The (wo)Man of the House

Gender is weird. Coming from a sociological background I’m obligated to say it’s also a construct more than it’s a black-and-white, tangible thing. For the most part, my personal experiences with gender have to do with appreciating the woman parts of me and hopefully lifting up other folks who identify as such. They’re about rejecting misogyny and weeding out how patriarchal forces make life harder than it has to be.

Occasionally, they are about negotiating what parts of femininity and masculinity I accept and reject; it feels healthy to ask myself what influences my actions. Because really, a good 40% of the time when I think or am told “You can’t do that” it has something to do with my gender, and when I dissect those rules or limits it almost always boils down to an outside entity trying to control/harass/oppress/quiet/overpower women. For example, when women tell me they would never carry a condom on a night out, my response is usually, “Well, who made that rule and be beholden to their authority?” It’s worthwhile, a lot of the time, to just trace those preferences back to the source and realize, “God damnit, I only get these bumps and nicks and shit because some ad whiz in the 20’s decided to publicly shame women’s furry legs in the pages of Harper’s Bazaar.”

Why don’t I stop shaving my legs? Why do I wear makeup? Why do I let my hair grow long? Why don’t I challenge my classmates and teachers more? Why did I order that girly drink? Why do I feel self-conscious if my midriff shows? Why is the way I carry myself boy-ish one day and girl-ish another? Why did I let that person buy dinner on our first date? Why didn’t I just flirt back? Why do I buy women’s razors and underwear and toiletries and socks? And so on.

That being said, the Don Drapers and regular old Joes of history have undoubtedly done a number on the masculinity front too.

I’ve gotten a feel for what masculinity means when I’ve had to play the “man of the house.” Note: I am not at all trying to claim I know what it likes to be assigned male at birth, or to identify as a man some or all of the time. This is only a sort of insight from the outside.

Since my parents divorced several years ago and my dad moved out, I would say I became the de facto “man of the house” at least when I was home from university. That’s not to say my mom and sister didn’t do housework that is traditionally men’s (taking out the garbage, household maintenance, etc.) but I was the go-to for such tasks, especially in earlier years. Fishing a lizard out of our dog’s mouth, pumping gas, preparing emergency kits, dealing with electronics, doing repairs on our cabinets, painting rooms, checking the circuit breaker, replacing windshield wiper fluid, changing lightbulbs, and so on. It was interesting that a man exiting the house (despite remaining in our lives) created a vacuum.

So it’s hit me in bits over the years, it must be a lot of pressure to be expected to fill those roles. Generally, in my experience if I don’t know how to do a woman’s “duty” (how to make a sandwich hur hur, iron clothes, change a baby’s diaper, sew, etc.) I don’t get all that much blowback from my peers and family. I make it a point to know how to do a lot of these things at least enough to get by – otherwise I’d be spending a lot more $$ replacing holey sweaters and tights – and I don’t read a whole lot of Cosmo or Harper’s Bazaar, so maybe that helps. But I have witnessed and heard of so many instances when men were called out or ridiculed for not knowing how to do something, where their whole gender and identity was called into question.

If I don’t know how to iron, nobody tells me I’m not who I think I am. Alternately, if say a dude is out at a park playing with his own child, at best it’s accepted without comment but just as likely someone treats it as an aberration (“Mom’s day off, huh?”) or calls the cops. If my friend is a man who can’t change a tire, he’s apparently let his whole gender down.

While writing this, a Google search turned up articles like, “5 Super-Sneaky Ways To Get Your Man To Do Actual Housework,” “36 Household Chores Men Don’t Bother to Do,” and “Ending the Chore Wars: How to Get Your Mate to Help on the Home Front.” Granted, household work should probably be balanced between partners and that’s not always the case (exacerbated by policies that punish parenthood). But the above titles make ugly presumptions about men, and dynamics like this probably make a weird time of it for single parents, or gay couples – or honestly just for every person in a household.

Recently, I went to the hardware store and told the guy at the counter I was looking for some material for a screen door. His response: “What, you’re going to replace it yourself?” I grinned cheerfully and said, “Yup” and said it again when he asked if I had the other supplies I’d need. I wasn’t offended, but that’s probably because I’ve had my fair share of moments when I was the only woman at the car service desk or the hardware store.

It did make me curious about the dynamics around that exchange, though. I highly doubt a man would be asked the same thing in the same way, but it’d be awful to come into that exchange as a dude who wasn’t omniscient about household repair.

Again, I want to emphasize how much I don’t think I know what it feels like for a boy~ in this world. It’s just intriguing to get insights into how masculinity is perpetuated. I’m not all that phased if someone assumes because I’m a woman I can’t do x, y, and z because they’re just being sexist; however, if someone told me I wasn’t valid as a woman because I lacked some knowledge or skill I think I’d be insecure and pissed. Guaranteed that sort of thing happens to everyone of all genders, so thank God I don’t hear it much personally or it would do my head in.

This is me trying for empathy, and wondering at the bizarreness of how tasks are gendered. They just need doing, sometimes they’re fun and sometimes they’re not. It’s nice when everyone shares the work load and even nicer when no matter your gender, you can walk into a Home Depot without feeling scrutinized from all sides.

I welcome discussion about what I’ve said here!  Should we resent being expected to fulfill certain responsibilities? Have you ever felt out of place or invalidated while you were just trying to get stuff done?


On following a nasty woman’s footsteps

Tonight, while watching the last of three debates that have riled me up to the point of almost turning off the TV a dozen times, I was encouraged by Hillary’s performance but sad as ever that this election looks the way it does.

Even if we put the final voting results out of our minds, this race makes me sad for people interested in American politics, for young girls or women who have ever pondered presidential office, and for my future wherever my career goes.

On nights like this one, I’m outraged and unsurprised that this is the ringer the first female presidential nominee has to go through: a more unprofessional, chaotic, moronic, unreasonable, and trying electoral race than any man has had to deal with previously. I’m enraged and saddened that we’ve allowed her talents to be wasted; we’ve allowed ourselves to miss out on a compelling race between two competent candidates that would have better served America, and that I know Hillary could’ve delivered.

I don’t hate or love her, but I respect her career and ability to act in a federal office and I am certain she could debate and campaign with the best of them. We saw some of that in the primary.
Instead for the last several months she’s dealt with the idiocy, contradictions, stress, chaos, and the physical and mental toll of such a strange race. She’s not just campaigning but struggling every day against an unruly, hateful tide in order to become president.

What the 2016 elections have shown me is that in the coming decades I will have to work three times as hard to get what I want. Along the way I’ll be put through hell while the world looks on. Beyond my wildest imaginings, a man with nary a redeeming quality will be egged on against me by more people than I thought, even by people whose best interests he would never defend. I’ll have third parties and my competition drowning me out and giving his outrageous claims the time of day. Men like Donald will waste my time, belittle my accomplishments, talk over me, insult and demean me, and regularly remind me my role as a woman/wife/mother/sister/etc. can be held against me like a gun to my head.

It would be a mistake to forget he’s gotten this far thanks to the support and actions of many others. If he’d done it alone, maybe this election cycle wouldn’t make for such a damning prophecy.

As it is, I remain bitter that Secretary Clinton has been dealt such an awful hand, and that the world will continue to deal us ladies similar ones. I know that she will win, and I know we can succeed, but does it have to be in spite of all this resistance?

Bi in the Between

Alternate title: Sometimes I keep my Invisibility Cloak on.

While writing this, about a thousand times my mind has nagged, “You don’t have the authority to say this. Being bi isn’t a hardship. You aren’t a card carrying bisexual. Other people deal with worse issues. Your mental health hasn’t even taken a hit due to biphobia for a long while.

But that kind of violence towards myself and others, queer or not, isn’t cool in the least. It does no one any favors, and if anyone said those things to someone else I’d square up.

Existing in the between, where half of the territory on which I’m standing makes me extraordinarily privileged and fortunate, isn’t something to complain about necessarily. But it is important to reflect on so I do justice to mine and others’ experiences.

I feel like I’m neither this nor that in a few ways.

Being bisexual is a prime example of this sensation, maybe one of the most perfect examples there ever could be. I’ve been fairly spoiled in life, having come out(ish) during college and done so around people whose reactions have ranged from slightly upsetting to über positive. There have been some fights, and hiccups, and unnerving questions (say what you will, but most of those I’m going to chalk up to curiosity rather than willful, egregious ignorance). I’ve been blessed by people at my university, in my town, and in my work who at their best were like my volunteering supervisor, who knows to come to me to rave about queer representation in the media, and Bi Visibility Day, and dismantling gender norms, and fangirling over Nicola Sturgeon.

But there’s also some people who I may never come out to, like specific family members, and that’s almost entirely due to the nature of being bi.

You’re not part of either ‘team’.

Plenty of people try to ease that burden, blur those lines and recognize the B as something that doesn’t merit discrimination from any direction, but those lines in the sand still exist. To the family I’m thinking of, there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with a gay person but there’s also the occasional joke or uncomfortable remark made about one.

Were I to come out, I believe our relationships would never be as close or easy as they are now, and I justify the omission to myself with the ideas that I’ve never been in a relationship with someone who wasn’t a man, I might never have to introduce my family to a significant other who’s not a man, and if I answer the “But which one do you like more?” question someone might read into it that I could just as well choose not to like more than one gender. That I’m making things complicated voluntarily.

Take one of my grandparents, for instance. I don’t really talk to them about my love life. At least one of mine could pass before I could have the chance to have a conversation, answer their questions, move on from that revelation, and re-establish a bond the way we had before. It wouldn’t be the same bond, which is okay, but I’d want it to be solid – and even as I’m asserting my importance in this blog post, I also know there are things bigger than me to worry about. My grandma lived through the Depression, my other grandma immigrated to the US as a young, single mother. I love and know them as best I can, and they do the same in return. They wouldn’t react poorly to me, I know, but this also isn’t my priority when spending time with them.

I haven’t felt the sting of homophobia often, mostly because I’m not a very ‘good’ bisexual and have only dated men, but that’s not to say I don’t deal with hefty bouts of internalized homophobia and identity crises. Less than two weeks after Bi Visibility Day 2016, it’s clear there are a lot of outside forces still indicating to bi people that they should try and be something different, they’re not welcome here, they’re too this to be gay, they’re too that to be straight, they don’t follow enough rules to be butch or femme or queer or valid.

The need to come out is a weird one. By this time I don’t hesitate to say I’m bi in conversation with someone new (although see again: bubble, where at my last workplace the first outing I was invited to was a drag show), but were I in an especially conservative environment I could keep my mouth shut and pass. That’s not always a cowardly move I don’t think – you don’t owe everyone you meet your life story, and in some situations it makes a mountain of a grain of dirt. On the other hand, if a friend-of-a-friend is spouting bigoted nonsense or just making a dumb outdated assumption, I’m a hard headed person and I’ll jump in with pleasure. Same goes for anyone who’s aggressively faithful to norms about gender, monogamy, marriage, and having children.

Truth and confidence in yourself always feels magnificent, and I can’t be sure my silence is always the best thing for me and for various identities I ostensibly represent. I honestly don’t know. Coming out and being honest feels good, sometimes regardless of how another person reacts, but should that always be my first goal? I respect my privilege of being able to choose, and choose to do so all the time, but the truth that I don’t always hear is that ultimately, no queer person has the responsibility to come out to everyone in the world or else.

I was recently reading a story where one of the characters expressed that it feels like you have to be 100% certain about what you call yourself in order to be honest and to be viewed as valid or authentic. But actually, identity can be an aspiration or a suggestion, it can be solid for certain audiences and fluid among other ones. You can be authentic to you in a moment, and that’s about it.

A email arrived in my inbox last month advertising a group for “bi-curious and bisexual ladies” – the term “bi-curious” ruffled my feathers at first, but then I also had to think that it was used in a way to welcome questioning folks, not to perpetuate a stereotype. It’s leagues better than groups on the same website that in 2016 exclusively advertise to “gay and lesbian” audiences or include lesbians and explicitly exclude bisexuals.

I don’t know that I have any more answers than I did when I started writing this, but I do feel more courageous and content. It’s good to be kind to yourself and your mercurial identity, and while it’s important to check your privilege (whether you’re alllll white, or pass as straight sometimes, or have a hefty salary one year) that doesn’t have to be at odds with proclaiming who you are or how you feel.

I welcome discussion about what I’ve said here! Have you had experiences where you felt between two identities? Felt unsure or unwilling to come out? What does a card-carrying bisexual look like? Is it fun or awful to be constantly uncertain and changing?

On learning to speak up for your mind

This thread last week on reddit (‘Dear reddit people, what is a good/healthy hobby to start for someone with depression?’) made me smile. When I first opened it, the top post was a recommendation for the OP to start coloring. Someone replied by agreeing and sharing one of their first colored-in pieces they’d made, and another poster complimented the dragonfly depicted there. It made me smile because it reminded me of conversations I have with friends who deal with mental health stuff.

Sometimes you’re just congratulating another person for getting out of bed, or on the other hand for actually getting to sleep for once. Sometimes it feels like you’re back in kindergarten and people’s ability to finish coloring in a piece of art is enough to garner a compliment again. I’m not talking down those steps in the least – it’s crucial for your mind to encounter plenty of positivity about small, sometimes bare minimum activities. And when someone else is as excited and encouraging about those activities as the folks in this thread were, it reinforces how your accomplishments mean something and it can help you gain momentum.

In the past several weeks I’ve been agonizing about my own head once again. I’ve got a pretty significant deadline in December I’m working towards, plus I’ve got a life and I’ve got the rest of my life after graduation to plot out (jokes, sort of). And besides all that, there are days when I feel S.A.D. and depression kicking my ass. Winter is coming, etc etc. There are days when my anxiety is such that my heart’s racing for hours at a time and I completely wreck whatever body part I take out my anxiety on that day (I’m not hurting myself very seriously, but when my cuticles are in shreds or my stomach’s messed up from stress it reminds me I should address the head stuff before it hurts the rest of the body stuff).

All that to say I’ve had a couple conversations with my peers regarding talking to my uni about my mental health stuff. I’ve never made a big leap with that, after 4 years of attendance – nothing permanent as much as a ‘Sorry I fucked that semester up, in retrospect holy shit I was pretty clinically depressed???’ or a ‘Good lord sorry about that essay’ and ‘sorry one more time…’ Medication and therapy and lifestyle changes can and do help, but admittedly I should have maybe been a little easier on myself. My school tends to appreciate being in the loop when students are going through stuff.

So at the moment I’m negotiating that agony about talking to the GP, ‘proving’ my head does weird things and it has day-to-day repercussions, talking to my school’s counsellors about personal, uncomfortable stuff, and asking myself why I can’t just be healthy and get shit done. I don’t feel like I deserve to claim words like ‘anxiety’ or ‘depression’ or ‘unwell’ to any degree, but if someone asked me ‘Does x affect your ability to y?’ the answer is unequivocally yes. My GP recently told me I didn’t look or seem all that bad, which to be fair was true, but a) I have 21 years of faking things, and

b) what exactly does mental illness look like?

(Note: since drafting this blog multiple friends and I myself have gotten appropriately angry in retrospect about that comment. I’ve also seen the GP and school services again, and the outcomes have been more positive than detrimental.)

When I’m around fellow students, or around communities like Tumblr or Reddit, the group recognizes that when something like the big ‘D’ has a hold of your mind, it’s not always within your control or power to just… decide to overcome it. If I say I’m having trouble getting to class because sometimes my brain feels like molasses and my heart feels like a ball of lead, it doesn’t mean I’ve got the capacity in that moment to turn that off and just move on. So when you’re expected to perform at the same level as everyone else, but you’re only batting 500, it doesn’t necessarily help that voice in your head when people tell you your issue isn’t an issue, or it’s not visible, or it shouldn’t have bearing on your performance and assessment.

It’s a trite comparison but it holds true again and again – if I had the chickenpox or a broken bone, hardly anyone would doubt the possibility of illness affecting your day-to-day life and capacity to work (or eat or sleep or exercise). But when it comes to problems of the head, all that gets thrown out the window. God help you if you’ve got chronic pain, or an invisible illness, or an array of mental and physical health issues.

What all can I do though, to help myself and others who deal with this frustrating perception of mental health stuff? A start, I think, is to listen to yourself and give yourself fair treatment and expectations even if your mind says others have it worse or your mental health issues are ignorable/fixable. Another is to challenge assumptions from authority and decision makers in your life, not just regarding yourself but others too. Your thoughts might fall on deaf ears but it never hurts to try, and it definitely helps my self-talk become a little less critical.

The moral of the story: Self, don’t fall for society’s norms of health and wellbeing. And give yourself a lot more credit, whether it’s about your worth and needs or just your fleeting emotions and accomplishments. Do unto others as you’re working to do unto yourself.

Why Making Introductions Makes All the Difference

Holding the elevator for someone costs you very little, almost every time. Sure there’s the occasional time when you do it and then you’re both subjected to forced small talk. But really, really, your time isn’t more important than anyone else’s and you can afford to press that ‘Door Open’ button.

And do you know what it does for that person?

It makes their life a hell of a lot easier. It probably also gives them a little more faith in humanity.

Four years ago, before I started my degree I went through ‘Business Conduct Training’ with a woman who simultaneously prayed at the altar of Emily Post and was completely approachable to everyone she came across. In that training, which was intended to prepare me for anything in college, my mentor emphasized introductions constantly. We put it into practice too, even as I was a measly high school graduate who couldn’t picture myself getting into these networking and Rotary Club events of my own merit. You introduce yourself to the right and to the left at a dinner table, if you know two people have something in common then you introduce them to each other and lead with that, and if someone looks to be alone it doesn’t hurt to try and engage them – if they want to stay alone, you will find out very shortly.

Maybe it’s in my genes. My mom makes no secret of the fact she dislikes it immensely when she’s at events and the absence of an introduction hangs heavy in the air, making everyone uncomfortable and squirmy. Like when someone assumes his significant other has somehow met all of his colleagues already. Or when a person brings two other people together to network and then somehow… fails to seal the deal. It shows a lack of consideration and respect, plus it kind of makes the middle man seem foolish.

Before I go further – there’s an onus on yourself, in any situation, to do what needs doing. If you’re feeling abandoned or awkward and want to stop being those things, there is a brute force way to start conversations and engage with strangers. Not being introduced shouldn’t be your excuse.

But if you are a host, or you’re bringing a friend around a bunch of strangers, or if you’re just attending a party and see someone feeling left out, you can always push that elevator button and make someone’s life infinitely easier. You probably know way more than the doe-eyed newbie to the group, and it means they have little scraps to work with when they’re working the room~.

Last month I went to a party, and I was three degrees of Kevin Bacon away from knowing the people in attendance. I won’t deny it sucked. I let it suck more, sure, by not plowing through the dense anxious social goop and just jumping into a circle of these chatting aikido practitioners. Yet that’s a whole lot harder when you don’t know who anyone is, why they’re there, what anyone’s like… and they also don’t know who you are, what you’re about, why you’re there. The handful of conversations I tried didn’t get too far, but they could’ve been a lot smoother if at any point after we arrived at the party someone had said, “Hey, someone I do know, have you met someone you don’t know? She likes chicken wings, bond about that.” If that had happened even a single time, it would’ve crossed that bridge of humanity and allowed for a sense of welcoming and community.

When I’m a host or a party attendee or that friend, I try very hard to spare people the anxiety and discomfort of being a permanent outsider. If you, reader, ever happen to see me fail to do that, call me out on it and quick – because leaving someone hanging is the WOOOOOoorst.

To those who might say introductions show a lack of confidence that someone can fend for themselves, or they’ll lead to babysitting another person for the whole get-together, think about it like this: if you could have someone hold the elevator for you, or have them let the doors shut and detonate a bomb in the chute so you can’t take the elevator for the next three hours, which would you choose?

What an introduction shows people is that they’re cared for, that they’re included and not so very different from anyone else in the world. After all, we all know we like chicken wings but it’s harder to share that info when you’re faced with a bunch of nameless faces who are wondering why the heck you’re attending this party.

TL;DR: We all like chicken wings, we all like catching elevators, and we’re all unsure about mixed metaphors.

Thoughts, anyone? Do you believe it’s best to let everyone mingle at their own pace? Comment below!

Eat, Pray, Love or Tweet, Pin, Like?

I have social media stress. I have a lot of it, and I have it often, and I don’t always address it.

99% of that stress comes from some variation of: What will ________ think of me if _______?

What will my ex think of me if a bad photo is tagged of me?

What will my high school classmates think of me if it looks like I’m not succeeding enough in college?

What will my family think of me if they see a picture of my tattoo by accident?

What will my friends think of me if I don’t interact enough on Facebook? Or if I don’t show enough proof of socializing as much as a Normal Human Being does.

What if I don’t get enough likes on Facebook/Instagram/(at one time)Twitter/Tumblr and to a certain extent, anywhere?

What if I offend someone somewhere somehow?

What if I look dumb and someone in the world is screencapping and laughing at me?

What if I’m receiving pity likes?

What if I’m wasting life caring about things like Facebook and Instagram which in many ways exhaust me with the work and anxiety and competition and self-doubt? If I spend just one less second on there isn’t it a second better spent living?

The issues I have with social media are widespread. I cut Twitter out of my life 5+ years ago and haven’t gone back, but someday my career might require I reacquaint myself. (I’m not particularly looking forward to that day, as Twitter feels like a rat race except one that’s online and updates constantly.) For someone who does struggle with depression, is anxious, is introverted (which isn’t an issue, but does create issues for me), and can be pretty sensitive in perceiving rejection, using social media has regularly turned my days bad or turned my bad days worse. As soon as I open a tab and automatically type ‘f’ I can guarantee my mental state is likely going to take a downturn and I’m about to get really damn hard on myself.

I’ve yet to understand where my priorities lie. If someone shuts down their Facebook and the rest of it, are they shutting down certain relationships and modes of communication and social structures? Overall I do often want to keep myself off of Facebook, Instagram, sometimes Snapchat and Tumblr and even WordPress for as long as I can, and the result of times when I’ve sworn off of them (or just turned off cellular data, for christ’s sake) has always been positive. That being said, there are some friendships and conversations and connections I would never have made or retained if it weren’t for these sites/apps.

More than once I’ve basically thought to myself, “If someone isn’t on Facebook, it’s like they don’t exist.” People forget about them, and their life path isn’t presented for public consumption, and they don’t know what’s going on in the world of Zuckerberg or what hashtags have been trending lately. But people who don’t use Facebook do exist, and some of them are very happy, sociable, confident, healthy people with different ways to sustain relationships.

It’s funny because the people who are “rewarded” on Facebook are really those who are the most social of social beings, with hundreds or thousands of connections and friends and worshippers and followers. I mean social in the sense of meeting new people, and spending a lot – I mean a lot – of time around people. I know I’m not that, and I’m okay with that. I don’t want to be that. Yet the gap still exists between my knowledge of myself and my expectations towards my online self.

I guess I still don’t know where I stand, but it’s good to reflect on my habits and their effects on me. I don’t talk about mental health or social media all the time, but I have an infinite supply of thoughts (and concerns) about both that could use some exploring.

If you have a chance to comment, let me know what your relationships with Facebook and Instagram and the like are. Are there ways you manage your social media use to protect yourself from anxiety or negative experiences?

Ghosts of Depression Past

So despite having hit one or two “ruts” this summer, I would say I’ve been for the most part good. I’ve been seeing my therapist, I’ve been keeping habits that benefit my mental wellness, I’ve been feeling alright (but for the typical ups and downs of life). Today, this month, I wouldn’t call myself depressed.

That being said, I’d like to talk about the concerns that depression leaves with you like splinters, like little unhelpful reminders that your mental health isn’t as sturdy as you think at any given moment. I’m gonna call it Depression here, because sometimes that’s what my mind calls it (especially when it feels like a big bad, which I try not to let happen). I have a feeling anyone reading this who has been depressed or had “mental health stuff” (as I like to call it) will recognize these worries, and I think there’s big power in giving them a name and seeing you’re not alone in these fears.

Mind you, these thoughts can happen when you’re any sort of depressed. I just think it’s interesting and annoying that whenever it pleases, the brain likes to go, “Hey I know you’re feeling good, but this kind of stuff maybe means you’re actually feeling shitty.”

Here are my top ten sometimes irrational, always unhelpful Depression thoughts:

1) The fear of not having food in your apartment/house/room/vicinity because you might wake up without the energy/will to go shopping and then you’ll miss meals, which to you is a sign of Depression.

2) The anxiety that comes on days when you haven’t left the house or haven’t done it as early as planned.

3) The anxiety that comes when you’ve slept more than you should have, or when you’ve slept less than you should have, or when you’ve gone to sleep too late, or when there’s a slight possibility you’ll have trouble sleeping, or when you’ve slept well and worry you may not sleep that well again for weeks.

4) The anxiety when family and friends and acquaintances ask what you’ve done today/this week/this semester and you’re afraid your answer will make them or you believe you’re majorly Depressed again.

5) The anxiety that comes when you explain what influenced your choice to skip a lecture, or skip an event, or not make a plan, or take a semester out from school.

6) The pang of guilt and worry and anxiety (and warm, loving gratitude too) that comes when friends and family ask “How are you?” and “How are you feeling?” purely because they care and are looking out. Or sometimes it’s because that person knows what it’s like to have “mental health stuff,” too.

7) The anxiety about loved ones and their lives that feeds into your mental health stuff and sometimes takes too much out of you.

8) The anxiety during emotional lows, or apathetic moments, or sleepless moments, or any moment really about being on or off medication and treatment. Am I too dependent? Am I feeling too much? Am I feeling too little? Do I need more or less or no medication? Do I stop talking to my therapist? What happens if I stop these things? Is it a burden to start or stop these things?

9) Social worries, guilt, preoccupations. Am I interacting enough? Am I a bore to be around? Am I too irritable? Am I a downer? Am I too serious? Am I interested enough? Am I interesting enough? Am I expressing that I’m engaged? Am I faking it?

And, finally, possibly my favorite worry that exists almost entirely to get in my way…

10) The worries about concentration which lead to further troubles with concentration. I haven’t finished reading this chapter in a half hour, why? When was the last time I finished reading something quickly and retained it? [Insert endless cycle of worrying about concentration and consequently losing concentration, usually only interrupted by change of task or meditation].

So. I love my brain, even though half the time it can be a little SOB.

Honestly, this post felt really good to type. I hope it didn’t make anyone worry, and I hope it made at least one person smile. These worries and thoughts are better tackled in bite-sized pieces in my experience, but when I’m feeling them all at once it helps to focus on positives, solidify a routine full of things that make me feel good, and remind myself I’m a work in progress.

If you enjoyed this, let me know! Have a good one.

Why I Should Write a Blog

I am in my hometown for the summer before my final year of undergraduate and up until a week ago, I was in an emotional rut – I do not have a car, I do not have a job, I do not have as many friends as other people (or so I think), and I do not have the rest of my life planned out. So after a weekend – a three-day holiday weekend no less – spent with teary spells nipping at my heels, I put a name to that “rut” and set goals.

  1. Write every day, you twat, you enjoy it;
  2. Try walking? It’s good for your mind, body, and soul;
  3. Go to counseling.

This past week, in my first session speaking with my therapist since 2013, she asked me what my “shoulds” are.

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