Every time I turn on the TV I see an advertisement for depression and medications to cure it. You would think it would no longer exist considering there’s a pill to make it go away…. just see your doctor and be happy forever more. I wish it actually worked that way, but it doesn’t. I read an article by Dan Scotti recently that made me wonder are people depressed or just sad. It bothers me when some of my friends tell me they’re depressed. It’s not that I’m unsympathetic to whatever they may be dealing with, and it may be true that they are truly depressed — and not just sad, but when I hear the word “depression,” I think of a debilitating disorder that takes too many lives. I think of my grandfather’s lifeless body on the dining room floor after losing his battle with depression at the hands of a self-inflicted gunshot. Hearing the word get thrown around so frequently makes me worry for people whose far-reaching symptoms could go unmedicated or unnoticed. They may hear that everyone around them is “depressed” and decline to get help, believing their feelings are widespread and routine. But they’re not. I’ve known my friends for a long time. And while it’s true that some of them may very well be unsatisfied with different areas of their lives, I have a suspicion that none of them are depressed in a literal sense. Depression is more serious. Depression holds a great number of people back from just enjoying life. It’s more than just a bad day accompanied by a night spent tortured in a smoky bar somewhere. But that’s what’s difficult about depression: It’s a concept that’s far from easy to understand. Many people who aren’t depressed use the word to justify feelings of sadness and anguish and many individuals who are depressed don’t realize they’re depressed until it’s too late and something drastic has happened. For many people, however, the line between sadness and depression can be blurred. Depression isn’t just a term to be used lightly; it’s a clinical disorder, and it is often fatal. Sure, sadness is a symptom of depression, but in reality, the two are not one and the same. And anyone who’s been affected by it – or knows someone who’s been affected by it – would surely attest to that.
Out of respect to those who deal with real depression on a daily basis, I’m writing this to set the two apart. Although many of us have bad days – and I mean awful days, days that make you want to crawl into a hole – few people are dealing with actual depression. For instance, whenever you hear people say that they’ve been feeling “kinda depressed lately,” chances are they’re falling victim to an unfortunate choice of words. According to Guy Winch, a psychologist, and author of Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts, “Depression is an abnormal emotional state, a mental illness that affects our thinking, emotions, perceptions and behaviors in pervasive and chronic ways.” In other words, depression — and the pervasive sadness that is involved with depression — doesn’t naturally come and go from day to day. People who are truly depressed don’t feel sad every few weeks when they find themselves in a slump. Depression is day-in and day-out. Additionally, Winch says that depression can often rear its ugly face for no reason. There’s no trigger. (On the other hand, “situational depression” is also a type of depression, and it often follows traumatic life events — a divorce, a death in the family, a physical illness.) And often, depression can afflict someone as a result of trauma. Often, people who have a family history of major depression can become depressed themselves after a life change — an event that may be easier for others to over come.
Winch writes of clinical depression, “People’s lives on paper might be totally fine — they would even admit this is true — and yet they still feel horrible”. This is why depression becomes such a suffocating condition to deal with. People battling depression may not know why they’re depressed; they just know that they are. They may feel guilty for being depressed when their lives seem otherwise in order.
So if you think you may be dealing with something serious like depression, ask yourself what, in particular, is making you unhappy. If you can identify the different aspects of your life that are making you dissatisfied, try to improve these areas. If you change your situation and are still unhappy, you may be clinically depressed. Winch also explains that depression has lower “thresholds.” If you’re depressed, you’re “more impatient… quicker to anger and get frustrated, quicker to break down, and it takes you longer to bounce back from everything.” It’s never simple for people with depression to “snap out of it,” as they’re often told — and, as Winch notes, this usually makes things worse. In a post for LiveScience after the suicide of actor Robin Williams, health editor Karen Rowan highlights additional symptoms of depression, via the Mayo Clinic: “loss of interest and pleasure in normal activities, irritability, agitation or restlessness, lower sex drive, decreased concentration, insomnia or excessive sleeping and chronic fatigue and lethargy.”
If you feel like you’re experiencing something more pervasive than general sadness, make sure to see a physician before letting it get any worse. Often, people battling depression may become apathetic about their emotional state and accept it as “the new normal.” This is a mistake. It’s important to remember that, while depression can strike at any time, it’s never too late to address. And if you hear your friends mention depression, even in casual conversation, make sure to ask them what they’re dealing with. But don’t ignore it. The more awareness that’s spread about what depression truly is, the less it will be misunderstood. If you are depressed and want to seek treatment, there are plenty of websites, hotlines and other forms of professional help you can go to. Please do not wait to get the help you need…
This is my journey… this is my life.
I love the feeling of being in love or falling in love or thinking about love. I’m normally not happy when the “love buzz” ends and I’m stuck with yet another mistake or as Madonna calls it a “substitute for love.” My first Valentine’s Day in L.A. was spent with a friend at some swanky little bistro that held about 20 people. It was cramped and overpriced with candles and that stupid red glittery confetti people put on tables at parties. I hate that stuff… it’s like “oh, look! There’s festive shit slung everywhere… this is going to be a great night!”
What I remember about that night is paying too much for a “lovers meal” created by Chef Blah-Blah and looking at all of the Malibu Barbie & Ken looking couples wearing too much cologne and laughing too much and too loudly. No one in the room seemed at ease in the environment… and I was feeding off their anxiety. I’d given up on love so long before that meal that someone should have picked up my tap as an act of loser charity.
My friend is one of those guys who is lucky in life… he’s a wealthy doctor, drives a BMW, owns a loft in downtown LA with an amazing view and looks like an underwear model. We both have enjoyed pampered lives… he worked for his and I got lucky and fell out of the right woman at birth. It doesn’t matter how you get to a place as long as you get there …
My friend was freshly out of a relationship and about to dive back into it with the same person. That never works for me… I tend to throw a match on things and watch them burn. No one has ever asked me back for a repeat performance. What does that say about them? Hmm?
On the subway home that night I wondered what other “single” horny people could do on Valentine’s Day alone…. This is what I came up with….
Valentine’s Day is usually a day to spend an exorbitant amount of money on gifts that typically cost half the price the other 364 days of the year: flowers, candy, and even dinner prices get tripled because of all the suckers going all out on every Valentine’s Day purchase. Since you don’t have to worry about spending half your mortgage on gifts that don’t make it to the end of the week, take half of that money and spend it on yourself. Buy that guy gear you’ve been eyeing since before Christmas, splurge on a new wardrobe or just drop it all on a guilty pleasure like a massage. Be your own Valentine. Do whatever the hell you want. Declare it a “Me Day” and go out and have fun. No one will even notice. They are all too busy crying and whining because they are not in — or sometimes because they are in — a relationship.
Have A Party
You were invited to a couple of parties but respectfully declined because all the festivities would include couples. Why not go for a little while anyway? Drink and eat on another guy’s dime and still leave with time to go out and hit a couple of bars after the party hits the wall. You never know — a few single women could also be in attendance, upping your chances of getting a little box of chocolates of your own on V-Day (yes, that was supposed to sound perverted). You could also hit a bar, go to a show or anywhere else where other single people are hanging out.
Do nothing at all. Being single on Valentine’s Day is the one time you’re allowed a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card to spending money on sports tickets or a headbanger band in a crappy part of town and extracurricular activities your imaginary girlfriend would probably disapprove of. Just stay home, veg out on the couch, fart, and be glad you’re not dropping a couple of bills on overcooked steak and watered-down drinks. You can go out next weekend and rub all the money you saved in your hitched friends’ faces.
Tear it up with your buds
Men always have at least one or two single friends. It’s just the law. They’ll be spending Valentine’s Day alone as well. Spend the night with the other guys who don’t have a significant other. Don’t settle for the typical night; make it a colossal night. Go for dinner, drinks, to a bar or even for just a night of gambling at someone’s house. Blow off some steam and forget all about the love-and-hearts crap. You also don’t have to worry about any of the holiday talk creeping into the conversation unless it’s: “Man, am I glad I don’t have to waste time on that Valentine’s junk.”
Do the usual
It’s Valentine’s Day. Alone. Big. Farking. Deal. Just because it’s a day that everyone else is celebrating doesn’t mean you’ve got to observe and celebrate. Just pretend it’s an average day: go to work, go to lunch, go for after-work drinks, flip on a Netflix movie and do all the things you’d do on a normal, boring day. It only lasts 24 hours, and you spend the majority of that time in bed or at work. It will all be over soon.
There’re lots more you can do if you’re going to spend Valentine’s Day alone…
This is my journey… this is my life!
These are the ones that you should avoid at all cost….
1. Do not create a website dedicated to your “ex” or expose every character flaw the person has on Facebook…
2. Do not post the phone number & address and photograph of your “ex” drunk at a club online
3. If your “ex” sues you … and they will… follow the judges orders
4. Do not attack the judge that heard your case involving your “ex” on Facebook or create a website dedicated to destroying his character
5. When you are served with a summons to appear in front of the judge that you have slandered and your “ex” … make it a point to show up
6. When the judge has you arrested for what you’ve posted about your “ex” and him on Facebook and websites.. and sentences you to picking up shit at a dog kennel for 200 hours….. go pick up the dog crap.
7. Prepare to pay $20,000 in fines and restitution for a relationship that started with sex on the third date…
I hope this information has been helpful …..
Historically, I suck at relationships because I don’t know how to listen… I just dive head first into one toxic fiasco after another… My formula is very simple… go on three dates and have sex…. no need to know anything about the person… just have sex and force a relationship to form with no instructions… This has been the recipe for all shattered marriages. Don’t try this at home… believe me! Because I have so much experience in miserable relationships … I wanted to share some insight. In my case, each marriage ended in disaster complicated by my use of drugs and alcohol. I always believed that had my divorces ended sooner… we would not have parted bitter enemies! That never happened.
Love is the most powerful emotion a human being can feel. It’s only about 2 feet above lust! That one has always gotten me in trouble …. When relationships end, the person left behind will always wonder to themselves, “Was anything we had real?” especially if their heart was shattered.
In reality, the only way to end an “it” is to be honest… to express your reasons… and then to simply just walk away. No person wants to be the bad guy …. emotionally rejecting a lover and causing heartache and pain. On the other hand who wants to prolong a situation where we, ourselves, are starting to feel trapped and miserable?
Ending a relationship takes courage when we are walking away from someone who is pulling us down… but ending a relationship can be cowardly if you don’t end it with a little class.
So how do we say goodbye to someone we love, or have loved, without causing another person pain? The answer is simple. You cannot end a relationship without causing pain. But you can lessen the blow to your partner by respecting their emotional well-being, presenting yourself honestly … be clear that it’s time move on… and then walk away!
The challenge in relationships is that each day and with each interaction there is the potential for our feelings to shift up or down. So, how do you decide when the relationship is in trouble or is simply experiencing a momentary blip of bliss or misery?
It’s important to pay attention to the pattern(s) in the relationship. If, over the course, of time the daily blips are repeated and repeated, and your negative feelings continue, then there’s a pattern you might want to be concerned with.
Our inner voice – your true, authentic self – will let you know what’s best in any situation. It’s your compass…your directional force. It will never lead you astray. It’s essential to pay attention to the whispers of your inner voice, those quiet nudges to make a change, go on a different path, and take a new tack in your life.
Healthy relationships, while occasionally causing the partners angst, overall bring joy, happiness and contentment to the individuals. There may be issues, conflicts, disagreements and/or problems, but once these get worked out, the partners are left with and experience satisfaction. They look forward to spending time with the other person. They’re aware of and accept their partner’s ‘quirks’, and deeply respect and like who they’re with. Each person has room to grow as an individual, and their partner understands this will enhance the relationship.
In healthy relationships partners feel good about themselves and the world. They feel deeply respected and cared for. They feel safe.
It takes courage…
It takes courage to take a no-holds barred, clear-eyed look at your relationship. To pay attention to your own feelings and authentic inner voice and give them credence. It takes courage to take charge of your own life and make your own decisions, not swayed by others’ opinions, about what’s important to you.
This is my journey… this is my life
People often preach their own sins…. Find a recovering alcoholic or addict and you’ll find a person dedicated to preach against drugs and alcohol. The same goes for abortion, smoking or anything else a person is unable to accept about themselves.
Internalized homophobia not only destroys the person battling self-hatred, in the case of the 49 people violently murdered in Orlando, it destroys everything seen as a threat or temptation. Homosexuality cannot be prayed away or should be… it cannot be unlearned or hidden, nor should it be. The following explains what homophobia is and why it is so destructive. These are the views of Revel & Riot, an online source, and need to be understood by everyone.
You were just recently told by a friend to “deal with your internalized homophobia.”
You force your partner to stay in the closet with you.
You feel contempt or disgust towards LGBTQ people who don’t “blend in.”
You can’t come out, even in safe communities and settings.
You’ve tried to change your sexual orientation through conversion therapy, prayer, or medical treatment.
You cannot have emotionally intimate or romantic relationships, even though you desire it.
You think about committing suicide because of your sexuality.
These are just a few of the many signs of internalized homophobia, an issue that affects the vast majority of LGBQ individuals and belongs at the forefront of the fight for justice and equality. Working to overcome it can lead to immensely positive results such as emotional and physical well-being, a stronger more active political movement, and a more compassionate world.
Simply put, internalized homophobia happens when LGBQ individuals are subjected to society’s negative perceptions, intolerance, and stigmas towards LGBQ people, and as a result, turn those ideas inward believing they are true.
It has been defined as ‘the gay person’s direction of negative social attitudes toward the self, leading to a devaluation of the self and resultant internal conflicts and poor self-regard.’ (Meyer and Dean, 1998).
Or as “the self-hatred that occurs as a result of being a socially stigmatized person.” (Locke, 1998).
PROBLEMS WITH THE TERM
Many LGBQ people do not relate to the expression “internalized homophobia” and as a result, end up rejecting the idea before thoroughly examining its meaning. The word “internalized” presents the first barrier. “The concept suggests weakness rather than the resilience demonstrated by lesbians and gay men and keeps the focus away from the structures of inequality and oppression.” (Williamson, I., 2000) The word “homophobia” is the next complication – a confusing and seemingly illogical possibility. How can someone who identifies as LGBQ also have feelings of dislike, fear, and disgust towards themselves? So what can we do about the fact that the combination of words “internalized” and “homophobia” feel unrelatable for so many LGBQs?
Researchers have suggested that using ‘heterosexism, ‘self-prejudice,’ and ‘homonegativity,’ in addition to the widely accepted term “internalized homophobia,” can help to add depth to our comprehension of the true meaning of the issue.
WHY DOES IT HAPPEN?
Internalized homophobia is a concept much more nuanced than it’s simple definition would suggest. It is clear that the word “homophobia” in this context, is misleading – the over clear idea that it is individual acts of fear and ignorance diverts our attention from the much more pervasive systemic oppression that is at the root of the problem. The hateful and intolerant behavior of those closest to us often has the most profound impact (parents, church community, peers, partners). While they should be held responsible as individuals, the real culprit is an aggressively heterosexist society that is defining what is “normal,” and therefore what is “right” and “wrong,” through laws, policy, culture, education, health care, religion and family life. This systemic oppression is meant to enforce the gender binary, marginalize LGBTQ people, and keep heterosexual people and their relationships in a position of dominance and privilege.
When we see that homophobia is a result of this larger system, we see that it is institutional; that it is impossible to exist outside of it; that the real definition of it is so much more than the dictionary simplicity of “irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals;” that the root structure is vast, affecting every aspect of life and culture. All of these factors make dismantling heterosexism extremely complicated, and uprooting internalized homophobia even more so.
WHAT DOES INTERNALIZED HOMOPHOBIA LOOK LIKE?
HOW DO I KNOW IF I SUFFER FROM IT?
A few scales have been developed by psychiatrists and researchers to measure internalized homophobia so Ross and Rosser’s “Four Dimensions.” This includes the examination of four key areas of a person’s LGBQ identity: public identification as being gay, the perception of stigma associated with being gay, the degree of social comfort with other gay men and beliefs regarding the religious or moral acceptability of homosexuality. Another example is the IHP scale, developed by psychiatrists Meyer and Dean, which includes an extensive list of questions designed to be self-administered. While these levels might be useful on a preliminary level, we must also consider the issue well beyond the categories set forth by the psychological establishment and remember that the question of whether or not you suffer from internalized homophobia is one that is best answered by yourself. The manifestation of internalized homophobia, as well as the extent to which LGBQ people suffer from it, is as varied and layered as our identities, which makes recognizing it a complicated process. Below we do our best to explore many possible expressions and outcomes of internalized homophobia.
Secrecy / Dishonesty
‘The awareness of stigma that surrounds homosexuality leads the experience to become an extremely negative one; shame and secrecy, silence and self-awareness, a strong sense of differentness – and of peculiarity – pervades the consciousness.’ (Plumer,1996). The role of secrecy and dishonesty in cases of internalized homophobia, is significant. Some examples include:
Denial – ranging from aggressive and hateful behavior to denying yourself the life and love you desire;
Lying to yourself about attraction and sexuality;
The inability to “come out” if you want to, and if you can safely. (see more about “coming out below);
Being selectively “out” (see “coming out” below);
Forcing others to keep secrets or remain in the closet;
Lying by omission
The emotional havoc that secrecy and dishonesty can create for an individual varies. While burdened with the symptoms of internalized homophobia it is difficult to have a clear perspective of the harm we do to ourselves. This is why it’s often due to an accusation of a loved one that we are compelled to explore the concept in the first place.
Also known as horizontal hostility or lateral violence, horizontal oppression is one of the most damaging results of internalized homophobia. It functions as a cycle of abuse and happens when an LGBQ person, subjected to homophobia / biphobia / heteronormativity, begins to discriminate against other LGBQ people, thereby colluding with and perpetuation heterosexism. Horizontal oppression can be found amongst women (horizontal misogyny) and people of the same racial group (horizontal racism) and in just about every type of oppressed minority group. It destabilizes movements for justice and equality and keeps us fighting amongst ourselves rather than focusing on the big picture issue of institutionalized oppression.
Horizontal oppression can manifest as anything from:
Deeply closeted politicians, religious leaders and “powerful” people who advocate and lobby against the LGBTQ community
Feeling disgusted towards other LGBTQ people who don’t express themselves in a heteronormative way
Excessive judgment of other LGBTQ people
Anger and resentment toward other LGBQ people for being out, or proud of their identity
Transphobia, gender policing, shaming or harming LGBTQ individuals who do not fit into the gender binary
Anger or embarrassment that other LGBTQ people “represent” you
Believing that the movement for justice is a single-issue endeavor (usually marriage equality), and failing to remember that LGBQ people come from every type of background, often facing multiple, interconnected forms of oppression such as racism, cisgenderism, ableism, classism, sexism, etc.
To combat horizontal oppression, we must:
Respect the diversity of the LGBTQ community
Remember that outspoken, visible LGBTQ people have been at the forefront of the LGBTQ rights movement from the very beginning, and continue to face the most violence and discrimination
Credit visibility as one of the key factors in the progress of the LGBTQ equality movement
See that policing the gender expression of LGBTQ individuals is a form of transphobia and heteronormative violence.
Be aware of the ways that we collude with heterosexism and therefore harm LGBQ people
Problems with Coming Out
In Beyond the Closet; The Transformation of Gay and Lesbian Life, being in the closet is described as a “life-shaping pattern of concealment.” Being closeted is linked with high anxiety, low self-esteem, increased risk for suicide and general lack of fulfillment. Much of the LGBQ discussion about honesty centers on coming out. While it’s not an internalized homophobia cure-all, it is more often than not, a step forward, and can be an incredibly empowering act for most LGBQ people. It relieves the pressure of having to live a life of secrecy; it is an act of self-love and recognition.
But coming out can also be dangerous. Being honest about your LGBQ identity can result in violence, rejection, loss of home, loss of employment. We unequivocally advocate for an approach that minimizes harm to the person coming out. The key is to recognize the truth of what kind of harm you’re facing and weigh the balance of your emotional and physical safety with your emotional and physical needs. What is more damaging – to face the disapproval of a parent, or to lose your partner? To lose your home or manage the stress of leading a double life?
When a person expresses fear or reluctance about coming out, many “out” LGBQ people have strong reactions, judgments, and painful memories. George Chauncey, professor of history and author of Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture and the making of the Gay Male World, discusses ‘the image of the closet’ and the judgment heaped on those who would not, or could not come out of it.
“Before Stonewall (let alone World War II), it is often said, gay people lived in a closet that kept them isolated, invisible, and vulnerable to anti-gay ideology. While it was difficult to imagine the closet as anything other than a prison, we often blame people in the past for not having had the courage to break out of it . . . , or we condescendingly assume they had internalized the common hatred of homosexuality and thought they deserved to be there. Even at our most charitable, we often imagine that people in the closet kept their gayness hidden not only from hostile straight people, but from other gay people as well, and, possibly, from themselves.”
Many critics of the you-must-come-out-of-the-closet doctrine argue that not only does it diminish the worth of the LGBQ lives from the past when it was not safe to be out, but over time it has homogenized the LGBQ timeline into a 3 step process (in the closet, preparation to come out, out), and, as philosopher and gender theorist Judith Butler argues in Imitation and Gender Insubordination, the in/out metaphor creates an over-simplified binary: in = dark, regressive, marginal, false; out = illuminating, freeing, true.
We know that things are never as simple as that, and shaming those who remain in the closet is a mutation of heterosexist oppression. Also, as many studies have shown, internalized homophobia may never be completely overcome, and therefore may continue to affect LGBQ individuals long after “coming out.” It is true that coming out to important people in your life may indicate that you’ve overcome personal shame and self-devaluation associated with being LGBQ. But, a lack of outness should not be taken to indicate the opposite and therefore, should not be seen as the primary symptom of internalized homophobia (Eliason & Schope, 2007).
Mental and Physical Health Issues
Depression / Anxiety / Self Esteem Issues / Self-harm / Suicide / Substance Abuse / Eating Disorders
Chronic stress has extremely negative consequences for the human body, such as, but certainly not limited to, sleeplessness, depression, anxiety disorders, increased susceptibility to illness, heart disease, and high blood pressure. LGBQ people, and in general, any minority or oppressed group, are likely to suffer additionally from what’s known as “minority stress,” a direct cause of internalized homophobia. “Minority stress,” arises from specific, negative events in a person’s life, as well as the whole of the minority person’s experience in the dominant, oppressive society. So, everything from fearing a family member’s judgment, to hearing homophobic slurs at school, to being the victim of a hate crime, to pressure to come out of the closet, to not being able to get married (and therefore claim access to the over 1,000 legal protections and benefits that come with marriage licenses) can contribute to “minority stress.”
As a result of this immense and insidious stress, many LGBQ people develop more severe health problems, and often (due to internalized homophobia) do not seek (or, due to homophobia, are not provided with) the medical attention they need. And so the self-perpetuating cycle of suffering continues.
Many academic and medical studies have linked the existence of internalized homophobia to other health issues and behaviors meant to punish or control the physical body, such as suicide, excessively risky sexual behavior, substance abuse and eating disorders, particularly in those who are lacking the proper support structures, community, and coping mechanisms. It is more difficult still to quantify the unconscious effects of internalized homophobia, especially within those who reject the possibility of it. But while we wait for more studies and analysis from the medical communities, it is imperative that we shine a light on this issue, which is harming so many LGBQ people, and injuring even more around us.
Inability to have intimacy, emotionally or physically
Internalized homophobia is directly connected to many adverse outcomes in both romantic and non-romantic relationships. Examples can include, but are in no way limited to:
Low self-esteem / negative self-view that can lead to avoiding substantial relationships or others avoiding you
Dishonesty, which can prevent or destroy trust between friends and family
Secrecy, which contributes to anxiety and a lack of self-worth, which can then be internalized by partners and friends
Horizontal oppression (see section above on this topic)
Perpetual lack of satisfaction from emotional and/or physical intimacy
Verbal or physical abuse within friendships and romantic relationships
Deep shame about sexual experiences
Ambivalence, loneliness, isolation
Inability to have emotionally intimate sexual encounters
Preventing yourself from having sex even if you desire it