I expect I will make no friends in posting this. The only people who will come to my side are right-wingers, but they shouldn't because if they read this in full (they won't), they'll realize I'm attacking them too. Honestly, you shouldn't even bother reading the rest of this because it's just going to piss you off since I'm about to label you as a hypocrite.
DOMA is dead. Much of the world is cheering for "equality" and the defeat of "discrimination". The problem is that same-sex marriage means more discrimination, not less.
Forgive the sensationalist title.
Same-sex Marriage is discrimination.
Marriage is the institutionalized oppression of single people and those who do not wish to be married.
It is no secret that there are many benefits to being married. Gay people want to be married for a reason. Treating people differently on the basis of whether or not they are married = discrimination.
I've heard the arguments
"It's a war against the religious right", "There are economic benefits", "More kids will be adopted", "What do you want us to do? Fight to abolish marriage? That will never happen."
I honestly don't care. Some (all) of these are good arguments. But this isn't about pragmatism, it's about the supposed cultural ideology of "equal rights" - a fallacy.
Culture of marriage
Not only is it discriminatory, but marriage rights reinforce a marriage-normative culture. It suggests to me how I should optimally live my life - not as a single person, not as a person with multiple partners, and not as a person with beliefs that in any way differ from marriage-normative culture.
Not everyone wants to be married
There are financial, political, social, cultural, and sexual reasons not to get married. Yes, some people don't actually want to be married.
Stop pretending we do.
If you support special rights for married people - homosexual, heterosexual, or robo-human, you support discrimination. Put down your flags - you're no different than the bigoted religious right.
I was sitting in the middle of a river, pleasantly high from a brownie I had made. My green trunks and tan hat made me one with the green of the trees and the tan-colored rocks on the riverbed. I dipped my hat in the water every now and then and put it back on to cool myself from the hot Texas day. It was during Burning Flipside, a regional version of the Burning Man festival.
One of my campmates saw me and came to sit with me. We talked a bit about communication in relationships - something I had become very interested in at the time while experimenting with polyamory. She told me about this technique she had learned in a professional setting called whole messages. We experimented and tried a few in the river. I haven't forgotten them since.
Everyday we communicate in partial messages. We have an expectation that people will understand exactly what we mean through the use of tone and body language. Often though, pieces of our messages are misunderstood or lost entirely.
A whole message
We lose things when we communicate verbally. Sometimes you say something and the person you're saying it to hears something else.
For example, my partner might come home at 4 in the morning and I could say to her:
"Gee, you're home late."
But what does that mean? It's definitely passive-aggressive. It's laced with emotion that's not easy to decipher. Am I angry? Sad? Disappointed? Jealous? Turned on?? What do I want my partner to do about it? What do I expect her to know from my tone? Is my passive-aggression just going to get us into a fight?
Instead, I could use a whole message.
A whole message is a template for communication. It is made up of:
- An observation
- A thought
- A feeling
- And a need
In this example, my whole message would be something like:
"You're home late. It's 4am. I think you were out with Jack again. I feel abandoned because you didn't tell me where you were going and how late you were going to be. I thought we were going to hang out today. I was worried too so I waited up for you. I need you to let me know if you're going to break plans with me so I'm not waiting around doing nothing."
We just went from a passive-aggressive, emotionally-laced, and vocal-tone-encrypted puzzle to something complete and easy to understand.
Whole messages are not only easy to understand, but they're easy to construct as well because all you have to do is memorize the 4 components. They readily translate into sentences:
- "I noticed..."
- "I think..."
- "I feel..."
- "I need..."
It gives you:
- An easy to follow template for communication
- A template that inherently discourages passive-aggressive communication
- A way to communicate that is fully expressive rather than partially
When I use whole messages
I don't speak this way all the time. Only when I have something important or very emotional to discuss. I don't even use them that often. But when do, I'm always glad I have this tool.
They're a tool I wish I had known about when I was younger - that's why I want to share them with you now.
I've used them with romantic partners, clients, and even overly-emotional engineers while discussing software architecture.
We believe we are born with certain knowledge
But we are not. Not this sort of communication. Advanced communication techniques are not even something most of us are taught in school. For something we do every.single.day. you would think we'd spend more time becoming professionals at it. I hope you'll try out a whole message with your partner, coworkers or family sometime.
From what I can remember, I started experiencing symptoms in middle school - around age 10 or 11.
I experience both episodes of depression and mania. From what I can tell and have been told, my depression/mania states are somewhat middle-of-the-road on the scale of what all bipolar folks experience. For example, severe mania can cause some people to experience hallucinations - this is something that has never happened to me (not as a result of my bipolar anyway ;)).
It's affected my life in some pretty profound ways - both good and bad. This post is about my personal experience.
My mania typically consists of:
- A feeling like I can do anything
- Feeling extremely energetic both mentally and physically
- Desire to be very social
- A strong need to do something active like dance
My depression gets pretty bad. When I was younger, more hormonal, and less aware of what was going on in my brain - I would get extremely depressed to the point of feeling suicidal. These days, I don't get suicidal thoughts because I've ruled it out on a logical basis, but I still:
- Feel really shitty
- Stop eating as much or eat a lot more
- Engage in self-destructive behavior like pushing my body beyond healthy limits
When it happens
Sometimes these moods just happen, sometimes there are triggers. My triggers for depression are:
- Gloomy days (rain, clouds, snow, grayness) - something associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
- Poor diet
- Not socializing when I want/need to
My triggers for mania are:
- Lots of socializing
- Accomplishing tasks
Caffeine is a very recent discovery of mine. An old friend who is also bipolar told me about it and since then I've been using/abusing it.
My episodes last anywhere from hours to weeks, typically.
It's who I am
A lot of people tell me to take medication for it. I don't want to. There's a tangential issue here about the overmedication of society that I won't get into, but it's part of my reason. The bigger reason is that I don't want to be 'fixed'. A lot of bipolar people don't want to. Many of us don't want to because bipolar is who we are.
It's my personality. It makes me me.
It probably seems silly. Who would want to deal with entire months' worth of depression every year? Who would want to deal with being a crazy manic person the other half of the time? Well, I do. My mania is a huge contributor to some of the greatest things I've ever done in my life. The depression is something that comes along with it and it affects the severity of my mania. Overcoming the depression is a challenge I sometimes even enjoy.
You can't know the light without the darkness.
To me, it's like having a super power. My mania is my super power and my depression is my kryptonite.
Why I wrote this
- As a guide so I can just point new friends at this post
- To help others with similar issues
- To increase everyone's awareness and understanding
I think there are a lot of people who experience things like this in their lives who never talk about it with others, never seek help, or never learn about it. I wish I would have had someone to guide me through it when I was younger.
I chose to write about it now because it's something I finally accept and understand. I went from total ignorance → denial → accepting that it affected me → understanding what it was → being able to identify when I'm experiencing mania/depression. That last part probably sounds funny to a lot of you, but it's something that's really hard for a lot of bipolar people. You'd think I'd know when I'm screaming at the top of my lungs and randomly doing cartwheels that I'm probably experiencing a manic episode, but I don't. Well.. I do now, but I didn't always know.
This is sort of a 'coming out of the closet' thing. It's not something I hide from people, but I don't bring it up for fun either. Not everyone can talk about their mental health so publicly, so I feel somewhat of a duty to let people know that we, the mentally 'abnormal', exist.
BTW, ENFP and SAD
Interesting sidenote, bipolar often goes hand-in-hand with SAD and ENFP personalities.
I mentioned SAD earlier. Part of why I moved from Illinois to Austin, Texas was the weather. Winter in particular is a big trigger for me. An old partner of mine and I once had a pattern of breaking up every winter and getting back together in the spring/summer. We're both pretty sure now that we experience SAD and it was probably a major contributor to that behavior. It happens to be commonly found in bipolar folks.
I miss the trees. I miss the forest. I miss green grass. I've been living in Central Texas off and on for over 5 years now and it's just not the same here as where I grew up in Illinois. The trees don't get very tall and many of them are more like angry little shrubs than they are my beloved peaceful, shade-giving giants. The hiking trails here are filled with rocks; you'd be a fool to run them barefoot. Once, a friend and I were walking.. she was in flipflops. She felt a sudden sting in the middle of her foot. Turns out, the grass we were walking on went through her flipflop.
The Central Texas environment is unforgiving.
I was out in the San Diego area in early 2012. While greener than Austin, it's still not what I'm looking for.
I've been to Northern California once. When I was younger, my dad and I drove up Route 1 from the bottom of California up into the redwoods at Humboldt State Park. I remember it being pretty nice. I'm worried a bit about the light levels. One reason I love Austin so much is how much sunlight we get. Clouds and.. weather of any sort.. are a rare experience down here. The heat is also part of the reason I left Illinois and I'm worried I'll lose that too.
1 City 1 Month
The plan right now is to stay in each city for one month at a time. During the first few cities of my trip it will be less time than this, but once I get to the Los Angeles area and north of there, I will try and stay in places for about a month.
I say 1 city 1 month, but it's probably more like 1 city 2-3 months. 1city1month sounds better though ;)
I've traveled to places for hours at a time to a few months at a time. I've found that I really enjoy getting to learn about what real local culture is like. If you only stay in a place for a day or two, you probably only experience a few local people and maybe a few local places. More likely, you'll hit the major tourist spots and move on. I'm going to try to get to know every place that I go.