Russia and Gay Marriage – Putin’s reasons

According to a new biography, ‘Cameron at 10’, Prime minister David Cameron and Vladimir Putin had a ‘candid’ discussion on gay rights late at night during a G20 meeting in 2013. According to the biography, it was more of a ‘bickerfest’ rather than a discussion.

Putin stated that should gay people be allowed to marry in Russia, the percentage of children in the country would reduce drastically, and there wouldn’t be enough children to support Russia in the future. Well…

  1. Has he never met a gay/lesbian couple and their never ending quest to have children? Being gay doesn’t generally remove your desire to have children. So this is kind of an invalid argument.
  2. Considering the number of children in orphanages (who are treated pretty badly according to research), maybe less children may be a good idea? So that they’re not just abandoned at a random orphanage. or…even better….
  3. Gay people could adopt children in orphanages. Now wouldn’t that be fantastic? Couple gets child, child gets a loving family? No? ok. I did some research, and reality is that Russia won’t let gay couples from abroad adopt Russian children. According to a newspaper article, when Malta (a tiny island in the Mediterranean sea which adopts a lot of Russian children) was discussing civil unions [which is now legal there], Russia threatened Malta that should the law pass, they would no longer let Maltese people adopt Russian children. So not only are they ‘punishing’ gay people for …. being gay, they are also punishing and neglecting babies from a loving family.

Needless to say, I find Putin’s excuse (should this be the real reason, which I doubt) empty. And like I said, it’s probably not even the real reason, if it is, then he didn’t really put much thought into it. Which I guess is even worse.

Mental Health Awareness Week

So it’s Mental Health Awareness Week until Sunday, and since I’ve been quite ‘off the radar’ I thought, what better time to come back than this week?

You see, the reason I’ve been AWOL is because I’ve been battling my anxiety for the past few months.

I’ve had anxiety for as long as I can remember. Probably even before then. I started self medicating from a young age. To spare you the messy details there was alcohol, smoking, drugs, self harm and suicidal ideation involved. But back then I had no idea that it was because of my anxiety, I just enjoyed the feeling of relief, those few moments when I managed to get out of my head.

Those moments were short lived, and so I started medicating more frequently, until I realised that I was going too far. Ok, I didn’t realise it by myself, I met someone who made me realise that self medication wasn’t the way to go.

So instead I immersed myself in meditation, spirituality, philosophy and learning. And that gave me temporary relief, but it was enough to get by. I still had no name for the emotions I was feeling.

It was only last year that I finally realised that what I was feeling wasn’t regular stress, but actual anxiety. I started having fainting spells because of all the stress and anxiety I was under, I stopped being able to sleep, my mind was making me see horrors in the dark. I became paranoid about the slightest thing. However, thankfully those moments would pass, and I would forget all about them. I figured that I was only experiencing the ‘normal’ amount of anxiety, and that once I did what had to be done, then the anxiety would go away. I still had no idea that what I had wasn’t ‘normal’ but an ‘extreme’.

Then from November till January I was under a lot of stress due to University work. I was constantly on the go. If I was on the bus I was working, when I got to work and I had nothing to do, I would be working on University things, or on work related to the student organization I was a member of. I was constantly on the go. And even though that gave me a lot of pleasure, I was constantly running on a high. It was as though I was running away from something. I lost touch with myself in the process.

After many restless nights, when the horror movies in my head became too much to handle, nights when I literally felt as though I was dying, I started to research. I realised that I definitely was not having a normal reaction to anxiety. It turned out I was having a normal reaction to anxiety, but it was my anxiety which was not normal.

I had a mental health issue.

But I didn’t accept it.

Yes, I could tell myself that I’m anxious, but I refused to seek help. I would handle it the way I always did. I started drinking again. I would tell myself that it helped me focus on my assignments, it was just a method to relax.

But the anxiety didn’t go away. Months started passing, and sometimes it would calm down, and I could sleep, and I wouldn’t keep checking over my shoulder to see if someone was following me.

But then it would just flare up again.

And finally, after about three nights in a row where I felt I was going to die, when my chest hurt and I would cry without control, and I finally admitted that yes, I needed help. I sent an email and made an appointment at the counselling unit the very next day.

Best decision of my life.

I’m still in therapy, but I already feel better. I still have anxiety, therapy doesn’t automatically take away the anxiety, take away that fear. But I’m starting to learn more about myself. I thought I was a very self aware person, but now I’m realising that the self medication was stopping me from being in touch with myself. And now I’m learning about myself, the good, the bad and the ugly. And I’m learning how to live with my anxiety, instead of expecting it to magically disappear.

So what’s my point? My point is that mental health is an important thing. One of the most important things we have. And it’s ok to have a mental health problem. It’s actually more common than you think. According to recent statistics, 1 in 4 of us have Anxiety, and 1 in 3 will have depression. So if you think of all the people you’ve met recently, you’ve definitely met someone who had anxiety, and another who had depression.

So during this week, please try find out as much as you can about mental health, particularly how you can help someone with a mental health problem. How to be there for someone. And if you have a mental health issue, then seek help. Find a friend you can confide in, or make an appointment at your nearest counselling unit. It’s actually not as scary as you think it is.

Gender Awareness

From personal experience I’ve realized that awareness on gender dysphoria is extremely lacking, including in professions where one would expect this reality to be known. For example, in helping professions such as social work, counseling, therapy etc I assume that there would be knowledge on the subject.

I’ve realized that this assumption was completely incorrect. After disclosing with a social work professional that I experience gender dysphoria the social worker then told me that I should reflect on why I refer to myself as Non-Binary (because obviously, gender is binary) and it was insinuated that I am merely confused.
As someone who has nearly graduated in a helping profession, I have reflected ad eternum, and I can assure you that no amount of reflection will make me feel binary.

Moving on from this rant, I have also ended up educating my own supervisors on gender dysphoria. And the only time I met someone who knew what gender identity disorder is ended up being because he happened to come across the name by chance while researching something else.

So the bottom line is that awareness is needed, especially in a helping profession. I’m not expecting people to know everything however, basic understanding that gender is not binary is not such a huge thing to desire.