Author:Paul Gilmartin

Heather Marlowe

The writer/performer opens up about being drugged and raped and the pressure she has been putting on the San Francisco police department to process the thousands of warehoused rape kits whose DNA could help catch the predators who remain unapprehended.

Follow Heather on Twitter @HeatherMarlowe  To find out more about her play The Haze go to www.thehazeplay.com

This episode is sponsored by Rooted.  To sign or find out more information go to www.rootedcenter.com

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Terri Hartman

The 54 year-old shares about her battles with fibromyalgia, her physically abusive mother, how her illness affects her relationships, her anxieties and how expressing her emotions helped the intensity of her physical pain.

This episode is sponsored by Rooted.  For more information go to www.rootedcenter.com

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The Pit of Despair: A guest blog by L Jean Schwartz

There’s a place I call the Pit of Despair, and sometimes I end up at the bottom of it. It’s not a geographic place of course, though that might make it easier to avoid. I could tell my GPS to avoid routes that lead to the Pit of Despair, but I’m working on training my Emotional GPS to avoid those routes, and how to recognize when I’m starting to slip to the bottom of the Pit. Only recently have I named the Pit, been able to talk to other people about it, and learned what I need to do when I’m at the bottom of the Pit: reach out for help.

But that’s easier said than done. I’ve dealt with depression and disordered eating for about half my life (and the anxiety those bring), I cut as a teenager and I still battle self-destructive impulses. I’m lucky to have many loving, supportive friends and family members, I see a therapist, and I still struggle with reaching out for help.  I worry about whether I’m inconveniencing someone by asking for support, if it will send me further down if they aren’t available to help, if they’ll get mad at me for what I’m feeling, if they’ll just dismiss it or tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way.  I think that’s one of the hardest things about depression/anxiety, etc. is that I often know I “shouldn’t” feel that way or wish I didn’t feel that way, but that doesn’t change the fact that I do.

It’d be like there’s a beautiful sunset but there’s a snarling lion right in front of you. Yes the sunset is beautiful, but you probably can’t enjoy it because you’re afraid for your life! If someone says, “Look at the beautiful sunset! Why can’t you enjoy how beautiful it is?” that doesn’t make the lion go away. Being mad at someone for being afraid of the snarling lion or dismissing their fear doesn’t make it go away. Unlike real lions, one of the most helpful things someone can do when there’s a lion in our minds is to be supportive and listen. Empathy can actually be very easy, and I hope it’s something more people can practice and value. It’s healing to let go of trying to seem perfect to each other and talk honestly about the challenges we all face.

I’m a writer/director/comedian and I make comedies about things you’re not supposed to laugh about to help open up these discussions. A friend said recently that he makes films that are like spilling your guts, and I realized I make films that are like spilling your guts and then laughing about how weird guts look. My protagonists are usually oddballs in some way, and I tell stories of them finding other people who are weird like they’re weird and finding a place they belong. That’s catharsis to me, not faking it to fit into other people’s idea of “normal” but finding other people who love you for the oddball that you are. People who will stand by your side whether there are snarling lions, beautiful sunsets, or both at the same time.

L Jean Schwartz is a writer/director/comedian, you can follow her on Twitter @ljeanerator and her film The Average Girl’s Guide to Suicide @taggts_ – more information at www.taggts.com

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Matty McVarish

A survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Matty could no longer bear the silence he saw around him, so he started Road to Change and walked 10,000 miles across Europe to  raise awareness and in the process helped change laws in several countries.

For more information on Road to Change go to www.roadtochange.eu or visit the Facebook page

Follow Matty on Twitter @RoadtoChangeEU

To donate your time or money to Free Arts, the program Paul talked about that helps underserved kids in Los Angeles through art, visit www.FreeArts.org

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Kelly M.

The 24 year-old shares about identifying as asexual and gender-fluid as well as the hurdle of coming to terms with a childhood that wasn’t overtly abusive, just void of connection.  They also talk about Kelly’s OCD, anxiety, depression and love of fan fiction.

To help abused children express themselves through art, support the Free Arts project in Los Angeles.  Visit www.freearts.org  You can donate money or see what it takes to become a volunteer.

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Jensen Karp

The writer/ ex-rapper/ entrepreneur/ podcaster talks about living with Obsessive Thoughts Disorder, being molested by a 19 year-old female when he was 13 and the ways his disorder interpreted the trauma until he saw it as such.

Follow Jensen on Twitter @JensenClan88

Visit his website www.jensenkarp.com

Check out his art gallery Gallery88 on Melrose Ave in Los Angeles.

Listen to his podcast Get Up On This

 

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The First Time I Dressed Up As a Transwoman: A Guest Blog by Christiana Cranberry

In 1989, I was a sixteen year old with a mother who was a very heavy sleeper. Nights meant I could finally “dress” in the outfit I’d collected by sometimes unsavory means. Mostly from shoplifting sometimes at the mall down the road. A black skirt, high heels, and a simple blouse weren’t something I could just carry to the cash register and buy. I knew stealing was wrong, but I could finally soothe that nagging feeling. The purr that quickly turned into a roar, and me into a monster who yelled at my friends incoherently. Maybe because they all seemed so comfortable in their skin, and the eyes of society. I was angry, and dejected from a night of not fitting in, so I began dressing up as soon as I was home for the night. It was very late, and I was as drunk as I had ever been.

Up to that point I was buying cigarettes to share with my friends when they came over really desperate. In my cloudy haze I began to think I should go get a pack for myself. This was something I was absolutely mortified of normally, but right then I was feeling fearless. I decided I could take my Honda Elite scooter the six blocks, buy smokes, and be home in no time flat. I park it out front of the shop, but can I go in? Maybe the guy inside would make fun of me? I can only hope that’s not true, but my heart was racing. Next thing I knew, I was inside the brightly lit store. The clerk seems a little confused by my scared look, but with little hesitation, sells me the cigarettes. Easier to just get me out of the place, I’m sure. I left in a hurry, too.

I had done it! I had walked through life, dressed as my true self. As opposed to the walk around the block almost every transwoman has done. So relieved, yet still flustered, I jump on my cycle and tear out of the parking lot. I’m in such a hurry to get home, I speed through the stop sign. In my peripheral vision I barely registered the car speeding up from under the railroad underpass to my left. It hits the back of my scooter with a terrible force that throws me to the concrete. It’s like a thousand fists at once. As soon as I realized what’s happening, and the trouble I was in, I’m up and moving. The man in the car started to get out, and without thinking really, I began to scream “just go! I’m okay, I’m okay! GO! I really saw fear mirrored in the eyes of this poor guy, who might had been drunk as well, equally confused at all that was happening. He seemed worried, but relieved to extricate himself from such a crazy scene. Alone again, I go to lift my Honda Elite 180 scooter off the ground. I have put it down a couple times before, but this time the engine is literally hanging out of the back, so I wasn’t that surprised when it didn’t start.

In a feat of superhuman strength I drag the very totaled remains to the side of the road. After I shabbily covered the lifeless scooter with several sticks, I ran all the way home. I sprinted as fast as I possibly could wearing three inch heels which was pretty fast under the circumstances. Sobered up by the specter of death, I washed my face, changed back into my male uniform, and went quickly to sleep. I just wanted the nightmare to end.

It was far from over though. Without having a chance to dream, I woke up an hour later to my mom shouting the police were at the door. I grabbed a glass of day old water and drank it down quickly. It was either effective at masking the smell of beer, or the officer had sympathy for me. I could only imagine what I looked like. Remnants of mascara around my eyes, tears flowing. I didn’t mention dressing up or drinking that night. Half of an hour later, I was out of his car, and safe at home again. I was given a ticket for driving without a license and leaving the scene of an accident. It would be about fifteen more years before I would get the courage to live full-time. It is unfortunate because I had to experience a few hundred more nightmares trying to live as the guy I was most definitely not born to be. Now that I’ve thrived as a woman for almost a decade, I wish I could tell my younger self how less scary it is than hiding. Once I was out, and I was finished covering the tracks of misfortune and shame, only then could I find true agency, and start to heal.

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Jeanie Bergen

The 30 year-old writer talks about being parentless at 3 and the complex relationship with her mentally disabled sister whom she now has guardianship of.  She and Paul bond over suicidal thoughts, isolating and much much more!

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