Family huh?

That last poetry post….. I started of with an entirely different intention.  I had said to my dad this morning ‘All I want is to help people’.  Followed with ‘I cannot help my sister or my mother’.  And I intended the poem to be about that.. But my subconscious had other things in mind… and *shrugs* oh well.

No I cannot help family or friends the way a counsellor helps a client.  They are not my client!  They are family/friend!!  The relationship is formed a different way, and it simply isn’t possible.  The stranger element, the unknown entity which is the counsellor, the lack of any knowledge of any details of the counsellor, is part and parcel of how it all works.  The fact that a client goes to the counsellor seeking help to cope with their life.  THAT is a HUGE part of it.  Without it….. the desire for change, the desire for development…. and the desperation of seeking help from a professional, from a stranger, to dwelve into their deepest, most intimate problems and memories…. all of that is part of a counsellor-client relationship.

My mother and sister do not seek change within themselves.  What they want from me is for ME to change.  My sister wants me to stop being a tory-hating bleeding heart intersectional socialist-activist.  My mother wants me to stop being bisexual.  Neither of those are possible, neither of those will bring anyone happiness – no not even them.

I am me.  I am happy with me.  They are not happy with me being me.  There is nothing I can do about that.  I cannot change who I am.  I am me.  I am happy being me.

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A Counsellor’s Lament

In the larger picture, the longsighted lens, the distant future
All I want is to help people
To give, to love, to encourage and reassure
All I want is to help people

In the you, is your self, your being, your life, your spirit
To you I am but a mirror
I reflect your love, your beauty, your worth and your music
On my glass plate painted with silver

But if you show hurt, anger, frustration and strive
With love I try to help you,
Your self worth, your confidence, your strength and your drive,
With empathy I will try to boost you.

In your worth, your esteem, your confidence, your breath
Is where lay your foundations to joy
They belong inside you, within you, deep in your depths
Not outside as another’s toy

In the larger picture, the longsighted lens, the distant future
All I want is to help people
To give, to love, to encourage and reassure
All I want is to help people

Why? #4 – August 2017

According to some people, family mainly – I am a very complicated person and it is very difficult to understand me.  So I keep trying to explain myself to them, but often that is very very difficult, especially when it isn’t ME they are asking me to explain, but a view I have of something else.  If it is of something else, often that something (or someone) else would be better at explaining it than I do.  I do put some effort into sharing what I read with them, often through facebook shares.  Unfortunately this gets lost in the scrolling labyrinthe which facebook is and they get information fatigue.  The problem of ‘please explain why you think X of Y’ still stands though, so here I will keep a curated list of things I read which I feel explains concepts of my world well.

I first named this “things worth reading”, but decided that implied I was assuming that anyone reading this would find the same things worth reading than I did.  So I played with a few more ideas and I came up with Why?  This can be short for several questions.  Among them are – Why I think the way I do.  Why I have the views I do, and ultimately why I said what I said about topic x, issue y or problem z.

Most women you know are angry – and that’s alright

Why you can’t teach a 6 year old to be grateful

.I didn’t realise I could be bisexual until I was 21Yep, this was me. I did not realise I was bisexual until I was 23. Until that time I exclusively tried to like guys, kissed guys, even dated guys… and it wasn’t until I was actually IN a long-term, stable, intimate relationship with a man that we had the conversation of ‘do you think you could like a guy… cause I think I can like a girl… and would be quite curious to try going out with a girl actually’ I had crushes on gals long before i had crushes on guys… but I never knew they were crushes…. that just wasn’t possible, wasn’t allowed, so it wasn’t even considered.

73 year old, doing sex work to pay for son’s kidney transplant – arrested & earnings confiscated.. Is this the world we want to live in?

https://amp.theguardian.com/uk/2013/apr/28/immigration-impact-crime

 

 

 

Sertraline

“You have a dragon to kill”

“Oh you still have issues to sort through”

“You need more tools”

“You need to teach your brain to produce it without help”

“You need to rewire your brain”

So I’ve decided to go back on sertraline.  I realised by week 2 completely off (week 10 or 11 of tapering) that I was a wreck and I’m better off on, but I waited until I was 6 weeks completely off before saying ‘ok, the only person I’m fighting now is myself’ and making the decision.  So while I was making the decision, aside from my closest and dearest – no one was there for me or offering me help…. after I made the decision however.. the above is some of the ridiculous things which have been said to me.  Does a diabetic get told they need to rewire their pancreas, or that their pancreas needs to be told how to produce insulin?  Do people with cardiac arrhythymia get told they can live without their pacemaker if they learnt the right coping tools?

People think that clinical depression mean I am having trouble coping.  You know what I felt when I came off sertraline?

Nothing.

No, really… I felt nothing.

I stopped caring.  I stopped caring about my partners and tried to break up with them.  I stopped enjoying music and baking.  I stopped volunteering because I didn’t care.  I haven’t spoken to my father since before I started tapering.  I read immersive fantasy fiction because it was immersive.  I stopped reading my counselling books because I no longer cared for them.  Each week was maybe 1-2 days total of feeling low, but 5-6 days of total blank apathy. My memory was shot too, but I didn’t care about that.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter.  Is it far fetch to think that the areas of my brain which is most affected by shortage of this neurotransmitter is the link to my empathic response?  To love, to care, and to happiness?

The public response seem to be that there is something wrong with me if I’m taking an anti-depressant.  But I argue that there isn’t, and more neurotransmitters just make me more whole, more me.  It doesn’t change me, it just helps me to be more in touch with me, more in touch with the world.

I am one of the invisible ones, the ones no one hears about.  There are millions of people out there on anti depressants who hold full time jobs and live normal-to-the-outside lives.  I don’t spend days curled up crying.  Sometimes hours maybe…. but we manage to get out of bed and live.  Every day.  I don’t have much ‘trouble coping’.  I just have a chemical imbalance.  That my life is so much improved and so much more wholesome, fulfilling and filled with love is testament to how far biochemistry and neuroscience have come along.  Counselling helped too off course – if i didn’t believe in counselling I wouldn’t be training in the field… but counselling cannot correct chemical imbalances.  It is physical.  It is chemical. At the end of the day we are but a large back of mostly water, some protein, a few bones, and a million different chemical transmitters.

I don’t have a dragon to kill.  I don’t have trouble coping.  I don’t have trouble getting out of bed and going to work.  I do not need to rewire my brain or collect more tools.

I have a chemical imbalance which I correct with medication.

And that is okay.

My bane – Facebook

I am intermittently deactivating and reactivating my facebook account.  I have just completely weaned off the anti depressants I was on for PTSD, and while I am mostly doing okay, I am finding the interactions on facebook fraught with aggression, defensiveness and just plain unfriendliness.  All things which I don’t need while I settle into a new equilibrium of neurological biochemistry.

I do bring it on myself I suppose.  I will call people out for being misogynistic, queerphobic or sex-worker phobic.  That is, on some level ‘asking for’ the backlash I get for doing that.  That last statement was victim blaming.  Which is wrong on so many levels.  Hhhmm.. let me rephrase that.  NO, by calling out misogyny, queer phobia and sex-worker phobia, I am not asking for anything.  I am putting information out there.  I am merely saying that that person’s statement, or share, or whatever, is perceived by me to be misogynist / queer phobic / sex worker phobic.  That is it.  They can chose whether to react to it or not.  Some people do react by saying thank you… but most of the time.. what do I get?  A ‘oh why can’t you just take a joke’.  Or a ‘but this and this and this not this this this’.

These sorts of reactions then require extra spoons to deal with.  Spoons I am currently expending by just…. living.  Yes, living require spoons.  Anxiety and depression require spoons to deal with.  Even at the level they are currently – which is very very very low.  EVERY interaction with the world which requires a response interaction requires spoons.  Work requires spoons and is where most of it goes to.  School, thankfully on break (which is why I’m weaning off now and not in autumn), requires spoons.

Maybe I should put a disclaimer on every comment I live in public.. something along the lines of

[Disclaimer: By leaving this comment, I am merely providing information about what I think of your last statement, you DO NOT have to react or to reply to it, it is merely INFORMATION which you are entirely welcome to read and discard]

There… what do you think?

Why are people not more accepting?  Why is the respond “thank you for informing me my last statement was misogynist.  I will think about why you might think that and maybe rethink my position” so rare it might as well be extinct?

To use an common analogy : When you give someone a gift, is the response ‘thank you, that is very kind’.. or ‘what is this, why did you get me this, what is it made of, what is the carbon footprint of this, where did you get it from, how much did it cost, did you buy me this because you think i need it’

When I comment online, I comment to inform or educate.  Sometimes to share congratulations or commiserations.  I do not ever comment to intentionally attack.  That just isn’t me.  To be attacked in response is… disheartening…. but I can deal with it.  But to be attacked when my mental health is bad and I end up spending 2 days curled up in bed crying… I think that warrants a break from the medium which gives me that grieve.

So… instagram.. my balcony garden.. my blog, my cooking.  And twitter.  Twitter keeps me better informed about world news than facebook ever could – and from people whose opinions I actually care for.  And because I am not an active poster, twitter for me is passive reading… keeping up with the news.  I know how toxic it can be.. but because i don’t have an audience and I keep in the shadows… for now..

So long then… see you twitter….

Twitter : @incoherent_qing

Instagram : @kirhymeswithpie

Food blog : mynofusskitchen.wordpress.com

Normalised Everyday Discrimination

I grew up in Malaysia, a land of amazing food and culture coupled with horrifying, institutionalised, politicised nationwide racism and homophobia.

Last week a particular news item took the country by storm.  An 18 year old boy in a boarding school had been hospitalised.  He had been bullied for being effeminate.  Raped with objects and burnt with cigarettes and clothing irons.  By the time the news became widespread, he was in hospital with so many pervasive physical injuries that some newspapers reported that he was brain dead.

A lot of people are very upset.  The lgbt group I help to moderate is in mourning.  They are also angry.  So angry that there has been calls for the bullies to be raped, castrated and executed themselves.  The grief is thick in the air and there has been many tears shed over Navheen’s death.  Some media articles have said that he wasn’t even gay, he was just a bit effeminate.  We the LGBT community don’t care.  He could have been gay, he could have been trans – I guess we would never really know now.  We count him as one of our own, his death the death of family, and we are angry, and sad.

We have all been there, being different in Malaysia is frowned upon, and however it is that you stand out – if your standing out isn’t in an acceptable way, you will be bullied.  I witnessed a cousin who was getting chubby being bullied by family during Chinese new year holidays.  I experienced bullying myself in school for being a girl liking Star Wars (apparently only boys are allowed Star Wars).  I’ve seen bullying at every level – and yes professionally as well as in education.  Racial politics is so pervasive in Malaysian culture, moral policing so rampant – Members of Parliament have been hounded out of their seats for having leaked photos of sleeping in the nude.  (Aside : What business is it of anyone whether someone sleeps in the nude or not?!?!  Malaysia is a hot country!! And the pictures were taken without permission and published without permission, she was violated, but she was the one who had to quit, and not the people who violated her privacy!! GRRRRR!!!)

There is a lot of talk about punishment, talk about the (bad) influence of lgbt-right-activists.  There has been fingers pointing at all directions, but here on my blog I want to point the finger on one thing which few are talking about.  Normalised Everyday Discrimination.

Borrowing from this post which was widely shared after the Orlanda shooting last year.

People of Malaysia: You weren’t the bullies, but you sneered at transwomen on the streets.  You weren’t the bullies but you think gay people are sinful and need saving.  You weren’t the bullies but you were upset at rainbow flags at political marches.  You weren’t the bullies, but you use slurs for queer people.  You weren’t the bullies, but you would vote against legal protections for queer people.  You weren’t the bullies, but you are the culture that built them.  You put the slurs in the bullies’ mouth.  You put the sticks and stones in bullies’ hands.

Normalised Everyday Discrimination.  What is everyday discrimination?  It is the posts I see every day of the queer malaysians group I help moderate.  Teenagers and/or young adults who get disowned and have to leave home because their parents have disowned them for being queer.  Adults with young children who turn their heads away and tell their children not to look when a same sex couple holds hands in front of them.  Purportedly queer-friendly adults, with gay friends, who do introduce same-sex couples to their children, but hide the fact that they are a couple, just ‘friends’.  People who say “I don’t mind that people are gay, but can you please not shove it in my face”.

To this people I say: Imagine coming home from a two week holiday with your husband/wife, going into the office and everyone asking you how your holiday went.  Try describing your fantastic and fun-filled holiday without gendering or naming our partner (which will also gender them).  Imagine spending 4 years in the same work place without ever once referring to your husband / wife by their name or gender.  Does it sound easy?

When we ask to be accepted, we are not asking to be allowed to have sex in front of you.  Merely that we can do things you take for granted.  If you can hold hands with your opposite-gender partner in public, we would like that too.  If you can kiss your opposite-gender partner in public, we would like that too.  If you introduce other friends to your kids as ‘uncle peter and auntie fiona’ and the unspoken implication and acceptance of them as a couple is shown and demonstrated to your kids, we would like that too.

In a country and culture where the politics is divisive and racial, I am aware that this is a big ask.  When children are still told at a young age that the “ah neh neh (racist term for indian) will come and take you away if you run around outside”, or that the Chinese are all greedy money-minded pigs, or that the Malays are all lazy and inefficient – when the culture of discrimination of all types is so pervasive and universal, it is easy for queerphobia to be slipped in there too.  It is easy to tell kids that all queer people have aids, or all queer people are paedophiles.

But I am asking.

For Navheen.

For me.

For my brethren in Malaysia.

Stop normalising everyday discrimination.