This past April, a student group on campus organized an evening of reflection and solidarity with individuals impacted by suicide. I was asked if the LGBT Center would like to collaborate and if I would be willing to speak. As part of the event, I facilitated an activity as well as sharing the reflection below. I share my story not for folks to feel bad for my struggle with depression but to raise awareness that this is a real struggle that impacts thousands of people everyday. I am not alone, you are not alone, we are not alone. For folks who are hurting, some resources to turn to…
Trevor Lifeline ~ 866-488-7386
Trans Lifeline ~ 877-565-8860
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline ~ 1-800-273-TALK
Saludos a todas y todos…In honor of all those living with mental health issues, a rant by me.
This is the first time I speak out in the open about this…it is a coming out of sorts for me. While I was in graduate school I took a week off, more accurately…I signed myself into a psychiatric unit at our local hospital. After years of battling and struggling and smiling away suicidal ideations, desires to hurt the body what was not home for me, stubborn pride that I could fix it because “delfin can handle and make anything happen…”; I realized that I needed to take care of me and that I needed help because the downward spiraling was taking not only dangerous to my own wellbeing but was also impacting those around me.
As a social worker, I knew the signs, I knew what to do—for everyone else, but not for myself. I was standing on an emotional precipice and made the scariest, bravest, bestest, whatever adjective you want to use-est call to our counseling center and decided that I needed help, even if I my head popped off.
It was a good week…I slept a lot and read a lot and was the break I needed. Who knew that being in the “looney bin” (problematic I know) would be a transformative retreat. I began to acknowledge the years of discomfort and pain of not having a body that reflects my gender…of not being able to express my gender in ways that is authentic to me…I began to acknowledge the familial trauma that has permeated generations of my family…how past hurts have been passed from parent to child with traumas taking on scariness that shatters wholeness in new ways with each new generation of familia. I began to acknowledge the problematic dynamics within my relationship with my dearly beloved and how to bring health back to our dynamic duo of awesome.
The week in the hospital did not fix everything or anything for that matter…but it did help me respark the desire to live into me with fierceness, fabulosity, and delfic passion. As a person who had prided themselves in being able to take on the world with my misguided “I’m a trooper” mentality, I learned that asking for help will not cause me to spontaneously combust…asking for help is like a good pair of walking shoes or tires for your car, they don’t direct your feet or car but they do help when you have to take a long journey.
And so, I share this rant I wrote soon after being discharged…
i am clinically depressed, society diagnoses me to the margin.
more so than being transgender or a Catholic heretic, the socialized stigma of “defective sicko” has blocked my path.
my depressive episodes and resilient oomphs to re-member by spirit are symptomized as worthless …
because of untempered misunderstandings of depression that blame me, pathologize me, that problematize me, that make me the problem that needs to be fixed.
i am told:
“pull yourself up by the bootstraps of pill-popping” … “just pray” … “turn that frown upside down” … i am treated with well-intentioned yet mocking quips of “you’ll be okay”… or “I am sorry but if you do this this and that…” or “rise and shine, get out of bed”
but I say to all of this hell the f*** NO!!!
my divine chutzpah drives me to love myself beyond misappropriated categories.
i do not murder the reminders of my suffering … I lean into them.
They are scars that I wear as badges of survival and of thriving.
i am more than a therapist’s DSM classification.
i’m screwed up but damnit, i’m a person.
the words to my now are: undoing, redoing, lucha.
i queerify definitions.
I queerify mental health struggles. The struggle is real but so too is the resilience.
my life is the evidence seen and unseen…i am good enough, period. Amen, blessed be!
I share this rant in hopes that others will share their rants in ways that are meaningful to them. Together our rants will reak havoc and spark others to come out…living with a mental health issue is not a stigma or defect, it is my reality, it is the reality of some folks present today, it is the reality of millions of people around the world. There is no shame or shade in living with mental health issues…we are simply living, perhaps unlike others, but living and embodying badassery by accepting our tears, our toils, our tribulations, our traumas.
Is suicide still a part of my life, yes, not only because of the statistics that show that LGBT are a higher risk of mental health issues that can lead to suicide, but because it is a part of me, my story, my struggle, my resilience. I’ve come to understand that thrivingness is not about doing cartwheels throughout Baker Center or putting on a veneer of faux happiness (the creepy, I’m fine look…we’ve all done it!).
Thrivingness is living through the real struggle of asking for help…yes I am a trooper but troopers belong to units / barracks and are not alone. And so I embrace my nickname in the center of “capitan” with gusto because I know that my fellow troopers are with me in the struggle bus (a struggle bus in which I am learning I don’t always have to be the driver of).
For a long time, I was convinced that my head would pop off or explode if I showed that I was vulnerable especially if I asked for help. I am not perfect, this is not about perfection,but a mindfulness that asking for help before a crisis, during a crisis, after a crisis, and/or when there is no crisis is okay…my head is proudly still on my shoulders, balder than I would like, but attached to me it is.
Thrivingness is about the reality that I woke up and got out of bed. That is feat of triumph that I celebrate. Thrivingness is going to McDonald’s for a happy meal, well actually a number 9 with no mayo and an order of chicken nuggets large size with a coke (my version of happy meal) and having a picnic under the cherry blossoms all by my fierce loneful self. Thrivingness is showing up for class and for meetings, even when I am not prepared to teach or facilitate discussion. Thrivingness is about being here right now. It doesn’t mean I don’t hurt, it doesn’t mean that everything is honkeydorey, it doesn’t mean that depressive and random shifts in my mood or sporadic episodes of crying in the car listening to WOUB news reports on the hour go completely away…thrivingness is the embodiment of what Celie in Alice Walker’s Color Purple passionately proclaims “I may be old, I may be black, I may even be ugly, but dear G-d I’m here, I’m here…”
And so yes, I am here, you are here, we are here.
Tonight we honor all those who are not here but whose lives and spirits can thrive through us. Their lives may be physically silent, but we do not forget them…their memories will continue to roar and rant in us and through us to the world and beyond.
Muchas gracias por este espacio. Buenas noches.