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Tag: mental health

Scared

I am fucking terrified. 

This week has done a number on me emotionally, psychologically, and physically. I’m so tired of thinking about it that I barely want to talk about it. But it’s the background radiation of my life and I am having FEELINGS right now and it’s frustrating because it feels so isolating. 

Reynaud’s apparently flares with stress so I’ve been freezing and while I have done zero strenuous activities all week, my body feels like I’ve been fighting bears and climbing mountains. 

I feel awkward and sheepish for being (what I imagine is perceived as) alarmist when I look at everything that’s happened this week and tell people it’s only going to get worse from here so we need to start preparing. Not awkward enough not to say it because the worst part about it is I know I’m right. I’ve read history. I grew up on Pence’s side of the aisle, I know how to read the writing on the wall, I can hear the dogwhistles in their approaches. I know what to look for and I know where they want to end up. I can’t know the future, but I sure as hell know the direction we’re going right now. 

And I am fucking terrified. I haven’t been able to bring myself to admit it out loud but I am scared. My body has not stopped being tense for a week, I find myself holding my breath and not realizing it. 

I’ve thrown myself into campus organizing. I worry a little bit that I seem like a conspiracy theorist but at the same time, IT’S ALL FUCKING HAPPENING. That’s what I hate about everything; and that more than anything is what gnaws at me in the night. 

I KNOW. I KNOW because I was there. I was trained to be part of the movement that made this happen. This feels personal to me in a way it is not personal for most people and I’m having a really hard time handling those feelings. I wasn’t important, I left before I got to play a role, but I was being groomed. I knew the rhetoric, and the strategy, and the hopes. When I left I hoped all that would stay behind too. Like somehow it would disappear because it left my conscious and surely the majority of America wouldn’t let that happen.

But it didn’t. They started winning. A lot. And now we’re here. 

And I’m scared.

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Disability

I started realizing that I need to come to terms with the physical effects of CPTSD throughout the last semester. I have to come to terms with my own disability.

And a lot of that starts by saying it out loud.

I really don’t want to.

I don’t want to admit that I am not able.

But my dudes.

I missed my last day of shop class because of pain I’ve had in my shoulder off and on for the last 4 years (after taking off the entire week before because I was so overwhelmed that everything was being triggered and I was not in a safe headspace to machine). On Tuesday I couldn’t tie my shoes without wincing let alone use a vertical mill to drill some holes in a block.

I am disabled.

My CPTSD isn’t a fun fact, it is a disability and it impacts me physically just as much as it does psychologically and mentally. That combined with my recently identified extreme likelihood of AD/HD has made getting through this last semester of school extremely difficult.

But I did it.

I made it through and I got help at school and from friends. I now have all of the accommodations and I’m seeing a psychiatrist next week to talk about how to treat learning disabilities. I’m starting Physical Therapy for my shoulder in June, because the intermittent massages I’ve been getting, while helpful, aren’t enough to get rid of Sir Knotsalot.

I’m trying hard not to overburden myself next semester and taking most classes later in the day (save Jazz, which is a morning class, but also it’s dance, so) when my brain is more able to focus.

I don’t have a point to end this on, I’m still trying to hold all of these pieces and deal with the limits of a body that’s held more stress than it deserves. It’s a feel, lemme tell you.

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School and C-PTSD

When I started this semester I knew that C/PTSD was something that counted as a disability that I could get help for on campus. I didn’t (still don’t) know exactly what the Disability Services Dept. could do to help, but I was going into specifically a non-emotional-labor intensive program in hopes to avoid the obvious minefields. So I figured I’d be fiiiiine.

 

 

ahahahahahahahahahahaha

 

 

 

no

 

 

 

 

So the last post I wrote was read by a bunch of Laney staff because they saw my proposal flyers to get students thinking about the future of Laney instead of its destruction. A lot of the people on the list were really nervous about it so I chimed in to de-escalate and clarify my intentions. Out of nowhere this one person who works in the library (the coalition on campus is run largely by library staff, apparently) reignited it by being needlessly aggressive, hostile, and dehumanizing towards me because of my trans-ness.

The library technician interrogated my intentions, barely veiling the ask “who put you up to this?” because apparently having a different opinion than some of the opaque players at school is some kind of crime, and once he realized I was trans (by everyone calling me he), decided to actively misgender and dehumanize me by calling me a “he/she”. After I corrected my pronouns, he sent out another email identifying me as her. This is gender violence that I’m pretty sure violates Laney’s non-discrimination policy, however, there is no Title IX person to report this man to. He said this on an email where all of his bosses saw it as well, so I assume that the head librarians are fine with this, as no one has indicated otherwise to me.

So I’m in a position right now, where because of a minor disagreement with some of the Laney faculty and the needlessly violent reaction from one of their staff, the one place with a “safe space” symbol on campus is a place I do not feel safe.

I skipped school last week because after hours of being patronized to like a child who was incapable of having their own thoughts outside of group-think, culminating in being dehumanized and banned from the email group for politely clarifying my stance which was apparently too far opposite The Coalition, I was so disassociated I barely knew where my body was in space.

My crime, AGAIN, was that I had a different way of organizing and posted a flyer that in no way mentioned the coalition at Laney. The only thing I did was take responsibility so people working at Laney didn’t waste energy being worried about something they didn’t need to worry about.

If you’ve been reading here long you probably have an idea of the mines that exploded when that went down because this last week has emotionally mirrored my childhood church experience in more ways than I want to acknowledge and I have had debilitating back pain since Monday because that is how CPTSD works.

My therapist is out of town this week so all of this is living in my body right now and I’m trying to process everything and get the anxiety out of my back so I can exist without being in total agony again. It’s hard to physically write shit on paper when my right shoulder is too tense to move. So everything is about to be dumped here, proceed with caution.


School is like church, and churches are basically loose cults. I’ve spent so much time in cults and cult like environments. I didn’t anticipate school being so churchlike and authoritarian. After being admonished and patronized to for hours over email, I was given a chance to redeem myself (while being cautioned to take heed[of???]) which was probably meant with good intentions but because of my past experience with loaded language, really just made the following trauma spiral that much worse.

Take Heed and Redeem Yourself are two VERY SPECIFIC phrases that go to very specific places in my brain and definitely contributed to the two-day spiral where I was so out of my body I could barely function.

There’s no way for people to know these things. I don’t fault them. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have a world of fallout to deal with internally because people decide injecting cultish christianity into their day to day with other people is fine and dandy.

Religious Trauma is A Thing and I have it mixed in with CPTSD and depression.

I’ve been going between depression/despair and anger at all of it.

It’s been hard to acknowledge and accept the various tolls that CPTSD takes on me in relation to being in school. Like, being too disassociated to function and therefore not in a good place to be machining or welding, or being in too much physical pain to move (because stress decided to manifest itself into a knot in my shoulder) and unable to focus enough to even attend class.

These are the things that kept me home half of the last two weeks. I sometimes feel ridiculous or petty for seemingly innocuous things taking so much out of me. But I can’t help that. I can’t help that when someone tells me I should do something to redeem myself I get sent back straight into my childhood where everything was life or death, where I had been kicked out of communities for minor disagreements. I can’t stop my brain from making those connections. I can’t will my past to not exist and to not excruciatingly impact my present and future. I can only roll with it and hope I come out better on the other side.

I didn’t expect school to hit so much of it though.


The other thing I’m coming to grips with is the feelings of being on campus now, after that one person from the library just started attacking my character and dehumanizing me out of nowhere. I don’t feel safe going to the library, even though probably I wouldn’t be hurt – something about knowing that there are library staff who don’t see me as human because we had a minor disagreement and they know I’m trans, just terrifies me and makes me not want to be anywhere near where they could be.

I never really understood what it was like, to have this social problem in this setting. Like, it seems impractical to not go to the campus library for two years. But my lizard brain just screams danger loudly when I’m on campus now and it’s a lot. I feel powerless, even though I know I’m not. There’s just so much that feels familiar that I know isn’t, but convincing myself that school is different from church after being beaten over the head with authoritarian organizers makes it a lot harder.

I have a lot more nuanced thoughts on a lot of things and keep going back and forth between writing about the stadium more and having literally no spoons and wanting nothing to do with it because fuck everything.

I guess I could have been less harsh about the coalition’s points needing work – maybe couched it more – but I stand by my points. There are legitimate reasons to oppose the stadium, a lot of the things listed are not any of them. I think whatever happens needs a lot of care and nuance in the implementation.

I think what I really want to do is write about how loaded the word gentrification is and why it’s really bad at describing what problems are, and makes solving it that much harder.

Simultaneously, I just want to crawl into a hole forever.


I got my schedule for the next semester and I’m coming to grips with having less free time than I do now. A lot of that is accepting that this means I won’t be able to do any activism work for a semester and that I can’t use it as a tether to outside reality anymore and it’s terrifying.

I think there’s a part of me that’s worried that the little place I carved for myself in organizing where I make magic happen won’t be there when I get back? Writing this out though, I’m fairly certain that’s not how it works nor is likely to go down.

My life has a lot of overlap – my social/hobby/organizing lives are almost a circle which is super convenient. Everyone is generally in one or two (mental) places so I can keep track of things easily. This is the first time I’ve had like a real set of meatspace friends that I do things with on a regular basis. It didn’t…occur to me that I could have more than like, one set.

Because why would it? I’ve never been here before. This is the part where the inherent isolatory nature of my homeschooling experience comes to bite me. It didn’t really occur to me that I didn’t have to choose. Like, all my not-school friends and family won’t suddenly disappear if I get sucked into school for a while…it’s not like getting kicked out of church and people stop talking to you.

So I don’t really have to be worried that I will lose access everyone I care about if I allow myself to be entirely consumed by school…which has sort of been an anxiety I’ve had and haven’t wanted to admit to.

 

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Imaginary Numbers

School has stepped on a lot more things than I thought it would. Depression has been really strong this week, things build. There’s a really steep social learning curve I wasn’t prepared for. I don’t know how school settings work – I didn’t know how to pass things forwards and backwards until the first week of class, last week I learned how lockers work, this week I learned how to get up to speed after being out of class due to injury. All these things most people have navigated by now are totally new to me.

Math itself takes up a lot of trauma space in my brain. The math for the trades program I’m in is really helpful because it’s directly adjacent to the math I’m doing in all my other classes, but it’s super similar to my high school math books. Thursday it almost directly mirrored the math book that got thrown at my face, which sent me into a spiral for about 15 minutes in the classroom while I just started at my book in horror. The wind was knocked out of me for a minute, and I just had to sit and wait for the wave of feels to pass before depression and anger got loud again.

I have to keep reminding myself that when teachers try to get you to be an independent learner and collaborate with your classmates they don’t mean that you can’t ask them for help or resources. This is a really difficult nuance for me to understand. I still interpret school as something with no leeway. Like: if you miss something, you’re fucked because you should have come or whatever. With no room to make up for things. Which I know isn’t how it works, but I’ve never seen how it does work.

My education was  “If I miss it, I’m fucked” because I had no support at all. I was the only student and teacher of my class.  I’m trying to navigate college with the bulk of my educational experience being isolated and solitary. I’ve never had classmates to help me, I don’t know how to study in a group, I don’t know how to learn socially.

I learned on my bedroom floor, alone, with no one to see me struggle. I’ve never been in a learning environment where like…..I’ve inevitably had to show people I don’t know stuff (none of us do). Learning things is really vulnerable, and doing it in front of other people on a whiteboard sometimes is a lot. It’s a hard thing for people generally, but most of have at least been in a classroom like that before.

Giving a presentation on a whiteboard to a group of 20 on something I’m prepared for feels completely different than trying to correctly place a dimension line in front of 20 people who are also trying to learn dimension lines.

It’s a different level of vulnerability I guess, and I’m not used to it. I choose to be vulnerable a lot, whenever I write, when I choose to talk to people about trauma. I have a lot of practice being vulnerable in this way, so it becomes a strength. Feeling vulnerable in relation to school is significantly less familiar. But seeing it on paper, it’s not that different. In the same way I choose to be vulnerable when I write (like this), I’m still going to class every day, I’m making that same choice to be vulnerable, the feeling just lives in a different place in my brain in this context.


This week we have wrapped up most of our lectures and are getting into the lab. I was supposed to weld on Wednesday but was getting x-rayed from dislocating my elbow on Labor Day instead. We’ve split into three groups in Machine Shop: Drill Press, Tool Grinding, and Precision Measuring.

Getting things to be within .0001″ fucking terrifies me, I don’t know that I am capable of that at all, so I decided to do the Precision Measuring part first because I think that will make working on the machines and making shit a lot easier. At the very least, I’ll be way more confident in my measuring ability. I am not extremely confident in my abilities to be a perfectionist; but then again, I guess that’s literally why tolerances exist so maybe I won’t suck.

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Mountains

At 4pm I have the Compass math test at Laney. In the morning I need to drop off all of my income documentation from the last 2 years, my divorce decree, and an exception petition form because FAFSA awards aid by 2015 taxes, as if nothing major ever changes in the span of one year. After that I hightail it into SF for an advice session about freelancing, and then home, test, Machine Tech open house.

I went in on Monday to schedule the test assuming the closest would be a week out, but no. So I spent Tuesday getting my head back in math and working through quizzes on Khan academy and unearthing a massive pile of worms in the process.

I was working through rounding and got really fight or flighty, and then got to writing out what the greatest common factor looks like if you distribute it and at that point somewhere a mine exploded. Suddenly the entire time I’m spending trying to work through math problems I am also fighting a hugely intense battle that sounds a lot like:

Why are you even doing this? It’s not worth it, you’re not worth it

And I know those are lies so I press through, but they get louder. I manage to practice math for several hours before it gets too noisy, and make enough progress that I start passing tests because I remember how the process works again. And then imposter syndrome hits some more.

I spent half of today studying and half of it coming out of trauma space from trying to study. I feel like I climbed a mountain and took on two bears….for passing some basic pre-algebra quizzes.

I’ve gotten faster at realizing when I’m in that space where I live in my trauma instead of…not inside it. It still took me about an hour to go from realizing I needed to take a shower and go for a walk to get my head out of this space and reorient myself to actually doing so, but it only took me 4 hours of depression instead of two days.

I can identify my own tells now:

  • I feel like my shackles are raised and everything is personal
  • I feel like I’m about to lash out at any point and like I need to isolate myself
  • I get quiet and distant
  • There is an undercurrent of rage when I start talking about what’s bothering me (which means I’m obviously on to whatever it is that’s being stepped on)

When I suddenly feel like fight or flight out of the blue, it’s generally because something close enough to be associated in my brain happened that stepped on a trigger and some explosions went off.

I recently watched this anime called Mind Game; there’s a portion that depicts my brain when it’s triggered so perfectly: endless loops of the situation that happened, loud and inescapable. It weirdly helped me identify that the repetition of just…..the B roll of every time I was ridiculed for trying to do math as a kid, was coming from that place, not my current reality.

So I went out for a walk and explored a park on top of a parking deck, sorted out some thoughts, and felt much more grounded. I still feel like I just took on an army and I’m trying not to feel…like that’s uncalled for, because “it was only math”. It’s just that math….has a history, but I think I’ll be okay. 

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Things I learned in therapy

My therapist guesses that starting T will help with my hormone induced dysphoria too (just need insurance again).

We opened up the jar of trauma that is my relationship with my body when I’m bleeding and realized I’ve never healed from that. Surprising no one, I know. But I realized that the terror that I feel as soon as fluctuations occur stem from the first time and thinking I was going to die and being unprepared while my mom called everyone in the phone book and I was hurt and scared and confused. In addition that, the voices in my head that push me to never rest stem from trying to survive my childhood and be one step ahead of my mom so she wouldn’t get set off. Jerk brain is just trying to keep me safe and help me survive the environment it’s known the longest, and logic isn’t going to convince it that it’s safe.

So we did this exercise where I found that part of me and told myself it’s okay, no one is allowed to yell at us, no one can hurt us anymore, I’ve got this. And something clicked. And I found out how much that moment hurt me, while I was bleeding and alone and I just kinda hugged the little versions of me that were coming out and terrified and have been scared this whole time.

Jerk brain has been so much quieter since Thursday.

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Daily Selfcare list

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1) get dressed in day clothes that make you feel good, even if it’s just for a little while.

2) work out for 5 minutes to get your blood moving and to notice your body and feel it.

3) brush your hair if you don’t like how it feels or looks. put the dragonfly clips in, or wear the squid hat for a few minutes. 

4) breathe before bed (1..2..3…1..2..3)

5) drink water.

Because sometimes I forget basic things and I feel awful.

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Adventures in Minimalism

We’re sort of slowly getting ready to move across the country in the spring, and so I’ve been trying to get rid of things – extra clothes, furniture, etc, that I’m not using/don’t need…nothing weird (except for maybe having been planning this move all year). I’ve been thinking about how nice it feels to have less random stuff, and so I may try to experiment with minimalism leading up to, and following The Great Moving Adventure. I did some reading (a few hours last night, nothing extensive by any means) and while everyone I read gave lipservice to minimalism looking differently for everyone, they all seemed to make a point to…..degrade keeping things for entertainment.

KieryGeek aside, this bothers me and isn’t something that would benefit me in my own minimalist excursion (depress, on the other hand…). While I’d like to live with less, and the idea of being minimalist appeals to me in a fight-the-machine-kind-of-way, I’m not going to give up my gaming consoles, my tv, or netflix because some random dudes on the internet say “it’s better” and that tv/gaming/entertainment-that-isn’t-reading-or-music is a waste of time (which, I thoroughly disagree with, for lots of reasons).

So, I’m gonna experiment with something I’m dubbing “keep-only-the-shit-that-you-like-ism!”. Which is still living with less, keeping only the things you need and enjoy, but basically, not eschewing the value of entertainment. I think any time anyone says “Stop gaming, it’s a waste of your time/life” I get angry and triggered. 😛

Anyway, aside from the STFU-gaming-is-good tangent, I think for me it will largely look like pack up whatever I can fit in my minicooper, getting rid of the rest, and hitting ikea for desks and a couch. 😉

As a personal quest, I’m going to only keep like 6 place (for the rare time the two of us have breakfast) settings so I have less dishes to wash on the chance that we get an apartment sans a dishwasher like our current place. I’ll probably do another run-through of my wardrobe, decide how badly I want to keep the ornaments that have pictures of baby kiery (which won’t ever make it on a tree, because no), and figure out how to travel-ize my jewelry collection (probably will throw it all in my makeup box. shhhh).

Anyway, the glorious part of keep-only-the-shit-that-you-like-ism, is that it’s about not having stuff you don’t like, but also not making a huge (anti-entertainment…) religion out of it either.

Okay, maybe those articles triggered me more than I thought they did.


In other news, I’m taking a mental health break. Right now that looks like muting a lot of twitter and playing a lot of minecraft and throwing personal comic schedules and completion to the wind while I try to catch my breath and chill. I feel like my brain needs a hard reset involving not noticing the world is going to shit and falling to pieces every 10 minutes. I may or may not update here with more thoughts or progress on minimalism, or anything deep, or anything at all. I don’t really know. Right now I’m just trying to give myself a break and figure out that I’m okay for existing and my validity isn’t dependent on anything else and it’s okay to not work myself ragged. Taking it one day at a time.

Today, I stayed in bed until I got hungry and needed coffee and then I basically only played minecraft. So, yeah. Don’t talk to me about wasting time on video games. Mental health is important too. 😛

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Reason

I’ve been triggering myself a little lately, getting introspective about life and the meaning. Nothing weird I guess, but in my dreams I found myself missing things I don’t actually miss, missing rituals and set answers – things I consciously don’t actually value.

I’m not particularly sentimental, and I don’t really care about tradition for tradition’s sake – in fact, I’ve found more freedom and healing in abandoning tradition as much as possible lately.

So, anyway, when I’ve been finding myself in these introspective loops – at least after outing myself as an agnostic, none of the pat answers that I used to have are there anymore (for good reason), but it’s like I’ve taken another step into the unknown and I don’t know why I exist again, or why I make things, or why I feel the way I do, I just know that I do, and the bit of fundamentalism that’s still clacking around in my brain jumps on it.

They were right all along, it says. You need religion to matter, it tells me. All these things I know are false – at least, for me – because religion (christianity specifically) is an unsafe place for me, and is the place I can trace back to when I want to find out why I feel worthless to start with.

I know it’s wrong, because I never found the answers I needed in religion – the pat answers and just don’t think about it too much cliches aren’t useful to me. So it’s weird when I suddenly find myself feeling depressed and reaching for those non-existent platitudes.

And it’s taken me all of this week to figure out what I’ve known all along.

I don’t need to have a reason for everything all the time. Unknowns are perfectly okay and legitimate. I don’t live in an environment anymore where I need to have an answer for everything.

And that’s gloriously freeing.

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