National Coming Out Day

It’s National Coming Out Day 20GayTeen, and I wanted to share something with you. 🙂

A few months ago, I had a written response assignment based on an article I read for school.  It was meant to be a personal response, and I thought, “What would be more personal for me than to respond to an article about LGBTQ people?”…so I chose Domenick Scudera’s “My Gay Lifestyle”.  It’s great; look it up if you’ve never heard of it.  I had to dig deep for things that I’ve buried over the years, and it wasn’t an easy write.  Surprisingly, I had a heartwarming response to this piece – by my instructor and by a few select people I sheepishly shared it with.  I knew I wanted to open it up to others at some point, because I know I’m not the only one who has lived this experience, but I’m always afraid of criticism and failure and I never felt like the time was ‘right’.

As this is my 2nd year of being fully out to the world as a queer, genderfluid, bisexual being, it feels like a great day to celebrate this piece that I am so proud of.

Before I confuse you, I left my citations intact because it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense without them. lol.

(Apologies to anyone I wrote about here.  If I included you, anonymously, you were a vital piece in my story so far – regardless of if that has been positive or negative.  Either way, I am grateful because it has lead me to the person I am and that is someone I am grateful to know ❤ )

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I knew I was in awe of women when, at 6 years old, I would look at my first-grade teacher and see sunbeams and rainbows radiate out of her face.  When she spoke, it was as if a heavenly choir had suddenly filled the room.  Everything she embodied caused my heart to flutter.  I’m sure if you had listened closely, you would have heard the soft batting of butterfly wings throughout my abdomen.  I had no idea that this feeling went beyond the notion of wanting to be like her when I grew up.  I had no idea that this feeling went beyond anything normal at all.

I knew I was different when, at 10 years old, I began to recognize that tween heart throb crushes showed up differently for my friends when it came to our favourite celebrities.  My girlfriends were all fawning over their imagined lives with Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Justin Timberlake, and Josh Hartnett, while I was swooning over Goran Visnjic and simultaneously going back again and again to the local cinema to see Titanic – and it wasn’t for Leonardo DiCaprio.  I was unknowingly “ruining the fabric of … society” (Scudera) as I tore at its seams with my unhindered thoughts, silently wishing for hand-in-hand sunset strolls along the beach with Geri Halliwell, Julianna Margulies, and Alex Kingston.  As a girl on the cusp of her impending womanhood, I chalked these feelings up to the excitement of finally reaching my destiny as one of these beautifully charming and effervescent women that I so admired.

I knew I was different when, at 18 years old, I found myself falling in love with my female best friend.  I was in a monogamous, heterosexual relationship at the time, and not having had much – if any – exposure to varying sexual identities, I also found myself very confused.   In the world I knew, you were either gay or you were straight, so where in bloody hell had I landed myself that I’d been caught somewhere between the two?!  The real world is black and white and very binary.  A person can’t be attracted to both men and women…can they?

I knew I was different when, at 20 years old, I met a girl in a bar and felt my head begin to spin (no, it wasn’t from the alcohol).  I was entranced and I couldn’t shake the feeling of wanting to be friends with her, while also wanting to be the object of her affection.  A battle began to rage internally.  If I hadn’t known any better, I would have sworn that on my right shoulder was a Catholic priest shrieking at me about my sin and the burning fires of hell, and on my left, the Devil incarnate himself, pulling me into this lifestyle by the skin of my teeth.  I chose to leave what I knew behind, follow Lucifer, and pursue these feelings because I knew I wouldn’t find the answers by gawking from afar.  Did this mean I was a * gasp * LESBIAN now?!  Short-lived.  I couldn’t seem to shake the cross of my Catholic upbringing or my internalized homophobia, and I allowed myself to be persuaded by a fabrication to leave her (and this lapse in judgement) behind.  The harsh reality of it was that a woman I had considered a close friend had sabotaged my budding relationship.  I was upset, and yet, relieved.  I struggled so intensely with whether I was right or wrong for feeling the way I did.  It became apparent to me just how wrong it must have been when others chose to resign their friendship cards because don’t people know that if a girl has feelings for another girl this means she likes EVERY. SINGLE. GIRL in the entire world?! Or that being friends with someone who is attracted to the same sex might facilitate “the transfer of [their] gayness” to others (Scudera)?!  I marched myself back into the closet and shut the door behind me.

I knew I was cognizant when, at 26 years old, I was introduced to Callie Torres in Grey’s Anatomy and for the first time I saw myself in the image of another.  It was the “A-HA!” moment I had been waiting for.   Here was this strong, accomplished, soft yet bold character who had found herself and proudly professed her love for not just men, but also women.  Sitting there, mouth agape and dumbfounded to have stumbled upon this openly bisexual character in the mainstream media, I thought back to all of the nights I’d spent screaming into the sky trying to rid myself of these feelings, and I found myself asking, “but why would you want to?” That familiar electrified galloping in my chest returned.  No, you cannot “pray away the gay” (Grey’s Anatomy), no matter how hard you try – and believe me, I’ve tried.

I knew I was transforming when, at 28 years old, I’d wanted so badly to announce my solidified bisexuality to my very Conservative, very Catholic family as we watched Ireland legalize the abomination that is gay marriage.  I wanted to turn their angry red faces into faces red with embarrassment as I shouted, “HELLO!  AM I SUCH AN UNNATURAL ABOMINATION? I AM BISEXUAL YOU KNOW. I’VE KISSED GIRLS!!!”.  Instead, I sat there mute with my own cheeks flushing from frustration.  I began to plot all of the ways that I was going to support others like myself, and how I could use my voice to spread love and tolerance in the face of hatred and ignorance such as this. HA! THAT’LL SHOW ‘EM!

I knew I’d found peace when, at 29 years old, I opened the closet doors and stepped out into the world as my full, authentic self.  I’d reconciled that this isn’t something I can change, nor would I wish to.  I’ve been bullied.  I’ve been made a mockery of.  I’ve been invalidated.  I’ve been excluded and judged and abandoned, solely based on who my heart has chosen to love in this life.  I realized that the only permission and validation I’d needed all along was from myself.  I forgave myself for carrying such hatred and disgust towards my heart, my mind, and my soul.  No, my sexuality was never a conscious choice I made; it has been a part of who I am for as long as I can remember.  The only choice I’ve made has been allowing myself to be seen.  In doing so, my thorns have softened and I have learned deeper compassion and understanding.  I have been gifted with patience and empathy towards others and myself.  I have increased the love I choose to put out into the Universe, and in turn, the love I receive.  Because of this, I can confidently say that if I was ever given the choice to press rewind and start fresh – I would choose to live it all over again.

 

Lust For Life

Proclaiming to love yourself in this world is seen as brave, as courageous, as rebellious.

In a world that profits from your self-loathing, saying a big ‘Fuck You!’ to the people that perpetuate this hatred within you is seen as incredible…and I find that so disturbing.

I am not brave or courageous for loving myself.
I am not defying the odds, or society.
It is not heroic to love the flesh that you inhabit; it’s human.

Just tonight as I was waiting in line with my groceries, I glanced over and saw a reader’s digest style magazine, and every single cover line was about women shedding 2 pounds, 4 pounds, 10 pounds QUICK!  I literally flipped it the bird, and I know it was a superfluous act, but it felt SO. DAMN. GOOD.

1 year ago, I would never have seen it that way.
1 year ago, I would have snuck that trash onto the belt hidden amongst the rest of my purchases.
1 year ago, I would have felt immense shame within myself seeing those bold-font reminders that I am taking up too much space in this world.

Today is a different story.
Not every day is easy but – this day, this hour, this minute, this precious fucking second, I can stand exposed in front of glass coated with metal amalgam and admire what is reflected back at me.

I can gaze at it with soft eyes that carry love instead of hated.
I can caress each curve, each line, each bit of abundance with compassion and pride.
I can move and twirl and bounce, and watch with joy and childlike whimsy.

It has taken me so long to stand here today.  I am tired – literally fatigued – at the notion of having to wake up every day and despise this shell that affords me so much on this Earth.  I simply refuse to do it any longer.

To love yourself allows your mind to truly be free.
To be free of invasive thoughts that steal the light of day.
To be free to see the stars that twinkle against the velvet night sky.
To be free to breathe in every molecule of oxygen so deeply that you taste the pine on the trees.
To be free to live with lust and valiance.
To be free to drink in the magic of the world that surrounds you.

I will not allow others to police my body any longer.
I will not allow others to impose rules upon my autonomy.
I will not allow others to cripple me within my own soul.
I will not allow archaic, misogynistic views of female nudity to remove my power.

I am here.
I am evolving.
I have worked hard to peel back the layers that have been plastered unwillingly onto me to keep me ‘sheltered’ and ‘compliant’.
I don’t want to be sheltered, and I will never be compliant.

I will own my womanhood.
I will own the divine beauty that resides in my soul.
I will own the flesh that houses every speck of dust within me.
I will own this life, and all that I am gifted by it.
I will shower with gratitude those who see my true light, and I will walk away from those who don’t.

And I will not apologize for any of it any longer.

“‘Cause we’re the masters of our own fate
We’re the captains of our own souls
So there’s no need for us to hesitate
We’re all alone, let’s take control…”

 

I am beholden to empowering, inspiring women like Jan Stolee (who is credited for the breathtaking photos below).

Without whom, I would not carry such meaningful conversation regarding change, allowing growth, and coming into yourself.
Without whom, I would be unable to (literally) see the spike in my confidence through her lens.
Without whom, I would still be ashamed of my uncovered skin – instead of being gifted the vision of the true beauty that a woman’s body holds.

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Forty Nine

DISCLAIMER: There is strong language used in this post.  #SorryNotSorry for it.  I’m fed up.

belly

I started this blog primarily as a fashion blog.  To essentially play dress up with my favourite outfits and share them all with you.  I’ve always been complimented for my sense of style, so it’s been fun to share my creations and to gather inspiration from others!  For a while now though, I’ve been finding my love of the fashion world dwindling, and after this past week, it’s safe to say: fashion can FUCK OFF.

Yep, I said it, and part of me can’t even believe it, but there it is.  Now I think I understand better why some (most) women hate shopping for themselves. I am feeling SO defeated and just…nothing positive, so I won’t even express those feelings out loud.


Since I started my medications about 2 months ago for my depression and anxiety, I have gained a significant amount of weight – about 12 pounds.  It wasn’t super shocking; I expected this knowing weight gain was a potential side effect. While that might not sound like much, in 2 months on my 5’5″ frame – that’s a lot… and honestly, I hadn’t really given it much thought; if I did, I would redirect those thoughts in a positive direction.

👉👉👉  re: cute little belly is cute.

Standing in *generic store name here* though, I found that an impossible task to do. I could not escape the extra weight in those lovely 360 degree mirrors.  You know, those mirrors that I swear to GOD are designed to highlight every “flaw” you have and implant a deep-seated hatred towards yourself – one that has you walking out having spent more money than you intended when you walked in in an effort to curb the loathing.

Walking in wearing a size 6 pant with room in the waist, having to choose size 8 and 10 from the racks, and struggle to gain the cooperation and permission of my newly thicker thighs, I felt a very familiar disgust towards what I saw in the mirror.  I gave up.  I just stood there in my skivvies, bare and vulnerable, going over every inch of my new body with a fine-toothed comb.  I’ve been working SO HARD on building and promoting self-love and positive affirmation when I gaze at my reflection, and all it took was 5 fucking minutes in a dressing room to unravel all the work I had done.  The industry that I had so loved before had enormously let me down.

I was disgusted; disgusted at the dimples and extra rolls that stared back at me, and disgusted at myself for having fallen back into this trap of negativity.

That disgust SHOULD be directed at the companies who clearly don’t know how to size clothing anymore (how can I be 3+ sizes at one fucking time?!), but my disdain immediately went to my newly developed ponch and I wanted to just admit defeat and cry.


In talking with others, and in seeing different posts on the internet regarding this exact topic, I just wonder… How does the fashion industry think that it’s okay or even necessary to vary clothing sizes so greatly? (Anyone else remember when they were one size in every single store, but are now probably any variation between 4-6 different sizes?) How can they do so knowing how this will absolutely affect girls and women psychologically?  Anyone in fashion familiar with the phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”???

WHEN DOES IT END? WHERE DO YOU DRAW THE FUCKING LINE?!

Had I been younger, this experience would have had me revisiting my ED tendencies. I’m struggling to keep those thoughts at bay even now…

Fortunately, there is always a silver lining.  For me, it’s that I have my eyes wide open to the stats and the struggles that I was so blind to in my privilege before.  My whole life, even previous to my dealing with anorexia and bulimia, I have been tiny statured by nature.  I was always able to go into any store and find something that fit, and that I felt great in.  I never understood why some people hated shopping.  I never recognized the struggle that others faced because I couldn’t relate to it..and I have no problem admitting that now.  I was naive.

While we’re here, let’s review some stats, shall we?

  • According to a 2002 survey, 28% of girls in grade nine and 29% in grade ten engaged in weight-loss behaviours (in a class of 30 students, that’s roughly 8 to 9 people).
  • 37% of girls in grade nine and 40% in grade ten perceived themselves as too fat (in a class of 30 students, that’s roughly 11 to 12 people). Even among students of normal-weight (based on BMI), 19% believed that they were too fat, and 12% of students reported attempting to lose weight.
  • In a survey of adolescents in grades 7–12, 30% of girls and 25% of boys reported teasing by peers about their weight. Such teasing has been found to persist in the home as well – 29% of girls and 16% of boys reported having been teased by a family member about their weight.
  • Body-based teasing can have a serious impact on girls’ attitudes and behaviours. According to one study, girls who reported teasing by family members were 1.5 TIMES MORE LIKELY to engage in binge-eating and extreme weight control behaviours five years later.
  • In a study of 14–15 year old adolescents, girls who engaged in strict dieting practices were 18 TIMES MORE LIKELY to develop an ED within six months than non-dieters, and had almost a 20% chance of developing an ED within one year

  • At least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S.
  • Every 62 minutes at least one person dies as a direct result from an eating disorder.
  • Eating disorders have the highest morality rate of any mental illness.
  • 13% of women over 50 engage in eating disorder behaviours.
  • 16% of transgender college students reported having an eating disorder.
  • Eating disorders affect all races and ethnic groups.

These stats (and others) can be found here and here.



More than anything, I’m fucking angry. This bullshit that if you’re not between the sizes of 000 and 3 that you’re not valid or worthy is just that – BULLSHIT.  That if you don’t look like the woman on the cover of a magazine, you’re not acceptable.  You know, that woman who doesn’t even look like the woman on the cover of the magazine? Yeah.

FUCK these societal standards and FUCK these oppressive fashion standards.

What’s unacceptable is how the modern fashion world operates in tandem with society; what’s NOT is YOUR BODY.  I find my love of the fashion world diminishing because I can no longer cater so heavily to an industry that literally propels itself on the destruction of the very demographic it’s created for.

It’s not that I didn’t realize these things before.  It’s that I ignored them, turned a blind eye, because I felt like they didn’t directly affect me.  All you have to do is flip open a history book to see how productive that mind-set really is…

So going forward, this is what I want you to take away from this rant:

I can’t say that I won’t ever do any fashion posts again.  It’s not true, and I’d be lying to myself and to you if I said it.  But I will do my absolutely best to shop consciously and create in a way that is body positive and inclusive.  I’m still learning and growing myself.  I hope you’ll allow me the space I need to expand my thinking, and the constructive criticism that will help me get to a better place.

Women can be vicious creatures, especially towards one another.  I hope that we can create a #GuildofGirls who pledge to stand up for and support each other, while standing against those who seek to pit us against one another and tear us apart.

MOST IMPORTANTLY:
You don’t have to be thin to be worthy of happiness, love and acceptance; you don’t have to be thin to BE happy and loved and accepted.

You don’t have to strive to look airbrushed 100% of the time.  You don’t need to keep hurting yourself to fit into a mould that isn’t even REAL.  A favourite quote of mine is: “Beyonce doesn’t even look like Beyonce.”  Cut yourself some slack.  You are a bona fide beauty just the way you are.

That cellulite, those belly rolls, those angel wings (aka extra flap of skin under your arms) – EVERY SINGLE WOMAN has at least one of the above.  It’s normal, it’s okay, it’s beautiful.  You don’t have to be ashamed of these parts of yourself.

IT’S OKAY TO STRUGGLE WITH HOW YOU FEEL WHEN CHANGES HAPPEN TO YOU AND TO YOUR BODY. I’ve been struggling to accept my new body, but I’m trying, and that’s what matters.

Unfollow those IG accounts that have you uttering hateful things about yourself every time you browse them.  Stop reading magazines if the only reason you’re picking them up is to measure yourself against what you’ll find inside.  Respectfully ask those in your life to refrain from commenting on your body, and be okay with letting negative people go in order to maintain your own sanity.  Seek out body positive people in your life, and in your social medias.  Reach out and ask for help, or lend support to others who are needing it.  We are all in this together more than we even realize.



“Your body is not the enemy”. No. It absolutely is not.

You are SO MUCH MORE than what you look like.


Cover photo courtesy of Wear Your Label
Shirt available for purchase here.  Use “MAYETTE10” to save! ❤

 

#BellLetsTalk

Hi Marshmallows!

blt

It’s one of my favourite days of the year  

Just a few years ago, I would have had a very different reaction for this day (hint: it wouldn’t have been excitement…). I would have done everything I could to spend the day like a hermit and avoid conversing at all costs.  It’s a dark place to be in when even you’re afraid of your mental health struggles.

However, today is a different day and a different time; the further I come on my mental health journey, the easier it gets to talk about the obstacles I face and advocate for abolishing the stigma so others feel safe in sharing their stories, too.

So – #BellLetsTalk about how it’s OKAY to make noise about Mental Health.  It’s OKAY to struggle and talk about those struggles.  It’s OKAY to have bad days.  It’s OKAY to give an honest answer when someone asks you, “So how are you REALLY doing?”.  

Donning my #AnxietyAlliance tee proudly from @wearyourlabel to let others know that I’m anxious, too, and it’s a welcome and safe invitation to enter a conversation about it

All of us have hardships and struggles, and lately my anxiety has been a real big one for me.  I’ve had crippling days; days where I can’t get out of bed, let alone even think about leaving my house.  Days where I feel like I’m not good enough for anything.  Days where it all just becomes so overwhelming.  Days where I honestly think things will just never, ever start to get better.  But they do, and they have.  Had I known that reaching out for help and telling my story to someone sooner would have resulted in my healing beginning a lot sooner, I wouldn’t have suffered in silence for so long.  My eyes were also opened to just how many incredible, supportive, loving people I had around me when I allowed the walls to fall and the dam to break, and I am so SO grateful for each and every one of them.  I would not be able to so openly stand up and share my story today if not for them all.  I may not even have been standing here at all.  ALL my love and support right back. xoxo

And I want you to know, if you’re reading this and struggling, that it’s okay to not be okay and it’s okay to ask for help if you’re ready to take that step. You are valid, you are worthy, and you’re so NOT alone in your journey. Whether you realize or not, there is a community of warriors and of survivors that will take you by the hand and support you every step along the way.  

It takes a lot, for a lot of people, to talk about what they have experienced or what they are going through, and so I just want to throw out a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has shared their story today.  I’ve seen so many brave, inspiring stories full of strength on my News Feeds…far more than I’ve ever seen – and what an incredible sight, indeed.

Your openness, willingness, and trust is helping to pave this road so that those who have come before us, those who are with us, and those who will come after us will have a much smoother journey. From someone who has only recently taken the first steps toward the sunshine, that is something so amazing.

Today is not just for today.  Let’s keep the conversations going for the next 364 days. Not all of us struggle with mental health obstacles, but we all have mental health to take care of.

All my love to all of you XOXO Never be too humble to reach out.

Forty Six

Hello Marshmallows!

It’s 2017!  A whole new year!

I’ve been thinking about doing a New Year post for, well, precisely 9 days now.

As New Years posts go, they generally include some kind of “New Year Resolution”…though, I’ve tried really hard this year to not have anything specific, or anything written in stone.  As history would show, I don’t have the best luck with them.  Generally when I would profess any kind of resolution in the past, it wouldn’t actually end anywhere other than my own misery and disappointment.  In light of this fact, I’ve decided this year to throw any and all promises of doing out the window, and allow myself the space to just do.

Resolutions are usually always about “new year, new me”, but I don’t need to be a “new me”. I don’t want to be, either. Instead, I want to simply look back on how much stronger I am, how much I’ve grown, and the things I’ve actually accomplished without obligation. Instead, I want to look forward to how much I have to gain, how many possibilities are out there to grab hold of, and concentrate on becoming a better version of yesterday’s self.

In expressing that, I also decided that this was the perfect timing to throw all caution to the wind and start living my life FOR ME.

Which is why I did this:

hair1hair2

Yep!  I took a HUGE leap of faith and just did it.
#PinkHairDontCare *insert sassy emoji girl here*
(thanks to my amazing stylist, Jesse! ❤ ❤ ❤ )

My Christmas gift to myself was to do something I’ve wanted to do for years but never actually had the cajones to do.  I’d been too afraid of what people would say, or how people would react, that I was always able to talk myself out of doing something that I really wanted because of someone else – or a few someone elses.  Isn’t that how it always goes?

(Can we just take a moment to acknowledge how CRAZY that sounds when you say it out loud?!) 

I can’t even express how freeing and magical it feels to throw everyone else’s opinions out the window. I’m finally allowing it all to be on MY terms now – how it should have been all along. No more second guessing my own happiness for the thoughts of others and the fear of what that might bring. No more allowing anyone else to dictate how my story should and will be written.

People will forever have opinions about you. People will always judge you.
For anything, for everything.

Forget the haters and do whatever the hell you want. THEIR OPINIONS DON’T MATTER. You do.  Your opinions matter.  Your happiness matters the most.

It’s been almost 2 weeks now that I’ve had pink hair, and the only regret I have is that I didn’t do it sooner.  Every single time I see it in the mirror, I can’t help but smile and giggle.  It makes me SO HAPPY, and it’s brought me a level of confidence that I wasn’t sure would ever exist.

For the first time in almost 30 years (that’s a LONG FRIGGING TIME PEOPLE), I finally – truly – feel more like the me that was meant to be in this body than ever.  I don’t care if people think I’m weird, or different, or too “out there”, or “not conservative enough”.  It doesn’t matter.  Whether people love my hair, or whether people hate my hair – it makes absolutely no difference to me because I adore it, and that’s the bottom line.  Being “normal” is far over-rated (what is normal, anyway?), and life is utterly too short to not have fun.

On a related note, I suppose the same can be said about myself in general.  Somehow with my fuschia locks, I am newly entitled to this freedom to just BE ME – whatever that actually looks like.  I’ve thought a lot about this blog and what I want it to look like, and I’ve realized that I’ve been lying to myself this whole time.  I’ve been trying to fit myself into this pre-constructed mould of what I SHOULD look like in the blogging world.   Instead of writing about and sharing the things that bring me joy completely, I’ve been neglectful and resentful because I feel like I can’t keep par.

Fashion is one of the things that I am passionate about, but there are SO MANY OTHERS from all different facets, excluding the fashion world.  I’ve decided that I’m going to turn the focus from this being an exclusive blog about fashion to a blog just simply about me – and whatever that entails.  Whether that be mental health, or what I wore to the movies, or the newest adventure I’ve been on.  It’s not going to have a specific topic focus.  It’s going to be messy, a little all over the map, and have some kinks and quirks that I will not iron out.  It’s going to be “everything but the kitchen sink”, so-to-speak – and that’s just how it should be because that’s just how I am; a little bit of everything.

So … I have absolutely no idea what this means going forward, but I’m hoping that I will be able to once again find the jubilation in writing, and in creating.  Whether you like me, whether you hate me, or whether you simply just tolerate me – it makes not much of a difference.  This is a journey I’ve begun – to start living and doing – for me, and no one else.  But, if you’re on this journey with me, regardless … thank you.  I’m looking forward to what will unfold.

Can We Get Real For A Minute?

Trigger Warning: Mental Illness, Depression, Manic Depression.

I wanted to make this post because, for a lack of better wording, I need to.
So, can we get real with each other for just a minute? Or maybe a few…

Hi, I’m Mayette.  🙂

I’m 29 years old.  I’m a Virgo.  I was born in a small city in Alberta, Canada.  I was raised as a country girl living in the city, and so, I love country music.  Well, I love quite a few genres of music really.  I love to sing, even though I may not excel at it sometimes.  I was a competitive dancer for 16 years, and I still love to dance just as much now.  I love sketching and drawing.  I love painting.  Hiking and spending as much of my time in the mountains as possible brings a smile to my face.  I love animals, and will probably get more excited to see your dog than I will to see you (lol).  I love theatre, both stage and film.  I love fashion, and the creativity and fun that it brings.

I’m a dreamer.  I’m a giver.  I’m an empath.  I’m a granddaughter, a daughter, a girlfriend, a friend.  I’m clinically Depressed, Manic Depressive and nursing a newborn Anxiety baby. …And nothing else that I told you, or didn’t tell you, about myself matters as soon as I mention my mental illness…because once it’s said, it’s all you’ll see.

I know, I know.  I know what you’re thinking, because I get it all the time.  Why do I mention my mental illness then if I don’t want people to know about it?  Why bring focus to it if it doesn’t define who I am?  The simple answer is because people will know about it, regardless of if I come right out and say it, and as much as I want to tell myself that my mental illness doesn’t define me – it does; in that moment of suffering, of fighting, of dealing, it defines every millisecond.  And that’s OKAY, but we need to get more comfortable with talking about it.  With listening.  With understanding.

Living with mental illness is not something I can hide – or at least not hide very well.   It’s incredibly frustrating when you’re dealing with a whole tonne of stuff that you just don’t know how to explain… sometimes you just don’t even want to try to explain it.

I’ve been having a rough go of it lately – a slump, if you will.  A lot of things have happened in my life, it just seems like one thing after another after another, and so in these moments I’ve been taking notes.  I’ve been trying to put into layman’s terms exactly what I’m going through when I’m going through it, or how I’m feeling while I’m feeling it.  I’ve made notes, and I’m writing them out on this public platform because I’m tired.

I’m tired of being misjudged and misunderstood.
I’m tired of being forgotten because I’ve been labelled the unreliable friend.
I’m tired of having no explanation to give for those who ask.
I’m just tired – literally – all the time; what I fight against every day feels like it’s constantly sucking the life out of me (think Dementors from Harry Potter).

I hate living with mental illness, and here’s 30 reasons why:

1) It’s living in a prison; it’s like having the whole world in front of you, but your mind keeping you chained to the spot you’re standing in.

2) It’s feeling so lost that you can’t concentrate.  Your mind wanders, and before you know it hours have gone by and you’re left feeling wasted and useless.

3) It’s locking yourself in your bedroom on a gorgeous day because you’ve just had enough – of people, of stimulation, of thinking and of not being able to think.

It’s eating pizza curled up in bed, washed down by the tears that are streaming out of your eyes.

4) It’s screaming to yourself more times than you can count: WHY CAN’T I JUST BE NORMAL?!

5) It’s being cast as constantly over-emotional or crazy, in the production I never auditioned for in the first place.

6) It’s like being stuck with a roommate that you can’t stand, yet not being able to catch them in their wrong-doings to have any leverage for evicting them.

7) It’s collapsing into bed the minute you walk in the door, shoes and coat still on, because you don’t have the energy to remove them.  It’s wanting to hide from the world as fast as you possibly can, even if that means having to clean the dirt off of your bedsheets later.

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8) It’s feeling like you have to be strong all the time so that others will associate with you; so they won’t see you as a burden.  It’s constantly feeling like you have to have strength for everyone around you, including yourself.  It’s feeling like you’ve allowed others to rest their sorrows on your shoulder, but having no where to rest your own.

9) It’s feeling like absolutely no one else in the world relates to you, or could possibly understand what you’re going through.   It’s exhausting, to the point where there are days that I wish I could sleep for weeks on end.

10) It’s feeling everything all at once, and yet feeling absolutely nothing at all.  Feeling so numb that you don’t even notice your ribs moving in and out as you breathe… wait, are you even breathing anymore?

11) It’s driving and not realizing how you got from Point A to Point B.

12) It’s losing control of the grip you’re convinced you have, and bringing disappointment to others.  It’s having those mistakes follow you like shadows, constantly lurking – though only you can see them.  It’s embarrassing yourself when you break down in front of others because you SHOULD have had this under control.

13) It’s being unmedicated and feeling like a chaotic version of yourself that leaves nothing but destruction in your wake.  It’s being medicated and hating every part of it because it’s left you as an empty shell of yourself; a void simply taking up space.  It’s going off of your meds because you’ve convinced yourself (and your doctor) that “You got this” , and then greeting the panic and self-loathing that knock on your door when you feel yourself losing control again.  So, it’s going back on your meds, only to get upset that you can’t ACTUALLY get upset about how it once again has left you feeling like you’ve been devoured by The Nothing… so you decide to go back off of your meds and try alternatives.  Repeat this cycle for infinity.

14) It’s knowing that if you had a broken bone, or a surgical procedure, that people would be there to comfort you, to check in on you, to surround you with love.  It’s knowing that when they find out your ailments are caused by your mental illness you’ll be surrounded by blame, contempt and apathy.  It’s wishing that you could break a bone, or have an internal organ removed instead.

15) It’s looking forward to your favourite fitness class (and getting out of the house) because it always cheers you up – yet getting there and hating every single moment of it because you feel like everything you’re going through is tattooed onto your skin, and everyone is looking at you – and they KNOW.   It’s leaving, piling into your vehicle a crumpled mess of tears, and driving home feeling more defeated than ever.

16) It’s having one, two, three, four bad days in a row.  It’s feeling incredibly guilty for even having ONE bad day, especially if there’s nothing in your life to be upset about.  When bad things do happen, it’s feeling like your world is going to implode because they somehow have come in more than 3’s (HELLO! DON’T YOU KNOW THAT RULE, MR. LUCK?)… they pile up, and threaten to bury you alive.

17) It’s spending a lot of your time alone.  It’s longing for friendships that bring adventure, laughter and memories…but it’s avoiding old friends, and new, because you’re “too much to handle”.

18) It’s being irrationally resentful and jealous of the people around you because how the hell do they have it all together?!

19) It’s wishing you had someone to talk to, but also hoping that no one will talk to you because then it saves you having to try to explain everything.

20) It’s knowing the triggers of your “fight or flight” mechanism better than you know your favourite film, and knowing that you’re gonna choose flight, every time.

21) It’s praying that someone doesn’t ask when you’ve realized that they’ve realized something is wrong.  It’s wanting but not wanting to have that conversation because how can someone else understand it when you don’t even have a grasp on it yourself?  How do you explain to someone the overwhelming sadness that crushes you like a vice for NO REASON WHATSOEVER?!

22) It’s wishing people would take you seriously, including (and especially) the medical professionals who are supposed to be there to help you.  I mean, you KNOW it’s bad when even they think you’re crazy, too.

23) It’s constantly being accused of seeking attention, when you’re actually asking for help.

24) It’s faking your happiness on social media, and in real life, to save yourself the judgement of being “that person”.

25) It’s soap in your eyes because you start crying in the shower as you’re washing your face.

26) It’s your late-night drives transitioning from your sanctuary and joy to your breakdown central.  It’s your steering wheel becoming your shoulder to cry on, since you cry more behind it than anything else these days.

27) It’s wishing you could bring your dog with you everywhere you go, because she seems to be the only one that keeps you level-headed and calm in your moments of ruin.  She gets you, and 90% of the time it feels like she’s the only one who ever will.

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28) It’s laughing one minute, and crying the next – as if someone has flipped a switch in a cruel game.

29) It’s basically just crying, all the time, and committing yourself to the fact that you’re a walking contradiction.

30) It’s dealing with ALL of these things… every. single. day.

It’s not glamourous…

…but it’s not weakness.  It’s unpredictable, ugly f*cking strength. Every single part of it takes a level of courage you don’t think you have.  Self-realization. Talking to someone – a friend, a parent, a colleague, a professional.  Staring at the monster in the mirror that only you can see, and having to make the conscious choice every day to fight against it for your freedom; to say, “I’m not going to let you win. NOT TODAY, SATAN.”

It’s savouring every moment of every good day you have.  Sometimes there are LOTS of good days, and sometimes there are not.  It’s knowing that the good days will help you tread through the bad.

It’s finding the little things that make a difference, and treating yourself to those self-care goodies because you know that you deserve them; because you know that you’re important, and that self-care isn’t selfish.

It’s the moments that you overcome the demons that you fight; the moments of victory, however fleeting they may be, that get you through one day and onto the next.

It’s knowing, that at the end of the day, you’re a warrior and you’ll get through it – come hell or high water – because you’ve already survived 100% of your bad days.

It’s knowing that no matter how alone you feel, you never truly are.

It’s knowing that it’s okay to not be okay, and that it’s okay to talk about it.

Ten

I’m going to deviate a little bit, and share in this post an excerpt from my book – a collection of personal prose.  I’ve been noticing the last little while a trend, not just in my own life, but in those around me as well.  With the new year, I’ve been making a lot of changes in my life, and this piece of writing can definitely fit that context.  Can you relate at all?

(Side note: reminiscing back a few days ago to the super mild Canadian temperatures because tonight it is FREEZING!  How many more months until summer?!!!!)

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“Backseat drivers.  Those people who hop in to join you on a leg of your journey, and think it’s entirely appropriate to dictate how you drive.  Slow down.  Speed up!  Use your turn signal.  Stay farther back.  You shouldn’t park there.  Turn here – I know a better way.  Some even have the gall to reach for the wheel, as if you’re not in control at all.  Most of us have been this person, whether we’ve realized it or not.  We all know these people; you’re probably holding a name in your mind right now.  I’m willing to bet these same people are also backseat driving your life.

Why do we let people tell us how we should live our lives?  Why do we carry such guilt when we stand up for ourselves?  We don’t want to be a disappointment; it’s not in our nature to cause pain in another.  But what about what YOU want?  We have become so obsessed with tip-toeing around the feelings of others that we completely disregard our own.  Taking care of ones self above all else has been labeled as selfish.  This is false, and this mentality needs to disappear.  You come first;  if you are not taking care of you, then you are doing a disservice to others.  Happiness and content ripple.  Do not allow any other person to dictate how your life should be.  If it won’t satisfy you, if it’s not what you want – don’t do it.  We should never do anything for the sole sake of satisfying another’s wish for us.

Many people have probably told you to get a degree for a job that will make you rich.  It all sounds great, and probably even practical, but is it what you want?  A dollar sign doesn’t make you truly rich in life.  What you want for yourself is important; more important than what anyone else desires for you.  Your life’s road map should be created for you, by you.

If your dream is to become a doctor or a lawyer, then seek that dream.  If you don’t want to go to college, then don’t!  If you want to start a business, become a musician, or run away with the circus, then pursue those dreams.  Seek and listen with your heart; throw all of your passion into whichever direction that leads you.  Let no one tell you otherwise.

When someone tells you that you can’t, scream, “YES, I can!”
When someone implies that you will never succeed, say, “Watch me.”

Take the steering wheel of your life back.  Keep a firm grip.  The only person who can tell you that you can’t is yourself.   But, you can.”