Binding 101: Safety Before Having A Binder

Chest binding IS possible without a binder.

Warning: Talk of breasts because god knows its sooo wrong to talk about those. Also, talk of self hate.

This is for all you out there who want to hide your all too obvious breasts. I have been there. Whether you are a trans man, or a gender neutral, or agender person and you just don’t want them to show because it’s too much of a reminder of what others see you as. Or maybe the mirror hates you as much as it hates me. Maybe it’s an inner struggle you just don’t want to battle all day everyday. This is for you.

When I was starting high school, I started developing breasts. I had been confused my whole life about my gender, and I had been dressing more neutral without even knowing. Being nonbinary, I don’t feel like a girl. And I have struggled with hating my breasts since I was a child and learned they were a huge part of the reason people saw others as a girl. The moment they started to truly form, my confusion and my self hatred grew to a point of almost having a breakdown. I looked for any way I could to hide my breasts.

And that’s when I heard of binding.

However, because I hadn’t come out, and I didn’t even know what to come out as, I didn’t know how to ask for a binder.

See, binding is in short, hiding your breasts.

When I learned of binding, a scene from a movie I had seen as a kid kept playing in my head. Now And Then, the movie I had seen, never really made a huge impression on me. Thinking back, the only scene I recall is the scene where a girl with long black hair was wrapping her chest with duct tape. At the time I didn’t know what she was doing. But even when I was younger I longed to do something like that. It just seemed fitting. I remember relating to the character and wanting to be seen as “one of the guys”, yet not wanting to be “one of the guys” at the same time.

So when my breasts started developing and I learned what binding was, this scene reentered my mind, and I was tempted to do the same. Dear god I am happy that I didn’t.

Later in life I learned that duct tape can actually damage your breasts tissue. It doesn’t move with your body the way that a binder should.

But, I know there are a lot of you out there who don’t know how to bind safely without having to buy a binder because I know a lot you haven’t come out yet. So I want to give you some tips on things you can do that may help you hide a little without hurting your body as well as some safety tips. These are all my personal opinions and what I have had some success with. There will be links to more sources that have great info on binding below. It is always better to buy a binder if you have the resources to.

DOS:

  1. Sports Bras. Here’s the thing, sports bras are designed to keep your breasts from bouncing as much when you run. Therefore they keep them more in place rather than normal bras that push them up more. They also move with your body, unlike duct tape.
  2. Camis. I know it seems basic, but get a cami that fits a bit loose. The extra layer of clothes can help your chest blend with your lower stomach.
  3. Loose fitting t-shirts. Basic again I know. Here is the thing, loose fitting t-shirts lay in a way that blends your body together. I usually get shirts that are a size to two sizes bigger, depending on how it fits. I usually go for longer ones because I can bunch them up over your belt and that adds a little fluff to the lower area and that helps camouflage the top.
  4. Jackets. During the fall and winter, try to stick to the looser fitting jackets and hoodies. Form fitting ones will show your breasts more. However, if you get some that are a bit form fitting, don’t zip them, that they they stay open and loose! Being open, they can also help camouflage your breasts.
  5. Drink lots of water. Wearing extra layers can make you over heat easily so be sure to drink plenty. Especially during the spring and summer.
  6. Always be safe.

DON’TS:

  1. Bind for longer than 8-12 hours. Meaning if you go to school, stop binding when you get home. It can put stress on your breasts to bind too long.
  2. Use ace bandages, that’s not what they were made for and don’t move with the body. They can also stick to the body with sweating.
  3. Use duct tape. They pull and stick to your body. It is also very uncomfortable and does damage to your body. A friend of mine used duct tape and pulled a layer of skin off after getting hot and it sticking. So not worth it.
  4. Buy shirts or bras too small. That puts too much pressure on your breasts they are a sensitive area and you don’t want to hurt them. It will also be uncomfortable all day.

Some resources you may find helpful:

TransGuys
Point5cc

If you are interested in buying a binder and you are capable of doing so, I suggest GC2b. The prices are reasonable, they are actually comfortable, and I was super impressed with my results!

A version of this was previously seen on Courtney’s Voice.

Sexuality Can Be Fluid

Because attraction isn’t something we truly control.

 

We, as in all the out queers in the world, have heard it. “Oh there was this girl in my college dorms that I seriously thought about trying stuff with, but don’t get me wrong I’m not a lesbian or bi,” or “There was one time when I was really drunk that I made out with a dude, but it was just the alcohol, I’m not gay.”

I hear it all the time. So often so that I have a pretty generic response for when they devalue my sexuality and turn it into nothing more than a drunken night of experimenting, or something that girls do in college because why have a boyfriend when you can just have fun with a girlfriend right? That’s what it feels like they are doing when I come out to them and they respond with stories of experimenting when they were also experimenting with drugs, and they make sure to tell me drugs were involved because you obviously need to be hich to have sex with someone of the same sex *eye roll*.

“Considering how fluid sexuality can be, I am not surprised you have found yourself attracted to someone of the same sex at some point in your life. It’s like telling someone to spend their whole life in this house with generic curtains and furniture, and while they may be happy, they will always wonder what the house next door is like when you see them living a less generic life. In short, being curious is really normal and to be expected to some degree. And your night of experimenting somewhat compares to me experimenting with blonde hair. It was fun at first but just wasn’t who I am or really fit me. But, this purple hair, that is much more fitting. I will continue to change my hair color and find the one that fits me. However, at least now I know that blonde isn’t me.” 

If they aren’t speechless, they usually begin saying that their night of experimenting meant more than changing my hair color because they found out for sure they were straight. Or they begin fighting saying that you are born with your sexuality therefore it can’t be fluid.

Here’s the thing, we truly don’t control who we are attracted to. That’s the truth and I agree there.

But, if we don’t control who we are attracted to, therefore we do not control what our sexuality may be, but we find ourselves rarely attracted to people of a gender that we usually don’t, we can say that sexuality is fluid. Because we are attracted to people we usually aren’t, therefore briefly your sexuality has changed.

I know, it can be a hard concept to accept.

Usually, I think of sexual identity as more of a “this is what I am usually attracted to” rather than a “I am never ever attracted to _______.” It’s definition is more of a guidelines than a permanent thing. Someone who is gay may be attracted more to people of the same sex, and may be more attracted to people of the same sex in a romantic way, but every now and then come across someone of the opposite sex they are attracted to.

That’s not anything like noticing someone is aesthetically pleasing. Majorly different. I know that cats are cute, but that doesn’t mean I want to have sex with them. It is common to see people are cute.

But the moment it’s a little more than thinking someone is cute, and you are getting more turned on (shocker I am talking about sexual attraction and use terms like turned on) by the person, it doesn’t necessarily make you gay or bi. Not that you shouldn’t pursue a relationship if you want to.

It’s more about the fact that no one can define your sexuality for you.

Personally, I identify as panromantic because I find myself often attracted to people of multiple genders. But, I have a friend whom is a girl and dated a girl for a year. She identifies as straight because she has never been attracted to any other girls in her life, other than her ex girlfriend.

Do I, as a queer person, try to make her identity as queer because of her past relationship with a girl? No. Because I understand that attraction is simply attraction and the title of how you define who you are attracted to does not actually determine your attraction.

Sexuality is fluid because attraction is.

However, that doesn’t mean that people’s identities are not valid. They are. It is important to that person and how they want to label themselves. It just means that sexuality isn’t a black and white topic, there are a lot of gray areas. And those shades of gray vary.

 

 

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.

 

 

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?

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.

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!

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!

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?

Supporting Marginalized Artists and Activists

For some reason it seems our culture frowns against becoming a fan of someone (ie. an actor/actress or singer, or celebrity of any form) simply for their LGBT+ identity, their race, their nationality, their views, or their activism. Weird huh?

I guess by now you are probably expecting me to say something about Meryl Streep‘s speech at the

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – JANUARY 08: Actress Meryl Streep, recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award, poses in the press room during the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 8, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Golden Globes? Well you were right, though that’s only a portion of what this is about. But to get it out the way, GO ON WITH YOUR BAD SELF MERYL! Her speech put me in tears. I’ve never once watched the Golden Globes to be honest. I didn’t even watch it last night (1/8/17). But my Twitter feed was filled with tweets about it, so when I found a video of her speech, I couldn’t help but watch in awe.

I’ll be honest again, I have seen a lot of works she was in. It’s Complicated immediately comes to mind, as well as Sophie’s Choice. But I was never a huge fan. She’s talented don’t get me wrong. I have loved her in everything I have seen her in. However, she’s never been one of those people I just had to go to the movie theaters to see despite whether or not I had genuine interest in the movie.

Even now, I am not her biggest fan and won’t pretend to be. But my respect for her and her work has grown as I have watched her be a voice. Her abortion activism being one of the things I have admired her for.

But, and back to the real reason for writing this today, I have noticed a trend.

People seem genuinely butt hurt when a celebrity gains fans due to their activism, race, nationality, or identity as an LGBTQIA person.

It absolutely blows my mind that people are shocked that being an activist or LGBT could be a reason for someone to gain fans. It’s as if supporting an actress, actor, singer, ect. for speaking out on a cause we support or being brave enough to be out as LGBTQIA in some way, means that we don’t value them as a person. So let’s start with activism.

If an artist is an activist for something I believe in, they have my attention.

Honestly, it is so much easier for me to support someone as an artist if I can support their views. I am 10x more likely to watch their movie, their music video, or whatever it is they do. There are times when I watch a movie and point out to my partner, “Hey that’s soandso they are an activist for soandso” or “That’s the actor that stood up to soandso.” For example, we were watching The Percy Jackson movies the other night and I mentioned the author of the books, Rick Riordan, had “turned down an invite to be honored by TX state legislature as a Texas author” because of transphobic nonsense.

Why do I care?

Because, as for anyone, it is so much easier for me to get behind someone who is like minded.

I feel guilty watching, listening, or some how supporting someone who spews hate and ignorance. For instance, Jennifer Lawrence lost so much of my respect for her with her rubbing her butt on sacred rocks story.

As for someone being LGBTQIA or any marginalized group, we have our reasons.

Seeing someone being out in today’s world earns my respect a lot. Even more so when it is someone who is famous. Why? The backlash they put up with to be happy. The fight.

But most importantly, seeing famous LGBTQIA people gives us hope.

Any marginalized group is going to be happy to see people like them represented in the media.

I find it ridiculous to see people criticizing others for being a fan of someone because they are gay or bi, or trans. Why does it even matter why we are a fan? That’s like me saying you are only a fan of a certain sports team because you went to that school? Why does it matter?!

Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

For instance, I have always loved Holland Taylor. But I had no ever clue who Sarah Paulson was (sorry AHS fans). And as I talked to some friends last night and earlier today, they gushed over how cute her girlfriend (Holland) was because she always talks so sweetly about Sarah on Twitter. As the conversation continued they admitted they were only a fan of Holland because she was dating a girl.

It got me to thinking about the number of people I am a fan of for similar reasons. Some of my favorite YouTubers are gay, and I only knew of their existence because of a relationship with another Youtuber.

That being said, I am very proud of the fact that I support LGBTQ+ artists. Why shouldn’t I?

Especially artists who wear their intersectionality with pride, because it’s inspiring to so many people.

Oh that’s right, because it is biased. At least according to people who think being of a marginalized identity or group is bullshit. “It’s not fair you only like ___ because they are gay.” And you only like ____ because they are pretty? What is your point please?

Artists who are marginalized and activist? Hell yeah they get even more of my support. You inspire me and so many others on a day to day basis. Wanda Sykes was a huge part of the reason I ever came out as bi. Her “that’s so gay” commercials gave me hope that world is changing and people like me will be safe one day.

In conclusion, fuck what people say. If you want to support someone because of their activism or because they are of a marginalized group, do it! We have to support each other.   

Dear 2016 Me,

For years, writing letters both to others and myself, has been a way for me to cope. Most of the time in the recent years, I share them for one reason or another. And this one is the same. Be gentle and kind please. 

Dear 2016 Me,

Warning, it is going to be a rough year. Donald Trump is going to win the presidency in November and it’s going to shake your world. Not nearly as much as a shooting in a LGBT club in Orlando, where 49 were killed. That date, June 12, will forever stay in your mind I am sure because it shook your inner feeling of safety that was already so rocky.

You will go through a breakup and it will hurt, but you’ll feel a sense of freedom you never knew before.

You’re going to have breakdowns that will make you completely question how anyone could ever love you. On the edge of a relapse, you’ll wonder if rehab can help you with a self harm addiction. And at times, you’ll consider hospitalization. At the break of the new year, you’ll decide that therapy and a new psychiatrists are where you are going to start.

It will be a full year for sure.

People around you will start posting things on Facebook that make you question how you could ever be friends with them. Donald Trump’s hate mongering helps encourage these people to speak their mind, only you never knew how dark their thoughts were. But that’s ok, now you know exactly what they really about you.

Friendships’ loyalty will be tested, and you’ll learn who you can really rely on.

But, you’ll fall in love, the storybook kind. And your partner will ask you to marry them, and you’ll say yes. 

You’ll travel across country in a Cadillac because your doctor will suggest you not fly. And as your dreams of going to BlogHer16 comes crashing down, your fiance will offer to drive you across country. Spoiler alert, you’ll have a blast. You can check California off your list of places you want to go.

You will go to New York for the second year in a row and stay with your really good friend Sarah. And get to speak in Albany again.

You will start a blog that will become your main place of writing and get away from Courtney’s Voice. Living Queer will be your new way of expressing yourself. You may lose some of your followers, but who cares?!

It’s going to be a long year Courtney.

But you survive. So don’t give up.