Trans People Are Mentally Ill (It’s The Comorbidities, Silly!)

I am done mincing words.

Truth Coming Out Of The Well

Liar! Liar! Pants on fire! …Hey, those are mine!!

Comorbidity sounds really heavy, but it’s just a psychology term referring to someone dealing with more than one mental issue at the same time.

Psychologists have noticed some enduring patterns. It’s very common for someone to deal with, say, depression and anxiety together. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 7% of the US will suffer through a major depressive episode at some point.

There’s reason to believe it’s much higher than this. Besides life being hella depressing sometimes, the stigma surrounding mental and emotional struggles keeps many people from talking to anyone about them.

And it’s usually difficult to tease out what causes what. Depression and anxiety go together particularly well, functioning almost as a negative continuum between action and inaction.

I bring all this up to point out that mental illness also has some predictable effects on someone’s life.

Depression and anxiety both shorten your life because they change how you choose to live it. Depressed people are more likely to smoke and drink, so they have higher rates of stuff like alcoholism and cancer, too.

Whenever I hear about how trans people have a ‘very high incidence’ of things like suicide, poor health outcomes and violence (for varying definitions of ‘violence,’ I assume…) I find myself yelling at my screen, “Yes, that’s because they’re mentally ill!”

Everything seems to be en pointe lately, I can’t seem to get away from it. This week at church, Father Mike’s thesis was, “Crazy people are just like the rest of us, only moreso.” This got a good chuckle from the assembled group, but I found it to be a dangerous oversimplification.

He prefaced his speech – Sorry, sermon – by saying he first encountered ‘real crazy’ his first year in seminary. Which I guess is why he finds such glibness amusing.

Some of us had adventures in the Land of Make-Believe a lot earlier. Some of us went against our will, not out of the kindness of our heart. Some of us have been there, done that, got the t-shirt, and burnt it.

Some of us recognize this stuff when we see it as well as we recognize our own family.

Kowch No Turning Back 08

There’s no place like home!

A video celebrating what’s become of Ellen Page made the rounds last week, and I couldn’t get through it. Hearing her talk about finally being comfortable in her body – only after having prominent parts of it removed – broke my heart.

Only finding happiness under the scalpel is mental illness, end of. That is not up for discussion. Anyone saying anything else is selling something. Find me proof the euphoria doesn’t wear off, that it’s not an addictive rabbit hole.

We all understand that people like Catman and the Human Barbie are both a little sideways, but they’re not hurting anyone. They’re not insisting laws recognize their right to live in a zoo, or to lay naked on the floor of little girls’ bedroom closets.

That’s the problem here. The Human Barbie is not going to sue you if she overhears you tell someone she isn’t the real Barbie.

Because she makes no claim to that. Even the Human Barbie knows that would be absurd.

Trans people suffer high rates of all kinds of bad outcomes because they are mentally ill. They lack the wherewithal to properly care for themselves. And they often do encounter prejudice in their daily lives, stemming from the stigma surrounding mental illness.

It’s all fairly run-of-the-mill stuff. Their need to be seen as a new, unique brand of creature just looks pretty damn narcissistic. Narcissism has a very high comorbidity with depression, because life never seems to quite live up to their bloated expectations.

I am sick of being told how vital it is that trans people get ‘affirming’ care. Because no, it isn’t. I’m sick of hearing how dysphoria that persists beyond puberty is a sign of real transness. (Gatekeep much??) This is exactly the opposite of my experience.

Dysphoria beyond puberty is a symptom of unhealed trauma, full stop. Healing is scary because we have to go to the dark places, but the only way out is through. How arrogant to suggest anyone is exempt from learning hard lessons in life!

Can't Even

Seriously y’all, I just can’t even anymore!

It’s been a rough couple of weeks. Marion Millar has been charged with two counts of ‘Malicious Communication’ for tweeting about women’s rights, which is so Orwellian they ought to make him an honorary Scottish citizen. Hubs has been cranky and the kids are all home from school, again.

But I couldn’t let this go any longer. All the droplets condensed into a downpour in my mind and it overflowed onto my keyboard.

Trans people are mentally ill. Indulging them in their parallel ideations serves no one but those looking to profit off of them.

I’ve learned not to be upset when someone accuses me of hating trans people, but sometimes it bites back at me in the form of a stubborn lump in my throat because nothing could be further from the truth. Sometimes loving someone means telling them a hard truth or two.

I can’t affirm someone’s destructive delusion, no matter how many authorities they may invoke. I won’t be beating about the bush on this point anymore, I have seen too many mastectomy scars. For all of the women who I love, I have to rise to the occasion.

Dementia Trumps Donald?

The time has come once again to name names. Donald Trump is draped in red flags.

I usually save my political rants for more general social themes but, once in a while, I feel compelled to get specific. If you like my Trump posts you are in for a treat. If you don’t…. who am I kidding? No way Trumpers read my blog!

Donald Bemused

Not many Trump fans around here!

Several years ago I worked as a Certified Nurse Aide. Seldom have I felt as entitled to the space I take up as when I was changing dementia patients’ diapers. (Not sure what that says about me, but I digress.)

Years before that, I watched first one grandmother and then the other completely forget everything and everyone.

But, I’m a nerd, so my horror led me to research. I have seen and read quite a bit about dementia and, with my family history, it’s seldom far from my mind.

I say all this because, when I tell you that Donald Trump is in trouble, this is my basis for comparison.

Last month video made the rounds of him seemingly losing the word ‘origins.’ He went for it on his mental shelf and it just wasn’t there.

But the really worrying thing is that you can tell he knows. He knows he said the wrong word but can’t do anything about it. He doubles back on his thought and restates it. That goes well so he gets brave and tries again.

“The Mueller Report, I wish, covered the oranges….”

Trump, New York, Usa 15 Aug 2017

Hey, my words mean what I say they do!

This is called aphasia, and it’s a symptom of dementia. Specifically, something called non-fluent variant Primary Progressive Aphasia (nfvPPA.)  The University of California Wellness and Aging Center writes,

“Because it primarily affects the front part of the brain, nfvPPA is considered a subtype of a large group of brain conditions called frontotemporal dementia (FTD).”

Patients usually begin to show signs in their 50s or 60s. Donald is 72.

Many people think of dementia as the granny who goes shopping in her housecoat. Confused, befuddled and comical, depictions of this disease are glib and play for laughs.

But,

“The nonfluent PPA variant accounts for about 20% of all people with frontotemporal dementia.

“People with nfvPPA gradually have more trouble expressing themselves, even though they still understand the meaning of words…. Reading and writing skills usually remain good…. They may have increasing difficulty with pronouncing or mixing up sounds in familiar words.”

Donald Shows Palms

If I speak with authority, you won’t notice I have no idea what I’m talking about!

Trump almost tweets more than he speaks, if not for his tendency to ramble at the podium.

Which, incidentally, is another red flag according to Science Alert:

“New research suggests that rambling and non-specific speech could be early signs of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.”

The article cites, among others, Ronald Reagan as an example of a still-functional person who showed early signs of language difficulties.

The findings were presented to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston by Janet Cohen Sherman. She is Clinical Director of the Psychology Assessment Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The Guardian sums it up,

“Scientists compared the language abilities of 22 healthy young individuals, 24 healthy older individuals and 22 people with MCI [mild cognitive impairment].

“When given an exercise in which they had to join up three words, for instance “pen”, “ink” and “paper”, the healthy volunteers typically joined the three in a simple sentence, while the MCI group gave circuitous accounts of going to the shop and buying a pen.”

Donald Touches Temple

My mental precision is as good as it’s ever done!

Sound familiar?

The Guardian continues:

“They were much less concise in conveying information, the sentences they produced were much longer, they had a hard time staying on point and I guess you could say they were much more roundabout in getting their point across,” said Sherman. “It was a very significant difference.”

Sherman stressed that just being a windbag is not the issue. The issue is deteriorating mental precision.

“Another study, based on White House press conference transcripts, found striking changes in Ronald Reagan’s speech over the course of his presidency, while George HW Bush, who was a similar age when president, showed no such decline.”

So, not only is this a plausible scenario, it has happened before.

Dr Lawrence K Altman bears witness to this for the New York Times. He writes,

“In 1980, Mr. Reagan told me that he would resign the presidency if White House doctors found him mentally unfit. Years later, those doctors and key aides told me they had not detected any changes in his mental abilities while in office.

How Has The Donald Ducked Life's Lessons?

I don’t even know who Ronald Reagan is!

“Now a clever new analysis has found that during his two terms in office, subtle changes in Mr. Reagan’s speaking patterns linked to the onset of dementia were apparent years before doctors diagnosed his Alzheimer’s disease in 1994.”

His doctors might not have been concerned, and even Dr. Altman insists that Reagan was not impaired enough to have affected his Presidential judgment (although that would be a dandy excuse for a few things.) But not everyone was so confident.

The article begins,

“Even before Ronald Reagan became the oldest elected president, his mental state was a political issue. His adversaries often suggested his penchant for contradictory statements, forgetting names and seeming absent-mindedness could be linked to dementia.”

Reagan was 73 in 1980.

The sample size of the language study is small, but it overwhelmingly supports my own observations and those of many others. Often the first signs of dementia are subtle linguistic anomalies.

Donald Arms Crossed

I’ve never done anything wrong in my life! I always have reasons!

And a guy like Donald is the kind of guy who would hide it. Deny, deny, deny.

“People with nfvPPA tend not to show the behavioral characteristics of FTD until quite late in the disease, and they are keenly aware of their difficulties.”

Not to mention an old man who is estranged from his wife, in trouble with the law and apparently spends a shitton of time watching TV and surfing social media:

“Depression and social withdrawal are common features of nfvPPA.”

I am neither the first nor the most qualified person to suggest that Donald is suffering from some kind of mental deficiency. It would be easy to brush off such claims as haters hating.

But even if I thought my personal axe-grinding makes any difference, the man speaks for himself.