Archive for Sunday, 29 April, 2012

Depression and the Vampire

Posted: Sunday, 29 April, 2012 by deacongray in Uncategorized


According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), depression is “a common but serious illness” (NIMH, 2011). We all feel sad from time to time; it is a normal part of humanity. When that feeling persists, however, and infiltrates our daily lives, interfering with our ability to perform even the most basic of tasks, it becomes depression. There are many forms of depressions, some more well-known than others. These include major depression, dysthymia, minor depression, psychotic depression, postpartum depression, seasonal affective disorder, and bipolar disorder (also known as manic-depressive illness). Like our vampirism, those of us within the community might share the same illness and experience the same symptoms, but we are all affected differently. Just as this makes it hard for us to tell another that they are X kind of vampire, it is hard for us to know what form another’s depression might take, or how best to treat it. Questions linger – Am I clinically depressed? How can I be sure? Who can I turn to for help? When should I get help? How does my depression affect my vampirism? How does my vampirism affect my depression? Is there a connection between the two?

Vampirism as a genetic condition has no concrete supporting evidence (nor does most of that which falls under the study of modern vampires, but that is another story for another day), but the idea certainly has its supporters. According to NIMH (2011), depression is most likely “caused by a combination of genetic biological, environmental, and psychological factors.” It seems to me that this could also define vampirism. Symptoms of depression include persistent sad feeling, hopelessness, pessimism, guilt, worthlessness, irritability, loss of interest in activities, fatigue and decreased energy, insomnia, overeating, appetite loss, aches, pains, headaches, cramps, and thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts. How many of us have felt those same symptoms? That is not to say that we are all just deluded and depressed. Our needs are real, but the similarity is there.

Many of us went through our “awakenings” alone. It was a hard time for us, whether it happened at puberty or later in life. We did not know what was going on; we had no one to turn to; and we did not always know how to ask the questions that needed to be asked. Either we did not have the right words, or we simply did not have the questions. Just as we have all been lucky enough to find and establish a connection with the vampire community, offline or on, those who suffer from depression are now blessed with many places they can turn. Just like finding the online vampire community (OVC), it can take some searching, but finding help is worth the search. NIMH provides some great pointers for those wanting to help themselves if they believe they are depressed (2011):

  • Mental health specialists, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, or mental health counselors
  • Health maintenance organizations
  • Community mental health centers
  • Hospital psychiatry departments and outpatient clinics
  • Mental health programs at universities or medical schools
  • State hospital outpatient clinics
  • Family services, social agencies, or clergy
  • Peer support groups
  • Private clinics and facilities
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Local medical and/or psychiatric societies
  • You can also check the phone book under “mental health,” “health,” “social services,” “hotlines,” or “physicians” for phone numbers and addresses. An emergency room doctor also can provide temporary help and can tell you where and how to get further help.
  • ·

There are a great many resources out there as well:

  • Mental health specialists, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, or mental health counselors
  • Health maintenance organizations
  • Community mental health centers
  • Hospital psychiatry departments and outpatient clinics
  • Mental health programs at universities or medical schools
  • State hospital outpatient clinics
  • Family services, social agencies, or clergy
  • Peer support groups
  • Private clinics and facilities
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Local medical and/or psychiatric societies
  • You can also check the phone book under “mental health,” “health,” “social services,” “hotlines,” or “physicians” for phone numbers and addresses. An emergency room doctor also can provide temporary help and can tell you where and how to get further help.
  • ·

And if you, or someone you know, are in a crisis:

  • If you are thinking about harming yourself, or know someone who is, tell someone who can help immediately.
  • Do not leave your friend or relative alone, and do not isolate yourself.
  • Call your doctor.
  • Call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room to get immediate help, or ask a friend or family member to help you do these things.
  • Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889) to talk to a trained counselor.

But none of this really addresses those within the community who also have depression, in any form. This article started because I have been diagnosed with – and constantly struggle with – depression. From an early age, I have gone through some of the lowest of moods of anyone I know. Depression runs in my family. My mother and brother have also been diagnosed with major depression. My husband might only admit to being depressed due to certain personal situations, yet I honestly believe he too has major depression. If we were to have children, there is no doubt they too would be diagnosed with this illness. I thought I was alone as I struggled with understanding my needs for external energy, could it be possible I am not the only one in the community who struggles with depression, as well?

Keeping others like myself in mind, I initially looked about the community for members interested in participating in an interview. Not only did I have more respondents than I initially expected, several requested that it be kept completely anonymous. I decided to make it completely anonymous and created a survey. Yes, there has been some confusion over the purpose of the survey, just as there has been some derision over the survey. We have even been accused of wanting to link vampirism to mental illness. Nothing could be further from the truth. I might not have any scientific studies to back me up, but I know that my vampirism is not all in my head; I know I am not crazy. Yes, the community has its share of crazies, not even including those who are not actually members, such as the criminals who constantly get labeled by the media as a vampire due to blood being involved in their crime. We cannot deny that there are crazy people in this community. Well, I cannot. I refuse to do so. Just because something is not pleasant does not mean it is not there. Having a mental illness, of any kind, does not negate vampirism (although it should give you serious pause when considering someone as a donor), even if others would have it be so. Perhaps those individuals need to be handled more carefully, but the most likely still need the support of the community.

And even recently, we have seen that there is still a stigma attached to mental illness and even treatment of that illness, which is supported in the survey with approximately 80% of respondents stating they have noticed symptoms of depression yet chose not to seek out professional help. This stigma just should not be. We are born who we are. And it is especially disturbing to find such a stigma so rampant within a community of vampires. Do we not fight the stigma of mythical and fictional creatures on a daily basis? Stigma can be destroyed, however, without understanding. I do hope that we can come together to create that understanding, regardless of how long it takes.

I can supply a copy of the survey if readers would like. I know that I learned a lot from creating it. I have learned that I am not alone in this struggle to maintain both my physical and mental health. I have learned that a lot of community members have some great “insider” tips for those out there who are also struggling. I think the most important thing I took away from this whole experience is that there is a gaping hole in the community when it comes to resources for vampires with depression. With that in mind, I created a safe haven for my fellow community members. It is open to everyone, run by community members (not professionals), and is growing all the time as new discussions and information are added. I invite you to join those of us already there…

http://gypsupportgroup.ning.com/?xgi=2hVJAvb8S3YAkj

 

 

 

Between Predator and Victim

Posted: Sunday, 29 April, 2012 by deacongray in Uncategorized

“Finding my measure between the savage dark predator, and the guilt at the pain and chaos it causes.”- 

“I wanted to devour her. Over the last few nights I had found her at the club, watched her moving her body sensually to the dark industrial beats. She smiled at me over her demure shoulder, a smile that stood out against the dark shining hair that screamed Asian heritage. It was a smile that said more than yes…it begged to claimed, to be taken to new places in life and lust. It was a smile that said she would fold to me, to my black hunger.

The music faded and a new song stirred the souls of the dancers, but my beautiful flower moved off the floor and over toward her table, her green eyes searching the crowd and finding me, than darting away girlishly. I could have her, every fiber of my being knew it was true, and I felt a quickening inside me at the idea of her flesh molding around mine. 

I would have her, and claim her, make the beautiful daisy of a girl she was, wilt in the heat, and be diminished in the storm of my need.

Guilt flooded over and through me, and without a word I slipped away from my table and wandered off into the night. My hunger would have to be satisfied by lesser delights. I simply couldn’t raze her soul like I had so many others.”

In the vampire movies and books the struggle has been played time and again in the darkening hearts of the main character. Always there is that pull toward the wicked, the dark aspect of their being, and then the moral foundation on which they had been raised. The struggle is a wicked torment, dramatic and in its own way romantic. We don’t live in novels and movies however, and real life has trials all of its own.

The way we are raised often comes into conflict with the very nature of our being. The Night Kind, those of us, no matter what you call yourself, that have found ourselves living a shadowed life. A life that at one extreme leads toward the darkest parts of our souls, and at the other extreme the tragic suffering at the denial of what we truly are and hunger for.

A friend recently told me that he felt like the community as a whole was pressing the Predator inside him back into the coffin. Like many others he felt the strong pull toward the hunt, toward the aspects of hunger and need that for so long in his life he had been told wasn’t moral. Now the very community that once roared its way out of the darkness, was now sitting in the edge of declaring its own soccer mom rules. Worst they declare themselves victims of a foul affliction.

It seemed like I was looking at two extremes one end of the bell curve sat the most wicked, the most savage of us. Perhaps it is those we all poopoo when they step outside of what the community, indeed humanity, feels is acceptable. The killers that proclaim themselves vampires, the ones we rightfully disavow.

One the other end is the Victim. The ones to whom this community itself is a sham, one that sprung up under the shadow of being forced to need energy from others. Those who struggle against their nature, wishing they could be cured of it, that their illness could be uncovered and fixed so that those hungers would simply go away.

I have always wondered at it, the balance it seems to me we all need to find, the classic yin yang in the very nature and disposition in which we currently reside. How is it that we can have such dark drives, the hunters drive, and yet not lose control, and still be able to live with who and what we are?

Finding a balance to me seems like the only way, but of course that is the obvious way as well. Yet how do we find this balance, this Twilight between our night side and the day side of our existence? It is perhaps the most common question, even the first question people as when they come into the community, and yet still the divide remains in the community and is not quickly to come to a end.

It is not just the individual balance at peril; it is the very soul of the community swing on the pendulum. The divide between those on one side or the other of the debate seem unable to find any real balance between them.

Perhaps this is where we start our path, perhaps this is in itself the point of awakening the point of understanding our nature, and learning we have to find out how to abide it, and make it become at one with who we are day to day. Perhaps we it is truly what we are learning, how to be who we are, and yet survive in this humanity in which we also reside, without getting lost in the light. Perhaps these are not new thoughts, but they have been on my mind.

Deacon Gray