Carrying Grief

I used to worry that if I wasn’t on Twitter or Facebook for one day or if I took a social media break I would destroy everything I’ve accidentally been building. I think I was afraid people would forget me.

Maybe I was afraid I would forget myself. The me who wants to be somebody. The me who has dreams and goals and something to give back to the world. The me who made a name for herself.

Recently, I realized I’ve already forgotten. The me who was driven, resourceful, intelligent, and passionate, became a mirage of a shadow I used to be, buried under the debris of lost love and grief, and the new me keeps shoveling dirt; hiding any signs of life that might escape it. Self-sabotaging, self-destructive me.

I’ve come to embrace it. I’ve come to walk with my loss and my grief. It adorns me. I wear it like a cape around my shoulders. I sit with it in the stillness of the morning and in the darkness of 2 AM silence. I accept self-defeat with every tear that I cry while claiming that life did not break me; loss did not scathe me. My heart is not weak. I am not broken. I am carrying grief. Deflective, projective me.

I used to worry that if people could see my true reflection they would see the fraud I see. A mediocre friend, average parent, struggling student, orphaned heart crying for home; lost, lonely, less than perfect… me.

I used to worry the world would see the same me that I see and in time, they would hate and reject me as much as I hate and reject myself… while stuffing the truth beneath layers of aged loss. whiskey, and poetic wings. Disabled, enabled me.

Running from anything that will make me forget the pain in my heart and the scars on my feet. Running from anything that will paint purpose over the darkness of my own soul, so that I no longer have to carry the weight of all the things my hands can achieve. Fearful, doubtful, low self-esteemed me.

I am not broken. I am not weak.

Lies I whisper when I can’t see light reflecting off the jagged edges of human, imperfect me.

And I tell myself the world cannot see, no one knows. I tell myself it’s outside of my control and I refuse to let go as I hide the real me. I’ve not given up. I have not settled. I’ve not chosen defeat. No. Not me!

I’m carrying grief.

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Grace Durbin © 2017
Featured Image Credit

I Wish I Had Been Abused By Gender Ideology

The American College of Pediatricians announced, “Gender Ideology Harms Children.”

In fact, they labeled families who endorse it or have children who struggle with disorders that might embrace gender ideology as “abusive.”

I’m not a scholar, and I certainly do not write for the American Psychological Association, but I have some expertise in the area. If you ask me, the notion is lacking and dangerous.

As a child, I could have used some gender ideology in my home.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome started causing hormonal imbalance by the age of eight. A disorder that medical professionals and researchers still do not know much about today; a disorder not so uncommon to those who struggle with gender identity or who fall amongst the transgender community.

So, I want to tell you about being abusive firsthand.

Abusive is when a disorder or illness is ignored because of cosmetic ideations based on social and cultural norms. Abusive is watching your child become a disfigured “woman” because medical treatments go uncovered or unattempted.

Abusive is watching your child live so uncomfortably in his/her own skin that he/she cannot look in the mirror, go to school every day, go on a date, attend prom or hang out at the mall with friends, but doing absolutely nothing to change it.

Abusive is a system so concerned with professional (and financial) acceptance that it labels those who struggle with finding themselves, those who struggle with feeling like a boy or a girl, abnormal. Freaks. Sinners. Impure.

Abusive is a system that leaves those who struggle with gender identity holding up help signs in the middle of busy streets while their screams are being ignored!

We had a lot of that kind of abuse in my family. The cuts and the bruises still have not healed.

I wish I had been abused by gender ideology.

I wish I had been abused by controversial perspectives and unorthodox treatment options, instead of a mother who made me feel like a boy. I wish I had been abused by something that gave me a little hope in this darkened world! But I wasn’t.

I was, however, abused by the system. I was abused by religious culture, broken health care policies, and systematic neglect like the American College of Pediatricians just set the foundation for, and I’m writing this today, in case I never get my doctorate, to say this:

We are not all the same, and many of us out there need medical professionals to remember what and who they are fighting for.

Oklahoma cited this research when writing yet another state bill to fight against coed bathrooms in schools. Oklahoma used this research to justify why it is okay that state discrimination and abuse of the transgender and LGBT community continues to go ignored.

I hold the American College of Pediatricians responsible.


Brecheen, J. (2017). SJR 36. oklegislature.gov. Retrieved 14 February 2017, from http://www.oklegislature.gov/BillInfo.aspx?Bill=sjr36

Gender Ideology Harms Children. (2016). American College of Pediatricians. Retrieved 14 February 2017, from https://www.acpeds.org/…/pos…/gender-ideology-harms-children

Dissociative Identity Disorder: I Think I’m Me

It took 15 years of avoidance, the view from the end of a very long rope, and one newborn baby, to make me face my Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and to realize most people who have DID do not act like the main character of the Showtime series United States of Tara.

Before my child was born, I did not know anything about it and I didn’t want to. The only thing I knew about Multi Personality Disorder (now known as DID) was that every time I’d heard mention of it, the context of the conversation could pretty much be summed up like this:

“Those people are crazy.”

False. I’m not. In fact, I’m very intelligent and the process my mind created for me over the course of eighteen years of my life is meticulously and intellectually organized and understandable after coming to terms with the trauma that caused it.

Furthermore, the other “me.” is still me, and she is a teenager. I’m not a doctor, but now that I am learning more about the condition, my research would suggest that she is teen because that is the time in my life in which I endured some of the most severe trauma, and my mind felt the need to protect me.

Therefore, when I am dissociated, my emotional coping skills, social cues, and communication, reflect that of my teenage self around that particular time of trauma.

For me, the problem is that my teen-self was just as articulate and just as smart. As a teen, I was developing the guts to defend myself against my father via my mouth. (It usually ended up in the need to outrun him.)

Thus, she is the me who steps in now when Dissociative Identity Disorder wins the boxing round.

It sucks. It’s humiliating. It’s embarrassing. It’s enabling and disabling all at the same time. It causes me to lose track of days, projects, deadlines, commitments, forget whole conversations, say things I don’t mean, and lose my cool when I’m in a verbal altercation and someone throws the right words with their punches.

“She” is the side of myself that I hate. The side who would kill you with words and read you your book, and she knows how to hit where it hurts. She will destroy you and spit words in such a way that after you are done defending yourself, you will still play in your head over and over because they were accurate, but expressed in the most destructive way.

She’s not crazy, either, but she is a victim. She is scared, defenseless, and angry, so my mind’s choice to become her is dangerous. She will do anything it takes to defend herself or me from one more bad thing, but she’s a fraud and she knows it. She’s helpless, vicious, emotional, cold, careless, and reckless.

She is my DID, and if she wasn’t as smart as me, professionals could just feel sorry for me or write me off as “another crazy.” But I understand DID more than most people in the psychology field because I live it, and it seems to create even more of a struggle for me.

I do not take medication. I don’t write notes to my other selves or have conversations like Jekyll and Hyde situations you see on TV. I haven’t followed the DSM-5 method of treatment or integration. I don’t do any of those things.

I face the pain behind it head-on and I do that because my daughter’s future demanded it. That doesn’t mean that I can always control it. Understanding and the ability of articulation do not negate or invalidate the challenges of any mental health diagnosis, and neither should stigmas or personal biases against established mental health conditions.

When mental health professionals or educational institutions allow those things to cloud their judgment in providing services or meeting the needs of those who struggle with uncommon mental health diagnoses, it is people like me who suffer the consequences.

It is children like my beautiful 3-year-old daughter who are robbed of their futures because their parents cannot break through socialized perceptions of mental health conditions that have become common belief and spilled over into common practice.

We are not all the same! What helped me face it? Facebook. After 6 years of therapy had failed me, spilling my thoughts and being able to track my conversations on Facebook saved me. I helped myself, and I’m nobody.

I’m a mental health patient. I’m a suicide loss survivor. I’m a child abuse victim. I’m a domestic violence survivor. I’m a rape survivor. I am a “disabled” person.

I am a lot of things, but what I am not is a psychologist, a suicidologist, a doctor, an LCP, MSW, MD, any other certification or title, you name it! I’m not any of those people.

I’m someone who can be (no, someone who is!) part of the answer educational institutions and medical researchers are looking for. So goes the same for every single person with a mental health condition or illness.

We are a million different people, not one diagnosis, and there is no single solution.