Still Fighting

So it has been quite a hot minute since I last wrote anything here, huh?

Well, I’m still alive.

I’m still anxious. Still depressed. And still ADHD. Those thing have not changed, and I don’t think will ever change. I think I’ve finally come to terms with that and have decided instead to take each day as it comes.

That said, I’ve been really busy with school, mostly because I am a such a slow programmer that the last time I had a Data Structures assignment, it took me an entire 2 weeks to finish programming it when it took my friend less than an hour to do the same thing (then again, C has been coding for a year more than I have, and he spends at least 60 hours of coding a week. While I spend maybe 10… Or less…). So really, my busy-ness is merely due to my lack of skills, and knowledge.

Due to that, I haven’t been able to log in to WordPress to write or read anyone’s blog. 😦 I’ve missed the mental health community here in the blogverse. I’ve been wondering how everyone’s doing – especially Q, This.Shaking, skinnyhobbit and PaperDoll. I think about these wonderful people often enough.

Not writing in my blog makes me miss my advocacy work – I have recently been way more active as a Peer Educator but since a lot of our programs lately have been on sexual health, and sexual violence, I haven’t really been talking about mental health as much. Also, I’ve been feeling guilty about my recovery progress – of the times when I’ve slipped up and regressed, of the times when I’m less than a model Peer Educator, or the times when I don’t seem to embody the message I want to share.

Other times, I feel guilty for being better. I think I feel that way because then it’s like others see me as somehow “more successful”. But then again, I’m pretty sure I’m just projecting.

S and I have been continuing our work, and lately, I’ve been getting paranoid about termination, merely because I feel like I’m getting better, so that must mean I don’t need therapy anymore. The child is still in there, still scared. Despite realizing that she has the capability of being strong, and moving on, she’s still scared. She still wants S.

On that front, therapy has been going well enough. I am still dealing with the aftermath of the divorce, but it has been months since I’ve cried over the ex. It’s also been a while since I last spoke to him. I cut all ties with him some months ago (I don’t even remember when!) but from time to time, I still think of him, of the things that have happened, and of some of the better times we’ve had. Yesterday, I stumbled upon an old album that had all kinds of photos of us and for the first time in months, I broke down and cried seeing it. Then, after seeing it and feeling all at once angry, hurt, disgusted, and sad, I deleted all the photos that had him in it. It was painful to do it but the more I deleted, the easier it was to face the pain. This incident merely reminded me of the fact that this rip in my heart will probably never fully heal. There will be scar tissue, which means that I’ll probably always hurt whenever the scar tissues get aggravated. Thankfully, they don’t get aggravated all that often.

I’ve also been working hard in group therapy. Ever since I spoke up and told people how I actually feel about them, I have not been able to stop. It is almost like an addiction now – to say, “To be honest… This is how I feel…” and just say my mind. It feels great every single time because of how liberating it is not to have to keep secrets. The response from my group members have been positive, and it has helped me see that conflict, when avoided, often brings pain when not resolved. And that despite how uncomfortable it is to confront someone about something, it’s also equally uncomfortable to hold it inside. I have also learned that if you tell the truth, and give people the chance to tell their truth, and then both of you decide to give each other a chance, then things will work out.

T, the co-facilitator, told S of my progress in group. According to S, he expressed his awe, and admiration at my courage, and how hard I’ve been pushing myself in group. He also told me in person in the last session how excited he is to see my progress, and how happy he is every time I open my mouth to offer my opinion. He asked me if I now feel burdened by this – my answer was yes. I feel some pressure to perform – to be courageous all the time. To always be vulnerable, to always face my fears. It is stressful because now that I know I can do it once, I know I can do it again – but I don’t always want to. And that is another uncomfortable feeling I have to live with.

On the more personal front, my relationship with Cherie has been going well. We had our first huge fight recently that felt very scary and threatening to me due to how I always blame myself whenever a conflict arises, and how fearful I am at a loss of connection. Instead of letting the conflict tear us apart though, we were able to work things out. It is becoming clearer to me how much I love this woman, and how much she means to me.

I sometimes freak out though because of how I just don’t know how to do relationships – so being in a stable, and mature relationship with Cherie unnerves me because I don’t really know how to be. For 8 years, I was a certain kind of partner but that is me at my utmost dependent, weak, and whiny state. Now that I’m with someone who works hard on her mental health, and is a strong independent woman, I keep doing things that I find to be annoying such as being whiny, child-like, and dependent. I drive her insane sometimes because I can’t stop asking her if things are okay between us. I push and push and push because I feel insecure.

S and I have been talking about this a lot too – we discovered that I have such deep separation anxiety that it makes me so clingy. However, S has been reminding me for the past 3 weeks that I need to be kinder to myself and not immediately call myself names like, “Childish”, “Weak”, “Loser”, but rather recognize that uncomfortable feeling of being in conflicts, or the uncomfortable feeling of feeling like something’s wrong in the relationship when there really isn’t, and embrace that; hold the pain in my mind, and sit with it.  That has definitely been happening a lot more for me than it has ever been. Whenever I am aware of my issues, I try to sit with whatever uncomfortable feeling it is that have brought me the issues.

I really miss posting here because this is a space where I can word vomit, and not be judged for it. I can provide as much context as I want. I can speak freely and express my thoughts and feelings. It helps me process my feelings, and situations. I think not being able to write here has been detrimental to my progress because I haven’t really had a way to express all the pent up analysis that goes on in my head – and when I share the thoughts with Cherie, it often ends up at a point where I get super clingy. This blog is my space to just blah, without any expectations that anyone is even going to read it. And that’s fine because I think this blog keeps me sane.

Anyway… Overall, I’d say that I’m well enough. I might still have suicidal ideations but at least, the degree in which I’d act on them have definitely decreased. S is keeping an eye on my mental health. Cherie, and I are also doing the same. My group members have been supportive, and while I still have trouble in school, I am feeling a little better about programming because I feel like I’m slowly starting to understand some things. Unless there’s a huge trigger, I am usually feeling much better than I have been 3 or 4 months ago.

I think I’ll visit here more whenever I can. It really does free up a lot of mind space in my head when I write all my analysis, thoughts, and feelings down. So I hope all of you reading are well, as well, and I hope that I can have some time to check out the things you guys have all been up to as well then.

Being LGBTQ+

I was going to write a post to outline my thoughts from therapy today (the new semester just started on Monday, and thankfully, I was able to keep my Wednesday therapy session, and would still see S regularly until such a time that we both feel that I’m ready to rough life out by myself. Being able to keep the same session helps me keep some regularity to my often irregular schedule), but then new thoughts kept jumping out at me.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the LGBTQ community, and LGBTQ related topics – somehow, that and the topic of my divorce kept coming up in my mind. From today’s session, S and I learned that perhaps the reason that I keep fixating on those two topics is because these are two major issues in my life that I have yet to truly process.

I will have to write a separate post for my thoughts from therapy because in this post, I want to focus on a couple of thoughts that I have concerning LGBTQ stuff.

I was recently told by a coworker that the song “The Greatest” by Sia is actually a tribute to the victims of the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL last June. I was intrigued and so I looked up the video.

What I witnessed for 5 minutes and 51 seconds shook me – the imagery was vivid and the lyrics resonated.

I then Googled for the meaning of the video – to see if I could find what other people’s interpretation sounded like. I was intrigued. I found an article that I felt was beautifully written:

Analysis of Sia’s “The Greatest”

A paragraph jumped out at me –

“As cathartic as it is for a gay person to assume their true identity, to free themselves, there will always be a bigger cage. In the modern ages, the cage takes many forms. It can manifest as an antagonistic bathroom bill or the outing of closeted gay athletes. Then, of course, there are the hate crimes against members of the LGBTQ community.”

It’s so true.

I feel, at the same time, a sense of relief when I came out last October as well as a sense of fear (for how people will treat me, or that their perception of me will somehow change), and restriction because despite the fact that the world is starting to become more tolerant, there are still plenty of examples of discrimination, and hate.

As a queer person (of color, no less!), everything’s always a challenge. You always have to advocate for yourself, to share your experiences, and to find courage to just be. There will be questions in the flavor of, “So…. Are you……. A lesbian?”, “Uh… What does queer mean?”, “Are you a boy or a girl?”, or “Isn’t bisexual just another word for ‘slut’? Like, you can’t make up your mind whether you’re gay or straight, so you just sleep with everyone?” There will be some form of microagression or another in our daily lives – as someone who is misgendered daily, I know what this is like, and how stressful it can get.

There is never a period of time in my queer life where I can relax, and just be who I am. I am constantly looking over my shoulder; censoring what I say or how I say it; wondering what I should wear or how people would perceive me if I wore this outfit, or that outfit; choosing who I could and couldn’t date; answering endless LGBTQ related question because your straight friend only knows the one queer friend (me); and so on.

It’s exhausting. On top of already dealing with depression, anxiety, and ADHD, coming out for me meant that I now have another thing I need to advocate for. It gave me a lot of relief when I came out, but at the same time, it also brought on a lot of other things – some of which I’ve described above.

With this in mind, who would choose this “lifestyle”?

I ask that because recently, someone asked me through a private message on Facebook if we could still be friends despite our differences of opinions regarding my “choice” to live a bisexual “lifestyle” – quotation marks, mine.

Yes, because I chose to be persecuted. I chose to be in anguish over who I am attracted to for the last 30 years of my life. I chose to be confused about my faith, and my sexuality all my life. I chose to feel like an outcast in society. I chose to not have friends that understand me. I chose to be hated, mocked, and vilified.

And of course, the paragraph above drips with sarcasm, in case someone didn’t get it.

I just want to make it clear that no one will choose a life like this. It’s a life of pain, and suffering. That said, for someone to imply that a queer person chose their sexuality/orientation is rude, at the very least, and savage, at the worst. Those who use religion and their faith to condemn a queer person are even more savage. Speaking as someone who is a Christian and who have doubted my faith my entire life (I could never believe that God loves me enough because if he did, then why am I ‘broken’?), it’s extremely distressing to hear someone say, “God hates f*gs”, or “You’re gay because God hates you!”, or “God doesn’t hear your prayers”, or “God will never forgive you. You’re going to hell!”. It’s as though I don’t already hate myself enough – these people help me add more reasons to why I don’t feel worthy.

I’m just so tired of all the hate. I’m tired of all the hypocrisy that a lot of Christians seem to exhibit towards people like me. I’m tired of all the violence aimed at my newfound community.

That’s my rant of the day. I just thought it was time I said my little piece in this narrative and share something I’ve had on my mind for a while now.

Lessons in Recovery

“I know from the way you stroke my hair, the way you talk to me, the way you look at me, that you really love me,” Chérie said to me yesterday as we laid in bed.

That made my heart melt. As someone who constantly feels like I’m never enough for anyone, it made me realize just how my girlfriend – and also others – see me. Just from the things I do, and the things I say to her, she could tell that I cared about her greatly.

Although my school life has been a huge mess lately, being with Chérie has brought a different kind of clarity and stability to my personal life – this has made it a lot easier for me to deal with the distressing situation that school has become.

I was lucky enough to have gotten the weekend off from work that I was able to spend almost a week with my beloved at her apartment. Her family even invited me for Thanksgiving and I got to meet her parents, and some extended family. Although nerve-wrecking because this was the first time meeting them, I also settled in comfortably without much difficulty shortly after. It was the kind of ease that I never got from meeting my ex’s family.

I was supposed to leave for home tonight but I found that I couldn’t. I had been crying the whole day today because I didn’t want to leave. The pain of separation from Chérie for the next 2 and a half weeks was great and unbearable. I am glad that she’s strong enough for both of us to not cry with me because that would have made it even harder.

I finally decided on a compromise – I would leave at 5am tomorrow morning instead, to make it in time for my shift at the MAC. This has given me a few more precious hours with her. My friend, El, told me that though it’s hard, it must also be a great feeling knowing that there is someone amazing I could look forward to seeing. She’s right. I never looked at it from that perspective because I’ve always just been so used to seeing life from gray-tinted glasses.

The changes that Chérie has catalyzed for me in my life has been so drastic that I really just can’t imagine life without her anymore. I know that I am so much better than I was just a month ago. Even S has noted that several times – telling me how proud he is of me and of the changes I’ve made in my life.

Last session, he asked, “Do you think you could’ve done the same a year ago? Maybe even 6 months ago?”

I shook my head as soon as the words left his lips. “No! No way!” I responded almost immediately. “I couldn’t have done this a year ago… Not even 6 months ago. I feel different. And I can see that I have come a long way…”

“You have!” S said, smiling. “I’m so proud of you!”

His words made me smile. It made me feel proud too – I am proud of myself for how far I’ve come. I know that he and I have done a lot of hard work – he would also often remind me that most of the hardest work was done by me – but I also know how much Chérie has helped catalyze things for me as well.

Most of the hardest work in my recovery happened over the course of a year and a half with S. However, not even a week after I met Chérie, I had managed to take all the groundwork that S and I have laid down and made leaps and bounds of progress. It’s amazing just how one person can make a difference in your life.

Despite that, I am still struggling with many more things – there are days when I still wish that my marriage had worked out; that I didn’t have to struggle as a bisexual person; that I didn’t have to struggle with understanding my faith and the judgments I’ve had to deal with; that I didn’t have to feel so insecure about myself and what I have to offer. It’s just that despite the struggles, I am able to work past them – with Chérie by my side, I am able to let myself see the positives that she sees of me. She’s able to help me accept who I am, and learn new skills to cope with life as a non-neurotypical person.

The last 5 and a half weeks that I’ve been with my girlfriend have been the best time of my life – not only have I been able to learn to value myself more , I’ve also learned that it’s much easier to go through difficult times when you have someone to help you. Through it all, I’ve also learned that it’s okay to still struggle and that recovery doesn’t mean that everything is 100% fixed.

I’m thankful for this amazing woman in my life. I am sad that in just a few hours I’ll be packing up to leave, but I also know that like El has said, I have someone incredible to look forward to seeing again in a few weeks’ time.

An Eventful Week Indeed

A lot has happened to me in the past few days.

I adopted 2 pet rats and I named them Rey and Jyn respectively (they’re both girls, obviously). And also adopted a dwarf rabbit that my ex-coworker wanted to take to the shelter, that I named Poe. I went from being all by myself to having 3 animals in my 400-sq feet room! Now their section of the room is constantly messy because the ratties like to throw their bedding out from their cage, while Poe likes to pretend like he’s digging into the ground so his back legs kick out a lot of his bedding too.

I haven’t yet felt that the animals are doing me any good – but I’ve only had them for a couple of days. The ratties are still skittish and wouldn’t let me pet them while the rabbit seem to be sick (he keeps sneezing and coughing, the poor baby) so he has been nippy. I hope that once they warm up to me, I’ll be able to have a better time with them.

I think I’m heading out of my rut – at least where my divorce is concerned – because I was able to spend time with the ex and his wife without feeling too overwhelmed by bitterness, or grief, or anything like that. In fact, I was fine when I left – sure I did feel a twinge of the pain of loneliness as I walked out the door, but I was generally okay. Compared to how I was the last time, this time was definitely an improvement!

Besides that, I have also been quite fortunate in the relationship department. Though I was technically on dating sites, I wasn’t really seriously looking. I’d also been “ghosted” by the last person I had talked to so I was a little reluctant to put myself out there again. So when I received a message saying “Hi” on Sunday, I didn’t expect it. To be honest, I wasn’t going to respond. But somehow, I did.

And that turned out to be the best decision I could have ever made because not only is the woman who messaged me beautiful, she’s also pretty damn intelligent (she’s a graduate student of theology), funny, caring, understanding, and also patient! Everything about her was attractive to me. I’m going to refer to her as “Chérie” because she’s mon chérie (French: My darling).

Our conversation started innocently enough. We talked about pets, mental health advocacy (she told me she liked my semi colon tattoo), nerdy interests, Netflix shows, and then for some reason, I started revealing more about my mental struggles – particularly my conflicting views of my faith and my sexual orientation.

That was when I started getting really attracted to Chérie. She told me that she was studying theology a couple of states away – I was bummed because after our deep conversation about really important topics (theology being one of them), I was smitten and I wanted so badly to meet this amazing woman. Our conversation was so effortless and everything we talked about was interesting to me. We would switch from a serious topic to a more light hearted one. Then we would discuss profound things and talk about our expectations.

We were up until 4am (I think it was either 4 or 4.30am) because we couldn’t stop talking to each other. In less than 24 hours, I learned a lot about Chérie. It was all at once, a lot but also not enough. I learned what she wanted to do in life, the kinds of things that she thinks about, the principles she lived by, her beliefs, and her convictions. I was head over heels by 4am.

The next day, we talked some more. We talked off and on, all day. All day.

I have poor memory so I can’t say for sure if this next thing I’m going to say is true or not but I don’t think I’ve ever felt with anyone else the way I have with Chérie. I had loved my Ex dearly but I don’t think it was ever the same kind of love. This feeling I had for Chérie was foreign enough to sweep me off my feet.

Our attraction was mutual and we started to discuss things that I’d never even dreamed of ever being able to discuss! After we both established our mutual interest in one another, we started laying down boundaries and “rules” so to speak. We started talking about what we expected from one another, what is too much, or what is too little, our future goals to see if they were in line with each other, some of our habits, some likes and dislikes, and we also laid some ground rules on intimacy. Chérie felt that it was important that our relationship began on a strong foundation that is not just rooted in hormonal lust. I agreed with her and in fact, she had taken the words right out of my mouth. As we communicated more, I started to realize that this woman is so similar to me that it’s uncanny! We have similar beliefs, the same principles, the same ideas about marriage and children, the same direction in terms of our future plans, and so on. We always speak about the same things at the same exact moments – we often have to tell each other that we’ve jinxed each other.

Chérie was also very sweet and kind when she learned of my past traumas and how much I’ve suffered through my life. She wanted to be clear with me that under no circumstances will she break the boundaries because she cares for me too much to hurt me. I was touched by her kindness and concern. I was so touched by her unselfish and sacrificial nature. It was refreshing!

So we decided that we were going to commit to each other – that we both felt so strongly for each other that it just made sense. Besides, I wouldn’t have liked it if she were to flirt with anyone else or be with anyone else. I wanted her so bad. I shut down all of my dating sites and told her that I wanted her to be a part of my life. She told me that she wanted the same.

We’re both in our 30’s so our mutual understanding and consideration were mature and I felt like we were both grounded enough to want this to work. She also made sure to tell me that she wants us to be individuals first, and then a couple – she didn’t want either of us to be codependent on the other.

I was flummoxed by the things that this woman had considered because it was so rare to find someone who is so aware of themselves to know what they wanted or not. This woman knew what she wanted and she wanted us to be able to function successfully by ourselves as well as when we’re together. I was impressed – this was all the stuff that I was taught about healthy relationships during my Peer Educators’ retreat!

I was actually practicing what I’ve learned! I was ecstatic because I felt that I had a breakthrough. I not only let go of my past relationship but I was also able to start a new one without the sense of desperation that I used to have with my previous relationship. I want things to work yes, but I’m also not acting like a creepy stalked the way I usually do when I’m smitten. I am letting things run their course. Allowing myself the permission to enjoy myself.

Tonight, Chérie proved to me that she was definitely a keeper. Due to a myriad of conflicting events that I’d experience, I nearly built up to a panic attack. Chérie managed to catch me at the cusp of one and she talked me down from it. She calmed me down with some simple questions that hit the core of my fears and anxiety. It was amazing – she reminded me of S because in the same calm manner, she asked me some questions to things that she knew I’d know. They were all knowledge that I already had but since I wasn’t focusing on those truths, I was slipping into the whirlpool of despair. She soothed me and comforted me, asking me what else she could do for me as I breathed and slowed down my thoughts. She told me how harshly I criticized myself, and how I don’t deserve to feel so awful all the time. Her words were powerful because I was able to calm down and switch gears back into normal mode.

Chérie then reminded me of how strong and resilient I am. She also stated that most people are not cognizant enough to know that their moods are being altered and that they’re being triggered into a panic attack. She reminded me of how far I’ve come as a person and how much progress I’ve done in my mental health recovery. She is right. I have come a long way and there will definitely be times when I’ll be weak, but for now, I realize that I am strong enough to withstand a lot of things.

I am blessed to have Chérie in my life. In just 2 days, she changed a lot of my perspectives and had helped me finally get back on my feet. She tells me in a very soothing manner that in the future, there might be times when I get knocked back down again but that it isn’t a sign of failure or of weakness but rather that I allowed myself to feel.

I’d never met anyone in my life who would be so supportive of my recovery. I was definitely happy this morning when I saw that she had changed her Facebook relationship status and had tagged me in it.

untitled-1

I don’t want to brag but in my opinion, I think we look gorgeous together.

Besides that huge life change, I also went on an interview with Apple. I can’t believe that they actually selected me for an interview out of 12 other candidates that had attended the hiring event a few weeks ago.

I was very nervous when I went in. Apple is a name-brand that is so popular globally that it’s hard not to feel like I’m under-qualified for the jobs – even if they were merely retail positions that were somewhat entry level. In order to boost my confidence, I had gone out and bought a vest for the occasion. My friend, El, commented that I look so good in a vest and noted that not everyone can successfully pull off wearing a vest.

So being well dressed upped my confidence and I went in with all smiles. The interview lasted maybe 30 minutes and through it all, I spoke confidently and never faltered even once. I, myself, could hear the passion in my voice as I spoke.

I think part of the reason I was so excited was just the fact that I had just gotten together with a gorgeous woman, so that added a tinge of happiness to my tone of voice and demeanor.

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I was told that I look “dapper af”. It made me really happy to feel so attractive and so confident.

So this week had turned around from my initial low – I had a walk-in on Friday, remember? – to a decent high. I can’t wait to talk to S tomorrow because  I think he’ll be proud to hear of the things I was able to say and do. Heck, I’m proud of myself!

It’s been a very very long time, but I think I can now say that I’m actually feeling happy – f0r the first time in 10 months, I feel happy. I am still slightly wary of the feeling because I don’t want the rug pulled out from under me but at the moment, I’m cautiously optimistic!

National Coming Out Day 

This morning, I woke up with a sense of dread. I was dreading my decision to “come out”. 

It’s National Coming Out Day today and I had made the decision to come out. And at 7.55am, I sat down with my Chromebook, took a deep breath and started typing. I had only 5 minutes because I had to leave for school at 8am. 

Here was what I wrote (these are screenshots from my Facebook):

I’ve gotten 27 likes and 11 love reactions from my Facebook.. I’ve also gotten 12 incredibly positive comments. 

One of them that really stuck out to me and validated me was this message from someone I had never met in person before: 

“The sun and the moon is still in the right orbit, and that’s when you know coming out is as normal as it can get. You will always be you.”
I’ve not heard from any family members yet so I don’t know how that will go. I wish I had the courage to actually verbalize this through a phone so that I can call my parents and tell them “in person” but I can’t. I already have social anxiety over phone calls so this would’ve been even more nerve wracking. 

I have to say though, I’m glad I did it because I can now stop pretending. I can stop wishing that I was “normal” or fit in. I have also found through this experience who has my back! 

I’m probably going to have more emotional responses tomorrow after I speak to S (because somehow talking to S always makes me more connected to my feelings and more ready to be vulnerable whereas when I’m on my own, I can’t feel things fully) so I’ll definitely update. 

At the moment, I feel calm and like I can finally allow myself to be myself. It’s a pretty good feeling! 

Monday Blues

Today has definitely been a rough day.

I had one of the worst falls in my experience of skateboarding. I was distracted for just a split second and had leaned backwards a little too much which caused my heavy backpack to pull me backwards. As I fell on my elbow, almost all of the force was directed to it. The backpack absorbed a lot of the impact as well which made it so that only a little part of my hip was hurt as well. I was glad that my laptop didn’t break.

The good thing about all this was the fact that the two guys who were walking behind me rushed up to help – one of them was quite polite. “Are you okay, ma’am?” he’d asked as I pulled myself off the hard brick pavement. I told them that I was okay – even though the only reason I got back up so quickly was just because I didn’t want to be laughed at for falling in a high traffic area because the pain was so jarring that I actually needed some time to recover from it.

As I type this now, my right arm is complaining, while the scrapes on my arm and elbow still burn. My wrist hurt as well because the bottom part of my palm had braced myself against the ground as I fell – I should have known better than to have braced myself though.

So it felt good to have 3 different people rush up to me to make sure I was okay – the third person was a girl who had retrieved my runaway skateboard. It was nice to know that people still care and that I’m in a campus with people who really care and are conscientious of everyone else.

So physically, I’d hurt myself – the only good thing was the fact that it had happened before the last class of the day. Otherwise, I’d have had a bad time going through the day. When I got to class, I decided to wipe my arm with my left hand. As I did so, I smeared blood all over my left palm. I hadn’t realized it but my arm was pretty scraped up and the bleeding took a few minutes to stem.

I was also extremely sleepy. I fell asleep in every class I was in. It was annoying. I had also received poor grades for my Calculus test and I was very frustrated because this is my second time taking this class – I should be better at it, not getting worse! I am definitely not motivated in school at all – besides that, I also don’t have the energy or focus to finish my work. It’s like my brain’s had enough and it doesn’t want to cooperate anymore.

I feel stupid, unworthy, and lazy. I feel convinced that I am going to drop my GPA again because of how poorly I’m performing in school. Today, I beat myself up and told myself that I am not going to succeed. Today the stronger side of me was not present to convince myself otherwise so I was depressed for much of the day.

It doesn’t help that exhaustion and sleep deprivation makes it even harder to be stable emotionally.

To make things worse, my classmate had asked me if I watched a certain TV show – when I said that I haven’t, she asked if I’d watch TV. When I responded “no” to her again, her eyes grew wide as she tried to fathom how someone can survive in this world without TV’s… She then said to me, “So you don’t watch TV, you don’t do anything fun at all! Man… Your life sucks. If I were you, I don’t even know what I’d do. Aren’t you stressed? If I were you, I’d totally be stressed…”

“Yes, I am stressed. I’m stressed all the time. Haven’t you wondered why I’m always so edgy?” I said, feeling my irritation creeping up. I wanted to say, ‘No shit, Sherlock’ but bit my tongue.

I was a little hurt by the insensitive comment about how my life sucks. I didn’t think it was helpful at all for me to have heard that. Although I knew that they didn’t mean anything nasty by their comment, it was still hurtful – especially since that is my reality. Daily.

Then during the end of the last class that I had for the day, one of the classmates that I’m most close to, had asked me why I was at the LGBTQ+ center. He’s a conservative Christian.

He said, “Why were you at the LGBTQ+ center? What, are you batting for the other team now?”

I wanted to explain to him that I do indeed struggle with same sex desires and that I’ve become more and more cognizant of my feelings and attractions. Still, his question caught me by surprise – I went with my gut instinct and go-to knee-jerk reaction. I lied.

I told him that I just had a quick question that I needed to ask the Director. He didn’t seem to buy it but he dropped the subject. His question though made me think. It made me think about the uncertainty that I still feel over my sexual orientation. It also made me still feel guilty and unworthy – it was the usual religious uncertainty that I’ve been grappling with since I was young.

He told me that he doesn’t believe that people are born gay but rather our brains get used to the idea of being one thing or another – that  homosexuality is a choice. I then explained to him that I struggle with my attraction to women. He was surprised that I would tell him that because I seemed like a conservative Christian like he is.

I explained to him all the struggles I had to deal with and all the pain and struggles that the LGBTQ+ community has had to deal with. I told  him that no one chooses a life like this. Especially not when we live in a conservative state like Indiana where you could still legally lose your job if you were in the LGBTQ+ spectrum.

It was an interesting conversation. He didn’t end up being swayed by my arguments but at least, I was able to stand up for myself and disagree with his opinion. I also pointed out the fact that today was World Mental Health Day. I told him that the way Christians (some, not all) have approached homosexuality is also the same as how they approach mental illnesses. That is to say, they don’t. I was told by someone that I wasn’t praying enough or that I didn’t have enough faith back when I first revealed to them that I suffer from mental illnesses.

It was a triggering conversation for me. I felt good to know that everyone is allowed to have an opinion and that they’re not silenced for expressing it but it was also bad because I thought about my salvation and my faith issues again.

The only positive thing that had happened to me today was the fact that my college had organized a Mental Health Awareness Day event and they had dozens of vendors from organizations like The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Mental Health America (MHA), and American Society for Prevention of Suicide (ASFPS). I spoke to a lot of people at that event and made contacts. I told them that I was a Peer Educator and that I’m part of the group that creates the programs for mental health related topics. I excitedly shared my passion for mental health advocacy with the volunteers. I was told by all the different organizations that they do want to collaborate with us and that they would be happy to have me be a part of their organizations. I had a great time just hearing about all the different ventures and resources that were available for people. I was also inspired to come up with a bunch of ideas of what the mental health team could do next semester. Going to the event also really just affirmed to me that I am really passionate and excited about the topic of mental health. It fired me up again to be a great Peer Educator!

Note: I was falling asleep while writing this and may have written gibberish or nonsensical sentences. If I did, I do apologize. It’s been a long day.