I have spent most of my life desperately trying to take up less space. I’ve stayed quiet, gone to public spaces during times they’d have the least amount of people, worn dull colors. My entire life goal is to draw the least amount of attention to myself in an attempt to have people forget I exist. There have been more than a few times in which I’ve actually had some success in that department – I’ve scared a few folks while we were around camp fires because I moved and they didn’t notice at first and I’ve regularly surprised people because they didn’t hear me enter a room. On more than one occasion, people have forgotten that they were giving me a ride home. That’s right – while in the same car, people have forgotten about me.
I strive towards this invisibility because I know just how little space I am to occupy in public as a fat person. I aim for anonymity in so many spaces because I know what happens when I am visible in any way. I know that being visible online as a woman, as a fat person, as a queer person, as anything that is labeled as ‘other’ brings a litany of hate and trolling.
For the longest time, I had hoped that my depression and anxiety would go away with time. There were always obstacles – school, work, friend drama. Something always seemed to come up to make me anxious and when I wasn’t anxious, I was usually depressed. At the very least, I thought that once I finished school, my anxiety would dissipate. But it turns out that after graduation, I found new things to obsess and be anxious over.
It took me until I was about 17 years old to realize that something was probably wrong with me. And it took me even longer to put words and labels to the way I was feeling. My childhood wasn’t terrible but it definitely wasn’t conducive to someone struggling with depression and anxiety and the societal stigma that exists around mental illness made it hard for me to find outside help. My teenage angst was heightened by both puberty and the ways depression manifests in teenagers and frequently put me at odds with my parents.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been digging into part of my family history – something that I’ve been meaning to do for years but never really had the time. I’ve always loved learning more about my own family and hearing the stories of others doing the same. The story of the House on Loon Lake is one of my favorite episodes from This American Life and I’m really excited to hear more from the podcast Family Ghosts.
I grew up on the opposite side of the country from the rest of my mother’s family and the trips back to visit were few and far between. Those trips, much to my own disappointment, slowly stopped over time as more family moved out west and grandparents died. It was always hard and really expensive traveling thousands of miles with two kids so I don’t fault my parents for not going back as much as I would have loved to.
Self-care can mean a lot of different things – it can mean taking the time out to watch some stuff on Netflix with friends, going out to lunch, taking a nap, going on a hike. In a time of uncertainty and stress, being able to take care of yourself both physically and emotionally and making sure that you’re doing okay is important. As Melissa A Fabello describes in a video for Everyday Feminism,
So self-care is basically any set of practices that makes you feel nourished, whether that’s physically, emotionally, spiritually, all of the above. Self-care is putting aside time to recharge in a way that’s meaningful to you, and that can mean different things to different people.
Keeping up with all that’s going on in the world is daunting and overwhelming. I made the mistake of putting my phone down for a couple hours awhile back and came back to the news of the UC Berkley protest over Milo’s scheduled talk and a whole lot of other stuff. That’s why I’m so thankful for newsletters that compile news and much more. So, I thought I’d share some of my favorites:
- Bim Adewunmi’s ‘…the fuck is this?’ – okay so this one is less news related but this (sporadic) newsletter is always a joy to read.
- Bitch Media’s Weekly Reader – this newsletter is a collection of different recent pieces about feminism and pop culture. If you have any interest in feminism and pop culture, I definitely recommend this one.
- Buzzfeed’s Another Round Newsletter – as if Fridays weren’t already great, this newsletter comes out weekly on Fridays and in addition to sharing relevant links, there are animal gifs, things to read and watch, and random internet ephemera.
- The Daily WTF – this one is from WTF Just Happened Today? and specifically collects the daily things that Trump and his administration are up to.
- In Other Words newsletter – this is a feminist community center and bookstore in Portland, often known for the basis of the Portlandia “Women and Women First”. (Although, the show and center infamously split ways.)
- Guerrilla Feminism: The Newsletter – Guerrilla Feminism is an intersectional feminist nonprofit and this newsletter is sporadic but remains a great way to find out what’s going on with GF.
Are there any newsletters that I missed? I feel like my email is mostly just newsletters these days but with such great content, I’m alright with that!
I’ve written about my own struggle with using the word ‘queer’ – it’s something that I personally struggle with regularly. There are a lot of discussion online (and I’m sure offline as well) about the use of queer to be a universal term for the LGBTQ+ community. In the below video, Kat Blaque takes a question from one of her viewers about a club on a college campus using ‘queer’ as a universal term and the club essentially saying that if you don’t like it, you’ll get used to it. (The previous video Kat mentions in the below one can be found here and I definitely recommend watching both videos in relation to this conversation.)
The Women’s March on Washington and related sister marches around the world happened this past weekend and honestly, I have some mixed feelings about it all. On one hand, it was incredibly amazing to see all the crowds that showed up in Washington, DC, Los Angeles, Seattle, London, and more. Hell, there was even a (tiny) protest in Antarctica! And I’m not going to lie: seeing the dramatic contrast between the inauguration on Friday and the march in DC on Saturday was spectacular.
Last night, I was thinking about why I get anxious over visibility and hypervisibility in any sort of context (but especially online) because any sort of unusual uptick in blog views or retweets on Twitter or anything like that gives me a ridiculous amount of anxiety. This has happened to me for years and when I really started to deeply reflect on it, I realized that it’s in large part because I unconsciously associate visibility in any sort of context with harassment and bullying.
When my blog does start to get views, when anyone retweets one of my tweets, when people notice my existence online, I immediately think that the harassment and bullying is not too far behind because that’s what has happened to me time and time again. And the potential harassment also brings a massive amount of anxiety for me.
This year has been a weird and rather tragic one. We had to say goodbye to beloved people like Carrie Fisher, Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder, George Micheal, and Prince; the US election was a literally just a dumpster on fire that somehow keeps lighting other stuff on fire too; the rise and normalization of the ‘alt-right’ (read: white supremacist) movement makes it feel like it’s 1939 again and that’s not really a time many people want to relive. There were even more cases of black men and women dying because of police brutality. The President-Elect is threatened by an extremely popular musical and satirical comedy show, keeps appointing the worst and most unqualified kind of people to his cabinet, and can’t seem to stop tweeting about the most irrelevant shit.
And that’s just some of the shit that went down during 2016. To think of all the things that happened this year makes my heart heavy.
Having some sort of predictability in a schedule is something that I really miss. As a freelancer, my schedule is almost always all over the place and while I understand that work and life often change and force people to change plans, I do really miss having a set schedule and predictable work day. As an introvert with depression and some general anxiety, being out and about in various capacities is exhausting and draining most days. Knowing exactly how my day’s going to go and exactly what I need to do often keeps me focused and when to take breaks from everything.
I know that a part of this frustration and exhaustion stems directly from my depression. It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I realized that getting super frustrated and angry over minor inconveniences isn’t normal. I don’t mean getting temporarily getting irritated over someone cutting you off – I mean that I was getting really angry and frustrated over stuff like accidentally bumping into a corner or someone changing plans.