Daily Archives: February 21, 2015

More Jousting

My mood has continued sliding into the gutter as the day progresses. Which is right in keeping with my prozac dose no longer being split in two. Before, I could take 20 in the a.m. and 20 toward 4 pm and it would sort of ward off the abrupt crash.

My eardrums have the cringey thing going on, kinda like when you stick tinfoil in a filling. Every sound seems deafening.Very irritating, and it makes me irritated. The anxiety really knows how mess with your head. Kind of like a cat batting a mouse around then leaving it wounded rather than just killing it mercifully.
My kid has been an incessant chatterbox all day, and she has no concept of indoor voice so while my irritation mounts, my anxiety skyrockets.

The tipping point, where my pool noodle jousting proved to be an epic fail against the mental illness jousting pole was when my dad and his crew stopped in for a visit. My mood was already low, my anxiety already bubbling over, and I had to paste on the civilized face. They all talk at once, loudly, and my brother was playing with my kid which had her shrieking and bouncing off the walls with psychotic adhd.
I just sat here, trying to pretend it wasn’t making me want to stab myself with a dozen forks. I am super sensitive to loud noise (and yeah, that even includes music as much as I love it). I can’t keep track of conversations when everyone is talking over everyone else.
The kicker was when my father told me someone thought my sister (six years my junior) was my daughter because I look so tired, old, and worn out.
I am tired and worn out, though I dispute the old part.
You spend three quarters of your life fighting off depression while the other third is spent hovering between cycles, stability, and a revolving door of med changes that completely turn your life upside down..Not to mention the sleep disturbance…

Depression makes you look twice your age, I swear.
Though when I am not in the abyss and clean up, I can pull of looking younger than I am.
I can’t say I blame people for taking my haggish appearance as a sign of age.
It hit me earlier than I THINK the last time I showered was Wednesday.
This is always the pinnacle of the depressive cycles, when hygiene goes out the window and you can’t even work up the energy to fight back. I mean, you do fight back, but a floppy pool noodle is no good against the honed sharp edge of a jousting pole.
I’m down the rabbit hole, and as usual, I never saw it coming. I just kept going through the motions, on auto pilot, thinking, hey, I am up and functioning, I can handle this.
But going 4 days without a shower and not even remembering it or caring…Okay, I have crossed a line here.
I have got to find a way to drag myself in off the ledge.

Unfortunately, the mind is not cooperating.
I watched my brother playing with my kid and she was laughing and he was laughing and it hit me…I have to fake that whole thing. Because I don’t feel it. I want to and yet…There is no joy in it. Just more pressure, more failure, more self loathing. My kid’s being cheated as much as I am by my mental issues.
I need to do something.
If I thought talking to the doctor would help, I’d reach out. But short of having a razor blade to your wrists, it could be weeks before they could work you in. Triage and all that. Just not wanting to live isn’t really considered urgent.
In my book, lack of will to live is just as bad as a desire to hurt yourself.

I am so envious of others. I have managed through abandonment and single parenthood and my home being robbed and my transmission blowing up…
Yet I can’t beat the depressions.
I’d rather have mental stability than win the lottery.
So why can’t I beat it?

Jousting is not my favorite.

Shopping for Free!

My youngest learned the fun of shopping with gift cards today–she had a birthday and got gift cards from Justice, Target, and Walmart.  She already had two gift cards from Walmart that we found out she had not spent anything on yet, so needless to say, we had a blast in the crafts section there buying crayons, markers, and giant color books.  At Justice, she got a diary and a notebook with her initial on it, and at Target she got the cutest navy hi-lo dress to wear to school once it finally warms up.  So we had a mother-daughter blast shopping for pure fun stuff.

We got a couple of practical things that I paid for–she wanted a larger laundry hamper so we bought a giant-sized one of those, and I finally found a spring purse I likes–a Dooney and Burke for 25% off with a white background and a brightly colored village scene.  I can wear it with my white capris and solid tops and use my tan one for patterned outfits.  So I was happy shopping,. too :)

I had to really keep a watch on myself shopping in the purse section–before I found the discount table I was looking at a pale pink Kate Spade purse that would exactly match one dressy outfit I own.  I was really, really tempted, but let it go and will hope it makes it to the discount rack by the fall. Good thing I’m so cheap-minded because it really was the perfect bag.  I’ll just have to wait.

An Unquiet Mind

In an effort to get back into reading again, I got a library card and checked out Kay Redfield Jamison’s “An Unquiet Mind”, which I’ve wanted to read for years. Dr. Jamison is a well-known bipolar expert who happens to suffer from a particularly nasty version of BP 1, making her writing that much more credible given her lived experience with the disorder.

It took me a full week, reading in fits and starts according to my attention span, but I made it through this fascinating story of manic-depressive illness (she doesn’t like the term ‘bipolar’). The only problem is that it’s made me question my own diagnosis: how could I be in the same category with someone who’s gone through psychotic manias so severe that she became violent, needing hospitalization and sometimes even physical restraints?

OK, I’ve had episodes where I was verbally abusive and thrown things. I even punched a refrigerator once. I’ve also had touches of psychosis (ever heard music that isn’t playing or cats running around the ER? I have). But I can’t imagine going through the kind of hell Dr. Jamison has…..and yet we carry the same label.

I’ve researched this topic in the DSM and found that bipolar 1 has a number of specifiers (e.g. ” with mixed features” and “most recent episode depressed”. But there are no different levels of severity within the category, and I wonder why there aren’t. I don’t think my manias are as serious as those of some other members of my cohort. But then, several psychiatrists (including my own) have agreed on my diagnosis, so I may as well stop trying to wiggle my way out of it.

Anyway, I found Dr. Jamison’s story compelling and utterly believable, because even despite the advantages of wealth and privilege, she has suffered the tortures of the damned that make all bipolars kin. I recommend this book for anyone with bipolar of any variety, as well as those who love someone who has the disease.

And yeah, I’m proud of myself for reading an entire book, as brief as it was. It was the first one I’ve read since 2011. Now it’s on to a book of Stephen King short stories!

Jousting With Mental Illness

My stomach is in knots and churning and I have no idea why. I haven’t eaten anything that could disagree with me, so I can only assume this is my body’s reaction to stress.
Last night was a bizarre stressful night.
A neighhbor’s dog got loose and I kept hearing this ruckus under my trailer so I went outside and tried to lure the dog out because it was obviously getting its butt kicked by the resident stray cats under there.
But I could only hear the dog, not see it, and went back to cooking supper.
Then came this sound like someone was ripping the floor our of my laundry room and I took the heat vent off…And somehow this big brindle dog has worked its way up into my heating ductwork and gotten stuck.
I freaked out. I turned the heat off so the poor thing wouldn’t get overheated. I stuck my hand down and petted the dog, talking calmly to it because it was so panicked it was trying to rip my floor up.
The landlord office was closed. The pound office was closed. I had no idea which neighbor the dog belonged to. I didn’t know what else to do but call the police. That has to indicate how scared I was for this poor creature because I’d rather gouge my eyeballs out with a skewer than invite attention, especially from cops or animal control, my way.
By the time the cop arrived, the dog had its snout sticking up out of my heat vent whimpering but its fat little body was stuck. And I am outside trying to explain the whole thing and the officer is giving me these weird looks, because I guess a panic attack looks a lot like someone being insane.
But I was worried about the dog dying in the vent, I was worried about having to rip out the duct work to get it out, then my daughter and I would have no heat. I was freaking out. I doubt it’d have been so bad had a person been trapped under there. But animals…Yeah, they are my weakness.

So for the better part of four hours last night I had the cops, pound, and neighbors all banging around my trailer and yard. The dog would come out, then go back under. Its owner went under after it, then lost her phone under there so she came back to go under and find it. It was nerve wracking. And it all stems from the fact that in spite of numerous requests over the last six years, the landlord will not steal the siding up or fix my duct work so of course the animals want under there where it’s warm. Hell, it’s warmer under the trailer than in the trailer and I am still getting near three hundred dollar power bills. When the heat was out, even the heating guy said it wasn’t going to get better with the ductwork messed up and no insulation in spite of the fact my furnace is basically fitted with all new parts.
It’s frustrating, especially when every spring code enforcement comes around which means the maintenance guys and landlord go on the cosmetic warpath about how the lawns should look. Yet six years I’ve got no air conditioning or little heat yet high power bills due to the ductwork and open siding, and that’s not a problem.
I have a feeling after this debacle, the cops are probably going to say something to bring code enforcement sniffing around because that could have easily been a kid getting trapped under there rather than just a dog and that’s dangerous. The only downside to this is the fact most of these trailers are so old and decrepit, code enforcement might suggest a massive bonfire as the only solution.

In addition to all of this, we got five inches of snow overnight and I can barely get the front door open. The shovel is all the way out in the back of the shed. My kid is screeching to go make snow angels. And I am trying to keep my cool and not freak out and not let it all get me down…
And that was when it hit me.
It’s like I am jousting with my own mental illnesses. But they have a jousting stick and I am armed with a pool noodle.
Guaranteed losing battle.

Grrr. Considering how little the donor has had to do with our child, I see so much of his behavior in her. Right down to her studying my every facial expression, my every breath, and demanding what’s wrong, why did you do that, et al.
I hate being under a microscope.
And maybe I am just overreacting.
Well, I don’t think so, that’s just what I am expected to say because to acknowledge your own feelings as valid would just be insane.
And sometimes I am a bit insane.

I swear there is some evil clown inside my belly twisting my innards into crazy balloon animals. It’s quite uncomfortable. More jousting. I accept my mood is low, come to terms with being high strung and anxious, and yet my intestines just keep tying themselves into knots.
And while it may well be caused by anxiety, I assure you it is not in my head.
And talking oneself out of a stomach ache…would put gastro docs out of business.
I hate pool noodles.

The House

House is Full of Life


In a room without a window, there burnt a fire, guarded by a high and strong fender, and a lamp suspended from the ceiling by a chain… In the deep shade, at the further end of the room, a figure ran backwards and forwards. What it was, whether beast or human being, one could not, at first sight tell… — Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

saturday with sisyphus

Ugh. Today I love my dog and hate myself.


Four ay em again … I got too wired and overtired to sleep at all. I can hear the rain falling on my tin roof and trickling into my rainwater tank. My sweet dog has her head tucked into my hip and is snoring gently beside me. There is always some beauty somewhere, even when you can’t even see the stars through the clouds.

I need to sort the anger issues out and I don’t want to, my usual strategy is to sleep on it – ha. Actually I haven’t been thinking about the conflict much; I always flee it if possible. I loathe confrontations and despise carefrontations. I’ll tackle them when I’ve had time to unwind my jangling nerves. One thing enraged me, the other irritated me. I’ve known one of the people I’d like to smack with a fish, since 2006, the other since 2001 or 2. Neither of them have the link to this blog, but I’m still loath to explain the details.



Two and a half hours sleep before my dog woke me. I’m glad she does her morning thing, it makes early mornings very much a part of that routine my shrink always asks about. It isn’t raining anymore, grey skies and wet grass out there.

I’ve just scanned my tired mind to see if I’m any further re addressing the shit that angered me last night, but I’m not yet. And I am so done with reacting emotionally; when I can avoid that, I will.

If this fucking bipolar depression lasts another few months it’ll be two freaking years old. And I work hard at doing the right things to tackle it. Right now, there’s not much I can do beyond ‘maintain an even strain’ and see what my shrink has to say. And my lovely dog will continue to ensure that suicidal impulses don’t become intentions. I’ve never been so sodding sensible for so long in my life.


That’s just bs about Dylan.


Today is in the kind of pieces that are utterly impossible to piece together. My dog doesn’t always lie so close to me during the day; she’s got her head nestled into my side. I could sit here forever with her. It’ll be a sensible day, however, no matter how strong the urge to shove my head under a duvet. I’ve walked, had a natter with my neighbour over the fence. That’s all so far. My stomach is letting me know it’d quite like some food sometime soon. I still can’t focus on reading.
My guava tree is beginning to piss the poison pygmy off, by flourishing too close to the fence line for her liking. There’s a milkwood beside it that’ll join in soon. I’m going to grow things to block the house to my right too. Stage one is a bottlebrush that is already a decent size.

I think perhaps I have learned the difference between situational depression and the melancholic bipolar flavour. When it’s situational, I’m still able to wish, dream, and think of things that’d cheer me up. When it’s the bipolar raincloud, I don’t enjoy a thing and cannot think of anything that I would enjoy. And there are no dreams and the only wish is for oblivion.

Ohhh blah blah fucking blah. I had a thought I jotted down at the end of this earlier.


Does anyone know whether Kay Redfield Jamison took the title for her book Touched with Fire from the following quote?

Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire. (Oliver Wendell Holmes Jnr)

I’m just free associating: touched with fire, to Prometheus the fire thief chained to a rock, to Sisyphus rolling his rock uphill. The rock, of course, in this little mind wander, symbolises grief and ill health and so forth.


Sisyphus Syndrome
A term referring to the mindset typical of a stress-driven ‘type A’ person (e.g., doctors) who obtains little to no self-recognition or gratification from accomplishing the difficult goals he/she places upon himself/herself.
Segen’s Medical Dictionary. © 2012 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved.


Sisyphus was eventually rescued by Hercules; as far as I know, Prometheus is still chained to that rock, having his liver pecked out daily.

All the posts for #1000Speak for Compassion


I don’t know if there actually 1000 posts but there are a whole lot of them. In the picture, the top right most is mine! Again very gratifying to see it amongst all the other voices who spoke for compassion.

Most Excellent Day

Today I woke up in a good mood. It was the day we did our demonstration walk-thru through the house. At first I was anxious but the 2 hours passed swiftly and it made me feel warmed through knowing in 6 days I will own my own home again.

I’ve just been generally up today but not a high up, more of a general happiness. It is nice to be able to tell the difference between regular good mood and a manic high. I usually can’t tell the difference and just go along with wherever the mood takes me.

I am hoping the pristiq is what is making the difference. It seems to be doing something, the depression didn’t last as long.

Next shrink appt she is doing the saliva test to see what meds will work best for me so that is going to put a different spin on my treatment.

I’m going to watch Grimm now. Love this show.

7 Ways to Lovingly Support Your Gender Non-Binary Partner

This is a piece I posted over at Everyday Feminism that I wanted to cross-post here. This advice, while geared towards romantic partners, can more generally be applied to anyone who has a gender non-binary person in their life.

The image features the author, Sam, playfully biting his partner's face while his partner appears both confused and amused.

My fiance, Ray, and I. Yes, I am biting Ray’s face. Yes, there was consent.

I still remember the moment I came out as genderqueer to my then-partner. I was finally sharing a deep and important truth about myself: I was ready to transition and was overjoyed at the prospect of having my partner by my side.  

But for him, my transition was threatening.

“I just wouldn’t find you attractive anymore,” he told me.

That was all he would say about the matter. My heart broke that day.

While his sexual preferences are his prerogative, he had failed to be supportive. That made me afraid to transition. I was afraid of being abandoned, afraid that I could not be loved as I was.

I never brought it up again and delayed my transition until our eventual breakup a year later.

Partners can have a big impact on our transitions, for better or for worse. A partner’s reaction to our coming out can devastate us – as in my case. My partner’s reaction made me fearful that transitioning would ultimately result in tragedy.

I thought that it was better to live a lie than live without the person I loved, and that was not only unfair, but it was also untrue. It wasn’t my transition that was the problem – it was my partner’s lack of understanding and empathy for what I was going through.

Rejecting our transition is rejecting who we are on a deep and essential level, and the pain that comes with that can be agonizing.

But when our partners support us through this experience, it can make all the difference. It can make what can be a frightening beginning evolve into a beautiful journey.

This is why it’s so important to learn how to best support your non-binary partners.

If you are a cisgender partner looking to be supportive of your non-binary partner, you’ve already taken the first step. Making a commitment to being there for the person you love can make all the difference.

With that in mind, here are seven ways that you can support your non-binary partner:

1. Do Listen to Your Partner – Don’t Invalidate Their Experiences

If your partner has trusted you enough to talk about their gender and their experiences as non-binary, it is important not to break that trust.

If you aren’t non-binary, or even if you are, you may not relate to or understand everything your partner is saying. That understanding will come with time. Your job, for now, is to listen and validate those experiences.

Remember: This is your partner’s lived experience. And living as non-binary and coming out are often difficult experiences.

So telling your partner that their gender isn’t real, that it sounds absurd, or that you don’t believe what they’re saying are all offensive and awful responses. Your partner’s gender identity is for them to declare – and not for you to interrogate.

If your partner is coming out, believe them. If they are sharing something they have lived through, believe them.

A supportive partner is a partner that doesn’t undermine, talk over, or insult their non-binary partner. A supportive partner will do exactly that – support them.

Simply validating your non-binary partner’s experiences can go a long way.

2. Do Be Honest About Your Feelings – Don’t Prioritize Your Feelings Over Your Partner’s

You are allowed to be afraid. You are allowed to be confused. You are allowed to be sad.

Your partner’s identity can have an impact on your relationship, and that can bring about a lot of changes that are intimidating and even scary.

You should be honest about how you feel and talk about your feelings. However, it’s important that when you do disclose how you feel, you are doing it at the right time and aren’t prioritizing your feelings over your partner’s.

For example, when I came out to my ex, he didn’t offer his support or engage with what I had said.

Instead, he prioritized his feelings over mine. He de-centered a conversation about my identity, and instead, refocused it on himself, without indicating that he had heard what I said or cared.

Instead, think of phrasing it this way: “Thank you for trusting me with this. I am completely supportive of your transition and believe you should do what you need to do to be happy. I have some fears, but we can talk about that whenever you’re ready.”

When you’re discussing your partner’s gender identity, whether they’ve just come out or it’s years after the fact, it’s important to give your non-binary partner the space to talk about their identity without worrying that you will take it as an opportunity to talk about you and your feelings instead.

Be honest about how you feel, but discuss those feelings in a way that is respectful of your partner and allows them to feel heard.

3. Do Educate Yourself About Non-Binary People – Don’t Expect Your Partner to Teach You

If you want your non-binary partner to love you forever, doing some research on your own time is the way to their heart, I promise.

While it’s great to ask questions and be curious, your partner wants to be your partner – not your educator. The role of an educator can be stressful, tedious, and tiring. It’s also unfair to expect your partner to teach you everything there is to know.

There are great resources around the net. Everyday Feminism actually has a whole guide to non-binary gender. Reading about some myths regarding non-binary folks is always a good idea, and brushing up on your terminology never hurts.

Read about non-binary people and their experiences. I’ve got a pretty interesting blog if I do say so myself, and Neutrois Nonsense is another one of my personal favorites. If you’re on Twitter, I am a big fan of Charlie (@cutequeer96) who always keeps it real.

Tumblr has an abundance of resources. One of the particularly awesome ones, Ask a Non-Binary, allows users to anonymously ask questions about non-binary identities. They have tags where you can read up on previously asked questions as well.

Non-binary people can sometimes feel like mythical creatures if we don’t know where to look. But the Internet is a magical place, my friend, so use it!

4. Do Be Mindful of the Language That You Use – Don’t Forget to Use That Language at All Times

This is a given, but using your partner’s pronouns is not optional – it’s mandatory.

This also means the language you use to describe your partner may have to change.

Ask your partner if they are comfortable being referred to as a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” or if a neutral term like “partner” is what they prefer. Be sure to check in about nicknames you’ve given each other, too; your pet names might need an update as well.

If friends or family are using the wrong pronouns, educate them and remind them of your partner’s pronouns.

Don’t expect your partner to do all the work. Be an ally, and call out incorrect language usage when you see it, so that your partner doesn’t have to shoulder the burden alone.

Finally, use the correct terminology at all times, unless they’ve stated otherwise. Don’t use their pronouns in front of them, but use the incorrect pronouns behind their back.

Yes, you might trip up sometimes. But as long as you’re putting in a sincere effort, your partner will definitely appreciate it.

5. Do Offer to Help in Whatever Ways You Can – Don’t Assume You Know What’s Best for Them

Your non-binary partner may need your help from time to time, as being non-binary isn’t always easy.

Dysphoria, for example, is a very real part of my life. I often feel depression and panic in relation to certain gendered parts of my body, like my chest, and need my partners to be patient when I’m having a difficult time.

I also feel particularly distressed after family gatherings, where I am misgendered or criticized for my gender presentation. My partners know that after such get-togethers, I may need extra support and care.

Ask your partner how you can help.

Do they need you to accompany them to a hormone therapy appointment? Do they want a chest binder for their birthday? Do they want you to accompany them when they go dress shopping? Do they need a nice, home-cooked meal on days when their dysphoria keeps them in bed?

Don’t assume that you know what they need or what their triggers are. Instead, let them teach you about their needs. You may be surprised.

6. Do Have Conversations About Boundaries – Don’t Push Those Boundaries

This article on having sex with trans folks is required reading if, at some point in the future, you and your partner plan on becoming intimate or if you’re already doing the deed.

Boundaries are an important thing to keep in mind with your partner, especially since you may be unfamiliar with what kinds of boundaries your non-binary partner has or what could trigger dysphoria.

Having conversations about what parts of the body are okay to touch, what kinds of sexual acts your partner is comfortable with, and what your partner needs during a sexual encounter are all important things to talk about before getting busy – not after something has gone wrong.

It’s important to have this conversation even if you don’t plan on having sex or if your partner identifies as asexual.

Physical boundaries exist in contexts beyond sex. For example, your partner may not be comfortable with PDA, or might find it triggering to be pulled in for a hug by their hips.

Talk about touch – what to touch, what not to touch, and where the boundaries are. And respect those boundaries, always.

7. Do Be Supportive Without Conditions – Don’t Discourage Your Partner from Transitioning

Regardless of how you feel about your partner’s identity, transition, or body, you should be unconditionally loving and supportive.

If your partner wants to bind their breasts, it’s their right to. If your partner wants to start wearing dresses, it’s their choice. If your partner is going to grow a beard, power to them.

Being supportive means respecting the choices your non-binary partner makes about their body and their gender expression, regardless of what your feelings about it may be.

There are no ifs, ands, or buts. No “if you don’t cut your hair,” no “and I can’t call you by that name,” no “but your pronouns are so confusing.”

If you can’t love your partner for who they really are, in whatever gendered or non-gendered form that takes, you need to ask yourself if this relationship is right for you both.

A transition could be a deal-breaker for you. And you need to be honest if that’s the case.


Today, I am happily engaged to my biggest supporter — one who helped me through every step of my transition. They helped me squeeze into my first chest binder, they were the first to try out my masculine pronouns, and they taught me how to tie a tie.

On more than one occasion, they left work early when my dysphoria had me hiding beneath the covers. Without a complaint, they crawled into bed with me where we watched home renovation programs and chatted about dream apartments and hardwood floors and termites until we fell asleep.

Having someone by my side through it all helped me to realize how much of a difference a compassionate partner can make.

At the end of the day, the best way to support a non-binary partner is to give them the love, encouragement, and room they need to grow.

Not only do they need that from you, they deserve it, too.

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.

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