Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Reminder to treat yourself well

I don’t know if it’s a winter thing, and thus Seasonal Affective Disorder related, or specific stresses in people’s lives that by pure coincidence have happened all at the same time, or if crappy mental health is contagious (I suspect a combination of the above) but many people I know have been struggling with mental health issues, and either sinking below the surface or valiantly treading water.

I thought I’d take some time to remind everyone about some good mental health practice tools. Good mental and physical health goes together, so if things are falling off the top of your overloaded bundle, focus on the basics. Drink water and camomile tea, get plenty of sleep, eat some fruit and vegetables, breathe deeply, get some exercise. Treating yourself well is good for your self esteem, and it provides you with a basic foundation for managing stress. Basic self care is also one of the least mortifying mental health initiatives I have ever undergone.

Breathing slowly and deeply remembering to fully exhale is good for stress-related asthma and panic attacks. When you are experiencing racing thoughts, slow down and talk to yourself – is the most catastrophic and dire answer the most likely? Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is handy for the racing-panic-attack-thought-patterns and also the helpless-hopeless-depressive-thoughts, and when you learn how to do it well, it is incredibly empowering to be able to pull yourself out of the blue funk or the anxiety horrors. For clinical depression, the two most statistically useful things to do are to get exercise and to increase social contact. Grab a friend for a brisk walk. Borrow a dog and walk him/ her regularly - walking a dog is a great way to become instantly popular.

Some books that may be useful: You Can Beat Depression: A Guide to Prevention & Recovery by Dr John Preston, and for those of you going through yucky break ups, its Sex And The City style chick focused and assumes heterosexuality, however, take from it what you can: It's Called a Breakup Because It's Broken by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt. Oh, and I keep hearing good things about MoodGym.

Oh, and if you need to, get on meds (anti-depressants, or others), if you are still high and mighty about using anti-depressants, consider that myself and many others I know wouldn’t be here to preach to you if it weren’t for our meds….. and if you are using anti-depressant medication (or are just struggling with depression in general) please cut down on the amount of alcohol or other depressants you are using to give yourself the best possible chance of recovery.

Getting queers, whores and other outsiders to love ourselves, do self care, treat each other well and build community are all important political acts. Imagine that we all had more energy to fight for equality and a more just world? Imagine if we, instead of self destructing had more time for critiquing the dominant paradigm? The work of previous generations of activists have meant powerful changes for the social standing of queers – the fact that young queers now can regularly come out to their families without rejection would have been almost unimaginable, not so long ago. I look forward to a time when baby (newly out) queers have the opportunity to slot into a queer community that is thriving, to look forward to a range and choice of social spaces that aren’t solely focused around alcohol and late nights, where diversity is genuinely celebrated. Where queerness is so valued that self care practices are common. Sex workers aren’t even in a place yet where very many of us at all feel as if we could come out, and the whore stigma is still huge and crippling.

Oh, and everyone needs to go and get a copy of Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws by Kate Bornstein. Because Kate is completely fucking fabulous, that’s why. What, you need another reason? Well here:

I’ve written this book to help you stay alive because I think the world needs more kind people in it, no matter who or what they are, or do. We’re healthier because of our outsiders and outlaws and freaks and queers and sinners. I fall neatly into all of those categories, so it’s no big deal to me if you do, or don’t. I’ve had a lot of reasons to kill myself, and a lot of time to do it in, and I stayed alive by doing things that many consider to be immoral or illegal. I’m glad I did it, because I’ve really enjoyed writing this book. This may be a scary time for you, and if that’s so, I hope I can help you find your courage again. If we meet some day, let me know what worked. —from Hello, Cruel World by Kate Bornstein


felix_femme said...

beautiful post my lovely
I have heard good things about this book!

whoretic said...

Thank you kindy, felix_femme. I think the wonderful Kate can do no wrong! Katrina Fox interviewed hir for SX earlier in the year, and Kate gave what must be one of my fav all time quotes "Dykes are my favourite people," Bornstein enthuses. "Man, they're like Pippy Longstocking - like Willow from Buffy, with a good sense of humour. Dykes are not necessarily lesbians; they have all kinds of sexualities. A dyke is a queer lesbian with wider parameters of sexuality and gender identity. A dyke might fuck a fag, a lesbian I don't think would."

Skanky Jane said...

Gutsy post Whoretic - bravo! I enjoyed reading it.

SJ xx

whoretic said...

Why thank you, Skanky Jane! if I were still capable of blushing, I would be!