Confessions of a She-Geek

June 11, 2016

An Open Letter to Judge Aaron Persky

Filed under: Life and Stuff,Mental Health — Teresa @ 5:42 pm
Tags: , ,

Mr. Persky,

In light of the ridiculously lenient sentence that you just handed down to a convicted rapist, part of me is tempted to say that I hope one day you’ll be in the victim’s shoes, or that someone you love will be in the victim’s shoes, and you’ll know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of the travesty of justice that gave Brock Turner a laughable six months for being caught in the act of RAPING AN UNCONSCIOUS WOMAN.

Part of me wishes that you would find yourself knowing first-hand what it’s like to see a person who’s caused so much harm to you or to someone you love, stroll off with a slap on the wrist. But truth be told, I don’t hope that, because it would mean that another person was raped, and that she (or he) now has to endure a lifetime of emotional, psychological, and possibly physical repercussions – and I wouldn’t wish that on ANYONE.

Not even you.

What I do wish is that you take to heart the anger and outrage your decision has caused, and understand that in putting the well-being of a convicted rapist above the well-being of his victim, you have reinforced the very rape culture that makes it so hard for rape victims to come forward in the first place.

  • That in making this decision, you’re sending the message that as long as someone has enough money and influence, they won’t have to suffer the same consequences that people who don’t have money and influence do.
  • That forcing yourself on someone who’s incapable of giving consent isn’t REALLY rape as long you’re drunk and don’t mean any harm by it.
  • That even in cases where there isn’t a shadow of a doubt of guilt, a rape victim cannot be assured of achieving justice when facing her (or his) attacker in court.
  • That following some ridiculous collegiate bro-code is somehow more important than ensuring that victims don’t suffer in vain.

As furious as I am with you, I am more saddened that Brock Turner’s victim sat in court and watched as you essentially said that as long as Brock feels bad about his actions, 6 months of prison, probation, and being added to the list of convicted sex offenders is punishment enough.

It’s NOT.

And given the amount of anger and outrage directed toward you over the past few days, I am not alone in this belief. When even a law professor from your own law school starts a campaign to recall you from the bench, I think it’s safe to say that you will also be dealing with the long-term consequences of a bad decision.

And it will be well-deserved.

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August 25, 2014

Depression: Regina George of Mental Illness

Filed under: Media,Mental Health,Movies and TV — Teresa @ 4:54 pm

It’s been a while since I posted anything; real life stepped in while I was busy making other plans, and before I knew it, months had slipped by.

But when I found myself so deeply affected by Robin Williams’ suicide, I felt compelled to post something on Facebook that apparently hit a chord. Once the original post went up, I kept thinking of more that I wanted to say. Rather than adding comments upon comments to my own FB post, I decided to collect my thoughts on the subject and put them all in one place in a proper blog.

With all the news about Robin Williams’ suicide, one major point that seems to keep coming up is his ongoing struggle with depression. I can relate; my heart aches for the pain he must have felt to take such drastic steps. As time went by and more details emerged, we learned that Mr. Williams had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at some point. Whether that was a factor in his choice to end his own life is a matter of speculation. I don’t presume to know what he was thinking when he made that choice; nor do I think it’s any of my business. However, I do feel qualified to speak as someone who’s been living with depression for most of her adult life.

Here’s the thing. When depression sinks its teeth into you, you are not thinking clearly. Your perceptions are skewed and you become your own worst enemy. You lie to yourself, insisting that depression isn’t a “real” problem, that your friends and family don’t want to be bothered with your whining and self-pity, and that they’d probably be better off without you dragging them down. There’s the fear that all your future holds is even more pain. Or worse, that if you talk to someone about it, they won’t care.

If you find yourself thinking that way, please, please tell someone. It’s the depression talking, and depression loved nothing more than trash-talking. Your family and friends want to help you. They do care. Your death would cause your loved ones far more pain than listening to you sharing yours. This hit home for me when someone I love came to me and told me how much he’d been struggling. I knew things weren’t right, but had no idea just how bad it was until he opened up and asked me for help. Words can’t express how deeply grateful I am that this person talked to me. Talking alone didn’t fix the problem, but it was a start and a necessary first step in addressing the issue.

While depression can be caused by many things, believe me when I say that it is not self-pity and it is not whining. It is deep, ongoing pain which could be situational, mucked-up brain chemistry, or some combination thereof. What separates depression from the periodic blue periods that are part of normal human existence is that depression does not leave of its own accord. Frankly, depression is a vicious, spiteful bitch who will mess with your head for kicks. Depression makes Mean Girl Extraordinaire Regina George look like Miss Congeniality by comparison. Depression lies. Depression manipulates. Don’t believe what it tells you.

I’ve come to see living with depression as being much like living with diabetes. It can be deadly, but with the right treatment and self-care, it’s totally do-able. And yes, the right treatment (i.e., what works best for you) may involve medication and/or therapy. Even with treatment, you will most likely still go through some rough patches – but you’ll also be better equipped to weather those storms. Your thinking clears up and you can recognize when depression starts trying to creep back in.

It’s also important to remember that the proper treatment won’t leave you wandering around in a haze of perpetual bliss. It’s not meant to. But when you hit the right combination, you’ll be on a more even keel. Many years ago, I got a pair of snowshoes as a Christmas gift. The first time I tried them out, I couldn’t see much of a differenced between walking with snowshoes and walking without them. It seemed to me that the snowshoes weren’t working, since each step was a good 6 inches deep – until I took one off and promptly sank up to my knee. For me, that’s what treatment is like: it’s snowshoes that keep me from sinking into the really deep snow.

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