Types of Being “Out”

Being “out” isn’t a black and white situation. Isn’t life funny that way? Nothing is black and white. Even “black” and “white” have different shades within them (according to paint swatch cards and digital colour presentation).

Throughout my life, I’ve noticed I was “out” in many different ways. Maybe different “levels,” but I prefer to think of them as types. I don’t need to get to the next level to be any more LGBT than I am and have been while I was “out.”

Type A: Closet? What closet?

You might not even know about what closet(s) you’re sitting in. If you do, you might be in denial. You aren’t at the questioning part yet. There’s a chance you don’t even know the name of your identity.

I was this type from age 7 – 12. Yes, seven. One of my earliest memories of school is a group of bullies calling me a lesbo when I was in first grade. I didn’t know what a “lesbo” or lesbian was, since I grew up in a religious, heteronormative family. Whether they used it as a homophobic slur to label me as something wrong, or whether they saw behaviour in me that was on par with being a lesbian, they used the word. And introduced me to what it meant.

Type B: I’m only touching the closet doorknob

Are you questioning? Is this a phase? Your friends and family might wonder as well, and hell, there may be bullies or harassers who see it too. But you’re still unsure if you can own up to this new information about your ever-changing identity.

I was this type from age 12 – 13. During puberty, I came to terms with the fact that I was not straight. I wasn’t sure what I was, but I knew for a fact that I didn’t like just boys.

Type C: Okay, I’m in the closet

You’ve realised that you are such-and-such. You don’t know who to tell, or if you should tell. Who would be surprised? Who wouldn’t be surprised? If you have LGBT+ friends, you might not be out to them either.

I was this type while I was 13. I luckily had a small group of great friends after I evolved from this type, so it was easier to trust them.

Type D: Members-Only access to the closet

You’re out to only a selection of people. These could be your friends, family, or strangers online. But it’s still an exclusive group—you don’t tell everyone about your gender or sexuality. You still guard it, since there may be dangers, discomforts, or disaster if you were out to more people.

I’ve been this type since I was 14. A few things have changed since I started coming out (bisexual to pansexual, for instance; the discovery of a gender identity). But I’m still here, over 8 years later.

Type E: Welcome to my closet—I mean crib!

Your gender or sexuality is one of the first things someone new learns about you. Your friends and family know about it—some may be supportive, some may be uncomfortable, and others may even be malicious. But you’re comfortable enough about your identity to present it as part of you, regardless of who they are. Of course, there may be exceptions, but nearly everyone close to you knows about it.

I don’t think every LGBT+ member can be Type E.

We live in a world where different societies have different degrees of acceptance for gender and sexuality. But the majority of the world is still narrow-minded and bigoted, and anything different from Type A or B can present numerous risks.

Whatever type you are, your identity is still valid. You don’t have to prove your sexuality or your gender by waving a pride flag, just like religious people don’t have to prove their faith by telling everyone they know about it.

Stay where you’re comfortable. The world is still changing—even if it is hella slow.

Types Of Being Out

A Typical Girl Day

I am DFAB—designated female at birth. This means my anatomy lines up with the gender expression of “female” or “woman” or “girl” or “feminine.” I am aware of this every time I wake up. Every month when my uterus cramps and blood dribbles between my legs. Every time I look at my breasts. Every stranger politely saying “miss” or “ma’am.”

The Day Before

I am calm and collected. My outfit planned for the next day is tight-fitting so I can enhance and admire the curves and lumps on my body. Maybe I’ll wear a dress, I think. I look forward to the next day when I know nobody will misgender me. When I change into my sleepwear, I know that the part of my that is a boy is slightly bitter. A part of my resents the fact that I can “pass” more easily as a female gender—the fact that people read me as a girl. By default, people assume my gender based on my looks. I apologise to myself. Someone will always assume something.

The Morning Of

My hair is easier to manage than it normally is. The way it falls complements my face in a way that makes me believe I’m beautiful. I know that I don’t need makeup to try and change the way my face looks—to make it look more feminine—like I do when I want to look masculine. The bitterness creeps up again: I am not always a woman, but today I am and everyone will agree with me. That bitter feeling fades a little after I get dressed and ready to go outside. The anxiety comes back in full force when I’m ready to step out the door.

Will I get catcalled today? Will a man refuse to move out of my way on the sidewalk? Will the elderly cashier call me “sweetie” or “hun” or “dear” and make me uncomfortable? Will someone on the bus gawk at me? Will someone comment or grimace at my leg and armpit hair if it’s showing? Will people see me as a girl without being a sexist pig?

Interactions

I power through my discomfort and am aware of all the eyes. Aware of all the men who walk toward me and only move out of my way at the last second, or who don’t move at all and knock into my elbows. Aware of the stare I know is coming from the person on the other end of the bus. Nobody is confused that I am a girl today and everyone knows what pronouns to use, if they use them.

I don’t mind touching my friends today with hugs or by leaning against them. For once, my body matches my gender and I find a sense of peace. I know that this feeling is fleeting, and that next week or afternoon, I’ll feel differently. For most of the day, I feel confident. I don’t let myself be made small, whether I’m sitting on a chair or standing at the bus stop.

Someone driving by calls me a fat whore and my confidence shatters. I want to throw in the towel and go home. So I do.

The Night Of

Some days my body is good enough. To most people, they don’t care about my body. To some people, my body is always good enough. And to others, the small number of people, they manage to find my biggest insecurity and rip it open. My body is not good enough. My body will always have something wrong with it. And even the pieces of scum who drive by and insult women are right about that. They are wrong in how my body is wrong—being fat and sexual is not wrong—but they unknowingly remind me that I will never be comfortable as myself.

As a woman, I am a target trying to make herself as small as possible. As a man, I am a body trying to be different. As both, I cannot exist in this society. Identifying as a cisgender woman is impossible for myself, but the default for everyone who doesn’t know me. Identifying as a transgender man is impossible, and I am not aiming to transition and be rid of the DFAB body, which means someone will always see me as a female because of my anatomy. Identifying as both throws everyone out of whack because they never know which one I am. As if I know all the time. As if my gender identity is black and white, clear-cut, or systematic. As if my gender is a light switch to flick off and on.

In this society, I can’t be both and hope to be accepted as both—maybe as one or the other. The binary exists and I am expected to pick one. I can’t even figure out if there might be a third gender because this binary gender system is so all-encompassing that I feel like I can’t escape. Hell, some days I’m neither, but I still identify as both because “genderfluid” doesn’t sit well with me.

There is always something to be uncomfortable about when you are a woman. As I finish the day, I think about the ways I’d like my body to change—masculine or feminine, female or male. The mantras surrounding body positivity tell me to love my body, and that I should be happy with it, and I should appreciate it. But I still feel broken because only a small handful of people remind me that I am whole no matter what doesn’t line up properly.

Tomorrow will be better in some way.

More On My Gender Identity

Bigender Basics

A Typical Boy Day

A Typical Girl Day

Opening Up About My Eating Disorder

I’m not going to get into how my disordered eating arose, or why it began, or whatever else I think started it. The beginnings don’t matter in this case. I want it to end.

It’s easy to self-diagnose an eating disorder once you become aware of it. Maybe I have a specific eating disorder that a professional could inform me of—whether it’s binge eating or not—but the fact remains: I have an eating disorder. Sometimes I binge. Sometimes I purge. Sometimes I eat and I’m like “I have more energy now!” and carry on with my day.

I’m obsessed with how I look. I’m obsessed with the food I put into my body. I’m obsessed with nutrient information. And those obsessions aren’t necessarily a bad thing. They can be a motivator—a way to improve self-esteem, get stronger, and be knowledgeable about what you eat—if there’s a positive drive. But when looking at myself, feeding my body, and reading nutrient labels, the underlying emotion is guilt.

I can’t eat anything without being ashamed for eating it. Nobody else shames me these days—I distinctly remember people criticising my eating up until I was 16. Tuna salad… yogurt… Someone always had something to say to tell me I was doing it wrong, or at least in a way that let me know they were judging me.

The pattern of shame and guilt has continued, even when nobody comments on my eating. Sometimes people do, and I ask them not to; it’s a trigger for me. Even a simple, “Oo, hungry today?” or “That looks so delicious,” can remind me that 1) people see what I eat and 2) people have judged me for it. A well-meaning comment doesn’t mean I’ll take it that way. It’s hard to outgrow associations in your formative years.

I could eat two boiled eggs, half an avocado, and a banana, and I’ll find a way to feel ashamed and guilty for eating.

Let me repeat that:

I’ll find a way to feel ashamed and guilty for eating.

What kind of life is that to live? Not being able to eat without berating myself and feeling like I’m doing something wrong?

“Feeding myself is wrong.”

“Eating this is bad.”

“I should eat something better.”

There’s so much morality attached to my eating habits and I’m sick of it. I’m sick of feeling like I’m not allowed, like something is forbidden, like this plateful is taboo. Those adjectives are so fucking abstract anyway—wrong? Bad? Better? There’s a comparative to them that I don’t acknowledge. If there’s a wrong, there’s a right. A bad, a good. A better, a worse.

The right is eating. The wrong is eating something that will hurt you.

The good is eating. The bad is eating something that will hurt you.

The worse is bingeing. The better is eating.

I recently got out of a binge cycle that made my mouth sore, my stomach upset, and my intestines ache. Getting out of my head and focusing on my body is good enough to tell me that I made a mistake.

It’s a mistake I don’t want to make again, or at least not as often as I did.

I’ve been trying for four years to break out of my disordered eating. In 2014, I made some progress. In 2015, I made some progress. This year, I haven’t made much progress. But I’m determined now to truly break away from it.

I’ve set up a book for helping me through this. In it, I’ve listed some goals:

  • Overcome bingeing
  • Develop a healthy relationship with food
  • Create awareness with my body

I’m trying to relearn my hunger, and it’s worked incredibly well the past 7 months. I let myself be hungry before I eat, especially when I know I have 1) easy access to food; and 2) good food coming soon. To me, there’s no point in trying to “maintain” a level of hunger that isn’t hungry. So many places for health and eating suggest snacking and meals in order to bring down levels of hunger so you’re not hungry.

Why? Why should I stop feeling hungry? Why should I dash that gurgle in my tummy away?

Unless I’m lightheaded, dizzy, weak, sluggish, tired, or anything affecting my activity, there’s no reason to chase away the hunger so soon. I’ve come to enjoy it. It’s a small conversation with my body, with my organs. I’m not going to deprive my stomach food when it wants it. I’ll just do it after we’ve had a little talk.

I’m also not going to punish my body with workouts, whether it’s cardio, strength training, or yoga. My body is strong and deserves a place to show off its strength: that’s where exercise comes in for me. It’s a celebration of my skills. A way to remind my mind that my body can do things that my mind said it couldn’t. In a way, my body gives the middle finger to that corner of festering guilt and shame. It says, “You see this? You see what I’m doing? You never believed in me. You have nothing to refute this strength.”

It’s impossible to refute the strength of my body. My mind and willpower are the ones who need to change—not my body.

I talk about my eating disorder, and how the guilt and shame of eating has ruined my happiness.

Therapy Diary: Day 7

Blue and white paint splattered and dripping down a black wall.

My first short-term therapy session was on January 15 and the last was on March 18. It’s been two months since I last saw my counsellor and I can definitively say that even this short amount of counselling was helpful.

What’s Changed?

I’m doing more yoga and I’ve been approaching it differently than I did last year. There’s something more to it now. Before, it was focus on shape and form and getting a pose correct. Now, I focus on how it feels: how I can feel my strength or my weakness; my inhales and exhales. In particular, I can feel a connection between all of my body parts. Yoga has been one of the best practises I could have chosen, since it drastically lowers my dissociation—though I still struggle with it.

I’m also more aware of what sets me off/what triggers me. In particular, what triggers my anger and my panic attacks. I can’t even describe how this has helped me be able to even deal with life. From talking to people to running errands to sitting alone, I’m aware of my emotions and understand how to express or disperse them.

What’s The Same?

My depression is still fairly the same. I’m not that happy and barely anything gives me joy. But I’m trying not to dwell on that, on how I should be, or how I want to be. I know my friends have noticed it, and I’m trying not to talk about it because it’s a cyclical conversation. I’ll start talking about being depressed and it increases. This isn’t something I’ve learned to resource/cope with/deal with/etc. Pick a synonym.

I’m also still struggling with my dissociation. It isn’t as intense as it was in January, but it’s still around. I feel like the film on top of a stew left to cool on the stove. Like, I’m still part of the stew—or my Self—but it isn’t the same. I can’t simply stir the film back into the stew to have a whole stew—a whole Self.

What Next?

I’m going to be completely honest here: I don’t know.

I do not know what to do next.

I know I still have a lot of work ahead of me, but I’m not ready to take on more. I’m just going to continue doing what I’m doing and hope that, little by little, something else will change. I guess there won’t be anything new to do: simply practising what I’ve learned in the hopes it’ll become habit or second-nature instead of a conscious effort.

Therapy Diary Day 7

Therapy Diary: Day 6

Blue and white paint splattered and dripping down a black wall.

Pre-Session

I woke up at 6:45am because someone was being loud outside the house, on the street level below my window. I take too long to get back to sleep, but I wake up to my alarm and snooze it—not because I want to keep sleeping, but because I want to do some light yoga to help get my body awake. And not as stiff.

My morning prep is routine and a bit of a blur. I make a cup of coffee—instant, hazelnut flavour. Measured meticulously so I don’t fuck it up and make it overly sweet or bitter or watery or milky. It’s divine. Cheerios for breakfast, along with a banana.

I’ll do the dishes when I’m back. I’ll probably be five minutes late for my 11:00am appointment, but that’s okay. Better late than never.

Session

I feel like I’m relaying everything I’ve learned. I still haven’t mentioned to her the various hallucinations that have started cropping back up. I’m not ready. But she remarks on the differences I’ve told her, and encourages me. She gives me some more advice, as she normally does, and all I can think about is my pride.

I say, “I don’t know,” a lot, and don’t feel bad about it.

We talk about the past, the future, and my memory. I get more advice on a technique to deal with my childhood trauma—and the things that trigger it—in order to help with my thought process. That kinda cognitive behavioural stuff, y’know.

I’ve been being kinder to myself and it shows. My dissociation is still strong, but I said it was more like I was attached to my body as a balloon on a string, instead of my body dragging along a suitcase. She enjoys my analogies. She’s big on them.

Since I’ve been doing yoga daily this week, I think I’ve been more mindful and present in my body. Starting off, she said we would be working on mindfulness. At first, I thought it was that mumbo-jumbo about “being present” and “being here” and “being aware” that doesn’t have a specific recipient. Present where? Where is “here”? What am I aware of?

But that was the point. I’ve learned how to be more all-encompassingly mindful. I’m more aware of others and I’m more aware of myself. I’m not so much in a fog as I once was.

I talk about my former room mate (who she later said was “Satan room mate” and I laughed), my boyfriend, and my bunny. I know that having my rabbit with me has helped me put to practice what I’ve been taught.

Everything goes back to the same system of roots. The same seedling that grew into a tree, strengthened by the many events and situations that developed its foundation and how deep it planted itself. I’m encouraged to sow new seeds and nurture them.

I haven’t made as much progress on my psychosomatic connection, but that’s okay. There’s no rush to an “end” since this is all stuff I need to continually practice and refine. The sparkly feeling in my shoulders is back. I’m more aware of where my emotions sit in my body—the physical reaction to my feelings, to put it simply. I just don’t know what to do with it.

This session progresses really quickly.

Post-Session

I have another cup of coffee because holy crap this instant coffee tastes so good. I’m less disoriented today than from previous sessions. We didn’t reschedule immediately, so I’ll have to make an appointment at a later date. I’m not sure when I’ll schedule it for, but I don’t want to simply not reschedule.

This has been too helpful to neglect. I don’t think I’ll “regress” or anything like that. I’ve learned too much and grown and changed so much that doing so—going back to how I was—would be literally impossible.

The rest of my day is incredibly productive. Work work and school work get done. I even make some progress on taxes.

Starting this therapy was an act of self-love.

Therapy Diary: Day 6

Therapy Diary: Day 5

Blue and white paint splattered and dripping down a black wall.

Pre-Session

I’ve had a gruelling morning. My co-worker and I were attempting to make some changes on our employer’s website—something that should be easy for me—but ran into obstacle after obstacle after obstacle. All I’m gonna say: if you hire a third party to register and set up your website, make sure you save the credentials for logins to your registrar and host. Fuck. We had hoped to relax after an assumed quick fix by watching a movie, but didn’t have time to do so.

I’ve been plagued by migraines all week, but today has been alright. Some slight discomfort, but nothing as terrible as Monday or Tuesday. Last night I didn’t sleep very well, unfortunately. The initial stages of falling asleep seem to be the most difficult for me, all the getting comfortable and feeling restful. On top of that, my sleep was broken up a bunch.

Initially, my session was scheduled for last Friday, but the headcold I had came first and I prioritised sleep above therapy. It was a good decision. The offices then bumped my appointment up an hour—a small scheduling error on their part—and I’m glad for that. Means there’s less time for me to build up any nervousness.

Today, I plan on telling my therapist that I’m not sure where to go from here. That I feel like I’m talking in circles. A few of the exercises she gave me have helped immensely, so I want to get more of those. They’re concrete. I can work with them more easily than with abstract thought mechanisms.

In my class yesterday, my professor gave me the best definition of Freud’s id, ego, and super ego theories. I think I’m going to mention it to my therapist. I think my super ego is overdeveloped, in a sense, and has suffocated both my id and ego. Like an iceberg turned upside down.

I’ve also been dwelling in a lot of dissatisfaction and discouragement. And I want to mention how terrible I am with setting goals and my whole attitude toward them in general.

We’ll see what happens. I have about an hour to kill until I need to go to the building. I chose the 3pm slot instead of the 2pm slot, since I figured I wouldn’t face the dilemma of “Do I knock on the door? Should I wait elsewhere?” if the 2pm slot remains free—which it might not.

Maybe I should do some yoga. Or take a shower. I definitely need to eat lunch. I’m still nervous, but this time because I’m not sure where or how to continue. But I know that the best method to resolve this is not to just stop going—it’s to mention it to my therapist. The key is communication, after all.

I’ve been craving junk food all week. Maybe I’ll get something tonight. But maybe I won’t.

Session

I arrive a little late and the door is propped open. A gentle knock. The standard routine—she signs me in and I remove my coat and boots. Lotus position.

Head nodding. Some resources to reference back to. I feel very good about myself.

I’m understanding more this time around. My nerves have dissipated. I don’t think I’m ready yet to dive into one of the techniques she’s had me go through each session, but it’s in my mind and I’m aware of it. That’s already a step in the direction of utilising it. It’s like a habit I have to pick up.

A good analogy. Praise. A sparkly movement in my shoulders.

She sits beside me to explain the resources and it’s the closest we’ve ever been to each other. Her winged eyeliner is on fleek omg. All of our interactions have been in this dim room, her a few feet away in one chair or the other. I’ll re-type these sheets when I have some spare time this weekend. One of them looks especially helpful, but I want to change the format. I’ll give the current column set-up a try, since there’s no harm in trying it that way. But I get the feeling a mind-map layout would work better for me.

Nebulous thoughts.

She moves my awareness elsewhere and it confuses me. I realise how comfortably out of my body I’ve been this week. My emotional reactions have been stunted somatically. I think that’s the next journey to take.

2 weeks until the next one. I think the time to process and experiment and put in effort by myself will help me.

Post-Session

I think I’ll treat myself to some greasy, carb-filled food today—simply because I want to and don’t feel bad about wanting it. Maybe a buffalo chicken poutine from a small restaurant around the corner.

Since I didn’t cry this time, and I don’t feel shaken up or moved around, I can dive right into some schoolwork I have.

Progress. Onward.

Therapy Diary Day 5

Therapy Diary: Day 4

Blue and white paint splattered and dripping down a black wall.

Pre-Session

I woke up late. I had a meeting with my employer and co-workers beforehand. My appointment is earlier in the day, which is alright. I don’t have a chance to feel anxious for the session. But I also don’t have much time to get ready for it, either. I eat breakfast and shower late, and then arrive 5 minutes after my appointment is supposed to start. At least this time around, the door is open and I don’t feel awkward approaching it.

Session

I have trouble focusing and being present. Some of what I say feels like verbatim repetition of earlier sessions, but again: patterns. The time flies by quickly, despite the long bouts of silence from me. In a way, my counsellor helps guide me through a meditative exercise. I tell her often that it is difficult, and that having difficulties learning something new makes me feel frustrated. My crying this session is less violent. Just tears and a head-filled sadness and emotional release.

I talk about my body image issues and receive tools for combating my hyper-critical thoughts and judgements about myself. She emphasises balance over removal of the thoughts.

A bridge analogy. Fluidity between extremes. A flow and an ebb between deep sea and shallow shore, rather than a metronome tick between left and right. I think of the moon and its cycles from full visibility to full shadow. Something in me feels peace, but I don’t know where and have trouble accessing it.

Post-Session

I feel like I learned the most in this session. It will be three weeks until I’m in here again, the dimmed light and green walls making me feel almost safe. Instead of leaving and feeling a little disoriented, unsure, and emotionally shuffled, I have taken away knowledge. I am more aware of how to be mindful.

I return to my journal, left closed after the page from the first session. I want to make lists and find the thoughts I need to balance out the ones I currently have. There is effort needed. Pure effort. A desire to make a change. Learning how to try has been one of the hardest lessons for me to start, let alone master.

I can think of a future.

I am motivated to look forward to something.

This is definitely progress.

The fourth session in my therapy experience.

Therapy Diary: Day 3

Blue and white paint splattered and dripping down a black wall.

Pre-Session

I don’t want to go today, but it’s too late to cancel without needing to pay a cancellation fee. I don’t know why I don’t want to go, but I’m not thinking hard on it.

I know I’m doing something good for myself. I am reminding myself to be patient, to be kind to myself, to be mindful of how I express and feel and react.

When I arrive on the hour for the beginning of my session, the door is closed. The meeting room adjacent, with its windows and boardroom table and multiple chairs, has a few people sitting around in it. I hesitate outside the door. Should I knock? I knocked last time, but something tells me I should stop. I kill time by going to the bathroom and then come back. My instincts were right. I hear voices near the door and it opens. I give a small smile to the person coming out of the door, and feel awkward standing right outside. I know how it feels to walk out of that room. She smiles but I can tell she was crying. I know the puffy face. I still don’t know the protocol. Perhaps, for future sessions, I’ll wait around, be a few minutes late, and see if the door is open when I arrive.

Session

At this point, I feel like I’m repeating myself. Didn’t I say this before? Didn’t I relay this information already? But these are patterns, not verbatim repeats and replays. And all these things I feel, all these parts of me, have one source. Not multiple sources. There are roots in a poisoned ground, and all these shaking leaves, these rushing winds past branches, come up from those series of roots.

I am a computer and my files are being defragmented. I am being rearranged, and it’s taking time, but once the process is done–not forever, of course; it will require maintenance–but once it is completed this first time, this long-haul and messy process, I can access things more easily.

There is nothing inherently wrong with me. I have just been broken so many times without any repairs.

Metaphors, analogies, comparisons. Because emotions are hard to talk about.

Post-Session

When I return home, I notice Netflix has added Inside Out. Watching it—this was the first time—was a serendipitous moment. Content from my session lined up with this beautiful, fantastic, and (I believe) important movie. I feel a bit better. I don’t do much else for the day, but that’s okay with me. I need to be alone and let my emotions do their thing, my files rearrange, my branches shed their leaves and regrow.

Still nervous and scared.

The third session in my therapy experience.

Therapy Diary: Day 2

Blue and white paint splattered and dripping down a black wall.

Pre-Session

I’m nervous again but I get the feeling that this is normal and will possibly lessen as I get more comfortable with this interaction and entire shift in mindset.

Before my session, I run a few errands. It is 3 minutes before my appointment time and the door is closed. Last session, it was propped open. I am nervous, hesitate, then lightly knock on the door. My hands are overflowing with my overcoat and personal effects—I thought I would be late and rushed to get here, despite the fact that the two places I went were in the same hall. I am grateful for the “Just a sec!” response. I put things away and the door opens.

Session

I feel confident.

And I know I’m faking most of it.

I try to pay attention to some things, but I am hyper-aware of myself and how my gaze blanks out straight ahead of me, toward a filing cabinet and a poster that has Comic Sans in the titles.

We are always growing, changing, and learning—even the people who are unkind, or seem to judge and reject us.

Sit with an emotion to see what it does.

Be kind to yourself.

I blank on things to say and talk about. I don’t know why, but I’m not going to explore the why. I’m only going to explore what I want to talk about. For next session, I hope I can remember the ones I forgot for this one. And I hope I can have the courage to mention the ones I was still too afraid to mention.

Post-Session

Am I a fake? This is all pointless and I’m failing at it. I can’t open up enough. I can’t get comfortable and let myself do this. I feel blocked and resistant and I don’t know why. I think a part of me doesn’t want to get help, or be helped, or learn something about help and being helped.

And of course I blame myself for this. As if something is wrong with me, when really there isn’t anything wrong or different or abnormal. Everyone I know has mentioned the difficulty of starting therapy.

I still feel like I’m the only one doing something wrong.

Even safe spaces have adjustment periods.Therapy Diary: Day 2--Blog post about my personal experience going into therapy for my mental health. Day 2 = The second session.

Therapy Diary: Day 1

Blue and white paint splattered and dripping down a black wall.

Pre-Session

I slept like shit last night. My mind raced and my body found small nuisances, like a stuffed nose, dry air, and the weight of too many blankets. I think it was around 3:30am when I finally managed to pass out? And of course I woke up at 8:30 .

I blame nerves and anxiety.

My appointment is for 3:00pm and I can’t concentrate on the other tasks for today, since I’m worrying about how the first session will go. This will be the third time I’ve seen a therapist—the first was in 2010 and was… okay. My mother asked me about each session, wanting to know what I talked about. It was a fucking nightmare and made my progress worse. It was only a short term series of appointments, too. Once the term was up, I didn’t know what action to take afterward. I think I was okay for a while.

The second time was in 2013, almost two years ago from this third time around. I saw the therapist a couple of times, but then stopped. I don’t remember why.

I know the logistics of a therapy session. I know more or less what to expect.

I guess I’m scared of letting myself be vulnerable and opening up to someone who can help.

I don’t have much trouble being open. But I do still censor and monitor myself when I am open, particularly when I know how the recipient generally reacts to what I might say, especially when the person is only a listener.

Right now, I need more than a listener.

I could be much worse than I am, but I want to prevent the Rock Bottom Effect; I know I’m edging toward a cliff, and I’d rather get help now in walking away from the cliff, or building a safety wall at the edge of the cliff, or taking some other precaution so I don’t metaphorically jump off the cliff.

I know I’m going to cry. I’m a crier even when it isn’t in the context of speaking about my feelings, thoughts, and experiences.

I’m going to make a list of what I might say, only to avoid fumbling and rambling. Maybe write down what I hope to get out of therapy, and anything else that comes to mind, so I have a better starting point.

I hope I jive well with the therapist. She has a cool name.

Session

“We become thinkers.”

“As you watched everything happen, you learned how to strategise and how to survive.”

“You were just a little girl.”

I cry a lot and she draws my attention to how my body responds to my thoughts, how my voice changes, the positioning of my hands, my breathing. She talks about anatomy and autonomy; about curiosity and survival. I wish I had brought water. Crying and breathing and talking for 45 minutes turns my mouth into a bundle of gel, from mucous and saliva and air mingling together. I’ll remember for next time.

I revealed a lot about myself from the first few minutes and questions. She clarifies the pronunciation of my name. I ask if I can remove my boots, and then get into a comfortable seat on the couch.

She’s good at what she does: a Buddhist, non-judgemental, experienced in her field. I’m grateful for her position as a guide more than a listener. Instead of talking at her about my experiences, receiving a few questions, she directs me inward and explains and uses analogies.

I sense a glimmer of progress.

Post-Session

I still feel disconnected and dissociated, but that’s okay. When I return home, my eyes puffy and my face salt-stained from tears, I drink water and prepare a cup of herbal tea. After sitting at my desk and sipping half of the orange spice tea away, I grab a notebook and journal some thoughts and make some lists. Judgement. Rationalisation. Criticism. Curiosity. I am an expanding puzzle, missing parts of my frame. Who cares about the picture when there are pieces of emptiness riddling the scene?

I cry some more, because that’s what I do. I will see her next week and I’m hopeful, nervous, and excited for what will happen.Therapy Diary: Day 1--Blog post about my personal experience going into therapy for my mental health. Day 1 = The first session.