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.   

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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. 

 

 

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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.

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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.

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When Self Care Is As Simple And Complicated As A Shower

*Trigger Warning and Content Note: Talk of self harm, being suicidal, depression, mental health struggles. Tread with caution my friends.*

As someone who has dedicated the last two years to openly sharing the uglier sides of their life as a queer person struggling with mental illness, I get asked a lot about self care.

It’s something I often tweet about but also something I don’t share enough about. What even is self care to someone with physical and mental illnesses? And even more so, what is self care to a trans person who is simply struggling?

I have been working on self care for years. Some of you may know that early on in my struggle, I didn’t reach out for help. The waves of depression seemed to always capsize the little ship of hope I was trying to stay afloat on. And while I struggled to stay up, gasping for air every time the wave hit; I was petrified of getting help. How in God’s green earth is a kid supposed to say “Hey something is wrong and I don’t know what to do” when I couldn’t even explain what was wrong.

And as I grew into my teen years, I realized I had to do something because fantasizing about my own death wasn’t ok. Let alone trying to accomplish those fantasies. Self harm became my best friend, in a physical and emotionally way.

After years of struggling on my own, I finally reached out for help. And one of the first things I talked about with my therapist was self care. Since then, I have been trying to work on what self care is and what it means to me. Back to the original questions I came to you with today:

What even is self care to someone with physical and mental illnesses? And even more so, what is self care to a trans person who is simply struggling?

There are days when self care to me is as simple but as complicated as taking a shower. Anyone who has walked the road of depression, PTSD, and anxiety knows how sometimes the smallest things can be the biggest struggles. Day to day life can be such a chore.

Showering or taking a bath is one of those struggles for me. Not only because of a lack of energy, but because of my dysphoria with my own body. Stepping into the shower or bath is only stepping into a form of anxiety I can avoid when I wear certain clothes or cuddle under a blanket all day. But the moment I step into a bath or shower, I am met by my own body. Suddenly its harder to face or deny.

There are days when the best thing I can do is avoid a shower or even mirror. Because my anxiety can’t take the spike.

But there are times when I have to face that mirror, accept that shower, because my personal hygiene is suffering so much which is only making me feel worse. Or because my joints and my back hurt so much I have to immerse myself in hot water just to deal with the pain.

Other times, self care may be for me, avoiding the public.

Because sometimes, as a queer trans person, the outside world is just too much to take. Especially with everything going on in the world right.

Self care isn’t just about your physical or psychological health; it’s also about your emotional health. And sometimes my anxiety simply can’t handle the over load of going out into the public and facing the hate I know could be thrown at me at any time. I am a human, I have feelings, and yet so often I feel like I have to be cold as ice in the face of the world; only showing my warmth to those who need it.

For me self care involves doing things I simply enjoy doing, such as crocheting, taking walks, playing with my dogs and ferrets, or drawing. Things that make me feel good on days I don’t. But it also means knowing my limits. Knowing when my body says, “Hey I need a break.”

Most importantly, my self care is writing.

I share so many things with the public world, because sharing my raw feelings is so empowering. I have control over the words I put into the world. My voice is heard.

But often, even if I don’t hit the publish button, writing my feelings down and getting them out of my head makes a world of difference. And working, even if it’s only on my blog, makes me feel so accomplished. My words, my voice, out there for the world to hear. And maybe make a difference to someone.

Self care is so complicated for different people. Even I struggle with taking care of myself the way I should. So if you have any suggestions you want to share, feel free! We can all learn from each other. 

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Daily Struggles: Life With Physical And Mental Illnesses

Living with mental and chronic physical illnesses is an uphill battle. For the past few months, it seems that fight is the only thing I have energy to do; when I even have energy to do that. And I have been beating myself up over how much I have been neglecting my blog, which is such a huge part of my life.

I would like to believe that my readers, so many of you I consider to be my friends, would be understanding.

But how can you be understanding when you don’t see or hear about what is going on much? When I started blogging in my early teens, talking about my everyday struggles was at the base of everything I did. And as I have grown older, I have evolved my writings in many ways. My writings now center around advocacy work and social justice.

I look back at some of my early writings and wonder what that person would write about my struggles now.

As high as my anxiety has been, especially with everything going on in the world, I often find myself wondering how a younger me would take to telling the world about my story. Mental health, afterall, is still such a big part of my life and something I am still so passionate about sharing.

So I have decided that from today, December 1st, through to the end of January, I will be writing and discussing my daily struggles here on my blog as well as social media.

But I also want to share the stories of others. This project is about more than just my story; it’s about awareness. And so I would like to invite all people who are suffering with mental and chronic physical illnesses to submit their story for guest posting. You can submit by emailing me (courtneysvoiceofficial@gmail.com) or submitting through my page.

If you would like to follow my journey of transparency through the next two months, you can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Today’s struggle? A lack of energy.

I woke up at 1pm despite having gone to bed at a decent time. I had a break down last night that made me feel like I had to completely rearrange my room. And after my father and fiance helped me to rearrange my entire room, I went to bed with just a little bit left to clean.

But when I woke up this morning, I turned over and decided that I didn’t have the energy to continue on with the day. So I fell back to sleep. Even when I finally got up, which I had to fight myself on, I didn’t change clothes, brush my hair, or even washed my face. Something that is ever so common for me. The act of getting dressed is simply too much.

My joints have been bothering me all day, but not so bad that I am having to use a walker. Something that is so embarrassing for a 19 year old who half the time seems so healthy to the public around me. The stares are enough to send my anxiety through the roof. Sometimes so much so that I fight myself to go to the bathroom because I am scared of having to use the handicap stall.

I posted this on Facebook once after having to use the handicap stall:

Lately I have been using the handicap bathrooms, for about two weeks to be exact. Why? Because I have an invisible illness that has been making my knees swell, to the point that the low toilets in the rest areas we have been stopping at are nearly impossible for me to pick myself off of.

In short, I need the bars to help pull myself up.

Today was one of those days. We pulled into a rest stop, I walked into the nearly empty bathroom to find that the handicap stall was taken.

Ok cool, no big deal. I will wait.

Until, a woman who seemed perfectly capable stepped out. Now, I am trying not to judge because I know I seem perfectly capable. But this bitch just had to open her damn mouth.

“Oh are you waiting for the handicap stall? I am so glad I am not the only one who prefers to use it. It’s just so much bigger and I love the space. It’s not fair that handicap people are the only ones who get big stalls. Fuck em, we should have ones that big too!” And the bitch laughs.

Now, I am a bit enraged. I look at her as she is now washing her hands and say “But actually I am disabled just fortunate to be able to walk today. You are extremely rude to judge me when I tried not to judge you, and even more rude to occupy a space not made for you, especially when there are 3 vacant stalls you could have easily used.”

It is encounters like these that terrify me.

I live with an IBD, and at my tender age, I feel like I should be able to cope so much better. But coping for me is simply living day by day.

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Safety Pins and Allyship

Since the election of Donald Trump in the United States, we have taken a note from Brexit and wearing safety pins. If you have been living under a rock and not heard about this, the thought is that a wearing a safety pin is supposed to show that you are approachable for people of marginalized identities. I have been asked a lot about my opinion on this safety pin movement and my opinion is pretty complex.

 

When I first heard about the safety pin movement, I was stoked. In my eyes, it was a way for allies to label themselves as such in a small way that gave marginalized identities the opportunity to feel safe. It was a statement of, “I do not agree with the hate being spread in this country and I will come to your aid if you need it. You can feel safe with me.”

And while I still feel like this small gesture to make such a big statement is great, I have quickly seen it go downhill.

The first thing we need to talk about when beginning to talk about wearing safety pins, is why you are wearing it and what allyship really is.

Allyship isn’t an identity and wearing a safety pin won’t suddenly make you a good ally to marginalized identities. In reality, allyship is messy. It’s about learning and listening to minorities, coming to the aid of them when they need it, it’s about calling out your racist aunt, fighting for the rights of those people. It is getting in the trenches and actually doing work to help.

If you are wearing a safety pin so that it looks like you are a nice person who cares about people; don’t.

If you are wearing it to look good because your friends are wearing one; don’t.

But if you are wearing it because you are willing to go to the bathroom with a trans person, stand up for a Muslim, fight racism when it stares you in the face, and you are genuinely going to be a safe place for us; then by all means wear your safety pin with pride.

However, understand that just because you wear a safety pin doesn’t mean marginalized identities will feel safe around you or even recognize you as an ally. You have to understand that our guards are up. Too many times have people told us they were there to help us when they really weren’t.

If you aren’t willing to get uncomfortable, to call out the racism of the people in your daily lives, to point out the homophobia, and to stand by us when we fight for our rights; you aren’t an ally.

And if you aren’t really here to help us, don’t waste our time. So many people are wearing it because of white guilt. But when they see someone being harassed, they aren’t willing to step up and speak up.

Next thing I want to touch is that you are all so unprepared. I have seen it so much, with or without your safety pin; you are unprepared to deal with any situation where someone may be getting harassed.

This article wonderfully explains what you should do to be prepared.

Last thing I want to say is that your allyship should be a day to day lifestyle for you. With out without a safety pin, you should be willing to go to bat for us.

If you aren’t willing to be a safe place for us daily, don’t offer to be one when you feel like it.

While seeing people in my own area wearing safety pins has made me feel a little safer, I don’t think safety pins are for everyone. It is a statement that needs to be made by someone truly willing to help, and I have seen so many people who aren’t willing to get down and dirty wearing it, that I feel it’s losing meaning fast.

However, I will still wear my safety pin. And I will always try be a safe place. Can you make that same pledge?

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