The Dark Side of Chronic Illness

***TW/CW: discussion of mental health, suicidal ideation, suicide, and use of cr*pple slur***

Recently I made a post about my feelings behind language like, “you’re so brave” being used in regards to my disability. I wrote about how I don’t see living as a disabled person as an act of bravery, and I do not feel like I am “brave” for handling my chronic illnesses. That conversation cannot be had without talking about the times when people cannot cope with being chronically ill.

Many people who are chronically ill have to deal with both physical illnesses and mental illnesses. Sometimes there is no correlation, and other times the experience of having physical disabilities can spark mental illness. On the contrary mental illnesses can also spark physical illnesses; even though they are sometimes psychosomatic, the feeling of pain can be just as distressing as pain that stems from physical illness.

Chronic illness often leads to isolation, which is a hard enough thing to deal with on its own without being sick. Being in constant pain is also emotionally and psychologically taxing. I’ve personally had periods of time where the inevitability of death was comforting instead of terrifying. I begged God to kill me on more than one occasion, and those kinds of thoughts are not easy to get over. There have been days where I felt as if I couldn’t handle everything and it was all too much. Fortunately, I’ve been able to swallow those thoughts/feelings and haven’t attempted suicide, even when I really wanted to and it seemed like the best option. This doesn’t make me stronger than anyone who has self-harmed or attempted suicide, but I feel privileged that my suicidal ideation did not lead me to actually attempt suicide.

In November of 2017, the creator of the Cripple Punk Movement, Tai, committed suicide. I did not know them personally, but I followed them on social media as well as their friends, who are also prevalent in the disabled community. Their loss is one that really shook me to my core, even though I had no personal connection to them. Tai had fibromyalgia and had dealt with an eating disorder as well as PTSD. They are just one of many chronically ill people who suffered with suicidal thoughts, and debilitating illnesses. Due to the fact that I did not know them, I do not want to make any assumptions surrounding their life or death, however I do think a conversation about chronic pain should come out of this terrible and heartbreaking situation.

Tai was an avid disability activist, which is why they created the Cripple Punk movement in the first place. The Cripple Punk Movement aimed to “reject pity, inspiration porn, and all other forms of ableism and fully support those who struggle with it.” I found liberation and felt supported due to this movement. Their idea’s are incredibly inspiring to me, and I aim to be as strong and care-free as they were. I hope I can use my voice for good and advocate for my communities like Tai did. Staying positive is important, but we so desperately have to recognize the “dark” and horrible parts of being chronically ill.

Suicide is an epidemic within the disabled community. I believe this is due to inadequate care, and an ableist society. Chronic pain, specifically, goes beyond the physical components. Doctors need to recognize how psychologically taxing it is to have chronic pain, while also not belittling us and telling us “it’s all in our heads.” We need support groups and connections with other disabled people. We need representation in the media, and in our daily lives. We need to be seen, but most importantly we need to be heard.

 

 

People had been asking if they could do anything for Tai’s family, and so if you feel inclined, Tai’s family has asked that people donate to The Loft (an LGBT community services center) in their name.

If you’re hurting or struggling please call 1-800-273-8255. You can also chat online with someone if that would make you more comfortable

 

 

 

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Trumps Latest Attack on Trans Rights

I would like to say I was surprised to wake up yesterday morning and find the tweets about banning trans people from the military, but honestly nothing he does shocks me anymore.

This however did seem out of the blue to me. No conversation, only a declaration. While technically nothing is set in stone or law yet, even stating these kinds of hatful things is harmful. This is the slow way to eventually ban trans people from existing. If they can’t go to the bathroom and can’t in the military, where can trans people exist then?

I wouldn’t say that I personally support the military in all of its endeavors, but being pro-military or not isn’t what this is about. Your gender shouldn’t determine what you can and can’t do or what you can and can’t be in life. If your willing to put your life on the line, you should be welcomed with open arms and allowed to live an authentic life.

Trump claims trans people are a “burden” due to their medical costs. The US military has quite the track record of not taking care of their veterans, or active duty member for that matter when it comes to health care of any kind. Not to mention not all trans people medically transition, and you shouldn’t assume they will or want to.

There are also over 15,000 trans people currently serving in our military. What’s going to happen to them? He acts like he’s stopping trans people from joining the armed forces, but no trans people are already serving.  You cannot end sometimes career because of their gender identity. Are you going to discharge them like they did back when “don’t ask don’t tell” was a law? We’re going backwards on the progress we’ve made.

I believe this is just the beginning of an attack on the LGBTQIA+ community. He’s gone after trans people multiple times now, and it isn’t going to stop unless there is enough backlash. Even then it may not end. Gaby Dunn made a video about this, and she believes that Trump is going after trans people first, because they don’t always get the support that other members of the LGBTQIA+ members receive. I completely agree, and since that’s probably true everyone in the community, and everyone who is a decent human being, should show up and support trans people.

The LGBTQIA+ community is resilient and we will not let him get away with this.

LGBTQIAP+ Pride Month!

June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month!

The month of June was chosen for LGBTQ+ Pride because in June of 1969 the Stonewall Riots took place. While every city picks a different day for their pride parade, some in June, and some not, pride is about more than a parade or festival.

Pride recognizes the fight and struggles of those who came before us and paved the way. It brings awareness to today’s LGBT issues and sheds light on where we can do better as a society. Pride is also a time to celebrate the whole LGBTQIA+ community and Queer culture.

This month I plan on doing lots of LGBTQ+ related posts. Let me know if there’s something specific you want me to write about!

How are you celebrating pride?

Love of love,

Alyssa

The White Savior Complex

Everyone knows what “The White Savior Complex” is whether they’ve heard it in those terms or not.

The White Savior Complex happens when white people “help” others, usually POC, and act like they’ve saved these people from “terrible, miserable lives.” Without the white savior these people would be nothing in the “savior’s” eyes, and would have sad lives. A prime example is seeing a picture of a white teenage girl on Facebook surrounded by children usually in South America or Africa with a caption talking about how sad their lives are. Because without her five days of white guidance these people couldn’t possibly survive.

There’s a difference between actually helping people because you want them to have a better life, and “helping” because you want to feel good about yourself. Religious groups that do mission trips that last a few days to a few weeks are often are filled with these kinds of people. They’re so narcissistic that they think others would be lost without them. The White Savior also rarely listens to the people they think they’re helping, doing things like trying to “liberate” muslim women who wear hijab who are perfectly happy and don’t need or want any “help.”

The White Savior is always about having an emotional experience for themselves. Talking about how life changing speaking to a homeless person is, and using the one time they went to a soup kitchen on their college resume. Their volunteering is based in personal gain, rather than how they can be of service to others.

While mission trips and volunteering can be and often are good things, we need to examine our motives and attitude towards helping others. Getting involved somewhere that you can volunteer long term is always best! I also think we should call out the White Savior complex and call it was it is: racism.

 

What are your experiences with the white savior complex? What do you think about it?

 

 

P.S. Sorry to the guy in my header, I’m sure you’re a nice dude, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I laughed for far too long looking at the photo in this context

Day of Silence 2017

April 21,  2017 is the Day of Silence hosted by GLSEN.

The Day of Silence is a day when participants take a vow of silence to bring light how homophobia and transphobia, as well as harassment and bullying in schools silences LGBTQIA+ students.

9 out of 10 LGBTQIA+ students have dealt with some level of harassment/bullying because of their sexuality/gender. The Day of Silence is in place to try and combat that problem and put rules in place to take action against the bullying and harassment. Many schools do not have anti-discrimination rules in place to protect their LGBTQIA+ students and so students who participate in this day are encouraged to challenge their schools to change that.

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While I have never personally faced direct discrimination or bullying due to my sexuality so many students have to deal with this on a daily basis. LGBT youth are 4x more likely to attempt suicide, and the rate of drug abuse is an estimated 20-30% higher for the LGBT population. A huge contributor to that is homophobia, transphobia, and harassment/bullying.

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Show your support for the LGBTQIA+ community today by taking a vow of silence!

Sometimes silence speaks volumes,

Alyssa

Trans Day of Visibility

Today, March 31st, is Trans Day of Visibility!

This is hosted by Trans Student Educational Resources, and this years theme is Trans Resistance.

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With these statistics it’s clear that today is a very important day!  This year 8 trans women have been murdered:

  • Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow
  • Mesha Caldwell
  • Jojo Striker
  • Jaquarrius Holland
  • Tiara Lashaytheboss Richmond
  • Chyna Doll Dupree
  • Ciarra McElveen
  • Alfonza Watson

All of these women were women of color as well. Last year twenty-seven trans people were murdered, making it the deadliest documented year for trans related murders. Although it is likely that there were even more murders that didn’t make the news or the victims weren’t reported as transgender. Trans day of visibility is described as “not a day for mourning: this is a day of empowerment and getting the recognition we deserve!” by the TSER. I fell like part of that recognition is shedding light on the tragedies this community has faced.

Another part of visibility is recognizing all the talented and outstanding trans people. Laverne Cox, Lea T, Geena Rocero, Chris Mosier, Rhys Ernst, and Sarah McBride are just a few people who are trans and have been incredibly successful in their respective fields. Trans people are all around us and always have been. They’ve been influential in many fields as well as the fight for equality.

Trans people deserve to more than just visible. They deserve respect, adequate health care, resources, and so much more. With laws attempting to prohibit transgender people from being visible in day to day life like HB2 or the laws being considered in Texas, visibility is more important than ever.

If you’re trans, happy trans visibility day! You deserve love and respect, and are going to do great things. You are valid and seen.

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

 

When We Rise

When We Rise is a four part mini-series documenting the journey of LGBTQIA+ activists Cleve Jones, Roma Guy, Ken Jones, and Cecilia Chung who were leaders in the civil right’s movement which later turned into the Gay right’s movement.

As someone who is a part of then LGBTQ+ community and is too young to have been alive during the time of many of these historical events I believe it’s very important to educate myself on Queer History and culture. We don’t learn these things in school and they definitely aren’t in our textbooks. Even the biggest events like the Stonewall Riots were never spoken of in any classroom I’ve been in. Our textbooks are white-washed and filled with the the accounts of straight white men, so it’s up to us as individuals to learn about the history that the rest of society actively tries to erase.

When We Rise covers Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the AIDS epidemic, police relations with the queers community, and marriage equality. While none of this was news to me, it was quite heart wrenching to see it played out. I think ABC did a good job showing just how brutal the world was to the LGBTQ+ community during the 1970’s. One critique I have of the series is it is mainly based in New York and San Francisco, which is where the movement took place so it makes sense, but this doesn’t show how much more danger people were in when living in different areas in America.

I thought one thing they did really well was covering the AIDS epidemic. It was incredibly informative and if you had never been told about the governments response ( well lack there of ) then this would be very eye opening. They showed the resilience of the community and how they banned together during this difficult time. We lost nearly an entire generation of queer men and a lot of people don’t realize that.

I would have liked to see LGBTQ+ people play these roles and I’m not sure why the casting directors chose not to cast queer people for the majority of the roles. I looked up pictures of many of the real people in this series to see if they chose actors who looked like them, but that really wasn’t the case. They were great actors and did a good job, but I think queer people should play queer roles in films and on TV.

Overall despite a few things I would change, this was an amazing series and couldn’t have come at a better time. It was raw and didn’t hold back or sugar coat any situation. When We Rise showed the revolution and resilience of the community like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I think everyone, gay or straight, should watch this mini-series and learn about this piece of history that we often don’t shed a light on. We are still living the “LGBT civil rights movement” with things like the bathroom bill in North Carolina being passed, revoking the protection of trans kids in public schools, and the laws in Texas that are being considered right now.

Did you watch When We Rise? What did you think?

Lots of Love,

Alyssa