Daily Archives: June 29, 2015

One in a Million

Every year, about 2 million teenagers attempt suicide, and about 2,000 succeed. I was one of those attempts. I wouldn’t say it was a very serious attempt, but I would say that the fact that I survived made me question my previously held skeptical views on God and religion. I had been depressed for months […]

One in a Million

Every year, about 2 million teenagers attempt suicide, and about 2,000 succeed. I was one of those attempts. I wouldn’t...

The post One in a Million appeared first on Pretending to be What We Are.

….and you ask yourself: “how did I get here??

Writing is so hard when your feeling good. Nothing comes to you as freely as it did. Now, i’m looking at a keyboard
thinking of thing to write about.

Has my mental illness journey finally stop? I mean they do say, “all good things come to an end”, but I have
something that is helping my mood and stabling my life as much as it can. Shouldn’t I have more information and Ideas to venture??

They never tell you what happens after the storm.

So now, I’m sitting here, typing an excuse of why I don’t have an elaborate, cool, funny entry to give and asking myself:

What Now?

and did I ever have elaborate, cool, funny entries? I mean…


Why We Should Think Twice Before Idealizing Ruby Rose

rubyroseThe internet is abuzz about Ruby Rose, a genderfluid actor, DJ, and model who appeared in Season 3 of Netflix Original Series Orange is the New Black.

While Rose is undoubtedly stunning and a perfectly lovely person, our idealization of Ruby Rose represents a larger problem in popular culture – the very limited portrayals of androgyny, and more specifically, who is allowed to be androgynous.

When the only celebrated expressions of androgyny are idolizing those who are conventionally attractive, thin, white, able-bodied, and assigned female at birth, many of us who fall outside of these expectations can begin to feel as though we are not enough as we are, and that we are not androgynous unless we can conform.

This is not just about Ruby Rose, either. This is a norm that has existed for a long time. Simply plug “Androgyny” into a Google image search, and you will see an overwhelming sea of white, hollow faces. Thin, curveless bodies will be hiding underneath suit jackets and pinstripe trousers.

The reality, though, is that there are many diverse expressions of androgyny – and they are seldom celebrated, let alone represented, in popular culture.

As an androgynous person myself, beauty norms around androgyny have left me struggling to feel valid. I have curves, I have fat – my body can’t disappear underneath a suit coat, and my cheekbones will never be sharp or defined. The pressure to contort my body into this ideal, though, definitely weighs on me each time a new Ruby Rose is glorified by the media.

It’s alarming that we have such wildly limited portrayals of androgynous and gender diverse people, and on my more pessimistic days I wonder if we ever will. We celebrate a very specific body ideal while leaving countless other folks on the androgynous spectrum to contemplate their validity and beauty.

We’ve been told, through pretty explicit messaging that there is only one way to be androgynous. The reality is that there is an infinite number of ways to be androgynous – many of which look nothing like Ruby Rose.

Androgyny has long been defined by the mainstream on the basis of “passing” – that we be the chameleons of gender, able to be perceived as men OR women. But it is a problematic way to define androgyny because it limits it as an exclusive club, and validates our existence ONLY on the basis of others’ perceptions and cisnormative standards of beauty.

It does not allow for self-determination. It does not allow us to own the labels that best represent our gender identities.

There are androgynous folks of every color and every type of body, but we rarely see them represented. Shockingly, claiming an androgynous identity does not require that you pose with a cigarette in your mouth and suspenders (seriously, why are there so many pictures like that?). It does not require that you be white, thin, able-bodied and conventionally attractive. The only requirement for androgyny is that you identify that way.

Holding Ruby Rose up as an androgynous ideal only reinforces the idea that the only valid androgynous people are those who can pass and conform. In other words, the fanfare around Ruby Rose is part of a harmful ideal that already exists in our society – the rules of who is allowed to be androgynous, and who is not.

googleimagesearch

A simple Google image search for “Androgyny” tells us who is allowed to be androgynous and who isn’t.

By all means, we can appreciate Ruby Rose’s divine looks (and great performance in OITNB, no?), but we should be critical of why she is celebrated, while other androgynous and genderfluid people are seldom visible.

And if I haven’t made it clear by now, we should by no means place her on a pedestal for all androgynous people to aspire towards – because it is an unattainable ideal for the vast majority of gender diverse people.

We should push for more and better representation of genderfluid people – not just those who reach this ideal, but for folks of all sorts of diverse expressions of gender. That means moving away from these white, thin, AFAB, “passing” folks and featuring, instead, androgynous people of color, genderfluid fatties, gorgeous AMAB genderqueers, bigender cuties with disabilities, and every intersection in-between.

Holding up Ruby Rose as a sign of greater acceptance of gender fluidity is misleading, because Ruby Rose’s look has been celebrated in magazine spreads and movies long before she was born. This ideal precedes Rose’s fame, and is an ideal we need to break down in order to have true representations of androgyny, and other kinds of gender diversity.

So, by all means, swoon over Ruby Rose. I’ll be right there with you.

But while it’s exciting that mainstream media is having a conversation about gender fluidity, we shouldn’t call this progress. Glorifying a very limited, singular representation of androgyny and calling it gender “diversity” can do more harm to our community than good.

 Sam Dylan Finch is a queer activist and feminist writer, based in the SF Bay. He is the founder of Let’s Queer Things Up!, his blog and labor of love. With a passion for impacting change through personal narrative, Sam writes about his struggles and triumphs as genderqueer and bipolar with the hopes of teaching others about his identity and community. When he isn’t writing, he’s probably eating takeout and dancing to Taylor Swift.

Connect with SDF: Website ; Facebook ; Twitter ; Tumblr

Join our (rad, amazing) community at LQTU’s official Facebook page!


End of June…Moving Ahead

4th of July

First off, I wanted to say “thanks” for all of you who wished me well on the trip with my daughter. We had a really good time and I got through it just fine. It was so nice to spend time alone with her. She’s 27 and she has started paying for things on the trip. It’s nice to have her pay for dinner or tickets, etc. Prior to this, it was me paying all the way. I think it is good for her to get the idea that everything costs money and it is fair to chip in.

We’re going to Vegas again next week. The purpose of this trip is to let my new 21 year old enjoy the games and being able to drink a little etc. My husband has actually planned many activities off the strip so I think Danny won’t be doing too much gambling and drinking. He’s a one glass “Blue Moon” kind of drinker.

My husband and I usually throw $40 at the slots and keep moving.

Enough about Vegas, let’s talk about June.

I am taking stuff off my template and adding other stuff on.

If you don’t know, my template runs across the top with the things I want to do and then down the side with the dates. So here we go:

EXERCISE: I did exercise 6 times in June. My goal is 12 times a month of 30 minutes each. I’d give myself a C here. Exercise is definitely back on the template for July. I have a personal trainer appointment for tomorrow. It is really hot to exercise, but I can get my ass down to the gym.

GETTING OUT OF THE HOUSE: I did this all but three days in June. I am taking it off of the template.

WATER: Still need this on template to be reminded. Key here is to drink the water first. Then I don’t want soda.

COOKING: Am taking this off the template. I am doing this as a habit.

DEVOTIONAL: Also going off the template. This is pretty routine.

STAYING ON FOOD PLAN: Big fat problem here. Stays on template. I am planning to actually get myself to Jenny Craig to be counseled once a week. I’ve made improvements her but it still sucks. Like a D here.

CANCELING STUFF: Stays on template. Too much morning anxiety and then I want to cancel. Need to improve here.

SHOWER: Going off the template: woo hoo! Am showering at least every three days by myself. The hot weather helps…I’m more in mood for a shower. This one is a big step.

WEIGHT: I currently weigh one more pound than I did on June 1st. My goal was to lose 4 pounds this month. In my defense, we went on a ton of vacations and ate out quite a bit. July should be better for this.

READING OTHER BLOGS: I try to get around and read 7 blogs a day. Have been doing pretty well, but this is on the template as a new goal.

I went to church twice (was on vacation two weeks), saw five friends, did activities with husband, checked my friend list three times and made contacts, saw therapist and pdoc once each. I got a massage and went out with each child alone.

JULY:

So I filled in my blank template for July. It has some changes. At the top I wrote “Don’t forget to cook, get out of the house, do devotional, and shower.” These are just reminders. If I fall down anywhere here, they will go back on the template next month.

Exercise, drinking water, staying on food plan, and not canceling are on the July template. So is hitting 1000 followers on this blog. (I have about 984 now, so I should do this.) After 1000, I am not going to worry too much about followers.

My weight is on the template and so is reading 7 blogs a day.

Some new things on the template: meditating for ten minutes a day. I’m starting this by sitting in a comfortable chair and just trying to clear my mind. I also have a couple of apps to fill in at night. One is called “grid diary”. It’s sort of a “how did your day go…what are you grateful for?” thing. The other is a food diary. I read those who write down their food intake lose twice as much weight.

One other new thing is seeing the Jenny Craig counselor once a week for a weigh-in.

I have a weird one to put on a template. I need to be more affectionate toward my husband. I criticize him too much and am just not nice enough. Yesterday was our 29th anniversary, so he deserves a bit of positive in his life. So I am going to try to do more hugging and kissing and more compliments. I’ve never been a touchy type. My mom was not and bipolar makes me want to stay away from touch. I was very affectionate with the babies, but I don’t hug my adult kids as much as I could. So my template will help me work on it.

Weekly and monthly things to work on: church, seeing friends, keeping up with friend list, go to women’s support group (they’re kind of sporadic in the summer), seeing psych docs, getting a massage, and doing something with each child.

So that is the July story. I am making some progress. Thanks for reading this mess.

lily

A Different Mental Space

I am in day three of being in this place I can’t quite describe. Not depressed, not happy. Just…different. Perhaps it’s because I finally started writing again. It’s not pouring out passionately but I am forcing it out in spurts. Depending on font type and size, I either have 22 pages or 34 pages. I started on one computer, moved to the laptop, and now my page count is wily nily since the fonts are different. Whatever. 22 or 34 pages, it means I’ve been writing. It’s just not going anywhere without the passion I normally have. I guess it’s like riding a stationary bike. You get nowhere  but at least you’re doing something. And I think doing something, even if only for a couple of peaceful hours at night once my kid is down, is helping.

The sleep thing is wily nily still, even more so perhaps, now that I am staying up til 1 a.m. writing. Which means come morning, after her waking me at 1 am wanting to chat for an hour, I’m lingering in bed listlessly. I miss the days when I didn’t need sleep. I miss that part of manic episodes the most. I need me time yet I also have to be mom and finding the balance between time and energy without the mania…suckage. I don’t know how my kid does it, waking up two, three times a night, still bounding out at 7 a.m. full of energy. Meanwhile, I am lolling in bed til 9 am, ten a.m., and it makes me feel slothful even though technically, I’m not sleeping more than I was. I’m just sleeping at different times. And I’m not gonna waste a whole lot of time feeling shitty about it because school will start again soon and I will, regardless of exhaustion, drag my ass out of bed to keep her schedule. Mostly because I really don’t want to go to jail for truancy. For now…I’m just gonna go with it. Not like I’ve slept “normally” for the last two years, anyway.

On the plus side, I did fall asleep with Absinthe purring on my pillow next to my ear. I don’t know what it is that is so comforting about a purring cat. I think that was one of the happiest moments when the donor walked out. I could finally sleep with my cats again and not worry about his bitching and moaning about them climbing on him and making biscuits or sleeping on his head. The fact he wasn’t a pet person should have been the red flag from the get go. Cats are my therapy, my heroin. It’s nice to have to watch where I roll over at night because six cats are hogging bed space. And the cats kick less and don’t snore like my darling daughter.

The one thing that remains absolutely the same is my sensitivity to noise. My kid literally is glued to me all day, every day. I can’t write-she interrogates every word. I can’t read email and she wants to know who I am “talking to”. I can’t watch shows because she questions every single thing. “Why is that guy on fire?” “He lit a cigarette while doused in gasoline.” “Why is he on fire?” Lather, rinse, repeat. Ten hours of that with her sitting at my elbow would annoy anyone. For me, the constant noise is like nails on a chalkboard. I don’t think a Xanax increase is gonna change that. No, what helps is bad for me. Everything that helps, cigarettes and alcohol, are bad for me. If their magic meds worked so well, I wouldn’t need the other. I just…it’s not necessarily specific to my kid. I just get irked by chatty people.I even get irked by people who are quiet but just present. In my space. Making it hard for me to breathe, to relax, to not feel self conscious because I feel like my every facial expression is being scrutinized. (Thanks for that scar, donor.)

Fortunately, it was a quiet weekend. Dad and clan visited yesterday for about twenty minutes but they brought food for my cats so I can take that bullet. (I’m shallow but there’s gotta be a benefit to all his criticisms.) Had a ninety minute stand off with my spawn yesterday. I fixed her mac and cheese for supper per her request. She had a fit because it was the green box, not the blue box. Then she wanted extra cheese so I added some and she didn’t like that. I am so fed up with her wasting food and changing her mind from Monday to Tuesday. It may be a kid thing, but I don’t have the money to waste on her whims. So I made her sit that whole time and told her she would not be getting anything else to eat. I dug my heels in. And I won. It took all that time but she ate it. And for being such a jerk to me and calling me stupid, she got no dessert, no snacks aside from grapes. Turns out, I’m a pretty badass disciplinarian when my meds aren’t making me more mental than I already am.

The difference since quitting Trileptal has been amazing. There’s always the question if it’s just placebo effect because I didn’t like how it made me feel but with my history of med sensitivity and adverse effects…I don’t think so. I think it was just a bad med for me. Most of them are. Not my fault my body chemistry is rebellious and contrary. It’s almost like without that haze, the Cymbalta seems to be perking me up a bit. Least from an energy standpoint. I tackled ALL the laundry and got it folded, which for weeks, was an impossibility. I haven’t dusted or anything and I am sure that’s considered filthy by most but ya know what? Fuck it. Baby steps.

Need to mow the lawn. All the rain made it grow like a fungus in a dark wet place. Landlord will be on my ass before long. Which is ironic because my neighbor hasn’t mowed her lawn for two months and the other side of the trailer park has toys and trash in the road and no one over there mows or even picks up. I think I get singled out because of all the stray cats. As I’ve told them, if there are hungry cats and I have food, I am gonna feed them, sue me, it’s who I am. If it’s such a problem, get animal control to haul them off. I can’t do it.

While I am feeling less dooms day-y (yes, it’s a word), I am still not in a place where I want to go out or be around people. It’s just too stressful right now. I can’t be worried about being offensive or being mistaken for rude. I have to focus on my own progress. Which will be hindered if I spend too much time in the dish and around non supportive people. It’s not avoidance. It’s just knowing what is best for me.

I think that’s about it. I am gonna leave on this note. This is not a song or band I’d ever have been left to my own devices. But it was played during the final scene of the series finale of The Following as Hardy walked away…And it just fit the scene’s mood and since then…It’s infected me. Little obnoxious at times, but…I like it.

 

 

 


31 Questions on Bipolar. Question 1 – 4

I’ve only come across the 31 questions to be answered if you are bipolar that is doing the rounds on the blogosphere recently. “Where have you been,” the voices in my head ask?   “I’ve been gone, gone, gone,” I answer, … Continue reading

Hmmm.

I’ve had two recent days with views of my archives out the roof from one reader that day.  I wish they would leave a comment on what they’re reading and how they found me. I’m so curious.  But I hope they’re finding something worth reading and getting what they need out of my story.

I’ve been very nervy the past few days.  I think it’s actually about the SCOTUS and how it seems to be bowing to the President’s whim with every decision it’s making.  I’m afraid the rulings are going to have some unintended consequences that no one is looking at very closely. I just don’t know what to think about our government any more.  But that’s all I’ll say about that because I think it’s only tangentally related to my mood.

I’m reading my way through the list of novels I’ve been given for my class this fall.  I read a third book that was better than the second but came away thinking–I could have written this book.  But my fourth book–it’s a horse of a whole other color.  It’s by Ravi Howard and called “Driving the King”.  It’s amazing so far. A writer published in 2015 that every other word isn’t profanity.  A book that treats sex as something mysterious and private. A book where emotion is restrained and telling the story honestly is the focus instead. I can only read a few pages at a time before I have to put it down and think about what the author is doing with his words.  I really, really like this one and didn’t think I would before I started it.  I’ll finish just in time for the ones I ordered to come in.  Eight more to go.


A Fresh (Bipolar) Start

Originally posted on van gogh's girl:

I started this blog in 2011, and in the few posts that I made, 99 percent of them were about my depression due to bipolar disorder.

Who I was four years ago and who I am now, in 2015, are two completely different people. And the more I read these posts I made, the angrier I got at myself. Because while my blog posts weren’t gaining a lot of traction in the Internet world, if someone did land on my blog, the only thing they would have known about me is that I have bipolar disorder and its depression was crippling me.

But I am so, so much more than that. I always have been, I just haven’t always realized it.

So I’m using this blog for more than just a platform for sorrows. And while my posts may not be frequent, they’ll be enough for me. I want this…

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Death & Resilience in Wolverhampton

Blink? I'd recommend against it.

Blink? I’d recommend against it.

Warnings: Whinging, alleged morbidness, and a grey squirrel: the most foul-mouthed of North American creatures.

“It is the supple tree which bends in the gale, while the one that is stiff and rigid either snaps or is pulled up by the roots.”

Merridale Cemetery: Wolves

Merridale Cemetery: Wolves

When you don’t get out much, even a brief glimpse at Wolverhampton after a training course is a treat.

Turns out that Wolves is worth a look, especially if, like me, you love sculpture: public, and the kind you only see in galleries.

How cool is this?: Wolverhampton Art Gallery

How cool is this?: Wolverhampton Art Gallery

I also managed to add a few photos to my “ghost sign” collection:

Ghost sign: Wolverhamptom

Ghost sign: Wolverhamptom

Nope, no idea what this says, or what it’s about. Look it up: you’re on the internet. Yes, I am, too, but I’m also writing, making French toast, and keeping an ear out for a blackbird who has probably run out of mealworms, and is rather annoyed about it.

A reasonably chuffed looking blackbird: Doncaster, June 2015

A reasonably chuffed blackbird: Doncaster, June 2015

Speaking of sculpture, and death, I’ve written before about Hyde Park Cemetery, most recently when they added several new carvings.

As a member of the Friends of Hyde Park Cemetery, I was pleased to find that last week’s training course was next to a cemetery.

A fine and private place: Wolverhampton

A fine and private place: Wolverhampton

An acquaintance recently said they thought my interest in our local Victorian cemetery was “morbid”, given I don’t have any family buried there.

Now, however, I can refer to my “wellbeing” course, which suggests that people suffering from stress should “Spend time in nature”. Which includes cemeteries.

See?

Grey squirrel: Wolverhampton, June 2015

Grey squirrel: Wolverhampton, June 2015

The course talked a lot about “resilience”, and keeping well: two things which, if I received a report card, I’d probably get a C- in, with the comment “Could try harder”. It also covered the question of values.

Given a list, what would you choose as your top 10? We then did a walkabout, looking at each other’s values.

I was a bit perplexed that two out of the 10 people present included “cleanliness”. Oh yes, I’ve done shifts with your partners in anti-grime.

Memories … like the dusty corners of my mind. And house.

The point, the trainer said, is to understand that one person’s values can be quite different from another’s. Eg, “cleanliness” vs “wisdom”: my top value.

The trainer also gave several definitions of resilience. Many used the phrase “bounce back” which, whilst it makes me think of Skippy and his kangaroo friends, I’m okay with. Another, taken from a dictionary, included “quickly”, a word I’m not so okay with.

Because my idea of “quickly” recovering from bad news may be hours, or days, or even weeks, or months. Years, now, in the case of a bereavement I may never “bounce back” from.

Dealing, not bouncing: headstone detail, Wolves

Dealing, not bouncing: headstone detail, Wolves

Looking back, I seem to trip up over the difference between what I think is “quickly”, vs other people’s definitions.

When asked “Why are you reacting this way?”, to me, “Because I’m bloody bipolar” is a perfectly reasonable response.

It seems “reasonable” – like the words “quickly”, and “morbid” – is in the eye of the beholder. And this beholder needs to spend more time in galleries, and graveyards.

In part, because they’re generally pretty quiet. Plus, no one tells you you’re not responding to the sculpture quickly enough, or in an appropriate manner.

Remembering the dead: Wolverhampton, June 2015

Remembering the dead: Wolverhampton, June 2015