Climate Change Anxiety is Real

A recent article posted on CNN dives into how climate change anxiety is a real threat and covers some ways to address it. “Paralysis caused by fear is a real problem,” the article says. I whole-heartedly agree with this. In a lot of ways, it doesn’t matter what outside pressure is causing the fear—climate change, racism, recent events in the US surrounding women’s reproductive rights—this fear is leading first to outrage and then to hopelessness.

Hopelessness is the common thread through various levels of depression. It begins with a sense of overwhelm and an inability to place exactly where the pressure is coming from. Many afflicted with high functioning depression seem to be healthy, or at least equipped with healthy coping mechanisms. What happens when the ability to cope is overwhelmed by the storm of hardships hitting survivors from all angles?

Lucas Wolfe, in his article When Your Depression Stops Being High Functioning on The Mighty wrote, “I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t hold a thought in my head. I lost weight, and the light of life drained from my eyes. I was a shell of my former self, and for the first time since the depression began, I couldn’t successfully hide my battles from those around me. Everyone could see something wasn’t quite right, but no one knew what was wrong.” He was paralyzed.

Contrary to the text I am plugging into my lap top right now, I am in the same place right now. Like Lucas, no one in my life knows what’s wrong—neither do I. Like Lucas, “I had made the transition from high-functioning depression to major depression, and it was shocking how little I could do.” I’ve spent the better part of six weeks in bed and avoiding texts, phone calls, and social interactions. I’m afraid that people will see me, like really see me—my fear, my trauma, my gross mess.

I’m constantly worried about finances, the environment, whether or not the world is even going to still be here before I pay off my student loans. I’m often wondering outloud to anyone who will listen what the point of it all is. What’s the point in making career goals when the world leaders are ignoring the facts and refusing to act to save our planet? What’s the point in working my ass off at a minimum wage job when it costs more to get to and from work that the sum of my weekly wages? What’s the point of getting out of bed when nothing about today is different than any other day? I am not alone in these questions.

Many of my peers have the same thoughts and voice the same fears. The two main themes emerging from our Creative Writing cohort were mental illness and environmental crisis. The two go hand in hand.

Andrea Marks Rolling Stone says, “The mental health impact of climate change is a one-two punch: There will be increasing anxiety about the future, as well as an increasing number of people undergoing the trauma of climate catastrophes like flooding and hurricanes” in her article How the Mental Health Community Is Bracing for the Impact of Climate Change. Marks went on to report, “A Yale survey in December found nearly 70 percent of Americans are “worried” about climate change, 29 percent are “very worried” — up eight percentage points from just six months earlier — and 51 percent said they felt “helpless.” Fifty-one percent felt helpless.

Just over half the population surveyed felt helpless at the current climate situation. We’re watching the world quite literally die before our eyes and our leaders seem more preoccupied with women’s wombs than whether or not there will be life on Earth in the near future. Liv Grant of the Guardian wrote, “Wild places dwindle, the animals and plants that live in them disappear. Climate change is now a certainty, and it will without a doubt lead to the loss of land, species, and ways of life. In the abstract this is disconcerting. Up close it is devastating. I worked on the BBC’s Climate Change: The Facts, presented by David Attenborough, and have felt this pain first-hand.”

So what do we do about it?

So far, all I’ve been able to find in my research is coping skills. Nothing solves the problem of climate related anxiety—nothing that is except for changing the trajectory of humanity. Western society is so dependent on capitalism and consumerism. These are the ideologies (where the dollar bill is more important than people, animals, and the environment) that are fueling climate change. When activists try to advocate for change the immediate outcry is “how will we make a living?”. My question is, how will your inflated bank account matter when we’re all dead?

Sooner than anyone wants to admit there will be global water and food shortages like human history has never seen before. Since my childhood, several animals have gone extinct. Bees are dying (they pollinate flowers to grow our food among other things). Unstable weather and forest fires are increasing. The science is there. Let’s stop ignoring it and actually do something.

Those with the power either need to use it or lose it. Vote like the environment actually matters.

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I deleted Facebook

CW: Depression. Suicide.

Two weeks ago, I took a break from Facebook. I posted well in advance that I was taking a break from it for probably a month. My selfcontrol around social media, specifically Facebook and the comments (oh the comments) was exacerbating my current mental health slump. So I said enough and backed off. Three things happened.

1. (Almost) No One Cared

I posted something along the lines of this: I will be taking an indefinite break from Facebook due to serious mental health concerns. If you’d like my email or phone number to keep in touch, PM me before tomorrow.

Out of all my many contacts, across three pages and my personal profile only FIVE people responded. And of those five, three asked if I would still be on messenger.

I felt even more alone than I did when I was lost in the sea of comments, memes, and trending posts. Where were all my so called friends? People that I KNOW in person care about me, but beyond the odd like here and there, have been radio silent during my struggle.

2. Unsolicited Medical Advice

After being off of Facebook for two weeks, I shared on Twitter that I’ve been battling suidical ideation and depression for a while. I disclosed about my battle with weight gain and how to get my life back I needed drastic changes—including deleting Facebook.

Within minutes I had multiple messages filled with advice on diets, treatment, counselling, nutrition, wellness gimmicks, and many other unsolicited solutions.

Here’s why that’s harmful: to offer unsolicited advice assumes that the person hasn’t already done the work. It reinforces the “try harder” model of recovery that has been proven ineffective without a holistic approach. Fact is, I’ve been on this journey much longer than has been public and have a better grasp on what’s available in my city and for my needs than those who have been wall flowers in my life.

After a lengthy set of conversations over messenger, and Instagram, I was drained and cried out. I felt the need to defend my right to privacy of treatment even though I was being open about my struggle. Sharing where I am at is not the same as inviting advice.

I posted an update set to friends only with my email, and PM’d a few close friends my phone number and told people to contact me that way. This time, though no one emailed, six friends responded to by texting me.

3. Radio Silence

Though the constant input of information and outrage culture is gone, my phone and inbox are dead silent. I pulled away, and next to no one followed. The ones that did, are the ones that are in the same boat as me health wise. They have a lot going on in their personal and professional lives and cannot carry the burden of another unwell friend.

This concerns me a bit. Where the healthy people at? And are there any?

We tell folx to reach out, to share when they are struggling. We affirm over and over again that we are here for them. If you need anything, just let me know—we say. Yet here I am, and countless others are, shouting in every direction that we are not okay. We long for people to reach out at talk with us without the agenda of offering solutions. We want someone who will sit in the muck with us without the expecation of improvement. We want someone who will order skip the dishes to our house, or come over and do the dishes and leave, or bring a coffee without being asked, or just text us mundane stuff throughout the day so we feel connected.

What even is support?

Support looks different for different people. One thing it is absolutely not is “have you tried….”, “did you consider…..”, “eat/read/do/listen/ ……..”. It’s “hey I’m thinking of you”, a text of your pet or child doind something silly, a snail mail letter, a long rambling email, human connection—it’s the anticipation of a loved one’s physical and emotional needs and meeting them if you’re able—it’s love.

When someone is suicidal or depressed, they need unconditional solution free love. If it weren’t for the unconditional love of my partner and three friends, I wouldn’t be here.

Mother’s Day: Gender and Trauma

There are many reasons why this day is hard for me. I know it’s difficult for others too. I see you and I support you.

For those of us who have difficult relationships with our mothers, this day can bring up a lot of past trauma, harmful thought patterns, and a general feeling of grief.

I struggle every year to find the right greeting card. I love my mother intensely and fiercely, but in my 33 years there has never existed a card that didn’t include some version of “thank you for everything” or “best mom ever” and those sentiments do not apply.

Don’t get me wrong, my mother is a tough cookie. She raised two kids on her own as a teen/young adult. She did so without support from her family, or our father, and without completing high school. She also raised two kids who have never been in any real kind of trouble and are living relatively successful lives.

At the same time, my mother did all of that while battling her own trauma and mental health issues in an age when mental health was not treated openly—if at all. She was misdiagnosed and then improperly treated until my mid-20s resulting in choas.

Compound that with my own story of infant loss at aged 18 and I quite literally HATE Mother’s Day.

The more I explore the nuances of gender, sex, and diversity, the more I realize how isolating these holidays are to so many people. If you or your parent is non-binary or trans how do you include them in a celebration that is primarily overrun by enforced pink floral gender stereotypes? What does “mother” even mean if separated from pink femininity?

Mothers are shapers of tiny humans and mentors of those same folks as they grow up. But, isn’t this what fathers and all parent types theoretically do? I get it. I’m not trying to take away from anything here. Mothers are a big deal.

So are all those other parents and childless parents that don’t fit into the pink and blue.

What are some non-gendered parent terms used in your home?

#BecauseofRHE

When I read the news yesterday morning that Rachel Held Evans had lost her fight in hospital against unexpected sudden illness, I was beyond shocked.

In one instant, I was angry, hurt, hopeless, tearful, afraid, and ultimately unable to express my profound loss. I didn’t know Rachel personally, but have had the privilege of interacting with her through social media and private online forums. Rachel existed and ministered in the margins. She was a beacon and a balm for LGBTQ people of faith to say the least.

She connected and championed us. She raised otherwise ignored voices to a place where they were not only heard but amplified. In doing so, a new community of questioners and faith-game changers was rising, is rising.

The single greatest thing we have #becauseofRHE is each other. Her legacy is us carrying on her work.

If you’ve ever been silenced by the voice that wonders if what you’ve got to say matters, the one that keeps you afraid to put yourself out there—I want you to look at the last 32 hours of tweets about Rachel’s impact.

She took a chance, giving voice to things and making space for things that most of us who are in a fog of loss were thinking and living daily. We can do it too. We MUST do it. The way we can honour her best is to carry on that work.

Your voice matters. You are the change the world needs. Our love is radical. Our family is international. We got this #becauseofRHE.

Still Gay, Still Christian

It’s been a few years since I came out publicly on social media. I was out in my close relationships and the local community, but I was terrified of losing all credibility in the circles of faith. I was scared of being found out and ultimately cast aside. You can find out about that journey here and here.

Since then, a few things have changed. I am now in a long-term committed relationship with a wonderful woman. We’ve been together for over a year and I’ve never been more at peace with myself or my sexuality.

I’ve had the privilege of mentoring youth and young adults who find themselves in the crossroads of having to choose between the faith of their family and the truth of who they are at the very core of their being.

There is a shift taking place within the church. Many denominations and theologians are reevaluating old proof texts with fresh eyes. More and more conservative-leaning church leaders are landing on the side of inclusion. Q Christian Network and Generous Space Ministries have many resources for anyone open to learn.

This past month I read Vicky Beeching’s Undivided and realized how similar our stories are. The rhetoric of sexuality being a choice or something a person can change (or should change) is damaging and people are literally dying because of it.

Though I’ve not found an affirming church in my remote location, I have found a community of Christians (mostly straight allies) who welcome me, love me, support me, and stand in a posture of defence and protection for those like me. If Jesus’ teaching are life-saving and God’s grace unconditional, then why are so many advocating hate and violence in his name?

I see you. I stand with you. You are not alone.