The Interview Moderated by Ashley L. Peterson – A Continuation

Once again I would like to say, “Thank You” to Ashley L. Peterson whose blog is Mental Health @ Home.

This is a continuation of the initial interview by Ashley , you can find it here.

As you read you will find I answer questions at great length, I truly did my best to pull back the curtain on my journey to great mental health.

After you have read the interview use the comment section to ask your own question. When I have enough I will gather them together using a post to answer them.


The Interview

Moderator: Ashley L. Peterson


Continuation

What’s the process been like of establishing views that diverged from the religious beliefs you’d been exposed to?

To put it bluntly, it’s been hell. I dropped all my relationships with fellow ministers, stopped contact with fellow musicians. There was a long time to where I wouldn’t even open the Bible.

I have, still do at times, second guess myself.  Then I read some of the comments that people have left lets me know I am basically on the correct direction.

For instance, the gay life style was preached against, it was taught as a no-no. I now view it this way, they are humans, they walk, talk, pee, poop, the same way all of us do. I started re-visiting this attitude about being against them, I started making friends with those in the LGBTQ community. I still have those friends regardless what some people believe about them.

As life has gone on, has your ability to trust others changed?  What prompted that?

In many ways my trust in people has changed. Here is how I view it, People needed to trust me, some who told me about their sexuality, yet they have not come out. I have kept that trust.

Things really did start changing when I began to change. When I started dealing with all the issues that were at the base of my depression. Feelings of inferiority, shame, loneliness, and a chest full of others. After the death of my grandmother I was fortunate to have a Psychiatrist who showed compassion, actually listened, and started me on a regimen of medications.  Now I consider her a friend, she stopped and talked with me when I had a slight scare that sent me to the hospital for four days.

How has your physical health impacted your mental health and vice versa?

My physical health has impacted my mental health severely. I face it every morning, getting out of bed is usually an exercise dealing with pain in my hip.

I have dealt with pain since my teenage years, it grew worse after a motorcycle accident. That messed up my back for life. It has only been better after two periods of have cortisone shots.

There was a time when I was on different pain killers where they became ineffective. I had to change doctors. He looked at my history, he then said we have to change your medications. He explained to me that many pain killers when taken over a long length of time actually work against the body causing pain. I have later read and heard that this is the case. I take for pain at this time Tylenol 4 and a small derivative of morphine. They basically along with a sleeping pill allow me to have a decent night of sleep.

There are days when I think I should start the process of going to an assisted living facility.  Let me explain, I now have to use a cane, or my walker. It has left me so that many things I would normally do for myself I cannot accomplish. Fear grips me every time I need to use the shower, thoughts about falling breaking a hip courses through my mind.

Also, I am truly thankful for my best friend for he is the one who has prepared my meals. I cannot move well enough to manage pots, pans, etc., I also fear I wouldn’t be able to respond if there would be a grease fire.

Some may have noticed that I read and comment on their blog posts sometimes eighteen hours or longer. It is usually because I cannot sit up at great lengths of time. I start my nighttime routine early. Most nights I am asleep before 9 p.m.

So, it is a back and forth with my physical effecting my mental health, mental health effecting my physical being.

Has your time as a preacher shaped the way you tell your own story now?

This is a great question, one I have never thought about. It probably has, and does shape how I tell my story.

There are parts of my story that at this time grapple with because it involves someone who has died, but, has living relatives. I do not want to cause them any embarrassment or pain. I just have not come to an answer about how to tell that. Even without mentioning names it would be obvious to many friends, colleagues, and relatives if they were to come across this blog.

Also, I must consider at this time my own daughter and grandchildren.

[b] I re-read the first answers of the interview where I can see that how I write seems guarded. I guess it has been a learned response from over many years.

How have your hospital stays influenced where you are now in terms of your mental health?

Before my major stay in a mental health ward I was fighting with being bi-polar without any awareness of the fact.

I am thankful for those times in treatment, the group sessions, the one on one with my Psychiatrist for it gave me tools to fight with. The recognition of the highs, lows, and all the rest that comes with being bi-polar. I also know that if needs arise that I have the ability to go back and voluntarily admit myself. There are so many ugly myths about mental health care, some I think come from the days of sanitariums, probably through the eighteenth and nineteenth century.


So dear reader more of a glimpse on what I call “a journey to great mental health”.

If you are facing battles to keep your mental health great, remember, you are not alone!

Find someone to talk to, whether it is a friend, a help line, or your doctor. Do not suffer alone, there is help available for you! I have located a website that you can access for phone numbers of helplines around the world. It is called Check Point

A Re-Blog: Does Sexuality Matter? — My Mindfulness Living

This is one of the questions that we ask from ourself and yet hesitate to share our opinion with others. The bitter side is asking this question not because of the curiosity about the answer, but because of the discomfort judgements of the society. Actually, does sexuality matter? Here I’m not going to give you […]

Does Sexuality Matter? — My Mindfulness Living

Christian’s Interview

I believe I came upon Christian’s blog, “Translating Gender” back in June while looking for some posts about Pride Month.

While reading some of his posts I could feel his emotion as he wrote about his journey. So several days ago I asked Christian if I could interview him.

Following is Christian’s Interview. I feel you will see a man who has had his battles, still is.


Christian’s Interview for RTS

Christian tell the readers and myself something about you that is not found on your About Page.

I am a life coach, writer, traveler.  I wander for the sake of wandering and wondering.  For the longest time I thought I wanted to figure out who I am but I realize that identity is a moving target, or maybe not even a target at all, rather; identity is somewhat of an illusion.  We all have everything inside of us and I have chosen exactly who I want to be although I’d rather enjoy the journey instead of living my life as a means to an end.  I believe that, what we focus on expands.  I want to make a difference in this world.  I love astrology and I feel most in tune with myself when traveling and in fact, I have a road trip planned in October.  Stay tuned!

Why did you start a blog? What is your goal or expectation for your blog in the future?

When I first started the blog, it was a personal challenge to share myself, be less private, and “put myself out there”.  I have always been extremely private and by hiding myself I was hiding an opportunity to have a positive impact on people.  I wanted to conquer my own fear of judgement in order to be seen.  By being vulnerable, I gift others the opportunity to allow themselves to be vulnerable. This promotes deeper connections and I thrive off of intense, deep, transformative periods of growth.  I wanted to transcend boundaries- the boundaries people impose on themselves and also between each other.  I wanted to get people thinking that we are all more alike than different.

Eventually, I want to compile all the posts into a book to get published.  My hope is that my story can help others feel a little less alone and bring all people together.

Initially, I was obsessed with reaching as many people as possible but now I realize that if I can positively influence the life of one person, I have achieved success by my own definition.

Can you tell the readers and myself Christian, what it means to be transgender and how does it differ from all others in the LGBTQ community?

Being transgender means that I did not (and do not) identify with the gender assigned to me at birth.  I was labeled as female at birth which they determined only by genitalia but I identify and feel like a man, not a woman.  Transgender is a spectrum not a binary meaning people can identify as a man, a woman, both or neither and fall somewhere on a diverse spectrum.  Being transgender relates to gender as opposed to gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc. which relate to sexual orientation.  Sexual orientation and gender are two different things.

When did you realize that you were different and are transgender?

I actually did not realize it until 2013 around the age of 30.  I did not come out until the age of 36.  I had a happy childhood and had all the normal milestones and successes and did not really know what being transgender actually meant.  I did not have a concept or the language to understand or articulate that a person could identify as the opposite gender from the one they were socialized and raised as.  It took 5 years for me to fully understand my transgender identity so that helped me to have an immense amount of compassion now for those who do not understand me or people like me.

I guess I am “different” but everyone is different and that is what makes us alike and beautiful.  People are afraid of what they don’t understand but when you remove all the societal or self-imposed labels, it is clear that we are all connected by universal human emotions and energy.

How did you break the news to family, friends, and co-workers?

Coming out to family was hard; coming out to myself was harder.  As far as coming out to family, there is never a perfect time to do it.  It came down to biting the bullet and stepping into the unknown.  I actually emailed my parents and sent a written letter via mail to my grandmother.  I told some of my co-workers one-to-one and also had a team meeting. Most importantly, coming out was a process not a definitive moment in time.  I “came out” to my girlfriend over a period of years which entailed a process of “testing the waters” and ongoing conversations as my understanding and self-awareness developed.  It was difficult to articulate something that I didn’t fully understand myself.

What type of reactions did you hear? Which one those reactions shocked you?

Some people said “Oh you don’t seem like a boy.”  Others thought it could be a phase.  Fortunately, most people were supportive and were happy for me that I my authentic self was now on display and saw coming out as brave.  Nothing shocked me but I was pleasantly surprised by how supportive people were.  As humans, I guess we tend to worry about the worst-case scenario which can be paralyzing.  In reality, I felt like I gave loved ones the opportunity to expand their minds, their worldview, and their sense of compassion for those who are different from them.  I also felt like people were better able to see their own sense of bravery through me.

Do you have a robust support system in place? Can you explain where you draw support from?

In September 2017 I started seeing a therapist – Dr. April Owen who had a profound effect on my life.  She believed in me and affirmed my gender identity.  After 5 years of working through internalized transphobia and the feeling that I could be crazy, she made me feel normal.  With her support, I was able to transition and words cannot convey how grateful I am to her.  If I could change just one person’s life in the way that she changed mine, I would die a happy person.   This is one of the reasons I chose to go into life coaching.   I also feel so much gratitude for my partner as she has stood by me through everything and with her support, I was able to transition without feeling like I could loose her.  Our process was not an easy one but she is open-minded and loves me as a person so whether I looked like a man or woman did not matter to her. I am full of gratitude for her. Her support bolstered my confidence to trust my truth of self.  We have been happily together for nine years!  My parents love me unconditionally so that provided a foundation of support as well.

Name one myth, if you can correct it for the readers and myself?

Myth#1: Transgender people all live unhappy, abnormal lives devoid of healthy relationships.  False.  Many transgender people live successful, happy, fulfilling lives and enjoy good relationships, meaningful jobs and friendships just like everyone else.  Trans people are normal people. 

Myth#2:  You can spot a transgender person.  False.  Many times, you cannot tell the difference between a trans person and a non-trans person.  You have probably met a transgender person without even knowing it.

What type of support would you tell somebody that wants to take the step to live as transgender?

Get a gender-affirming therapist, counselor or life coach who specializes in transgender issues.  Meet other transgender people in your community or at least online, through Facebook groups for example.  Being around other transgender people is important in normalizing transgender and also feeling a sense of solidarity.  Become mindful and develop good boundaries.  Know that your transgender journey can be different from everyone else’s and there is no right or wrong way to be transgender.  Be cognizant of your negative self-talk; you are worthy, you are normal, you are good enough, and you have the bravery and confidence to live life as your authentic being despite what society thinks of you!

Where do you see your life going as a transgender in the future?

I feel like the possibilities are endless and this is the most exciting and empowering feeling.  If I have the courage to come out as transgender, I believe I have the courage to do anything. I believe that everyone has the courage to be who they want to be!  Right now, I am focusing on my life coaching business so that I can help other transgender people and parents of transgender children.  I eventually want to write and have books published and also partner with other transgender people in the community to make the biggest impact possible.  I have a passion for helping society to re-frame how we think about being transgender and normalizing the transgender experience.  Transgender people are ahead of the times and I with a compassionate mindset, I want to help the rest of society catch up.  Adopting a wider perspective on gender not only liberates trans people, it liberates all people from self-limiting definitions of existence.

If there is someone reading this wants to talk with you can they email you, or any other type of communication?

Yes, I can be reached by email at:

ChristianJCoach@gmail.com

translating-transgender.blog

chrisjcoach.com

Facebook: Out and Proud Life Coaching

IG:@ ChristianJCoach


I truly hope that you found Christian’s story enlightening. Now take a minute a read his posts at: Translating Transgender

Christian, thank you so much for this interview. You provided us insight concerning transgender!


I am looking for others to interview. If that is you send a message by using the Contact Page. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Dear Reader

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
― Leo Buscaglia


Dear Reader:

I wish I could sit down with you over coffee, listen to you about your life experiences, but that is not possible, so I decided to write instead.

I have gone through a transformation that started when I left the ministry. I could no longer with sincerity a gospelize a message that seemed to exclude rather than include.

During this process I sought to learn about others, those of different ethnicity. Those who love others of the same gender, to listen to the atheist to understand why they don’t believe in God. I found all I had to do was start the conversation then sit and just listen to their personal story.

I use to consider myself an evangelical, I no longer make that claim. To be honest I am somewhat baffled by the things they have placed their stamp of approval on. Things that they use to preach against.

Listening without prejudice I found is the biggest step, to cast aside all those things that we have allowed our sight to become clouded. Many of the things I have learned in my life just didn’t fit with how I was starting to feel on this road to transformation.

I have always cheered for the down and out. The one who has been bruised and scarred feeling like life has dealt them a bad hand.

When I first started this blog I had a vision, a vision that would give people a hand up, an open hand, never a clenched fist. I did not know how to go about what I had envisioned, but now I believe that I can bring forth what I saw.

The upcoming two Interviews come from totally different arenas. The first Interview was a trained clinician of whom I have come to respect.

So dear reader I hope you will listen to some of the voices that I am asking to share their life’s story through the series of Interviews.

In The Name Of Racism?

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Handcuffed Arrest

 

“No matter how big a nation is, it is no stronger than its weakest people, and as long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be down there to hold him down, so it means you cannot soar as you might otherwise.”Marian Anderson, singer

Some questions I would like to ask a racist.

  1. Who taught you racism, your mother, your father, someone else in your family?
  2. Does it make you feel better when you step on others so that you look big?
  3. Is your self-esteem so low that picking on the innocence’s?
  4. What are you hiding about yourself that you don’t want others to know about?
  5. Do you think being around LGBTQ will give you a disease?
  6. You do know that were are all human, that we all have two arms and legs, etc.,?
  7. Do you really believe that a black family moving into your neighborhood will cause land properties to go down?

So dear reader we must start treating each other as equals.  We are not superior or inferior to others.  We all want love, want to belong, to be understood.  Yes, it is time to start, to start now!

 

This Isn’t My Father’s Generation

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“Pit race against race, religion against religion, prejudice against prejudice. Divide and conquer! We must not let that happen here.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt

There is a tug-of-war happening around the world sparked by a video showing a cop with his knee on a black man’s neck.  In eight minutes, forty-six seconds George Floyd was dead.

On one end of the rope is some white people who are trying to pull the world backwards into one where they are superior.  One white man especially doesn’t want America to move forward, he would rather go back to a time where Black people didn’t have any rights, an America where Black people were considered less than a human.

Now on the other end is a new generation tugging to bring the world into a world where all men are truly equal, no more, no less.  These are the ones you see on the news channels marching in the streets all around the globe.  Signs with “Black Lives Matter”, “Defund the Police”.  In the multitudes there is a wide spectrum of people. Young, old, white, black, gay, straight, transgender, etc., are on a grass roots mission to bring the world into the twenty-one century.

So dear reader, if 2020 ends without any progress then all those voices crying for justice has been in vain!

Pride, Prejudice, Psychology!

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“Understand that sexuality is as wide as the sea. Understand that your morality is not law. Understand that we are you. Understand that if we decide to have sex whether safe, safer, or unsafe, it is our decision and you have no rights in our lovemaking.”
― Derek Jarman

Pierre Elliot Trudeau: {1967} ‘There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation’

prej·u·dice
/ˈprejədəs/
noun
      1. 1.
        preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.
        “English prejudice against foreigners”

 

I have been giving this post a lot of thought over the past several days.  I wanted the best quotes I could find about the subject. The first one is new to me, but, the second one is from the Senior Prime Minister Trudeau, which I learned about in high school.

I feel safe in saying that many of us have preconceived ideas about one thing or another.  Where did we learn these things, from our parents, peers, school, reading, or television.

Imagine if our preconceived idea of seeing a man and woman holding hands was repulsive.  Maybe denied insurance coverage for being a heterosexual being, or portrayed on tv shows as some type of freak.  Now, how would you feel? Some would hide the fact of their sexuality, pretend to be gay, or just outright be proud of being heterosexual.

Now how would your mental health be doing?  Over time not so good, thoughts of depression, inferiority feelings, to the point to where there is contemplation of suicide.

I believe I have described the life of a LGBTQ person over the past forty years. Here are some facts from Homewood Health

LGBTQ+ Mental Health Facts1:

  • Members of LGBTQ+ communities face higher rates of depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive and phobic disorders, suicidality, self-harm and substance use
  • Members of LGBTQ are twice as likely to experience childhood maltreatment, interpersonal; violence, and personal loss
  • The risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) within the LGBTQ+ community is double that of those that identify as heterosexual
  • Sexual minority individuals are two and a half times more likely to attempt suicide and are one and a half times more likely to have depression and anxiety than heterosexual peers
  • LGBTQ+ youth face approximately 14 times the risk of suicide and substance abuse as heterosexual peers
  • Some research suggests that abuse of alcohol, tobacco and other substances may be two to four times higher among those that identify as LGBTQ

So dear reader, when you are thinking some preconceived idea about a person, persons, gender, think about this post!

Teach Me, Let Me Learn Part Two

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Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

“Mental illness is not something you misunderstand in this era. Get educated because bias is no different than racism.”
― Shannon L. Alder

Racism is a learned trait.  Go to any school yard and you likely to find two little boys playing together.  What is noticeable one will white the other African American.  There is not one sign of racism between them.

“I hate racial discrimination most intensely and all its manifestations. I have fought all my life; I fight now, and will do so until the end of my days. Even although I now happen to be tried by one, whose opinion I hold in high esteem, I detest most.”
Nelson Mandela

Growing up I was blessed to have two great examples of lives who were empty of racism, my mother, and my maternal grandmother.  I always knew I could take my friends to either home without any racial remarks being made.  My mother had two rules about our friends. First, she had to meet them, second was that she had their phone numbers.  Never once did she tell us we couldn’t be friends with certain people.

I also grew up living with someone who was very racist, I call him Archie Bunker the second.  He wouldn’t say much around my mother, but away from home he truly showed it.

Racism comes in all colors, backgrounds, and cultures.  However, the upfront form of racism is towards black people.  Things looked like they were going to be different because of the Civil Rights Act in 1964.

Lyndon Johnson Signs Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, the most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction, prohibited racial discrimination in employment and education, and outlawed segregation in public facilities. from History.com

The next group that has suffered racism is the Gay community.  For years homosexuality was defined as a mental illness.  It was finally removed from the Mental Health illness list.

the American Psychiatric Association (APA) — the largest psychiatric organization in the world — made history by issuing a resolution stating that homosexuality was not a mental illness or sickness. This declaration helped shift public opinion, marking a major milestone for LGBTQ equality.

For years they fought for the same civil rights that every heterosexual couple had, marriage.  On June 27, 2015 The Supreme Court ruled that Gay couples could now be legally married in all fifty states of America.

The US Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex marriage is a legal right across the United States. from BBC.com

If we ever reach a point to eradicate racism throughout every country people must come together and learn about each other, understand each other.

I have in my life experience first hand how First Nations people live, their hopes, their dreams, and their struggles.  I lived on a First Nations reserve, served with a Pastor who was a First Nation person.  On the books of a town near where I was raised had a law that a First Nation person could not stay overnight.  For years it was illegal to sell alcohol beverages to First Nation people.  All of this happened on Canadian soil.

So dear reader, let’s make an honest effort to end racism before this century is over! Change must start now!

Pride Comes In All Colors…

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“When all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.”–Barack Obama

*** This is not a post to bash, humiliate, judge, deride. It is not a sermon to discuss right or wrong.  So, it is my hope that you will not just click to the next post on your reading list.***



June is Pride Month

Gay pride truly started way back in 1969 at Stonewall In.  The gay people grew tired of the persecution from the authorities, their raids on them which were very frequent.  This frustration boiled over and the gay community decided to fight back, this lasted for three days.  Bystanders were heard calling out “Gay Power”, someone started to sing “We Shall Overcome”.

The fight drew more people to gather to see what the commotion was about.  People were also heard shouts of “Fagot cops”, “Pigs”.  This was the beginning of the coming together of the gay people.

In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexual from the list of mental illnesses.

In 2014 the United States Supreme Court struck down all of the bans for gay marriage.  It then was legalized.

The are many lessons that can be gleaned from this movement here is what I think:

  • Anything worth having is worth fighting for
  • We are all part of the same race, the human race
  • We all have a inner desire to love and be loved
  • Name calling and shaming needs to stop
  • We may disagree with something but they may also disagree with you

So dear reader, I want to raise a salute to all those who paved the way through the years for the freedom of LGBTQ community!