World Bipolar Day

Today is World Bipolar Day, a day created to bring about awareness and show support for those suffering with the disorder. There are many myths and misconceptions when it comes to bipolar disorder, and it is often used in improper context. We say that someone who is moody is bipolar, and we say that the weather is bipolar when it constantly changes, but bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness that affects over 5 million adults and 2 million children each year.

There are different types of mood disorders, such as bipolar I, bipolar II, rapid cycling bipolar, etc. I’ll run through the basics of those three as they are the most common. First is bipolar I, characterized by manic and depressive episodes. Mania consists of elevated energy levels, elevated mood, grandiose thoughts, poor judgement, reckless behavior, inability to concentrate, restlessness. It can cause auditory or visual hallucinations in some cases. Each person cycles at a different rate, some faster than other, and some periods last longer than others. No experience is the same.

Bipolar II is categorized by hypomania and depressive episodes. Hypomania is very similar to mania, just less severe. However, it can be just as debilitating. The depressive episodes are relatively the same as bipolar I.

Rapid cycling bipolar disorder can occur in those with bipolar I or bipolar II, and it causes moods to change at a more advanced pace. For some, it happens daily, for others a few times a month. Surprisingly, nearly 20% of individuals diagnosed as bipolar disorder are rapid cyclers.

Now that I got the definitions out of the way, let’s discuss myths.

Myth: Bipolar disorder is the same as mood swings. However, bipolar disorder is a chemical imbalance of the chemicals in one’s brain. They are more severe, longer lasting, and impede every day functioning.

Myth: Mania is always happy. Unfortunately this is not the case. There are often mixed states, in which one experiences the elevated mood of mania (or hypomania) with the depressed thoughts. There is often irritability corresponding with mania, and sometimes agitation.

Myth: Bipolar disorder is an excuse to act how you want when you want. This is a stigmatized assumption for those who wish to discount those with mental illness. Those with the disorder often have difficulty regulating their moods and the actions resulting from those moods. This is not voluntary, and can ruin many relationships be it familial, romantic, or platonic.

Myth: There is no way to treat bipolar disorder. Although it is a lifelong condition, there are ways to regulate the disorder. This could be through medication, therapy, or a mix of the two.

Managing bipolar disorder is not easy for those with the diagnosis as well as for those with a loved one who has a diagnosis. The best way to work through it is communication. Be open and honest about what you need, and be receptive to those who are expressing their needs. Be patient with yourself, and be patient with other people. Surround yourself with people who are understanding and kind, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t control your emotions. Just know that you are not alone, and that each of your emotions are valid.

– JB

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Magnēt-no

Screenshot 2017-03-06 at 9.25.58 PM

Something we haven’t really covered much on this blog: anti-semitism.

The only reason for that is we, or at least I, think it’s pretty obvious. Nazis are bad. We try and cover subjects we feel don’t get very much coverage or recognition, you know what I mean? Representing the voiceless, those lessons we had to unlearn from elementary school about how Christopher Columbus was a rad dude and white people invented everyone except peanut butter. But you learn in elementary school all about the Holocaust and ethnic cleansing. A 13 year-old could tell you that Nazis are bad.

And yet-

You don’t need me to tell you about the rise of the alt-right and increased swastika graffiti and the vandalism of that Jewish cemetery in Philly. You probably already know about Shia Labeouff’s art installation “He Will Not Divide Us,” a live-stream in New York that was supposed to run for the entirety of the current presidency, and how it had to be taken down because there was too much anti-Semitic harassment and it was becoming unsafe. You know about the bomb threats and the punching of Richard Spencer. Punching a Nazi: as American as apple pie. So American, Superman has done it. So American, Captain America has done it.

And yet-

You might not even need me to tell you about comic book writer Nick Spencer (no relation to Richard that we know of), and how, back in May 2016, he released Steve Rogers No. 1 – a comic that revealed to us Captain America had been working for Hydra (a Nazi organization) all along. You might already know about the backlash and the criticisms and actual Captain America Chris Evans being distraught.

But what you might now know is that Nick Spencer has DONE IT AGAIN!

But this time, instead of taking this nice gentile Golden Boy and turning him rotten, this ‘writer’ has taken Marvel’s staple Jewish character, the one that survived the literal holocaust, Erik Lehnsherr or Magneto, and made him a member of Hydra.

There is no literary value in this! There was no literary value in Hydra-Cap, either. It’s shock value. It’s pandering to the grim-dark fanboys. It’s disgusting and terrible story-telling.

I didn’t write at all about the Captain America thing back in May because it already seemed like everyone was talking about it. I didn’t cover it on here because it already seemed pretty well covered. And maybe it’s because the news only broke about Magneto twelve hours ago, but it doesn’t seem like anyone is particularly bothered. Which makes no sense.

Erik is Jewish. Erik escaped Auschwitz. If Steve couldn’t be Hydra because he was an allegory to fight Nazism back in the day and was created by Jewish writers, then Erik definitely couldn’t be Hydra because he was an actual victim of nazi power. It’s not science!

Maybe it’s because Magneto is a villain. Maybe it’s because Magneto’s villainous creed includes his own form of ethnic cleansing by way of a genocide of all non-mutants. This still doesn’t mean he’s a Nazi definitely doesn’t make it okay to sensationalize the Nazi movement, especially in today’s social climate.

Comic books are important. They have a historical significance that rivals newspapers, because comics were accessible to kids and kids were the ones the built the future. These characters have a historical significance that is just being spit on and disrespected for no other reason than a guy seeing an opportunity to drop some jaws. That’s not art. That’s not entertainment. And anyway, shouldn’t the support of an already oppressed people be worth more than that?

In today’s climate, with anti-semitism becoming more and more prevalent, is now really the time to try and be edgy by making traditionally anti-nazi characters nazis?

-JM

Myths about bisexuality

Lately I have been seeing a lot of talk against those who are bisexual. Unfortunately, pretty much of this talk has come from fellow members of the LGBTQIA community itself. For some reason, there is a lot of stigmatization around identifying oneself as bisexual and it is often not taken seriously. This happens a large amount in grade school, but the stigma never really dissolves. I’m going to address myths that I’ve encountered.

1. Bisexuals are more promiscuous.

  • False. Liking more than one sex does not make you promiscuous. Sexual orientation does not make you more promiscuous, gender does not make you more promiscuous. Sure you have a wider pool of potentials, but that doesn’t automatically make someone more promiscuous.

2. Because bisexuals are more promiscuous, they are more likely to cheat.

  • As previously mentioned, bisexuality has no correlation with promiscuity and, believe it or not, has absolutely no correlation with cheating. People cheat because they are bad people, not because of their sexuality. Another myth that goes hand in hand with this is that those who identify as bisexual are “greedy”, making them cheat because they like a lot of people at once. However, emotions work the same in people regardless of sexuality. I can’t speak for everyone but liking someone usually eliminates the likeage of other people, regardless of how you identify your sexuality.

3. Just pick a side.

  • Sure, sometimes bisexuality is used as a label before a person really discovers their true sexual orientation, but that doesn’t invalidate the label. Sexuality is fluid and coming out as gay is scary and experimentation is ok and you have no say in the validation of someone’s label. This idea of “picking a side” is so problematic. It erases the identity of bisexuality, making it mythical. Bisexuality is a real thing, not some in between. It may be for some people, but that doesn’t make it not true at the time. It’s ok to change the way that you identify. However, there are some people who identify as bisexual for their entire life.

4. Monogamous relationships make you straight or gay.

  • Along with thinking that bisexuals need to “pick a side”, people also refuse to acknowledge that bisexuality is real even when one is in a monogamous relationship. A lot of the time, their identity is reduced to the relationship that they are currently involved in. However, it is entirely possible to continue to identify as bisexual whether you are with the same or a different sex.

5. You are only interested in threesomes.

  • This is actually infuriating because I can’t tell you how many times I was greeted with “Do you want a threesome then?” when my sexuality came to light. Your sexual orientation has no relation to the desire to have a threesome. Please for the love of god stop sexualizing everything and making it about your pleasure. There’s nothing wrong with being bi and wanting a threesome, there’s nothing wrong with being straight and wanting a threesome, but please get rid of the association between being bisexual and only wanting to have threesomes!!

6. Can’t identify as bi if they haven’t been with ____

  • This isn’t only used against those who identify as bisexual, but I see it used a lot. People come out as bisexual and “Have you  been with the opposite gender? How do you know?” are some of the first things asked. However, you don’t need to intimately be with a person to know that you are attracted to them. How do you know you’re straight if you’ve never been with someone of the opposite gender? It’s just something you feel, and crushes are a thing that happen. You can identify as bisexual no matter who you have or haven’t been with.

7. Means you like only boys or girls, and equally.

  • There are a few things wrong with this. First, being bisexual isn’t only limited to male and female. Being bisexual means being attracted to two OR MORE genders. I know what you’re thinking, bi means two!! It has to be two!! You are wrong. Most bisexuals welcome all guys, gals, and nonbinary pals. Second, bisexuality isn’t an equal thing all the time. You can be mentally attracted to a certain gender while physically attracted to another gender, you can be both physically and mentally attracted to different genders, you can like one gender more than all the rest and STILL identify as bisexual.

Basically what I’m trying to get across is that sexuality is fluid and the only person who can dictate your sexuality is yourself. Those who identify as bisexual are valid and you have no place trying to tell them that they aren’t. Stay out of other’s sexualities and PLEASE reevaluate the biases that you hold within yourself.

-JB

Mansplaining

Some of you may have heard this word, others may not have. Mansplaining is basically when a man tries to “explain” something to a woman in a derogatory and/or condescending way, only speaking over her, telling her she’s wrong even though they have no real knowledge of the information at hand. Yesterday I was mansplained. Hard. By my doctor. Now, I know that this is more of a personal story but things like this happen all the time and I feel that light needs to be shed on the way that privileged, straight, white, old, rich men speak down to women and others in less of a power position than themselves.

 

Yesterday was not a great day for me. I was in excruciating pain from yet another kidney stone and that pain lasted me two and a half grueling hours. While I was in all of this pain I called my eurologist to figure out what to do and he told me to come to his office to figure out what was going on after getting some tests to show where the stones were.

I had to wait a long long time to see this doctor and waiting around isn’t fun in general but it’s really not fun when you feel like you’re giving birth. So I’m writhing in pain and finally get called back to see this doctor, and then have to wait another 45 minutes until he comes into the room. About 15 minutes before he comes into the room my pain subsided, and thank goodness it did or I wouldn’t have been able to keep my cool the way I did.

So he comes in and talks to me about the kidney stones for maybe 15 minutes and then asks what I’ve been up to. I told him that I recently got accepted for a job at my school’s women’s center, and his immediate response was “notice how there are always women’s centers and none for men? There need to be more men’s centers.” Of course I silently was cursing myself for even bringing this up to a straight, white, old, rich dude, but it got worse.

I explained that our center helps everyone who comes in, and has many male staff members which makes men more comfortable to come in and talk, or I tried to explain this. However, before I could even finish my sentence, this doctor interrupts me. He cut me off to tell me that advocacy is not being executed properly, and that men need more advocacy than women.

Let me stop there and break this down so far. Not only did he dismiss the work that I, and everyone that works in and is passionate about topics that I am, do, he said that we do it wrong, and that men need more advocacy than women. I completely agree that men need advocacy, but for this man to tell me that they need it more than women when he’s never worked at a domestic violence shelter in is life? And to do so when he has no idea what we do at the shelter I was talking about? Extremely uncalled for. However, that is part of mansplaining, hence the title. It doesn’t stop there.

Anyone who knows me knows that I jump at any opportunity to defend my passions and my work, but I bit my tongue. Hard. I told him that this is not a topic we should debate, and that we should move on. Who would feel comfortable debating (and by debating I mean being mansplained and cut off) by their doctor? That’s a complete power play. BUT, he decided he wasn’t done.

Somehow he moved to the topic of the election, and once again I asked him that we stop talking about this issue, and once again he ignored that request and spoke over me. He asked who represents him, a straight white male, in office. HAH. I said “probably Trump” which I guess was kind of talking back and giving sass because of the way I said it and how I meant it, which was a mistake because it enticed him to continue. But I was proud of the little come back. Anyway, He kept going.

Somehow, he ended up on the topic of abortion. Now, before I even continue, I’m going to break this down some more. I had just spent two and a half hours in excruciating pain and came to this guy to discuss my kidney stones. He first insults me and my work, talks over me every chance he can get, says that he has no representation because he is oh so oppressed, and now moves on to the topic of abortion. After I asked him MULTIPLE times to please focus on my kidney stones since that is what I was there for.

He decided he had more to say, so he kept at it. He was telling me that women shouldn’t always get the  right to choose what they do with their body and that men should have a say. Whatever, in certain circumstances I agree, but ultimately it’s the woman’s body, therefor it’s her choice. That’s a debate for another time, which is exactly what I told my doctor, but he wouldn’t stop. Every time I tried to defend a woman’s right to choose what she does with her body he would talk over me. At that point, I stopped trying. I would only speak to ask him to move on and to stop talking about this subject.

After about another 15 minutes, this guy is still going, and he is practically blocking the door so that me and my mom can’t leave. Not only did he do all of the previously mentioned, messed up things, but he physically wasn’t allowing us to leave. And what could I do in that situation? My doctor, who might have had to do surgery on me in the next few days, was mansplaining me and physically blocking the door. He was on a power trip. Eventually we got out of there and by that point me and my mom were FURIOUS, to say the least.

Once we got out of there my mom and I immediately complained to higher ups and got my doctor switched, because that was super inappropriate on so many levels and in so many ways. My lesson for this, I guess, is to not let people mansplain you but also analyze your situation. It’s ok to not always speak up, especially if you feel uncomfortable and that there is a power difference that another person is exploiting. Stay firm but also stay safe, my friends. Also, to the men reading this, please stop mansplaining. Acknowledge that you don’t know everything and that you aren’t always right. Stop talking over women.

-JB

Slut

We’ve all either been called a slut, know someone who has been called a slut, or called someone a slut ourselves. It’s a common word, especially recently. But how does one become a slut? What’s the criteria?

The problem is that there is none. Anyone can be called a slut for any real, perceived, or imagined sexual activity. There’s this prude/slut dichotomy and we are forced to stick our toes in the slutty side, but have to be careful not to cross fully over in order to be accepted. However, this often gets skewed and women are shamed no matter which side they are on, because it is all up to interpretation.

Often times “slut” doesn’t have anything at all to do with a persons actual sexual activity, but with their *perceived* persona. How sexually a person is perceived, because they developed early, because they flirt, because of what they wear, etc., determines if they are labeled a slut.

So if the word is meant for those “too sexually active”, why does it apply to those who aren’t sexually active at all?

It’s a way to police all women, not only the one being called the slut. When a girl is called a slut her reputation is ruined. Consequences of being labeled a slut include, but are not limited to, verbal harassment, being sexually assaulted, engaging in sexual activity before you are ready, engaging in unhealthy sexual activity, depression, eating disorders, and self harm.

Seeing what this label does to other girls, they want to avoid having this done to themselves. Sometimes this means joining in on calling someone else a slut in order to avoid having the label placed upon themselves. This fear causes hatred among females and furthers the cycle.

Of course another aspect to being called a slut is the double standards that go along with it. Sure, we’ve all heard about some “man whores”, but what are the implications of that compared to girls who are called sluts? If you go online and search synonyms for both slut and man whore two totally different feelings come about. For females, synonyms are hateful words. For males, one of the synonyms is player, another being ladies man.

So for a man to be considered a slut, it is more of an empowering word, a congratulations of sorts. As previously mentioned, the repercussions of being a female labeled a slut include self harm and detrimental behavior.

What I’m getting at is that the reasons we call each other sluts needs to be evaluated and analyzed, and so do the double standards involved. People throw around words without thinking about what will happen because of them. Start to think more critically about the words that you use.

-JB

*side note, I was inspired to create this post because I am reading “I Am Not A Slut” by  Leora Tanenbaum

The Personal is Political

In instances of oppression brought about by political figures, of course the political is personal.

This is for all institutionalized forms of oppression. That is to say, if you’re not cis, white, male, able-bodied, straight, and rich, this is for you.

It’s so frustrating – SO frustrating  – when someone tells me they hate politics. That they don’t want to get involved in politics, that they ignore it if they can. Because you can’t! Unless you’re as privileged as the example I’ve already stated, politics are literally always affecting you.

I can only speak from my place as a woman (and a queer, but this isn’t about that right now) but hearing women who are just so ignorant about the political climate of today, so unknowing of every injustice that faces them… it breaks my heart.

Of course I don’t want them to suffer, as I suffer, with the knowledge of how unfair everything is. Yes, they’re happier not knowing how bad things are, but them not knowing is so damaging! To themselves and to the greater public.

Putting aside how damaging internalized sexism is to women (that’s its own post), do you know how many women I know who tell me they’re voting for Trump? An alarming amount.

This isn’t about Trump’s economic policies or his Islamophobia or his wall, although those things are important: simply put, Trump hates women.

He hates women. Rape accusations from his ex-wife, stating on the record he would have sex with his own daughter, shaming Hillary Clinton for using the bathroom and other, countless instances where this man has proved how little he values half of this country’s population.

Watch Mad Max: Fury Road. That’s what a Trump administration looks like.

And there are women who want to vote for him. Because they don’t know, they don’t realize? Because they value themselves that little? Because they’re doing what they were told?

So no, you can’t separate yourself from politics because being a woman – just existing in the world as a woman – is a political statement. Every time we have to pay a luxury tax for basic sanitary products, every time we pick an outfit for the day, every time we fall in love, it’s a statement either for or against the system of rules put in place by society. Some people fight that by accident, living the only way they can and having it take on a significance they never expected. Some people set out to watch it burn, witnessing the unfairness in those around them and biting off a piece for themselves just to spit it back in everyone’s face. But there will be a point in every woman’s life where she has to make a political decision. Are you going to let it come to you or go to it?

-JM

 

Fat shaming

Eat, guilt, restrict, binge, guilt, restrict, binge, guilt, restrict.

This is a cycle that far too many of us are far too familiar with. The reasons behind this feeling of guilt after eating nearly anything are a lot more ingrained than we think. It is put in our heads from a young age that eating food and feeling full should result in regret. It stems from “cheat meals” and “you’re not fat, you’re beautiful!”

Fat shaming is pushed on each one of us, mainly girls, through every avenue of media and every aspect of our social lives. I remember being 11 and looking in the mirror, sucking in my stomach to look thinner. Girls are taught that the number on the scale dictates their worth. 

Not that all of us are told directly that being fat is the worst thing you could be, but that’s the message that is being sent to us. Recently there was a “plus size” model in a bikini on a sports magazine. She was a size 6. Do you know the average size for a female in the US? A 12-14. 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that we are having more average looking bodies on covers of magazines, but how detrimental is it to label a size 6 as plus sized when the average is a size 14? It leads to feeling ashamed, due to the negative association with “plus size”, if you are a size 6 or up. This is the kind of standard that leads to fat shaming and self hatred. It causes repetitive, unhealthy eating habits that can be extremely harmful.

I’ve been seeing a lot more body positivity trending lately and I absolutely love it. However, there is still a lot of fat shaming that goes on with body positivity. Those who exceed a certain look or weight are often excluded. It feels like “you can be proud of your body until you reach this point, then it’s unhealthy”. 

The idea of loving your body no matter what is phenomenal, but it seems that skinny people are often trying to dictate what is body positive and what is not. For example, if a heavy girl wears a crop top it is automatically considered body positive. Sounds good, right? But what say does the girl in the shirt have? She should be the one to decide if she’s feeling body positive that day. A heavy person wearing a crop top is not always doing it to take a stand. Wearing a certain style is not inherently brave, people can wear what they want. 

What I’m getting at is that, from a young age, we need to teach people that there is not one correct way to look (talk, skinny, fit, white, blonde). It is absolutely great to love your body, but having it be the deciding factor on your worth can be extremely harmful. So love yourself for whatever body you have, and don’t try to tell other people what do do with theirs. 

Stop policing what people wear, stop deciding what makes a person body positive, stop only complimenting people when they lose weight. Start loving yourself and those around you for reasons other than their body. 

-JB