I’m not a girl.

This is a Really Real Gender Post.

I’ve been sitting on this one for awhile. Trying to decide if I wanted to really put myself out there with this.

But it’s my birthday, and I want to start my next year of life being authentically me. I can’t preach radical vulnerability, when I am refusing to be vulnerable because it’s uncomfortable.

This is a long one, I’ve read it about a dozen times trying to shorten it, and it’s just not happening.

I’m non-binary, and my gender is somewhere in the middle, in flux, strange (as in different), queer.

I prefer the term genderqueer.

I’ve let go of the notion that I have to be female, because society tells me I’m a female due to the body parts I was born with.  And the more I accept this, the more comfortable I’ve become. I feel like me, I feel like I’m free to be me.

I’m not fighting to overcome something that feels inherently false.

I’m able to just be, and let things settle where they will.

And it’s scary as fuck.

This has been hard for me to understand, so I know it’s probably hard for some of you.

How can I love dresses and skirts and bright flashy things, and not be a girl?  How can I have a vagina and these incredible boobs, and not be a girl?

Because those things don’t pertain to gender.  Gender is separate from all of that.

“Some genderqueer people continue to identify partially with one gender, others do not. What they share is a deep, persistent unease with being associated only with the binary gender assigned to them from infancy—apart from that, their expressions, experiences, and preferences vary greatly from individual to individual.” (Taken from an article on Slate)

So what does this mean?  What changes?

I spent a lot of time thinking about this. Now that I’ve realized my feelings all along were because I’m genderqueer what do I need to change to feel more at home in my skin?

Mostly it’s an internal thing.  I feel more at ease knowing I don’t have to be something I’m not. I can just be me.

I have decided to switch to they/them pronouns, however, she/her is still acceptable. She/her mainly bothers me because people are just assuming I’m a girl, because I look “like a girl.” It feels uncomfortable to have society at large assuming I’m female just because of the way my body looks.

My brain doesn’t feel the way my body presents itself.

I’ve realized that you can’t look at ANYONE and assume their gender . . .I mean, you can, because anyone can assume, but the fact is, just because I look female and wear a female body, doesn’t mean my brain is female.

It’s taken me a long time to realize that and accept it.

I don’t expect everyone to understand. I expect there are more than a few people that will refuse to use they/them pronouns, probably quite a few people who think I’m full of shit, and there’s even some people I’m blocking from this post because I’m just not ready to go there with them.

I’m not going to hide this from the general public, and have an internal fight with myself, constantly, just to avoid making some people uncomfortable.

I’m still Tina, I’m still quirky and open and lovable.

I’m not a girl.

And I don’t think I’ve ever been, I just wasn’t ready to be this open.  Not with myself and definitely not with anyone else.

I hope everyone will listen to this part of my story with the same respect and understanding as you’ve all listened to the rest of my story.

And if you can’t, kindly show yourself out.

Part of Self Care

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

It’s really easy to get wrapped up in crafting.  I get to sit in one place and let my creative mind flow, distracting me from whatever else is bothering me.

Distracting me from depression,

from housework,

from showering.

Distracting me from life outside of the safe space by the computer.

I just saw a post from this time last year, and I was in the same head space.  I am able to peek out for small bits of time and clean the house, or go spend some time with some friends, or do self care in other ways.

And because of that, it is hard to recognize how pervasive the depression has been.  I mean, I’m still functioning, so it can’t be THAT bad.

Except I dread leaving the house.  Not as bad as it was, but it’s certainly there.

I have to bribe myself into the shower, a part of depression that no one wants to speak out loud because it just seems incomprehensible to those without depression. It seems gross.

Even brushing my teeth takes focus and effort and willpower.

But I don’t FEEL that bad. I’m still smiling and laughing and finding things to be happy about.

My writing is almost non-existent.  I just can’t find anything to write about. I can’t find a reason to stop my other forms of creativity and put fingers to keys.

Except this is part of self care too. My writing is a big way that I process. A big way that I pull the blinders off and actually focus on what is happening.

My writing is my place to get really real with, not only everyone else, but also myself.

I’m still not sure how to break this cycle. Leaving the house is hard, going to the gym is harder, socializing feels like a chore.

I went for a walk the other night, and when Mickey was going to meet up with me to walk, we ended up driving to Starbucks instead.

It was just easier than the physical effort of being cold and miserable outside.

I remember a time when I couldn’t walk very far. I remember what it felt like when I started walking further and further distances. I remember what it felt like to have goals and aspirations around fitness.

I have no idea how to get that back.

I have no idea what to set as a goal.

I don’t even know if I care, to be honest.

But I am beating myself up about it. While still making excuses not to go.

I guess I care enough to give myself shit for not doing what I know will help.

This shit is hard, friends. Even when mental illness isn’t trying to kill me,

it’s keeping me from living.

 

It’s been too long.

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

It’s been about two weeks since I’ve put fingers to keys.

Tonight I told myself I would write but it took a lot of pushing myself to follow through. As soon as I put in my headphones and started my writing music, I realized how much I missed it.

I’m still fighting this never-ending, low-key depression. I feel better, but I also have to constantly remind myself to do things like, plan dinner, feed the animals, take a shower.

I’m just kind of existing, but at least I’ve been leaving the house again, which feels nice.

It was scary being stuck in the house. I don’t want to go back to that time in my life.

Athena (the new kitten) has helped a lot. She keeps me on my toes whenever we let her roam free. “Nope, don’t do that . . . wait, get back over here . . . don’t climb the wires . . . where did you go, now?”

It’s loads of fun!

But, she’s so sweet and cuddly and falls asleep on my chest when I hold her and pet her at night.

It’s nice that Wonder Woman and I are raising a pet together, instead of just having the ones we came into the relationship with.

Athena is ours.

I finished my holiday cards and they got mailed out today.  Over 50 handmade cards.  It kept me going through my depression and now I’m looking for the next activity to immerse myself in. I’m sure I’ll have another project dreamed up sometime soon.

Crafting is a lifeline during the dark times. It works as a distraction that I can one-mindfully involve myself in. It feels more productive than my time spent playing video games, although I do that, too.

I still don’t have a whole lot to write about.

Things just . . . are, and that’s the hardest time for me to write.

It’s easy to write about the extremes.

But it’s been too long.

I’m glad I put fingers to keys again.

 

I feel good!

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I feel good.

I. Feel. Good.

I’m euthymic.  I’m not manic, not depressed, not suicidal. Even the passing ideations are leaving me alone.

It’s been over a month since I’ve had a mood episode.  I almost never get a whole month free from this shit.

It’s nice to see who I am when I’m stable. When I can separate my personality from my diagnoses.

I keep questioning, am I actually hypomanic and just not seeing it? But I’m still sleeping, I’m not spending every last cent, I’m not cleaning my entire house in a frenzy.

Yeah, this is the middle ground that I spend my life looking for.

The medication comes with side effects, but I’m learning they’re worth it for the benefits.  I actually had a pdoc appointment where we didn’t change anything.

This is one of a handful of times that’s happened in the last 7 years.

Life is good.

Life. Is. Good.

It’s nice to see that. I can see both the positive and negative aspects of my life right now, and I’m fine with them. I’m working to change the negative where I can.

I’m not sure there’s a huge point to this post. Maybe it’s just that I share all of the negative with everyone and I’m making sure to share all sides of the story.

L-I-G! (Life Is Good!)

This is a Really Real Life Post.

Being able to be myself is nothing short of amazing.

I mean, yeah, being wholeheartedly me means I deal with some really bad depression and suicidal ideation. It means I spend days inpatient and weeks in partial sometimes. It means there are some really shitty times.

But it also means I get to be open and out there and vulnerable. I get to wear my wild skirts and bright hair. I get to tell my story in a way that helps others (and helps me at the same time). I get to laugh and cry and let my dorky hang out.

I get to spend time with people who are just my kinda people, instead of struggling to fit in with the people who aren’t.

I’m learning how important all of this is.

I trip down the sidewalk, I fall face first down the stairs, I spill food down my shirt, all on a regular basis. But that’s just part of my charm, even the bruises, scars, and messed up shirts.

I am anxious and moody and sometimes my memory is all kinds of shit. But I keep moving forward no matter what life throws at me.

I’m falling in love with my authentic self.

My imperfect, beautiful, self.

I wish I could see things from this perspective all of the time. I wish depression didn’t creep in and pull me under. Make me nervous and afraid. Make me sad and apathetic. I wish life was all roses and bright smiles.

But even my mental illness is part of who I am. It’s part of what makes me, me. It’s part of what makes me beautiful.

Even though sometimes I’m a beautiful mess.

I’m learning to accept all of me.

And that’s pretty fucking amazing.

I can’t wait to see who I’m becoming.

The best is yet to come.

(Someone save this post and send it to me next time I’m falling apart, please.)

 

I feel good, please stay.

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I really have felt good the last few weeks. This is fucking amazing.

But.

Of course there’s a but.

I’m finding little things slipping and that scares me.

I’m no longer interested in crafting, I’m halfheartedly playing games on the computer and mindlessly scrolling facebook. I don’t want to clean and the house is a bit of a disaster right now. I have to fight to do the dishes instead of following my normal routine.

I still feel great, but those are warning signs. This is a case of what comes first, does depression cause a lack of motivation, or does lack of motivation cause the depression. When I’m not motivated it’s easier to get bored, boredom lets my brain be an asshole.

Except right now it’s not being an asshole. Not too much anyway. It’s making me want to eat the house cause I’m bored, and that kinda sucks.

The question is, what do I DO about it? How do I find a way to stay engaged in activities that I have no interest in? How do I keep myself busy and keep my brain occupied? How do I beat back the demons if they try to take over?

How do I stop eating my way through the kitchen? Seriously, that one frustrates me the most right now.

I’m not sure what the answers are and I’m not sure that anyone else can give them to me. Therapy tomorrow should help.

At least I’m back to writing daily, that’s always a good thing.

Share your story, Speak your truth.

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

Lately, I see a lot of people getting Really Real about mental health. Part of it is who I surround myself with, part of it is that people are pulling of the veil and deciding to be truthful about who they are.

Now, I know not everyone can, or wants to do this.

But I’m so happy when I see people who do.

Parker didn’t exactly hide her mental illness, but at the same time she was afraid to speak up when it mattered most. It had, and in some ways still has, this underlying notion that mental illness is a weakness.

I remember the first time I was told to pull myself up by my bootstraps. The first time, not, by far, the only time.

It’s nice to see friends who are talking more openly. Talking about their triumphs and struggles.

Some of my favorite posts are the “I’m having a rough day, please send me memes” posts. I occasionally reach out in the same way and it’s so nice to see everyone kind of come together to shower me with love and laughs. It’s what we need! Community and support make this road a lot easier to travel.

Even better are the posts that show us we aren’t alone in this struggle. We may not have the same diagnoses or life situations, but the underlying emotions are the same.

I’m super lucky that I have an amazing support system (spanning multiple countries) but I got that support system by speaking up. By being real. By speaking my story and sharing my truth.

By being vulnerable.

Vulnerability isn’t a weakness. Vulnerability is strength. It’s how you build community, it’s how you reach out for support.

I’m glad that I see more people being real and raw and open and I wanted to globally say how much I appreciate that.

Share your story. Speak your truth.

Be vulnerable!