Mental Health

A Home Is Different From A House

The past three days at CCY have been a bit of a mess. I have had a break down every day since Wednesday, and for one very good reason: I had to go home to my sisters. So not only was I crying out of exhaustion and the need to go home, because if you think this was an easy going camp, then you’d be wrong, but I also had to deal with the thought of what exactly be going home too.

Let’s be honest. My home life? Not stellar. My little sisters make my life a living hell, every second of every day. They call me worthless, disgusting, fat, and all these other horrible words. They tell me to go kill myself and scream when my shirt rides up a little because I’m that repulsive to them. They do everything they can to make my life a living hell, including using my birth name and purposefully mis-gendering me every time they can. I literally cannot walk downstairs without being told that no one wants me there and that I’m a selfish brat.

It freaking sucks.

And so this week, I’ve had to come to terms with the thought of what home really was. In one of my classes, I had to anonymously write a fear, because facing it is the easiest way to get over it. I admitted that I was afraid of my sisters and that I’ll never know what home is. I was not ready to admit this, I think. Since that day on Tuesday, I’ve been a complete wreck. I’ve been crying every day, I’ve been anxious, I’ve been scared. I’m way too exhausted to want to stay at camp. But I’m so afraid of my sisters that I don’t want to go home.

I want to go someplace that is emotionally safe and nurturing, someplace I can relax and be myself without getting yelled at for it. I want to go somewhere I can be happy and recharged and…. and it’s really, really upsetting and extremely depressing that I don’t actually have a place like that. I don’t even have a person who can make me feel safe and who can be strong for me so I don’t have to be, for once.

And this probably seems like I’m using my blog as a therapy session, but I swear I have a point. I don’t seem to have a home right now. I’ve got a house, and food, and a good life, sure. Just not a home. Not with my sisters here. And you may be in the same boat as me. You may not have someplace emotionally, or even physically, safe. I can tell you right now, that I understand. That’s why I am writing this. So you know that someone out there gets it. So that you know that someone out there is in the same boat, and so that maybe we can find a home in each other.

Mental Health · writing

CCY Update: Day One

Today was move in day for my super cool writing program, called the Center for Creative Youth, or, CCY!! So far, I’ve met a few awesome individuals, learned that fancy art camps on college campuses come with a few interesting quirks like centipedes and birth control if needed (sex is allowed?!? So is smoking apparently!), and already drained my social battery! Fun stuff! Tomorrow I start classes and I am genuinely excited for that, so WHOO!!

Going to this camp is a really big deal for me. Two years ago, I was bouncing in and out of the mental hospital. Staying away from home was impossible with my sensory and emotional needs being too great. Now here I am, ready to leave the safe haven of my familiar home and head into the world. It’s a big deal.

Its exciting, but also nerve wracking.¬†What if I can’t handle it emotionally? What if my bug phobia gets too severe in this centipede infested, crazy buggy camp? What if my sensory problems or energy problems or even writers block makes this camp impossible for me to remain at, and I need to take a break at home, or worse, come home permanently? I think I’d hate myself for the rest of time if I had to do that.

But I think the important thing for me, and for any other person leaving home for the first time, is to remember the good things about the new place, rather than focus on my fears. Yes, there might be no air conditioning and yes, there might be serious drains on my social battery. But there is also writing and excitement and independence! And I’ve got the support of my family and therapists behind me, who all think that I can do this.

Leaving home may be scary. Trying new things and new places may seem impossible and terrifying, and maybe you can’t do it right now. But someday you will be able to. Someday, the good things about the place will outweigh your fears. It’s not impossible. Nothing is impossible. I can do this.

Just, maybe after a good nights sleep first.

Gender · Mental Health

Thank You, Anxiety. For Real This Time.

I have a very hard time talking about my issues, especially when it comes to gender. I have been by people close to me and my own family that I cannot be anything but a girl, that I cannot change my name, that I can’t be nonbinary. Hearing those things, especially when it’s constant and from people who matter to you, is really difficult. And although I have left some of those people, and my parents are accepting of my gender, I still can’t escape it from my some. Most importantly, I can’t escape the horrible thought my mind clings to that my lack of a gender is just a lie I tell to get attention, and the feeling that I am not allowed to talk about it because I have been trained through experience to know that if I do, I will be shamed for it.

But now, I am going to a group designed especially for those who are trans. In less than an hour, I am going to be sitting with other people like me, who want to hear my experiences and want to help me. This should be something to be excited about, right? I should feel excited!

But all I feel is anxiety. Horrible, gut wrenching anxiety. Because I am afraid to talk about this. I’m afraid that they will laugh and say I am not “trans enough” because I am nonbinary, or that they will say agender isn’t real. I’m afraid I will go there and hear the same things I have heard for the past three years since I came out. Because of this fear, I’m hiding in my room, typing this under a pile of weighted blankets. I don’t want to go.

But I am.

Because I know my anxiety is a liar. I know that this group will be full of accepting, caring, loving individuals who will respect my pronouns, love my name, listen to my story, and will help reassure me that I’m valid. I know I will hear their stories, and that I will be able to help them too, by being an accepting, caring, and loving individual for them. I know that they will be able to understand, and they will help me understand myself.

And I’ve realized, huddling beneath approximately 30 pounds of weight, that my anxiety just gives me an advantage. I know that the people in this group have likely heard the same exact things I have heard. I know they may have internalized it to. So knowing my anxiety, knowing what I fear, I can now know what to say and how to respond in the way that will help the other members. Because of my fears, I know what I need, and so I can provide it for them.

So yes, anxiety sucks. Yes, I’m still going to be a wreck of worry walking into that building, and yes, I’m still going to be worried about the same things I’m worried about right now. Yes, that all sucks. I’m not saying it doesn’t.

But I know how to fix it. I know how to fix it for others, and if I do that, then they can do it for me. So thank you anxiety, for giving me the tools to support others. I’ll appreciate it once I get there.


Mental Health

Celebrating the Little Victories

People might tell you that you need to find the good things in your life, that you have to tell yourself three things you like about yourself every night in the mirror. Which is bull crap. The people who say that might come from a nice place, but that advice is as useful as me when I’m depressed. Because when I’m depressed, how can I think of the good things when I don’t even care about going to an amusement park? When I’m hating my body, how can I look in the mirror and tell myself I’m beautiful? It doesn’t work like that. So I will be the first to call it: Bull. Crap.

But that does NOT mean to give up!!!! Just because you can’t think of the good things, doesn’t mean you must wallow in never ending despair. You just have to look for the good things another way.

So read the title. Now read it again. Celebrating the little things. The one, sole thing that might bring you some joy. Celebrate everything, no matter how silly or dumb you may think it is. Celebrate getting dressed. Celebrate brushing your hair. Celebrate a five minute phone call with your mother. Celebrate eating a stick of celery, even if that was the only thing you ate that day.

Celebrate writing fifty words, even if you deleted two hundred. Celebrate jogging up the hill on your way back home. Celebrate asking your teacher that one question, celebrate reading a page of your homework, celebrate taking your medication. Celebrate sleeping 8 hours and celebrate sitting outside for five minutes.

Make a blog and post about every little thing you did for yourself, every little victory. Fill a journal with all the amazing things you have done. Find a friend who will cheer you on when you tell them that you did a batch of laundry. Make it official. Make sure everyone knows that you survived today, and you are proud of it.

Because I’m going to let you in on a secret: Those things, those little things that people who aren’t in your situation might think are silly, those things that you struggle with? They are good things. If someone asked you what was your good thing of the day and you answer with “I took a deep breath,” then that is a perfectly wonderful answer to give. Taking care of yourself is a good thing. You are a good thing.

So yea, maybe you don’t care about anything but going to bed again, and maybe you hate everything about your appearance. But you got out of bed, you made yourself a cup of tea, and you made a microwave dinner. And I can’t think of a single thing that deserves to be celebrated more than that.