Monday, August 14, 2017

Conquering Fears


Today I started editing an independent dance for film that I worked on over the summer. I filmed right before I moved, and haven't had a chance to fool around with it until now, nearly three weeks later. I was having the time of my life. I hadn't done anything creative in ages and, as always, forgot just how amazing it makes me feel. Fooling around and editing is cool and fun and frustrating and time consuming - really just like any artistic endeavor. I love it.

This film is something I've been trying to make for almost three years now. Every time I choreographed in undergrad, I would start out with this topic in mind, but end up switching. It just wasn't time and I wasn't ready. But as my time in Hattiesburg, MS came to a close, I realized that my time to make this project was also running out. And in some ways, doing it as an independent project gives me more control. I don't have a deadline (which also means it'll take forever, but oh well) so I can take my time, and I don't have to share it with anyone before I'm ready.

This project is about sexual assault, mostly stemming from my own experience. Everything about the process was pretty terrifying, from creating the movement to sharing it with others. And of course, the brilliant idea to film it in the very place where I was date-raped.

I'd been by this place plenty of times before because it was right next to the tutoring center where I worked for a semester. It always made me nervous and I always walked quickly, but I could still do it. Long after my assaulter was gone, I still expected to see him hanging out there, waiting. Even when I stopped passing by, the place is engraved in my memory in incredible detail. I remember the dim lighting, the smell of a far off cigarette, the feeling of concrete. I remember studying for a dance history exam I had the next morning, I remember that it was slightly too warm for my sweater, I remember him trying to play "What Does the Fox Say" on his guitar.

I returned to this place almost four years later to see if it would actually be a good film site. I went by myself instead of waiting for the friend who said he'd go with me. It was exactly as I remembered it, minus the assaulter in the guise of a friend. It still made me nervous, and looking at it from the point of a videographer only gave me enough emotional distance to look around a bit before speed-walking back to my car.

And I showed up again the next day to actually film. I had my chill pills ready in case I needed them. Some strong coffee to give me comfort. The dancers who laughed and did stupid things together. And a job to do.

That day I conquered that place. I turned my terror into art (who knows if it'll be good or bad, though) and created something new to remember and associate with the site. Not necessarily to replace the bad, but to truly put it in the past.

Then, as I was packing for the big move, I found the ginormous sweater I was wearing when I was assaulted. I couldn't look at it without thinking about that night, but I still loved it enough to keep. I live in the south anyway, so it's not like I had a lot of opportunities to wear it. In the spirit of conquering old fears, I made a rather popular instagram post about it, challenging all of those people who say victims are asking for it by dressing provocatively.

So I was asking my friend to rape me because I was wearing jeans, a humongous sweater, and Doctor Who hat that hid most of my head?

Yeah, okay. Sure.

I love that sweater and I will always remember that night when I look at it, but that won't stop me from wearing it. It's not the sweater's fault and it's not mine, and I've had plenty of good memories in that sweater as well. Why can't those be as memorable? It's not really fair.

I was thinking about all of this while in the shower not too long ago, feeling pretty proud of myself for finally facing a few of my fears. I mean yeah, I'm still super duper anxious in public and don't like people behind me and get freaked out if people try to touch me too much and distrust anyone who claims they like me for something other than sex, but I'd still done something.

Then I go get on Facebook and end up clicking on an article about a woman who was assaulted and some of the horrifying replies she got after sharing her story. And I got scared again.

I am very, very honored to be surrounded by such good people who support and love and respect me, and yet all it takes are a few shaming comments to rip me apart. It's like I think I'm building a brick wall but then it turns to tissue paper; it barely takes a breath to make it disappear.

I feel very alone here in Florida. I have two friends and they're both great. But I'm only just starting to get to know them, and like I said: I just don't trust people very much.

None of my recent posts seem to make much sense anymore or have a decent conclusion, but hey, that's life.

Anyway, I'm still working on the film and grad school starts in one week. I like Tallahassee despite the roads' tendencies to switch around and make no sense. I miss Cane's, but they have Dunkin Donuts here and Steak n Shake, so it's not like I don't have access to comfort food. I have my two friends for now.

That's all I got right now.

--Dexter

ps. This shirt technically refers to suicide and came from Live Through This, so go check it out cause it's cool.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Why I Don't Talk To You

AUTHOR'S NOTE: It is recommended you listen to "Bring Me to Life" by Evanescence while reading this post. Please see the PS at the end of the post to see why. Thank you.


Just about any time I write a more honest post about how I feel, I get lots of offers from very kind of loving people to talk if I need to, and to know that they're always there for me. I always appreciate these messages. I look at them, appreciate them, feel a flutter of shame at what they know about me, and resolve to thank them later when the post isn't so fresh on my mind. And then of course I forget that I didn't actually respond. But I do that in a lot of situations.

I don't know how serious people are when they say they're there to talk of I need someone. I don't doubt their sincerity, I just feel like they underestimate the tornado they would be welcoming into their home, so to speak.

When I am having a bad day or having a panic attack or have a manic phase or anything like that, I do not sound like my blog posts. Maybe that's what it is. I'm not at all coherent or logical and I can vehemently and wildly deny anything I want to while swearing up and down that my own idea of self is absolutely true.

Right now I have two friends I talk to when I am in those moments, and I feel worse and worse and worse about it every time it happens. I talk to them because I trust them and because they make me feel at least a bit better, or at least like I'm not so alone. They don't panic (to my face, at least), but just kind of...accept it, and do what they can. They are rather amazing people.

But I don't just have a crisis every once in a while. I've been in a constant state of crisis for the past week, and even though it finally seems to be normalizing, just the events of the week have left me terrified, exhausted, and guilty.

In those moments, I am terrified and my first instinct is to find someone, but then I remember that people have their own lives and that just a few hours ago I was feeling the same way and bombarding people with my issues. And already, here I am again, doing the same thing to the same person.

The more honest I get about my feelings, the harder it is to stop talking about them. I've almost always had them bottled up. I have rarely had someone to talk to about any of it, and the only way I could handle it would be writing it all out here, on a shitty blog. Having actual friends be with you turns out to be pretty different.

Plus, there are some things I cannot bring myself to write about on here. They may be huge sources of stress in my life, but they're also about someone else who certainly doesn't want their problems (or my problems with them) to be out in the open. It would be cruel to write about it.

I believe that is the main reasons my two friends have had so much to deal with lately. There are so many little things going on in my life that I can't vomit out into the world, but I have to get it out of me. But, being me, I don't even know how to have a normal conversation. So I skip around the subject because I don't want to whine or insist we talk about me, which results in a nonspecific depressing pity party hosted by me.

I consider myself a very open person because I like to talk about my problems, if only because they are real issues in the world that other people face as well. Some people will not speak out for themselves, and don't ask me why I feel that I have to do it for them. I feel responsible for being a voice, however soft and quivering.

But I also don't like to talk about me. I don't like to talk about my problems. If people ask specific questions and prove that they care and are interested, then yeah, I have no problem. I actually like that. It makes me feel human.

But if no one asks, then I feel vain bringing it up. I whine and I pity myself and force my "problems" on other people who surely have their own things to deal with. And so many times people have not told me their problems just because they knew I had too much going on. Even though I understand, it hurts. I don't want to be a friend who always needs help but never helps. I want to know how people are doing and if there's anything I can do.

So to kind of bring this back to where I started, there is a reason why I don't reach out to many of you beautiful people when I'm having a crisis.

I don't want to ruin anything.

I don't want to lose a friend when they realize how fucked up I am. I don't want to overwhelm a friend with all of my problems when I have no idea what they're going through at the same time. I don't want to turn a friendship into a one-sided therapy session.

Every single time, I try so hard not to reach out to those two friends. It used to be I would force myself to talk to someone because that's what you're supposed to do. You're supposed to ask for help. But I think in this perfect world, there is somehow always the best friend group where there will always be one person who somehow has a perfect life and is always able to help.

But it's not. I have two whole friends I trust and love and who I can count on to make me feel better (even if it's a little delayed). And I hate myself just as much when they are there for me, because am I ever there for them? Do I even have any idea what their lives are like right now? I want to. I want to know so badly. But then I start wondering if they'd even want to talk about it with me. I'm a "if they want to talk about it they'll bring it up" kind of person (even though obviously I don't bring shit up when I need to talk about it), which means I rely on vague "How is your day going?" questions.

I have been the sober friend trying to talk to a drunk, self-destructive, mentally ill person. While I would of course do it again, I don't want to make anyone else do that for me.

Sometimes I wish I could make them hate me, or admit that they don't like me or that they don't care, because then maybe I wouldn't care either and I could make myself stop talking to them.

I get so sick of friends, close or casual, telling me how amazing I am and that I'm cool or whatever. I sometimes believe those two friends. Sometimes. I never believe anyone else, because they don't know me. They read my blog and think they do, or they've gone through all of college with me and think they do, or they've had a few conversations with drunk Dexter (who is far more entertaining than sober Dexter) and think they do.

I guess now is where you could get philosophical and ask, "Well do you ever really know someone?"

Look I don't shit about that. But every time someone says I can talk to them, I think to myself, "Can I? What would you actually do if I called you crying mid-panic attack, or in the middle of the night when I'm drunker than I've ever been and have a knife, or if I'm in a manic phase and beg you to do something with me only to cancel five minutes later because I've fallen through that cloud like a brick? If I called you and just asked you to come sit in my house with me while I read, would you actually? If I showed you just how pitiful, dysfunctional, and fucked up I am, would you really still want to talk to me?"

I can guess that the answer would be yes. But I guess it's also something you have to see to believe. And no one's seen me in a very long time.

Out of sight, out of mind. I have always been rather forgettable (I grew up with a boy who I met for the first time at least ten times, so you really can't argue with me here).

I laugh and cry at the same time because I'm starting to look like Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

It's suffocating to wear long sleeves to go buy milk.

It's terrifying to have to find a cardigan before answering the door.

It's nauseating to visit an empty campus to go look at that little courtyard where you were date-raped because you are finally trying to get that story out of you and turn it into something artistic, to be that quivering voice for all of those other people who will talk to me but no one else.

I had planned a far more coherent post, but that just kind of proves my point, doesn't it.

I am a lot crazier than you think, and I'm afraid you will leave when you figure that out. Or that you will leave when you try and fail to "fix" me. Or you will leave when I do start feeling better and don't "need" you anymore.

I am so afraid of being alone that I'd rather just be alone.

-Dexter




PS. Evanescence just came on my Spotify and the angst is just too much to resist.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Updated Trauma Patient's Story: Four Years Later

She thought she’d forgotten it. Of course, just the thought that she’d forgotten it meant that she hadn’t. The fake pleasure of not thinking about something doesn’t actually bring any real comfort. The centipedes in her stomach didn’t stop their hourly trek around her insides and her lungs didn’t fill any easier. But there was a certain fog in her head, letting her pretend that it had never happened and that she’s fine. If it happened to come to mind she would put it out of her mind, one way or another. As long as she didn’t have to think about it and acknowledge the bugs in her stomach and the guilty shame haunting her head.

But being in the psych ward really makes her think, especially when a psychologist sits down and starts asking her about her life. He pulls at the strings until she unravels and the story is out. She’s never told a soul before and reliving the moment makes it seem so much realer than she remembers. Will the doctor be mad at her? Tell her all the things she’s done wrong? But as she finishes her story, she frowns a little, ending with a quiet, “I guess it wasn’t my fault after all.”

No, the psychologist answers. Not at all. I’m glad you can see that. He tells her to think about it more and not be afraid of thinking about it. She promises she will.

Later on she sits in the dayroom, watching her fellow patients and dutifully thinking about that night. It’s hard to remember the details and it’s even harder to confront the emotions that come with them.

Confusion, worry, fear, disgust, shame, guilt, terror.

It was almost pleasant, feeling hands slide up her calves, then back down, then back up, then back down. But behind the pleasure is confusion: something is not right. Those hands are not supposed to be there, and she really doesn’t think she likes it anymore. The hands slide higher up her thighs and she starts to get a little worried about what is happening, but she can’t open her eyes to look around.

The warmth of the hands seep through her jeans as they go all the way back down her legs, then all the way back up. They skim her hips and go up her sides, then all the way back down. Back up, back down. She settles into the discomfort of the dream, feeling helpless to escape and not knowing what to do. Her own hands won’t respond to push the stranger away.

At some point the hands go to other places and fear starts to take hold. Her sweater isn’t thick enough to hide her breasts and she cringes in her sleep, trying to twist away but finding it alarmingly difficult to move. The hands go back to her ankles, then go back up. This time they find the space between her thighs and she instinctively closes her legs tightly, whimpering. She desperately tries to wake up, desperately tries to convince herself that she is still asleep.

Someone is telling her to wake up. Yes, yes, I want to wake up. I want this to have been a dream. She finally gets her eyes open and look up to see him looking at her worriedly. She asks how long she was asleep. He says he didn’t even know she was. This scares her for some reason.

She wants to tell her boyfriend what happened and why she is worried. But she feels dirty and guilty and ashamed. What if he is mad at her for letting someone else touch her? Because she did let him. She should’ve been able to stop him, to realize what was happening, to wake up. Her already weak self-esteem and strong self-hate die and blossom in kind. How could she have let it happen? She decides to never tell a soul and locks the memory up inside.

Back in the psych ward the memory has been unlocked. She is finding it hard to breathe and the centipedes in her stomach are running rampant as if trying to escape. She can’t handle the people around her and she can’t handle the feeling of those hands and the overwhelming sense that she’d never been asleep. She finds the nurse.

The psychologist tells her to write an unsent letter to the man who touched her, to confront her own feelings about what happened. She does so after a day of telling herself that she is brave. In her letter, she tells the man that she cannot feel guilty anymore and refuses to blame herself for what happened. She says that she will never let him touch her again in any way, casual or otherwise. She will stand up for herself and say no. She will be brave. She later reads the letter to her psychologist and says she is going to tell her boyfriend about what happened. The psychologist approves.

She is still scared, but she is determined to be brave. The memory is unlocked and dealt with, out in the open for a trusted few to understand. She will no longer let her fear and self-loathing consume and limit her. Instead, she will be brave, raise her head, and walk on.

Years pass, and she is still scared and still trying to be brave. She still remembers, still ducks instinctively when she sees a shock of white-blond hair. She scans every face in the room just to be sure. The nightmares are still there. The paranoia has become a way of life for her, such that it doesn't even feel like paranoia. It just is. She still feels guilty, still feels ashamed, still feels like a dirty slut.

Yes, she will be brave. She has been brave. She is brave.

If only she didn't have to be brave just to exist.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Not A Hero (Not the Video Game)

For what seems like forever, I have been in a seriously deep pit of depression. A bottomless pit, and yet somehow that's where I am: the bottom.

This particular forever I suppose started during my last period. It feels stupid and shameful to admit, but periods are incredibly rough on me. Usually they aren't bad physically (though this past one was debilitating and I actually felt like I was dying), but they affect me mentally more than they should. It's like one solid week of me not being on my medication, that's the easiest way to explain it.

I don't know if I would go as far as saying I get suicidal, because my cats if nothing else keep me going because I know Palmer doesn't like anyone else and he would be upset if I were gone. I don't get suicidal, but I do get reckless. I'm less careful, I do things I shouldn't, I ignore the warning labels on my medication.

My period ended around my 23rd birthday, which was a very depressing day. I certainly was not expecting a surprise party with fifteen hundred people (that would have been terrifying, actually), but all I really wanted was to see someone. But no one could or wanted to. Okay, shout out to the one who did bring me Canes at like, midnight. But I just got really depressed and lonely and drank too much and watched a really bad movie by DW Griffith.

It didn't get much better as time went on. I made the terrible mistake of trying to read Fifty Shades of Grey simply because I wanted to see if the writing really was as bad as I'd heard. Sometimes reading really terrible writing can be fun and humorous and good for the self-esteem. I was not, however, expecting to have a three hour panic attack complete with crying and shaking. I have meds to take for anxiety attacks, but I've only ever taken half of one. I took two during that episode and went super numb and can't really remember what happened after that. I passed out and felt like shit the next morning.

Since then, I've been having panic attacks more frequently, though none as bad as that one. That shitty book just awakened all these things that I hadn't thought about in a while, that I hadn't had problems with in a while. Then suddenly they're all back and it's overwhelming and just plain sucks.

And now I'm here. The past two or three days have been absolute hell. I've been depressed for no discernible reason, super panicky. I haven't been grocery shopping in a very, very long time. Right now I'm living off of Ritz crackers and peanut butter, trying to conserve the cans of not-so-great-soup I have in my cabinet. Part of it is that I'm genuinely worried about money because I'm about to move and I need deposit money and rent money and all of this stuff, and I won't start getting paid by the University until probably September.

But part of it is that I don't want to leave my house, and I certainly don't want to go to the store. I don't want to have to make decisions about what food to buy, and I don't want to have to exchange pleasantries with the cashier. I don't want anyone to look at me.

I've had a few good moments. I took out the trash the other day, which is really rare for me because I'm terrified of my creepy neighbor who always tries to talk to me and says creepy things. I've packed a very small bit for the move to Florida. I have done a few small things.

But I haven't really been eating, which kind of bit me in the ass yesterday when my body started shutting down and it was hard to go up and down the stairs and I felt like I was going to vomit and was really shaky and all of this stuff. I did eat, eventually, and miraculously felt better.

Yeah, eating is important. I'm not good at it.

I think I might've mentioned that I'm basically mentally disabled, and that certainly affects feeding myself. It makes me feel absolutely pathetic and pitiful. I am fully capable of feeding myself, and yet...can't always do it. It's stupid.

A few nights ago I drank too much again (have I mentioned that I'm becoming an alcoholic? Trying to nip that in the bud before it gets too far...) and took my anxiety meds that you're absolutely not supposed to take with alcohol. I found my old knife and played with it too much. I wasn't outright trying to kill myself, but I admit that I was hoping I just wouldn't wake up after taking my anxiety meds and going to sleep for the night.

I don't want to die, not really. There's a lot going for me right now. I've somehow gotten into a really competitive and amazing graduate school and somehow gotten a really nice apartment and somehow have friends who still love me even though I constantly make them worry that I might be dead. I want to go to grad school. I want to experience life and read books and get more cats. I don't want to die.

But when everything hurts so bad and you can't find something to blame it on, you end up turning on yourself. If there's no external source for your misery, it's got to be coming from you, right?

Useless piece of shit who only likes to complain and make herself miserable and draw attention to herself by telling all of her friends she's worried she's going to hurt herself.

These are lies. I know this. I know this very well. I know I have an illness that, while treatable, will probably never fully go away. I know that I will have better days and that every day will not suck like the past few weeks have. I know these things.

But it's still so hard. And then I get on here and try to write inspiring things to help other people who also struggle.

But don't you see? I'm just a massive hypocrite who is spiraling out of control and has no grasp on her life.

I'm not a role model.

I'm not an inspiration.

I'm not a hero.

I'm literally just a psychotic twenty-something girl (who apparently looks seventeen according to the entire population of Florida) who just so happens to know how to write well.

I am certainly glad that people know they aren't alone in their struggles. And I am certainly glad to talk about it and to be there for you (as long as I myself am not about to go over the edge, cause then I will not be much help). I am certainly glad that this blog somehow helps people, whether it's to understand others or themselves, or to know that they aren't alone, or to know that surviving hell is possible. I am certainly glad that you are still here and you are reading this.

But I'm just me. And that's nothing special. There are countless people just like me, who go through what I do and who do it better.

I read through my old blog posts recently, and there's one about me wanting to inspire people but knowing that I'm too much of a hypocrite to do it properly. So this is a follow-up post, saying that I don't know if "inspire" is really the proper word anymore.

I also had a good post about hope and encouragement that I'd completely forgotten about. Funnily enough, my own post made me cry and promise to keep trying for just one more day.

Okay so maybe I am inspiring. Whatever. Shut up. Leave me alone.

I have no idea where I'm going with this. But I'm not a hero and I'm not trying to be. I'm just a person, just like you. And, you know, you've gotten just as far as I have. You're still here too, and that's important.

If I'm a fucking hero, then you sure as hell are too. Don't forget it.

--Dex

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Mentally Disabled

For me personally, the best coping method is to be with or talk to friends. It doesn't have to be about my issues, and sometimes it's better if it's not. But having someone with me makes it easier, gives me something to do, and keeps me from doing things I shouldn't.

I have become extremely dependent on my friends. I hate it. Every day is a new crisis for me. There's never a day where I feel okay from morning to night. Maybe it's a panic attack, maybe it's being too depressed to move, maybe it's the urge to hurt myself.

I try not to talk to my friends too much about it. On the one hand, it seems like I should. I should ask for help when I need it, I should try to take care of myself even if it means asking other people to help you do it. Right?

But do I have to ask for help every day? Do I have to constantly be seeking attention?

I'm just an attention whore hiding behind a mental illness.

So I don't talk to friends. Or I don't tell them it's serious. I brush it off when they don't respond or don't have time. They have their own lives and I can't expect them to be at my beck and call and not get sick of me every once in a while. I know I get sick of me. I've had friends with problems and I know I wasn't the best friend to them. I couldn't handle their issues on top of mine. So why should I expect people to do that for me?

But then people tell me they'll always be there for me if I need them. They just didn't expect that to be every day.

I will never be independent. I will never be able to take care of myself.

But is that so surprising? I am diagnosed as mentally disabled, mostly in the context of needing certain accommodations in school, but why wouldn't it affect the rest of my life?

It's not shameful to be disabled. Or rather, to be differently abled. There are plenty of people in the world who fall under the category of "disabled," whether it's mental or physical, and yet they are not lesser people because of it.

As much as I joke about it, I've never really considered myself disabled. I've always thought I could be independent, take care of myself, and at least sort of function in society.

But I can't. And I should come to terms with that. I have different abilities, but in our society I am definitely disabled.

But does that change anything? No, not really. I still feel like a needy annoyance constantly depending on friends and forcing them to talk to me. I let myself be dramatic and sensitive when they don't, regardless of the reason. Then I just hate myself more for being dramatic and stupid. It's an endless cycle and I don't ever see there being an end to it.

This is not supposed to be directed at any of my friends, and certainly not a guilt trip. I'm not calling anyone out and I'm not blaming anyone for my own behavior or problems.

I've just been thinking about it lately. So, as always, I try to give myself some peace through writing. Try to sort it all out as I go. Hoping that by the end of the post, I'll have found some life-changing inspiration in an effort to share a hopeful message.

Every day feels like an impossible challenge, harder than the day before.

You can list off all my good qualities and accomplishments, and it won't make a difference. It'll just make me feel worse. All that talent wasted on someone who simply can't get up to feed herself.

I did go grocery shopping today (which means I bought bread and milk). I read. I'm writing this. I guess I'm still trying.

--Dexter

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Good

I am a foolish idiot.
Writing this makes me feel pathetic and silly and stupid.
But I hate myself anyway.
I have to write to understand.
I do not understand myself at all.

When you're around, I feel good.
You don't make everything better, but you make it a little easier to exist.
I laugh when I don't want to.
My mouth hurts from smiling.
Your goodness makes me cry.

You talk me out of the dark.
You never push my boundaries, though sometimes I wish you would.
I can't get away with lying.
I'm not afraid to tell you my stupid jokes.
I'm only afraid to tell you how I feel.

How your goodness makes me cry.

I don't think you know.
You have no idea how special you are because you're just being you.
You don't realize what you do.
You don't pay me any special attention.
You're just good to everyone.

That goodness makes me cry.

I never see you.
You are surrounded by wonderful people, all in the same world together.
I don't fit in this world.
There isn't even any room for me.
I'm not excluded, just not thought of.

I've never written a poem about someone.
I haven't written poetry at all since I was a young, angst-ridden teen.
I feel awfully pathetic, just like back then.
It's killing me inside.
I feel stupid saying it to friends.

Is this even a poem?
Anything can be a poem these days and anyone can be an artist.
Especially a pitiful girl in love.
It's the thought that counts, right?
But I don't even want you to know my thoughts.

Your goodness makes me cry.
It's not the usual kind, not out of desperation and hopelessness and exhaustion.
I cry because I've never felt this way before.
No one has ever been like you.
I don't think anyone ever will.

I am afraid.
I will leave and meet new people and you will forget me.
You will never know how special you were.
And I will never meet someone as special as you.
I will forever dwell on a one-sided romance that never even happened.

You make me cry.
I wish this poem would give me closure, but I know it will not.
I will keep trying to talk to you.
I will keep trying to see you.
I will keep watching as it never happens.

Your goodness makes me cry.
But at the very least, I knew that goodness.
I am glad to have known you.
I hope to know you for many many more years.
I am afraid to ask for that much.

You know.
I'd go straight for you.

Monday, May 15, 2017

48+

I have spent the past hour counting scars on my body. Obsessively going over it again and again, trying to figure out if the scar is actually visible or if I just remember it once being there. Am I responsible for it, or was it something else? The first time I counted 49 scars that came from me. The second time, 54. The third time, 48.

I have been told that I have unusually soft skin. My time on acne medications has left me with a surprisingly clear complexion, and I get one pimple for the duration of my period, and then it goes away.

For such soft skin, it is amazingly disfigured.

I pick at my skin a lot, especially my legs and my neck. This has left me with irritated spots that would probably go away if I were just a little kinder to myself.

I got the chicken pox when I was 19, and my back is absolutely riddled with chicken pox scars. I also have one right between my breasts that, for whatever reason, will get inflamed every now and then and will be extremely painful and sensitive. Probably means I have cancer or something, but whatever.

I have a lot of scars that come from overexcited cats.

I have one scar on my forehead from when I was four and ran into a wall while chasing a balloon (I ruined my older sister's birthday).

And then I have upwards of 48 scars that I purposefully placed on myself. Maybe there aren't even that many that are actually visible; I have a hard time telling whether I see the memory or the real thing. A lot of them you have to really look for. Some have completely faded, but I remember where they were, and I wonder if those even count. Some are bright red and impossible to hide. There are a few that haven't even become a scar yet.

Soft to the touch, rough on the eyes.

There is no inspirational message this time. I've just been stuck in my head for what feels like forever, staring at my skin, counting scars, trying to keep the number from getting any higher. I count them over and over and over and over again. I can't stop.

But what do a few more matter? At this point, no on will even notice.

Feel empty? This will let you feel something.

Feel like everything is going wrong and you're going to explode? This will give you release.

Feel like your nightmares will show up at your door? This will distract you.

Feel like the worst fucking bitch on the planet? This will help you atone.

Feel happy and hopeful? Mood swings are exhausting, but this will keep you grounded.

Feel like dying? This isn't quite as permanent.

--Dexter

PS. I graduated college a few days ago.

PPS. I ate two whole meals today.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Reasons Why I Hate Myself and Why They Are All False


You're asexual. You're never going to have a lasting romantic relationship because of it.

Not true. I was engaged once, remember?

Oh yes, what a happy relationship that was.

Shut up.

You say "asexual" and people assume you're aromantic too. Even if they didn't, they'd steer clear.

That's their fault, not mine. If they don't care enough to ask or to assume, then they obviously aren't worth it anyway.

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. Guess it's a good thing you're ace anyway, since so many people have touched you now.

That wasn't my fault and it does not make me dirty or broken.

It's cute when you pretend like you believe that. You can't even keep platonic friends. No one likes you. You're annoying, needy, and constantly faking some emotional disaster just for attention.

Not true. Everyone's a little annoying and needy sometimes, but I actually have proof that people at the very least put up with me without too much irritation.

See, you can't even fully commit to saying people like you. You're so afraid of everything. You won't take the trash out because of your neighbor and you won't go to class because people might casually glance at you.

That is true. But considering those crippling fears, you've got to admit it's pretty impressive that I do actually take out the cat litter and do actually go to class half the time.

You're failing math.

That's an exaggeration.

Your house is a fucking disaster.

Yes, well. Y'know I've been involved in seven dances and three conferences this semester, on top of the measly seventeen hours of school, the occasional work day, and being chronically ill. I think I shouldn't be so hard on myself in the cleaning department.

Speaking of work. When was the last time you did that? You're such a difficult employee and you're lucky if you even still have a job.

Very true, I am lucky. I do wonder about this, but I know I also do the best I can, and any and all trouble I've had here has legitimately been out of my control, whether other people believe me or not.

You're mentally incapable of holding a full time job, you realize that, right? You're just going to end up living with your mom.

I refuse to believe that. No, I could not hold a regular full time job, but that's not what I'm after.

Oh yeah, the starving artist thing. You'll be good at that, since you don't eat anyway.

I'm working on that one.

Sure. There's the whole cutting thing. You working on that? That's pretty gross. And shameful. I'm ashamed to even know you.

Addictions are hard. Recovery is a neverending process.

You're ugly.

Thanks. Rationally speaking, I think that might be an exaggeration.

Since when are you rational? And why are you such a shitty daughter, btws?

It's complicated, and you know it. I love my family. I may not be the best family member, but I do hope they all know I love them, even when I don't talk to them.

You're kind of an idiot. You don't know how to talk to people, you can't do anything right, and it takes you like, five minutes just to remember how to subtract.

Okay, well. First off. Even if you use the argument of me growing out of my intelligence, somehow I still got into grad school and got an assistantship so I can't be that stupid. I may not be socially smart or mathematically smart, but please remember that, while those are important and valid, that's not all there is in life.

So remind me, what the heck is the point of a dancer who physically cannot dance due to injury?

I mean, at least I have a good excuse for not being very good.

Remember that time you had a panic attack while watching the stars? On a peaceful, relaxing night? Ha, good times.

Again, not my fault. That's out of my control and there is no shame in that.

Or the dozens of times in class, while eating, sitting calmly with friends, or on any of the other nice happy days of your life? Lolz.

That does not make me broken, shameful, or less of a person.

Keep telling yourself that. Maybe you'll believe it one day.

Maybe.

You're probably going to commit suicide one day.

But not today.

The only reason you're even writing this is because you don't believe any of it, and you're trying to convince yourself.

Yes. Because that's better than accepting it.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Good News

In case you haven't heard, I GOT ACCEPTED INTO FLORIDA STATE'S M.A. AMERICAN DANCE STUDIES PROGRAM. This is a pretty big deal. FSU is a very very good dance school, and their graduate program only accepts around twelve people per year. On top of that, THEY GAVE ME AN ASSISTANTSHIP. That's right, imma be a research assistant and get paid and not starve and be homeless. I'm pretty excited.

I also recently attended the National Conference for Undergraduate Research with four other students from USM. I presented my junior research and got to attend a lot of other interesting presentations. I'm such a nerd, but honestly this was one of the best weekends I've had in a long time. For some reason it was just so enriching to be surrounded by passionate people talking about what they love, whether it's dancing or biochemistry.

I should be overjoyed with all of these great things happening, but I passed that stage long ago. I'm constantly waiting for an email from FSU retracting their acceptance, saying that it was a mistake. The post-happiness depression hit me hard after the conference was over as I get overwhelmed with self-doubt and loneliness. I replay the events so many times that I start thinking that it wasn't as good as it seemed, that I looked stupid, that I sounded stupid, that people were just being nice, etc. etc. It's not uncommon for depressed people to get especially down after they have a really great day. And that sucks. Like, we can't even enjoy the good times.

I had been waiting until after the conference to write a post about FSU and everything, to share all the nerdy happiness at once. I wanted it to be a happy post. But since when do I write happy posts? Since when am I a well-functioning member of society? Since when have I been a healthy human being?

I feel so overwhelmed with school right now. My house is a disaster. My personal life is a wreck, my emotions are trying to be happy and sad at the same time. I just lie down and wait for it to be over.

I accidentally started talking about the hospital yesterday, blabbering about how you can't have pencils but you can have crayons. We were talking about crayons only, there was no need for me to bring that up. But it came out of my mouth and once it was out I couldn't take it back and y'know it's those little things that make me hate myself even more.

But... but... good things happen. It seems like I'll actually be doing something with my life next year and that just maybe I'm not a complete failure.

Trying not to think about being alone in a new city surrounded by new people. In case you haven't noticed, I can't talk to people, but I get super lonely, so I try to talk to people, and then just freak people out or annoy them to death. That's life.

BUT GOOD THINGS HAPPEN. Trying very hard to remember that.

I feel like that's all I can ever tell people: I'm trying very hard. I swear I am.

--Dexter

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Asexuality vs. Genophobia (fear of sex)

The usual disclaimer: I speak from my own experiences and no one else's. By no means assume that all aces or assault victims are like me.

I struggle with sex a lot, for a variety of reasons. Whether it was intentional or not, I grew up being taught that sex was a sin and terrible and disgusting and awful (and that boys thought about it all the time). Premarital sex was ESPECIALLY awful and of the devil. So from then on out, any time anything remotely "sexual" happened, I was overwhelmed with guilt, whether I was responsible or not.

Asexuality already struggles to be recognized as a legitimate orientation, and I feel like I sometimes just make it worse. I've been sexually abused and assaulted, as well as being emotionally manipulated into sexual acts. My father left, then soon after my ex-fiance left, and I've been told that all of this would obviously turn me off sex.

I mean, yeah. All of those things are legitimate reasons for someone to develop a fear of sex or distrust of sex. No doubt about that.

So, am I actually asexual or just scared of it? I debated myself on this quite a lot, then reached out to other asexuals to ask their opinion. I researched it, I thought about it, I talked about it. I finally decided.

Yes, sometimes I am just plain terrified of sex, from a casual touch of the hand to, y'know, intercourse. I have nightmares about it, flashbacks about it, panic attacks about it. But that fear does not control my whole life and does not affect me all the time.

Sex just isn't really my thing. It's gross. It's messy. It's a lot of effort. It takes forever and people for some reason like it to last as long as possible.

If I really loved someone, I could see myself compromising on the sex. It's taken me an extremely long time to even start to understand that some people DO need sex and that it can be an important part of a relationship. I would never just become a doormat for someone or allow anyone to manipulate me into things because that's what I should do for someone I love, but there's a line between manipulating and compromising.

So no, I do not consider myself to be operating solely on fear of sex.

Antidepressants can sometimes affect a person's sex drive, which I understand. And I guess it's possible that it's affecting mine a little bit. BUT I was in a relationship before I got put on medication, and I wasn't big on the sexual activities back then either. The only reason I think I even did them was because again, manipulative bastard fiance.

But anyway.

I have no doubt that my assault and medication do affect my sexuality and my sex drive, but they do not control my sex drive.

Even if they did, I would pick my medication over sex. I think that alone is kind of telling. I'd rather be happy than have a sex drive.

Honestly I don't like to be super public about my sexuality because it seems like a private topic and I'm worried about offending people or upsetting people who think I should be a completely innocent heterosexual female. But that's not me. And I can't go on pretending like it is while inside I'm thinking I'm broken for not wanting sex.

Yes, my sexuality is my business, no question there. If people ask, I have every right to ignore them. But it's an important topic, and it's bigger than just me.

And this way, when people ask about it I can just send them this instead of try to explain it all over again.

--Dex

PS. For more info on asexuality and gray sexuality, I recommend visiting: AVEN or AmeliaAce.

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Highs and Lows of Antidepressants

The past week has been ridiculous for me. Dealing with a breakup, a dance conference, online dating, and unrequited love is all way more interesting when you're also having issues with your medication, let me tell you.

The whole semester has been rocky for me, but in the last month or so it started to get really bad and I finally had to call my doctor to ask about adjusting my medication. We have to do it about once a year, so even though my depressed self is going, What's the freaking point of going on when I'll never be cured? I know that it's normal to have to adjust medication as my body gets used to it. I know that, but it never makes me feel any better. In the past month my anxiety sky-rocketed and I got suicidal again, which made it even more difficult to call my doctor. Phone calls are terrifying. Especially when there's a part of you saying that it'd be way easier to just go jump off a cliff.

But anyway we got my medication adjusted and I was told to call him back in a week or two to let him know how it was going. I only had enough of this medicine to last two weeks. The doctor is not in his office on the weekends or on Thursdays and every day the entire office goes on a two hour lunch break. Sometimes it's a little hard to get in touch with them.

Anyway. Two weeks. No big deal.

I start the new medication and INSTANT MOOD SWINGS BABY. NOT IN A GOOD WAY.

I got so ridiculously manic the first day that I felt like I could rule the entire fucking universe and do it WELL. I told myself I would move to Chicago, I'd clean the house, I'd get the mail, I'd dress nice, I'd put on makeup, I'd read my books, I'd do my school, I'D DO FUCKING EVERYTHING.

Five minutes later I couldn't get off the couch because of how exhausted and depressed I was after that fiasco.

Repeat that cycle for two days while my body adjusted to the medication, and then I was in an okay state of being semi-functional but also still unusually anxious. It was hard to figure out if it was the medication to blame, or typical school stress, personal drama stress, or that wonderful, special time of the month we ladies go through.

Here's another fun fact for you: my morning routine involves me going to the bathroom and gagging for a few minutes, then getting ready for the day. Then trying to take my medicine, gagging some more, clamping a hand over my mouth and forcing myself to swallow. It's great fun. But sometimes it doesn't work and I have to go spit the pills out and gag some more and then I'm so freaking exhausted that I just can't make myself try again with new pills. BUT because of this, sometimes I lose a few day's worth of medicine down the drain.

I kind of forgot about this.

Because then suddenly I was off at a dance conference over a weekend where I couldn't call my doctor and where I abruptly ran out of medicine and couldn't even go to my pharmacy to get more because I was in an unfamiliar city without my own means of travel.

GUYS PLEASE BE AWARE OF HOW MUCH MEDICINE YOU HAVE LEFT.

Finally got home and finally called my doctor, but the last few days have been really really bad. Like, me lying on my bed unable to breathe because of a constant stream of panic attacks and then being so tired I can't get up and do anything. I made myself go grocery shopping and I made myself eat once or twice because I also didn't eat much while at the conference and my body was shutting down, but I still felt terrible and would always end up back curled up on the end of my bed (not even in it), shaking and crying.

Relapsed a few times. Then almost bit my thumb off trying to keep from doing it again.

If you've never had a panic attack, it's hard to describe them, and they can vary from person to person and time to time. Usually I won't be able to breathe and I won't be able to speak. I'll either shake or rock from side to side. I'll usually try very hard not to cry, but that happens anyway. It's a terrifying and helpless thing to go through, especially alone. I try to talk to people when it happens, but I've been having so many lately that I feel like the most obnoxious person ever constantly trying to make people talk to me.

That's why I've tried to make myself get up and do things the past few days, because even though it's hard and I still don't quite relax, it's a lot easier to exist while doing something or while someone is with me rather than sitting alone in my room. The whole apartment seems to suffocate me with gloom, like its absorbed all of my own feelings and keeps sending them back to me over and over and over again.

But I don't have anywhere else to go, so I just sit here for the most part. Bite my fingers and hug my cats and try not to do anything worse.

I got really sidetracked there. I finally talked to my doctor and I'll have a more regular supply of my meds, but he's also not changing any of them. I'd told him that while I was better than before, I still didn't feel great and kind of wondered if there was anything else we could try. But no. The nurse said I'd stay on what I was on and, "hopefully it will get better."

Hopefully.

Thanks.

I guess either way it will still be better than the past few days.

It's pretty amazing that a little pill can make such a big difference to my brain, and I try to be thankful for it and to think of all the things that went well today rather than just the panic.

But it's also kind of hard to keep going after years of this when your own doctor just says, "hopefully it will get better."

--Dexter

PS. I DID DO SOME GREAT THINGS TODAY. I cleaned my sheets, I braided my hair, I put on makeup, I made coffee, I made a sandwich, I hung out with people, and of course I finally got in touch with my doctor. I'm trying to keep all of these things in mind.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

My Final Semester So Far

Day before school starts: grandfather dies.

Two days after school starts: dream grad school rejects me.

A whole freaking month BEFORE school starts: get sick and stay sick for two months.

Now: still mysteriously sick probably gonna die tbh.

I've already missed way too many classes, from both being majorly depressed as well as being so sick I couldn't stay standing for very long. The actual workload from all my classes isn't too bad -- or at least it's nothing that's too difficult for me to keep up with. It's actually getting to class that sucks.

I forgot how to function around people, and having such a rough start makes it that much worse. My first day back at work was a nightmare trying to take people's orders or make small talk with them. It took my like, two semesters to figure out how to do that and now I'm out of practice. Just let me make your freaking latte and accept my silence. Stop freaking telling me that I don't look happy to be here.

Sorry, anyway.

I decided that if I'm forced to take a year off of school because I don't get into the grad schools I applied for, it won't be the end of the world. It will actually be pretty nice to just live for a year. But at this point, everyone seems to expect such great things of me. I'm supposed to go off to grad school and be a famous researcher and be a big name in the field or something. When I choreograph, it's supposed to be new and innovative and unusual. I'm not supposed to go work in a bookstore and become a hermit.

Although I can't lie, that sounds pretty nice right about now.

Everything just seems so pointless now, even with that backup plan in mind. Even knowing that I'll be able to re-apply to grad school, and that I'm not a failure even if I never go to grad school. But I still feel like a failure, even now. When I go to class I feel like a failure in dance. When I don't go to class I feel like a failure as a student.

Why do I need to go to class to do math? Why can't I just follow along online and not have to be with other people? Why can't I just silently turn my thesis assignments into my professor's box? Why do I have to show up in class to do it? Why do I have to keep showing up to technique classes when my body's just going to break some more and I'll never actually be able to do a double pirouette, even if I really wanted to? Why do professors give me responsibility when it has been proven that I am extremely unreliable? Why does everyone still seem to believe in me?

Lately all I've wanted to do is lie down and stare at the wall. It's so hard to make myself do anything, even if it's just to flip open my DS and poke at my Tomodachi friends. I'm miserable all the time and just want to be hugged and told it will be all right, but at the same time I don't ever want to see anyone or be touched again.

So please if you see me, offer me a hug. But if I say no, don't take it personally. But if I say yes and then start crying feel free to just gently push me on my way.

I hate myself so much sometimes. I listen to the words that come out of my mouth and hate myself for being so obnoxious and stupid. I look at myself walking around with a miserable expression and hate myself for being so gloomy and whiny. I look at myself in class and hate myself for thinking I'm good at it. I hate myself for being a difficult student and for being an asexual girlfriend and for being a depressed individual.

It doesn't matter that I know most of it's not true, that I can't possibly be as bad as I think. Knowing and believing are two different things.

Bless anyone who has been kind to me, who has listened to me, who has offered me an extra shot of espresso. I can't imagine having that much patience.

-Dex

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Grandpa

Constant offerings of seconds.

Ice cream every afternoon -- the perfect ice cream cone. This isn't a scoop of ice cream atop a cone, oh no. It's ice cream jammed down to the very bottom of the cone and then layered until there's a perfect, giant sphere on top.

Dessert after every meal.

Salt on top of everything.

Giant, beautiful pancakes.

Baseball in the backyard -- when he wouldn't miss a single shot but I was lucky just to graze the ball. Too many players and not enough space, so everyone would take turns being out in far "left field," meaning you stood in the dead patch of grass and didn't actually get to play.

Riding tiny bikes down the slanted driveway.

Playing a complicated outer space game where the truck bed was the spaceship and water guns were our weapons.

Swinging on the porch swing when my feet wouldn't graze the ground.

Pizza pronounced "peeza" instead of "pete-za."

Dominoes where I couldn't do the math, so he helped me but still beat me.

Walking around with my feet on his.

That beautiful laugh that went on and on because he couldn't help it.

I hadn't seen you in years. No time for the eight hour drive, too many classes I couldn't skip.

But I love you, and I hope you knew that.

You will be missed.

Monday, January 2, 2017

IS DEPRESSION JUST BEING SAD? -- AN EXPLICITLY HONEST POEM

In the spirit of honesty and truth, I have composed the following poem on how it really feels to be depressed. Is it just sadness? Is it apathy? Is it the vast and overwhelming feeling of anguish and despair? KEEP READING FOR THE ANSWER.








I FEEL LIKE SHIT - AN ODE TO DEPRESSION

I feel like shit
shit shit shit shit shitty shit
so much shit
much shit
shit shit shitty shit

All the time
and every day
everywhere
in every way

I feel like shit shit shit shit
so much shit
everything is shit
I am shit

Won't someone please
flush
me
away

Shit
I hate shit
All the shit
My shit
I am shit
shit shit shitty shit
so much shit

Shit
That's me
Shit
All the time
in
every
way
will
it
ever
go
away

I don't want to exist.