Breakdowns Happen

“You know that saying, “Shit happens,” well my version is “Breakdowns happen.”‘

The world was fading away around me, and I couldn’t do anything about it. The voices were screaming but I couldn’t make out what they were saying, because they were all talking at once. I was overwhelmed, I was tired, and the only thing my eyes seemed capable of doing was crying.

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t shut out the world around me. But at the same time, I really didn’t know what was going on in the world.

One minute, I was in the hall. Sitting there in my oversized coat, staring blankly at who I think was my father fixing dinner. Honestly, I  am not sure who it was, or what they were doing. I was just watching the movement through the small gap that kept my hood from completely covering me. There really weren’t many thoughts going on in my head, which is strange because I am nearly always playing with 5-8 thought trains at once. No, there were only voices. Voices that really didn’t belong to me.

The next thing I know, I am laying on the bed.

Still, no real thoughts. Only overwhelming feelings as I try to slow down the voices. How did I make it to the bed? My fiancé picked me up and carried me to the bed. They removed my coat, and began covering me in blankets.

Why? Because I once wanted a weighted blanket to help with my anxiety. The weight is supposed to help you feel secure. And in a way, it helped. If only though, it could have drowned out the voices.

My eyes continued to do that weird thing where they leaked water for a reason that was completely out of my control, because I didn’t know why they were leaking. The giant teddy bear on my back seemed to be talking to me. And that, while normally would be scary, was rather comforting. Yet my eyes continued to leak.

How did my day come to this? I really don’t know. It was a normal day. Maybe it was where I was so overwhelmed with wedding planning, or feeling so down on myself because my lack of ability to write, or how I was feeling so tired of everything. Or maybe, and the most likely of reasons, it was because of a little bit of everything mixed with the voices, was simply too much for me. I hit a breaking point.

Though I had been hungry an hour ago, I suddenly wasn’t hungry anymore. All I wanted to do was lay there.

You know that saying, “Shit happens,” well my version is “Break downs happen.” Because they do. That night, I was on the verge of requesting my family take me to a hospital. The voices were too loud, I was too broken, and I would have done anything to make them stop.

Lucky for me, I have a great support system. My fiancé, who never left my side that night, and even let my puppy in so I could cuddle her. My dad, who listened to me rant on and on about everything once I was finally able to slightly the drown the voices out enough to be able to think.

I won’t pretend to know what to do on bad days, because honestly, I take it day by day. Some days are worse than others, sometimes I can control the voices, sometimes I can’t. There are times that I am not nearly as paranoid as I am at other times. Days when I feel like a failure because I haven’t wrote something in awhile, and days when my mind is moving so fast that I have to do something creative to occupy my mind and my body.

But, breakdowns happen. And when they do, you get back up, you climb that self care ladder, and you try to be better. Try to be more prepared, try to be understanding of what might have caused it, and realize that you aren’t a failure just because you had a breakdown.

I take life day by day.

And right now, my road to recovery includes finding answers, getting better diagnoses, and getting help. I am not ashamed of that. Or of my breakdowns. I will just keep taking it day by day. And when I need to, hour by hour.

Be patient with me while I crawl back up, while I be patient with myself.

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I Am Not A Girl – Oct. 13, 2015

***In October of 2015, I wrote this piece that a friend of mine then shared on Psychology Today. Writing this was a big part of my road to coming out, my self discovery, and figuring out my gender. I wanted to share this again, to bring it home to Living Queer, because it belongs here too with my story. It helps tell my story. And I am so thankful to Sarah Fader for sharing it on Psychology Today and letting my voice be heard, helping me come out when I felt scared of the world around me.***

I Am NOT A Girl

2015

You look at me and see “girl.” Yet, when I look in the mirror, I see no gender. I only see me.

We, as a society, have gotten into this nasty habit of labeling people’s gender and from there, we pre-judge them and hold them to certain standards based on what gender we perceive them to be. In reality, that label might not fit them.

Is it so difficult to look at someone and simply see them as human?

When you look at me, you see a girl. Before ever saying one word to me, before ever getting to know me as a human being, you begin to hold me to artificial societally imposed beauty standards that I could never (and would never want) to reach. In your mind you already have judged the way I should act, how I should talk, and with whom I should talk to. Because I am a female, you have an idea of how I should dress and the way that I should walk down the street. You think you know what books I should read, what my interests should be, and the music I should listen to. You think you know me.

Yet, you don’t know me at all.

Society imposes the same gender restrictions on men. We look at a man and already have a preconceived notion of how he should act; he should be masculine and be able to carry something heavy so he can display his strength outwardly. We too, hold men to these impossible beauty standards; they must have a six pack, their cheek line needs to be to die for. Men’s hair should be clean cut, or perhaps resemble one of those models with a man bun. Unless the aforementioned man is a lumberjack, he should be clean-shaven at all times. A man’s voice should be deep and his interests should be automotive in nature. Men should talk about manly things. Oh it’s cold outside? Well they should give their jacket to a girl, because that’s what society expects men to do.

I am not a man. I am also not a girl.

What happens when you actually speak to me?  When you get to know me, when you see that I do not act, dress, or hold myself to these unattainable beauty standards? What will you say when you realize I am not interested in the things you believe I should be? Or that I have a passion for cars?

Let me answer that for you. You say I am less of a woman or that I need to learn how to act like a woman. This is something I hear almost everyday. I see those looks that you give me and I hear you tell your kids to stay away from me.

The things we say to those boys with a soft touch, the ones who are more in touch with their feminine side, we would be better cutting their balls off completely. What society tells these young men is enough to castrate them. “Learn how to be a man,” and “You’ll never be a man, you are just a boy.” We teach them, drill it into their heads, that they are less of a man because they are in touch with their feminine side. They are inadequate, no good, and will never amount to anything because they aren’t a “real man.”

What kind of world do we live in where we believe it to be ok to say these things to young boys?

2017

Gender is a social construct. “If you are born with these parts you must act this way.” Where is the handbook for being a girl? I think I lost my copy when I was born.

The moment anyone steps outside of what society deems acceptable for men and women, they are thought to be less of a man or women.

God forbid you actually identify as something other than a man or women, as I do, because then you hear things like, “You must not have been able to make it as a woman,” or “Oh honey, you don’t need to make up a gender in order to feel better about yourself. Just lose the men’s clothes and try wearing a little more makeup.” Let’s not forget, “You must have been raised by your father,” and finally “Tomboys are only cute when they are little kids.”

So tell me this, why is it that we constantly pre-judge someone’s gender and hold them to impossible standards? Who decided how men and women should act? Has there ever been someone who met every single one of the standards we hold each other to?

These standards are outrageous and we as a society have grown out of them.  We need to start respecting each other, and our individuality, without holding each other to impossible standards that no human being can meet.

I hope there will be a point in time when we realize that everyone can be masculine and feminine all at once.

I hope one day, I will get to live in a world where I am not told to get out of the bathroom because my hair is short, I’m wearing an oversized flannel shirt, and people think the part between my legs belongs in the men’s’ bathroom.

One day, I hope to live in a world where people are praised for being individuals, and not held to gender standards they can never reach.

You look at me, and you see a girl. But I look in the mirror and see no gender. I see my reflection smiling back at me, because I don’t hold myself to society’s ridiculous standards.

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What My Anxiety Looks Like: Poem

CW: A poem about abuse. Tread with caution

You grab my hand, wanting me to trust you, to take this leap with you.
I’m shaking, the voices screaming from every corner of the room, “He’s a guy, he will lay his hands you the way all the others have.”
Tears start to well up in my eyes, I’m doing everything to fight it, everything to fight for you.
Closer now you come, realizing there is more here at play than someone’s busted pride. No this about a once busted lip.
“I’ll be there for you,” whispers of hope and solace I once hoped I could find in you, but the fear is too much for me to take and I’m slipping away.
A cold hand falls upon my shoulder, pulling me away, and baby I am fighting so hard to stay.
“He’s a guy, he will hurt you just the same,” they scream at me.
The gentle stroke of your hand on my cheek makes me want to believe that gentle hand could never come at me when I speak my mind about something.
Everything in me wants to believe,
Everything in me but my anxiety.
I have been down this road too many times and honey every bone in my body wants to go down this road with you, maybe discover a path new to me, and to you.
“But he’s a guy and all they bring is pain.”

… He’s a guy, and all they bring is pain..
… You’ll lay your hands on me the way all the others have…
… You’re a guy.. You’ll hurt me all the same…

… Please hold me and show me it’s not that way…

 

*Originally posted on Courtney’s Voice, my old blog, on 1/26/2016. I missed seeing it online and thought I would share it here as well. I will be sharing poems here more often.*

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A Messy Ride To Sobriety From The Eyes Of The Driver

Content Note/ Trigger Warning: Talk of addiction, self-harm, a messy ride to sobriety, and relapses.

I didn’t know what I was getting into when I stepped behind the wheel. A past filled with pain, starring me down from the rear-view mirror. But I was staring down the future in the windshield and I was hoping to god that it was everything that I ever imagined it would; sobriety that is.

Because that was what this journey was about. Getting sober from an addiction that I had used for so long to cope with life.

The road ahead of me was going to be long, and I knew that. What I was putting behind me though, that was worth however long it took to go forward. Escaping the past was worth whatever it took.

What even is sobriety though?

When I packed my bags, I thought I was packing for a trip to the beach or a walk in the park. To put it simply, I thought it was going to be easy. Don’t get me wrong, I had been on this journey before, but I always turned around and headed home. This time however, it would be a walk in the park because this time I had a passenger sitting beside me.

Or at least that’s what I thought.

I have always been one of those who would religiously say that a relationship will not fix your mental illness. Day after day I have seen teenagers believing this craziness that the person they are dating is suddenly going to make everything about their mental illness disappear. And for years I have fought that. I have advocated for loving yourself, finding help in a professional way, and self-care.

But then it happened, I fell in love. And it was/is so different from any love I had experienced before.

While I knew it wouldn’t fix my mental illnesses, for some reason I was convinced that the journey would be sunshine and rainbows having them beside me. I always believed that a support system is key. Every time I have ever had a major breakdown that has always led to an attempt at my life, my support system kept me going when I didn’t know where to go and wanted to give up.

Now here I am, driving down the curvy road and realizing that this journey is so much messier than I thought it would be.

We took a trip to California over the summer. This journey to sobriety reminds me a lot of driving cross country. Sleeping in the car, falling asleep in uncomfortable positions, fighting because you’ve been in a car for hours and you are cranky, and eating things you don’t want to for the simple fact that you need to. Whereas with my journey to sobriety it has been; sleeping in the car on short rides because you are exhausted, falling sleep in the bathtub because you are crying and trying not to completely break down and relapse, and eating things when you feel sick because you are so upset and don’t know how to cope, but you need to eat.

This trip to sobriety has been a lot like that road trip as well. There are up hill climbs that literally make me feel sick to my stomach. Curvy roads that make you think you are about to fall off the earth. Having to turn around and go back a way because you forgot something.

For the entirety of the trip, I thought sobriety was the end destination. But I am starting to think I was wrong.

I think what sobriety for me looks like, is a journey. And a messy one. It is a broken road needing to be fixed and having to find ways around the broken spots. Sometimes, it is going back because breakdowns are inevitable. Taking a break because you need to work on self-care because other parts of you are suffering.

I’ve had breakdowns, I won’t deny it.

Relapses happen.

Because fuck what people say, it’s not as simple as stopping. There is so much more to it than simply quitting. The addiction for me, self-harm. So, what do relapses look like? Starting a fight with my fiancé simply to feel the pain because I think I have fucked up and deserve the punishment. Pulling my hair out because it gives me some form of relief that, shocker, only makes me more anxious in the end. Digging my fingernails into my skin so that I can feel a little pain in a physical way to help mute the emotional pain.

Taking long baths because crying in a bath tub seems better than crying in bed and messing up the sheets.

It’s messy, and hard work. I have been struggling to keep my head above water.

What people never understand about my addiction is that, I don’t actually like the pain.

It’s not about liking pain for me, it’s about feeling like I deserve it. I deserve the pain because I am a failure, everyone hates me, and it’s because I am horrible person. As unhealthy of a coping mechanism as it is, it’s the only one I have ever really had. Every time I have ever tried to find a new way to cope with things, it fails.

And I always fall back to my old ways.

Maybe that’s why I have had such a messy ride. I swear at times it feels like people are throwing slushies at my windshield, and I am having a hard time driving when I can’t see where I am going. At times I feel like I am driving through a tornado. And let me mention, I don’t even have a drivers license. Let that sink in. Because it perfectly describes this journey. I am sitting behind the wheel with very little experience, people are throwing slushies at me while I try to drive away from a tornado, and I can’t see through the slushies and tears.

Sobriety is where I thought I was heading, but it’s not a place at all I think.

I think it’s a state of mind. It’s excepting it will be a hard road, and trying with everything in you to be “sober”. But also, it’s accepting that there may be relapses, it won’t be easy, and you are going to struggle.

My ride has been filled with bumps that have shaken up everything in my life. Its been messy, and hard, and I have cried more than I think I have ever cried before. Each day seems a little bit harder. At the same time, each day that I can honestly say that I haven’t done something to intentionally hurt myself, I feel accomplished in a way that’s new to me.

 

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Teen Pregnancy for the Millionth Time

I am going to lose so many followers and readers for this, and I honestly can’t wait.

I have talked so many times about teen pregnancy in the past that it is probably a topic I have just about worn out. But in a time when men politicians are trying to decide what people with vaginas should be able to do with their bodies, I figure it’s time I jump back to this topic and wear it out some more.

Ironically, a lot of my early followers actually followed me because of a video I posted on one of my earlier channels about teen pregnancy and how ignorant (to put it more bluntly) I find people.

So let’s jump right in shall we.

The first time I talked about this, I put a disclaimer on it saying that I am not advising teenagers to get pregnant or even have sex. However this time, I won’t say that. If they are having protected sex, good for them. One of the big problems that leads to this topic to start with is sex shaming and you will not find that here. Sorry, I am sure you can find a blogger out there who promotes absence only if that’s what you are looking for. I however, promote safe sex and sex education. And this article itself will reek of sex positivity and shaming the way sex education has failed us.

News Flash: Teen pregnancy is your fault. And you aren’t going to stop teens from having sex.

Do I have your attention now?

Ok, so it’s not fully your fault. But let’s take time to talk about what are some of the causes of teen pregnancy. And we are even going to touch on abortions.

High school is such an interesting time. Even middle school for that matter. We are maturing, we are hitting puberty, and we are figuring out who we are. And sexuality is a huge part of figuring out who we are and exploring individuality. Yet, we aren’t learning basic things.

I was doing a YouNow one night and offered to answer teen questions, and a girl actually asked me how long she could wear a tampon and what the dangers were. This blew my mind. Are we not teaching young girls important things about their bodies and hygiene? No, we leave it up to the parents, who I will get to soon, even though they aren’t fully equipped to teach them.

Honestly, I think everyone is aware of how inadequate our sex education is. Some schools might be getting it right, they may be teaching the things we actually NEED to know. Good for them. But most schools are lacking.

There is so much that schools aren’t teaching us (insert the song here). And that includes things about safe sex. There are girls who believe that they can’t get pregnant when they are on their period or that certain positions prevent pregnancies. People believe that the pull out method works perfectly! And there are guys who don’t know anything about how vagina baring people’s reproductive parts work other than if you cum in it a baby comes out, and if you don’t the vagina baring person will bleed once a month.

And then these men grow up to make laws against vagina baring people’s health. Epic face palm and eye roll please.

So what happens when these teens don’t learn these things? They try them. Don’t get me wrong, there is a decent number of articles and resources to help educate teens. How many are reading them though? I remember once, an article came up on my newsfeed about how peeing before sex was not preventative of a UTI. While I wanted to read it, I didn’t because of fear of a parent walking in.

Which brings me to parents.

WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?

Ok, I got that off my chest. Seriously though, why are you not talking openly about sex with your kids.

We don’t want to ask you questions because we are embarrassed and scared. Deep down, we crave to know. It’s no easier for us to ask than it is for you to start the conversation. However, it is an extremely important conversation. I won’t lecture you on that though.

Instead, let’s talk about you giving your kids access to the things they need to have protected sex. That’s right, get your kids on birth control. Give your kids condoms.

Honestly though, I am going to back off a bit. Some of you are doing a great job at teaching your kids about their bodies, and it should include sex ed and hygiene. Talk to them, teach them, and understand that they need you to for their health and well being.

Last time I talked about teen moms, I talked about how some of the teen moms I know are some of the most amazing people I have ever met. But I have realized, it is completely irrelevant. Whether or not they become amazing people after having kids doesn’t matter. It doesn’t really mean anything other than some teen moms are amazing moms and people. But that has nothing to do with whether or not being educated about their reproductive system and having access to birth-control and condoms would have affected them becoming teen moms.

And I have talked about abortions being something some people choose because they feel it is best for them at the time. Which got me attacked by a lot of pro-life people. Here’s the thing, you aren’t pro-life. If you were, you would support the teen mothers after they have given birth and need it the most. When their world is falling apart, when they are broke, they are needing help so they can finish school. But you don’t. Because you care for that thirty minutes that the person is getting an abortion and then forget them. You only care when that person makes the hard decision they feel they need to make, then you turn your back on them.

What does that have to do with teen pregnancy?

“Pro-lifers need to start handing out condoms and birth control instead of hate if they want me to believe they want to stop abortions.” – Stevie Boebi

Yeah basically that.

Let’s sum up this long rant.

  • Teen pregnancy, while preventable, is going to continue if we continue to neglect teaching our teens about their bodies, reproductive systems, and sex.
  • Parents, talk to your kids and give them access to contraceptives.
  • You aren’t prolife unless you are pro supporting teen moms just trying to get by.
  • MEN ARE MAKING DECISIONS ABOUT WHAT IS OK TO DO WITH OUR PARTS WHEN THEY BARELY KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT OUR REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEMS.

 

 

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Safety Pins: How I Feel About Them Now

As things have evolved, or should I really say devolved, some of you may be surprised to know that my thoughts and feelings on the safety pin movement has changed.

 

If you haven’t read my previous post on the subject of the safety pin movement, you may want to. I will be referencing it quite a bit in this update. To give you a very basic summary, I feel like if you are truly an ally then wearing the safety pin may actually help someone. However, if you aren’t willing to get uncomfortable and messy, you should use them to fix your clothes instead of as a statement of your support for people you aren’t really ready to support.

That part of my opinion hasn’t really changed. If you aren’t willing to call out your best friend when they are racists, come to the aid of a trans person being attacked, or in general outwardly help a minority or a person of a marginalized identity, then fuck off.

Don’t outwardly make a statement of solidarity, if your solidarity will only be done through a computer screen or behind closed doors where you are safe from the repercussions of truly caring. Or those of you who feel like you can sign an online petition and your job be done.

Did I push a button? Did I hit you in a way that hurt with that one? Good. That means you are probably guilty of doing just that. Hopefully this is a wake up call. Let it hurt, reevaluate your feminism or liberal views or simply your compassion for others, and work on it.

But let’s get back to the safety pin.

Here’s the thing that has really changed for me; so many people wore them and didn’t mean shit by them. I saw people wear a safety pin and got hope. Until I scrolled through the person’s Facebook or Twitter and saw them sharing racist memes or being “so glad Donald won”.

I talked about that before; don’t wear it for fake reasons. But to watch these people pretending to be something they aren’t (I felt so catfished) made me realize something; wearing a safety won’t make me feel safe with you.

And in my previous article I talked about how not everyone will trust your safety pin because it wasn’t enough. It didn’t show us you’d be there for us, it showed us you would wear a safety pin. That is about it.

At the time though, it gave me hope. Something I quickly lost when there was no action to backup your safety pin. I grew to personally stop trusting it.

Allyship is about learning, and learned that the best way to support someone is with action. Wearing a safety pin isn’t action. It’s simply putting on a pin and feeling “woke”, just to then close your eyes and continue through your day the same you always have.

It became a trend, and I watched that trend fade away as so many do.And as it faded away, so did so many of these fake allies.

We need so much more than people wearing safety pins to show “solidarity” or “support” or to claim they are a “safe place”. All our fears from the election are starting to come true. Now more than ever we need to be fighting. And we need you beside us. IF you are willing to truly be beside us.

Walking beside us in a march doesn’t mean you are beside us, supporting us. But that may be a talk for another day.

What gives me hope these days? Protests at airports when Donald Trump signed the Muslim Ban. Lawyers who volunteered to help these people. The women’s march. The people I follow on Twitter who call out bullshit daily. My friends on Facebook all over the world who are doing REAL things to show support.

Those are things that are giving me hope. I hung up my safety pin, and began to pay more attention to those around me, their actions, and who would really be a safe place for me. I guess if PTSD has taught me anything, it’s the how to watch everyone around me.

But I will still make the same pledge I made before. I will always try to be a safe place for anyone who needs it. And I will show it with my actions, not just some safety pin hanging from my shirt. Can you still make that pledge?

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Yes, We Will Record Hate Crimes And We Will Take To Social Media

Never in my life time did I think I would feel the need to write about this.

 

For some reason, people seem to think it is outrageous that people record themselves being victimized and discriminated against. Ironically, those same people who think it is outrageous then want some form of proof when someone claims that they have been discriminated against. Sounds to me like they just don’t want to believe these things happen. They will do anything to live in their fantasy world of peace and rainbows.

Let me pop your bubble for you.

According to the FBI, there were 5,818 single-bias hate crimes reported in 2015 involving 7,121. And 59. 2% of those were hate crimes based on race/ethnicity, 19.7 were based on religion, 17.7 were because of sexual orientation, and 1.7 were based on being trans+. Another 1.2 percent were because of disability and 0.4 % were gender related. 31.5% of these hate crimes happened with the victim being in or close to their homes. There were also another 6,885 “related offenses” that were motivated by hate or prejudice against people for their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, disability, status as a trans person, and gender.

And keep in mind, those are only the reported cases.

Yet, when we tell people these things are happening, we are met with “No it’s not stop crying wolf” or “I won’t take your word for it because I didn’t see it happen so I don’t believe you.”

Do you really wonder why we record it when these things happen if you won’t listen us when we tell you it is happening?

The other day, I saw something on twitter that truly chilled me to my bones. A person was claiming to be the victim of a hate crime, and someone said that the reason that it was a false claim was because the person took to social media to talk about it and recorded some of it. I would link the tweet but as I started to write this, after debating with myself for awhile, I couldn’t find the tweet (she deleted it I believe). Some of you may know the instance that I am talking about, and I want to make it clear this isn’t about his claims or whether they were real. Honestly, I simply don’t have enough proof one way or the other.

But, I was appalled to see someone saying the reason it wasn’t real was simply because the person took to social media and recorded some of it.

As I said before, the same people who try to disprove someone this way, would request video proof or the person to talk about it while it was going on. You simply can’t please some people. Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

Growing up in the age of social media, it has become a norm to me to share things. Things that not everyone thinks should be shared. I probably share too much about my relationships, I know I am way too blunt with sharing my opinion, and I share stories about crazy things that happen to me. After all, I wrote about being harassed in the women’s restroom.

And having grown up used to sharing these things online, it bogles my mind that people would expect hate crimes and harassment to be any different.

“You should be more concerned about calling the cops.” Yes, but having video proof of it would go over amazingly in court when you have to prove to the judge with more than just he said she said.

“How do you have time to post this while it’s happening,” because this is my public cry for someone to check on me in an hour to make sure I have survived. Besides, I have to wait for the cops.

Viral videos, such as the one of a white woman harassing black employees in a Michaels, helps to bring awareness to these things as well. Yes, we are going to record them. Because recording them helps us when we have to prove it happened. And yes, we will post the videos and rants about it on social media. Because it is an amazing way to show the world these things are still happening.

Until someone dies or a video goes viral on Facebook, the mainstream media doesn’t care.

Even then, how accurately do they really report these things when they do happen?

So how do we get these things out into the world? How do we fight these things? We prove they are still happening. We video tape it. And we post them online. Because that’s the best way to reach a wide audience these days.

How many of you have seen a viral video of a hate crime or harassment?

I think you all just raised your hand.

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How Will We Survive The Next 4-8 Years

The conversation I keep having lately echoes just how minorities feel right now; “How will we survive?”

We are scared, we are worried, and so many of us are wondering if we have the fight left in us to fight for our lives let alone our rights. I won’t lie and pretend like I am ready for what is coming. I’m not. I am utterly terrified for my friends, for myself, for my partner, for my family, and for the country.

And today is the day that I have to watch this fear truly manifest; Donald Trump is being sworn in as president of the United States.

So once again, the conversation that I have been having over and over leading up to today is coming into mind. How will we survive.

 

Many of us are avoiding the internet today, and I don’t blame you. To be completely honest, I am too. This blog post was actually scheduled because I sat down Thursday night to write it just so that I wouldn’t have to log in to my computer on Friday. To be blunt, I simply can not cope with how incredibly disappointed in this country I am or how scared I am. And therefore, I will probably spend my day wrapped in a blanket, watching Netflix, and eating ice cream, because fuck.

But I do want to talk about what I plan to do in the coming 4 years, and possibly 8 if this somehow happens again next election (let’s be real, it probably will.)

I am going to protest.

Even the smallest of protests can have an effect. I used to be like so many others and felt like my voice didn’t matter and there was nothing I could do. And maybe alone there isn’t. I can keep typing on this keyboard and sharing to my few thousand blog readers, but what does that really do?

More than you think. Because one voice can be powerful, especially when it joins other voices who are saying the same thing. The louder we are, the easier we are to hear.

Am I going to guarantee results? No. But every fight had to start somewhere. Every great resistance started with people saying this isn’t ok.

I will educate myself as much as I can.

Too often we watch acts of racism and say nothing because we don’t realize that the things being said has roots in racism. For the past few years I have been trying to educate myself on the things such as racism, sexism, and bigotry in all forms, so that I can see these things in my day to day interactions and call them out.

At a time like this, taking the time to educate ourselves on the issues is the only way we can fight them. But I don’t just mean the political issues. Listen to the voices of others to see what you may not be seeing because it doesn’t affect you.

I am owning my privilege.

I am a white person, and therefore I have white privilege. I am educated, even if I didn’t go to college. My family and I live comfortably and don’t have to struggle too much to do so. While I am disabled and at times can’t walk, there are times that I am an able bodied person. And so much more.

Take time to learn about privilege and how it may affect your day to day life. I am still learning of various privileges I have. Because I know that in order to hear the voice of someone else and understand what they are going through, I need to understand the privileges I have that they do not.

I am focusing on love.

Honestly, I can’t imagine how my mental health will be sacrificed in the coming years. But to prepare, I am going to focus on love. Love for my partner, especially since I am getting married this year. Love for my family, and reminding them of that love as they continue to support me which puts them at risk.  And love for those around me I know are struggling.

Hate won’t always win, even if it did this time.

And I will be as truly me as I can.

Because my best weapon is my ability to not fit in! And when I was younger, I confidently did so. Hopefully that confidence will reappear because I plan to be as true to myself as I can, and standing out in a society that tells me my existence is wrong. I won’t let them keep me from my happiness, and I will show the world how much happier I am to be me.

I would love to know your plans for getting through these coming years! Let me know in the comments below because I might add your ideas to my game plan of survival and fighting back!

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Fighting Pass Culture in 2017

I have written about pass culture so many times, you would think it is my biggest nemesis. Maybe because in so many ways it is. It’s my kryptonite.

So, what is pass culture? To sum it up really, it’s this belief that a trans person must pass as cisgender to be valid. And as toxic as this belief is, it affects so many of us. For a trans woman, it’s wanting to be seen as a woman and not trans woman. It’s wanting to be seen for who you are without having the world around you seeing you as “a man dressing up as a woman,” or “a man dressing in drag.”

For a nonbinary person as myself, it could be wanting to look as androgynous as possible. Or it could be wanting to pass as female one day or male another.

“It’s a dangerous world away from this virtual space in which I and so many others often take refuge. There are days when the threat of transphobic treatment seems so real that I simply refuse to leave the house: Who will attack me this time for using the women’s bathroom while dressed androgynously? Who will call me namesor be so intimidated by me that they physically assault me? Who will sexualize, fetishize, or sexually assault me?” – “Do I Pass?”: Navigating Perfomances Of Genderfluid Identity on Ravishly  

This toxic belief that we have to pass in a binary world that we don’t fit in, can choke us in a way that takes away any will we have to fight back. For me, and for so many others, pass culture is a survival strategy.

I have been choked by this toxin for so long, that fighting wasn’t even something that I ever thought myself to be capable of. For the past two years, I have promised myself I would be as true to myself as I possibly could be.

But to be completely honest, I have been terrified of showing the world who I am. The world is such a dangerous place. While I have tried so hard to express myself in every way I could, I have fallen short on so many levels. Often, I don’t wear what I want; I wear what I feel will be safe. Sometimes, it’s health reasons. I just don’t feel good enough to get dressed and do my hair and makeup. More often than not though, even if I did feel up to it I wouldn’t.

“What will the world see? Just a girl going through a punk phase.”

A faint voice in the back of my mind will tell me not to care, that I am not happy being so bottled up. Yet, I don’t have it in me to try to open up.

I thought coming out as trans would help, that being honest with myself and everyone around me about being a femme guy would mean I would have the strength to be myself. Wear what I want, do the wild makeup looks my heart desires, the crazy hair colors that make me so happy.

However, it took 2016 for me to develop that strength.

It took the Pulse shooting. It took watching hate and bigotry winning the presidential election. It took a bathroom bill being passed in a state that I travel to often. It took nearly daily mini breakdowns for me to finally break that bottle.

Fighting pass culture in 2017 will be one of my many fights to show that hate won’t win, we will be stronger, we will rise above.

It took fear of my life, the lives of my dear friends, and the realization that I can’t fight the hate when I still live by it, for me to start truly fighting pass culture.

So, this is me taking a vow not to live by hate in 2017. I won’t let bigotry control how I act and dress and express myself. I won’t live by what everyone else expects me to. I will be as true to myself as I can be. Sometimes our silent fights against the system can be our strongest, right?

I don’t recommend everyone take this vow, nor am I calling for anything like that. This is simply me talking about my own goals for 2017. And my biggest is to not let the bigotry of others control how I express myself or exist.

In 2016 I wrote, “But I still get dressed, look at myself in the mirror, and ask myself, “Do I pass?”’

This year, I will look in the mirror, and when that question appears, I will give it a big fuck you!

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A Bipolar Diagnosis for a Trauma Survivor

Trigger/ Content Warning: Talk of PTSD, mental health battles, being suicidal, and self harm.

 

If I go to a doctor of any kind because I suggested it, know that something is very wrong.

For me, it was feelings of helplessness. An all too familiar feeling that was beginning to lead down a road of suicidal idealizations. Though I was unaware at the time, they had already started to slowly invade my safe space; my mind.

I had been in therapy for nearly a year now and hadn’t thought much on going to a psychiatrist. What more could they do for me? It was pretty obvious my diagnosis; PTSD and major depression. As my therapist had pointed out already, I was pretty self-aware.

A little back story without delving into my entire childhood and early teens; I had always been anxious and depressed. It was something I hid well and attempted to fight on my own for a while. Only when the suicide attempts began to reach into the teens, did I realize that I couldn’t do it alone and needed help. Even then, therapy was suggested by my neurologist to help relieve stress and hopefully in turn, relieve my migraines.

Now back to the time of deciding to reach out to a psychiatrist.

If you are unaware, I live in a rural area in the south. Which translates into there are limited resources in my nearby area and I don’t feel comfortable going to a psychiatrist in my own town. Everyone knows everybody, but everyone doesn’t call everyone friend (yes that was a reference to a country song to only prove how country I am).

So I rode, because screw driving I am already scared enough of everything else, 45 minutes away. Let me tell you, that’s a long drive for me. I hate care rides that are over 20 minutes because my bladder can’t handle it.

I had no clue what to expect. So I did the same thing I had done for my therapist; I printed a self-diagnosis test I had found online. Why you may ask? Too many times had I heard that psychiatrists don’t see their patients long before forming a diagnosis.

And there was a specific diagnosis I feared and thus didn’t want him to mention.

Now, at the time I was 16-17 years old. Being underage, my dad came into the appointment with me. We sat down and talked to this man for a little while when he formed the same opinion my therapist had already reached; I am very self-aware and blunt.

He asked what was wrong; I answered “I don’t think it is very normal for people to want to kill themselves.”

He asked about my past, I very plainly laid on the table everything. Even mentioning my number of suicide attempts. I was going to drill into this guy that I was suicidal and needed to do something about that.

He asked about symptoms, I gave him my self diagnosis test and explained my paranoia, anxiety, sleepless nights filled with nightmares, my avoidance of situations as basic as getting groceries, my unnatural attachment to people (read as adults) who pretended to care about me. Everything I could think of.

He asked if I cried randomly sometimes; I said only before a huge a breakdown.

He asked if I had a self-harm issues; I said “When would self-harm not be considered an issue?” Then explained how self-harm had weaved it’s way into my life by disguising itself as a solution when in reality it was part of the problem.

He asked if I caught myself looking over my shoulder in public; I said “How else am I supposed to know that the person I perceive as following me is doing so when in reality they are simply trying to find the milk I keep stopping in front of.”

When he finally finished asking his questions, he let me know he was going to record his findings, thoughts, and what we had just discussed for accuracy sake in my records. Cool, no problem. Only, he still hasn’t told me his diagnosis. I looked over at my dad hoping maybe he knew what I was being diagnosed with.

The psychiatrist starts talking. One of the first sentences being, “Patient Courtney Keesee is very self-aware and presented her symptoms with extreme clarity.” As he continued he talked about how easy it was to diagnosis me because of this. “Obvious symptoms of PTSD. Patient already in therapy and I suggest that continue. Diagnosis of PTSD, slight OCD, Bipolar, and Depression. Prescribing…”

My thoughts trailed off with his words because I was stunned. “Bipolar??? And you can’t even say what type of bipolar? What in your ever blasted mind makes you think I am bipolar when you just spent 15 minutes asking me about my paranoia, flashbacks, and suicidal thoughts? You asked one mother fucking question that may have suggested a bipolar diagnosis and I even told you it only happened before a huge fucking melt down. You never even asked why I have melt downs! It’s because I realize I can’t do this shit on my mother fucking own asshole!” These were my thoughts, but they couldn’t find their way to escape my mouth.

I remember with such vividness that I was stunned speechless for 12 minutes. We had left the office and gotten back into the vehicle before I was able to speak.

The psychiatrist finished talking into the recorder and asked if we had any questions. Luckily my dad asked what I was thinking. “Bipolar?”

“Yes, for her record though I am not sure she is or isn’t. However, I am putting her on an antidepressant and mood stabilizer so I always say bipolar in order for insurance to approve the medication easier. She very well could be bipolar, and I believe I see trace amounts of it, but her PTSD is of my main concern.”

Trace amounts of a mental illness?? This isn’t a drug search mister, you won’t find trace amounts of cocaine lying around my room! You are talking about diagnosing me with something because you see “trace amounts” of the illness!

Now, yes getting this diagnosis did affect me greatly. It was now on my record for no reason (in my mind). And as he said, I do have slight OCD. This was something I became OCD about.

Still stunned speechless, I left that day without a single question I had had answered but more added to my list. What makes you think I am bipolar? Is it not normal to cry when you are having a breakdown? Are you seriously saying you diagnosis people based on “trace amounts” of a mental illness? What type of bipolar disorder?

The time has come for me to venture back into a psychiatrist office and I wonder, will that psychiatrist also see “trace amounts” of bipolar in me, or will they see the diagnosis I have always feared?

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