Arm Wrestling For Our Lives



REV. KATHERINE KATSANIS-SEMEL Founder, KaTransformations

Trigger Warning: Discussion of suicide and depression
As our collective consciousness was recently focused on the themes of depression, suicide and suicide prevention, I wish to express what many of us in our community know: LGBTQ+ people are at an increased risk for dying by suicide. Along the same lines: Here’s my story of self-destruction, spiritual obedience and renewal, which I share with the intention of inspiring others to also break down stigma. As we speak up and share out, we collectively dissolve stigma related to mental health, mental illness and everything in between. Additionally, I wish to instill hope in those who have experienced a suicide attempt and/or an aborted suicide attempt. Recovery is possible.
BACKGROUND
Raised in a family that was immersed in a conservative, faith-based culture, I struggled with many secret questions related to my sexual orientation. Ironically, it didn’t help that my gender identity and expression were about as cisgender as it gets…I looked like the other girls; why couldn’t I truly be like them? An ongoing life narrative of almost belonging (yet not quite belonging), emerged and took shape. From the ages of 18 to 20, I arm wrestled for my life – barely sleeping, often not eating, struggling day in and day out – with depression. Finally, feeling worn down from the fight against a cognitive distortion that told me I was a burden to my family, I started giving in. Little by little, I stopped fighting as hard. I incrementally stopped using my boxing gloves. Didn’t want them anymore, especially since I was never asked if I wanted them in the first place. Soon after, I was sent home from my college of choice on a “mental health leave,” with my academic mentor trusting that downtime would help me to regain perspective.
THE ATTEMPT
In a disturbing crescendo of events, I found myself very much alone a few months post my 20th birthday. This was prior to “coming out” to loved ones, and prior to even fully coming out to myself. With my will to fight still wearing thin and a shroud of stigma clouding my internal vision, I experienced an aborted suicide attempt. What in the world is that? “An aborted attempt” is a clinical term that means that a person took concrete steps to end their life, and then took steps to reverse any damage done. In my case, I took action to self-harm (an unusual move for me, as growing up I wasn’t one to self-harm), and as I was about to go further, I changed course.
THE VOICE
What made me stop? I heard that “still, small voice” – that I identify as God’s voice – speak to me. Yes, folks, I heard it. (And that’s part of why I love God to the best of my ability to this day.) When I heard “the voice,” it wasn’t an instruction coming from the outside, which could have been an auditory hallucination. Rather, the message consisted of personal words coming from within me; the words were calmer than my swirling emotions. These unforgettable words prompted me to stop hurting myself.
Generally, when I heard from God in the past, it came after engaging in prayer – what I call “contemplation time.” However, on that unique day, I wasn’t in a prayerful state – to say the least; yet, God knew I was in a vulnerable state and God demonstrated mercy. To this day, I consider hearing “the voice” at that moment a huge outpouring of mercy. And although it wasn’t the result of prayer work in that moment, perhaps it was the fruit of a young life steeped in prayer since my earliest years. I’ve heard of cases where God intervened when someone was about to die before their time, so I don’t think I’m special. I do believe that God generally speaks to those whom he knows will be receptive. And God knew I would be receptive. His interjection didn’t violate the law of free will, which he honors. Most of the time, it’s: “Ask and ye shall receive.” This time, it was: “Act and I’ll set you free.” Honestly, this phenomenon was and is mysterious. I didn’t talk about it for years because I felt guilty. I felt guilty that others finding themselves in the same place as I’d been in hadn’t heard “the voice,” and went through with the suicidal act. I won’t pretend to understand it, yet I cannot conceal what happened to me any longer.
THE RESCUE  
In the moment after hearing from God, I was immediately receptive. I stopped poisoning myself,  called for help and went to the bathroom to throw up as much of the poison as I could. I still needed to be rushed to the emergency room, where I spent time getting my stomach pumped and rehabilitating. It was a nightmare which I’m committed to never repeat. The wonderful outcome is that due to God’s grace, paired with my efforts in both secular and pastoral counseling, I haven’t wrestled with suicidal ideation since then.
THE FACTS
As I came out and came of age in the LGBTQ+ community, I learned that I was not alone with my struggles. I wish that I was more alone in this regard, yet that’s just not true. According to the Trevor Project, “LGB youth are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual youth.” (thetrevorproject.org/resources) Statistics related to suicidality and transgender youth are often more devastating. The self-loathing that led to my experience of circumstantial, major depressive disorder is still common among our youth. We’ve seen recently how wrestling for our lives is too common in both the LGBTQ+ community and society in general. Irrespective of a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression, suicide is a real issue for so many. Depression, regardless of its causes, hurts and if left untreated, it can be deadly.
GIVING BACK
On a victorious note, last year I trained to become a suicide prevention and intervention specialist. I offer free Question, Persuade and Refer (QPR) classes, as an aspect of my work with the Suicide Prevention Council (in the County of San Diego). QPR Gatekeeper Training for Suicide Prevention is an evidence-based, nationally recognized curriculum, which instructs class participants in how to look for suicide warning signs and appropriately intervene. Now, I reach out to the public; I offer these classes as part of a secular ministry geared toward being pro-living. Regardless of where we fall on the political spectrum and irrespective of how we feel about women’s reproductive rights, we can all agree on preserving the life that’s already walking, living and breathing among us.
CALL TO ACTION
During these tumultuous times, let’s nip what therapists call “suicide contagion” in the bud. Let’s write, post, chat and otherwise speak out about mental illness and its repercussions in our communities. Part of that mobilization might include inviting a speaker who specializes in suicide prevention to your place of worship or community center, such as a Pride Resource Center at your local university. Perhaps consider training to become a QPR instructor yourself!  Part of generating the true spirit of Pride is keeping ourselves and our vulnerable community safe. For more details, visit qprinstitute.com.  
If you or a loved one is considering suicide, please reach out to the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Your life is worth the fight. 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Photo by: Broo_am (Andy B)    

3rd Week of Lent

 The 3rd Week of Lent
The Third Week of Lent
With this week, we conclude the first part of Lent.  We continue our lessons in the
faith, as our practices of Lent become deeper and more full of grace. We enter 
into this week reflecting upon the Scrutiny that makes up our intense prayer for 
those Elect, preparing for Baptism.  And, as we beg, as Church, that they be freed 
from sin and from all anxiety, we ask those same desires for ourselves. The 
simple and powerful words of the Opening Prayer guides our daily prayer.  
We continue to wake each morning, pausing to ask for the graces we desire for 
the day.  Throughout each day, the background of our thoughts and feelings is 
more and more taken up with what this journey means for our personal change 
of heart, the renewal of our Baptismal commitment to be placed with Jesus, 
and our growing desire to act in solidarity with the poor.  We go to bed each 
evening, after pausing to give thanks for the gifts of the day.

 


Were in the 3rd Week of Lent, First off How is everyone doing? Getting to know Jesus more this 
Lent? I think for the most part for me this Lent season is trying to calm myself down, I live in a
chaotic world situations and it makes me more depressed, more angry, and hostile and not 
really in a good mood. I am very sorry for that. So I would have to say it's a confession that I
am making. Hopeuflly it's forgiven and it makes me know I need to try and work that out!

If you our doing the Total Consecration were in the first week that started on Sunday and only  
another two weeks left before it’s completed!

In personal news for me I finally got a job, it’s part time, however I did see they were looking for a
 Supervisor position so I applied  for it yesterday. Wish me luck, I need a full time and I feel right, 
something different. I can’t place it at the moment.

I am not for sure how many of you have been suffering a cold, I been fighting it for the last 
couple of days and I not going to let it win out!

Well, that is about it for now , wish me luck on the new job, all of you keep up with the lent and 
we shall all make it!   If your in the snow path for this Monday, take it easy!

-Garry-

Lenten Season is keeping me from breaking down


It’s been a busy week, trying to keep my head held high and getting a job. I am still hopeful on the Harbor Freight job and hopefully the background check comes back very soon.

Once this begins the time that I have here on the internet will be much more limited due to the fact that I will be working once again.

It’s really going to be a good feeling on having a job once again if everything comes back okay for me!

I wish I could say that things seem to be normal however a lot of things have changed. I am reflecting on things that have happened in my personal life. Things have changed in the past month. Loosing a family member is not that easy. Even though I may not show my sympathy, it’s not been easy for me. I just want release it all, however I am not for sure how to.

I guess the what is keeping me from breaking up and not thinking about it much is I am trying on getting a job at this moment and that may be helping me in the long run on keeping it together.

Any ways I hope all of you are following along with The Total Consecration, were starting on Day 7 on Tuesday and were 14 days into the Lenten season. Hope your spiritual connection with Jesus is going very good and that your learning!

I can’t think of anything else at this time to report so I will keep it simple and to the point and hope you have a great rest of the weekend!

Your Brother in Christ
Garry 
 

Welcome

First off Welcome! I think what needs to be done here is overall some explanations and what we do here!


 First off, I started this community back in 2012, when I exited out of The Salvation Army rehab centre due to me being a drug and alcohol addiction.

 Overtime the community of course has grown on Facebook, I do enjoy Facebook a lot, some of the things I really don’t agree on with Facebook and I really more enjoy Google+ than anything else. I never really had a present online until now. Any ways I started working in 2012 and I had a fairly a good job that I enjoyed. I was doing good, however I started to get sick in the later half of 2012 and and 2013. When 2014 rolled around I was getting worse. By the end of January of 2014 I thought what was the flu turned out to be being a diabetic type 2. Yes I am extremely overweight!

 Depression really sat in on me of course, it was a life changer for me. I still did not feel well. I had problems with my urine tract and still do in fact have some problems with it. For the last 4 years it’s been rough for me. I am trying to get SSI, however since I did get the insulin pump back in 2016, my blood sugars have been doing remarkably  good! I have had one problem since I started to get better! I been sick for so long, obesity does not help, my age does not help either. I cannot find a employer that wants to hire me! I risk loosing my home, I am so worried about that, I am depress, anxiety hits me, I get panic attacks, it’s rough for me. 

 When I pray I feel calm, especially when I pray the rosary. All I want is to be diving into the BIBLE, reading the word! 

 It’s exciting times at the same time I am not for sure what is going to happen with me, so I ask you to pray for me so we can keep this community going. 

 In Christ OUR Brother, 
 Garry