Self Care: A Basic Human Right

It can be great to see how productive you can be when you got up at just before 3am.  I was able to spend time with my partner (L) and her family last night.  I was fun for the most part.  I was able to spend so special fun time with L and then time with L’s husband (J) their daughter (H) and their family.  It was a simple dinner at a pizza buffet place not to far from their home.  It’s the kind of pizza that’s not all that great but filling while hitting that spot that craves “bad” pizza.  About 20-30 minuets into dinner most of us were done eating.  I had reached sensory overload.  I excused myself and went outside. The moment I cleared the building, up came a good portion of dinner.  Part of this was because of my nerves but a larger part was because I had eaten far too much.

Now I can feel many of you asking yourself right now, “What is the point of all this Karissa? Other then telling us about your night with your partner and her family, where are you going with this?” This is a good question that derivers a good answer. Good or not is up for you to decide but here is the answer I can give.

This was one of the first times that I was able to actually put the needs of my mental well being about that of the social and convention norms. I was able to say that I needed to remove myself from the source of stress without feeling guilt or shame in doing so.  For those of you that suffer from depression and anxiety, as I do, will know just how hard doing this can be.

It was this moment that I could tell that the time that I have spent these last few weeks working on my mental health had been effective.  Before I would shutdown and just sat there.

Through this time involved with an in-patient and day program, I have learned that the person that I need to take care of first is myself.  I have the right to give myself permission to remove myself from a situation that makes me uncomfortable.  I should not feel ashamed for not “being able to cope” or “being weak.” Both these judgmental phrases are not only unhelpful but wholesale untrue.  The fact that I was able to recognize that I was not able to handle the situation and take appropriate action to care for my mental health needs are a sign of mental awareness and strength in the fact that I was willing to do what I felt was needed in spite of expectations.  Just because I was “not able to cope” had more to do with my sensory-neurobiology then my strength.

WE as people all have that limit.  WE as people all have that point that we are just not able to handle something.  That something could be a noise, a smell, a feeling, the temp of the room, etc.  The list is literally endless. These limits are not weakness or failures.  These limits are simply boundaries that your own bodies impose on us for our own wellbeing and health.  WE are not so unalike.

So here is the take away from todays rambling. Please remember, before you make a comment about someone being “weak”, “too sensitive”, a “snowflake” or anything of the like, think about how your have your hard limits too.  Just because their limits are at a different location then yours does not give you the right to judge them for theirs.

Go Out, Be Well And In All Things, Do Good!

Cheers

KJD

Winter is Coming!

Last night was the first legit snow here in Minnesota.  I love this time of year.  You I know that many of you will not and do not agree with me.  I am one of those odd people that loved winter.  I have said that I would rather be in the cold then in the heat.  As a bigger girl, I am not built for heat.  At least in the cold I can put more stuff on.  In the heat, eventually you are just naked, hot and miserable (and not in the fun, life affirming way either).

I have a lot of plans for this winter.  This is the first winter that I have not had to worry about school or the like in a few years.   I know that I need to have a plan out my time and projects or I will just put it off until I run out of time and just say fuck it all.  So, you might ask, what are all these things that I want to get done this winter?  Here is as short list.

  • Start seedlings
  • Write 4-6 short stories (2000-4000 words)
  • Loose 40 lbs.
  • Train for a 5K
  • Plan a trips to:
    • San Antonio TX
    • Raleigh NC,
    • Seattle WA
  • For a business Plan for Life Transitions Services
  • Work on and launch Media Project X
  • Go skiing

Theses are just a short list.  The good news is that there are things on this list that are time sensitive.  What I mean is this, my seedlings need to be started at a very certain time so that they are ready for spring but my 5K training is more of a long term thing.  My plan to go skiing is limited to the level of snow. I am going to see these barriers as a good way for me to plan out my winter.  I know how my mind works.  I would normally try to do all the things at once.  When I would inevitable fail, I would get frustrated and say fuck it all and quit.  Now I can break this down into more manageable chunks.

What do I mean?  Well here is an example. My seeds need to be started in February-March so that can wait a bit.  I can break down the story writing into 1-2 stories a month. I can combine the loose weight and training for the 5K into one thing and plan it for small times each week.  I can use the trip planning as a break from the writing, almost like a reward for making my word count goals.  I can set the goal that my business plan will be done by Xmas so I can launch it after the first of the year.  I can do the same with Media Project X.  As for skiing, well Mother Nature and I need to have a girl-to-girl talk about setting this up.

So, my hear readers, this is what my plan for this winter.  What is yours?  Please share what you are doing on our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/transkarissarn/. This way we can all help keep each other accountable.  So let’s make this winter the best it can.

Thanks for reading and be well!

Cheers!

KJD

Confessions of a Depressed Trans Woman

As you many of you know, I have been struggling with mental health for much of my adult life, mainly severe depression, anxiety and PTSD.   In that time I have attempted to kill myself several times over the years. I am not sharing this for sympathy or anything of the like.  I am simply stating this because I am being transparent.  Over the last few months my mental illness has gotten extremely bad. I originally thought that it was due to the stress of nursing school and the like but when it only got worse after nursing school I knew something else was going on.

I have always prided myself being able to hold everything together no matter how much shit hit the fan or how horrible things got.  I have also been able to keep a smile on my face and joy in my voice regardless of whatever personal hell that I maybe going through.  In the last few weeks, this ability has fallen apart.  It was to the point that friends started to see through my facade.  Things got so bad that I once again attempted to end my life.  Not many people know this. It is not something that I am proud of but it is the truth.

I checked myself into the ED and was transferred to an inpatient psych unit.  I spent 5 days there and was discharged.  This was on 10/30.  I am currently beginning a partial inpatient program on the 11/7. This is a day program at the same location that I have an inpatient at.  This will be a 10-day program then I will transition into a Intensive Outpatient Program.

I am currently on medical leave from my job.  While I am well enough to not need inpatient treatment, I am far from well enough to go back to work.  If I were to go back to work right now I know that I will end up back in inpatient before Thanksgiving.  This fact makes me feel not only broken but also worthless.  I know that this is my shit and I am determined to own my shit.

So now that I have told you all this, I will answer the question that must be burning in your mind. Why did I not call/tell many of you? The answer is simple.  I had to do this on my own.  While I was in the hospital, I asked that no one come to visit me. I asked that no one call the unit asking for me.  I did talked to a few people but only briefly.  This was a road that I needed to walk alone.  This is because I needed to show myself that I was strong enough to do this for me.

Ok now that I have bore my soul to you all now what?  Well, I have made a few decisions.  First, I will be posting more frequently here but the format may change a bit, mostly in topic and content (yes I know that this may be the same-ish kind of thing but work with me here).  I will be focusing on things like mental health, some political stuff as it pops up, reviews of food, respices and media that I come across and other things I find interesting.  I will also be starting new media project once I find my new job (Oh I for got to share this, I PASS THE NCLEX!!  I am a real nurse now but more on that in a future post) and get my mental health stabilized even more.  I am not going to share where or what this is or will be right now but I will keep you informed.  I will also be kicking off a new GoFundMe and Patreon account to help with some expenses of this new project.  Who knows, maybe someday I will have a great media empire, book deals and more.  Hey, a girl can dream;)!

Ok my dear and amazing, Stay tuned and thank you for sticking in there with me.

Cheers!

KJD

Mental Health And Minority Populations

It is no huge surprise that the majority of the US population suffers form some kind of mental illness.  This ranges from minor depression and anxiety (not downplaying the seriousness of these BTW) to that of full-blown psychoses.  If you walk through your local shopping center, grocery store or bookshop, you can bet that every single person that you see either has or is connected to someone who has some form of mental illness.  Hell, if you are reading this blog and think that you do not, sorry my dear reader you are wrong.

I have not been shy about making the fact that I have a mental illness about as secret as the sky does about being blue or the sun does about being hot.  While for those of the population that are Cis, the fact of mental illness is often no more then just a small part of who they are, those of us who are in many minority populations it can become a very large focus.  It is for this reason that many of us keep it very quite.  The reason for this is because it can, and far to often is, used as a weapon against us. It is used to dismiss us as people. It is use to “explain” why we are how we are. “Oh you are trans and have a mental illness?  Oh course you do.  That is why you are trans.” “You have a mental illness and you are queer, well duh! If we just ‘fix’ you mental issues then you will be ‘normal’ again.”  “You kinky?  No shit you have mental health problems.  No one with a ‘right mind’ would be into that.  It is ok because you are ‘sick’ but you can get better!”  The fact of mental illness becomes yet another in the long list of things that can be use to “other” us.

I want to set the record here and be very clear.  These two thing, being trans, queer, kinky, etc and have a mental illness are not the same thing.  They are not mutually exclusive.  You can be one and have the other.  The fact that I am trans does not make me mentally ill.  The fact that I have a mental illness is the thing that makes me a mentally ill person.  The fact that I am trans is a whole different thing.  The fact that I am queer does not make me mentally ill.  That too is just a coincidence.

Where I see this fact that people are so quick to condemn a person who is belongs to minority populations for mental illness is having the biggest issue though it this behavior is keeping these people from seeking the help that they so desperately need.  They are afraid that the very people who they are going to for this help will condemn and attempt to “fix” them to get them to stop being trans, queer, kinky, etc. I wish that this were not the case.

The stories of parents bringing their trans and queer kids to these “professionals” to “fix” them are far to numerous to count.  These kinds of places are not helping the kids but only making them repress their feelings even deeper and causing even more mental trauma.  Many of these kids will do whatever it takes to just survive these seasons to get them over with.  It is no less then torcher.  They say and do whatever the person running the thing wants just to make it end.   After all is said and done, all that really happened was that the people being “helped” are traumatized even worse and not have a, well earned, distrust of mental health providers.  So when they are old enough, if they live that long, to seek help on their own, they will have such a fear and distrust of them the no help will be sought out.

What can be done? This thing clearly this is a thing that NEEDS to change!  I think that is has to start with the individual.  There needs to be someone that is willing to stand up and say that Here I am, I am (insert minority here) and I have a mental illness. My mental illness is not the cause of my (minority status) but just another part of whom I am. It is completely on its own and has nothing to do with my being  (insert whatever here).

That is great, now to find that person.  Looking for volunteers.  Anyone? Just raise your hand or signal however you’re able.  Anybody? Hello?  Nope ok.  So I guess I know what that means.

I knew that by living openly as a trans woman, writing this blog and just being I would be very visible. I am over 6 foot tall and weight…none of the business to be completely so lets just say enough that I take up my fair share of space.  It is hard for me to hide in plain sight.  I have seldom run for a challenge when faced with it so why should I start now? If I am the one to be one of the first then maybe others will see that it can be done and still be left standing. So here is goes.

Hello, I am Karissa. I am a queer trans woman and I have a mental illness. My mental illness is not that I am trans or that I am queer. My mental illness has nothing to do with who I am any more then my eye color, my hair color or anything like that. I would still be trans if I did not have a mental illness.  I would still be queer if I did not have a mental illness.  I am me, and many days it is a struggle to just get by because of my mental illness.  I will not allow others to say that I am who I am because of this illness because it does not define who I am!

 

As always thanks you all and I love you all for taking the time to read this.

Cheers

KJD!

pgp: she/her/hers

Genetic Soup

On my to study for just another Saturday morning in my local coffee place, I was listening to a podcast (as I am tend to do) about transgender topics, news, science, etc. On this podcast they reported that they, the world of geneticists and other since kind of people, found genetic marks that show that being transgender is as genetically linked as being red haired or tall or short.  My first reaction was “Wow! That is great!  I can prove once and for all that I am really who I am!”  This was quickly followed by a few other thoughts that were not as joyous.  The first was me wonder who these people were that I felt that I needed to prove myself and my identity too.  The second was even worse.  What if I get my genetics tested and found that these newly discovered markers are absent? What would that mean?  Would that mean that I am not really trans?  Would that mean that I am just so dude in a dress that much of the Cis world see me and my other trans siblings as already? What if I am just trying to hide for something so that is why I have decided that this is the path that I am to walk?  (Oh hello existential dread!  WELCOME and come sit by me!)

Well Shit!  Now that I have opened this Pandora’s box of shit, lets at least try to unpack it a bit.  So, what is “being trans” really?  Is it something that we choose or something that we have chose for us through genetics?  Is it something that can me over come or something that just needs to be processed and accepted by those who experience it?    If there is a genetic component to it all, is this something that can be screened for at an early age or even in the womb?  If so what dose that mean for those who “pop positive” for being trans? Will this open up a whole new world of bioengineering and gene manipulation to “correct the problem?” Is it enough to just say that you are trans because the infinite reasons you fell it without the accompany science that may now come with it?

Deep breathe in, and out! I am going to jump around a bit for this part.  I will go slowly in order to not loose anyone.  There is a think that is called imposter syndrome.  If you have ever been in a new job, with new people or in a new situation that felt that would have no idea what is going on and if anyone else finds our how you actually are clueless at what the heck is going on, they will see you as the fraud that you feel that you are.  This is a very simple explanation of the Imposter syndrome. These feeling will usually pass as you become more comfortable and accustomed to the new situations that you are in.  These feelings are very common in the trans community.  I know that I deal with them on not a daily basis but hourly, and often, even minuet by minute.

It is because of these feelings that the idea of being able to test our genetics for being trans both excites and terrifies me.  I am constantly rattled with thoughts that I am just a fraud and not even trans (or trans enough) so much that it is often like the hum of distant highways. Anywhere in our country, save a VERY few places, there is no place you can be without hearing a high way or road. Try it sometime.  Go to a place that you feel is secluded and extremely far out and jus listen.  You will hear the road.

As for the screening portion of the question rant, I know that with science, it can be either used for good or evil.  No matter what is done to prevent it, people will use the science to back whatever position they have.  All we, as people, can do is try to work to see that the most people are protected.

So, now let us look at the biggest question of the group.  What is it to be trans?  What does it mean to be trans?  I am sorry, my dear reader, I can not (and will not) answer that question.  I know it kind of feels like a bullshit answer or response.  The thing is that it is the most honest one that I can give.  If you ask 100 trans people what it means to be trans you will get 101 different answers.  I can tell you what it means TO ME to me trans but I will not be able to tell you what it means for a very close trans sister of mine to me trans.  Sure there may be a few very roughly linked themes but never 100% the same.  For me, it is finally being able to feel that I am right in my own head.  It is feeling that I am coming into my own as the person I should have been and should be, even when I did not know that person even existed for the better part of 30 years.  I am not the kind of trans person that knew for sure when they were 3 years old that they were trans.  I just knew that I never felt that I really fit.  It was not until my late teens and early 20’s that I would even think that being trans MIGHT be a thing.  Back then I came across a MtF IRC (internet relay chat) channel that I started talking in and thought, “I can not be this because I am to large and would not be real woman.”  So I pushed it out of my head.  That is where I first got the idea that there were words that might explain these feeling I felt.

Even this response opens up other question and “truths” Like, Why should I feel like I need to fit the Western standers of (unrealistic) beauty? I could not have to. I should not have to be seen as a cis female to feel valid.  I should not have to wear an hours worth of makeup to be seen as the person I know I am. I should not have to get surgery to been viewed as the person I know that I am.  I should not be missgendered worse when I wear my jeans then I do when I dress high fem.  Of course I should not have to do any of those things, but here in this world I kind of do. Yes is not fair.  Yes it is wrong.  Yes I know that I should not “have” to pass to be valid, but I know that I do.  In this world we all have to live with those things that we should have to do but still do until there is a paradigm shift. People of Color should not have to worry that they will be gunned down for speeding, but they do.  Woman should not have to worry that the person behind her on her walk home might attack her and killer her or worse, but she does.  A child should not have to worry that they might not get to eat during a weekend because they only get food from the free lunch program at school during the week, but some still do.  I am just a realist.  I know that the world should change and that it is changing, albeit slowly.

So, That was 1200 words of random thought.  Thank you, my amazing reader, for making it this far.  On to more light hearted topics.  I am going to be restarting my go-fund-me in the next few weeks.  This will be open-ended and no real upper limit or goal in mind.  I will be using the funds raised by it to help with costs of transition that are not covered by my medical insurance.  These will include cosmetic procedures link FFS (Facial Feminization Surgery) Breast Augmentation, Body Contouring and possibly Vocal Reconstruction Surgery.  I will be setting up a Google Doc that will show how every penny is spent so that you will know that I am not just taking your hard earned $$ and running. Please do not feel forced into donating if you are not able to.  That is not my goal.  If you are not able to help with $$$, please tell people about this blog.  The more readers I have, the more people can read my ramblings and maybe feel the call to help out with their $$.

So I will say THANK YOU ALL FOR ALL THAT YOU HAVE DONE BY READING THESE POSTS!!!  I love you all and will keep trying to post more often.

Cheers!!!

KJD

Cleaning and Anxiety

Cleaning the house with anxiety can be a great and horrible thing at the same time. Anxiety is not always cowering in terror. It is your mind going so fast that you can’t even catch 1/3 of your thoughts. You see all that needs to be done and you start one thing then your mind yells at you should really be working on this other thing instead and it won’t stop yelling until you work on it. Now lather, rinse and repeat until you and a million things that are started but nothing is finished. At this point you feel so overwhelmed that all you can do is sit down and cry.

I know that people will tell me to take it one thing at a time but that is not how my mind works. I try to make lists then I end of of having a physical record of things that I have started and not finished. Yep that help. #sarcasm it is at this point that I want to either just toss everything out and go back to completely nothing or box everything up and donate it. But that turns into “ well I might need that…” I promise I am not a full blown hoarder.

So then I sit down to quick do a Facebook post and it turns into a full blown blog post. So this, if you have not noticed, is not the normal blog post where I talk about school or transitioning. Let’s be honest now, there is really no “normal” for this blog. I am ok with this fact. Surprise dear reader! I am more than those two things. Ok now that I have done this mind dump and was able to get it out of my scattered mind. Thank you all for sticking out these odd posts. I love you all!

Cheers!

Karissa

Asking For Help: Strength not Weakness

Growing up I was socialized as a male.  I do not blame anyone for this.  It was a different time.  I know that I sound like some old woman saying that. “Back in my day…” It was this socialization that instilled many of the traits that allowed to make me the person I was, and if I am being completely honest still very much am. The good, bad and the ugly.  Many of the traits that I still fall back on are helpful.  These include the love of family, the willingness to sacrifice for those who you love and the servant’s heart.  These traits I see as non-gendered as they are seen as good traits regardless if you are AMAB or AFAB.  (For those who do not know, AMAB means assigned male at birth and AFAB means assigned female at birth.)   The only difference I can see in those traits is how we are taught to manifest them. In AMAB folks, these are to been shown with stoic and almost cold silence.  In those who were AFAB, these are to be expressed with warmth and caring.  Even as I write this I am seeing how this indoctrination affects the langue that I have using.  Like how when I describe AMAB I use a word like “manifests” that feels more as a clinical diagnoses then a way of feeling, and with AFAB I used “warmth are caring” which feels softer and more gentle.

There were other traits that I was taught as well.  These were not as beneficial to me I am finding out.  In the world and society that we live in AMAB people are taught at a very young that they are to be strong, resilient and unfeeling. Yes I know I am speaking in very broad generalizations here and not all AMAB’s are taught this (#notallAMAB).  I was taught that I was to go my way and repress my feeling because feeling were “for the women and the weak” and “a man was hard and unbreakable.”  This also meant that I was expected that I should be able to everything that I set out to and on my own as much, and often more then as much, then I could.  To ask for help was left for those who were failures and incompetent.  Both of those things were seen as detestable and unacceptable. I was to be the one that helps all while need no one.

As I transition I am seeing just how wrong I was.  Well more to the point, how wrong this message was and still is. I see how so many of my darkest moments could have been so much easier if I had reached out and asked for a hand up. If I am going to be honest with you, and myself I still struggle with this.  Asking for help when you need it is not a sign of weakness but one of ultimate strength and humility.  We are all finite people, regardless how you were assigned at birth.  There are times that we have where it is not only difficult to go alone but that you really should not go alone.  It is not wise or safe.

It is no secret that I suffer from depression, and anxiety.  I think that I have been very open about it here and in my real life.  Some days it ranges from a wispier on the wind to soul crushing and debilitating.  For almost 40 years I have turned into my own head when things got to it worst. This has caused me to shutout and/or pushes away those who have cared about me most.  I was so worried that I would become a burden to them that I felt that it was better for me to silently suffer.  All this was often done with a smile and the best attempt to have a smile in my voice.  When it got to the point that I could not fake it anymore I would just tell people that it was because I was tired and/or was worried about someone else.  I felt that it was of to be showing concern for others publicly but not myself.  I was not lying to everyone out of malice or the like.  Well not deliberately but a lie of omission is still a lie.  So to everyone I know and have dealt with in real life I want to say, for these sins, I am sorry.

So, good reader, why am I writing this rambling post, other than putting off studying for a final?  It is because I have been blessed with some very good friends that have pushed me and almost unrelentingly been working on me to be open and honestly seek help from them when I need it.  I have been told and educated that I am not a burden or a bother.  I have been so strong for so long that I need to allow others to be strong for me.  To these people in my life I cannot thank you enough.  I know that it has not been easy to be my friend at many of times, so thanks you for sticking with me.

I am not there yet, my amazing readers.  I am still working on it.  I know that four decades of programing cannot be wiped out overnight by some mythical personality magnet to the hard drive of my history.  I will get there.  I have faith not necessarily in who I am not but who I will become.  I know she is waiting for me on the other side and she is cheering me on.  My message to her is this.  Thank you love,  I will not let you down.

Cheers!

Karissa

Facing the Person in the Mirror

There are times where you look at the mirror and think, “Who the fuck is that looking back at me?” No, this is not going to be one of those dysphonia posts.  It is more about who we, ok I, are/am kind of posts.  While we all go through times of not knowing who we are or where we fit into this crazy world, some of those times are easier and shorter then others.

I am just finishing up the last weeks of the second to last term of nursing school.  This is the time that we, as students, have worked for so hard. The light at the end of this tunnel is now clearly in view and we know that there is an end to this hell.  With this joy comes this icy cold dagger of truth. That is, “Holy fuck!  I am about to be done and that means that I will be a real nurse!  What the fuck was I thinking?”  It is these stark realizations that can be more terrifying then anything that we have come face to face with before in our lives.  It is with good reason that we are feeling this way.  This job, no carrier, no calling comes with some great responsibilities.  It is very likely that our choices that we make could and can LITTERALY kills someone. We are going to be in charge of the lives and safety of some of the sickest and fragile people we will have even have met in a few short month.  If you are not at least a little scared then you are in the wrong line of work and PLEASE get out now.

It is this fear, no terror that keeps up sharp.  I am big believer in the idea that this is what will keep up wanting to learn the newest techniques, the newest medications, the newest treatments and the newest methods.  It is these feelings that will keep up pushing and driving us to be better, be more efficient and more compassionate.

I have worked in my ED for over 7 years now and I am the first to admit that burnout is real and that I am not immune.  I will also admit that there are day that I am not on top of my game.  I have been lucky to have work friends and family that have been there to help me through these times.  To those people I am eternally grateful.

So now that we can name and own these feelings where are we to do with them?  I say run with it.  We have made it this far and we are not going to give up now.  My people, at this point the only way out is through.  You are strong, knowledgeable and capable.  You are going to not only be nurses but you are going to be great nurses.  I do not care if you are going to work in long term care, clinic or in a hospital. I do not care if you are going to work med-surg, ICU, PACU or ED.  I do not care it you are going to work TCU or in a school.  I do not care if your stay an RN or go one to get your MD.  I want you to know that I believe in you.  I want you to know that I know that you can do this! I want you to know that you are more then your fears and more then your worries.  You are amazing and you are brilliant!  You got this!

So when you find yourself looking in the mirror asking yourself, “Who the fuck is that looking back at me?” you can say with confidence and with our any doubt, “A fucking amazing nurse, that’s who!”

Longtime coming

There are many things that I cannot get my head around.  Some of these are how my mind is working now.  I am sitting in a coffee shop in a suburb of Minneapolis and listing to Any DiFranco, dressed in a frilly top and cute black lacy maxi skirt and I have never felt more me and still like a tourist in this body all at once.  The reason that I chose this music is because of some pretentious thought that it is artsy and rough enough for me to be a “real writer” and the sad/funny/stupid thing about it is that I actually believe that shit. I find it funny the things we do to make ourselves feel valid.

Validity has been at the forefront of my mind for a while now for many reasons.  This is one of those things that always seem to come into the conciseness of every person that is struggling with their identity.  As a trans woman I kindly and fully fit into this group of people.  For many of those who maybe reading this will not know what I am talking about.  This is because you who fit into that camp have found that the places that their lives and circumstances have placed themselves in fits.  I want to tell you folks that I am not going to slam or shame you for this fact.  I will be honest and say that I am often envious of you all.  What I am going to do though is try to give you a glimpse of what is like on the other side of the looking glass that they world calls life.

I have a family that is supportive and loving.  I have friends that are supportive and loving.  I am lucky.  I am privileged and I own that fact.  I feel that I need to get that addressed from the onset.  I know many of my siblings in the alphabet who do not have that and I am going to attempt to check that privilege as much as I can, as often as I can.  I am very lucky.  This fact though does not invalidate my feelings or experience. See there is that word again, validity, so into it.

Many will ask people in my place “What is it that you see when you look into the mirror?”  I think this question is not the right question to be asking.  If you ask me that I will tell you that I see someone who is not where she needs to be. I will tell you that I still see parts of the gender that I attempted to be for almost 40 years.  I will tell you that I see more that is wrong then that is right.  I will tell you that I see something, not someone, who is more broken then whole. What I will not tell you is that I see me.  The better question it ask is, “Who do you see when you close your eyes?”  I asked this exact question to a very strong and brave young person what is very close to me that has been struggling with their gender and how they fit into their world.  The reason I like this question so much more is because it give me at much better idea how the person I am talking to not only wants to see themselves but also how they want to be seen.  This shows me what their goals and where their shortcomings are as well. The funny thing is that they may not even know that they are telling me these things.

For me when I close my eyes I see a mother.  I see a strong woman who is willing to do whatever is needed to see that the people she loves are provided for.  I see a woman who is broken but is doing her fuck all best to hold it together and not be a burden.  I see not the ‘me’ I am but the me I could be.  The ‘me’ I will be.  I see a woman who will never know the joy and fear and pain and the love of having a child of her own.  I see a woman who is stuck in a place that she does not know how to move forward from and at the same time does not know if she wants to.  Most of all I see a woman.  I see me as I truly am.  It is this reason that I am not a fan of the mirror question.  I see almost none of that in the mirror.  So what keeps me looking in the mirror everyday?  It is because every so often I catch a glimpse of that woman I see in my mind looking back at me.  She smiles back at me whispering, “Keep going, you are getting closer.  I am here and can’t wait to meet you in person.” So I do.  She is an amazing woman that I can not wait to meet and each day I get that much closer.

So dear reader, let me ask you this to you.  What do you see when you close your eyes?

Cheers!

Karissa

Xmas Double Feature

So I do not post for weeks on end and now I post twice in the same day!  WTF is up with that?  If must be an Xmas mericle!

Today is the 25th.  Last night I worked and thankfully it was not bad.  No real tramas to speak of but just a lot of sick kids.  There is the standard winter plague going around and with people traveling, things spread like wildfire.  I had some time to think about what this holiday truly means to me.  As many of you might already know I am an Atheist, but I was raised ELCA lutheran.  This means that I can still walk into any ELCA church, on any random Sunday and do the worship without opening the LBW (Lutheran Book of Worship).  Even now just thinking about that fact, my mind started the service and confession of sins on autopilot.  This also means I can remember the countless Christmas Eve services that we attended and holiday programs we did.  There are times that I miss the tradition and music.  There was something beautiful about being in my old church, the only light in the sanctuary was that of the hundred or so candles and the sounds of the congregation singing silent night.   

For me, Xmas has never been a big favorite of mine.  I have always found the time to me more stress then joy.  Part of this, ok a big part of this, came from my mild to moderate social anxiety and the rest was because of all the stuff I felt/feel I need/ed to do.  This changed ever so slightly with the birth of my kids.  I still do not like this time of year but I like to do stuff for the family so I suck it up and get through it with as gracefully as I can.  

As I said in my last post I know there are people out there, maybe even you my dear readers, that find this time of year to be almost to much to bear.  I am not going to talk down to you and tell you that is till be ok or that it will get better or to just hang in there. I will say that I understand.  If you are close to your family, please go to them and let them help.  If you are not close to your family, go to your chosen family (friends, partners and such) and let them in so they can help you through this.  If you do not feel that you have anyone and things get bad please reachout!  I will post some numbers that you can call at the end of this post.  Mental health issues are not something that takes a holiday break.  I am not going to put a bunch of cliche phrases here to try to prove anything.  I promise.     

I will close this short post with this.  No matter what you celebrate, no matter who you do or do not pray to, no matter what you call yourself, no matter how you identify or who you love, I hope this season brings you love, peace and joy.  Cling to each other however you can.  We are all in this together in the end and no one makes it out of ride alive. Drink deep, fight hard and love strongly in this thing called life.  Now is what we have and all that we are given.  Grasp it with all your might and do not let go until you are without any strength left…and maybe a few moment more.  You are loved, you are powerful and you are valid.  These three things have been, are now and will always be true no matter when you or others may tell you.  

With love and Cheers!

Karissa RN-S

Trans Lifeline (877) 565-8860

Trevor Lifeline 866-488-7386

GLBT National Help Center 1-888-843-4564

Youth Talkline 1-800-246-7743

Fenway Health Helpline 888-340-4528

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255