I’m sorry for not blogging for awhile, life has carried me away since my last post. My time and energy have been spent supporting family with mental illness through tumultuous times, working diligently as a therapist, and caring for my very pregnant fiancee. Caeli McKamey and I are engaged and getting married tomorrow and we have a baby coming on the 27th of this month! Valentines day is when we started dating, the day a year later I gave her a promise ring, and now a year after that the day we wed. Our son’s name is Rory Ross Muller. We’ve bought and moved into our first home and we’re out in the country which we love!
A lot also has happened in the world the last 9 months and I’ve gained new knowledge and perspective. I hope these masks go away sometime soon! I will try to do some writing in coming days. I may be able to create some time to write while on paternity leave throughout March and April, we’ll see what happens.
More to come.
It’s good to be back.
My brother’s latest blog, give this a read it offers a glimpse inside depression and makes compelling reasons not to consider suicide as an option for a way out.
On March 11th 2011, an earthquake struck Japan along with a massive tsunami, killing tens of thousands of people and causing a nuclear melt down at the Fukushima Diachi Nuclear Power Plant. I had a comfortable life, living with my brother in a beautiful house a few blocks from my favorite place in Seattle, Green Lake. I made great money as a the studio director of at Seattle Channel 21 and got to work with the most talented local artists Seattle was producing. Acts like Macklemore, David Bazan, Hey Marselles that have since gone on to do big things in the industry. But the same earthquake that shook Japan had a seismic effect on my life and plunged into a pit so deep I didn’t think I’d ever find my way out. I would emerge, stronger and more satisfied with life than I’ve ever been nearly a decade later and…
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My brother wrote this a little while back, it is a good op-ed reflection of the current political climate with the pandemic. He is back writing again so follow him http://www.advantagepoint.blog
Winston Churchill once quipped, “never waste a good crisis”, it wasn’t Dick Cheney which somehow I got in my head. There’s no American alive who has lived through a crisis on as big a scale as the Covid-19 pandemic and unfortunately for American citizens, our leadership on both sides of the partisan divide have been unable to rise to meet the challenges and opportunities of the moment. President Trump had the chance to prove he was a worthy leader, at least in terms of dealing with an unprecedented threat. Democrats had the chance to show a killer instinct by negotiating a deal that put the middle class and poor first at a time they needed it most. Both utterly failed.
Trump likes to say we are at war and in a lot of ways, it’s apt. Citizens are forced to make enormous sacrifices for the greater…
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Inquisitive minds seek understanding purposefully
Curious seekers endeavor toward illumination
Bold creators reflect with sincerity inescapably
Purposeful meaning ripe for plucking infinitely
Possibilities unfolding roots descending unfathomably
Thanks to my blogging friend Dear Kitty for doing me the honor of nominating me for the Vincent Ehindero Blogger Award!
The RULES of this award are:
Here are Dear Kitty’s questions and my answers:
1. What gave you the push to start blogging? My girlfriend is a longtime blogger and she got me excited about writing again, to share my story and wisdom with the world.
2. Are you proud of the progress you’ve made so far? Absolutely, I’m pleased with how many awesome people are engaging with me and am proud of my following of 721 followers so far since I began blogging in April.
3. Is blogging a profession or a hobby for you? A hobby but I would be interested in making it a second profession.
4. Where do you see yourself in the next five years? I hope to be married own a home, have my counseling license and at least two books published.
5. What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a blog to make money? I don’t make money from my blog so my advice is to ask those who do or look it up on google.
6. Where do most of your views come from? USA.
7. What’s your post frequency? Typically every day, usually always at least every other day.
8. Are you doing the most when it comes to fulfilling the demands of your niche? I could be writing more.
9. How many friends have you made from blogging? lots of really amazing people.
10. Do you ever regret any of your posts? No, and hope to never.
My questions to my nominees include Dear Kitty’s questions though I’ve added a few of my own:
11. What topics inspire you most to blog about?
12. How long have you been writing?
13. What is your favorite form of writing?
14. What tricks or solutions do you have to overcome writer’s block?
15. What do you hope for your blog to cause to happen or help bring about? What is its purpose?
My nominees are:
Reasonable trumps rational
Feelings and thoughts with a side of logic vs.
Emotionless calculated logic
Reason breeds empathy
Rational may obfuscate morality
Forked lightning flashes in darkness
Sunshine on the horizon
Open the curtain
illuminate stones of stepping
Cross the threshold into Elysian fields
A hero can achieve
We camped 3 nights, heading home Sunday instead of Monday which I was very glad of as it was raining heavily and it gave me a day to have back at home before getting back to work. 3 nights felt like a really nice rest and was just enough. It provided the feelings of restoration I sought.
I made sure to verify which campsites were open amongst the Covid shutdown and multiple websites indicated 3 camps on or near Mount Rainier were open. Each one was fully booked so we rested our hopes on arriving early enough to secure an unreservable spot at one of them.
Upon arriving at our first option, to our horror we discovered the campground was closed and a guy we ran into informed us no campgrounds were open. He told us though that wilderness camping was allowed and that off forest service roads could offer a decent enough spot; just no access to services.
The first forest service road we turned down I noticed a sign asking please not to litter so hope rose inside me. Driving toward the end of the road I looked off to my left and notced a river along with some amazing looking camping spots. Just to figure out how to access them. We parked and found a trail through the woods leading down there.
We had to lug all our equipment down which was time consuming and exhausting for Caeli and my brother. Unfortunately with my disability I’m not able to carry anything heavy because of my balance issues and weaker left leg so was unable to assist.
A couple views from our campsite:
It was the greatest campsite I’ve ever found; right on a river under a canopy of trees. Breathtakingly beautiful it was. I had all elements of camping I desire: a river, a forest, starry skies, and a campfire.
It rained hard the 3rd night and we almost couldn’t get the fire going due to hard rain and damp wood. As hope began to fade after several failed attempts, I gave it one last effort and had my brother toss in crumpled paper towel after crumpled paper towel. At last the fire roared to life. It took careful tending and strategic additions of dryer wood to keep it going.
My brother met us at the mountain which was a little nervewracking due to our selected meeting spot not being well marked and no cell service. We found each other eventually. We had talked about him bringing our cats, we brought the cat tent and a litter box with us. Unfortunately after packing though he didn’t have room in his car.
On the second day he went to Packwood where there is cell service and while recording some Smule his phone got blown by the wind and subsequently smashed on a rock. He went home that second night so he could get a new phone. When he finally showed back up on Saturday in the late afternoon, to our delight he brought Lilly and Arya.
Lily was overwhelmed being out in nature and began freaking out, meowing incessantly and repeatedly attacking Arya. She even swiped at and tried to bite my brother. After that Trav put her in timeout down by the water in the cat tent, a ways away from us but where we could still see her. By the time he brought her back she had completely collapsed the foldable tent around her. She was much calmer after that but we left her in the tent, she still tried to attack Arya a few other times. Arya took camping like a true warrior and seemed to very much enjoy herself.
We had Arya out with us around the fire holding her but because Lily was so skittish I unfortunately didn’t get any pictures of her.
When we got back Caeli gave me one of my birthday presents: my new favorite hat.
I finally took some time for self care and took a little mini vacation. It was very much needed. I hope you enjoyed this small window into my camping trip and that you’ll take the time for your own self care.
Here’s today’s poem time:
Offer of nature amelioration of restoration
At long last I get to go camping! I am very, very excited. Camping is one of my favorite things in the world, I can’t get there soon enough. I leave tomorrow and am staying 4 nights which will be a much, much needed rest. Because of many things but especially because of the weariness of quarantine and being cooped up inside for so long. I won’t be plugged into technology so I won’t be able to blog while I’m away but fear not, I’ll apparate back here to the blogosphere next week. More Brandons Wisdom will be here for you soon.
For now, here’s a poem I wrote about camping:
As daylight wanes stars twinkle into existence
Gurgling creek I howl with the wolves
Flames embrace wood with death’s kiss
Until embers breathe their last I will bask in this moment
Souls, both old and new, other lives lived
Teachings of wisdom and thought
Secrets unlocked, karma reaped and sought
An immortal soul’s journey seeking this life’s Rosebud
Temporary moments joyous but fleeting
Beyond, an infinite forever
I appreciate truly all of you who contributed your own knowledge and ideas to my 3 questions about Christianity, I enjoyed your answers and respect every one of you for boldly sharing of your hearts, minds, and souls. I’ll leave that thread open for anyone who wants to offer further thoughts.
My conversation with Deacon Robert Mitchell https://remitchelljr.com/ the other night was particularly enlightening. I learned much about Catholicism from him and he offered me perspective on the church of things I had no idea of. Here’s what I have gathered as far as my questions are concerned: (Please correct me if I’m wrong at least in my assertions, and I welcome your thoughts on my interpretations.)
Universal salvation is something many believe in and it is possible from the Catholic perspective. I can get on board with this. Deacon Robert suggested eternal may only mean a period of time and other religious texts suggest Jesus, while dead, descended to hell (perhaps for universal salvation)
Below includes information I found on Google to help explain my new knowledge.
Fathers of the Alexandrian Church maintained the doctrine of universal salvation in the second and third centuries and various of the Church Fathers followed them in the doctrine. The teaching of Plato who maintained reincarnation influenced them. It was a minority opinion.
The doctrine of universal salvation (also known as Apokatastasis or Apocatastasis ) has usually been considered through the centuries to be heterodox but has become orthodox. It was maintained by the Second Vatican Council and by Pope John Paul II and it is promoted in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church and in the post-Vatican II liturgy.
I didn’t know about all these other books Catholics also hold as religious texts that were taken out of earlier versions of the bible.
When Adam and Eve eat they interiorize that potential and make it real. This creates a new relationship between man and Creation. Suddenly, all of the things that were “good” in the beginning have potential for evil. Every field of human endeavor is poisoned because humanity now knows not only how to use knowledge for the greater glory of God, but also how to use it in disordered and damaging ways.
The second tree is the antidote to this problem, but it is also dangerous. When God banishes Adam and Eve from the garden and the tree of life, bodily immortality is no longer possible. It was an act of mercy that he did so. Those who choose to love and serve God could hardly find endless life in a valley of sorrows desirable; those who reject God must not be allowed to grow in their evil indefinitely or to continually inflict harm on others without ever being subjected to justice.
If we have universal salvation and if there is a hell, it is likely not forever and is merely used for karmic penance, I could get on board with this. I didn’t know Plato believed in reincarnation, that is something I do as well. While the perverse abuses of a minutely small percentage of Catholic priests have tainted perspectives of Catholicism, what they stand for endures in holiness, charity. Charity is how we show kindness to others and fills our ocean of karmic goodness.
This jibes with my beliefs, both spiritual and experiential. I believe God is loving and wouldn’t create a forever place of eternal suffering just for not being able to accept a belief though I do believe justice awaits those deserving its gavel.
I have some direction for readings queued in the future, I still have questions, I’ll post more soon.
Panthers of perception stalk jungles of thought
Eagle eyed hawks circle skies of scarlet sanctuaries
Starlight twinkles within
Epiphanies engorged by overflowing light
Righteous realizations open shackles of silence
Lilly pads laid lovingly north by naked nymphs
Center my consciousness
Light my way
Open my eyes
Wake and walk in Nirvana
choose with caution
Birth of the serpent
intertwined in confusion
Blinded and led astray
Shell of the turtle
protect me from harm
Becoming the other
Karmic fantasies await
Meeting first as friends, meeting first as lovers
Matters not to recipe of last
Aspects both fuel romance
Love intimately, friend benevolently
Lovers whom are friends have found the secret
Friendship nurtures fondness and admination
Fondness and admiration nurtures romance
True romance can sustain with circularity
a candle burning
with eternal flame
We embark on a new Brandon’s Wisdom tradition: Poem Time.
Each day hopefully, I will choose a random prompt of some kind and write a poem Please comment on any Poem Time with requests you’d like me to create for you. I also welcome stylistic and format requests.
Today’s prompt: Justice. *I needed to write on this tonight to release my emotional and psychological heartache after watching part of the video of George Floyd’s murder*
Please don’t kill me, George’s Plea
Bloodthirsty murder on a psychopath’s mind
Malice and murder in his dark, cancerous heart
Please don’t kill me, George’s Plea
George was pinned he couldn’t move
This unholy abomination crushed George’s neck with his knee
In sinister evil the sociopathic animal cut off George’s brain blood flow
Please don’t kill me, George’s Plea
Eight minutes of torture inflicted upon him
Fighting and struggling to stay alive
hoping for mercy and compassion
Please don’t kill me, George’s final Plea
The killer held firm intent to murder clear
With one last gasp his precious life was ripped away
A thousand daggers piercing heart
Sub Humans looked on
declined to intervene
for eight minutes
George hears our mourning
George shares our pain
He is a being of love and light
You will be remembered
George hears our mourning
George shares our pain
You will be remembered
We all talk to ourselves every day, the content of which causes us to feel certain ways and take defining actions. We may not be able to control aspects of mental unwellness inside ourselves but we may have more significant sway over our manner of being than we give ourselves credit for.
We can’t control which thoughts pop into our heads but we do have choice in which thoughts we give power to. We are the observer of our thoughts, we are not our thoughts. Those thoughts we give power to though influence the way we perceive and experience life because they shape our reality.
We can likely agree we have a genuine desire to be kind to those we love. Kindness brings us closer together and forges bonds of friendship and goodwill. To see them happy brings us joy and comfort. Being soft when they are upset, forgiving when they have done wrong. Providing encouragement and support when they fail or lose hope.
These are ways we strive to be with those we love. The topics and words we use and focus on matter for outcome, of each interaction and the relationship’s well being for the long haul. What makes them deserving of our love? We look up to and adore and them, feel a sense of devotion.
We genuinely want to forgive them so we ought to genuinely want to create forgiveness for ourselves. We authentically wish to encourage and support them and recognize the benefits of being and remaining supportive during times of turmoil. We do ourselves high favors by also doing so for ourselves.
We also are deserving of our love and devotion. As the way we talk to those we love affects the shared reality of the relationship, the way we talk to ourself affects our reality.
If one finds it hard to change one’s self talk from negative and pessimistic to positive and optimistic saying and/or speaking affirmations can assist as well as gratitude journaling. These are things I recommend for anyone but especially those struggling with identity, depression, low self confidence or diminished self-esteem. They are powerful and enabling in transforming self talk.
“Drink it slow or it’ll burn.” On a trip my brother and I were on many years ago some guy at a gas station said this to as were buying Naked smoothie drinks.
I remember to this day for many reasons. Applying this concept metaphorically in our lives can perhaps help us enjoy things more fully and sustainably.
Not rushing into things without healthy consideration can prevent pain and heartache and things from blowing up on us.
Warding off negative emotional states is desirable and warranted in living a happy life.
Proceeding with intention and awareness allow us to suck every last morsel of joy and remembrance from good moments and create the locus of mind needed to make ideally crafted choices in difficult ones. Synergistically create greater opportunities for the outcomes we desire.
We never know when we see our loved ones when the next time we see them will be, if even again in this life. All of us have times we’ve let our emotions get the best of us and said things in anger we didn’t mean or regret. Hopefully, when this happens we get to make amends, to apologize if necessary, ensuring an equilibrium of happiness and respect are reintegrated into our relationship.
Sometimes we don’t get the opportunity. Regret stabs into the heart with brutal force. Being a big person and swallowing our pride benefits both ourselves and our others. Saying “I love you” as often as possible and always when parting, even when angry with each other ensures we keep our positive equilibrium and have peace no kinds of resentments or solvable hard feelings stick.
Always planning for and expecting tomorrow lets us live into the future and stay hopeful. Living in a way of making our best choices we know will prevent regret helps us live our best lives. It protect us as much as power allows from haunting regrets and allows us to have sustainably happy relationships.
By appreciating and cherishing each moment to our maximum capacity we ensure as those moments become memories we can rest peacefully in that we’ve made our best choices and with our best selves enjoyed to the fullest.
If we are confronted by regret in the future, confronting and healing from it can help us get unstuck so we can move forward. If we have lost someone whom with there was unresolved conflict writing them a heartfelt letter expressing our sorrow and everything we wish we’d said can soften the weight and help it lift, but it is hard. We might not be able to physically deliver it to that person, but I believe, they will get to read our letter from home and hear our heart.
I’m making good progress but have barely scratched the surface. Here’s a small excerpt from my early life to keep ya going for now.
Before I could speak actual words I had my own language only my brother could understand. In trying to communicate with my parents, when they didn’t understand I relied on my brother to translate. He would tell them “he wants this” and they didn’t believe him at first until they realized it was indeed what I wanted. I remember the first time I got to eat desert, I don’t recall if it was cake or ice cream but oh my god it tasted so amazing. On my first birthday my cake was placed in front of me to go at to my hearts content. I pounded that cake into submission, there’s a video to prove it. Trav was concerned about getting a piece I had touched but my mom was able to get him one.
Awakened by noise. Roommates scratching about. Doors opening and shutting. Lights turning on and off. Hope fading of a return to dreamland as wakefulness invades my mind. Sleep debts accumulate. Early bedtime tomorrow unlikely. Tired. Yawn. Engage coffee.
Kev was very close with his younger brother Kenan, Kenny everybody called him. Kenny passed away at age 12. On a family trip to the river he hit his head on a slide and drowned. They searched and searched for him, divers recovered his body later. The unbearably somber ride home, hearts dropping away into oblivion as they pulled into the driveway without him, it settling in he would never again return home. Those of you reading this that have lost a child or kid sibling know the heart wrenching despair that no words can give meaning. When I turned 13 my mom felt grateful I made it to that milestone Kenny never made it to.
Here is another small excerpt:
Friends visited and held my hand, keeping me company along with my family. My family knew I was there and not braindead. My mouth would give the faintest hint of a twitch as I couldn’t help but laugh when my brother quoted favorite comedy lines and played Adam Sandler cd’s. Doctors indicated it was merely brainstem activity, and not to get their hopes up. I periodically experienced brain storming, which occurred amidst a whirlwind of neurological activity and were terrifying. I would lock eyes with my mom, staring at her with tremendous intensity, trying to let her know I was still there. She would sing to me the song “You are my Sunshine”, over and over followed by tears and silent sobbing. There was a song I liked called Friends by Michael W. Smith-my dad would play it nonstop when he was there by himself because it made him feel close to me. I appreciated that but it nearly drove me to madness having to hear it probably dozens of times a day. When my Mom was there, she would stop him.
Caeli and I had our second six word poem off, here’s what happened. We took turns coming up with prompts. For each one we came up with two poems, one at a time.
1st prompt: Sounds of Nature
The light rain pitter patters up
Frogs write a lullaby for you
Crickets chirp birds sing mother listens
Ocean depths echo stillness of deep
2nd prompt: Planets
Orbiting dimensions milky way life questioners
Evolutional souls skating scientists unexpected passengers
Unknown expanding universe birth of planets
Spiral galaxies intertwine cluster of devourer
3rd prompt: On my period
Doesn’t comprehend organs life giving power
Vampire vagina devours my insides
Gushing red flow make it stop
Begins at 13 ends at 50
4th prompt: Rocks
Boulders wont move my mountains anymore
Stalacites another galaxy protects your innocence
You’ve been here since the beginning
Sits atop grave of my cat
5th prompt: Mothers
Love hate em’ you’re their baby
Don’t shove me out the door
A bountiful reservoir giving fierce love
For secure attachment latch the nipple
This is my graduate thesis from 2010, a literature review on the topic of Gay Adolescent Suicide.
Running Head: Gay Adolescent Suicide
Gay Adolescent Suicide:
A Review of the Literature
University of Puget Sound
This literature review evaluates and connects previous research on the topic of suicide in adolescent lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) populations. Risk factors for suicide are identified that may be specific to or particularly noteworthy for this population: negative peer attitudes, rejection, social isolation, homophobic attitudes, shame, and lack of parental acceptance. Protective factors for suicide are also identified: familial acceptance, proud identity, access to resources, self-acceptance, and high self-esteem. It appears that negative attitudes and beliefs about homosexuality create a perpetual negative societal climate for LGBT individuals, which may be the underlying causal factor with regard to many other risk factors and ultimately suicide attempts or completions themselves.
Imagine for a moment that you are a parent, and you have just learned that your adolescent son or daughter has committed suicide. What thoughts and emotions would flood you? Shock, horror, hopelessness, helplessness, and despair would likely be experienced regardless of whether your son or daughter was lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). Now imagine that you were aware of your son or daughter’s orientation and you weren’t accepting of or were even hostile toward your child: the wide spectrum of emotions experienced may be even more intense and the deep regret you experience may be overwhelming.
For many parents it takes the suicide of their LGBT child for them to realize how much society and religion’s negativity and hostility, as well as their own lack of acceptance of LGBT individuals, likely affected their son or daughter. Other parents are left with questions as their seemingly happy teenager commits suicide out of the blue, and the fact that they might be LBGT didn’t even cross their mind. The results of a study cited by Kitts (2005) indicate that 54% of LGBT adolescents may attempt suicide at least once before coming out to others.
Being adolescent alone increases the chance of suicide. When factors start to compound, that risk may grow exponentially. Gould et al., as cited by Kitts (2005), relate that every year suicide is attempted by about one million adolescents, and that every 90 minutes one adolescent succeeds in suicide completion. In an article on suicide risk factors in gay youth, Proctor and Groze (1994) indicate that among young people in the United States in the 1980’s aged 15-19, suicide was the second leading cause of death, and the suicide rates have only climbed since then. The findings of a 1989 study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), as cited by Proctor and Groze, indicate that when compared to non-LGBT adolescents, LGBT youth are two to three times more likely to complete suicide. Also in the same article, Bell and Weinberg (1978), as cited by Proctor and Groze (1994), assert that gay men are six times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual men, and lesbians are twice as likely to attempt suicide as heterosexual women.
Only by understanding the reasons behind their increased risk can we as a society hope to prevent the additional psychological distress that LGBT youth are forced to endure and begin to reduce their risk for suicide. In this paper I will seek to answer the following questions: What risk factors contribute to suicide in LGBT youth, and why are they at increased risk for suicide? What protective factors exist, and what effect do they have at mitigating risk factors?
I found my sources by searching on the electronic databases ERIC and PsycINFO. I utilized the following search keywords: homosexuality + suicide (109 results), homosexuality + suicide + stigma (7 results), homosexuality + suicide + risk factors (12 results), homosexuality + suicide + risk factors + adolescents (6 results), gay + youth + suicide (47 results), gay + youth + suicide + homophobia (11 results), gay + social isolation + suicide (3 results). In an attempt to reduce bias and increase validity, various keywords were used with effort to compile a diverse array of sources that represented different perspectives. I populated 195 results total, and out of these I utilized seven for the purposes of this literature review. My process in choosing articles was to read abstracts and make a determination whether the article contained pertinent information to my topic. I was looking for specific information: articles that explored suicide risk for LGBT adolescents and discussed risk factors and/or protective factors for suicide. I was also looking for articles that explored how protective factors interacted with risk factors in this population as well as articles that examined possible underlying causes of risk factors such as homophobia, negative peer attitudes, and lack of familial acceptance. Each article I selected met one or more of these criteria.
In their article on risk factors among LGBT youth, Proctor and Groze (1994) reviewed several studies and identified several risk factors believed to contribute to suicide in LGBT youth. The risk factors identified were low self-esteem, social isolation, depression, negative family interactions, and negative social attitudes. One such study conducted by Remafedi et al. (1991) concluded that out of the total number of attempted suicides, the percentage of subjects who attributed the attempt to family problems was 44%. The percentage of subjects who attributed the attempt to personal or interpersonal turmoil was 33%. Also in this study, 30% of the subjects identified depression and 22% cited problems with peers. Sears (1991), as cited by Proctor and Groze (1994), discovered several possible precursory factors for suicidal ideation or attempts in LGBT youth, including social isolation, anger, depression, repeated stress, feelings of inadequacy, and sexual-identity difficulties. Common risk themes that appear out of these studies are low self-esteem, depression, social isolation, and negative interactions (familial and peer).
Schneider, Farberow, and Kruks (1989), as cited by Proctor and Groze, attempted to determine risk factors for high school – college age LGBT individuals. Likely risk factors were identified for those who attempted suicide. These included paternal alcoholism, familial physical abuse, and familial suicide attempts. They concluded that lack of family acceptance may not be the key factor in LGBT suicide, as they found no difference in how the suicide attempters and non-suicidal LGBT subjects viewed the degree of acceptance or rejection in key areas of coming out. All of these factors are related to families and suggest that even though they concluded that family acceptance of LGBT youth may not be the deciding factor in a suicide attempt or completion, family history comprises an important set of risk factors that should not be ignored. Therefore, the finding that lack of family acceptance may not be the key factor of suicide should be interpreted cautiously. Even if not a primary factor, it likely still plays a critical role. Many other studies emphasize the importance of familial risk factors in LGBT youth. (Remafedi et al. (1991), Schneider, Farberow, and Kruks (1989), Sullivan and Woodarski (2002)).
Lack of family acceptance likely contributes to and compounds with other risk factors: for example, a LGBT youth may become depressed that his or her family doesn’t accept him or her. Another could develop low self-esteem because he or she isn’t accepted by their family and as a result may be avoided (social isolation), disrespected, made fun of, or any number of other risk factors which may stem from the lack of acceptance. Sullivan and Woodarski (2002) suggest that LGBT adolescents face a unique risk factor that involves not having a loving parental role model who has gone through the same thing. This lack of parental relatability may compound the adolescent’s risk factors and lack of familial acceptance. Lack of parental relatability and lack of parental acceptance may not be the direct cause of suicide attempts or completions for LGBT adolescents, but it is possible these factors predispose LGBT adolescents to many other risk factors.
Kourany (1987), as cited by Proctor and Groze (1994), conducted a study which involved psychiatrists who were members of the American Association of Adolescent Psychiatry. They completed questionnaires which asked about suicide risk factors and degree of risk among LGBT youth. Kourany found that it was the psychiatrists’ opinions that the most common cause of LGBT youth suicide was related to familial problems. Intrapsychic distress was thought to be the next and was defined as feelings of isolation, futility, rejection, rootlessness, hopelessness, low self-esteem, lack of identity, and lack of direction and goals in life. The psychiatrists also thought psychiatric disorders such as depression, character disorders, schizophrenia, and substance abuse to be risk factors, although they weren’t thought to have as dramatic of an impact on suicide as other factors. Again, familial factors are singled out as very significant in LGBT youth suicide. It is useful to consider how familial problems (most likely resulting from lack of familial acceptance or lack of parental relatability) may be causal factors in intrapsychic distress, and are at the very least almost certainly correlated ones. The psychiatrists also suggested that intrapsychic distress may have a big impact on LGBT suicide. If an LGBT youth isn’t accepted by his or her family, (rejection), this rejection can breed hopelessness that they will never be accepted, which could have a profoundly negative impact on identity (lack of positive identity development). It is easy to see how constant rejection, hopelessness, and lack of identity could contribute to low self-esteem, and in turn suicide risk.
Hunter (1990), as cited by Proctor and Groze (1994), looked at violence as a risk factor for LGBT youth. Of Hunter’s sample of 500 youth from the Hetrick-Martin Institute, 40% reported violent attacks. Of this 40%, 46% felt the attack was related to their sexual orientation. Sixty one percent of the attacks were within the youth’s families, and 44% of the youths who reported being attacked also experienced suicidal ideation. Hunter did not determine whether violence caused the suicidal ideation or was merely correlated with it. Violence is not a happy thing to have experienced, and especially when accompanied with lack of familial acceptance, it is easy to see how it could contribute to suicidal ideation or attempts. An LGBT youth who may face rejection at home might envision school or the community as a safe place. Having been violently attacked, they could lose any sense of safety, which is one of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, (Maslow, 1943). Violence could contribute to other risk factors because youth who have been attacked would likely feel rejected by society and God for allowing the attack to happen. Additionally they could become isolated by fear of being attacked again, hopeless that society will never be a kind place for them, so why should they even try?
Herek (1984), as cited by Proctor and Groze, found evidence of negative societal attitudes toward homosexuality via attitude statements of male and female undergraduate students. Cramer and Roach (1988) suggested that these negative attitudes influence the decision to come out, and that suicidal ideation may be a response to the negative pressures of society rather than an indication of pathology. This is an interesting finding because it suggests that negative societal attitudes about homosexuality create a hostile environment, and that hostile environment may have a bigger impact on suicidal ideation in LGBT youth than pathology such as depression. This finding suggests that the suicide risk of LGBT individuals may decrease profoundly if society as a whole were able to accept and adopt a more positive attitude toward homosexuality.
McDermott et al. (2008) approach the risk factor of homophobia in a study with four groups of young people aged 16-25 years. For three of the groups, LGBT individuals were specifically recruited; for the fourth group, the researchers did not attempt to obtain LGBT participants. The study participants defined homophobia as punishment for the transgression of heterosexual norms through physical and verbal abuse, rejection or isolation that works to punish at a deep individual level to create psychological distress. This mistreatment may be causal and is likely at least correlated to shame and may cause LGBT youth to feel disgusting and abnormal because of their sexual orientation. In the same article, McDermott et al. go on to describe research they conducted with young LGBT individuals. Those results suggest that each individual employs his or her own unique strategies, tactics, and maneuvers to cope with homophobic discrimination. The way in which these adolescents cope was thought to be influenced by personal, economic, and social factors, as well as the setting in which the discrimination occurred. Some adolescents coped by moving schools or avoiding eye contact, while others coped by self-harm and fighting.
Those LGBT adolescents who acknowledged experiencing homophobic treatment also indicated the homophobia was expected, ordinary and routine. This routinization and minimization that the adolescent’s employed may have been an attempt to deflect shame and to be unaffected by the abuse. This strategy may help protect them against the negative effects of homophobia, but McDermott et al. suggest it comes at a price. McDermott et al. (2008) are concerned that by minimizing and routinizing homophobic behaviors, LGBT youth may be hesitant or unlikely to seek help and instead try to cope on their own. Homophobia is a very complex risk factor because it is thought to be a risk factor for suicide; it may be causal to or at least correlated with other risk factors, and it may be a contributor to why many LGBT youth don’t seek help.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is another risk factor for suicide that has been studied in the Veteran population, where it is thought to be most prevalent. Many LGBT youth experience severe trauma from homophobic treatment. In an article on gay, lesbian, and bisexual adult recollections of bullying during the time they were in school, Rivers (2004) studied the effects of PTSD in the LGBT population. Twenty-six percent of the study participants identified their continued, regular distressfulness from recollections of school bullying.
With regard to PTSD symptoms, 26% identified experiencing psychological distress when in a situation reminding them of school victimization. Twenty-one percent reported memories of being bullied that were distressing or intrusive. The number of participants who indicated having recurrent dreams or nightmares about school bullying was four percent. Nine percent reported experiencing flashbacks in the form of illusions, hallucinations, dissociative episodes, or a feeling of reliving events while awake. After analyzing the data collected, Rivers identified 20 participants (14 gay and bisexual men and six gay and bisexual women, comprising 17% of the total sample) who met DSM criteria for a valid diagnosis. Fifty-three percent of the sample reported contemplating suicidal or self-harm behaviors as a result of bullying and 40% attempted self harm or suicide at least once. Three quarters of the attempters identified more than one occasion of attempting. PTSD may not be a risk factor that affects school-age LGBT adolescents because it is believed to be more likely to occur among adults. Even so, it is thought to develop because of the severe trauma LGBT adolescents may be forced to experience and is a risk factor for suicide that can plague LGBT individuals throughout their lives. This is a risk factor that warrants further investigation because it can put LGBT individuals at a constant elevated risk for suicide, long after exposure to homophobic bullying has ceased.
In his article on gay adolescents and suicide, Kitts (2005) relates that gayness in itself is not what puts the LGBT population at a high risk of suicide. Rather, the increased risk is a result of the psychosocial distress associated with being gay. Remafedi (1999), as cited by Kitts (2005), concluded from his evaluation and analysis of six studies that suicide attempts in the LGBT adolescent population may be significantly associated with psychosocial stressors. Remafedi also found in his analysis that psychosocial stressors such as gender nonconformity, early awareness of being gay, victimization, lack of support, school dropout, family problems, acquaintances’ suicide attempts, homelessness, substance abuse, and other psychiatric disorders were more prevalent among LGBT adolescents than their heterosexual counterparts.
Russell and Joyner (2001), as cited by Kitts (2005), observed in a study using national data that adolescents reporting homosexual orientation also reported significantly more of the previously mentioned risk factors along with depression, another risk factor. These studies shed further light on the risk factors affecting LGBT adolescents and further insight is gained into why these risk factors are more prevalent in this population. Victimization, lack of support, school dropout, family problems, and substance abuse are serious risk factors that may be directly brought about by society’s negative attitudes about homosexuals. Adolescents are thought to observe from a young age religion’s condemnation of homosexuals, negative parental and other adult attitudes regarding homosexuals, and a negative homosexual school climate where “gay” is used as an insult. Because of society, familial and peer perceived negative attitudes regarding homosexuals, it is apparent that many LGBT adolescents could fear being “discovered” because they may connect it to previously observed finger pointing, discrimination, homophobic bullying, familial and peer rejection, all thought to be risk factors for suicide. This fear of coming out due to LGBT adolescent’s perceived ultimate rejection may be why many complete and attempt suicide before coming out to others.
The fear of being discovered is thought to cause many LGBT adolescents to stay in the closet and not be open about their sexuality. Because they fear discovery and because of perceived rejection by society, they may close themselves off to society and become socially isolated. Sas (1992), as cited by Sullivan and Woodarski (2002), indicate that social alienation may inevitably lead to shame and self-stigmatization, which are both likely risk factors for suicide. Additionally, Sullivan and Woodarski indicate that social alienation may provoke hopelessness, and if that is allowed to permeate the adolescent’s affective state, loneliness, apathy, and feelings of a loss of connectedness to peers, family, and social institutions are likely to come about. There also seem to be very few role models available for LGBT adolescents due to society’s lack of acceptance of homosexuality. Sullivan and Woodarski suggest that homosexuals are unique as a minority in facing hatred and discrimination because these adolescents in most cases have no relatable role model or family member who can relate from having gone through the same experience.
When an LGBT adolescent feels that no one is on his or her side, it may catalyze serious issues with identity formation. Sullivan and Woodarski talk about how adolescence is a time when peers, rather than family, start to take on a major role in where individuals obtain support and guidance. They indicate that many adolescents may face a new, stronger need to gain peer approval. As a result, adolescents’ peer networks and school environments increase dramatically in their capacity and scope of influence on their identity development. When peer networks are rejecting and school environments hostile, the resulting social isolation and withdrawal may produce negative self-esteem, another serious risk factor for suicide.
As noted earlier, homophobia is thought to be a risk factor for suicide in LGBT adolescents. It is also thought to be causal to or at least correlated with many other risk factors. Sullivan and Woodarski (2002) indicate that negative self esteem may be created as a result of internalizing homophobic attitudes and values from society, peers, and family. Again, it is clear how risk factors can start compounding for LGBT adolescents, and we gain a window into why they are at such high risk.
Compounding risk factors is something that wasn’t directly addressed in any of the literature, and is an area that warrants investigation. That being said, as risk factors start to compile, it seems likely that suicide risk would increase because each risk factor may be like a blow to the adolescent, making it harder for him or her not to turn to suicide. One would likely feel more and more despondent and that nobody cares about him or her. Hopelessness that one will never be accepted by society, peers, or family may be an important factor to consider with regard to compounding risk factors because when there is no hope for a miserable situation to ever be different, it is understandable why the choice could seem reasonable to end one’s life.
Homophobia and the negative climate in society toward homosexuals could potentially be the primary underlying reason for why the LGBT population is at such high risk for suicide. All other risk factors are likely secondary to these because they comprise the beliefs that continue to be passed on that fuel LGBT discrimination, negative attitudes, and homophobia.
When risk factors for suicide affect an LGBT adolescent, there may or may not be protective factors involved as well that can add some semblance of balance to the chaos that the adolescent may experience. In this section I address specific protective factors for suicide that exist for LGBT adolescents, and to what extent they are effective at mitigating risk factors.
Savin-Williams (1989a), as cited by Proctor and Groze (1994), observed via study results that lesbians were more likely to feel comfortable being gay if they experienced high degrees of parental acceptance. Parental acceptance of adolescent homosexuality is a protective factor because it protects adolescents from experiencing familial rejection, a risk factor for suicide. Savin-Williams also observed that parental acceptance may be causal to, but is at least correlated with other protective factors for gay males, two of which may be feeling comfortable being gay and having high self-esteem. Since internalizing homophobia and low self-esteem are converse risk factors, it is easy to see why these are protective factors.
Savin-Williams (1989b), as cited by Proctor and Groze, later found that lesbian adolescents typically had more satisfying parental relations than gay males, and that lesbians also possessed significantly higher self esteem. They also identified for lesbian adolescents a strong, positive correlation between lesbian-parent contact and satisfaction with parents. Regarding gay males, a positive correlation was identified between contact with fathers and satisfaction with their paternal relationship. Additionally Savin-Williams found that gay males with high self-esteem possessed satisfying relationships with both parents and had a mother who was aware of their orientation.
These findings again illustrate the importance of parental acceptance for LGBT adolescents. When parental acceptance is in place, familial problems may be greatly reduced, or at least not involve an individual’s sexuality. It is critical for all children, adolescents, and teens to feel like all parts of them are accepted by their parents, not just their masculine or feminine side, and certainly their sexuality. As suggested earlier, this acceptance may be noteworthy in identity formation. Schneider (1989), as cited by Proctor and Groze (1994), suggests that having a strong, positive identity (a protective factor, McDermott et al. (2008)) may be causal to or at least correlated with high self-esteem (a protective factor, Savin-Williams (1989b)). Schneider goes on to discuss his study on self-identified lesbians, in which he found that lesbians typically have good resources as well as external social supports that are encouraging to their positive homosexual identity formation. He also found that lesbians may be at lower risk for suicide than gay men, but that it warrants further investigation.
It is possible that lesbians have access to better resources and social supports, and ultimately a lower risk for suicide than gay males for this reason: lesbian behavior is erotic to many heterosexual males and therefore accepted as normal. Further investigation of this hypothesis is warranted.
Relating to previously discussed protective factors such as high self-esteem and self acceptance is having a proud identity, which was identified by McDermott et al. (2008) as a potential protective factor. A proud identify may constitute feeling satisfied, fulfilled, and confident about one’s homosexuality. This sense of pride may also ward off shame, which is a previously mentioned potential risk factor for suicide. Hershberger & D’Augelli (1995), as cited by Rivers (2004), indicate the best predictor of mental health in LGB youth may be self acceptance. These protective factors could be considered as protective layers: before one good layer or protective factor can be added, the right conditions likely need to be preexistent. For example, identity formation may be the first layer, and for the layer of high self-esteem to be applied, that identity needs to be positive.
The next protective layers of self-esteem and self-acceptance may be prerequisites for pride, satisfaction, and confidence. Hershberger and D’Augelli also discovered that self-acceptance may moderate impact of bullying, and that self-acceptance may be correlated with having received family support, but only for individuals who haven’t endured high levels of bullying. This last set of findings enlighten us in a few areas regarding effectiveness of protective factors at combating risk factors. It makes sense that self-acceptance may moderate the effects of bullying because being in a state of self-acceptance implies self-esteem, and those with high self esteem and a strong identity are more likely to stand up for themselves. It also makes sense that self-acceptance was correlated with having received familial support because negative family interactions may create negative self-esteem, self-rejection, or hatred. Having a positive family environment where it is clear the adolescent is loved, respected, and accepted unconditionally may be a very powerful protective factor.
Espelage et al. (2008) suggest the ultimate goal of adolescence is to actualize the capability to merge with another in a truly intimate relationship. While the realization of this goal may come easier for some than others, this is a goal that may be especially difficult for many LGBT adolescents to realize because of the stigmatization of homosexuality. Having a close intimate relationship is a protective factor that may modulate some risk factors, especially homophobic attitudes and social isolation. Having Gay and Lesbian Alliance clubs and other types of meetings can help LGBT adolescents feel a sense of belonging. This sense of belonging may compound with other protective factors, lowering risk of suicide. If LGBT adolescents have just one caring individual that accepts them for who they are and shows them genuine compassion and empathy, it may be enough to offset risk factors in some cases.
The protective factors I have reviewed in this paper show some degree of effectiveness in mitigating risk factors for suicide in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender populations. Ultimately however, the relationship between protective factors and risk factors remains elusive. Unfortunately, many LGBT adolescents may be in hostile situations in which protective layers are unable to develop and risk factors are allowed to compound unchallenged. In these situations, adolescents may be left to fend for themselves in hostile territory without family or peer groups for support.
Religiosity is an ambiguous factor that one can imagine could be a risk factor or a protective factor. I wanted to include religiosity in this literature review, but there is a lack of research in the area with regard to LGBT adolescents. This is a very important topic that warrants investigation because, as there is so much variability in religious beliefs, it makes sense that religious beliefs could either be nurturing toward an LGBT adolescent or hostile and rejecting. Some religions condemn homosexuals to hell, suggest that they should be fired from jobs involving children, that they are wrong and dirty, and that they shouldn’t enjoy basic human rights. Having to face these strong judgments and attitudes could have a profoundly negative impact on identity development and progression through Erik Erikson’s stages of development, (Erikson, 1956). Conversely, understanding the protective factor side of religiosity may also prove valuable, as it has been shown that having faith in a creator, and/or afterlife may act as its own support network.
This literature review has evaluated and discussed some of the existing research regarding LGBT adolescent suicide. Although it offers an in-depth view of risk factors and protective factors for suicide, and it identifies some gaps in the research, it fails to adequately discuss the complex relationship between risk factors and protective factors. This is a fault of the research, and exists due to the nature of the factors which makes them very difficult to separate.
The complex relationship between risk and protective factors may need to be understood before effective short-term interventions can be implemented. However, as repeated throughout this paper, to fix the root of the problem, underlying negative societal attitudes need to be corrected. Even if negative societal attitudes toward LGBT individuals are not the root cause of these individuals’ elevated suicide risk, they still need to be corrected because these attitudes can hardly be helpful or conducive to a positive mental state. These attitudes directly interfere with LGBT individuals’ ability to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.
Countless minorities have been discriminated against and treated poorly in the past, and many still continue to face negative attitudes and treatment today. Just as women and blacks were accepted as equals to white men by society, (even though there are those who continue to fight against this equality,) homosexuality must be accepted by society as normal, an acceptable deviation from the standard of traditional marriage.
It may be possible to moderate the suicide risk of LGBT adolescents by increasing awareness of the illegitimacy of anti-gay propaganda, and working with families, schools, and religious institutions in hopes of catalyzing a paradigm shift in the values and attitudes they instill in others. Additionally, risk factors may also be moderated by identifying and strengthening protective factors. As counselors we need to look at the bigger picture and attack the real problem: negative societal attitudes toward homosexuals, lack of acceptance, and homophobia. Still, it will be necessary to pursue normal counseling endeavors with this population. If this paradigm shift can be brought about, LGBT adolescents could potentially be at the same level of suicide risk as their non LGBT peers.
The literature was clear that the LGBT population is indeed at a higher risk for suicide. There was, however, some disagreement about how much greater the adolescent’s suicide risk is than their heterosexual peers. I believe the discrepancies can be accounted for by understanding that risk is something that can be computed most accurately on an individual level since every situation is unique.
It is difficult to obtain information on LGBT individuals in general, but especially LGBT adolescents for a variety of complex reasons including lack of access and the private nature of sexuality. Some risk or protective factors may be measurable, but without being inside someone’s head it can prove difficult to know if they are contemplating suicide. Another gap that exists in the research relates to transgender individuals. Although they may be completely relatable to gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals, I’m not sure to what degree my findings can be applied to this group because they weren’t addressed more than briefly in the research. More studies need to be conducted in order to close this gap.
Before starting this literature review, I had preconceived notions of why LGBT adolescents are at an elevated risk of suicide. As a disabled individual living in a society that caters to the healthy and able-bodied, I am aware of the discrimination that minorities face. I myself attempted suicide as a newly disabled adolescent. I was drowning in risk factors such as internalizing negative attitudes and treatment of my disabled self, depression, social isolation, low self-esteem, peer rejection, hopelessness, helplessness, and anger, that many adolescents face, but especially minorities such as LGBT adolescents.
I was crying out for help from my peers, desperately trying to show them I was still the same me, and that I still mattered. No one in the school system or in my life was there to recognize my pain and the risk factors that were slowly suffocating me. Thankfully, I had protective factors in place during that time, such as my strong, positive familial connection and having a well developed positive identity. I am grateful for not succeeding in my attempt and for being allowed the chance to blossom into an adult and become a counselor so I can help and give back to others. I have a deep desire to help minorities such as LGBT adolescents, people with disabilities, and those who have experienced loss and trauma.
As repeated throughout this paper, I think the only way to drastically reduce LGBT adolescent and other minority suicides short of a total societal paradigm shift, is for someone in each adolescent’s life to take responsibility to see them safely through adolescence; becoming their suicide prevention guardian, checking in with them often, asking them about their life, and showing them someone cares. For students attending school, this person could be the counselor.
Coleman, E., & Remafedi, G. (1989). Gay, lesbian, and bisexual adolescents: A critical challenge to counselors. Journal of Counseling and Development, 68(1), 36-40.
Espelage, D. L., Aragon, S. R., Birkett, M., & Koenig, B. W. (2008). Homophobic teasing, psychological outcomes, and sexual orientation among high school students: What influence do parents and schools have? School Psychology Review, 37(2), 202-216.
Li Kitts, R. (2005). Gay adolescents and suicide: Understanding the association. Adolescence, 40(159), 621-628.
McDermott, E., Roen, K., & Scourfield, J. (2008). Avoiding shame: Young LGBT people, homophobia and self-destructive behaviours. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 10(8), 815-829. doi:10.1080/13691050802380974
Proctor, C. D., & Groze, V. K. (1994). Risk factors for suicide among gay, lesbian, and bisexual youths. Social Work, 39(5), 504-513.
Rivers, I. (2004). Recollections of bullying at school and their long-term implications for lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals. Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention, 25(4), 169-175. doi:10.1027/0227-5910.25.4.169
Sullivan, M., & Woodarski, J. S. (2002). Social alienation in gay youth. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 5(1), 1-17. doi:10.1300/J137v05n02
The Tortles got to take a trip outside yesterday for the first time in a while. I wish I could let them experience nature but living in such a busy area makes me unwilling to take the risk of letting something happen to them. Nala and Kooza accompanied my brother and I about 9 years ago across the country so they are very well traveled. We had a big cat tent back then so they got to hang out in the park a few times but they were pretty excited to get to hang out doors with us for a while.
I wish tbey would let us walk them. We tried with Nala and Kooza, harnessed them up, attached leashes and set them down, we were so excited.
We were like, “let’s go guys!” Their reaction? They laid down and refused to move.
Does anyone have any tips for cat walking? I’d like to try again, it would be fun to be able to bring them places.
The likeness seems pretty remarkable especially my eyes. What do you think?
True spiritual death is never experienced by any living creature, at least that is my belief. Our physical bodies may expire but souls live on for what we choose as our next experience or are karmicly forced into. I believe, at a certain point of fetal development, perhaps at heartbeat a soul enters its body and begins their human experience.
Should the soul vessel be aborted, the soul within will return home to try again with a new experience. Their opportunity for that life taken away but a new opportunity given for another. This belief allows me to not feel quite as strongly about abortion as some but I still don’t think it’s fair to the growing soul bearing life to be intentionally terminated.
I completely understand and support women’s rights for full control of their bodies, reproductive system and all as well as their right to change their mind about carrying through their pregnancy but I think it becomes a moral issue once a soul is inside. Existence of souls is a common belief shared by many people. Even if we didn’t have souls I think it would be a moral issue and perhaps especially so because that would mean that chance at life is the only one in the universe it will ever receive.
Of course I believe there are moral exceptions to that life’s chance at living, foremost jeopardy of the mother’s life which is a no brainer. Arguments can be made for others such as rape but I think perhaps even in this case a mother could be encouraged to carry through with its birth. There are far more parents in waiting unable to conceive or with big hearts wanting to provide love for an unwanted child than available adoptable babies.
Having government sponsored support programs for mothers providing guaranteed no cost housing, financial and other comprehensive bankrolling could give them the means to have and raise their child, with guaranteed access to basic living supplies. I think if these kinds of programs were available perhaps some women may give more consideration to having their baby.
The squeeze is tight on people not rich in monies. From what I’ve read and heard, childcare is the most expensive and worrisome element of raising a child so why can’t we provide no cost quality childcare? This ought to be a no brainer. For struggling families rent takes the lion’s share of income and with what they have left they may have to decide between adequate childcare, quality food and other necessities or reasonably needed items.
People with vast immeasurable wealth I believe are morally obligated to help those of us less fortunate than them. Many have earned their wealth and their right to accumulate their heart’s desires is and should continue to be a right. However the absurdly wealthy I think should contribute to ease our squeeze by being very, very, very heavily taxed. This could likely itself pay for universal healthcare, universal childcare, comprehensive child support programs and innumerable other things badly needed within society.
When any person must work two jobs, never have a day off and still not make ends meet we have failed them as brethren and justice and rightness are nowhere to find.
There is so much wealth in the world. According to Brookings.edu the top 1% of world citizens hold more than the combined bottom 80%. How much wealth does one need to live one’s best life and fulfill their dreams? If one can afford anything and everything in the world why not be willing to assist the rest of us to do the same?
I love her 🙂 Picture credit: Caeli McKamey
This is my girlfriend Caeli’s blog.
She inspires me every day with her authenticity in being true to who she is and with her incredibly beautiful creative spirit she expresses in so many ways; among them her writing, art, music and passion for life .
I hope you find her art and poetry moving and choose to follow her.
Most, if not all of us carry chips on our shoulders each day. Even for those who’ve been able to identify and remove their chips, they have a tendency to return when one’s guard is down. They wreak havoc in our lives, especially in relationships.
The feeling of being offended is a strong emotion and is likely one of those chips sitting on our shoulder. Just waiting to be unwittingly knocked down by someone with what may just be an innocent comment or question.
We interpret our own meaning of what another person says or does. That information is filtered through emotion mind and the many things obscuring our mind’s eyes and ability to accurately reason. Our interpretations or assumptions are very likely to be very false.
Often, the perceived slight wasn’t even intended or was misinterpreted by the other person. This creates an exhausting cluster of trying to explain one’s actions and smooth things over to prevent the situation or relationship from devolving or exploding.
The offended one may blow their top, expressing their rage by becoming violent or saying mean and hurtful things they’ll likely later regret, fast tracking the devolution and creating a sinking vortex of frustration and powerlessness.
This vicious circle makes relationships with shoulder chipped individuals problematic and at times exhausting. Often they are people we love, those closest to us. If they could realize how their way of being is a state of constant waiting for the chip to fall, for their fuse to be lit perhaps a chance at relief is possible.
The first step is bringing the chip to the person’s attention. One might do this with the Stewie Griffin patented compliment sandwich, with the chip feedback in the middle surrounded by two nice things.
Resolving the problem and ameliorating the toll inflicted on all parties is needed for happiness. In the short term, setting and holding boundaries can be of assistance but for long term sustainability and recovery one must gain insight into their own psyche by processing emotional and psychological causes and triggers. To accomplish this one must create mental healing for oneself.
Desperate yearning for my old life permeated my being every waking moment. Every day I was forcefully reminded of everything I lost as I watched my peers enjoying their adolescence. Their lives continued in the same fashion as before, just with me no longer in the picture. Happy couples roaming the halls wrapped up in each other. The bottomless hole of blackness inside seized up and bore into nothingness. Pain and exhaustion wracked my physical body, overwhelming sadness my emotional state. I put a smile on my face and pretended to be happy, joking around at school with other kids who made fun of me, trying to laugh away the sorrow.
I immersed my mind in fantasy at every opportunity. My life now consisted of school, therapy, books, video games, and movies. I wanted to be entertained every moment to grant my mind the tiniest moments reprieve from the constant, overwhelming, despair overriding my psyche. I dreaded going to school. The second I got home I jumped on the computer and escaped into the internet, where no one could see my disability and I wasn’t treated differently.
Relationships are usually fun at their beginning, at least at the point we decide its worth it to invest ourselves in getting to know a person and giving them a chance to know us. Something catches our interest, draws us to them, or we may be just lonely and seeking someone.
At first we have our best selves on display, careful to not let any of our flaws or faults slip out or be observed. As we become comfortable with them these aspects of us begin to leak out, slowly at first, and then at some point the dam bursts. Sometimes small resentments start to build which may fester and grow into significant dislikes. We can begin to see our person as annoying or not worth dealing with their static and negativity. We may complain about these things to others and live with unhappiness or even just end the relationship.
How do couples stay happy together and keep the flame burning? They choose that the things they like about their person outweigh their flaws and faults.
The match that struck the fire is remembered and they focus on what they enjoy and admire about them, looking past what they may not and giving head and heart space to those things, letting the dampening effects of annoyances and grievances remain at arm’s length where they cannot smother the flame.
These same principles apply to all types of relationships, including friends, coworkers, and acquaintances. Seeing the best in others and taking them in through that lense allows us to have sustainable and happy relationships.
Ok guys I can’t help myself, I can’t resist the urge to share more. Here is more good stuff 🙂 There is lots more.
While in the gateway to the afterlife I knew things.
Things I knew then that I knew I would remember later and could share to equip you with perspective to help you enjoy and improve both life and our world. I will share them now. We are immortal souls. All of us. Our essences dwell inside us during this brief lifetime but once we face the finality of death we return home. Home, where the mere fabric of existence is incomprehensibly breathtaking and time does not exist. You can stay there. It is the land of forever. You can live another life, the possibilities are unfathomably endless.
I believe we choose the life’s we live for one reason or another. Maybe to teach ourselves something, to have an experience, to interact with another soul and share something amazing. Whatever it is we quest for during the brief lifespan of the living, breathing, machines we operate there are others tuning in to the happenings of our lives from home, and they share in the joys and horrors our decisions create.
I’m going to be working very hard on finishing my book, I still have much to write. Here’s a tiny snippet from my time at Children’s Hospital. Brian, my teacher who I reference in this segment passed away a few years ago, I feel lucky to have been able to see him in the hospital while he was on his way out of this world. The better part of 20 years later he remembered me very well. Once I find a picture of me and Brian from I’ll add it here.
I forged close relationships with my nurses, doctors and therapists over time, especially with Brian, my amazing teacher who worked with me every day to help me keep up with my peers. He renewed my inspiration to teach, a career I knew I was destined for since 1st grade. During one of our lessons Brian introduced a mystery game on the computer but warned it was a little scary. He cautioned me the game contained jump scares and that I probably shouldn’t play because my traumatic brain injury gave me an extremely sensitive startle reflex. I had my heart set on playing and was rolling right along until after a little while a disembodied head came flying at the screen accompanied by a loud horrible noise. I launched myself backwards out of the chair, tumbling to the ground as I let out a low pitched guttural scream. Brian called the rest of the game off.
More to come 🙂
She is getting bigger! Tell her she needs to stay a kitten forever! She was cuddling with me all morning through my counseling sessions 🙂
OK, getting to some of the good stuff here… I cant give you too much so you’ll still want to purchase it once complete! Here’s another little teaser:
Out of consciousness, I was enveloped in another realm, experiencing bliss beyond the power of words to describe. Like drawing breath through a straw, I could only experience a tiny fragment of what it would really be like to fully enter. I was given a choice: I could stay and end the chapter of Brandon Muller, or return to my life. I was given knowledge that I would face exceedingly dark and difficult times I may not even be able to endure but that I could eventually have a full life again if I fought long and hard enough.
My grandfather was with me, who passed away when I was 4 from internal bleeding caused by extensive chemotherapy which weakened his blood vessels. As was my Mom’s brother Kenny who drowned at 12. I wanted to return for Jenna, the girl I fell in love with at first sight but somehow knew I wouldn’t get to be with her.
Time was absent from the fabric of reality in this dimension so I’d be back instantaneously to them if I returned. I stayed as long as I could before having to make my decision. I knew it would destroy my family if I died and also that if I came back could make a real difference in the world and help improve people’s lives. I also knew I would receive a cosmic karmic reward beyond my imagination.
Below is an excerpt from my book which has been in progress since 2006. I haven’t added to it for a long time but blogging has reenergized my passion for writing and I’m going to commit to working on it now.
On the eleventh of May, 1999, I woke up with what I
described to my mom as “the worst headache of my life.”
She talked me into going to school and I made it through
the day. At track practice we ran intervals: sprinting a
lap, jogging a half, and repeating several times. I fell
down a couple of times while running and I began to feel
significant pressure in my head, pain intensifying. I
decided to take a quick break and headed to the locker room
for a drink of water. Another student thought it was a
good idea and went with me. The pressure began to feel
overwhelming and everything started to go dark. I put my
head down on the locker as I softly sagged against it.
Reese asked if I was ok; all I could make myself say was,
“Can’t talk”, before collapsing to the floor. Blood gushed
from an ArterioVenous Malformation, it’s existence
unbeknownst to me. There was bleeding all over my brain.
Body lying excruciatingly still for over an hour, I was
aware of the people standing over me, my consciousness
still on this plain. Debate ensued about where to take me,
and it was almost decided to transport me to a local
hospital via ambulance. At last, firemen who had received
recent training about closed head injuries came on the
scene and recognized what happened. They immediately
called for a Medevac helicopter. It landed on the baseball
field interrupting an ongoing game and I was rushed over,
rolling at top speed across the pavement on a gurney toward
The helicopter lifted off, accelerating rapidly and soaring
swiftly toward Harborview Medical Center. Me, the
Scarecrow, surreally metaphorized in real life, skipping
down the yellow bricked path in the sky to see the wizard
in Seattle, the Emerald City.
Many, if not all of us suffer or have suffered from fatigue and burnout. Lingering tiredness, exhaustion, a feeling of needing significant rest even after a night’s sleep. Both negative mental states have innumerable causes including biological, physiological, psychological, and circumstantial.
Feeling the relentless weight of the need to constantly pursue productivity and produce results is draining and leads to fatigue and burnout. Our jobs are a primary culprit of both.
Fatigue infiltrates other areas of our lives, no matter which sparked the match.
Fortunately there are noticeable warning signs we can identify. Dreading work. Letting go of things previously important to us. Diminished capacity to feel pleasure and joy. Dozing off unexpectedly.
Unfortunately, often we are already sagging under their heaviness prior to realizing the extent of impact and by the time we attempt amelioration our batteries are bankrupt.
Fatigue causes and exacerbates negative states of mind and conditions like depression. Fatigue dampens our immune response making us more susceptible to developing health complications and worsening symptoms.
Fatigue decreases mental acuity making it harder to organize thoughts. Fatigue is an elevator in free fall, descending with an inevitable destination of burnout.
Once burnout overtakes us the fatigue is infinitely intensified. One may enjoy most aspects of their work but if they cant do anything about the things causing the burnout their options are limited.
One can stay in the situation, working through their burnout by attempting to restore one’s life force and continuing to chug along or removing oneself from the crater of burnout and finding another job or career.
It’s possible to recover from burnout through good self care and use of coping skills.
We can recharge our batteries and reignite the sparks of our passions, It takes commitment to sustain but getting in touch with those feelings and reasons for why we are doing what we do to begin with is a good first step.
Need a little spice in life? Try something new, something different. Excitement is out there waiting for us to discover. Getting in touch with our feelings is a good place to start. We can let our feelings guide us – what feels right, what feels attractive, alluring or appetizing.
When boredom threatens to overtake us learned patterns turn our angst inward, creating a vicious circle of monotony decompensated by unhealthy coping skills. Distress manifests and creates or exacerbates states of mental unwellness, leading to or intensifying negative states of mind like unhappiness.
Learning or improving vital coping skills helps ward off nonconsensual descents into states of darkness or madness and one element of healthy coping is practicing good self care. Good self care involves nourishing our hearts and minds. Helping others is one ingredient, another is creating the possibility of joy for ourselves.
When we feel the suffocating grip of black midnight enclosing we must find joy. Where can we find happiness we might wonder, it can seem so elusive, like trying to hold water in our cupped hands. Find the answer in the drawing below.
Some of us unfortunately have difficulty experiencing pleasure or satisfaction and others can’t seem to be able to actualize contented feelings at all. If this is so, relentless we must be in our pursuit of happiness. A never ending well of plenty exists just beneath the surface. Remembering it’ s there, waiting for us to build the right machinery that can pierce its barriers and grant us access stokes the fires of hope.
Power is choice. We have choice in most things even when we think we may not. Choices tend to change our lives, someone else’s or the world whether momentary or lasting. Some are of little consequence in our grail quest, others critically imperative.
Sometimes after we make a choice we later find we wish had made a different one. Sometimes immediately afterward; like after noticing we’re running late and because we’ve plantar flexed our foot a little too much we glance in the rearview mirror to find flashing blue and red lights.
Other times later, when stabbing regret dawns on us of missed opportunities, or taken opportunities that don’t serve our interest, hurting others or ourselves.
Choices reflect our commitments. In the end, the choices we make are what we were ultimately committed to doing. This is always the case; no matter what we tell ourselves or others, we would have chosen a different course of action had we actually been committed to what we claim we were.
We say we will hit the gym after work. We’re committed we tell ourselves. This is our new years resolution and by God we’re committed! We end up going home, collapsing in our beloved recliner, zoning out to our favorite tv program.
What were we committed to? Was it the gym? No. It was relaxation, having recreational vegetation time. That’s what we were always committed to doing because that’s what we ended up doing. Our actions always and without exception reflect our commitments.
A wise person I read yesterday wrote about how we run into barriers with our attempts at achieving, and that rather than changing our goal we can change our tactics, our plan, our means of operating.
Some things maybe we can still make reality if we make new choices, with others the boat sailed without us aboard and acceptance of that outcome is the only way to not let it haunt us any longer.
If we commit ourselves to internal happiness, to having peace, we can choose to let go of the haunted past we drag around with us, the heavy weights attached to our chains like Marley’s ghost.
We can choose each day to bring intention to holding steadfast to our commitments, keeping our integrity and increasing our personal power. Choice is the wind behind our sails, navigating us to what we merely choose to live with, or creating access to what we truly desire,
Sometimes we may feel bitter, jealous, angry or threatened by the success of others. As we’re able to notice these feelings overtaking us it creates opportunities for growth and increased access to feelings of happiness and contentment.
Competitiveness can be a good thing, inspiring us to be the best we possibly can in the things we try our hands. Some seemingly are blessed with exceptional talents and abilities which we may cause us to feel distress about our inability to eclipse their greatness.
Sometimes with hard work and determination it’s possible to become as good or better. Sometimes it may seem no matter how passionately we accelerate our efforts we just can’t seem to make the cut.
The olympics, or professional sports in general I think are good examples to illustrate this point: there’s a finite number of positions on a team and the ones running the show want the best possible chance at winning.
Toward this end they will pick those they see with the greatest level or highest ceiling of talent. Many will not make the cut, not because they are not skilled and talented but because of the nature of competition and concept of finity.
It’s devastating to not be chosen, to be left out ,which is why inclusivity is so important but when it comes to competition, knowing that we tried our best, that we gave it our all takes some of the sting away.
Losing or not being chosen does not mean we are inferior or that the winners or ones chosen are superior, it just means on that particular day with that particular event we were bested, perhaps by skill, perhaps by luck, but we were simply bested.
It’s about the next event, the next game. The next team tryout, the next olympic trials. Maybe we’ll win or be chosen the next time, maybe not. Whatever the outcome we can choose to look at it as that’s what was meant to be because it’s what ended up ultimately happening.
If we don’t win, if we are not chosen, we can keep trying, keep endeavoring toward our dreams or instead dream up something new. We all have unique strengths and skills, we just need to find ours.
Even if we lose, we win. We overcame our fear of failure and gave it our best shot. Playing gives us a 100% shot of winning because winning is about playing. The only way to lose is not play.
Sharing our story produces wonderful feelings. Among them catharsis, satisfaction and relief. Spilling our guts, releasing our emotional energy, it feels good.
Having a bond of trust and unconditional acceptance allows us to share freely and get things off our chests. Painful memories, joyous triumphs, feelings and opinions. No judgement, instead validation, positive regard, the certainty someone genuinely cares about us.
If we are privileged to have special people in our lives we can comfortably share with on a deep level that is a very good thing. Each of us gets to choose how close we let people get to us and those we do, how much of our story we reveal.
Some things we may feel would burden a person and some of us don’t have a person like this in our lives. A counselor can help cushion us if we’re falling, stay above water if we’re drowning. Unleash all we’ve been holding in or repressing.
They can provide us the emotional release, insight, or launching pad we’ve been seeking. They can help us think through situations, evaluate our options, and make decisions.
If we find ourselves sad, bitter, angry or suffering from any kind of mental unwellness relief is available, we can share our stories.
Sharing our memories with friends and strangers alike gives us pleasure in the relatedness and belonging this creates. Sharing our insight and wisdom with others is how we can change the world.
Our external reality is comprised of many things, including actions and words others do and say to us. Things that happen to us, that we experience through our senses.
Our external reality is also made up of our job, our living environment, our life situation. As we grow up and live, our external reality has an undeniable influence internally.
How we feel about and see ourselves: our self-esteem, our intentions, what motivates and drives us are aspects of our internal reality. Our internal reality is what controls our state of mind and is the lens through which we see the world and other people.
We have the power to choose what thoughts we identify with and give power to which allows us to reshape our internal reality. Developing the kind of internal reality in which we feel comfortable and happy helps us change our circumstances by endowing us with additional positive attributes such as resolve, tenacity, and determination. As our internal reality shifts and changes so also can change our hopes and wants for our external reality.
Having the right composition of our metaphorical soil provides the ingredients and nourishment we need to grow the beautiful flowers we wish to blossom.
Most likely you’ve heard this quote before. I think it aids us in our pursuit of happiness to keep this in mind as we live and choose the priorities in our lives.
What things are most important to us? Helen succinctly and beautifully paints how true beauty can be experienced, another key in unlocking happiness. For her, literally she couldn’t experience beauty through her sight or sound and experiencing it through the heart was her only way of identifying it.
Creation of good karma is true beauty, that has to be felt, it cant be seen or heard. True beauty is kindness. Compassion. Unconditional love and being nonjudgmental.
Beauty can of course be manifested in the senses, in beautiful music, paintings, and acting but it makes sense these things are inspired by the heart. The heart is the source. Part of creating a better world is choosing to seek true beauty within ourselves and fellow living beings.
It’s never too late to change course. We might think our circumstances compel us to follow some unchangeable path but as Ralph Waldo Emerson astutely observes, we have choice in our self defining actions.
If we find we don’t like the people we’ve become or see ourselves becoming, these states don’t have to be our destination, rather they can be our vehicles of change toward who we truly wish ourselves to be.
Change can be hard, and indeed painful, but to live our lives with no regrets and be proud of our legacies we must embrace, merge, and remain on, the roads leading to our self-created, non-predetermined, fate. The only people we are destined to become are the people we decide to be.