Daily Archives: January 17, 2015

La Dee Da

Do you ever have one of those days where everything is super annoying? I mean I feel ok emotionally but I can’t speak my mind freely and it’s frustrating to not be able to be yourself?

I AM BIPOLAR

I AM BISEXUAL

I HAVE TRIED TO KILL MYSELF AND CHANGED MY MIND

There that is off my chest.

Nuff said.

Opinions are like assholes everyone has one and most are full of shit.


Restless Fragments

Physically, I feel better today. Well, the allergy thing is still major suckage.
Basically, though, my mind is in a pile of fragments and restless ones, at that.
Thoughts rapid fire so quick I can’t grab onto one. I can’t focus. I don’t enjoy anything.
One minute it’s “do something, anything, something.”
the next it’s, “like what?”
Of course, there’s a list of stuff I could do.
But no sooner than one thought becomes tangible enough to snatch out of thin air, it is obliterated by ten more, all reminding me how futile doing anything is.
So I sit and I stare.
I try to write.
That feels like work because the flow is gone.
TV shows? Nothing is interesting me.
Music makes me too anxiety ridden and has for a couple of months now when it used to be a great source of comfort.
My mind feels like a prison and each fragment is a cell packed to brimming with inmates that are my thoughts.
Bizarre analogy?
Perhaps but fitting.
Prison overcrowding is a problem.
Maybe mental overcrowding should be too.

Especially when it leads you time and again to a place of absolute indecision.

I don’t think the real mood dip hit until after my dad visited and just started bitching at me for shit that’s not really his business. And dredging up my past misdeeds.
For awhile, he seemed like the civilized parent.
Now mom is being nice (like a rattlesnake is nice) and dad just keeps going for the throat. I am about to turn 42 so I don’t even know why it bothers me. It’s the norm. I was never able to please either parent, thinking it’d ever change, even if just to the point of apathy, was my delusion. I guess if they’re reminding me what a disappointment I am as a daughter, I can’t get a word in edgewise to remind them they were shit parents at times.

Grr…
So the day is a total wash, mental wise. And as if I didn’t have enough jagged fragmented thoughts stabbing my brain, my dad tossed some more in there for the mind to go ocd on.
The counselor who pegged my family as toxic and advised me to avoid was a sage.
Though in all fairness, if I really wanted to make my life better, I’d avoid myself.
My brain is the biggest problem.
My fragmented, restless, obsessive compulsive emotion riddled chemically imbalanced center-of-all-mental-universes brain.

Without a brain to send the right messages, all you’re really left with is jagged fragments of free flying thought like firing a machine gun in a tiny room.
Emotional shrapnel, mixed with mental mortar.


Got Good News

Found out that Ii am going to have a story in Mississippi Christian Living on me and my journey for their May issue!  I turned out to be more of an interview, which is fine with me.  But I’m excited about it.  And nervous, too.  THis magazine is distributed heavily  locally and that means EVERYONE I know will now know I’m bipolar.  I’m trying to steel myself for the questions now.  But hopefully I can use the opportunity to educate and advocate somewhat for people to lean more,.


This Mixed State

Old MagicThe Brain-Gerbil runrunruns in his cage, his fur sweat-slick, his claws clickety-tick in the Wheel.  Can you hear it spinning?  Whurrrrrrrt… Whurrrrrrrt… Whurrrrrrrt…   Can you see his eyes?  All instinct, all dead-panic, they stare unseeing.  He doesn’t even know he’s running.

And at the same time, mist rolls in on the Moors, grey-green smoke, thick and wet, chill enough to raise gooseflesh.  She stands on the cliff’s edge, a dark shape, the One Who Waits.  Her longing unfurls like fevered ribbons into the fog, unfocused, cast out like a line into spawning waters.

Focus.  Stop at the dentist, the eye doctor, the pharmacy.  Ask for year-end accounts for the rent recertification report.  Important.  Be thorough.  Be careful.  Remember to make copies of everything.  Rent is bound to go up this year.  How much?  Don’t think about that now.  Focus.  Focus.

More underwear comes in the mail.  It’s the middle of the story of finding the perfect fit, of finding comfort.  Out tumble little plastic packages, the sound like beetles hissing.  Loud.  They stare, shiny, from the bed.  Stare and stare.  Reach for one, but the plastic is too sharp.  Cover the pile with a towel.  Later.

Kodaline in the car.  It’s the Gerbil singing, the Ingenue, all of them.  Sing loud.  Sing with the moon-roof open.  Let all the air and sound go.

One day it’s here and then it’s gone
How are you still holding on?
How are you still holding on?

You’ve felt this way for far too long
Waiting for a change to come
You know you’re not the only one


31 days of bipolar: day 1

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The meme, the whole meme and nothing but the meme.

1. What flavour of bipolar are you? What does your diagnosis mean to you?

My diagnosis started as bipolar ii, but then my shrink kindly handed me the updowngrade with all the extras: Rapid and continuous cycling bipolar I, with mixed and psychotic features (childhood onset).

Its meaning. is all sorts of things. It’s an explanation of almost all of my life and although my psychiatrist says it’s a justification too, I don’t see it that way. Although given its neurotoxic nature, I probably should. But the past is past and I’d prefer the forensics to be brief.

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Otherwise I have to wonder who I am even more.

It means that finally after 44 years I started on the journey towards finding the right meds. That means going through all kinds of states of mind, as well as an astonishing array of side effects of various levels of discomfort. A sudden world of enornous doses of heavy medication and multiple trips on the meds go round with no sickbag. It means I spend a lot more on my health. Bipolar is allegedly the most expensive disorder to treat. There are claims that it’s more expensive than cancer and diabetes too. I also look at life very differently, having learned about the impact of bipolar on life expectancy. That is a very reassuring and positive one for me – and nope I am not being sarcastic.

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It has been and still is a whole new learning curve, though it’s not as steep now as it was. Researching it not only makes me feel a bit more empowered, it also (oddly enough) serves as a really good distraction from the unpleasant reality of it all. And since manic depression is thought to correlate to creativity, there’s a whole new angle to looking at art etc. That one gets old fast though. It’s forced me to learn stuff about neurology and chemistry, which is a very welcome change from psychology – and it gives my lazy brain a workout too.

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It means thinking harder about whether and what to tell people. I still haven’t told very many people at all. Already one of them looks at me as though I am unexploded ordinance. I’ve always been open about stuff (being queer, being a survivor of abuse etc), so it’s new territory.

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It came with an access all areas backstage pass into a very complex world full of broken and beautiful people. It started me writing again after over a year. It makes me cry, but occasionally it makes me laugh. It’s shifted my priorities a lot. It’s made me move from solitude to loneliness.  Aloneness. It introduced me to new friends who alleviate the loneliness. It caused me to love old friends even more.

It made me even more mawkish than I was before.

the center cannot hold – elyn saks

When you have cancer, people send flowers; when you lose your mind, they don’t.

Wow, Elyn Saks is one seriously brave and tenacious woman and The Center Cannot Hold is a brave book. I hadn’t heard of her until I saw the panel discussion with KRJ, which prompted me to read further. She says she has schizophrenia, OCD and is a hypochondriac. She’s also a fighter. She’d make Mike Tyson look silly.

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Who was I, at my core? Was I primarily a schizophrenic? Did that illness define me? Or was it an “accident” of being—and only peripheral to me rather than the “essence” of me? It’s been my observation that mentally ill people struggle with these questions perhaps even more than those with serious physical illnesses, because mental illness involves your mind and your core self as well. A woman with cancer isn’t Cancer Woman; a man with heart disease isn’t Diseased Heart Guy; a teenager with a broken leg isn’t The Broken Leg Kid. But if, as our society seemed to suggest, good health was partly mind over matter, what hope did someone with a broken mind have?

With really severe delusional psychosis interrupting her almost every step of the way, she managed to forge herself a brilliant academic career, get married, write a book, be an activist  … etc.

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I’m not so much reviewing the book as pasting quotes here and going zomg how dafuq did she manage all that?! Though she’s not snotty about it. Near the end of the book, she says that only one in five schizophrenics manage to live and work independently.

Her husband sounds lovely:

A serious question had been troubling me for hours, and finally I just had to ask it. “Will aliens be attending the reception?”

“No,” he said calmly, and he reached out to hold my hand. “There won’t be any aliens there, Elyn. Don’t worry about that.”

I needed to hear that reassurance from him, and having heard it, I happily went on with the day. It was as beautiful as I ever could have imagined, and it left me feeling quite fragile, as though a sudden noise or movement would blow the dream wide open. It was true, then: I was married, to the man I loved.

Another very educational aspect of the book is transcriptions of things she said while delusional, clang associations and all.

The book (her life) is an impressive journey, I have no hesitation in recommending it. Take it away Prof. Saks …

Recently, however, a friend posed a question: If there were a pill that would instantly cure me, would I take it? The poet Rainer Maria Rilke was offered psychoanalysis. He declined, saying, “Don’t take my devils away because my angels may flee too.” I can understand that. Mania in manic depression has been described as a sometimes pleasurable high that brings with it feelings of omnipotence. But that’s not the experience of schizophrenia, at least not for me. My psychosis is a waking nightmare, in which my demons are so terrifying that all my angels have already fled. So would I take the pill? In a heartbeat.

That said, I don’t wish to be seen as regretting that I missed the life I could have had if I’d not been ill. Nor am I asking anyone for pity. What I rather wash to say is that the humanity we all share is more important than the mental illness we may not.

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The Elephant in the Room: Your Questions About My Gender and Transition, Answered

cheeeeeese

Photography by dana at the outlaws photo project

[The photo features the author, Sam Dylan Finch, standing near a lake. He is a white, androgynous person with dark-rimmed glasses and a colorful, knitted sweater. He is smiling and looking off toward something in the distance.]
  

I write a lot about my identity as transgender. And thus far, it has created some thoughtful, interesting dialogue around gender and transitioning.

However, there was never much of a “coming out” to my readers. To this day, I receive a lot of questions about how I identify, what it means, and how I arrived where I am now. These are great questions! And leaving them unanswered has, at times, felt like an elephant in the room.

So today I wanted to pause and take a moment to answer some frequently asked questions about my gender and my transition. Hopefully this helps readers better understand my perspective and my journey as I write more about trans issues in the future.

It’s important to know that you aren’t entitled to any information about someone’s transition, body, or gender identity. Remember that other trans people may not be comfortable answering the questions that I have chosen to answer here.

Ready? Let’s go! Here are some of your questions:
    

What is your gender? What pronouns do you use?

I identify as transmasculine and genderqueer (defined below, don’t fret!). You can also describe me as androgynous.

My pronouns are he/him/his.

 

What does genderqueer mean to you?

Genderqueer most commonly refers to a person who does not identify as strictly man or woman, but rather, identifies as both, neither, or some combination.

At my core, I am an androgynous person; I don’t feel that I fit in any kind of gender box. I’m not a man, and I’m not a woman.

I use the word “genderqueer” to describe my gender identity.

   

What does transmasculine mean to you?

If we imagine a spectrum of sorts, I express my gender in a more masculine way than I do a feminine way. Masculinity and femininity are subjective terms that describe the way that we “perform” gender, and can be useful markers in helping us figure out our own sense of gender.

A person of any gender can take on qualities or an appearance that is more closely associated with masculinity or femininity.

While I don’t identify as a man, I still express my gender in a way that is considered more masculine, thus I use the word “transmasculine” instead of “trans man.”

I typically use the word transmasculine to describe my gender expression.

 

What is the difference between gender identity and gender expression?

Gender identity refers to someone’s sense of themselves, their subjective experience of their own gender. Simply put, it’s what’s on the inside. It’s who we know ourselves to be.

Gender expression refers to how someone performs or presents gender. This is what we see on the outside. It’s our costume, our performance, our exterior – and it may or may not reflect something about our identity.

On the inside, at my core, I am an androgynous, genderqueer person. On the outside, I express my gender in a more masculine way through my choice of clothing, haircuts, and body modifications.

 

So how can someone be “non-binary”? I thought there were only two genders.

Actually, the idea that there are only two genders is pretty flawed and outdated.

Many cultures in our world recognize more than two genders. The idea of binary gender, or two genders that are contingent upon anatomy, is a pretty Western phenomenon.

Even anatomy itself is not binary, as is the case with intersex people. Sex characteristics are variant and diverse, and the lines between “male” and “female” are very blurry and arbitrarily assigned.

The point is, there could really be as many genders as there are people, depending on how you look at it. The idea that there are only two is something we as a society uphold, but that doesn’t mean it is an objective fact – just a cultural phenomenon.

As it turns out, many people like myself experience their gender outside of those parameters, which is evidence that perhaps this binary system isn’t so perfect after all. The binary system leaves a lot to be desired.

I love this video over at Sexplanations about gender that I think is helpful if you’re interested in this topic.

 

How did you know you were transgender?

I realized after a while that I dressed and behaved in ways that were “feminine” because I gained social approval that way. People complimented me when I wore a dress. Folks fawned over my stylish makeup and shoes. I performed femininity because everywhere I turned, I was given praise for being “good” at femininity.

When I took a gender studies class in college, this performance began to unravel. I realized how much of what I was doing was because I craved the affirmation I received when I was the woman I was expected to be. I realized how I’d been inundated with so many expectations and ideals – the expectation to be beautiful, to be thin, to be soft, to be curvaceous, to be… a woman, whatever that meant.

I’ve always said that “woman” was a label I was given, but never a label that I chose. When I started to understand the ways that “woman” didn’t fit or make me happy, I learned about what “transgender” meant. And I owed it to myself to explore if that could be true for me.

This was back in 2010.

Around the same time, I saw a character on television that was androgynous, and I fell in love with the idea of “becoming” that. Though I didn’t have the words “transmasculine” or “genderqueer” yet, I started to wonder if I would be happier as an androgynous person. It had never occurred to me to try it until I saw someone else living it.

Over the course of the last five years, I’ve transitioned toward queerness and androgyny. I cut off my hair, began binding my breasts, changed my name, got some tattoos, opted for new pronouns, acquired some prosthetics, and began living full-time as genderqueer.

Most importantly, I stopped allowing gendered expectations and roles to colonize my mind. Instead of seeking the approval of others by conforming to my assigned gender, I carved out my own vision for who I wanted to become. And it has been incredibly rewarding, exciting, and fulfilling.

 

When did you come out, and what were the reactions you received?

I’ve had mixed reactions. Some friends were supportive – a great many of them, in fact – but some were resistant or hesitant.

I came out to my mother only recently, and she seemed unsurprised. I’m fairly sure neither of my parents were surprised for various reasons. I’m still in the process of coming out to most of my family, but I’m taking it at my own pace.

    

Does your family know about your writing?

They do, and they’re supportive. However, I’ve set the boundary that we don’t discuss my articles unless I bring them up. This takes the pressure off of me – I can write honestly without worrying about what they will say.

 

How has your transition been so far?

Beautiful. Heart-wrenching. Confusing. Worthwhile. Painful. Inspiring. And exactly what I needed.

 

Are you taking testosterone? Do you plan to?

I am not sure if I want to transition hormonally. It’s not a decision I feel ready to make. I am comfortable saying that I don’t have all the answers and I don’t know where my transition will take me. I am taking my time. It’s not a race.

 

So what’s in your pants? And will that change?

That’s not really anyone’s business.

    

Have you always known that you were transgender?

I didn’t. I didn’t have any clue until my late teens. Being trans is different for everyone, and we don’t all share the typical narrative of “I was born into the wrong body and I knew it from the time I was a toddler.” There’s nothing wrong with that narrative, but it sometimes overshadows the realities of many other trans folks who don’t figure things out until later in life.

For me, being trans was like… this sounds silly, but kind of like cooking? I tried new gender expressions until I found something that I loved. I tasted femininity, and masculinity, and androgyny, and I mixed things together until I found the perfect recipe for my happiness. I didn’t know what I was missing before, but now, I can’t imagine my life without my transition.

I think it’s possible that I might have gone on living my life as a cisgender woman if I hadn’t gone to college, and maybe I would have been okay. But it would never have compared to the happiness I found when I transitioned. It doesn’t matter if I figured this out at age 4 or age 18 – it’s still who I am, regardless of how soon or in what ways I arrived at that truth.

 

If you aren’t a man or a woman, what is your sexual orientation?

I think “pansexual” is the closest approximation I have. I’m attracted to all sorts of people, and gender is not a deciding factor for whether or not I’ll date someone.

    

What has been the hardest part of being trans?

Being hated by complete and total strangers simply because I don’t conform to their idea of what I should look like. The constant fear that I’ll be attacked or harassed for looking “too queer.” And the constant anxiety that I’ll be rejected by people I love because they don’t understand or don’t approve of who I’ve become.

Maybe even more difficult than that is grappling with internalized transphobia – these really pervasive, negative attitudes about trans folks that really impact the way that I perceive and treat myself. It’s insidious, it’s hard to describe, but it’s present and something that I’m still working to undo, even now.

    

Did I answer all of your questions!?

If you have other questions that aren’t answered here, feel free to [respectfully] ask them in the comments below! I will do my best to answer as many as I can.

 

Sam Dylan Finch is a freelance writer and queer activist, currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is the founder of Let’s Queer Things Up!, a queer and feminist perspective on current events and politics. His Twitter can be found, unsurprisingly, at @samdylanfinch.

Visit his official website: www.samdylanfinch.com


Beautiful Day Today

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Today was a beautiful day followed by a gorgeous sunset.

I woke up in a good mood and showered, that’s always a good sign. Later on I took both my dogs for a walk. I didn’t need to wear anything but a sweatshirt. How is that for a winter day in January.

Nothing is typical. The weather is weird, my moods are weird.

They are putting tile flooring in our home. How amazing is that. That’s where we took that picture from.

On a last exciting note I reached 300 followers today. How crazy is that? I appreciate that people like to read what I say. I also appreciate that people take the time to comment. Thank you everyone!


And The Stevie Ray Vaughn Version of Slight Return

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Jimi Hendrix ~ Voodoo Chile Blues (not Slight Return)

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