Life

What Depression taught me about Black Lives, Trump Voters, and the Homeless

Last week, I came across a Facebook sticker that claimed the following:

Food is the most abused anxiety drug.
Exercise is the most underutilized antidepressant.

I agree with the generality of this statement. There are people who abuse food as a coping mechanism, and exercise is proven to release endorphins. True and true.

But, I did what you’re not supposed to do: read the comments.

A lady who apparently has never suffered from chronic depression decided to impart her expertise about the issue. Bless her heart.

“Feed the homeless and hungry. Take a poor person to lunch. That is a great antidepressant…thinking of someone other than me me me.”

I wish it were that easy. Yes, her suggestion is a good one for people who are dealing with situational depression. But for those who, regardless of their circumstance, require medication to help keep them centered, doing things for others is not the remedy. Their problem is not that they are experiencing an egocentric pity party. Depression is a disorder. You can’t just random-acts-of-kindness it away.

She made a call based on her own perception of a plight she doesn’t understand. And, quite honestly, it made her look foolish.

But how often do we do that?

Consider the white person who argues that black people are not the victims of racism. That black people are the ones keeping it alive. That if they look like thugs, they deserve to be treated like thugs. That if they would just follow an officer’s orders, most of their problems would simply go away. It’s easy to look at someone else and say exactly what they should do to fix all their issues.

But, of course, I’m not black. I will never be black. I don’t know what it feels like to be fearful of my child leaving the house with a hoodie to keep warm in the cooler months, or to know there is a greater chance of prejudice against me and those I love, just because of my skin color. And because my skin is white, I will never understand what it feels like to be in a black person’s shoes, anymore than a man understands what it’s like to be in labor.

Or consider the person who labels every single Trump voter as a racist, misogynistic nationalist. They argue that if you voted for Trump, you give zero cares about social issues, and that you are, quite frankly, a piece of trash.

But what about the farmers who are living in poverty who don’t have the luxury to fight for social issues. They are barely surviving and able to care for their families. These men and women needed to take a chance on something politically different to see if it might sustain their families a bit longer. The current system wasn’t working for them. They are in survival mode.

I’ve never lived in poverty. I don’t know what it’s like to worry about feeding my family and supplying shoes for my kids. To keep my children home from school just to have the manpower to work the fields. Is it fair to call him a racist, misogynistic nationalist just because he took a chance on improving his family’s quality of life? I’ve never even spoken to him. I don’t understand his issues, his concerns. But too often I feel justified because he hasn’t taken up the cross I deem most important.

Or consider the homeless man on the street corner. He is labeled a no-good moocher who just needs to get a job. Anyone who gives him help is an enabler. And, if you give him money, you KNOW he’s going to spend it on drugs and alcohol.

But I’ve never been homeless. I’ve never experienced the soul-crushing humility it must take to ask for help. I’ve never stood on a street corner during a blazing hot summer day, cardboard sign in hand asking for a meal or bottle of water. I’ve never had a disability that might make it impossible for me to have a job, leaving begging as my only option.

And the list goes on and on.

Are we right in the assumptions we make? Sometimes. I’m sure there are black men who might still be alive if they had followed an officer’s orders. I’m sure there are followers of Trump who are racist. I’m sure there are beggars who are scammers.

However, it is foolish to tell someone with depression that they need to just stop thinking about themselves, or to ignore people of color’s plea to listen to their concerns of marginalization. Or to call every person I know who voted for Trump a misogynistic racist. Or to tell the homeless man on the street corner that he needs to quit asking for handouts and get a job.

The lady who threw every case of depression into the egocentric basket was a great reminder to me. The next time I am tempted to tell people what they are and how to fix all their problems, I need to take a moment to step back, to ask myself if I know what it’s like to be in that person’s shoes. Because if that’s never been my plight in life, sometimes the best action I can take is one of humility. To ask questions. To listen. To try to understand.

To not speak.

The only way we will understand is to engage. But too often we build walls around ourselves with our words. Usually words that make us look like the fools.

We mistake our passions and opinions for authority.

Perhaps one of the greatest tragedies is people who are unable or unwilling to see from any perspective other than their own.

I don’t want to pretend I know what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes. But if someone is willing to share with me, I want to listen.

Life

An Apology to my Subscribers

Dear Faithful Following,

When it comes to my blog, I feel like a 1982 kid trying to fly a 2118 rocket ship. Just recently, I’ve decided to streamline all four of my blogs into one. Originally, I had created a different blog for each style of writing. However, trying to juggle them all makes me incredibly inconsistent. For that reason, I’ve been working very hard over the last week to move old content from my other blogs over to this one. Everything in one place.

 

In trying to do so, I’ve accidentally shot out emails when I’ve published new pages or edited old ones. And every time I do that, the commander of this rocket feels like she’s dumping a bucket of ice water on all of her passengers. And for that, I deeply apologize. I’ve always tried to be careful not to bombard you with emails.

The site looks entirely new! So what can you expect from now on? I will continue to post at least once a week. In addition to my main “life” feed, I also have new columns on finance, poetry, education, and reviews/tutorials.

I know many of you didn’t sign up to read all my “extra” stuff, so please know that now that I have the email alerts under control, you will continue to only receive emails for the types of articles you are used to seeing from me. I’ll still post other things that will be catalogued in the main feed as well as the specialized content feed, but you’ll only see that if you’re looking for it.

For some time, I’ve considered starting a Facebook page for those who don’t want to miss ANY posting, but the jury is still out. I feel like such a spammer going that route.

As always, thanks for coming along with me on this journey I started a little over four years ago. It’s brought me much joy. If you ever have any questions or have an idea for me to address, please let me know. If there’s any feature you think my blog is missing, please let me know through the “contact” tab. I love interacting with you. Also, please let me know if you find a typo or misspelling. I painfully scour each post before publishing, but sometimes, I still miss something. Your brain tends to autocorrect when reading from a screen. I’m not too proud to be notified of a mistake.

I hope you enjoy the new look of the site as well as the additional features. You can now search for articles based on content or keywords and easily share articles you enjoy. Oh, and no more faceless comments! I figured out how to give you the ability to upload your own avatar.

Thanks for hanging in there. You each are a blessing to me.

-Beverly

Poetry

Contented Cacophony

He stepped left
And she swayed right
Completely out of tune
And a little uptight
Was he when dancing
All through the night.

He preferred the waltz
And she liked swing
But that wasn’t discovered
Until after the ring
But for years they danced
Without a fling

Many others would
Have said goodbye
Especially when you
Don’t dance eye to eye
But she was his girl
And he was her guy

So they each danced
To their own little beat
Bumping into
And stepping on feet
But no other love
Was as syrupy sweet.

 

Poetry

The Violent Arrow

We don’t fall in love gracefully.
Our hearts are intruded upon
By Cupid’s golden point.
Lodged,
It infects
Frustrating all reason
Making us damaged and erratic
Captive and taking commands
From a synthetic chemical.

But we can snatch the arrow from our chests
Yes, the barbs will rip the heart
And cause you to bleed out.
Maybe even die.
But sometimes, loving another
Is a fate far worse than death.

Poetry

Matter

What’s the matter with matter?
We’re all made of it.
Protons, neutrons, and electrons.
Teeny, tiny atoms.
Yet not so small when the atomic bomb was dropped.

Now they package them for baths.

Poetry

The Heart

The fake out happened when we were taught
The smooth curvatures
And piercing point of the heart
Perfectly symmetrical
Empty bubbles to be colored in
Pink and red.
It became sweet confections
That dissolved sticky on our tongues
And the emblem of forbidden notes.

But it wasn’t until
We slit the skin and cracked the ribs
To expose a heart.
The heart.
Knotted
Tubes sprawling in all directions
Veiny, crimson and gory,
And a beat hanging on for dear life,
That I understood why love is such a mess.

Poetry

Secret

I was tuning each breath to the tick of a clock
When the words tumbled out of your mouth
Each letter dripping with syrup
Sticky and sweet.
In my ears they flew
Whipping around the twisted curves of my brain
Until recognition forced them to whiplash.
The pulp that was created began dripping down
The column of my spine.
Slowly it infected my heart
And brewed with what I already knew.
The awakening forced air into my lungs
And what I heard yesterday
Desired liberation.
“Don’t tell anyone,” she had whispered.
So I choked the twisted letters back down
Forcing submission with each swallow
The crooks and edges scraping the back of my throat
All of the way down to the tomb of my stomach
Where they will dissolve
And slowly become a part of me.

Poetry

For the Love

Come on, poem!
I can feel you sitting smugly in my brain
Getting a gorgeous tan from all of the neurons
Jumping around, working overtime
Trying to squeeze you out.
I feel my hemispheres collapsing on each other
Giving me blurred vision and a clenched jaw.
My veins, so rigid from the grip on my keyboard
They might burst.
I dare you to fall out of my brain and splatter
Onto the paper.
An inky crime scene.
I dare you…

Poetry

authentic

in an attempt to be self-aware
straightforward
sincere
he frequented thrift stores
listened to folk music
sipped on fair trade coffee
and attended grass-roots campaigns.
he created countless adventures
stating that danger was subjective.
none of those things could be accomplished
though, without the snap of a picture
and an upload eliciting favor and praise,
the proof of what it is like to be alive.

trespassing,
his last picture was standing in the middle
of a train trestle, suspended over a canyon
the caption comprised of Gundersen lyrics,
“here I stand in the land
of the rocks in the valley,
trying to be a better man.”

but being authentic does not equal invincibility.
the conductor still has nightmares.