South Carolina, Self Regulation and That Child Beating A$$hole

Thursday, October 29, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under General


South Carolina....just fucking no.

I worked for quite some time with at-risk children in a school setting. School was skipped, homework left incomplete, and defiance, aggression and “back-talk” abounded. Did the kids’ smart mouths and disrespectful attitudes ever make me want to hit them?

Hell to the no. Because I’m a fucking grownup with fully-developed self-regulation skills. And because there are always reasons for negative behaviors. Seeing only the behavior without considering its underlying cause is a short-sighted and ignorant way to handle the situation.

When I see the teenager on the now infamous video, I see a girl in pain. How about we discuss the fact that she was in foster care due to issues at home? That she was asked to leave because she glanced at her cell phone (and apologized for it at the time)? That her “defiance” was her stating that she had done nothing wrong? (Another girl agreed, and was also arrested.) Does it matter that the officer in question had a history of violent behavior? Does any of that matter?

The sad fact is, to many, the circumstances leading up to her beating do not matter. And when I see people disregard this, I see broken people. I see deep-rooted issues. I see the little children they used to be hearing, “Don’t whine, there’s no excuse for that behavior.” I see dysfunction in the masses.

This girl needs help, not violent repercussions. Not abuse. And in the video I saw, the officer was most certainly abusive. Violent. Scary. The adolescent brain is a little unstable and labile as a rule. But the cop is not a child. He showed a gross lack of self-regulation. He lost control. He himself is broken, very likely another victim in the ongoing cycle of abuse endorsed by our society. He needs serious help, not high fives....  continue reading

When Love Isn't Enough: The Aftermath Of Suicide

Thursday, September 10, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under Depression

We watched you die. 

It was a slow, meandering type of death, one punctuated by success and woe, optimism and hopelessness. No one suspected you’d slipped so far down into the abyss as to assume that today was the day. 

But I should have known. I have seen it before, oh how many times, the quiet looks of fevered desperation, the tears that come more often, the rage that bubbles beneath the surface, waiting for a reason to erupt. The need to blame someone else, something else, anything else, for the burning, molten hatred that eats at you like a cancer until you’re hollowed out and sick. 

But you weren’t a patient, and I was just your “almost” sister....  continue reading

Do We Need To Worry About Suicide Contagion?

Wednesday, September 09, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under Depression

Many people have issues talking about suicide. First, there is horrible social stigma associated with it: you “commit” suicide as if it were a crime. Family members left behind rarely clarify cause of death due to shame and the prevailing societal belief (or at least personal feeling) that they are somehow at fault. We see, “after a long battle with cancer,” but not, “after a long battle with depression,” in obituaries.  Because you can’t catch cancer from someone who died. 

So why do we think we’ll catch suicide? 

The portrayal of suicide “victims” by the media or in school settings may be one reason we see suicide contagion or “copycat” suicides, especially among adolescents or young adults. When we glorify suicide, make the suicidal into martyrs or heroes, or glamorize the action itself, we run the risk of contagion1. Detailed descriptions of the method used to bring about one’s death may also contribute to the likelihood that someone may try to copy those actions. Likewise, if we talk about suicide as the shocking or inevitable action of an otherwise “normal” or successful person, there is a higher chance that others with mental illnesses will identify with the person in question and follow suit. There was great concern following the death of Robin Williams because of the way the media idolized him, discussed their love for him, instead of being specific about the pain he caused through his death....  continue reading

Romanticizing Mental Illness, Kurt Cobain and Posterboys for Teen Angst

Tuesday, August 25, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under General

What happens when we emulate the behaviors of our favorite rock stars? 

The Nirvana Age was a prime example of the romanticization of mental illness, and one that stands out as particularly poignant to me as a child of this era.  Kurt Cobain spoke to us because we were broken too, the epitome of teen angst. He was an example of what a little bullied child could aspire to. He was proof that even a troubled little boy whose parents shuttled him from one home to another could find love in legions of fans. We heard his brokenness, saw his success and aspired to overcome as he had. 

But he hadn’t. And instead of acknowledging that this guy needed help, high school students embraced Smells Like Teen Spirit as their anthem. Like Robin Williams, we saw only what we wanted to in Kurt Cobain.

And we were wrong....  continue reading

"Don't Wear That!" The Evolutionary Roots of Daisy Dukes, Victim Blaming and Patriarchy

Monday, August 17, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under General

“Hey, Harry, put on longer shorts. You don’t want the neighbors talking.”  

“John, why don’t you wear a sweater over your tee-shirt?”

“Kyle, are you really wearing your ‘fuck me’ heels to the office? You’ll never be taken seriously dressing like that.”

We’ve got a lot of sexual baggage, ladies, and some of it revolves around what we wear. We are overtly, and subtly, told that our clothing choices can lead to attacks, to pain, to shame. Because our bodies are not a normal part of our existence. They are ticking time bombs. We must keep our sexuality under wraps, lest we get what we deserve; just this month a Virginia university demanded a rape victim provide a list of her past sexual partners. What in the actual fuck? 

MEN! Amiright, ladies?!? 

But, sexism and elements of fear and blame are also furthered by well-meaning women. And we don’t even realize we’re doing it. Without addressing our own role in the perpetuation of some of these elements, we are unlikely to be able to enforce real change, particularly in a culture where these elements are so ingrained that they are essentially invisible. ...  continue reading

From "I do," to "F*ck off": The Relationship Between Depression and Divorce

Monday, August 03, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under Sexuality/Relationships

“As a therapist, some of my most satisfying treatments have begun with the suspicion that what looks like martial discord is best   conceptualized as depression in one or the other spouse,” says Dr. Peter Kramer.1 

In other words: “Want to leave? You might be fucking depressed.” 

Okay, okay, so that’s a loaded statement. But it might not be that far off. 

In the circumstance of relationship distress, mood disorders are a common thing. It has long been known that divorce can trigger depression. Part of this is because nearly any life stressor can cause symptoms to worsen in someone who has a depressive history. In men, divorce can even trigger a first episode, though women tend to have had at least one prior to the divorce itself10. In Against Depression, Peter Kramer notes that because women tend to (but not always) have deeper feelings surrounding relationships, they may set themselves up for additional losses inadvertently, which may partially explain the higher rates of depression in women2. Women also have the added burden of economic strain, as their standard of living tends to decrease following divorce while men’s increases. Which sucks giant lion balls and not the tiny shriveled dentist variety. (Asshole poacher burn.)

With the strain of fighting over child custody, the inherent loss of the relationship as well as overall alterations in lifestyle, it is not a surprise that divorce can lead to depression or anxiety. But what if, for some people, the depression comes first and leads to the divorce itself? What if the issues inherent in the relationships were colored by this depression in such a way as to make them seem hopeless leading to separation?...  continue reading