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?

 

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.

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.

 

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?

Breakdown And Medications: Guest Post By Katy

A friend and I hadn’t heard from each other for about a month. Shortly after my birthday, we got together to catch up over some coffee. As we sat and talked, there was a rather uncomfortable misunderstanding. They up and left our meeting without giving me a chance to explain myself.

I sat there for about five minutes, waiting and wondering and giving them a chance to come back.

They didn’t come back.

So I grabbed my coffee and drove home. As I did, I cried and screamed at my windshield. There was makeup running down my face. I looked like a hot mess. This person had been texting my mum and told her that I was unstable and needed to be on meds.

I pulled up outside my house, but I couldn’t go in because there was someone else home, so I drove to my grandmother’s house. I cleaned myself up, put some gas in my truck and drove down to my aunt’s house where she was. It was a drive that I very much needed because I was putting more distance between myself and the situation that had just occurred.

About two and a half weeks later, I wound up back at my grandmother’s house helping her with something. I wound up having a complete breakdown. I was screaming and crying all over again.


I told her about how I hadn’t been taking any kind of medication for the past like eleven months. How this person was trying to guilt and almost force me back to taking meds because of their situation and opinions. How I couldn’t go back to the same psychiatrist I’d had before ,because they were out-of-network now. How I was afraid of the shame I would inevitably feel as people found out I was taking medication.

Things she said were finally starting to click. I got on her laptop and started looking for a psychiatrist that took my insurance. It was an extremely overwhelming and frustrating process. In the end, I called fifteen different psychiatric offices before finding one that was taking new patients, accepted my insurance, and could get me in quickly.

When I finally had my appointment, I spent an hour talking with the psych nurse. It was a very different set-up than the previous places I had been to for psychiatrists. I was comfortable with her almost immediately. She let us get off-topic a couple times, but always brought us back to what we needed to discuss. There was no shame felt in admitting things from my past.

My previous Bipolar Disorder Type II diagnosis was thrown aside, and I was given a new diagnosis. Depression with manic elements. It made so much more sense. I didn’t have the mania, or hypomania, that comes with bipolar disorder. I had only experienced it once, and I’m pretty sure it was because of a medication that I’d been taking at the time.

She prescribed Zoloft and Seroquel. The Zoloft is for my depression, and the Seroquel at a low dose as a mood stabilizer plus to help with my sleep. So far things seem to be doing ok. I go back for a follow-up appointment soon, and I’ll find out if she wants to adjust dosages or keep me where I’m at. Either way I’m ok with it. I’m just glad I’m finally getting the help I’ve needed for a long time.

I started a notebook for all my psychiatric stuff after the first appointment. In the back I keep medications and dosages. In the front is emotional notes and any side effects that I might experience. This will hopefully help us in keeping better track of how the medications are doing for me because it can be difficult to remember things that happened shortly after my last appointment if it was a month ago.

People have asked me why I finally listened to someone and am getting help for my mental health, and that can be difficult to answer. I’m doing it for me. But I’m also doing it because my daughter deserves to be able to know her birthmom when she grows up.

Say what you will about my doing it for her, but I don’t care. I know what my full reasons are, and that’s all that matters.

Here’s to hoping everything goes well with my newest leg of my mental health journey.

————————

Katy is a coffee addict, an admirer of tattoos, an avid reader, and a mental health warrior. She is the birthmom to a beautiful little girl. She enjoys curling up under blankets with cups of coffee/tea and reading books or watching Gilmore Girls episodes.

You can read more from her on her blog. You can also follow along with her life on her Twitter or Instagram.

How My Mental Illness Framed My Queer Identity

Trigger warning/Content Note: Talk of being suicidal, queer identity, struggles with depression, and self harm.

 

“Everyone will hate you, more than they already do.
You’ll be an outcast in a world you never fit in to, there’s nothing worse, it’s true.

But, I think I love her…

You are better off dead.
If you don’t do it, they’ll fill you with lead.

But what if she’s the one…

You’d be better off becoming a nun.
Being alone is better than being hated by everyone. 

But what if I am trans…

Find the gun. 
You’ll need to pull the trigger before you tell someone.”

10th Grade Courtney (2013) 

When I was in high school, my depression and anxiety ran rampant. Like so many other young teenagers, I was struggling to figure out who I was and where I was supposed to fit in society. And this battle for me centered around a few things; my love for a girl, my dysphoria, and my lack of self worth.

Suicide was regularly on my mind.

Therapy seemed like a distant idea for a long time, considering my depression and anxiety started when I was a kid. But as the years went by, and the list of my attempts grew longer, I began to warm up to the idea of getting help. It became clear to me that I couldn’t do this alone.

Yet, when I started therapy, I avoided talk of being queer. Clearly my identity as a queer person was a huge factor of my mental illness; it was repeatedly stated in my suicide letters that I wrote but no one ever received. But I couldn’t bring myself to seek help for it. Why?

Because my mental illness framed my queer identity as being the worse thing in the world.

My mind repeatedly told me no one would love me. And it showed true as I watched loved ones bash gay people for no reason other than the fact they were gay. I watched bisexual girls at my school, and I wondered how they did it. Don’t get me wrong, there weren’t many that I was aware of. But I craved being like them so bad. Those girls who were out and didn’t get teased about it everyday, the ones who walked the halls with a confidence I admired so much.

Later on, as I befriend a few, I learned that confidence wasn’t everything I thought it was. They were scared too, they had their own self image issues, and they weren’t loved by everyone.

But golly I would have done anything to fake that confidence.

The first time I physically quivered in fear at the sound of the word “gay” was in the locker room. It was freshman year and some girls were talking about their underwear being cute. Having toned out of the conversation, I’m not sure how it escalated. But I clearly remembered hearing “It’s not like there are any gay people in here to worry about.”

Something so simple led to me crying in my bathroom floor, knife beside me already covered in a crimson I recognized all too well.

That same year I met someone who would later become my best friend. They have no clue how much their simple existence as an out lesbian made accepting myself an actual possibility.

But I still thought being bisexual or transgender was the worst thing in the world.

I could sit here and tell you about the time I was changing with the soccer team and a girl made a remark about gays. How I quit the team afterwards because I was afraid. I could tell you about the things that made me cringe everyday, or the times I was knocked down after someone outed me.

However, I won’t waste your time. We’ve all read those stories. And today, I don’t want to talk about the bullying side of things.

I want to talk about how I wanted to die because I felt no one would ever love me. Wow, that was easier to say than I thought it would be. Being bisexual and transgender made me want to kill myself. There’s a long list of reasons I suppose, but they were near the top.

For about 3 or 4 years now, I have been out as a bisexual.

Not publicly, I think I have only publicly been out for 2. But to some friends, family, and some strangers online; I have been out.

It’s been a struggle reframing my queer identity when I spent most of my life listening to the voices in my head, damning me for being anything other than a cisgender heterosexual girl. There are days, especially this past year, that those voices ease back into my mind.

But I have been working so hard on telling myself it’s not true, I am worth something, and people do love me.

My trans identity has been a harder pill to swallow.

While it feels like a ton of bricks have finally been lifted from my back, I still can’t catch my breath when people begin talking about trans people.

The anxiety around my queerness is still very much so there.

When I have lived my whole life thinking, hearing, and feeling like my existence is an abomination, it’s hard to turn it off. At one point I thought I could learn to be straight, I could let go of my dysphoria and gender struggles, and I could be “normal”. But I have had a hard time defining normal, stopping myself from having feelings for someone, and letting go of something that defines so much of who I am.

I have been out as a nonbinary trans person for a little over a year.

And yet, I still wonder how long I can live this way before the entire world and everyone I care about turns against me. How long can I truly be myself before everyone begins to hate me?

How long can I be me, before someone decides to end me?

Dear Eugenia Cooney & Anorexia

I have stayed rather quite on this subject, despite people asking me my opinion and to talk about. To put it plainly, I wanted to stay away from YouTube drama, which is what this boils down to. But a message I received the other day convinced me it was time to say something. The following is something I wrote as a letter to Eugenia Cooney, her followers, as well as her critics. 

**Trigger Warning and Content Note: Talk of bullying, anorexia, and pictures that can be triggering for people battling an eating disorder.**

Dear Eugenia Cooney & Anorexia,

When I was in middle school, I was called “skeleton girl”. At the time, I was oblivious to the eating disorder that was creeping into my life, and I felt the mean girls were only trying to pick fun at me because I was an easy target.

Like you, I grew up around obesity. Often those people felt the need to tell me that when they were my age, they were little like me. And looking back, I can see how much that scared me. At the time though, I didn’t notice how much I had started to skip meals. Lunch at school became eating maybe twice a week and usually I gave most of the food away.

The middle school locker room was a horror for me. I could see the bigger girls getting picked on so much worse than me, and I was truly frightened of this. Bullying had enveloped every part of my life. And I was willing to do anything just to avoid a little bit of that hate.

Completely oblivious to what was going on, anorexia began to take over my life.

I skipped more and more meals. To the point I felt nauseous at the sight of food. The mirror hated me, and I hated it. When it started I was maybe 2 pounds underweight, and I didn’t get help until I had reached 20 pounds underweight. My blood sugar was a steady issue for me, and I realized that it wasn’t normal to feel dizzy all the time.

Why am I telling you this? Because I want you to know I empathize, I can relate.

You have been the subject of ridicule for awhile now, because people are quick to diagnose your condition. They don’t know your story, they don’t know you, but they are quick to attack you because they think they know what’s wrong with you.

However, I see where some of them are coming from.

Watching your videos can be extremely triggering for anyone who has suffered from or are suffering
from an eating disorder. I won’t try to tell you what is wrong with you, but I will say that your weight isn’t natural and I think you do need help. Do I think you should be kicked off of YouTube for it? I don’t think that will help anyone. You have a large following and I think that maybe it would help you on your road to recovery for them to have your back.

But I do see why some people think you are using your eating disorder (if that’s what it is), to become popular. I understand their argument. You are triggering a lot of people, knowingly or unknowingly.

I think it would be really empowering for you to share a recovery story.

But to do that, you have to realize something is wrong and be willing to get help. You have to be willing to recover in order to do anything to help those people who are being inspired to be as skinny as you.

To her critics,

I won’t link your videos, petitions, or any of that. I think a lot of it can be triggering as well.

But I do want to tell you that you need to stop. If you truly want to help her, stop watching her videos and commenting mean things. The more you hurt her emotionally, the more damage you are doing. Her disorder is a mental illness and bullying can be such a huge issue for people who are suffering from a mental illness.

And your comments won’t just hurt her, they will hurt the people you claim to care so much are being triggered. 

If you want to help, share resources that can. Don’t tell her to “slit her wrists”.

Whether or not she gets help is beyond us, but her followers that are being inspired to be like her will only further be hurt by your actions. Show compassion, show empathy, and share resources.

Trolls will be trolls.

But you don’t have to participate in hate to make a difference. 

Truthfully, I doubt she will listen to any of us. She needs people she is genuinely close to, to speak up and reach out. She needs a support system of people she loves and she needs medical help.

Me, last year while I was still working on recovery and had finally hit 100 pounds.

Recovery is beautiful.

Body shaming though, in any way, isn’t ok.

Eugenia Cooney, I truly hope you get help for the sake of your health and your followers health. If not for yourself, maybe for someone you love. You don’t know me, and I doubt you’ll care what I have to say, but I am always available if you would like to talk. 

 

 

What You Don’t See: A Thank You To My Fiancé

The other day I posted this picture on my Facebook page as a part of my project of talking about my daily struggles. It had been a long Saturday and I was in a lot of pain, mostly in my back and my knees.

“Today’s reality (Dec. 10) is having to eat my dinner while laying in a bathtub that isn’t but so comfortable because my back hurts so much I can’t stand or sit comfortably.

Not to mention the pain in my stomach being so bad I couldn’t finish my dinner.

Last night I tweeted “My depression had been eating me alive the past few weeks. Today I’m feeling hopeful. However it is only 3am.”

Not long after tweeting that a migraine began to come on. But I didn’t think much of it and went to bed. Usually if one starts at night I can sleep it off. However I have been battling a migraine all day to day as well. Surprisingly though, my depression hasn’t been talking to me today and I’m feeling hopeful and driven. Small victories I guess.”

And as the outpouring of love and support came flowing in, I couldn’t help but look over beside me. As I laid in a bath tub with my back fully submerged in the hot water, my fiancé sat there beside me on the cold tile floor in a cramped bathroom. We both ate our dinner in the bathroom, talking and relaxing to what degree we could.

In the photo I posted, you couldn’t see them. You couldn’t see how uncomfortable it can get for them when it takes two hours, sometimes, of laying in this hot water just so I can sit up in a chair somewhat comfortably.

Often times we forget those who are helping us through our struggles.

When my knees are so bad I can’t go to the bathroom alone, my fiancé is there. They help me stand up, pull up my pants, and never make me feel weird about it. We actually got so used to the routine that we often follow each other into the bathroom at home without even second guessing it.

When I don’t feel good, they don’t hesitate to get me whatever it is I need, even if it is past 12 am and I am hungry. They grab those truck keys quicker than I can blink and ask what I want from McDonalds.

Even when their back is hurting, they don’t hesitate to help me out of the bath tub.

Today, I have been thinking a lot about all the things they do for me. I couldn’t ask for a better caregiver. But I wanted to talk to all of you about it. Because as I continue to share my struggles this month and next, I want everyone to know what my caregiver is going through too.

I love you sweetheart. Thank you for all that you do for me. Not only taking care of me when I am sick,
but helping me when I simply need a little help. Thank you for the time you sacrifice working on something for yourself to help my father get my office done. Thank you for sitting with me in the bathroom so I don’t have to be alone with my pain. Thank you for running my bath every night that I need one and sometimes, running it before you even have a chance to eat. Never complaining about your food getting cold or having to help me get off the toilet. Never complaining when I ask you to get me a drink and a pill. Sitting with me in the bathroom when a migraine hits and I can’t handle light or sound. Or when I feel so sick I have to sit in the floor of the shower and let the water just run over me.

You Deserved It: A Bullying Story

“A few abusive relationships and  a guy becoming overly attached to me, but somehow I was still standing. But I completely faded away when she said “Ha you deserved it.”‘

 

Her eyes stare right into mine, I know she sees the way they plead for her not to, but she just laughs as her words spew out of her mouth like hot lava. Kids around me point and stare. And I can’t say a word. Mortified by the hatred that began to build in me. Hatred of myself.

Everyday brings new pains, as I continue to be the outlet of their childhood troubles. As if I didn’t have my own. And with every passing day, more and more of my self confidence melts away. I begin to believe the words that they always say. Ugly. Nerd. Dork. An outcast. But if only they knew what those words were doing to me inside. They never see the tears I cry as I sit alone on the floor, writing in my journal just how much I wish I could change to fit their needs. How much I hate myself.

Adults around me admire my beauty and all I can think, is how I wish they’d stop lying to me. The girls at school had told me the truth and the lies these adults sling at me only damage me more as I begin to lose touch with them at a time I need them the most. ‘Cause how can I trust someone who would lie to me.

Friends forever? Ha yeah right. I lost all my friends over night. Those who stuck around, didn’t seem to really care. They never said anything when the others tore me down. And I began losing trust in every one I loved.

Sixth grade comes and I start to have hope. New year and a new me.

But, that’s not what they see. They call me a baby, cause I don’t dress like them. How was I supposed to know that Areo was in? I watch back in silence as they judge the innocent. What could I say to possibly make a difference?

When I do stand up for the people like me, I take brutal beatings to the dignity with the words they throw at me.

Seventh grade comes, eighth and ninth.

But nothing changes. And the hatred continues to build. I’d rather kill myself then continuing on living this way. I’m too skinny, nothing but sticks and bones they say. I see them whisper to each other, point and stare, saying “Look it’s a walking skeleton.” But it’s not my fault, I just don’t have an appetite. Too scared of having a little meat on my bones, because I’ve seen what they do to the girls who do.

Every attempt I make to fit in, only seems to make them hate me more. But I can’t blame them. How could they like me when I don’t even like myself.

I smother myself in makeup, the way I see so many of the “popular” girls do. Yet, they call me fake, just for trying to fit in. I just want to be like them, so maybe they won’t hate me. Maybe, just maybe, I won’t hate myself.

Tenth grade comes. And I think for the last time, maybe it will be different this year.

But, her eyes stare straight into mine, I know she sees how they plead for her to stop, and she laughs as her words spew out like hot lava out of a volcano. Just as she is about to walk away, puts her hand against my face, pushes my head back into the locker door; whatever hope left in me broke that day.

My sexuality becomes another reason for them to hate me, because “fags are so disgusting.” An abomination, that’s what I am to them. And they waste no opportunity to tell me so.

What was left of me, slowly deteriorated. A few abusive relationships and  a guy becoming overly attached to me, but somehow I was still standing. But I completely faded away when she said “Ha you deserved it.”


First off, I would like to say please no hateful comments. Because this story is very personal to me, since it is my own bullying story.

Secondly, I did not share this for sympathy. I shared it in hopes people would think about the things they say next time before they say it. I want this story to inspire others to speak up about bullying. And I hope this story will inspire at least one person to think about what they say before saying it, because even the smallest difference is still a difference.

So many more had it worse than me, and I know that. But every story counts, and all bullying matters. Never feel like you shouldn’t speak up because its not that bad. You matter and what you are going through matters.

This story was first shared a year ago today on my blog Courtney’s Voice. I was scrolling through Facebook early this morning and saw the memory for it pop up. And I felt the need to update it a little. Because this story continued in a way I have yet to share.


I stood face to face to with her, years after that moment. Emotions building up inside, but everything screams for me to run and hide.

She looks at me, as if maybe she remembers who I am.

I want to ask if she still thinks I deserved what that boy those years ago did to me, I want to ask if she still thinks of me as a tool to climb the ladder of popularity. Months before happening to run into her, I had gotten up the courage to add her as a friend on Facebook. More than anything, I was curious if she still treated people that way.

Her life looked the same really, and even though only 2 1/2 or 3 years had passed, I had only expected to see some change.

But that day, she looked at me, smirked to a friend, and continued on with her life.

One day I hope to tell her the impact she had on my life. That all that bullying, so much of it still not documented here because I simply can’t put it into words, and all that taunting only made me stronger. She broke me, but only for a few years.

Everything she and her friends did, helped me find my voice.

Now I know how to roar.