Tag Archives: Depression

Pro-Life and Pro-Death Penalty Don’t Compare


Photo by Alicia Petresc on Unsplash

 

Trigger warning and offense disclaimer: The title should be sufficient, but in case it’s not, consider yourself  warned that this post discusses abortion. I present facts, statistics, my own experiences and opinions, none of which are meant to offend or trigger. That being said, I’ve no doubt that some people WILL be triggered and/or offended. You continue reading at your own risk.

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Although I’m writing this post in response to a Facebook post authored by one of my cousins, it’s long been on my mind and in my heart, so I decided to make it a blog post.

 

My Personal Stance

I am both pro-choice and pro-life. The two do not necessarily cancel out each other. Life is just as much of a choice as abortion. I just happen to believe that abortion is the wrong choice. I don’t condemn women who make this choice (it’s not my jurisdiction), but it does fill me with sorrow for the innocent life taken and with sadness for the woman who made that choice, because, unless she’s severely lacking on the emotional quotient scale, that choice will affect her mental health for the rest of her life.

I don’t believe there’s any difference between aborting an unborn child and murdering a five-year-old child. Both are living human beings. The survival of one should be just as important as the other.

The Bible supports the sanctity of human life (yes, I have to bring “religion” into it, because it influences my beliefs). Just a few scripture references: Genesis 9:5-6, Exodus 23:7, Psalm 22:9-10.

 

Death Penalty Versus Abortion

I am also pro-death penalty and don’t believe this to be hypocritical, as there’s really no comparison between the two. Abortion takes an innocent life before she or he has had a chance to live and exercise his or her God-given free will. The death penalty takes the life of someone who has used his or her free will to hurt others and deny them of their free will. In this case, the laws of our country and the balance of justice have weighed the evidence and testimony and judged them, as is their God-given right to do. (Romans 13:1-4, I Peter 2:13-17)

I’ve found that most people who are against the death penalty are also against murder and blood-shed in general.

Have you ever seen photos or videos of abortions? I have. (I won’t include any of those here. You’re welcome.) It’s one of the bloodiest acts I’ve ever seen. Make no mistake, abortion is VIOLENT and that unborn baby (by 6 weeks gestation, the unborn is FULLY FORMED) FEELS EVERY MINUTE OF THEIR DISMEMBERMENT.

At least in most states, the death penalty is carried out by lethal injection. How about we hack them to death while they’re awake and aware instead?

That would be cruel and unusual punishment, you say? You are correct.

 

My Argument

I present to you an argument against abortion that I have rarely seen or heard: abortion is NOT the woman exercising free will over her own body. Abortion is the murder of an innocent human life that resides WITHIN the woman’s body. A woman’s freedom to do as she likes with her body ends when that freedom endangers the life of another human being. In this case, the unborn child living within her.

This is NOT a choice of what to do with your own body; this is the decision of what to do with the body, life, soul and future of another human being. And according to the laws of this country, in any other situation, that is a crime punishable by death in some states or life in prison without the possibility of parole in others.

 

Legality vs Illegality

Prior to Roe v Wade, abortion was prohibited (illegal) in the USA. EVERY state had a statute against abortion, some more lenient than others, but most made abortion (except for fetal abnormality or rape or incest) a felony, and the 14th Amendment supported those statutes. (You remember this one: “…nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…”)

It was the height of irony then, when in 1973, Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun used this same Amendment to support his (majority) opinion in Roe v Wade that abortion is protected based upon the woman’s fundamental “right to privacy.” And one of the most controversial precedents to ever be set by the U.S. Supreme Court was born.

That is the ONLY thing it stands on. Abortion isn’t covered in the Constitution (like so many proponents claim), yet a judge set a precedent for it, in violation of states’ statutes against it. That’s all legal abortion is; a precedent.

The reason it’s such a hot topic in this country is because it was never put to a vote. It was never presented as a bill, it was never listed on a federal ballot. Instead, one man made the decision that said “it’s okay,” and his fellows voted either with or against.

 

Current Politics

What states are doing now with their abortion ban bills – Alabama, Georgia, others – is forcing this issue. It will eventually have to be brought to a vote to avoid a potential political civil war.

(Oh. Wait. We already have one of those.)

THIS – voting on issues that affect the nation – is how our system is supposed to work. We are a democratic republic, not an oligarchy.

 

Abortion Rate Facts: Florida

Since I live in Florida, those are the abortion rate facts I will share. For statistics in your own state, have a quick conversation with Mr. Google.

Florida records a reason for every abortion that occurs within the state. The most recent data available from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and Guttmacher Institute (research arm of Planned Parenthood) are from 2015. That year, there were 71,740 abortions performed in Florida:

  • Pregnancy resulted from an incestuous relationship: .001%
  • Pregnancy that endangered the woman’s life: .065%
  • Pregnancy resulted from rape: .085%
  • Pregnancy threatened the woman’s physical health: .288%
  • Pregnancy threatened the woman’s psychological health: .294%
  • Serious fetal abnormality: .666%
  • Pregnancy aborted for social or economic reasons: 6.268%
  • Elective abortion (no reason): 92.330%

According to the state-level data (CDC data and Guttmacher Institute data typically have a 2-3 years reporting lag), so the more recent than 2015 details aren’t yet available, but overall in Florida:

  • Total abortions (2018): 70,083
  • Total abortions (2017): 69,064
  • Total abortions (2016): 69,770

 

What About Rape or Incest?

Do I believe that abortion is wrong in the cases of rape or incest? As a woman and a survivor of child sexual abuse, I’m still conflicted about that, and probably always will be.

As I said before, I won’t judge other women for it, but since you’re asking my opinion (thank you), I think it should be a case-by-case situation, just like the death penalty and any other legal consequence.

By the way, pregnancy resulting from rape or incest make up LESS THAN ONE PERCENT OF ALL ABORTIONS, NATIONWIDE.

You want to know what accounts for the highest percentage of abortions in this country? I’ll tell you anyway. INCONVENIENT & UNWANTED. If only there was a way to see into the future and have those women sterilized upon birth. Then they wouldn’t have to worry about a small human – INCONVENIENT & UNWANTED –taking up temporary residence in their wombs.

Something to remember: rape and incest themselves leave the victim traumatized. Aborting a pregnancy resulting from either of these will cause the woman even MORE physical and psychological trauma. When the woman is physically capable of carrying the pregnancy to term, I believe it’s best to do so, and then if she doesn’t want to keep the child, give him or her up for adoption.

 

Mental Health Issues

Which brings me to the mental health issues side of things. As I live with depression and anxiety and suffered post-partum depression, the mental health issues involved in abortion are always on the front burner of my mind.

Among other validating research, a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry in 2011 found that “women who had undergone an abortion experienced an 81 percent increased risk of mental health problems, and nearly 10 percent of the incidence of mental health problems was shown to be directly attributable to abortion.”

Other documented mental health issues directly relatable to abortion are:

  • A suicide rate that is 3 times higher than the general suicide rate, and 6 times that associated with giving birth
  • Women who end their first pregnancy in abortion are 5 times more likely to report subsequent substance abuse than women who carried to term
  • Mood disorders substantial enough to provoke attempts of self-harm

 

The Case for Abstinence and Contraceptives

The best case scenario is abstinence. No sex until you are ready to live with any resulting pregnancy. Even the CDC advises that “the only sure way to prevent pregnancy, HIV, and other STDs is not to have sex.”

  • If you cannot afford a child, don’t have sex; if you’re in a committed relationship, use contraceptive.
  • If you aren’t mentally prepared to carry, birth and raise a child, don’t have sex; if you’re in a committed relationship, use contraceptive.
  • If you have a medical condition that would cause problems with you or the child during or after pregnancy, don’t have sex; if you’re in a committed relationship, use contraceptive.

Of course, if you’re LGBTQ, this argument doesn’t really apply to you. Most lesbians of my acquaintance who are or have been pregnant did so because they WANTED a bio-child. Otherwise, I suppose a happy side-effect of being LGBTQ is knowing that you don’t have to deal with an unwanted pregnancy.

 

The Case for Adoption

There’s also the option of carrying the child to term and giving him or her up for adoption. There are plenty of people in the USA unable to have a child who would be happy to adopt. This has the added benefit of financially supporting the pregnant woman and ensuring the child has a loving home with parents who want him or her. Ever see the movie Juno? Like that.

 

The Father’s Right

I know this is argument is at least as controversial as the topic of abortion itself. Maybe more so. (I feel thousands of hostile glances as I write this.)

Unless the case is rape or incest (in which case the male in question should be denied ALL basic human rights), I believe that the father (if known) has the right to consent (or not) to the abortion. It took two to create the pregnancy (as long as it results from legally consensual sex); it should take two to decide to terminate the pregnancy.

If the woman wants an abortion and the man doesn’t, then the man should make it worth the woman’s efforts – financial support, mental health support, etc. If the two are married, I hope they would agree on the pregnancy anyway. But if not, and the woman is healthy enough to carry the child to term, but doesn’t want the pregnancy, then the father needs to step up and be supportive enough to weigh the scales of decision in his favor.

 

My Story

I was born with a congenital heart condition, commonly known at that time (1970s) as a heart murmur. The diagnosis has changed several times in the past 45 years, but the one that’s stuck is bi-cuspid valve stenosis (of the aorta). This used to mean that at some point in my forties or fifties I would need open heart surgery to replace my aortic valve with either a metal, pig or human valve. But medicine has advanced – and my condition has stabilized – to the point that I may NEVER need a valve replacement. I give God all the glory.

Hayden, 2019.
Photo credit: @kcaphoto (https://www.kaleenacarolannphoto.com/)

What all of this meant when I became pregnant at 26, was that I was high risk, and therefore under careful scrutiny by a team of doctors. Even more so as I lived in Wichita Falls, Texas, at the time, and two women with my condition – one previously diagnosed, one not – had died on the delivery table.

Things like that have a tendency to make the doctors fussy. Hence, not only was my cardiologist nervous, and I ended up being sent to Fort Worth for an induced, early delivery, but one of my doctors wanted me to have an abortion. I refused. I saw it – and still see it – as God’s jurisdiction.

This situation is what is referred to as “medically necessary.” And yet. I survived. My child survived. We both thrived. In fact, my son is handsome (see above photo evidence) and brilliant. He will graduate high school later this month, and plans to go into the field of cyber security. I’m a proud mama.

There was NO medical necessity as far as I’m concerned.

I have a friend who was also high risk. For her, it was breast cancer. She refused to have an abortion and refused chemo until after her daughter was born. Like me, she trusted God. Her delivery was successful, as was the chemo. Today, both mother and daughter are healthy and thriving, and the mother is cancer-free.

 

Friends and Acquaintances

I have friends who have had abortions. Some of them, multiple abortions. As already stated earlier, there are life-long consequences to abortion. All of these women have suffered varying degrees of depression, anxiety and PTSD:

  • One woman, when she decided she WANTED a child, was not able to get pregnant; abortion had destroyed her womb
  • One woman hadn’t told her living children (although she may have by now; I haven’t inquired) about her abortions, for fear of their disgust
  • One woman had an abortion as a young teen – her parent’s choice – and still struggles with depression, many years later
  • One woman had an abortion because she was unwed. Though she had several children later, she has never stopped mourning the one she aborted

 

In Conclusion

Happily, statistics show significant drops in abortions over the last 25+ years. Total abortions have dropped more than 27 percent since 1998. According to Guttmacher, the first time abortions fell below 1 million since Roe v Wade was in 2013. They have continued to decline since then.

Yes. By all means, allow the woman to make the choice over her own body. The life she carries IS NOT HER OWN BODY.

I will always treat women who choose to have abortions with love and compassion. But I will never stop trying to convince them to choose LIFE over death.

 

Comments are welcome, but please be rational and respectful.

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Filed under Anxiety, Depression, Emotion, Family, Law, Legal, Life, Mental Health, Morality, Motherhood, Parenting, Politics, Real Life, Relationships, sexual assault, Survivors, Thankful, Writing

It’s the Most Magical Time of the Year…and Depression


Photo Source: Unsplash.com/Ben White

Photo Source: Unsplash.com/Ben White

The Holiday Season. Winter. Christmastime, Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, New Year’s. All of it. It’s here again (or will be within weeks).

People are stringing lights across the eaves of their houses, smothering their front yard bushes and trees under ropes of brilliant bulbs of color, tiny fairy lights and large luminosities of red and green, Nativity scenes and Menorahs. Stockings are hung from the mantle or the chimney (or from stocking holders placed on shelves if you live in South Florida, because we don’t have mantles and chimneys), toy trains and holiday villages brighten up hallways and front rooms while trees sparkle and bow beneath their weight of lights, tinsel and decorations. Ugly Christmas and Holiday sweaters make their limited engagement appearances. Millions flock to Walt Disney World for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, Holidays Around the World, and festive dining experiences.

It’s the most magical time of the year.

It’s my favorite time of the year. From the day after Thanksgiving (when I begin playing Christmas music) until Christmas night, those glorious, wonderful 31 days are when I’m happiest, each year. Attempting once again (and probably once again, failing) to compose and send out cards to those who are special to me, letting them know I’m thinking of them – all year long, but especially now – by the 2nd week of December. Searching for the best bargains on items from family members’ Christmas lists so I won’t go broke…again…

Christmas parties and luncheons, the annual church Christmas concert and children’s drama that always surprises and delights. The joy of finding that special gift for a member of my family, or a friend; imagining the pleasure on their faces when they open those gifts I’ve painstakingly wrapped in beautiful paper and ribbon. Decorating the tree while watching Christmas movies. And the Christmas movies! There are new ones each year to enjoy and ones from years gone by that have become favorites.

All of this I look forward to each year. Something magical about peace on earth, good will toward men.

But there’s a dark side.

These 31 days are also some of the most depressing days of the year for me and so many other people living with depression. There’s a bitter-sweetness to the celebrating and expressions of love and joy. Perhaps it’s because we struggle to feel the same wonder and carefree happiness that so maafter-the-new-year-graphicny others seem to feel; perhaps it’s because we feel a lack within ourselves – a lack of family or friends or significant other(s), someone with whom to share the joy; or perhaps it’s because there lurks beneath it all the understanding that this won’t last; after the New Year, most of us will go back to our everyday lives that magic never touches, good will and peace will be left at the curb with our dead and dying trees, and churlishness will accompany the deconstruction of all those pretty lights, trains and holiday villages. Back in the boxes, sheds and attics go our decorations and ugly holiday sweaters – at least the ones that survived kittens and puppies and toddlers – to save for next season. And so, apparently, do our belief in magic, joy and goodwill toward our neighbors. (Now THAT’S a depression thought.)

That’s part of it, sure. But for me, another part of the depression is old-fashioned self-pity. I’m single (not alone, because I have family and good friends nearby, but single…there’s a difference, you know). For someone like me, a romantic who dives into Christmas/holiday stories and movies (almost all of which end in some form of Happily Ever After, aka HEA), and watches – teary-eyed – all of the Christmas commercials about family and love, being single at Christmastime is downright depressing at times. Especially this year. Why is this year different? Well, 3 young couples with whom I am friends got married this year. I’ve been privileged to watch ALL 3 romances begin and grow over the past few years, and to see them each begin their own HEA in holy matrimony, and watch them begin their lives together…well, it’s bittersweet. Also, perimenopause is rearing its uncomfortable, heightened estrogen, emotional trainwreck, night sweat-slicked head. And, no sex. Also, no snow. 😦

Changing things up.

So while this most magical time of year is my favorite…and I suffer depression more acutely at Christmastime than any other, I’ve changed things up a bit this year, to see if perhaps I can survive the rest of this year less depressed:

  • I’ve not picked up one Christmas romance novel; instead, I’m reading the final book in an epic fantasy series (The Faithful and the Fallen series by UK author John Gwynne). I might be depressed at the end of the book, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be because the series is finished and not because I’m still single.
  • I’m gathering all of my tax documents – medical bill payments, copays, charitable donations, etc. – updating my writing and editing income and expenses spreadsheet so I’ll be ready – early – for tax time.
  • Keeping an eagle eye on my finances so I’ll be able to afford a nice birthday shin-dig for my son when he turns 16 (!!!!!!!!!!) in January.
  • Making a plan (which includes pep-talks at myself) for exercise, healthy eating and a little weight loss after the holidays (I’m soooo not into depriving myself of all the holiday goodies), so I will have enough energy to enjoy myself on my planned birthday trip to Disney World mid-February, and look good while I’m there! 🙂
  • Taking a little time each day to thank God for His blessings, and reflect upon all of the successes in my life (such as letting my son live another year – that’s a big one!).

So while this most magical time of year often means a deeper struggle with depression for me, I’m determined to enjoy the holidays with family and friends, revel in my independence and strength as a woman, and not dwell on the tiny, rather insignificant fact that I am single.

How about you? Is this your favorite time of year, and/or do you find yourself more depressed during the holiday season than any other time of year? If so, why?

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Filed under Depression, Disney, Emotion, Event, Family, Friendship, Holidays, Humor, Life, Mental Health, Musings, Real Life, Relationships, Romance, Thankful

I Still Remember…


Trigger Warning: Memories of Childhood Sexual Abuse

 

Stronger Than You Think2 cropped graphicI still remember my first sexual encounter. I was 4 years old. I remember every detail, as if I was a spectator, rather than the child. I don’t remember the physical sensations, but I do remember every word spoken, every scene enacted. Since it’s with me more than 35 years later, with more clarity than any other moment in my life, this must be the definition of trauma.

In reading fellow Booktrope author Rachel Thompson‘s memoirs about surviving her own childhood sexual abuse (CSA) trauma – Broken Pieces and its sequel Broken Places – for the first time a couple of months ago, many of her essays and poems struck a cord within me as a fellow survivor of CSA. My experience was different than Rachel’s, but some of the demographics are the same; my abuser was also someone I knew, though he was a child himself (8 years older than I) and the abuse occurred only once. Probably because my parents, and his, put the fear of God into him. But it didn’t stop him, only kept him away from ME. I know of at least one other girl, a good friend of mine, who he sexually abused, perhaps more than once; we didn’t discuss it much, even when we grew up. My abuse was also in the late 70s, at a time when such occurrences weren’t talked about.

Unlike Rachel, I never strove for perfection (I was always awkward. Still am, a bit, come to think of it.) or became a straight-A student (Geometry was my high school nemesis). I did, however – as I can see from the distance of 25 years – suffer from depression as a teenager, which probably contributed to me becoming an introvert (I still have to give myself pep talks  sometimes in order to interact with people in a crowd), who writes sometimes dark and depressing poetry. This was recently confirmed by my therapist, who also confirmed that my sexual “acting out” as a child was a direct result of that one incident, experimenting with both boys and girls, well into my teenage years. I’m not sure why it stopped then. Perhaps because at that point I realized I could get pregnant and knew I wasn’t ready for that.

I never forgot my experience. Not Innocence cropped graphicTo this day, I can remember every minutiae, as if holding a magnifying glass on the scene, every word that was spoken down to the image that goes with it. It’s almost as if it was another little girl, another blonde, green-eyed, 4-year-old pixie of a girl experiencing that and me watching and cringing, helpless to do anything to stop it. Then again, watching that same little girl seeking out that same experience with other children.

Later, when I was about 10 years old, I had a crush on this same boy who abused me, with whom I went to church and school (K-12) for years. Until he married and moved away. I saw myself as sick, that I would crush on someone who would victimize a child – only I didn’t think of it in those terms until I reached adulthood. All I knew was that I was ashamed to have tender feelings toward him, and didn’t understand the why of any of it. I’ve always wondered, but never asked: did she, the woman he married, know what he’d done? They’re divorced now, have been for many years. And when out of the blue, my parents received a Christmas card from him and his new wife “Wendy,” that’s the first time I remember having a “trigger” – it really scared me…as nothing had prior to that in a long time… Was he trying to say something? Send a message? Why did he marry a woman with MY name?

Was this why I became introverted? (How to make friends when you’re carrying around this huge secret.) Why books became my best friends? (Books cannot hurt or betray you.) Why as a teenager I would stare for hours at the ceiling above me? Why for years I couldn’t sleep in the dark or without my stuffed animals? Why I would shut myself inside my bedroom and throw my Birthday Girl figurines – I had all of them at one time; none of them survived – against my bedroom walls until they shattered into tiny pieces? Why the calm descended after each of those girls shattered? (Throwing things and hearing them break against a wall is very soothing. Cleaning up after yourself, not so much.) Were they ceramic substitutes for my own body? I had too much survival instinct, or else too much fear of hell to attempt suicide (though one summer spent with my cousins on our grandparents’ farm in Texas, I carried a thick rope, and when I was alone, would twist it tightly round my neck) – raised in a conservative Christian household, I learned from a very young age that suicide is a sin…and there’s no repenting THAT sin.

cropped-cropped-cropped-Stigma-Fighters-V1Though I’ve never really been secretive about this, I’ve not made it a regular part of my conversations, either. Since becoming friends with so many other writers – collectively known as Stigma Fighters – who, like me, live daily with some form of mental health issue, and who have become such inspirations to me through their bravery and selflessness in sharing their stories and their encouragement, I knew I needed to be brave enough to share some of the darkness within my own soul, in hopes of lending my support – and the occasional hug – to others like us.

 

(Stigma Fighters logo used by permission. The lines of poetry in the graphics are my own.)

 

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Filed under Anxiety, Booktrope, Depression, Life, Mental Health, Writing