Mercedes Killeen is a Toronto based award-winning professional author, editor, and blogger with over 12 years of professional writing experience. Her work has been published widely in places like Shameless Magazine and The Financial Diet. She’s released two collections of poetry, Tulips (2016, 2018), and Using a Spoon as a Knife (2020), with Grey Borders Books. Mercedes is openly queer and interested in discussing LGBT+ topics, as well as mental health advocacy/sobriety.
INCLUDED IN THIS EPISODE (But not limited to):
· A Breakdown Of Some Original Poetry
· LGBTQIA Terms
· Identity Fluidity
· Cougar Confessions
· Coming Out
· Catholic Cuntiness
· Family Religious Fuckery
· Mental Health Struggles
· Daddy Issues
· Substance Misuse
· The KONMARI METHOD
CONNECT WITH MERCEDES:
Using A Knife As A Spoon: https://amzn.to/3pyZhaN
· LGBTQIA DEFITNITIONS: https://bit.ly/3pF7wST
· THE KONMARI METHOD: https://bit.ly/3pz3jA5
CONNECT WITH DE’VANNON:
· Pray Away Documentary (NETFLIX)
o TRAILER: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tk_CqGVfxEs
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You’re listening to the sex drugs and Jesus podcast, where we discuss whatever the fuck we want to. And yes, we can put sex and drugs and Jesus all in the same bed and still be all right. At the end of the day, my name is De’Vannon and I’ll be interviewing guests from every corner of this world. As we dig into topics that are too risqué for the morning show, as we strive to help you understand what’s really going on in your life..
There is nothing off the table and we’ve got a lot to talk about. So let’s dive right into this episode.
De’Vannon: Good day to you all. And thank you so much for joining the sex drugs and Jesus podcast. Again this week, I appreciate each and every last one of you immensely today, I’m talking with Mercedes Killeen, who was based out of Toronto. She is openly queer. She is in love with herself and she is here to help you get more in love with yourself too.
She has blessed the world with two poetry books. One is called tulips and the other one is called using a spoon as a [00:01:00] knife ain’t that a hell of a title in in both of those books, she really gets into some interesting poetry that has a strong sexual and religious nature to it. And I found it to be quite fascinating.
And in this episode, we’ll talk about coming out mental health struggles, something called the KonMari method. And we’ll also talk a little bit about. How I’m enjoying becoming a Cougar as I approach 40 years old. Thank you so much again for listening and I hope you enjoy the episode.
Mercedes, welcome to the sex drugs and Jesus podcast today. How the fuck are you feeling?
Mercedes: I’m doing okay. I’m doing okay. How are you?
De’Vannon: Oh my God. I’m just grand and fabulous on a Friday afternoon. I love your, I love your name. Mercedes reminds me of that song. I think it’s from the eighties or the nineties. And it was do you?
on a ride in my Mercedes
Mercedes: Well, I don’t think I’ve heard that one. [00:02:00] Oh, I need to check it out.
De’Vannon: and the hook. And then she goes, do you on a ride in Mercedes boy this she’s like, right, bro, you got your whole song out there.
Mercedes: I don’t even know. Yeah.
De’Vannon: Well, now you now that’s your homework. All right. I’m super excited today to be talking with you. You have such a youthful energy and a strong literary angle that you’re bringing to the table. You know, of course you have your two fabulous poetry books using a spoon as a knife and tulips, and you have a cute website and interesting blog and everything of, so I’m going to give you a moment or two, just to tell us anything else you’d like to like everyone in the world to know about you.
Mercedes: Yeah. So I work in marketing, like that’s my [00:03:00] day job. But yeah, my passion is writing. So I’ve been doing poetry pretty much forever since I was super young. And then the past few years kind of transitioned more into like personal finance, blogging. But yeah, kind of both are my passions. And yeah, I, I write a lot about mental health.
That’s kind of my main topic that I write about. And just, yeah, really trying to break down the stigma surrounding it with my work. Yeah.
De’Vannon: No, that’s a very, very good. Now I want you to do for us a poetry reading of like your favorite poems , because in researching you, I read where you’ve had the experience of when you’ve been out doing a reading or performance of not sure the exact right way to term for it, but UV. That you can motion from the audience that you had people coming up to you telling you their personal stories of addictions [00:04:00] and whatnot after so and no, no people, I didn’t warn her shit.
And I was gonna ask her I’m notorious on here for getting like musicians and people to just do impromptu performances and shit. And I don’t tell them
Mercedes: Okay. My books to have them on the side.
De’Vannon: she wasn’t worn. She wasn’t one more that never warned them. This is, this is my way of having fun.
Mercedes: So do you want me to just do one phone? Like one of my favorites.
De’Vannon: Yeah. Any anyone that you would like to do? I don’t care what it is. Just go for it.
Mercedes: Okay. Let me just,
so this one is from tulips and it’s called oral fixation swallow medication. Brush teeth, eat, smoke, a Belmont chew gum, put on lipstick, bite your lip all day smoke another Belmont, eat smoke to [00:05:00] kiss, blow, smoke to swallow medication, brush teeth. So that’s probably one of the, yeah, it’s more it’s dear to my hearts.
De’Vannon: Applause applause, applause. You know, we snap our fingers like they do in the speakeasies and so
De’Vannon: much for that written dish. And I noticed that there was a strong sexual theme in your writings in such. Why might that be.
Mercedes: I’m I just feel like I’m just a very sex, positive person. I think it’s definitely like a part of my identity and something, you know, loves to talk about. Yeah. You know, like I know, like with your podcasts, from what I’ve read, like it’s very like talking about taboo topics. So that’s kind of what I aim to do with my writing is kinda talk about things that sometimes people don’t want to talk about including mental health or sexuality or things like that.
De’Vannon: And how do you identify sexually
Mercedes: Yeah. I I’m queer. I use either queer or bisexual kind of whatever feels better on any given day. But yeah, I liked the term queer. Yeah.
De’Vannon: as you identify as like what gender?
Mercedes: I identify as a, she, her as a woman. Yeah, yeah,
De’Vannon: I can feel you on that. How it feels on that day? I like to be all the letters, LGBTQ I a we’ll have them all at the X, Y, Z by the time we’re done. And or like how, how God says in the Hebrew Bible, when they, when Moses asked him what his name is, the Lord told him, I am that I am
Mercedes: That’s me.
De’Vannon: trying to put me in a box Moses and get,
Mercedes: I love it.[00:07:00]
De’Vannon: but he doesn’t know, you know, he fell a little different. I was hanging out with my boyfriend and north of Atlanta in his home town, like a week or two ago. And I met some of his hot childhood friends with the first time that we’ve been together almost three years.
De’Vannon: And one of them, he needs me and I’m fucking with him.
And I’m like, he’s all like calling me like a sir or something like that because I’m a Cougar, you know, my board was like 24 and all of his friends are like in the, I think the low to mid twenties. And I was just getting my jolly life, just all the young masculine energy. And so I’m a total succubus.
And and I was like, no, call me ma’am. And he couldn’t like, it didn’t click in his head. And he just kept like wanting to like, not today. My eyebrows are waxed perfectly. I just left the salon and everything like that. And now today he is a she.
Mercedes: I love it. Love it.
De’Vannon: And so how do you feel about [00:08:00] the way we can, you know, choose to identify and everything? You know, a person might want to feel like a man the day, like a woman tomorrow. Maybe they want to be. Non-binary today, maybe they might, you know, get a sex change, you know, is this, you know, does this, you know, is this a confused of the thing or is it good that we’re able to explore?
What do you think.
Mercedes: I think it’s a beautiful thing. Yeah. Like that fluidity. I, yeah, I think it’s a great thing. Like if more people feel more comfortable to be more fluid in, you know, their sexuality or their gender identity, I think that’s only a good thing. Yeah, we shouldn’t be, have to put people in boxes, you know, be, feel different day-to-day and your identities can change too.
De’Vannon: Absolutely. And there’s people out there who had never gone to accept that. And that’s okay. What we’re creating here, safe space and safe community so that people know that they are not alone. [00:09:00] So there, you know, if there’s anybody out there who, some days you feel like the man, some days you feel like a woman, honey, you, my favorite line from the movie girls trip you know, you really can have it all.
Mercedes: Yes, yes,
De’Vannon: you really
Mercedes: can. Yeah.
De’Vannon: it. You say, Hey man, Oh, wow.
Mercedes: Oh, sorry. Did you say, do I say, or can I say
De’Vannon: I thought you had just, I thought you had just given me an amen? here on a Friday,
Mercedes: amen? Sorry. I didn’t, I didn’t mean to turn you down. I thought you said, do you say it, like, do I say it normally?
De’Vannon: because you do have some, some church references that we’re going to get into when I talk about one of the points there in the moment. So, so that’s that’s all very hella hella. Cool. So Demi sexual is a term I recently discovered, and I think that it’s. Sexy. And I think that I’m in that category too.
And a demisexual [00:10:00] person is somebody who can be attracted to any, any kind of pansexual transsexual doesn’t matter. But the, the, the, the hook there is that we have to have some sort of emotional connection with not saying we’re going to run off in Mario ass, but we’re saying we do need to know at least your name and maybe like some of your ambitions in life before you stick it in
Mercedes: yeah, yeah. I can feel that. Yeah. Yeah. I can understand that.
De’Vannon: which, which gets away from meaningless sex in your and one of your points. You talk about how you like that in a way to, with everything that you are no apps, and you get annoyed with this, and you’re annoyed with that. And you mentioned that you were annoyed with the absolutely. And because of how casual sex can be or what, what was it exactly about it?
Mercedes: I just, I find dating [00:11:00] exhausting. I find, I find the whole thing. Exhausting. And yeah, I mean, I don’t really Yeah. I, I don’t really, like sometimes I will just have casual sex and link. That’s cool. So I wouldn’t say that’s like really what annoyed me about the apps? I just, I dunno, it’s just a lot, like, you know, the messaging and then the, you know, meeting up or doing now zoom calls or whatever.
It’s just like, it’s a lot, it’s like going on, like job interviews or something. It’s a lot of effort.
De’Vannon: Okay. Yeah. I hadn’t been single in a long ass time, but I remember the, it was exhausting. You’re like, you know what, I’ll just back into masturbate, play with a couple of dildos tonight and call it a day.
De’Vannon: So, what do you feel like are some of the issues facing the LGBTQ plus alphabet mafia community?
Mercedes: Yes. [00:12:00] Something that I’ve experienced a little bit is like, kind of like BI erasure or like femme or Frasier with like people just because I present as more as like a femme, like woman you know, people kind of assume that I’m straight. So like, even when I’ve gone to LGBT plus plus events people would just be like, oh, are you like an ally or something?
And I’m like, no, I’m an ally. Like I’m super gay. But it’s just like, I do encounter that a little bit with, with presenting more as like a traditionally feminine kind of presentation.
De’Vannon: That’s interesting. No, so that the, does it make you feel bad or offended? Like how do you feel about that though?
Mercedes: Yeah, it just I don’t know, it’s, there’s so many different ways to be queer or to your part of [00:13:00] the LGBT plus community. So it just give you a little frustrating, like when people will just like assume that I’m straight, just because like, I like lipstick or something, you know? But yeah, it can, it can just be a little frustrating.
I’ve definitely had a hard time, like, like with the mental health stuff, like I have a lot of social anxiety, so it can be kind of, I’ve found it kind of hard to like find that community like after coming out. But yeah, a lot of that, I feel like it’s just my, my social anxiety as well. Yeah.
De’Vannon: How did you come out? What was that experience like? And when did that happen?
Mercedes: Yeah. I came out about four or five years ago, so I was around like 21 or so. And yeah, it was, I came out first to my friends. And then it came out to my family. But it was definitely like, you know, a little bit later, like a lot of people are coming up quite young these days, so it definitely felt like, you know, I could’ve come out sooner, but [00:14:00] I was like, you know, like we’re, if we’re going to get into the church stuff, but I was I was raised Catholic, so I
De’Vannon: Oh Lord.
Mercedes: Yeah. I had a lot of shame. Yeah.
De’Vannon: anything but Catholic.
Mercedes: Yeah. I had a lot of shame around my my queerness. Even though I didn’t. Pretty much from the time I ever first had memories that I was definitely like, not straight. I just, yeah, it took me a long time to get there to actually like admit it to myself. Yeah.
De’Vannon: Okay. So did you come out to your friends first? That’s kind of like training wheels or your family, or was it because you were more comfortable with your friends? Why them first?
Mercedes: Yeah. I think I was just more comfortable with my friends. I knew it was going to be like super chill. I didn’t really anticipate, you know, anyone being like rude about it which they were lovely. And yeah, I wasn’t super scared with my family. But yeah, I just felt, felt more comfortable with my friends first.
De’Vannon: What is it that the Catholic [00:15:00] church told you that made you so uncomfortable with who you are? And I know they say a lot of shit, so just like, just whatever you want to say, you didn’t have to tell me the whole Canon.
Mercedes: Yeah. I think just basically the idea that, you know, being gay is a sin and you know, you’re going to go to hell and, you know, just generally portrayed as not a great thing. So then when you’re a kid and you start having these feelings and you’re thinking maybe, you know, maybe I like girls, then, then it’s not something you’re like really itching to tell people, like, it’s something you’re like, okay, maybe this is something I’m going to like, keep to myself, like, I’m going to, I’m going to keep this one under wraps.
And yeah, I, I would kind of a unique position because one of my uncles is gay and like has been openly gay since I was a kid. So I knew, like I had a member of my family who like had a husband and was like out and proud and everything. And my parents were. Very accepting of him. So I didn’t have from my family, [00:16:00] those messages of like being gay is bad or anything like that, but it was more like internally.
I was just didn’t want to talk about it.
in. You know, churches like that are very abusive. In my opinion, the people who are, you know, LGBTQ I’m a big proponent, you know, and I’ve said it before, and I’ll say that, but Julian times are people non straight people, stop going to churches that do not celebrate you.
De’Vannon: You’re doing yourself a disservice.
And let me be clear this whole what’s the bullshit they tell us. We, we love you. We just don’t love the sin. That, that buttery, that that’s like a fuck that too. We’re we’re, we’re, we’re moving beyond going to places where we’re just merely going to be tolerated or partially accepted and all of that.
Now you there [00:17:00] player, there are spiritual institutions out there. That are fully LGBTQ plus affirming who accepts you or however many of you, all the interrelationship, however you identify it doesn’t matter. Your gifts are celebrated. The wholeness of who you are, those are the, is what’s accepted. Those are the sort of places that you want to go stop going to churches that preach against your lifestyle.
That was uncomfortable for them, but don’t give them our money. The gay dollar is strong. They don’t deserve one fucking penny. And you’re just, you’re just doing a mental, mental, you’re hurting yourself mentally by going in a place like that. And, and look, I know your parents have had to, or trying to influence you.
And that happens a lot in Catholicism. People are like, okay, we are a Catholic family. And so you must do this. I don’t believe religion is something that’s supposed to be inherited from family. I think that it’s a personal journey and each individual person should find their own path. [00:18:00] So I would like to.
Release people today from the bondage of feeling like you have to be whatever religion that your family is, and that’s the bitch to break away from. I know it’s difficult,
De’Vannon: but I am gonna say this. And then I’m Michelle, shut the hell up. I just think the Catholic church has balls at you fucking big. They just come up with shit on their own.
Like they say, somebody commit suicide. Then they have to go to hell.
De’Vannon: You know, who came up with that? That’s not in the Bible,
De’Vannon: but what are your thoughts on some things like that? The Catholic church says, and the influence that family has over people’s religious choices.
Mercedes: I I’ll just say I’m not a fan of the Catholic church either. I went to Catholic elementary school, Catholic high school, like I was in it. So yeah, it’s not [00:19:00] something, I mean, if someone really feels called and is like, You know, the core values, you know, the they’re able to bring that into their lives and be loving people like you know, you do you, but it’s not something I would ever, yeah.
I want to support myself after having been in it for so long. Yeah, I think there’s, yeah. Other, other ways to like, find out how to be a good person or to find meaning other than religion. But yeah, it, it’s hard. It’s tricky with the family piece, you know, it’s hard, it’s, it’s such a cultural thing and yeah, it can get tricky.
De’Vannon: And then when the thing about it, that was when we. Di transitioned into our spirit forms and we stand in front of our creator. You know, our families are not going to be there with us. You know, it’s, it’s going to be very much a personal conversation about how we lived our lives and mom and dad and sister and brother, and for God’s sakes, not the preacher or the pastor, the Cardinal know they alone.
They ain’t [00:20:00] got shit to do with it unless they told you wrong and led you astray, but then that’ll be a part of their own judgment, but the shit was no different in the Pentecostal church where I grew up at everything was a sin with them, dancing, drinking, smoking, masturbation, you know, wearing the women, wearing too much jewelry, you know, every damn thing.
And so it was this bad, bad, bad, bad, bad. So it’s no surprise that, you know, you have your own history of mental health struggles. I do. Mental health issues are a big fucking deal in the, in the gay community. It’s this like ridiculous. And our suicide rates are through the roof and, you know, our. You know, people cutting themselves and hurting themselves, you know, or in various different sorts of things, you know, where is this coming from?
You know, what do you think Mercedes is? We, we, we weren’t born with the inclination to not like ourselves. Where the fuck, where do do you think we’re getting this from.
Mercedes: Yeah, I think it’s something learned. Like I definitely, [00:21:00] you know, didn’t like, I don’t think I like was born thinking that my queer identity was something bad or inherently wrong or that I needed to hide or that was shameful. But yeah, it’s definitely something that you pick up. I mean, I would say even outside of the church, just our culture, every culture in general, just growing up, I, I didn’t feel.
You know, to me, I didn’t feel like being queer was something that I don’t know. I didn’t see it being celebrated or being portrayed you know, in popular media and things like that. So I think just over time, I just kinda, yeah. Developed, yeah, just like this shame and like, just not wanting to talk about my queer identity, even though I was very, very accepting of other people being queer or, or LGBT plus or whatever.
For some reason I felt like it wasn’t okay for me, like to be queer.
De’Vannon: Well, it is very okay for you to be queer. I accept you for who you are on whatever day of the week. It [00:22:00] might be who or whoever you might be that weekend. And I love your variety.
Mercedes: Thank you. Appreciate it.
De’Vannon: Oh, anytime sugar. So your book using a spoon as a knife why did you call it that? What would make you name your book that.
Mercedes: So it’s a very particular thing. I when you’re in the mental hospital in a crisis unit a lot of the times they won’t give you knives when they serve you your meal. So I had like just this vivid memory of like sitting there and being in a mental hospital in a crisis area, trying to cut a piece of meat, like two little plastic spoons.
And it’s just like this like weird image or whatever where it’s like, you know, you just don’t have your humanity, you know, you’re not even allowed to have a knife. And I understand [00:23:00] why for safety, but it’s just a very dehumanizing experience to be sitting there, like trying to cut through a piece of meat with a spoon.
De’Vannon: Oh, Yeah,
I’ve been in a couple of those mental hospitals, myself, you know, no shoestrings allowed making macaroni art, that type of shit.
De’Vannon: But tell me what led you to the mental hospital? How many times have you been in one?
Mercedes: A lot, I’d say like 20, 30 plus times. Yeah, a
De’Vannon: Ah, okay. Well that blows my two or three trips out the water.
Mercedes: Yeah. It’s been, it’s been a journey.
De’Vannon: Okay. Well, give me like your most dramatic story that landed you in the mental hospital.
Mercedes: Honestly every time was basically the same as I just get suicidal. And that’s usually what sent me probably the wildest one was like me ending up there after. necessarily attempting [00:24:00]suicide, but just like drinking to the point where like, you know, that could have been possible, like just drinking an insane amount of, of like whiskey or whatever.
So just like being there and, you know, just vomiting all the time that I’m there and trying to talk to like the nurse or whatever. And I’m like having her run to the bathroom, I’m just like dying. That was probably one of the more wild times. Yeah.
De’Vannon: You tried to pull an Amy Winehouse girl.
Mercedes: Yeah. Yeah. It wasn’t good. It wasn’t good.
De’Vannon: Oh my God. But I bet you felt so like Ben and detox after all that and vomiting.
Mercedes: Oh my God. It was, it was wild. And even after that, I didn’t get sober, which is like insane. Like I literally almost died and then it was like, not, no, like next weekend, let’s do this again. Like let’s, let’s drink again. Like it’s, it’s wild.
De’Vannon: That’s how it goes, you know? And, and so alcohol was your, as, as I guess we would say [00:25:00] drug of choice, so no, hard drugs for you or nothing like that.
Mercedes: no no, other than that, I just like, I smoke weed. I have, I finally got a prescription for it, so I do it like with a doctor and everything now. But yeah, mainly it’s just that I’ve done like some shrooms and stuff like that. But nothing else. Alcohol was the only one that was like really, really like destructive in my life.
De’Vannon: I don’t mean you enjoy your week prescription to the very last drop.
De’Vannon: So, so in, in using spoons as a knife, you opened with like several different disorders. So I was curious. If this is everything that you’re diagnosed with.
Mercedes: Yeah. You got it.
De’Vannon: Okay. So let me, let me read this to everyone, because this is quite an impressive list.
Mercedes: Oh no. Oh no,
De’Vannon: Is that okay if I do that?
Mercedes: that’s fine. That’s fine.
De’Vannon: So well, Yeah,
I guess so. Cause it’s already published.
De’Vannon: So [00:26:00] this seat go y’all Mercedes has, has triumphed and overcome over generalized anxiety disorder, persistent depressive disorder, major depressive disorder, substance use disorder, borderline personality disorder. And then, then you also threw in daddy issues, which I don’t think is an official clinical diagnosis or is it,
Mercedes: I don’t think so, but it’s,
De’Vannon: might be.
Mercedes: it’s a thing.
De’Vannon: So tell me about the daddy issue. This is what I want to know about.
Mercedes: Oh man, it’s hard. Yeah. So I dunno, I feel bad cause like my dad and I are in a much better place now. And I are very close and, you know, have gotten through a lot of stuff, but there was some, you know, emotional abuse growing up which was yeah. For my dad and yeah, it, you know, it’s not something easy to deal with.
De’Vannon: [00:27:00] Just what’s. So tell me what had happened. Give me an example of.
Mercedes: oh, I feel so bad. Cause like M and I are closed now. I don’t wanna be like, just bashing
De’Vannon: oh, I’ll go first. Me and my dad have a better relationship now, but that doesn’t change the fact that he was a total whore. So when my mom was pregnant with me, he went off and fuck some bitch. And then when I was in the eighth grade, he fucked some other bitch. And then he ended up in the mental hospital because the Heath, you know, when it all came out and everything like that, and it was all very dramatic and he tried to turn it around, you know, make, it makes me like it was my mom’s fault.
He would yell at me in front of school. He would come and yell. Like it could be like hundreds of people in the auditorium and he would come and yell and dragging me out and everything like that. I would get beatings with a belt. One time he beat me so hard that my inner forearms was swollen. And my grandmother had to put like what rags on it to try to get the swelling to go down, you know, we’re in.
And then we finally had a [00:28:00] falling out one night. I was trying to buy me some crack rocks across the street from where they live and everything like that. And so he was leading at his driveway to judge me when I came out from the crack house and I was like, oh no, no, no, no. no. Adulterer , you know, you’re not about to throw stones in this glass house, bitch, you got me fucked up.
De’Vannon: So, and so we’re in a better place now, but you know, he feels like he’s overcome his issues and he should be able to talk about them publicly in my opinion. But you know, I won’t force you. I just wanted to break the ice. So, but you don’t have to talk about your dad if you don’t want to.
Mercedes: Yeah. I feel, yeah. I’m sorry. Yeah.
De’Vannon: Okay. No problem. So, so let me see. So then let me ask something in a different way, the end, because if you wrote, if it was important enough for you to list in your book within, it was meant to be written for [00:29:00]
De’Vannon: a reason. So what, what do you feel like the points, you know, the sections, you know, why didn’t you list that?
What are you trying to help people like what’s the, what’s the end game of mentioning it, mentioning it at all.
Mercedes: The daddy issues.
Mercedes: Yeah, I mean, you know, it’s, it’s something that a lot of people deal with. Like whether it’s daddy issues or mommy issues, or, you know, it’s, it’s something that a lot of people, you know, have troubled relationships with their parents and yeah, it can have a huge impact on your life and you know, can make things really difficult.
So I think it was, yeah, it was just something I was dealing with at the time and trying to work through and, you know like having those types of issues, like, you know, it changes the way that I relate to like men and especially like older men and looking for that like older male attention sort of thing.
So it’s like, it’s [00:30:00] definitely shaped my journey in some ways. So that’s kinda like why I did I did include it and why it has been a big part of my writing in the past. Yeah.
De’Vannon: Okay. So you’re saying due to the fracture relationships we have with our parents, that could cause us to act out in different ways.
De’Vannon: Okay. I can feel you on that. I think that when I was in the military, I slept with very, very masculine men trying to feel that void. And I think I knew I was doing it at the time.
I mean, and, but you know, it never really fixed anything.
Mercedes: Right, right.
De’Vannon: So how did you finally get sober? And then what, what is your definition of self.
Mercedes: Yeah. So I’m sober, like just from alcohol, like that’s the only thing that I really track my sobriety from or whatever. But I think like sober can mean different things to different people. For some people it might be from like any mood altering substance for [00:31:00] some people, it might just be one specific substance, you know, like everyone’s kinda got their own take on it or how they kind of identify.
But yeah, for me, I, I stopped drinking alcohol. Finally just yeah, after getting to a point of realizing, you know, this is really isn’t getting me anywhere. And you know, it, yeah, it was just making everything worse, like in terms of the mental health issues and things like that. It, you know, it just got to a point where, you know, you get, you get tired of your own shit and you’re like, you know what, like this needs to stop.
Like I need to, I need to cut this out. So I was eventually able to get sober. I’m about two and a half years sober now from alcohol, but.
De’Vannon: Did you do any sort of program that you do, like a harm reduction or did you do a, like a rational recovery or did you just do it on your own?
Mercedes: Yeah, the weird thing is for me for the longest time, like all of the [00:32:00] doctors in my life and all the mental health professionals were like, oh, you need to stop smoking weed. Like, this is, this is your problem. And nobody was concerned about the alcohol use. Cause it was just kind of on the weekends. And I’d be like blacking out on the weekends and stuff, but nobody was really concerned about the alcohol.
They were like, oh, you’re smoking weed. Even though it was like to cope with like a lot of things. And so I was told like, you need to quit weed, you need to quit weed. And then eventually like once I got. The weed, like prescribed by a doctor and I’m like, okay, doing this methodically, then I’m like, okay, I don’t actually think this is the problem here.
Like, there’s like, why am I blacking out every single weekend and doing this to myself and, you know, getting myself into all these situations. And it’s like, that’s actually more destructive than anything. So it kind of took a while for me to be like, oh, okay. I need to like, actually be focusing on this alcohol piece because this is not, not helping anything.
De’Vannon: So, how did you focus on a, did [00:33:00] you start drinking less every week or.
Mercedes: I quit cold Turkey. I, I just quit. Yeah. Because I wasn’t and I’m in therapy, so like that’s a big piece I’m in therapy. You know, I’m on like a lot of different mental health medications that helped me. I tried doing some 12 step stuff. It really. With me anything like religious I’m like, no, I can’t, I can’t do it like anything with the prayers and everything.
It was just like, no, it’s not for me. But yeah, just generally just doing doing therapy and yeah, just basically just getting fed up with my own, you know, shit and being like, I really need to get this under control kind of thing.
De’Vannon: Do you feel like the weed with kind of like helps you to get off of the alcohol?
Mercedes: Yeah, I think in general, the weed just helps. Like for me personally, like with my [00:34:00] case, like, it just has been very helpful for me. It has helped me get through a lot of things. I don’t know if I would be here without that coping mechanism and something that really, really helped me when I was extremely suicidal.
And then yeah, actually doing it in a more methodical way, the weed, then it just kind of led me to reassess substances in general. And then I, yeah, I was kind of looking at the alcohol piece a little more critically.
De’Vannon: What’s your telling me found, have you heard of harm reduction before?
Mercedes: Yes. Yeah.
De’Vannon: Would you say that your story kind of somewhat kind of sounds like that? It cause a little bit, cause like, from my learning of harm reduction, it’s like it’s like the. Like you might trade off, like something that you like, maybe you might trade heroin for weed, you know?
So you’ll do like a less severe thing or maybe you do what you’re doing, but less of it. So it almost sounds like, and I [00:35:00] don’t think like harm reduction is like swapping addictions or anything like that. I don’t, I don’t think that, I think that it is what it says that it is. So that’s what it kind of sounds like to me.
So for other people out there who have found the dead end at the 12 stuff program, that’s why I’m, you know spending some time here. I agree with you about the 12 steps, the spiritual aspect doesn’t bother me about it so much as the other holes that I find in it. Like the fact that they don’t define alcohol.
And I mean, sorry, they don’t define tobacco and cigarettes is mood and mind altering substances.
Mercedes: Oh, okay.
De’Vannon: Like Yeah.
they are. So, okay. So does I’d like to get out of your experience, some sort of recommendations for other people who have met a dead end at 12 step programs so that they, because they’re marketed, like they’re the only thing out there, but there are other stuff, but they’re not as well [00:36:00] known as in, but 12 step we’re talking about like alcoholics anonymous, crystal meth, anonymous, sex anonymous, all the whole anonymous movement, which they all stem from AA, which is a totally, a very churchy spiritual program,
De’Vannon: kind of like anti women too, like the way it was originally written.
De’Vannon: And so, so what, what would you say because you, to, to people out there who may want to overcome something, and I know everybody’s different and maybe the 12 step program didn’t work for them and they didn’t think there was anything.
Mercedes: Yeah. I think, you know, there’s so many different ways to get sober and to go on your intake and to, or to, you know, do harm reduction or whatever you want to do. Like whether you’re completely sober doing harm reduction. There’s so many different ways to get there and yeah, 12 steps is not the be-all end-all you know, yes.
If it helps you like more power to you, but for me, it, it, I didn’t [00:37:00] identify with it. It didn’t work for me. It wasn’t my sort of thing. And there are other ways to heal and to get better for me. Doing therapy, you know, for many years has, has definitely been helpful. Something else I find useful is like doing yoga, things like that.
Like, I guess that does have its own spiritual element to it. But just like anything like anything that is like helping your mind and your body and you know, anything that is just really helping you heal. There’s, there’s just so many ways to do that. So, you know, don’t feel like discouraged if 12 steps doesn’t really feel right for you.
Like you can go on your own journey and you can find things that work for you.
De’Vannon: In one of your blogs on your website, you mentioned that the con KonMari KonMari
De’Vannon: method that you use. So can you explain to us what that is and how it helped you?
Mercedes: Yeah. So Marie Kondo who wrote the life-changing [00:38:00] magic of tidying up? I read that book, I guess it would have been, I don’t know, maybe three or four years ago. And before that I was. Such a hot mess. Like my, if you look to my room, you’d be like, I dunno, what’s going on? You know, I was like, it was, it was just, everything was like super messy and like chaotic and just not good.
I had so much just stuff that I didn’t need. And you know, and it’s stressful, like to be like living in an environment that’s like super or it was for me, like it was stressful to be in an environment that was like cluttered and like, you know, just, it was hard for me to find something if I needed a document.
So eventually I read her book and kind of went through her method which is basically going through everything you own by category and then asking yourself with each item does this spark joy in my life. And then if it does you keep it. [00:39:00] It doesn’t and then you get rid of it. So I got rid of like a ton of like clothes, books, you know, papers, just random things that were just cluttering, like my, my space.
And I was moving to an apartment, like quite a small apartment, so it was like just trying to downsize everything. And it was like, surprisingly. Yeah, like literally life-changing like, I didn’t think that the title would be like that true, but it was yeah, it was just, I didn’t, I wasn’t ready for how, like how helpful it was mentally, like just to be living in like a nice clean space where like, I could get things.
If I needed a document, I knew where it was. And yeah, it just really helps me like kind of streamline my whole life. And I found that it helped my mental health a lot in turn.
De’Vannon: When I read through it, it seemed like very rigid
De’Vannon: hours. And then it kind of reminded me, it kind of almost sounded like [00:40:00] some sort of like re rehabilitation program and also kind of sounded like I was back in the military again,
De’Vannon: because, you know, she was getting into like, Folding clothes, you know, and doing things and, you know, and being very, like, not flexible about it.
Like there really isn’t a lot of room in it for like your own twist to
Mercedes: Yeah. Yeah. So it wasn’t good for you. Like you, you weren’t interested in it. Yeah.
De’Vannon: Oh, I just researched it when I was researching you. I’m Oh, oh, okay.
that part of the military I still have with me, I’m very much like a neat freak. I’m organized. I got, got shit where it’s supposed to go. And if I don’t, they told me that in the military, you’re not using it. You can get rid of it.
De’Vannon: so that that’s not a, you know, clutter is not an issue for me, you know, not even the least, but but you know, everybody’s different, you know?
So did you feel like when you were growing away, something that [00:41:00] didn’t spark you, do you feel that maybe as you were clearing that out, you were clearing out emotional baggage as well?
Mercedes: probably. I mean, I think, yeah, for me it was just, it was just really helpful. Yeah. To just kind of, yeah. I don’t know. I guess just finding more space, like literally, and just, you know, trying to keep things in my life that are really valuable to me and that, and that bring meaning to me. Instead of just like buying a lot of stuff that isn’t really important.
And I think like, I guess you could relate it to the process of like, even like getting sober later on where you kind of. Going through your life and, you know, even going through like relationships and being like, does this relationship really bring meaning to my life? Like, I don’t know about you when I got sober.
I was just kinda like, oh my God, like half these people in my life. I don’t even know if we [00:42:00]have anything in common. Like when we’re not drunk, like, it was like, oh my God. Like, it was really wild. So I think like maybe there are some parallels to draw with that as well.
De’Vannon: So, did you clear everything out at once or was it like a gradual process?
Mercedes: a big thing. It was, I did it all at once. I’m very like all or nothing. I like. Yeah.
De’Vannon: Is that, is that the way the con mark met the recommends to do it all at once?
Mercedes: I can’t remember if there’s like a specific timeline, but the basic idea is that like you do this. Purge or whatever you, you, you like evaluate all of your, all of the items that you own and you get rid of what doesn’t spark joy. And then the idea is that then you never really have to do this again because you’ve done it.
You’ve cleared yourself. And then when, like, when you are like purchasing a new item or like bringing something into your home, you’re kind of a little bit more discerning of like, okay, is this actually important? Do I actually need this? Is this bringing meaning to me? Or can I [00:43:00] like donate this or recycle this?
Or, you know, whatever. So I found like, yeah, it, it influenced like kind of how I felt about bringing stuff into my home as well.
De’Vannon: As we’re talking about this, I think about like how they have the the hoarders and stuff like that, the on TV and stuff. And when they try to take things from them, they break down and cry and throw like a whole fucking tantrum and everything like that because they seen the Hampson. Emotional attachment to this thing, or maybe having all that stuff is like maybe comforting to them on some level.
And they really fucking hate to let it go.
Mercedes: for sure.
De’Vannon: I wonder, did you cry when you got rid of anything,
Mercedes: No, I was just, honestly, I was kinda like, I dunno how I let it get to this point. Like, I wasn’t like a hoarder by any means, but it was just like a bunch of crap that I just didn’t need, like clothes. I didn’t wear like things. I didn’t use like books. I was never really going to read or reread. And it was just [00:44:00] kinda like, I just felt like, kind of like upset with myself.
Like, I don’t know why I bought all this crap. Like this is just, I don’t know. I was more like, just more critical of myself when I was going through it.
De’Vannon: that’s your space feel like void and empty when you cleared so much out or that you feel like you could exhale?
Mercedes: Yeah. I definitely more like an exhale. Yeah. It was more like, oh, this is, this is nice. Like, this is, this is good. This is, and, and then, yeah, like when you w I found for me, like when I don’t have as much stuff, it’s obviously much easier to stay organized. So I just find myself being much, much more organized and like this more on top of things and, yeah.
it seems like it would be so like energetically speaking, metaphysically, speaking, funks way, you know, speaking, it seems to all be along a good vein of best practices to have more [00:45:00] space in terms of like the living space. Yeah,
Then, then what you need, whether it in ticking up all of the space, but everything is like being overextended in debt.
You wouldn’t want to use, if you have $30,000 in available credit, you don’t want to use $29,999 and 99 cents.
De’Vannon: So this, this, this no different than our living space. You know, we want to have some vacant room, you know, it was better. And when you do that, then you can think better. You can create better, you have better health.
In my opinion, I think you sleep better. And in a deeper spiritual sector, there is the belief that like bad spirits, that evil spirits to contend, to congregate like in clutter
Mercedes: Oh, okay.
De’Vannon: butter. But then when you get the cleaning things out that you get to banishing file spirits that may have set up camp in your home because they liked junk.
They don’t like clean spaces.
Mercedes: Oh, [00:46:00] interesting. Nor thought about it that way.
De’Vannon: You know, if it’s something I like to put forth. So and so so in terms of the mental health advocacy, so you have your, your books, your blogs. Are there anything else that you’re doing that we, that we might need to know about?
Mercedes: No, I’d say those are kind of the main things. Yeah, like obviously pre COVID. I would do like poetry readings or like do like talks and things like that. So I, I try to definitely focus on mental health, like in those as well. But yeah, with, COVID not doing a ton of appearances, but but yeah,
De’Vannon: we, we will have our day in public again,
Mercedes: yeah, one day.
De’Vannon: but you know, I commend you on getting two books out there because the, the thing that I love about writing books and. And even doing like my show is that these things will live as soon. Like your wisdom and your stories, your transparency is not to be there to [00:47:00] help the ages, you know, along after your, you know, transition into a butterfly or a spirit or whatever it is that you want to be when you die, then you want to be a butterfly.
De’Vannon: Oh no. You’re saying like, the hope is for your work to help people. It is, you know, people learn in different ways. You know, some people may not read a memoir or watch a documentary. Some people are very poetry minded. And so they’ll also, they’ll be able to read like, you know, through your poetry books and stuff like that, and really see themselves.
And there’s something that’s incredibly healing about. Here hearing or seeing, or understanding that somebody else has a similar situation to ours. It doesn’t have to exactly mimic, you know, every detail of it. But even if it’s remotely in the arena is like it undergirds, you had girds up your strength, you get strength [00:48:00] like in your, in your inner man and a woman in our, however you want to enter, however you want to identify or you like, you can go a little further, you know,
Mercedes: absolutely. I’ve, I’ve definitely felt that like, seeing other people be open about their mental health, that was how I felt like, oh, maybe I can do this too. Like, it makes you feel a little less alone.
De’Vannon: and it doesn’t require anybody to give any advice, even though that’s not, that’s not a bad thing at all, but just some just really knowing you’re not alone is super powerful, but a lot of our self-destruction comes from the illusion of isolation.
De’Vannon: ’cause when I got HIV, I was like, have I got, I’m like the only one with this.
I didn’t know anybody. And you know how fucking far from the truth that is. But you know, like in my head, I didn’t think that I thought that I was completely alone and therefore I was ready to die or at least I thought so perception is everything. And, and so that’s why you have a [00:49:00] big mouth about what you’ve been through now.
And I have a big mouth about the things that throw it out because we’re not going to let that shit happen to anybody else.
De’Vannon: The, what was the, you were in the mental hospital all of those times. And everything was, if the weed medication that finally got you to a point that you stopped going, or w when was the point that you knew? Okay. You know, you’re not, you got to control on the drinking, but what about the suicide stopping?
And, you know, when did the, when did the trips to the mental hospital stop.
Mercedes: Yeah. I mean, I’m not going to lie. I was literally at the ER last week, but it was my first time in three years. So like in general I have very much stabilized. But For me a big transition was actually getting the borderline personality disorder diagnosis. I thought for the whole time I had been diagnosed, I just thought I had depression and anxiety.
And I was like, I don’t know why any of this stuff isn’t working, like all this therapy, I’m doing [00:50:00] all these medications. I’m on. Nothing is really like cutting it. Like I still want to kill myself. And this is like, you know, it was, it was awful. And it was actually someone like I had dated they had like had studied psychology or whatever, and he just asked me, you know, have you ever heard of something called borderline personality disorder?
Cause that kind of sounds like what you’re describing to me. And so next time I was like seeing a psychiatrist, I sort of brought it up and they were like, oh yeah, like you, you for sure, like have borderline. And I was kind of like, well, why didn’t anyone tell me? And there’s like a lot of stigma with that label.
So a lot of doctors even don’t want to give people that diagnosis. But actually it was like super empowering for me because then I was able to be, to realize what type of treatment was going to be helpful, which is primarily DBT, like a type of therapy. That’s for people who have borderline or like intensely suicidal or self-harming.
So that was kind of a big shift for me. That was [00:51:00] one of the big things that really helped.
De’Vannon: Okay. So then the lesson there y’all is to get a second opinion and a third and a fourth Yeah.
because the mental health practitioners are not made equally when it was being seen at the department of veterans affairs,
De’Vannon: which now I go to have the they are, they pay for me to go to a private civilian doctor because they sucked so fucking bad.
De’Vannon: They had me diag on like the 200 milligrams. They have like Depakote and shit like that, a lot of fucking debit code and then come to find out there was no diagnosis in the system and they had me like on two or three different medicines. And then I sat down with a different doctor. Well, actually, you know, one time.
And he was like, well, why is all this medicine here? And there’s no diagnosis. I was locked up if I know, welcome to the VA. And
Mercedes: Yeah. Like it’s on my job
De’Vannon: and so you gotta be that’d be real careful about that if you felt like you’re not getting the [00:52:00] best care bitch go somewhere else.
Mercedes: a hundred percent.
De’Vannon: And okay. So I’m just going to talk about a couple of Cohen’s from using a spoon as a knife, I found one called 2016 fusion Shiraz. It’d be very dear to me. You have a couple of them in this book about wine and you know, I’m a red wine girl. Actually I drink
De’Vannon: especially the red, red wine.
It is so beautiful swirls in the glass. Hopefully, hopefully this isn’t triggering for
Mercedes: No, no, I’m good.
De’Vannon: And so, and now you have some parallels in here about the church. You’re you, you talk about chugging $8 wine at 11:00 AM, which is happens to be a lot of times some church services starts. I don’t know. There was some sort of reference there, you know, you would, or anything about communion to, so are you, are you, there’s this poem about you actually having communion at church?
Or what, what is what’s going on [00:53:00] here?
Mercedes: Yeah. So, yeah, it’s kind of trying to play on the idea of yeah. Taking wine at church or, you know, drinking wine by myself, in my room at 11 o’clock in the morning sort of thing. And then as we kind of touched on before, there was like a lot of a lot of imagery about like like some type of male figure, I E God you know, me trying to be good enough for him or, you know, just basically seeking that sort of like male approval.
So it’s, yeah, it’s supposed to kind of play around with these themes of like wine and, you know, you know, some type of male figure or like higher power sort of thing, and kind of what I was dealing with in my own mental health stuff and addiction and things like that. So it’s kind of trying to bring some parallels between the two.[00:54:00]
I’m not a read a bit of that because I like how you sexualize the community and convenient experience.
De’Vannon: that was chatting $8 bitter at wine alone. 11:00 AM feeling like I’m back at church, gulping wine in the hopes of salvation. Maybe this time he will enter me. Maybe if I break this bread, I will swallow him whole.
Maybe if I break myself down, I will be perfect enough for a man to love me. Oh, drink this cup trust in him and you will not thirst. Drink this cup, drink this cup, drink this bitter cup and you will be whole break your body. Break your body, break your each goat, each Gulf each go by. Look to the heavens. I stare at the ceiling like I’m back at charity.
I look up with each dove. I look up and wait for this to be over.
Mercedes: I need you to do my poetry readings for me because you do them better than me.[00:55:00]
De’Vannon: Hey, nothing like a little bit of debris. I’m a girl. I was a little bit of geranium, a. So I touched on this one earlier. I call it annoyed by life. You were just like annoyed by everything. I’ll read this into, is it says I am annoyed by life, more than I am depressed by it. And that is a lot more than anything. I am annoyed, am annoyed by the tarmac. I’m annoyed by the people smiling. I’m annoyed by the dating apps.
I am annoyed by the sunshine. I’m annoyed by the rich I sleep on a bed made of vomit in GEs. Talk to me about the vomit hinges.
Mercedes: This is very literal, literal thing that the condition of my bed of waking up in my own vomit you know, that was like a regular occurrence. Like when I was, you know, addicted to alcohol, it was, it was a real thing. [00:56:00] It was, it was a real occurrence that happened pretty often. Yeah.
De’Vannon: That wasn’t me. Like some guys, just some other.
Mercedes: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
De’Vannon: So this like matches is full of many different guys come or this like some fresh come, like how was this?
Mercedes: Yeah, probably mostly not at once, but over time.
Mercedes: Yeah. Yeah,
De’Vannon: cool. Cool. So why, why ignored by the tarmac? Why the tarmac? I get the people, the sunshine, all of that, especially if you like high as fuck you like damn son go away. But
De’Vannon: the tarmac.
Mercedes: I think I was just trying to throw, I guess, some type of different imagery in there. I think just like the idea was basically, yeah, like pretty much everything, like
De’Vannon: Right. Okay.
Mercedes: just existence in general. Yeah.
De’Vannon: All right. And then the last one. And then I’ll [00:57:00] let you have the last word we’ve had as we’ve had a most delicious conversation here. The one called the Blinken blue and pink Paisley scarf. It sounded like maybe like one of your trips to the hospital for maybe a suicide thing. And I’m curious who the guy is.
Cause you mentioned, I think it’s a male and you talk about how nobody who’s nonmedical sees you naked like this. You talk about how he’s checking out the nurse, I think, and how he can describe her panties in perfect detail. Once he, when she walks out of the room, it’s explained to me what happened that inspired you to write a balloon pink Paisley scar.
Mercedes: Yeah. I think you nailed it. That’s pretty much the situation. Yeah, bloom pink. The scarf was a scarf that I, you know, would think about hanging myself with. So that’s the title of the poem. But yeah, it was some guy I was sleeping with who [00:58:00] yeah. Drove me to the mental hospital when I needed to go and was there with me.
And then yeah, with when the nurse left the room, he’s talking about, you know, her ass and her, whatever he saw her underwear or something. So you know, not the healthiest,
but a yeah. Very literal thing that happened.
De’Vannon: It was good with bad, but it was real. baby. It was
Mercedes: It was real. Yeah.
De’Vannon: Okay, my dear. What what advice would you give to the world? I’m going to let you have our, our, our closing a word here. I feel like we’ve had a delicious conversation. I felt like people will be helped by your transparency. God knows suicide is such a big issue in the alphabet mafia community. And I’m thankful you’ve written so much about yours.
So what, [00:59:00] what would you say to the globe upon which we live?
Mercedes: Well, thank you for this kind words. Sure, sure.
I guess just to say that, you know, healing is possible and, you know, even if you feel really like, isn’t hope for you and you know, you’re trying things and things aren’t getting better, you know? Yeah, just healing is possible. Sobriety is possible even when it feels like that could never be a thing for you.
Yeah, I think, you know, just hang in there and, you know, try to find some sense of community. Whether that’s, you know, friends, family going to a poetry reading or watching a poetry reading, or connecting with some type of music or whatever, you know, that, you know, you can, you can find help and, you know, you can find that connection.
And I guess, you know, the things that you, you might feel ashamed of [01:00:00] now, like maybe you’re ashamed of mental health issues or you feel, you know, scared to come out or things like that. Like, you know, like it’s okay. And, you know, you’ll get there eventually. Basically I would say.
De’Vannon: And I would say, well said my dear. One thing I did want to point out, you mentioned sobriety and reminded me. So like you said, you were just at the mental hospital a couple of weeks ago, but hadn’t been like three years. So in some circles, especially like saying the 12 step circles, they would consider that to be like some type of relapse.
I don’t, I don’t agree with that at all. So I don’t consider it like a weakness or anything like that because. I don’t, I don’t think the whole point, like with somebody who was off of drugs is still, I could never ever do them again. I think it’s about knowing where you’re strong, where you’re weak while you’re weak and having a plan in place and working on doing it.
So if [01:01:00] you went from, you know, basically getting your mail at the mental hospital to not, you know, being there for three years, I think that’s a great victory. I don’t think that ending up back there is falling off the wagon or anything like that at all in, so and so and so I still take my hat off to you, you know, you you’ve gotten back up, you know, and you’re still trying, and that’s the whole thing is that never give up.
So, so you’re a living testimony and hopefully somebody can take encouragement from that.
Mercedes: Thank you so much.
De’Vannon: Absolutely. Thank you for coming on the show today, Mercedes, and you look up that song.
Thank you all so much for taking time to listen to the sex drugs and Jesus podcast. It really means everything to me. Look, if you love the show, you can find more information and resources at sex, drugs, and jesus.com [01:02:00] or wherever you listen to your podcast. Feel free to reach out to me directly at DeVannon@SexDrugsAndJesus.com and on Twitter and Facebook as well.
My name is De’Vannon and it’s been wonderful being your host today and just remember that everything is going to be all right.