruling in place.

I need to get going. I am heading out to pride festivities before I go and volunteer at the Warm Line. I know that the pride festivities will be more giddy than they have been in previous years because of yesterdays ruling. I love going to pride festivities. I hope to be able to blog after I get home from pride events and volunteering. Have a good day everyone and stay safe. Peace out!!!!

Mental Illness and Evangelical Christians

It’s Sunday and that means a number of people around the world went to their place of worship to celebrate their particular entity. It being Sunday, I decided to take a friend up on her invite to attend the church that she is a member of. The reason why I took my friend up on the invite was because she had a solo. Going to church is a major deal to me because I rarely go.

I rarely go  to church for many reasons and one those things happened today at the church I visited today. To give you a back story I use to self harm by cutting myself and that means I have scars and some of those scars are on my arms. Whenever I go and visit a church and wear short sleeves I get a lot of stares and some questions and that’s okay with me. It’s a way to educate others. The thing I have an issue with and is one of the reasons I choose to not attend church is when those in attendance of the church telling me various things in regards to my scarred up arms. Things like “You need Jesus because if you had Jesus you wouldn’t have those,” as they point to my arms or “The Devil must be inside of you because you cut yourself,” or “I think you should attend our healing service to be healed of your mental health issues. You obviously have one or you wouldn’t have scars on your arms.” All three of these statements were told to me today. Unfortunately, my friend didn’t hear the people who told me these statements because she was getting ready for her solo with the choir. My friend attends an Evangelical Christian church and I have found that with all the Evangelical Churches I have been to, I have at least five or six people make similar comments like the ones I shared with you above. When people of faith tell me comments like above or similar ones it has me feeling less than human and undeserving. I do have to say I was able to stand up for myself when I had people make comments to me today. The comments my friend was around to hear she backed me up and helped me convey my message and ultimately stood up for me. In fact, she even stood up for me when the senior pastor of her church made the comment, “Oh another lost soul that allowed Satan to take over so he could make you crazy.” Yes, he said crazy. I am so grateful that my friend stuck for me and gave her senior pastor a lesson on God, faith, compassion and mental illness.

My friend was in disbelief when she not only heard her friends make discriminatory and “un-Christ-like” comments but the comments her senior pastor said. When I told her I was hesitant to go to her church for reason such as I just described to you she told me it wouldn’t happen. I find my friend being a little naïve when it came to this issue. In fact many Evangelical Christians are naïve and ignorant toward mental illness. Many Evangelical Christian feel and think that we chose to have a mental illness or allowed the devil to give us one. Why would we choose to have a mental illness? I would wish a mental illness on my worst enemy.

I am not posting this blog to pass judgment on any particular person, religion or faith but to educate those who may not be aware that their comments and actions hurt and turn away potential Christians to believe what they believe or attend their church. I know some of the comments are well intended but not helpful. A great deal of the comments I receive today in regards to my scarred up arms were quite ignorant, discriminatory, judgmental and just plain ole continued the stigmatizing of mental illness.

The goal of this blog and blog entry is to educate those on mental illness. Stigma has no place anywhere especially in a place of worship. Everyone need to feel safe when they are worshiping their particular entity.

Now that I have gotten that off my chest I will call it an evening and night. Have a good rest of your Sunday evening. Peace Out!!

1,000 Days

     Happy Monday, Everyone!!! Today, marks 1,000 days since I was last discharged from a inpatient psych unit. Hence, the reason why I titled this blog entry 1,000 Days. For me 1,000 days is a major accomplishment. This is the longest that I have been out of the hospital for psych reasons since I was a teenager. Being out of the hospital for 1,000 days just shows on how much I have accomplished in my recovery and of course I had many people who have helped with this process.

     I guess if I really look back my recovery process started back in 1999. Yes, my recovery process started 15 years ago. I may have not been in recovery with my mental health for 15 years but I have been in recovery from the eating disorders for that long. In my late teens and early twenties I considered myself a Christian. In fact I was highly involved in the Christian community. I share this with you because its part of my story of how I am in recovery with both Anorexia and Bulimia. Being active in the church I was attending and being a huge “Christian” music fan at the time, I had heard of this place called Mercy Ministries. Mercy Ministries is a place for “troubled young women” with all sorts of issues including eating disorders. The thing that drew me to Mercy Ministries at the time was that it is Christian and free. At the time it was the best choice I made. In fact to this day I don’t regret making the decision to go all the way to Nashville from the West Coast of the United States. I did graduate from Mercy Ministries and it is one of the greatest accomplishments in my life. I as a thirty-something may not consider myself as Christian anymore and am happy that as a twenty-something Christian, I made one of the best decisions in my life. I may not agree that I was healed from Anorexia and Bulimia but I do believe that because of Mercy Ministries I am in recovery from both eating disorders. I haven’t had any relapses with either eating disorder but I do struggle on occasion with the urges of the eating disorders. I believe that both eating disorders are a life long struggle and it is a choice I make to give in to those urges or not. I choose to not give in to those urges.

     Now that you know where I my recovery started or at least with the eating disorders, now let me tell you about my mental health recovery. My mental health recovery is much more of a rollercoaster ride than my eating disorder recovery. My mental health recovery started October 2003 when I entered an intensive two year out patient Dialectical Behavior (DBT) program. At the time I entered the  DBT program I had been in and out of inpatient psych wards and hospitals more than 40 times. That’s more times than my current age. While being in the DBT program I was required to get a job which I am beyond grateful that I was required to do. In fact the job was a requirement for the second year of the DBT program I was in. If it wasn’t a requirement for me to get job I wouldn’t haven’t gotten a job and I am forever grateful that it was a requirement because I have been employed with same employer now for 9 years. The two years I was the program I only ended up in an inpatient unit once. I graduated from both years of the DBT program (first and second years).

      After I graduated from the DBT program in November 2005 I decided to go back to the current mental health agency I seek services at. Since going back to the current mental health agency in February of 2006, I have had a high turn over of clinicians and many more hospitalizations. In fact if it wasn’t for my last clinician switching to a different team in the agency, I wouldn’t have gotten my current therapist. I have had my current therapist since December of 2008. In fact Diana is the therapist I have had the longest in all the years I have been in therapy. Diana has helped me a great deal in the last 5 1/2 years. In fact if it wasn’t for  Diana helping me through the pain I have struggled with and still struggle with I wouldn’t have been able to stay out of the hospital for 1,000 days. Diana is one of many people who have helped me in the last 11 years. 

     Over last the last 11  or so years of mental health recovery I have found out a lot about myself. For instance when I was in DBT I realized that I am passionate about politics and got involved with it. I stopped for a long while when I started working and now I am wanting to get back into it. I also realized with one clinician I had that I am bi-sexual. I thank the universe that I figured out I was bi. Yes, my boyfriend know I am bi. I have also realized how much I love music and collecting comic books. I love Wonder Woman comic books. I got into collecting comic books. I am not only collecting Wonder Woman but Batman, Superman, Spiderman, and X Men. When I was in the height of my mental illness I stopped playing the flute and decided about 2 years ago to pick it back up and to start teaching myself to play the harmonica again. I also realized that I not only love rap and alternative music but country music as well. I also enjoy jazz. I also realized that I really enjoy reading and that I love reading Classic Literature. I tend to read memoirs and autobiographies of those who struggle or have struggled with mental  illness. I also enjoy reading mysteries, horror, sci fi and fantasy. I am telling you all this because when you are struggling with a mental illness you don’t realize what you like or enjoy and if you do know what you like or enjoy you forget about it because mental illness sucks the life out of you. One of the most important things I’ve learned is to educate myself about my particular diagnosis as well as the latest research regarding mental illness, therapies and meds. Another major thing I have learned or come to realize is to depend on my natural support system.

     Speaking of my natural support system they are throwing me a barbeque because of being out of the hospital for 1,000 days. They know its a big deal for me. I just wish they weren’t making it out to be a bigger deal than it really is. This small barbeque is turning out to be a party. I just wanted it to be about 12 or so people. Apparently there are more than twenty people coming because they want to celebrate my success of 1,000 days. I know its a big deal but I wish they weren’t making it out to be a big deal.

     I better get going. I need to get ready for the barbeque. I am suppose to be there at 5:30(pacific time) and its now 4:22pm. I should get going and allow my support system to celebrate this day with me. Peace Out Everyone!!

YIPPEE IT’S MONDAY!!!!

     YIPPEE IT’S MONDAY!!!! (Stop your moaning, Mondays are my Fridays.) Now that I’ve got your attention with the title of the this particular blog entry lets get on to a serious topic of religion and mental illness and my personal experience with it. The particular religion I will be talking about is my experience with Christianity. My intent is not to speak ill of Christianity but to make those who are Christians aware of the type of harm you may be doing without meaning to. I do realize that there are those “Christians” that realize what they are doing and this blog is for them as well as those who don’t realize what harm they maybe doing. I’m also hoping that pastors read this particular post in hopes that they can maybe have sermon on judgment, healing and mental illness. Now with that being said let me get on to what I want to discuss regarding mental illness and Christianity.

     At one point in time I considered myself a Christian. I now consider myself Agnostic. I believe that their is a higher power whomever he, she or they may be. I became Agnostic because of how I was treated at a number of different Christian Churches. Anytime I go into a church and wear short sleeve shirts that’s when the Calgary comes barging in. See, I use to cut myself in the height of my struggles with mental illness and have scars on my arms. I’ve been told that I need to go to healing service’s to have demon’s prayed out of me. I’ve been told that I was NOT welcomed because they don’t allow “crazy people” at their church. My response to that was and still is, “Didn’t Jesus say come as you are?” The response varies from person to person as well as church to church. I’ve also had people tell me that I didn’t have enough faith because if I did then I would have been healed from my mental illness. How in the hell do they know how much faith I do or do not have. They don’t know what’s in my heart or mind. I even had one pastor tell me that I couldn’t attend their church until they were able to talk to my therapist and that was the first time I even attended that church. I never went back to that particular church.

    The thing that made me loose my faith in Jesus was a particular incident that happened. See I was dating a guy from the church I was regularly attending. I ended up getting date r*p*d by this guy. I do have to say that he had a psychotic break when he r*p*d me. When the pastors of the church got wind of this, they asked me to not prosecute him because it would ruin his life. The pastors also said that they would pay for his attorneys and make sure that his newly found illness would get him off and use my illness against me. They also said they would take it to the media. Due past trauma in my childhood and camera’s them threatening going to the media is what got me to NOT prosecute. I don’t like camera’s of any kind. The pastors told me that it was my fault that I caused him to not only r*p* me but that he had a psychotic break. Yes, I realize that it’s NOT my fault but it felt like my fault for the longest time.

     Now that you all know why I lost my faith, I want Christians to realize what they say and do to anyone especially those with mental illness can determine weather or not they believe in Jesus. I personally think the r*p*  would have not been an issue of me loosing my faith in Jesus if it were not for my previous experiences with various different Christian churches. Like I said I’m not trying to speak ill of all Christians or churches. Some of my closest friends are Christians. I just want to educate Christians that the mentally ill go to Church like the rest of you. People who struggle with mental illness are searching for what you are searching for. My goal here is to not offend but to educate.

    I have come to terms with the r*p* with a great deal of therapy. I am now trying to come to terms on what spirituality looks for me now. Spirituality is another strong component in recovery with mental illness. Like I said earlier, I am Agnostic. I believe that their is some higher being out there guiding me. Not sure who he, she or they are but I know that there is some higher spirit out there.

    Well, its time to end this entry and hope that this blog entry does not cause a debate. This entry is to educate Christians about the judgments they have toward the mentally ill. Yes, I know they are human like me but telling them your judgments and not educating yourselves about mental illness does more harm than good. Have a good evening all.