The Musings of an Appalachian Activist

I started writing this as a blog about my depression and anxiety. I figured out I couldn’t do that because I experience it differently on some days and it can’t be pegged down to one feeling or one blog really for me. I just jotted down how I was feeling on some random day over the last few months and this is what I’ve got so far. I’m going to make this an ongoing journal so others who are experiencing the same can read and hopefully relate. These are posts from just different days the last few months. There’s a lot of thoughts. Maybe you have felt the same before or are just curious. Either way…

depression2


Depression today feels like you just try your best to have good days and avoid the bad because sometimes you think that you only have so many bad days left in you that you can handle. You never want to find out how many bad days is too many and what happens on that day. Will you hurt yourself? Will you hurt someone else? Will you run away? Will you breakdown? What will it be like when they find you on that day?


Some days aren’t terrible but they aren’t great. There’s just a sense of sadness or something negative that just weighs me down from the moment you get up until I fall asleep. I hate those days as much as any of the bad days. I find myself checking the clock constantly hoping that the time is passing fast so I can get to sleep and maybe tomorrow will be better only to find myself counting the minutes again. That sounds somewhat normal, especially when people are doing it at a job or school. But what if it’s a day that you have all to yourself in which you could do anything you wanted? A day you can relax in a world that can be so stressful and tormenting…but it’s still a bad day and you always end up wasting precious time that you can never get back. I feel so selfish on these days. I feel useless and ungrateful.


I feel like I want to be with people sometimes. With friends. With new interesting people to make friends. With anyone. I love their company. Someone to talk to. Some friends to have a drink with. Sometimes going to play a video game, and I don’t even play those anymore. Maybe someone to come over and cuddle with. Someone to be intimate with. Someone to laugh with. That all sounds great doesn’t it? Imagine you want to do that. You want to feel those emotions and have those fun times and memories. You want all of that and you can do it. The problem is that there’s something smothering you. It hovers over you and talks you out of things. It has convinced me, more times than I can count, that no one wants to see me. No one wants to hang out with me. No one wants to just hang out and talk. No one wants to cuddle with me or be intimate. At the same time, I know inside that I have a lot of that to offer. I cane be a really good conversationalist. I can have a good time with my friends and they have a good time around me. I can be intimate with someone and they can love it. I can offer a lot. I know this. But, still… I know that’s so hard for many to understand who don’t deal with depression. Some may be thinking why is it so hard to just do those things? Why can’t you get past it and move on? Well, it’s extremely complicated and the grasp depression has one people varies and attaches itself to different parts of us. Sometimes I push through. I have good days for sure and I never feel bad after. That thought always gives me the motivation to try it again. It’s not always as simple as just “fighting through”, though. Depression, somedays, manifests itself as heavy chains that you just can’t break. There are no weak links of depression, but things like love, caring, and a something as simple as a touch can break them. But, sometimes this lasts a day, a week, a month, or even years. It’s a prison we walk around in and it’s setting is an illusion of a world where you’re free to do anything and be happy.


Depression can be so debilitating that it’s almost like a paralysis. I don’t use that word lightly because I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be inflicted with actual paralysis. Depression, however, makes me feel that way. It’s like invisible restraints that hold you down physically and emotionally. I sit or lie in bed barely moving with thoughts running through my head that I should get up, take a shower, read a book, or do any of those things with other people. I hate myself for getting defeated. I hate myself for being a bad friend and not being able to hang out. I hate it so fucking much. I hate depression.


I am by biggest bully. Since I have put on weight, a lot more than a normal person just does with shitty eating habit’s and largely due to a pituitary tumor, I have been bullied about it. I can’t count how many times online discussions and arguments end up with shots about me being fat. The look on the face! The face that will judge and find me disgusting and the face that doesn’t know who they see and look confused. It’s my face staring back at me into the mirror creating these two faces and feelings. Some days I feel so unwanted and undesirable physically but then I look in the mirror and think, “Hey, I’m not that bad. I’m fairly cute.” A smile on that face, both of them after meeting. Those are rare days and rare faces I meet. Some days I am feeling those terrible thoughts about my physical appearance and everything I see in the mirror, if I even build up enough courage to even look. I can’t imagine how anyone would want to be my friend, boyfriend, or physically intimate with me. It’s more than I can bear and my depression, like it does with so many other things handcuffs my will and effort to do anything to change it. The weight, like the stretchmarks, feel like a permanent condition that triggers a poor self-worthiness looking into the mirror without a shirt that would never go away no matter how hard I work.


I sometimes want to be alone, in a room, and not even utter a word to another person for days at a time. I’ve done that and it helps and hurts all at the same time. Usually I need it after a large even when I need to be an extrovert. Keep in mind that I do fine with others. I can work a room full of people with no problem. I can give several trainings to people younger and older than me. I can give speeches and seminars in front of hundreds of people and I have. I can stand in a packed room in a local board meeting in front of elected officials and a room full of people who hate what I’m going to say, all while be broadcasted live on TV, and not miss a beat. Still, I need my alone time but I feel so selfish doing it and I know that I can’t working. I’m afraid I can’t do the job I, campaigns under so much stress, anymore because of it.


I haven’t really been out with my friends or in a similar setting in quite a while. I am somewhat busy picking up the slack and taking care of my grandmother while I look for the next campaign to work on. I also feel a ton of things when I’m asked this. I get anxious. I will talk myself out of it for no reason at all. I love my friends. I truly do and hope they’re still my friends. I’ve just been so closed-off from my social life. I feel like I need it, and I really do, but at the same time I feel like it cripples me. I can’t think of a time that I’ve spent time with them and didn’t have a good time or not come away happier than I was before. That’s what happens when you spend time with people you love. Still, my depression prevented me from even going to the bank today. I hate it. I love my friends. I need to overcome this before I lose them and lose my mind. I’m still the nice, sometimes funny, goofy guy that I hope they still love. I’m working on it.


Putting myself in others shoes. I do it a lot now and I hope I never lose my desire to empathize. I sometimes do it with strangers as I’m sure my fellow people-watchers know. I also picture myself as my stepfather. Does he regret marrying my mother? Does he regret having a stepson like me? If I never existed, would their marriage have worked better to the point of never divorcing as I see it happening in the next 5-10 years. Does he feel that this is it? Working in a coal-mine as much as he can to come home to what I have? Do I have a future that isn’t covered in black dust as much as I’ve managed to make a career out of organizing.


I need to lose weight and the depression it causes scares me. Part of it was because of my poor eating habits but mostly, now, several health issues. It’s terrible. I still won’t take my shirt off and look at myself in the mirror. I show no one. I panic when I have to raise it up some at the doctor. I feel massive. I have lost all confidence in myself to do so many things. With the opposite-sex I don’t really feel any heavier, pathetic, and unattractive though. As for those other days? It’s everyday, or when I do actually go outside. I don’t like myself, I mean that as in what I see. It repulses me and I assume it does everyone else. I’m trying.


The worst thing I’ve seen around mental health in this area is multiple past generations being simply ignorant to any mental health issue. They call us pussies, soft, coddled, babies, product of a “everyone gets a trophy” generation, race-baiters, SJW/Social Justice Warriors, the “give me” generation, etc. etc. It’s not acknowledged by many and the ones who do? Better hope those around you aren’t Baptists or Pentecostal’s because you might end up with a visit from their pastor and you still have every single health issue as you did before. How do you talk to “adults” about mental health, your mental health, when these are the things we hear on a daily basis? You don’t. You are forced to keep it inside. The stigma around mental health in this society is bad enough as it is. What if you live in a place that time forgot to check in on? A place where attitudes about things like mental health are as antiquated as their social views. To make matters worse there is a shortage of mental health clinics or outlets to turn to for help at all. Our only saving grace with my generation is that we have the internet. We can express things that we normally wouldn’t in person and connect with so many people who are feeling the same way we are. With this, there’s also the bad. The internet has opened up an entirely different way for youth to be bullied and tortured by complete strangers, classmates, and even family.


Today was one of those days where nothing bad really happened but I’m still fighting off depression at the end of the night. Everything is normal and then turns depressing. I feel pessimistic. I feel as if I’m worthless. I went from feeling like I had a lot to offer to wondering how anyone could ever see anything in me. I went from feeling as though this new year would be great, to trying to picture how on earth it will get better. I need to get back to work but I’m afraid of failing. I don’t know if I’m up to it mentally and physically. The stress is terrible. The physical pain I suffer from daily from various ailments almost makes me literally cry some days. How can I handle all of that and do something as grueling as working on another campaign? This would be number 7 for me. After that, what’s next anyway? The only thing that keeps me from panicking too much when I wonder what I’ll be doing in five years is thinking back to what I was doing five years ago. Not much. I’m stuck between feeling accomplished and feeling like a failure all at the same time. I don’t know whether to be proud of myself or take pity. I wonder what others think? Proud or pity? I don’t want to know.


I’ve been thinking about cancer again. After I was in remission for so long I just pushed it out of my mind. It has been nearly 12 years since I had my last bout. For some reason the thought that it will come again later in life is plaguing my mind. I feel like it’s inevitable. I feel as though I cheated death and I’m in debt. We all die, of course. I just wonder if I could beat it again or how I could even pay for it then? I also feel like I owe so many: friends, family, St. Jude, and all of those that supported me. I feel like I owe my friends and the kids I never got to meet that died far too early to that horrible disease. Who knew surviving would make me feel so guilty? I’m fortunate and I know that. I just hope I’ll do enough to make all of the time, energy, money, and care spent on me worth it. It was a lot. Enough to beat cancer. I have a lot to do.


I often wonder how much religion has contributed to my mental health issues such as my depression and PTSD. Many of us around here in Appalachia are brought up in religious homes, some very strict or at least we’re the product of the “fire and brimstone” teachings from the seemingly endless amount of Baptist and Pentecostal churches you find every half of a mile. Most of us are taught we’re going to hell for a multitude of reasons which include pretty much everything a typical young person experiments with. Sex is made out to be this forbidden subject at a time when we’re so interested it in and rightfully so because sex is amazing and, ya know, hormones. Young LGBT kids are either tormented relentlessly at school or home, if they’re out or many times when they aren’t “officially”, all because some book that these same tormentors haven’t read says somewhere in it that it’s wrong. Is that not so bizarre? Of course it doesn’t seem that way on the surface when you’re surrounded by it your entire life. A book, written by numerous men who had no concept of sexuality, thought rape victims should be stoned to death and husbands had a right to RAPE their wives whenever he pleased, had many wives and concubines, etc. That’s what they use to beat over our heads and make us feel horrible about being fucking human beings doing what we’re programmed to do and being attracted to whoever we find attractive.

What about the end-times cult? That’s what that is. Of course the argument could be made that any major religion is actually a cult by definition, but I see this particular sub-sect among a lot of the religious here in Appalachia and the South. They’re obsessed with it and scare the hell out of children their entire lives. Some around here, like myself, used to freak out if we came home and no one was there. We would assume the rapture occurred and we were left behind. Do you know how traumatizing that is to a developing mind? I can remember many panic attacks of coming home to an empty trailer, because both of my parents worked during the same time, and the more I thought about it, the more I convinced myself something might be wrong. I would check all of the news stations and if they were on commercial? I would call the “best” Christian I knew, who I thought would for sure be taken in the rapture, to see if they were home. Imagine the panic when there was no answer. I broke down crying more than once convinced I was all alone and had to fight it out by myself until God came back. It was horrible and I know it still happens today.

I, of course, realize how silly the entire concept is (sorry), the idea of an antichrist, and the rest of it. It took me until I was into my late teens to not be afraid anymore. Out of all of the things I stress over and terrify me, religion is one thing I have overcome and am so proud of myself for doing.


I’ve had a feeling today that I sometimes get where I miss someone but I don’t even know who. It’s like something or someone is missing from my life and I need their affection. Maybe it’s someone I knew or someone I haven’t met yet. I don’t know. Does anyone ever feel this way too? It’s a feeling that will make you feel lonely in a room full of people or friends. Why does it have to be like that? Through it all though, I think I can and do find comfort with people.


I am feeling so lonely right now. I hate mentioning it, though I know I do, because I know how pathetic it sounds. One of the worst things about depression and anxiety is wanting to hang out with someone in particular or with a group of friends friends and wanting to be by myself at the same time. I love my friends. I have great ones who I can even forget to get in touch with for extended period of times and they still don’t hate me. I hope no one gives up on me. I’ve had that happen before in relationships and whatnot. Hell, my biological father gave up one me before I was even born. I know his shortcomings as a man isn’t my fault but it has that affect sometimes when I’m grappling with self-worth and confidence. Isn’t that such a terrible aspect of mental and emotional issues? Sometimes you know you’re right. Sometimes you know you’re better than what you think of yourself. Sometimes you know you have a lot to offer the world and the people in it. Depression, however, will make you doubt even when you feel good about yourself. I don’t know if that ever goes away. I can see how that can wear on some people to the point of breaking down. Nothing is ever good enough. You’re never good enough even in your own eyes that see the goodness in the deepest parts of you. The parts, the good ones, that only you can see…but depression tells you that it’s not really there. What an awful feeling.


It’s weird how certain moments in your life stick out to you. Some are just memories that aren’t tied to anything in particular and others that would make more sense that you’d remember. I remember my first piece of advice on self-worth. While I doubt it from time to time, I know it was so sincere that I can’t ignore it so I hope it dear. It was just a few words from my grandfather. I was about 16 and I had just been dumped by the first real “hard” crush I had ever had. I felt like the world was ending like many of us do after that happens, especially as a teenager. I didn’t have a car so I asked him to take me to her home to pick up my stuff. I began thinking that I should have known it was coming because this girl was absolutely gorgeous and

she was way out of my league from day one. As we were driving over there he asked about what had happened and I told him. I remember saying something like “It doesn’t matter. She was way too pretty for me anyway.” My grandfather got so mad. He rarely ever yells but his voice raised as he shouted at me to never talk about myself like that again. She’s just a person that come in and out of our lives as they will until we die. I’m better than that and never let someone you’re in a relationship with ever make you feel like that. Never convince yourself of that convinced by a broken heart. I still think about that. I can remember the summer evening in his truck driving over there. I thought I’d never get over it or find anyone else. I did, of course. People have come in and out of my life since. Some of it was good. Some weren’t as much. Most of the time we had good times at least some of the time so I don’t mind regardless of how those relationships turned out in the end. They left. I went another way too. The world never ended. It didn’t end in the passenger seat of that truck that day and a lesson in worthiness that I’ll hold onto until I let go of the world like we all do hopefully when we’re all old and too frail to dance anymore.


I had a rough week last week and it really scared me. I felt so depressed and alone. The worst about depression, I think, is that feeling that it will never get better or stop tormenting you. For the first time I felt that immeasurably. I love stand-up comedy and it’s usually my go-to when I’m feeling depressed. There’s a bit, however, by one of my favorite comedians Tom Segura. In it he explains how grueling life can be and how it sort of hit on how I felt and do feel sometimes. I can’t find the clip but his bit was…

“You guys, are you ever just, tired of being alive? You know what I mean? Like, I’m not suicidal. I just feel like I’ve done a lot and I’ve seen a lot and I’m now I’m like, you know, let’s just wrap this shit up. Right? Like how many fucking days are there?”


Tonight I want attention. I am depressed and just want to talk to people. If you’re reading this I don’t want anyone to just talk to me because I’m depressed and you’re a nice person. I really want people to genuinely want to talk to me and, well, like me and want to talk to me more. I feel so lonely and I shouldn’t that much. But I am. The thing that is bad about this is that you wonder why someone hasn’t replied back and the crippling fear of rejection sets in. They could not want to talk to me but also may be having a bout with depression themselves and this is one of those days for them that they really don’t want to talk to anyone. These are the thoughts that go through my head.


To be continued…

Advertisements

I Refuse

I refuse to live in a country where poverty is a crime and rape natural phenomenon.

I refuse to live in a country where hate is a traditional value.

I refuse to live in a country where homosexuality is something parents fear and children hide.

I refuse to live in a country where science is rejected and replaced by scripture.

I refuse to live in a country where hunger is as common as Golden Arches on every other block.

I refuse to live in a country where white immigrants demonize and pine for the deportation brown immigrants.

I refuse to live in a country where a lifesaving procedure is a luxury reserved only to the few who can afford it or those willing to give their soul to survive.

I refuse to live in a country where the color of your skin determines the level of suspicion.

I refuse to live in a country where being a woman is a pre-existing condition.

I refuse to live in a country where being transgendered is a fireable offense but acceptance sexual harassment is almost a required job skill.

I refuse to live in a country where an education is a privilege to a few and not a right for all.

I refuse to live in a country where mass incarceration is for profit, not rehabilitation.

I refuse to live in a country where “Well, what was she wearing?” is ever asked.

I refuse to live in a country where coal-companies kill miners, communities, and environments, and they’re supposed to be thankful to have a job.

I refuse to live in a country that fosters a society that ties the noose of the gay kid from school hanging in his room.

I refuse to live in a country where young men of color are shot by law enforcement for being young men of color.

I refuse to live in a country that mocks climate scientists and elects their deniers.

I refuse to live in a country where purity is only for women and not our drinking water.

I refuse to live in a country where abandoned homes and homelessness peacefully coexist.

I refuse to live in a country where books are censored and bullies are not a subject for discussion.

I refuse to live in a country where bulletproof vests are needed for recess.

I refuse to live in a country where votes and cash are counted together.

I refuse to live in a country where it’s easier to buy a gun than it is to vote.

I refuse to live in a country where your job keeps you in poverty, not lift you out of it.

I refuse to live in a country where xenophobia is considered patriotism.

I refuse to live in a country where candidates are elected because of the pews they sit in and not the views the stand on.

I refuse to live in a country where elected officials run on a platform taking healthcare and access to food away from millions of those who desperately need it.

I refuse to live in a country where ignorance must be respected and social consciousness derided.

I refuse to live in a country where we only honor soldiers if they’re dead.

I refuse to live in a country where children fear the night’s hunger pangs more than the monster under their bed.

I refuse to live in a country where the paleness of a group of people allows them to control the vast majority of our police departments, government bodies, and businesses.

I refuse to live in a country where grandmothers and grandfathers must choose between medicine and food.

I refuse to live in a country where drug sentences are mandatory but that same government decides that providing basic needs like healthcare for it’s people is optional.

I refuse to live in a country where “the talk” for black families is about being “safe” around police officers and not STD prevention and procreation like it was for me.

I refuse to live in a country where lines for free healthcare clinics are longer than lines for the newest iPhone.

I refuse to live in a country where democracy is for those who can afford it.

I refuse to live in a country that elevates itself to demigod status but can’t provide anything from clean water to a fighting chance to her citizens.

I refuse to live in a country where “Making America Great Again” means manifesting the hate and resurrecting the Jim Crow’s so many fought and died to bury so we could all march forward, together, hand-in-hand.

I refuse to live in a country would entertain such a vile creature as Donald Trump to lead the nation and the world.

I refuse to live in a country that isn’t a country anymore. A country that is a melting-pot of ignorance, classism, and hate stirred by a flaming wooden-cross.

I refuse to live in that country.

This country.

My country.

….but I’m not going anywhere.

To All Trump Supporters and Those of Us Who Have to Put Up With Them

“Youth ages, immaturity is outgrown, ignorance can be educated, and drunkenness sobered, but stupid lasts forever.”

– Aristophanes

Donald Trump supporter Birgitt Peterson of Yorkville, Ill., argues with protesters outside the UIC Pavilion after the cancelled rally for the Republican presidential candidate in Chicago on Friday, March 11, 2016. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)


 

I want to start off by saying that I was wrong. Dead wrong, honestly, as I really didn’t think that Donald Trump would be the nominee. Why? Well a few reasons…

  1. When he first announced, he wasn’t running a real campaign. His appearances were scarce. He would hold only an event or two a week and give some crazy rally blathering his idiocy and vitriol, not much different than what he does now. Candidates, especially running for a higher office, typically have several events a day or do media when they’re not stumping.
  2. I thought the Republican Party would get their act together after being trounced in the last two presidential elections and finally realize that the country had progressed far beyond their disgustingly horrid social views the majority of the country abhors and economic policies that led to one depression nearly 100 years ago and the near-depression in 2007-2008.
  3. As the campaign went on and Trump’s vitriolic and hateful rhetoric increased, while also being wrapped in an empty bag of substance, logic, and common sense on virtually every single issue, I thought even the worst conservatives would go to another candidate and realize the Grand Wizard of Grand Ole Klan has no clothes. Many didn’t. While there were a lot who have been repulsed by him, there were many more who have taken control of the party. Now, even many of the the self-described “moderate conservatives have accepted he will likely be the nominee if no convention shenanigans occur and have not only accepted it, but are embracing it while showing their true colors.

But as I said, I was dead wrong.

Donald Trump will very likely be the Republican nominee for the general election this year. I wish I could feel sorry for those on the right who disavow him and all that he stands for but I don’t. Ever since the election of President Obama there has been a growing portion of the right who could have been stopped long ago but those moderates in the GOP never spoke up. The Tea-Party has melded with the far-right fringe and become the fervent base of Trump. They are the birthers who still think President Obama is some muslim insurgent born in Kenya. They are the government obstructionists who have hindered this country’s growth since the 2010 election. They are the Obama-haters who base their entire political worldview on memes, bullshit right-wing blog sites, and chain-emailesque conspiracy theories (or actual chain-emails). The racists. The xenophobes. The ignorant and uneducated Fox News viewers. The racist uncles, friends, and family members who have made you sick with their keyboard-coward Facebook tirades. They are fuel and engine electorally propelling Trump in these primaries. They are Donald Trump. They haven’t been taken seriously the last eight years and they shouldn’t be now.

The attitude I seem to hear a lot from his defenders, and the defenders of his defenders who may not even really support him passionately, is “We can have our own opinion! I disagree with your candidate but I don’t say anything! Free speech!”, and normally, I would agree with that. I work in politics. I have no problem with that attitude and know firsthand that all conservatives aren’t what I described above. This, however, is different. Why? Because Trump is different. For anyone who is remotely mature, decent, moral, and not a complete ignorant fool, it’s not hard to see how he’s different. My candidate, or any other candidate for that matter, isn’t in any way, shape, or form close to being as repulsive and dangerous as Trump. No other candidate mocks a handicapped man at a rally and on national media. No other candidate repeatedly makes disgusting comments about the hispanic communityNo other candidate has repeatedly made disgusting comments about women. No other candidate encourages violence at their rallies. That violence has in return has spilled over into our society in general. No other candidate has not only courted the fringe, far-right extremists but has widespread support and from Klan/White supremacist organizations and leaders, the endorsement from the most notorious white-supremacist in modern American politics, David Duke, and actually have these people and organizations actively supporting his campaigns with everything from fundraising to direct support to his campaign from robo-calling to volunteering in his offices. To add to the terrifying examples, his candidacy has also raised interest and recruiting in white-supremacist organizations and they have even proudly admitted this. And there’s also this, this, this, and this

Why on earth should I, or any thinking person with morals or an ounce of intelligence take any Trump supporter seriously? Maybe, and this is a big maybe, his supporters could have been looked at as anything other than an ignorant bigot who just doesn’t understand economic, domestic, foreign, or social issues and just liked his asshole personality that is sometimes humorous just because of the sheer ridiculousness of it. But that time has passedIt’s not funny anymore. It’s not entertaining anymore. It’s not harmless anymore. It’s not acceptable or excusable anymore, if it ever was. It hasn’t been any of those things for many months now. His supporters have had enough time to come to their senses and find their moral compass, if either exist in them, so they can’t be treated as simply someone who you disagree with. They can and should be ignored when possible. They should also be called out and ridiculed when necessary. They just aren’t in the polite “respect our opinion and beliefs” circle anymore that we already put waaaaaaaay too many people in. They are a part of an ever increasing dangerous and violent voting bloc and sect of the underbelly of society we have been fighting against for decades. Their kind have been damaging this country since it’s inception and fought tooth-and-nail against every attempt at progress this country has made. They are the same, for example, as those who wear the white sheets and showed their support for their demagogue with a raised, right hand and heel click. They just put the sheet back on the bed, lost the gesture (well, sort of), and have social media accounts to blather their ignorance and putrid views they beg the rest of us to respect because, well, they have no real coherent and mature defense of the indefensible. They have lowered themselves to nothing more than frighteningly fervent fools with Facebook accounts. 

Trump supporters lost all credibility a long time ago. The “new” supporters who are now embracing this vile man aren’t excusable either. While they may have been supporting the other clowns in the GOP circus, the Rubio’s and Cruz’s for example, they still saw the disgusting antics of Trump and his supporters while their candidate was still in the race. They can’t play dumb to what’s been going on for nearly a year now, especially not with the massive 24-hour news coverage Trump has been getting in the media. There is no excuse. There is no leeway to justify rallying behind Trump now that he has all but secured the Republican nomination. As I mentioned before, that ship of innocent ignorance has sailed long ago if it ever was in the port of rationality and decency to begin with. Trump supporters, whether they like or acknowledge it, have walked over to the side of lunacy and hate with those already there supporting der Führer. They have locked arms with them whether they like it or not. They have said to the rest of us that they are okay with all of those horrid things this man has said and did. They have now endorsed his demagoguery and condoned his vile behavior. They have expressed their lack of moral integrity and deflated the air of decency that may have surrounded them before. They have lost their fucking mind, morally speaking, and we don’t have to respect that. No one does.

So, I say to Trump supporters old and new: embrace it. You have disqualified yourself from any and all discussion on virtually every issue facing this country. If you haven’t already, start chanting “Build the wall!” and put on that red, modern-day dunce cap/white hood embroidered with the words “Make America Great Again”. Your candidate literally speaks on a third-grader level, and purposefully so because that’s what you understand and love about him. We wouldn’t take eight year olds seriously if they were to start incoherently rambling on important social and economic issues pertaining to this country and her people…and we don’t have to take seriously the adult-adolescents who do it now supporting Trump.

Run along now, friends and my patriots of the fanatical bigotry making America hate again. Go play on the playground of the obtuse and cover yourself with the callowness. Go dangle from the jungle-gym of disgusting nativism and white supremacy. Go wallow in the sandbox of idiocy and obliviousness. Just…go away. Your kind, like anyone who isn’t white, right, and full of fervent hate at a Trump rally, aren’t welcome here any longer. Those of us who treasure diversity, progress, and pine for the more perfect union you’re trying to dismantle aren’t having it anymore. This is our country. We’ll continue taking it forward, not back, come November.

An open letter to all of the “creepy guys”…

Creepy guys, or can you just chill the hell out for a second? This isn’t some white-knight rant about how I’m different or I really understand girls. I don’t and there’s probably more than a few of them that can attest to that fact. What I do know is that I wouldn’t leave the house and shut down all forms of communications if I were a female. I’m being completely serious. There’s a lot of guys that don’t seem to get that living as a woman in this society is a bit different. If you don’t think so, start out by asking yourself a couple of these questions…


 

1) Have you ever been messaged, called, texted, or stalked by multiple females in your life to the point where you’re actually fearful of these complete strangers?

2) Have you ever texted your boys after driving or walking home to see if they’re okay because there was a legitimate threat that you could have been assaulted, raped, killed, etc. by a anyone? 

3) Have you ever felt scared in a parking lot, your college campus, or at work? 

4) Have you ever been threatened by someone you’re talking to or have they threatened suicide if you stopped talking to them?

5) Have you ever been called a ton of names because you didn’t reply back fast enough to some pervert who kept messaging?

6) Do you carry pepper-spray, a taser, or any other weapon around regularly because the sheer amount of threats and attacks and constant threat of being attacked, even in broad daylight, is always there?

7) Do you constantly have to put up with sexist comments from co-workers, classmates, or complete fucking strangers on a near daily basis?

8) Have you ever experienced a rape or attempted rape like 1 in 6 women in this country have?

9) Have you ever been pulled out of class because someone might get aroused due to your shoulders and you had to cover them up since your fellow male students and male faculty apparently can’t control themselves at the side of nude collarbones?

10) Have anyone ever judged your worth or competency because you’ve, you know, had sex before?


 

No? Didn’t think so. I know there’s probably some insecure menimists out there trying to grasp at straws and claim every one of those things happened to them or they don’t happen to women every single day, but piss off. I do know that there is more than one female reading this that has experienced every single one of those and more. Those are just examples I have been told about more than once from real women on real incidents.

The internet has opened up a completely different outlet for women to be harassed. It’s not all bad. I say that because many relationships start with a facebook message or something else. I know it has for me. I also know that when I was a teenager I would message and try to flirt with everyone. That was creepy. What I didn’t get then, and still don’t now, is why guys continually message a girl dozens of times when they have been completely ignored or even told that the girl isn’t interested. What’s wrong with you? Do you think annoying and harassing them is going to get you anywhere after weeks of messages with no reply? Is it an ego thing? Is that your “game”? Is it because you’re that damn stupid and oblivious? Just stop. Take a hint. Do you know what kind of message that sends? Not only are you coming off as creepy, but controlling, possessive, and undoubtably stalkerish if they were to go on a date with you. And what do all of those signs point to? Abuse. Violence. Nothing at all good.

Recently, there was a local craigslist ad that was passed around that was a prime example of this. It was in the “missed connections” portion where a man posted describing how he was attracted to a woman he had saw and wanted to meet her. The problem was that he detailed how he had followed her around several times, stalking her, and even back to her home. He stated that one day he would go knock on her door and somehow she would be his. When that post was taken down, before I could get a screen shot of it back on my laptop, he posted another…

craiglist

I’ve been attracted to many girls, naturally, and have always wanted to have the confidence to approach them in a social setting and talk to them. And hell, some may even think I’m a creep now. But, I have never, ever thought about fucking stalking someone and following them around. That’s insane and frightening. Are you serious?

When I started dating, well more when I was dating and old enough to drive or them to come over to my house, I noticed something. Several of them would make a joke saying they asked around about me or looked me up to make sure “I’m not some killer” or “rapist”. I thought it was a joke most of the time. Other times I just thought it was incredibly odd but oh well. I was an 18-19 year old guy and of course I never thought about anything like that to check on the girl. It also never hit me that the girl may literally fear for their life coming over to a guys house. I was viewing it through my prism, one that was very narrow, ignorant, and oblivious. I would think “Me? I’m harmless.” I’m a short, chubby guy that looks 16 on a good day. I couldn’t imagine being threatening to anyone. I was, however, because I was a male that they didn’t know. That doesn’t mean all males are a danger. Of course not. It also doesn’t mean, at least from my point of view, that those negative assumptions should be made about every man….but I’m not a woman. I don’t know how it is to be one. I know that it’s different. I know that knowing what I do now from stories, statistics, and society, it takes a lot to put up with the shit women put up with daily in this country.

I remember being about 15 and a girl confiding in me that she had been raped. I was furious. I wanted to kill the guy. She told me that she never knew who it was, she was at at party, and nothing was ever done. I couldn’t believe it. Someone actually getting away with rape? My youthful ignorance was astounding looking back. I thought that rape and sexual assault were extremely rare. I also not only thought the crimes were rare, I thought the ones that got away with it were astronomically rare. I was so confused. I wanted to do something and felt so helpless…then I imagined what she must have felt like. It happened to her, this horrific thing, and nothing had been done about it. It’s been about ten years since then and I’d wager justice was never served. What’s worse is that that pieces of scum probably continued and may still be continuing to assault other women because he got away with it then. Or maybe that wasn’t the first time? Maybe there are rapists, many rapists, who do this their entire life and are never caught. The thought of that literally makes my stomach feel nauseous. All guys reading this should feel that way. And no, I’m not pretending that I’m some white knight of the highest morality. I say this as a son of my mother. I say this as a grandson to my grandmother. I say this as the nephew of my aunt. I say this as the cousin to three young women. I say this as the friend of many close, dear female friends that I would be devastated if they were harmed including my online friends. I also say this as a stranger to billions of women that I know and will never know. Anyone. It infuriates me and makes me sick that there are so many men out there willing and able to hurt someone and not only that but to escape justice.

Society allows, ignores, and propagates all of this at same time. There’s really no escaping it as a woman. Some experience it from the time they wake up with dozens of messages online, following by the walk to class or to their car. Maybe they hear it going for a jog. Guys, have you ever been in a large city and felt a little uneasy about your settings? With all of the things we’re told about the horrors of the “big cities”, I’d wager that you probably did if you have visited. I have a few times, at night, in cities I wasn’t that familiar with at the time. Now, take that uneasy feeling and imagine feeling that, sometimes a lot worse, every time you walk to your car from basically anywhere at night…or hell, even during broad daylight? That’s how a lot of women feel every day and it’s because creepy ass guys that lurk in every corner or the real and virtual online world. I’m sure many, many feel it at work. Even if the harassment is at a minimal, they experience via their paycheck which is, on average, 33% less than a man’s. While that number varies from job to job, that wage gap exists in both male and female dominated professions. I know there’s denial by many, particularly men of course, because they simply don’t want to admit it or maybe they’re just, you know, too distracted by your shoulders to notice.

Women are treated differently. It’s just the reality we live in and denying that reality doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. The only real way that’s going to change is for men to stop treating them differently. Treat them as you would want any female in your family to be treated. Picture them and apply ideas like these…

Women don’t owe you anything.

They aren’t obligated to have sex with you, ever.

Their uteruses aren’t a topic up for debate.

Their healthcare isn’t negotiable.

Their worth isn’t determined by their outfit or some archaic idea of “purity”. That’s for drinking water, not people.

…and for Christ sake, there’s no such thing as “Pens for Her”..

pensforher

..so stop fucking making them.

As you can see they deal with far bigger issues on a daily basis so I think their “delicate” hands can manage to lift one of those big, manly pens that I assume are only for the egos of that cocky douchebag who isn’t used to holding something that long in their hand.

I’m sure I left out a thousand other problems with our society today when it comes to gender bias. I’m sure I don’t understand or know a lot. I’m sure there might have been some sigh’s or things I left out or was wrong about. It was a view, a rant really, based on the ridiculous and outrageous things I have observed and learned as a 20-something male in this country, ever how little that is. I apologize for what I don’t know. I’ve been wanting to write about it ever since I found that Mother’s supplies for her classes she began at UVA included a bottle of pepper spray. The first time I had really ever thought about anything happening to her like, a grown woman of 46 who I’ve seen do anything, in my life. My message is mainly to some guys to just chill the hell out and maybe, just maybe, take a hint sometimes. Try your best to take a step back and look at things from a woman’s perspective or at the very least how your perspective may be flawed or contributing to all of these things. And guys, I implore you to purchase a “safety whistle” and blow it the only time one of those things should be blown, you know,  like when you see one of your bro’s acting like a jackass harassing some girl, some group of morons catcalling, or maybe whenever a lawmaker tries to infringe on their reproductive rights and access healthcare. I know that sounds like lot of blowing but, in all fairness, it’s really the only kind you should be loud and persistent about.

Part II: Race: Thoughts from a white kid from Appalachia

 

To my white friends reading this, has any of what I stated in the first part of this blog happened to you? I don’t mean once or twice. We all know there isn’t anyone immune to police brutality if you find yourself being harassed for no legal reason by a brute with a badge. Do you live in fear every day you’re in public that you will be stopped, and perhaps frisked, by a police officer? Do you have that fear driving? I get a bit nervous but then I check my speed and know I’m not breaking any law. It ends there for me, but not for many others. Could any of you ever fathom that you might ending up hanging in a jail cell like Sandra Bland? Did your parents ever have a talk, a serious one, about how to interact with law enforcement? I’m guessing there’s not many. I am also guessing that there are many people of color in this country that would answer “Yes” to every one of those questions and many of them probably have multiple stories that the rest of us should listen to and learn from. That’s one thing I have learned working in african-american communities. While you and your buddies may have a story dating back to your high school days with a “run-in with the law”, every single person of color I met had more than one, regardless of age or gender. It’s not the same and it’s not an accident.

I have never been stopped by an officer walking in any neighborhood I have been in many in several states working voter contact operations. I could foresee me living the next 50 years without a single incident like that. That’s probably the case for many of my white friends reading this too. I’ve only been pulled over three times in my life: once for speeding when I was 19, once for expired sticker in 2012, and once for expired tags in 2015. I had all pleasant experiences and didn’t even get a few tickets I could have. I understand that when an officer pulls someone over and has general concerns that a simple traffic stop, or approaching someone on the street, could get ugly and very dangerous. That’s especially so with the gun culture we live in today and the members of law-enforcement that we have witnessed do atrocious things with their power. What I’ve learned, a little about, is that people of color have those same fears too but vice-versa. They know they have a gun and they don’t know what type of person it is who is carrying it. I’m not talking about the nervousness you get when you’re pulled over for a ticket and or when you may get nervous talking to person with high authority. I’m talking about a very real fear carried by the citizen of color that an officer may fear, for whatever reason, approaching a vehicle during a traffic-stop. That person of color may also always be thinking that this could get ugly and very dangerous but not because of their actions….but of skin-color, ignorance, and baseless fear this society churns out for white consumption.

To make matters worse and compound the ignorance, the lengths people will go to to deny that such a society exists is another reason why this problem isn’t going away anytime soon. Some will deny it because they just don’t believe it and have never experienced it. Some will deny it because they live in some alternate universe where minorities have all of the rights and they’re the ones really being oppressed. Others will simply deny it because they know it exists and that’s exactly how they want it. When you hear these typically white, typically conservative, folks pining for the “good old days”, this is what they mean. They want minorities to occupy a lower place in society and always know their place in “our” country. They want people of color to know their place, period. They want them to stay with their “own kind” and not to mingle with whites more than “necessary”. They should always keep their head down and whatever they do, don’t ever date their children. Those are the simpler days ache for and when they say “take their country back”, they mean it literally to a time when they had more control It’s like that in many areas in this country. It’s just like when they fight to discriminate against LGBT citizens or “keep the Mexicans out”, it’s all the same white-supremacist mindset. They want their life to reflect a 1950′-60’s sitcom where the characters were white with an occasional person of color in the background always silent.

There’s nothing more threatening to a white, particularly conservative, than a minority having an opinion and having the nerve to speak it. But I can’t just pin that on the right as us on the left can be just as bad with our “whitesplaining”. It’s a threat to everything they know and the order of the society they want. They think that when a person of color, or a member of the LGBT community for example, speaks out against discrimination, it will somehow turn into discrimination them. When they speak, whites feel like their voice and cries can’t be heard. Of course this is all nonsense. It’s not a legitimate concern, obviously, but more of a reaping what our ancestors have sowed perhaps. When someone gains their rights and becomes freer, it doesn’t take anything away from anyone else when that’s achieved. If someone speaks out against blatant injustices, whether you acknowledge it or not, there’s no dark hand that appears over your mouth to keep you silent. Stop pretending there is and understand that sometimes, you should shut the fuck up for a minute fellow white folks. You’ve always had a voice. Some of our voices have been taken by politicians and corporations, but we still have one. Others, however, deal with those same suppressions while also having to deal with the heckling and calls for silence from the white crowd that just don’t like what they’re saying.

After writing all of this I’ll still readily concede that I don’t know what it’s like to be anything other than a white male in this country. I never will. A better understanding as I grow older, learn, and listen more is what I can hope for. I don’t know if society will progress as much as it needs to, or even come close to it in my life time. I don’t know how to fix it. I don’t know what else to say, but what I do know is that those who don’t understand, including myself, need not say anything sometimes. We just need to listen. Since the events in Ferguson, and long before that I’ll add, we have learned a lot. A litany of truths about our society have come out and are staring us in the face. The racism and ignorance we thought died decades ago, buried under white robes and sheets, surfaced soaked in blood letting us know that it never, ever left. We need to listen, acknowledge, and learn. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll begin stepping in the right direction again. It won’t be easy. The same types of people that stood in front of the doors in Little Rock or hurled disgusting threats at freedom marchers are still there. They have another platform, the internet, to do it as well. They won’t stop and they won’t learn. We just have to march past them and leave them behind where they belong. I hope I’m walking. I hope I’m walking in the right direction. I do know, however, I’m on the right side stepping in the right direction as they take the lead.

So, there’s what little I do know and what all I don’t learning little-by-little from the POV of a white kid from the mountains of Central Appalachia. I also know that whenever a white kid like me from my part of Appalachia goes on some facebook rant about how people should think and feel after the deaths of people like Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, or the dozens of others, it shows how far behind the youth in this area are and I’m sure all across the country. It’s a warning sign that racism and ignorance of these issues will be carried on for generations to come. Here’s some personal advice for those particular people who seem to think they understand racism or the issues surrounding this string of deaths the past few years: Shut up. Your opinion is likely derived from how little you know, and what you do know comes from people who only root for black and brown people sitting in the stands of a sporting event. People of color around here need more, and genuine, support than the kind they get under Friday Night Lights. Not the kind that would only argue unfair treatment towards a person of color only if a yellow flag is tossed or whistle is blown. Those are the only “fouls” you are aware of or choose to acknowledge. You live in a place where you can literally go months while attending school, going to the store, and all of the other normal daily activities and never see anyone that isn’t white. Stick to talking about what you know at that age: Carhartt jackets and bragging about how you get to miss school come deer season. And if you think I’m just talking about white males around here, I’m not. I think the “my daddy would kill me if I dated a black guy” crowd should probably keep their very uninformed opinions to themselves as well. You wouldn’t believe how many girls I have dated that shared that fun-fact with me when I was much younger and ignorant. I’m not taking shots at Appalachian youth to degrade them. I’m commenting on them because I am one and I grew up  surrounded by the same mountains and ignorance they are growing up in. The same kind of ignorance you can find in far too many parts of this country. Go out into the world, those “big cities”, and leave your prejudices behind in the hollers and mountains. I love these beautiful mountains but they shelter us from the real world. Learn from people who aren’t like you, or I should say people who don’t look like you. You might just learn something.

I did and will never stop trying to.

 

Confederate Matt

As some of you may or may not know, I’ve been doing a little “social experiment” online for the past month. I created a fake facebook profile about a month ago to keep track of a local confederate page that was known for making violent threats to groups I am a part of and support. I created a very simple profile that only included my location of being in Northeast Tennessee, my alma-mater of course being the “school of hard knocks”, a profile picture of a Confederate flag, and a cover picture of truck and a confederate flag. You know, typical generic redneck shit. I added maybe three or four people I knew were members of that closed group in hopes of me getting them to add me to it so I could do what I stated. I made a couple of generic posts that consisted of “fly em’ high” and inquiring if there were any local groups in my area that supported the flag and a place where I could be updated about future white-trash parades. It goes without saying that punctuation was non-existent and grammar was sub-par so I would fit in and not raise any red flags…only the stars and bars, by God. I won’t be sharing the name, profile picture, or any information that I think would lead to someone, somehow stumbling upon this blog and figuring out who I am on there. I did want to share with you as much as I could. You might find it as fascinating, unsurprising, and terrifying as I did at times.

I can say that I am fortunate to not have a newsfeed full of idiotic conservative nonsense. I’ve always deleted those types and the vast majority of my friends are very liberal or at least not a couple of Ashley Madison accounts or a pentecostal pin-up hairdo away from being batshit crazy. Even with that being the case, I do see many of the conservative memes or bogus news articles and am well-aware of their tumultuous relationship with reality. So, I was a little prepared for some people adding from the group and seeing that all over my newsfeed. What I wasn’t prepared for was what I experience on there for the most part. Some of it is not surprising, some of it is, but I wasn’t expecting what came next..


This wasn’t a profile I had planned on checking on more than every week or so, maybe a little more if there was a local rally. That’s why I was surprised that when I checked it two days later, I had well over 100 friend requests from confederate supporters from the local area and across the country. It didn’t make much sense to me with adding only a few people, not posting in any groups, and having virtually nothing on my profile but two confederate flags. I accepted every single one of them and more and more poured in throughout the day. By the next morning I had close to 400 friends and a wall and inbox full of random comments thanking me for my friendship and supporting the flag: the “cause”. There were some that I had more than a few mutual friends with and some only one or two. I send random request all of the time on my own personal profile, sometimes by accident, and my friends list is around 750 friends. I have added maybe ten people on this profile in total with all of the remaining coming from them adding me…. a profile with just a flag, a location, and a made-up name. It’s also not coming from shared posts as my posts on there are so boring and generic that even these boring and generic people don’t feel the need to share them with the world. As I am writing this the friends list keeps growing and growing so instead of having to go back and change the number, I’ll just add the number to the end of the blog when I publish it. I can say that it’s already over 4,000 as of right now. Yes. You read that right. I’ll also add that I have been screening the requests more to weed out spam accounts if notice them. Facebook limits your personal friends list capacity at 5,000, so I wanted to have as many genuine rednecks as possible before I reach the limit allowed.

Why is this? Why has a flag generated so many people wanting to friend me on social media? I’m as puzzled as you but I would wager that it has something to do with the insecurity these people possess. They people who are living in a society that is leaving them in the past as it moves forward and their notions of white supremacy behind in their hands. They probably feel like they must cling to anyone that they think shares their outdated and outrageous views. It’s a virtual example of the feeling of many in white, conservative America who are afraid to death of not controlling every aspect of society under their pale hands. Many, however, are poor whites who have historically blamed their woes and poor fortune on those who aren’t like them. They need a boogeyman. They need an out that doesn’t include admitting that their situation is partly due to influences of entities like corporations they have no influence on or admitting that even with their misfortune, they still hold a higher place in our society than anyone who isn’t white, male, and/or Christian. It’s much easier to let the racist dog-whistling by the Republican Party soothe them than acknowledging any of what’s really going on in this country. So they are charmed, like a snake, by racist leaders who tell them what they want to hear while they pine for that old society they hope that candidate can bring back to some degree.

The next thing that is semi-unsurprising and semi-terrifying is the amount of vile racism I have seen by those who have added me. The ones who go on and on about how they’re not racist and how it’s all about “heritage” is bad enough. We know better and there are too many of these people walking around at the grocery store to be surprised at their ignorance. No. It was the self-identified Klan recruiter that messaged me within 24 hours of my account being created asking me to check out their website and join.

Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 12.53.33 AM

It was also the hundreds of people who have added me with profile pictures of swastika’s, pictures of their children doing Nazi salutes, the violent calls to action, the blatantly racist memes, and just about every other display of vile, virtual hatred you can think of. This was an observation of something I already knew. Racism comes in different forms. We tend to think of racists as the people who wear hoods and sheets when really that’s only a small part of who’s out there. These people are nurses, construction workers, small business owners, etc. The problem isn’t that they simply exist in this online world. It’s that they exist in our society and seep into various parts of it. They’re everywhere. The racism of the past that was so easy to spot didn’t die with the stroke of the pen on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Remember that Dr. King was murdered years after these milestones. Society suppressed it to a degree, but it was never removed from the minds of those who espoused hate. Naturally, they passed it down to their children, and they passed it down as well. Though I have so much hope for my generation, who is the first to widely support equality, hate is still being taught and nothing is going to change that anytime soon. While I don’t see a lot of this on my personal page, I’m sure there are plenty of you reading this that have and do see it everyday.

Another thing I experienced was people adding me to various groups of theirs. Keep in mind that I haven’t spoken with these people at all, nor have they gathered much of anything from my posts which are vague, rare, and not even remotely racist or even supporting the Confederate flag beyond my profile picture. They immediately jumped to conclusions of my feelings towards other races, religions, and political candidates. In total I have been added to 106 groups and counting. While there’s a handful that appear to be harmless, there’s quite a few that aren’t. The majority are Southern/Confederate pride groups, anti-Islam/pro-christian groups, several dedicated to informing me about “black on white crime”, and blatant white supremacist groups. Here’s a few screen-shots of them.

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 12.24.11 AMScreen Shot 2015-09-17 at 12.24.45 AM

You can gather that from a lot of the names but even in the ones that aren’t so obvious, the content is similar and sometimes just disgustingly horrifying. A perfect example of what I mean by that is this one in particular…

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 12.30.58 AM

The group titled “Resistance” I was added to turned out to be a secret online group for neo-nazi’s that is made up of mostly European members. Almost every post is in a different language and promotes racism and anti-semitism in various parts of Europe, but primarily in Germany from what I can gather from the regular posters. The most disgusting posts I’ve found are from members who visit Holocaust museums and take pictures of them gloating and posing with Nazi artifacts and displays like the “Arbeit Macht Frei”, “Work Makes You Free”, that was notoriously above the gates of Auschwitz.

neonazis neonazis1neonazis3

While of course I shouldn’t be surprised by these people doing something so vile, I was a bit taken back at this. It was something I had never seen before and it was certainly stomach-churning as I consider myself a student of the Holocaust since my fascination with it from an early age that fueled my fervor to one day join the military to fight the Nazi’s! I felt sick and still do looking at them here.

Another thing you may have noticed on that list of groups are political ones. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz to be exact. You may have noticed the countless jokes and memes shared about Trump and his support among proud racists and the “I’m not racist, but…” crowds here in the South, but what I learned is that while it’s a joke that you thought had a ring of truth to it because your racist uncle is a huge Trump fan, it has a lot more validity than even I thought. My newsfeed is flooded with pro-Trump memes and posts. It’s really not a joke at all. It’s a reality, at least in my virtual world that I created. That’s a small sample-size but I would wager that around 75-80% of the political memes shared are in support of Trump. I would say that Ted Cruz does come in second, and the rest is just a mixture of the rest of the republican candidates. These people, it should go without saying, are overwhelmingly conservative and in support of the GOP. The few that dissent never do so because they’re conflicted supporters of gay-marriage and Reaganomics, either. The griping I do see are ones, like the teabaggers, who are mad and frustrated because the candidates aren’t conservative enough. When I say that, I mean they aren’t hard enough on islam, aren’t supportive enough of their confederate causes, or pretty much don’t flat-out call Obama some racial epithet they use to describe him on a daily basis.

While I know that all of these people don’t vote, or are at least the sporadic presidential voters, I do know that there are many that never miss an election. That’s why we get the far-right representatives that we do. The Steve King’s, Michelle Bachmann’s, and Louie Gohmert’s of the world. If you are familiar with those former(Bachmann)  and current United States representatives, google them. The conservative base, demographically, vote more consistently than those on the left. That’s also why they have trounced us during the last two mid-term elections and will continue to do so if we don’t get our heads out of our asses. I could go on about the question I, and many of you I’m sure, have asked: Why would these people vote for a candidate that are so obviously against their own best interests? But, that’s a different blog and a question that has a lot of answers that make little sense as well. I just wanted to make mention of the political side of this little world I live in for a short while on most days.


So, there’s my update of what’s being going on in the alternate universe I’ve been checking in and out of for the last six weeks or so. As I am finished with this blog, I will add that the final count as of this morning of facebook freinds is 4,055 out which I added maybe ten in the first few days of creating it. I will be keeping the page up indefinitely. I have been thinking of various ways of using it now that it looks like a validated account with so many friends. One idea I have is creating a google form asking various questions for some confederate survey group just to see the responses. Please feel free to comment or let me know some potential questions that would be good for this!

It’s a virtual reality that I’m sure many of you reading this already know about because friends, family, and maybe those people you knew but really didn’t like in high school live in it as well and constantly share their alternate, yet terrible reality with you. A reality they believe actually exists in their mind as they pine for days past that they want in the future that would almost definitely bring all of the progress this country has made to a grinding halt. It wouldn’t be so bad if these attitudes existed only on Confederate Matt’s newsfeed, but it doesn’t. It hangs on the words they utter to their children. It many times sits on far too many teachers desk. Among other places, we know now since the events in Ferguson, it’s tucked behind the badges of some in law enforcement officers. Embedded down in their hearts as it is in the people I see on the computer screen. It’s everywhere. You don’t need this blog, nor the password to that fake facebook account. You just have to listen or maybe turn on the local news to see it. It’s there, I promise you that.

My history with depression..

Since my last blog on depression I wanted to touch a little on my history with it. This one will get pretty personal but I think it’s good for me to get some of it out and explore where I think my depression comes from. It’s not always easy to admit or acknowledge the things that have happened in our life, especially when they change us.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, I have noticed depression quite a bit among my generation and in my area of Central Appalachia. Growing up I got glimpses into what depression looked like and it wasn’t pretty. My grandmother was and is a manic-depressant, along with being bipolar. When I was six years old she had a nervous breakdown which led to her completely trashing her home, the one that my mother, family, and I grew up in. I wasn’t able to grasp what had happened. Everyone around me knew that, so I was told someone had broken in and destroyed the home. Not long after that incident my grandparents filed for divorce. I was furious. This person had ruined a home I knew and a large part of my family. I remember asking again and again if they had caught who had done this, but it was always “No.” It wasn’t until I was about ten or eleven that I found out it was my grandmother and her mental health issues that I had long sought after. I was mad at first, but even then I knew it was beyond her control. My anger was lost but found again from time to time as my grandmother found alcohol as an outlet from her depression. She developed another disease to combat one she already had.

It’s easy to see where my grandmothers mental health issues might stem from. She was born into poverty, lost her mother to tuberculosis when she was a toddler, and bounced from orphanage to orphanage during the 1950’s as my great-grandfather became an alcoholic after my great-grandmother’s death. He would would come back into her life during those years sometimes, usually with a new stepmother. One of them was evil personified. Every day after my great-grandfather went to work, she would beat and abuse my grandmother. One time she beat her back into bloody stripes and poured bleach into the wounds. With bruises and marks that could be hidden and anything else blamed on playing in the neighborhood, this went on for sometime without my great-grandfather knowing while  working 10-12 hours in a mine. Another reason he didn’t find out was because my grandmother was threatened not to tell, but not her life. She threatened my grandfather’s. If she told him, her stepmother said she was poison his food she made for him everyday breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Eventually my grandmother broke down and told him everything chasing him down one morning on his way to work. From what I was told he turned around and struck the stepmother with the car (not seriously), and after an argument, she was kicked out and a divorce followed immediately. It was a story that you hear about in movies. I would have had a harder time believing if it weren’t for the scars down her back she still has today.

There’s no doubt abuse like that still happens today. We hear enough of it on the news to know that. What’s frightening is what we don’t hear about. I wasn’t abused growing up, however. I grew up in poverty and probably saw somethings that a kid wasn’t supposed to see growing up, but I did have a loving family that never, ever physically or emotionally abused me. I was much more fortunate than a lot of kids here in Appalachia.

There was one thing, though. Something about me, my family, that stuck out as I got older. I didn’t have a father. It wasn’t until I was about seven, when my mother married my stepfather, that I even thought much about it. I just thought that’s the way it was. I had my family and I was happy. My mother busted her ass to make sure I had everything I needed. Right before she married my stepfather she graduated from nursing school and became an LPN. After she married, I took to my stepfather but questions like “Should I call him “Dad”? were always on my mind. I began to question why wasn’t my biological father there. I eventually found out at an early age that he had left when he found out my mother was pregnant. With a son he already had from a previous relationship, he signed away all his rights to me. He didn’t want me but I can remember this not sinking in completely. It wasn’t until I found out that he had another child after me, by a third woman. With that I found out he had been in my older brother’s life and now my younger sister’s life who have different mothers. I was the middle kid, but the one that was discarded by him. After that I realized what rejection was. I remember breaking down to my grandmother one night asking “How come he didn’t want me?” when I was about ten. If you’ve ever watched that Fresh Prince of Bell Air episode, it was a real life break down like it..

…and I break down every single time I watch that episode. I think every kid that grew up with a biological parent out of the picture completely or sporadically loses it too.

As much as I didn’t want to admit it then, and even now, that rejection stings. While I am certain that I wouldn’t be the person I am today if he had been in my life, it’s natural to wonder why the person who contributed to the creation of your life didn’t want to have anything to do with you after you were born, yet did with his other two children. It affected me. It affects me now. I have no urge to ever see him. I haven’t so much as spoken a word to him in my 25 years. I decided that I wasn’t going to after one point in my life. It was when I was going through my second bout with cancer. Though he never even called during this time, it hit me after a stretch in the hospital when there were questions about me surviving. After my stem-cell transplant in December of 2013 I went home to Virginia. While we knew the cancer was still there, it might take some time for the transplant to work. On a check-up to the doctor, I wasn’t doing well and was immediately admitted to the ICU after it was found that my lungs were filling up with fluid which was also building up around my heart. It was the closest the death I have ever been. All my family visited, pastors came in, and my mother wouldn’t leave my side. I didn’t fully grasp how bad it was at the time, but later on I was told. During this time there wasn’t a single call or visit from my biological father to tell me “Hi” for the first time and “bye” for the last time. I think about that every now and again but I came to the conclusion long ago that someone that callous and negative wasn’t something I need or want in my life.

I remember right after I was in remission I began seeing a psychologist at St. Jude. They assign you one post-treatment which was such a great thing even if I didn’t appreciate it. I remember being asked dozens of times if I was depressed. My answer was always ‘no’. I didn’t feel sad all of the time, which is what I thought depression was. I had times when I was sad, particularly losing friends. The thing about growing up in cancer hospitals is that you make friends, young friends like yourself. The commonality is that you two have that one thing in common: cancer. No one quite knows what you’re going through unless they are or have experienced it. It’s a special common bond that I cherish. It’s something I have with a few friends today, even one I met much later on in life. What they don’t tell you is that the thing that bonded you together in the beginning can be the very thing that ends it as well. One week you can go in for a check-up or treatment, see a familiar face, and always getting to know a little more about them and their diagnoses. The next week you can go in and that person, that beautiful young person, has died. That happened to me a couple of times. One was with a young girl my mother and I adored. She was eight. You feel different things when that happens. My first thought goes back to “I could die.” Cancer does kill people, even sweet eight year old girls that were so full of life. The second thing I felt was: why did I live? You really wonder why you deserve to be here, breathing, while so many suffer and pass away. It may sound like a silly and self-deprecating, but I still ask myself that today.

I’m not special. I’m really not. I have no doubt that I’ve met and saw the faces of many children that aren’t around today. Those kids could be doing so much with their life today and when I’m feeling depressed, I wonder if I am doing enough with mine with the chance of life that I have while it was taken from so many who I passed in the halls of St. Jude. Maybe it was one of the kids that could barely hold their head up after a round of chemo. Maybe it was one of those countless smiles I saw peeking from behind a surgical mask. They deserved life as much as I do. It’s a burden I live with every day.

Depression has surrounded me my entire life and I didn’t even know it most of the time. It consumed me and my family from an early age until I more recently acknowledged my own depression. I have no doubt that my experiences I’ve talked about here contributed to my bouts with depression, anxiety, fear of rejection and failure. Our experiences shape us, whether we like it or not. That’s what life does. It hits us. It brings us to our knees. It never stops coming at you. That’s a lot to take in and we all have these things that happen, good or bad, which change how we think and feel. It’s hard to be positive at all sometimes. To a person with depression, hope and optimism can be almost impossible to even imagine feeling anymore. It’s been hard to look past all of the things I’ve talked about here, but I can see a lot of good things. I can feel them now. As much as I’ve been through in 25 years, I look back thinking it could have been so much worse. I know that because I’ve seen others go through much worse. I have a family I love. I have friends that I love and that includes the many I know only via facebook. You all have been some of the most supportive and kindest friends. I hope this was worth reading. It was definitely worth writing.