My Reality of Living Queer w/ Mental Illness

Hey y’all, it has been awhile. Honestly I don’t want to babble on with excuses of why I haven’t been writing or why I haven’t been that active on social media. Because you all don’t need excuses. Yet I feel this whole post is going to be a ramble of thoughts and excuses.

This is going to be a throw-back style post that will probably resemble the posts like I used to make on Courtney’s Voice.

There is so much going on in my life, and it feels so weird not to be able to share it with you all. This is my safe haven, but I can’t even talk about it here. I know a lot of people have been asking if I am ok and if my relationship is, and that’s a tough thing to answer. My partner and I are extremely happy together, there’s no like break up or anything. We’ve just been going through a lot of drama.

Which is why it has been so hard to sit down and write. My thoughts are clustered and I have been s

 

truggling so much the past few months to make sense of any of them. Depression has been getting the best of me too. Getting out of bed in the morning seems to take longer and longer each day.

I have so many things I want to do with this site, this community. But it is going to take time.

I will also be launching a beauty blog/youtube soon, which is something I have been wanting to do for years but alwaysconvinced myself that I am not attractive enough to do. The instagram attached to it (where you will be able to see updates) is @musingbeauty and lately it seems like its the only thing I have been able to be constant with.

So lets truly get into my reality of living queer with mental illness. 

Each day the light grows dimmer,
My inner voice grows weaker.
I want so badly to crawl through my own mouth,
to exist outside my own mind.

Thoughts rattle around,
overwhelming the scared person I am inside.
Voices, ones that aren’t my own,
echo the fears I already consumed every night.

My choices aren’t my own anymore,
they belong to the robot who walks around pretending to be me.
The actions of my body,
don’t reflect the feelings I have buried inside of me.

I often wonder what my headstone will read,
“Here lies the queer consumed by their own fears,
And rotted away while walking around pretending to be something,
They simply weren’t;
Fine.”

 

Why I Love Social Media As Someone with Social Anxiety

 

 

Truth is, if you ever meet me in person, I am probably not what you expect. People hear social anxiety and they imagine someone who is reserved. But I am actually the opposite. I tend to say the first thing that comes to mind, simply because I am nervous and feel the need to fill any awkward silence so that people don’t start judging every little thing about me. I guess anxiety manifests it self in different ways for everyone.

When I was in middle school there was a new wave of social interactions that had me rather frightened. With new technology and the dawn of the internet, social media became the future. And all the kids at school were constantly talking about the various sites they were on, which mostly consisted of Myspace.

See, I was right after the AIM or AOL trend but right before Facebook took off. My first years of social media were spent on Myspace, where I meticulously picked out who made it to my top friends, followed tons of people (with few following me back), and ranted about my crushes of the time never seeming to notice me. I spent hours trying to make my profile interesting, and trying to make friends. It was exhausting.

These are my first memories of social media. And for a teen who craved being liked by people, because face it we all want to be liked, this was a stressful place where people could treat me the same way they did in school. I was invisible walking the halls, and invisible scrolling through the internet.

In the beginning, I hated social media. It was just another way for kids in school to bully me.

So what has made me have such a dramatic change of heart about this online world?

I guess when I left public high school to start homeschooling, losing touch with the friends I had and the people I cared about became a reality I never expected. We always say we are going to be friends even after school, but after leaving school, I learned it wasn’t as easy as it seemed.

And being someone with social anxiety, it can be hard for me to reach out to people. I have a hard time keeping in  touch with people when my depression gets the best of me. Over time I start losing touch with everyone, but my feelings for the people doesn’t disappear. I still care so much for so many people, but I hardly talk to them. At the same time, I want to know they are ok, and know of their struggles.

So I am going to take a minute to break down each social media site I love, and why as well as what I hate. 

Facebook is a world of it’s own, and it is a dangerous one. People connect, people stalk, and people can be creepy. We all have our feelings about social media, and especially Facebook. There are so many things I hate about Facebook. I hate the ability to a ton of people in posts, I hate that most of my feed is always about companies trying to sell me things, I hate people finding me using my name. I DON’T THINK KIDS SHOULD BE ON FACEBOOK. It can be a weapon, and there are so many ways to hide posts from parents that they don’t even know of.

But I love it. I spend hours a day scrolling and watching. Because suddenly that kid with social anxiety who has a hard time reaching out to their friends, gets to see what their friends are up to.

I am a nostalgic person. And when memories surface of people who have meant so much to me at some point, I start to wonder what they are up to. A lot of times, I take to my phone and I search them. If I am not already friends with them, I add them. And I spend a few minutes seeing where they are at in their life.

It is calming. I don’t have to get anxious about trying to start a conversation, or fill silence. But I get to know that these people are ok, and happy. And when they need small reminders that people care, I can drop a quick comment.

Twitter is my world away from the world.  I get to say things I would never be able to say in real life, out of fear of the people in my real life community, in 140 characters or less.

Instagram, however, is my jam. Call me conceited if you want but I love to take selfies. They are small reminders of how far I have come. As someone who used to struggle to see themselves as being worth anything more than the space they take up, I love being able to share photos and people like them and comment.

My self worth isn’t based on the number of likes I get. But at the same time, it can be a nice pick me up on a rainy day.

The DM feature is scary to me, because it stays filled with pervs and so many young people are on instagram. But at the same time, it’s nice to connect with people of similar interests. I don’t like being able to share location on any social media platform, because that screams “Here I am” to anyone who may want to hurt me. And I don’t recommend it to children.

But it’s nice to be able to control who sees my posts, to some degree, by having a private profile.

I find social media to be a tool for growing and connecting. 

Many of you probably already see it this way. But as someone with social anxiety, I often wonder what my life would be like if I didn’t have a screen as a mediator of sorts.

How lonely would I be if I didn’t have the chat heads to look forward to?

Would I build up the confidence to meet new people without my vices getting in the way?

Or is it the perfect tool to get to know someone, build a relationship, and be able to avoid some of those anxieties that freeze me up?

 

Queerly Beloved We Are Gathered Here Today…

A month ago today, May 13, I got married to my best friend, my soul mate. It was an amazing day, full of amazing memories. But I shocked a lot of people, I made a lot of people question if they really knew me. All because of a complicated decision I made that I want to talk to you all about.

But first, let me explain my absence really quick. Preparing for the wedding was taking over my life and I really didn’t have time to write. While I love writing, it is extremely draining. It takes a lot of energy to pour your emotions out into the world knowing that you most likely will be crapped on by half the world. After the wedding, I have simply needed a break from everything.

So back to this decision I made that made a lot of people question if my existence is fake.


Drum roll please!

I wore a dress instead of a tux to my wedding. While I looked and felt fabulous, I knew I would get a lot of questions, and I did. So I want to take some time to address those questions as well as share with you all some of my favorite moments from the wedding, mostly because I share everything with this world I have built on this little blog of mine.

Are you still trans or nonbinary?

The short answer is, yes. Wearing a dress in no way influences my identity. Clothes are an amazing way to express yourself. For years however, I found them oppressing. Dress this way because you are a “girl”, don’t wear that color because you are a “girl”. For the past year, I have been trying to fight that feeling by wearing what ever the fuck I want to wear.

My identity as a transgender person has nothing to do with what I wear. I’m nonbinary, meaning I don’t stick to the binary rules of gender. Which shall be a talk for another day. But that in itself means I also don’t follow the rules of boys. Just because I feel like a guy most of the time, doesn’t mean that I can’t wear pink, dresses, or wear makeup. For the millionth time, WEAR WHATEVER THE FUCK YOU WANT.

But why didn’t you wear a tux?


It’s complicated. I actually wanted to originally wanted to wear a tux. But I ran into a lot of issues with the tux world. For one, I am small and I don’t fit clothes the way I feel like I should a lot of times. Things are odd. When I shop for clothes inthe mens section, they often times fit weird and I have to shop in the little kids section.

On top of that, I wanted a tailored suit that wouldn’t be show casing my breasts. Suits that put emphasizes on my breasts always make me uncomfortable. However, I was having a hard time finding somewhere to get a suit that would look good on my body without emphasizing my breasts. Honestly, I think the only way I would have really felt good in would have been a suit created by a trans person, so that I wouldn’t feel so alone.

At the end of the day, I wanted to feel comfortable and special on my big day. And I didn’t feel like the options I had with tuxes weren’t going to let me feel that way. Instead I was going to feel like a little kid in their father’s clothes.

Are you still bisexual?

I know, this isn’t related to the fact I wore a dress, but apparently people are wondering. Marrying a seemingly male person in no way invalidates my sexuality. It’s that simple. Being attracted to people of different genders doesn’t change because you found someone you love and you want to spend your life with them. It literally needs no more explanation.

What about your breasts?

Yes, my dress made my breasts be noticeable. But honestly, I was ok with it. When I tried on dresses, one issue I continued to have was that my breasts looked big. Ughhhh. But then, I found my dress. The details drew your eyes away from my breasts and suddenly, I felt gorgeous.

I haven’t been able to bind for awhile. My health has been preventing it. And so I have been working on becoming comfortable with my boobs. It’s scary, it’s an adventure, it’s a journey, and it’s not even close to being finished.

 

I’m still queer, and I’m still here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is to happily ever after, and not letting people tell me how I am supposed to express myself because of my queer identity. I love you Dusty. Always and forever.

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.

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.

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.*

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.