So, hi!

10 Nov

I’m probably not going to write at this blog ever again.

[given my track record with official ultimatums, watch me start blogging here again in a week {that was a joke, it isn't happening, I made this decision a long time ago}]

It just doesn’t feel right anymore, but I’d like to give my readers official notice because y’all are pretty fantastic.

I guess I’ll reintroduce myself? I’m Gray (formerly niema), a 23 year old nonbinary person with various and sundry somewhat nerdy interests.

I have a twitter: avocadosaurus

A tumblr: foxylittlemushroom

A dreamwidth: bowloffoxtrot

And a facebook and a google+, but those have my last name on them so I have to know you before giving those out.

Lots of love,

niema

Meta: Messing with Appearance

19 Jul

I’ve changed to a different pre-built site theme, and am about to start playing with the CSS, so the appearance of the site may be wonky for a time.

Sorry for any inconvenience. Feel free to e-mail me at niemaodpowiedzi [at] gmail [dot] com with any requests for additions to the webpage, or if you notice a bug in the display(the only browsers currently at my disposal are Chrome 5 and Internet Explorer 6).

EDIT: It will probably take me a couple of days or weeks to get things where I want them, but I will try to keep the site operational throughout.

On Therapy

18 Jul

When I was thirteen, my parents took me to a therapist against my will.

They had just separated and were preparing for the divorce to be legalized, and were worried about my reactions to all that, because I was angry and snarky and bitter and didn’t like being around people, and I had made the mistake of telling them this.

The therapist, S., was most concerned by the fact that I didn’t hang out with my classmates from school or have any of their phone numbers. Ou did not see my desire to be alone as valid, and demanded that I become less averse to social interaction in the course of my treatment with ou.

This is how I learned to fake it.

My mother had recently decided that what the two of us needed was a “church family.” So, in order to please S.’s and my parents’ expectations/desires for me to be other than myself, the youth group at the church my mom chose became my ruse – my pretend friendships. I spent every Sunday afternoon at the church with the other teens, trying to look healthy enough to get out of the therapy that made me miserable.

Finally, I made it. A year and a few months later, S. and my parents agreed that I was “cured” of my social aversions. A successful intervention in my alienation from the rest of society, or so it was deemed.

Fast-forward almost ten years. Present day, present time.

I don’t trust people. I am incapable of feeling safe around them. I live in my room, avoiding leaving it for almost any reason. I try to ignore my need for food or the toilet or bathing facilities because these things are kept outside my protective barrier of wood and sheetrock.

I don’t trust, or like, or want to be near people. I have anxiety attacks when I do need to be around others.

My mother, in her latest round of “cure niemaodpowiedzi,” believes I will be less depressed if I stop isolating myself. If I do things like go to libraries and spend time around the people in them. If I go to therapy, because “you remember how much S. helped you with this before, right?”

And it’s not that I don’t think a therapist wouldn’t help the agoraphobia. It’s not even about my fears that a therapist won’t be able to tell the difference between my social phobia and introversion. It really isn’t about that at all. I think, actually, therapy scares the pants off me because I don’t know how to find “a good one” without getting hurt more in the process.

Cross-posted to Tumblr.

[Redacted]

8 Jun

This post will meander. It probably won’t make a hell of a lot of sense. A specific set of words has been censored out because I can’t feel safe knowing people know how deeply I feel those words. If I don’t censor them out, this post will wind up in the WordPress trash bin, just like the dozens of other posts like it I’ve tried to write in the past.

Comments will be closed. I don’t think I can handle them.

Trigger warning.

I have [redacted]. I am a clinically depressed woman who doesn’t always take her antidepressants or go to the doctor when scheduled or do what she’s supposed to, and I have [redacted]. [Redacted] is one of those things where, if you have it, (according to the local prescriptivists) you need to see a doctor and stay on antidepressants and take care of yourself so that [redacted] doesn’t become [even more redacted]. I’ve heard arguments about [redacted], saying that people with depression coinciding with [redacted] don’t have any rights to their autonomy any longer, that they have, just by having [redacted] have turned in their bodies as forfeit to whomever is deemed as having medical authority over themselves. We are no longer autonomous, because people just don’t trust those with [redacted] to not [even more redacted].

I read a story recently, about a guy talking to his friends about [redacted]. Said friends reported guy to the police (Not linking, because it feels too close to admitting [redacted]).

This shit hurts, y’all. It hurts me, that people don’t trust me once I admit [redacted] to not [even more redacted] or [yet another redaction]. And why is [redacted] something I have to admit? Why won’t my brain let me call [redacted] by its name, on my own goddamn pseudonymous blog? Why can’t I trust that I will be safe, that someone won’t have the police trace my IP because they’re worried about the possibility of [even more redacted]? Why isn’t my autonomy guaranteed, even in what is supposedly a safe space that I control the content on?

I remember a blog post, over a year ago now, which was my first real encounter with ableism in internet feminism. The OP posited that a person in ou’s life deserved to have zir autonomy demolished, because of [redacted] and [redaction the fourth]. I remember reading that post, and the several hundred comments long comment thread (nearly all of which commended the original poster), repeatedly over several weeks, sobbing each time.

Why aren’t I real? Why in the flying fuck don’t I matter? Why is [redacted] your license to control my body with medical treatment, interference in my daily life with law enforcement? Why can’t you act on what I want? Why don’t you trust me to deal with [redacted] in the way I choose (and yes, doing nothing is a legitimate choice.)? Why don’t you trust me? Why?

Vacuums

30 May

Yesterday morning, I owned a vacuum cleaner – a gift.

It was red. And beautiful. And mine.

The giver – my mother – affirmed repeatedly this last point. It was mine. She would support me in keeping it. She would never claim it as hers.

So I let myself see it as mine. I cherished the fact that my mother gave me something – fulfilled my need to live in an environment free of dirt on the floor. The present of a vacuum cleaner meant that my mother cared for me, in spite of her previous abusive behaviour. It meant that I had the security of knowing that my mother gave a shit.

And now it belongs to her. She claimed it yesterday afternoon.

Anxiety Triggers

25 May

Herein lies a list of a number of my anxiety attack triggers. This is not a conclusive list of my triggers, nor should it be taken as representative of any other person’s anxiety triggers, but I consider it quite interesting nonetheless. Several of these are subcategories, rather than categories unto themselves, but WordPress doesn’t allow that level of bullet complexity. It should be taken as given that this post may trigger an anxiety reaction in readers.

Without further ado, the list:

  • Large crowds
  • The Beatles song “Run For Your Life,” from their album Rubber Soul (serious trigger warning on the lyrics). I can’t even listen to the album, which has some of my favorite songs on it, because of this damn song.
  • Transportation: driving, being driven, anticipation of either. Often begin to visualize gory wrecks.
  • Small crowds
  • Small spaces
  • Interaction with my mother
  • Interaction with my lover’s mother or father
  • Interaction with strangers
  • Interaction with doctors/health professionals
  • Discussing anxiety/anxiety attacks
  • Snakes, living or dead or in pictorial representations
  • Bugs on my skin
  • Physical pain
  • Phone calls
  • Unexpected touch
  • Expected touch
  • Breeze on leg/arm/head hair
  • Being too cold
  • Being too warm
  • Socks on my feet
  • Spilling a drink, especially on myself
  • Loud noises, especially unanticipated loud noise
  • The idea of eating or touching meat
  • Going to classes
  • Missing classes
  • Itchy skin
  • Waiting rooms
  • Music I don’t like
  • Lack of personal space
  • Grocery stores
  • Showers/bathing

Re: Diagnosed

18 Feb

I saw a psychiatrist today. He was not a jerk and we talked about Warhammer and World of Warcraft and the Sims. He keeps fish in his office.

Also, he diagnosed me as bipolar with social anxiety.

I have something to say.

11 Feb

I’ve tried to start this post so many times over the past several months, and failed to say what I needed to. Probably because I’m not sure what I need to say, even still. It is long (2000+ words), and quotes other people’s writing extensively. If that’s not your cuppa, I bid thee farewell for this post. [*note - ableist language used as example of mother's verbal abuse*]

I’ve been raised to believe that I’m the problem in my mother’s and my relationship. That my possessions are the majority of the clutter. That my laundry is the majority of the laundry in the house. That I eat so often, I cause most of the dirty dishes in the house. I’ve never contributed enough to my mother’s household – either in cleaning, or by monetary means. I’m ungrateful and have an entitlement complex. My passive-aggressivity is not a learned behavior, but rather is my fault and I need to fix it or else. I mismanage finances to upset my mother’s financial success, instead of using money in a responsible manner. My depression and social anxiety can be fixed and/or cured by interacting more with my mother. My difficulty functioning in a room with mismatched dresser knobs or sloppy paint jobs are just examples of me being difficult and procrastinating. See also: my phone anxiety. I need to drop everything (including, quite possibly, other people’s needs whose schedules depend on mine) to help my mother do things. I’m a lazy piece of shit and I just need to get over my issues so I can be more useful for her. My religious views need to be put out of sight to avoid offending people.

My mother is emotionally abusive.

It took me until late 2008 to acknowledge anything my mother had done to me as abusive – one series of conversations, over a number of weeks. Until she moved away in June, I remained convinced that only the conversations we had had over the past 6-7 months qualified as abusive.

I didn’t – it didn’t occur to me that I ought to – take into account the years and years of conversation before that, where she insisted that I was useless, worthless, a drain on her resources, stupid, and so forth. I didn’t take into account the control over my actions, the words I used (negativity was not welcome, coming from me), my hairstyle (especially from about 11-16, I was forced to change my hairdo to suit my mother’s requirements), the silence I maintained over my political views, the coercing behaviour which taught me my body was, by default, vile. I didn’t think about the therapy I didn’t want at 13-14 but was taken to anyway; I didn’t think about her insistence I join a religion I had no need for or interest in (and understand this – I did become a member of this religion for 2 years, though I believe this was partially an escape from home life and to allow myself to build a social network on my own terms). I didn’t realize she was just as bad before – I didn’t know I was the one who had changed.

In August 2008, 4 months before the conversations mentioned above, I began reading feminist blogs. Slowly, at first – Shakesville and Shapely Prose, then, as I discovered the concept of RSS feeds, more blogs were added. I started identifying myself on my own terms. I started thinking in words like “autonomy,” “agency,” “auto-identification,” “acceptance.” I realized that I was attracted to more people than labels like “straight” allowed. This…this…revolution (!) was going on in my brain, and my mother was able to destroy more of my identity than she could before, because I was, for once, forming an identity outside the one she set for me.

A 2006 blog post by belledame222 entitled “Objectification, Continued Further” (ableist language at link) I recently read (hat tip to amandaw on Tumblr) put it thusly:

According to [Patricia] Evans [, author of Controlling People], most abuse happens when a person who’s very disconnected is suddenly confronted with the a glimpse of the reality of the other person as a separate individual, as opposed to the “pretend person” the controller has made up inside his/her head (and thus, an extension of him/herself).

By taking myself away from this “pretend person” my mother saw me as, I became vulnerable to her abuse. This is not to say that I am responsible for my mother’s behaviour towards me – absolutely not! – but it does contextualize why I became more aware of the problematic nature of her actions.

So, when people are manipulative around me – not even directed at me, necessarily – but when people use others to get what they want, while I am in the general vicinity, I react badly. I give the manipulator what ou wants, in the (usually vain) hope that this means ou can stop objectifying people and respect them and their identities. I go back to the silencing of my self, to the person who did what she was told so that she could try to get her mother to stop controlling her for long enough to maintain her own identity. For example, I took my antidepressant for six weeks, even though it exacerbated my anxiety attacks, because if I didn’t “just give it a chance to work,” my mother would blame me (more) for my depression.

In a post about abuse in online spaces, amandaw writes:

[I]t’s not just that you have flash-backs to previous events; it’s the way you return to the state of mind you were in during the previous abuse, the way your patterns of thought go back to how they were then, the way you react to things restored to its previous setting. You might find yourself becoming highly self-critical, questioning your own experience of things, doubting your knowledge of yourself and what happened. You might find the same problems with self-loathing come rushing back. You might be wondering whether you really deserve it. You might start to see yourself as a burden again, highly aware of all the ways you drag other people down.

You can’t just ignore it away. You can’t just Think Positive your way out of it. You can’t just tell yourself that all these thoughts are untrue; no matter how well you understand something intellectually, there is something about the human psyche that still follows those same self-destructive emotional patterns when exposed to the same kind of situation that originally set them in place.

The thing about my mother blaming me for having depression – the really big, damaging thing – I believe her. No matter how much science I read, or how often I read the Wikipedia page on the causes of depression, or how often I am told by people I trust that it is not my fault, I believe what she says about me. I believe that I am a worthless piece of shit, because she says I am. I believe that it is my fault I am depressed, because she says it is. I believe I am the source of the relationship problems between my mother and myself. I believe I am horribly overburdening my mother’s finances by asking for money for things like food and medicinal prescriptions, because of the way she behaves when I ask.

And I know – intellectually, on a relatively deep level – how incredibly messed up that shit is, but that doesn’t matter to the way my brain understands things and how my brain has been trained by my abuser to understand things.

Another quote from amandaw, this time from a Tumblr post on “That learned inability to protect oneself

But a person who just keeps extending hirself… over and over… getting hurt over and over, and never acting in self-protection … there is something, someone (maybe multiple someones) who destroyed this person’s boundaries, taught hir that acting in protection of oneself is completely beyond the pale (by punishing the person whenever sie does try to act in self-protection, and then telling sie brought that punishment on hirself by acting in self-protection). Someone did this to hir. And it took work, it took time, to create a situation where the person honestly feels that self-protection is never an option.

I mentioned the control my mother had over my hairstyle earlier in the post. I remember fighting her on this once, when I was 14 or 15. I told her that I wore my hair in the style I chose because otherwise, it looked like crap. I was immediately informed that I was not allowed to use such awful language, and that wearing my hair in that tacky style again would lose me various and sundry privileges.

One other time I recall defending myself. I told her [something she did/said, can't remember what] made me upset. This infuriated her. I was given a long lecture about how she couldn’t “make me” feel anything – my emotions were not her fault. This conversation never sat right with me, and I can’t recall defending myself ever again, but until now I had difficulty expressing exactly what was wrong with it. Essentially, my mother denied the validity of my emotion and her role in it, forcing me into doubt over whether there really was a problem or if I was “just imagining it” or “looking for things to get upset about.”

Yesterday, I was informed via a third party of my mother’s intent to move me in with her, 1000 miles away, if I don’t “shape up.” The definition of “shape up” is unclear, although it may be that I need, according to my mother, to get on antidepressants again, because the last time wasn’t traumatic enough (I received an e-mail from her which indicated she thinks I’m exaggerating the psychiatrist’s behaviour *sigh*). I need to perform well in school – this will, of course, be easy-peasy once I’m cured of depression by those antidepressants. I need to get a job, to show I’m motivated to achieve (the fact that I had a semi-breakdown last semester because I stretched myself too thin – insignificant). I need to work on her house, doing odd jobs until it is perfect and gets sold. With all my free time. You know, the free time which I need to do schoolwork and unwind. I need to organize my belongings (this one infuriates me (wait, so do the others) because my mother is the one who disorganized them in the first place – she packed my things in boxes with neither my permission nor any care to my organizational system). There may be a few other things entailed in this “shaping up” process, but I don’t know what they are.

All of this, forcing me, based on my financial dependence on her, to take medicine whether I want to or not (for the record, I would like medication for the depression and anxiety attacks, but that isn’t being taken into consideration in this ultimatum), to do exactly what she wants me to do exactly the way she wants me to do it, to do well academically (which, if it were so easy as being told to do it and I magically could handle school again? Well, shit, I’d patent that method.). This is nothing less than paternalism and manipulation. It is unfair, abusive, controlling, and absofuckinglutely infuriating.

A few hours after I found out about this scheme of my mother’s, I read the following on Zero at the Bone, the blog of the most excellent Chally:

You’ve got to ask why your sense of control over what’s what is so important as to invalidate that person’s autonomy. Reassuring yourself that the world is a certain way, that those around you are a certain way: it’s just not worth it where as a consequence someone’s being dissolves under them – where they themselves are dissolved. That’s what’s important here, not your relatively unimportant wish to assert your own worldview.

Trust people to identify their own identities.

These words resonate with me, because my mother’s abuse has caused my “being [to dissolve] under [me].” Because I lose my identity to my mother’s controlling behaviour. Because I am hurt, and I am human, and I don’t want to be silent anymore.

Mental Health Update

4 Feb

Anxiety attacks are increasing, in both frequency and in number of triggering situations.

Depression is slightly stabilized, but mostly hovering around the moderate/severely depressed line.

I haven’t been taking my medication since the first month’s pills ran out (six weeks of pills total, because I had a two week sample pack) – they weren’t helping, and the psychiatrist I had gotten the prescription from gave me anxiety attacks.

He said I was too young. To be depressed. And anxious. In the most condescending way possible, the psychiatrist I saw told me that my age made my mental health condition tragic. He assumed and stated the sex of my lover to be male before I mentioned anything other than having a lover, and he told me I was too young to be in the condition I am.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot??!

My age has nothing to do with what I am being treated for. My sexuality has nothing to do with what I am being treated for. I am being treated for depression and anxiety, not for whatever the fuck I’m too young for (which, um, I pretty obviously have and therefore am clearly not too young for). My lover’s sex is not for some doctor* to assume, nor am I comfortable with anybody doing so.  The phrase “I’ve been dating somebody…” coming from me should not instantly trigger the phrase “And what does he…” or the mentality behind it.

So, mentally, I’m not doing great. I have two art classes, and that helps! But overall, I’m miserable and want stuff to actually get better, not have my attempted solutions to my problems blow ageism and het privilege into my eyes like salty lemon water.

On age, I recently read a great post by Chally – read the comments too, they’re quite a lovely read: That’s that, then.

On gender and assumed heteronormativity,  meloukhia’s tag, “LGBQT,” is a veritable goldmine of delicious bloggy material. Also, my Oppression 101 tab has a few things relevant to the subject (I keep meaning to organize and add links, but for now you get a disorganized list of jumbled thought which does not reflect my full interests in internet activism).

*My gynecologist’s assumption of my lover’s sex to be male is less objectionable to me , as it is her job to make sure I am well-informed about potential sexual health risks, many of which are possible only through heterosexual PIV sex (read: certainly not totally unobjectionable, but I believe the assumption was made with my best interests in mind. The GYN also assumed that I was sexually active with a STD-positive partner.).

Wheelchair Users Totally Welcome

31 Dec

Hello, readers! I hope all is well and comfortably temperatured with you (this morning, I was in 0 deg F/-18 deg C. Not what I call comfortable. I feel much better now, three hours south and +60 deg F).

Where was I, you ask, that I was in such cold climes? Why, I was 5 miles from the Grand Canyon*, staying at the Holiday Inn Express in Tusayan, Arizona. Let me tell you about the totally awesome Holiday Inn Express of Tusayan and how much they appreciate the American Disabilities Act!

So, there is a 5-foot tall** TV cabinet in the hotel room (slightly shorter than average USian female height, standing). On top of this, the hotel staff had very kindly placed the bucket for fetching ice, so that any guests unable to reach in such a manner are well aware of their body’s lack of a need of frozen water. Isn’t that so kind of them?

Even better, the wheelchair ramp close to the parking lot was covered in ice and snow, as unlike the stair entrances, they had not been shoveling snow or salting the ice to prevent buildup of dangerous conditions (minor caveat here – I’m not sure whether salt damages wheelchairs, though I would be surprised if it damaged wheelchairs more than salt damages cars driving on salted roads. However, I suspect any damage done by the salt would be negated by the increased safety and mobility of less ice on the ramp).

And breakfast may have been the best part! The 3.5 foot tall counter holding the breakfast buffet had much of the food at my eye-level (5 feet, 3 inches or a little less when standing) so that I had to reach awkwardly to access most of it. And they had these adorable signs on top of the 4-foot trashcans stating “handicap assistance available.” Because, you know, it’s easy to see the top of something taller than oneself. And it’s not at all inconvenient to have to ask for help getting food in a busy, overcrowded breakfast room with people surrounding the food so that it becomes difficult to see what types of food there are. The task of getting help is made even easier by the understaffed front desk, which is seeing to the needs of those checking out of the hotel and answering telephone calls. Besides that, I’m sure people with disabilities are never given social pressure to stop overburdening society with their needs. And I’m quite certain that people using wheelchairs have this magical ability to reduce their need to eat, so wanting second helpings of food would never happen like it does to a good portion of the able-bodied people I saw in the breakfast room. I absolutely support this system of feeding people. You can tell by my tone that I have no qualms about this whatsoever. No, really. None.

So, based on this experience, I think this hotel is really awesome. I love how they’ve chosen to implement the ADA!

EDIT: melhoukia’s excellent post on accommodation of disability was on my mind while writing this, but I couldn’t find the link until after I hit the publish button.

*I did not get to actually see the Grand Canyon, as the entire thing was home to a giant pit of fog all day yesterday, the only day we got to spend there. I got some nice snow images, though!

**I only know these measurements in feet, so here is a link to assist in conversion to Metric units.

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