let yr freak flag fly: on recovery, feelings, magic, & Tarot

Throughout my recovery, I’ve been reconnecting with my teenage self. I still have some objects that were in my bedroom when I was thirteen. I have the first book about witchcraft I’d ever read and practiced from, some little stones I’d gathered from a witchy shop without remembering their purposes, memories of the ill-fitting band t-shirts I wore (in particular, I recently remembered one of my Coal Chamber t-shirts; it said “LET YOUR FREAK FLAG FLY” on the back and it made me so happy).

When I was fifteen, I bought my first deck of Tarot cards, and I tried to teach myself how to read them alone in my little lavender bedroom filled with pictures of Marilyn Monroe and Marilyn Manson on the walls, sitting atop my twin bed which had been detached from the bunk beds my twin and I shared when we were kids (I slept on the bottom bunk because it felt cozy, hidden, secretive). Back then, I had no friends who were into Tarot (no friends at all, actually), no internet access, no weird used bookstore with an occult section hidden at the back, and I’d never made a zine; no ways of learning what I wanted to learn, or even being able to name what I wanted to learn seemed available to me. I had a couple of books about Tarot and other oracles, but they were too complicated for me to understand at the time.

For a long time, I gave those things up. I’ve spent most of my life being conditioned to think that everything I think, feel, want, is wrong, and magic is something I had to leave to behind to survive. Although I got rid of the Tarot decks I’d begun to collect as a teenager when I left my hometown, I held onto those crystals; I also held onto my rage, my trauma, and my alienation. But so many of the ways I found to survive stopped working; they burned me out and isolated me. So I’ve returned to magic.

After realizing last year that I’d created a life that my teenage self would have adored but my current self was unsatisfied with, I knew I had more work to do. I still have this obsession with the objects of my youth, this gratitude that I have a kind of personal power that I could not attain back then, and yet, I was still so acutely unhappy. When I imagined all the things my teenage self would want by this age (my own little apartment, purple hair, published books, etc), I forgot one thing: feelings. Back then, the possibility of feeling loved, validated, empowered, blessed was outside of my realm of imagination – it was so far away, I didn’t even know I could dream it up, let alone work toward creating the causes and conditions to feel those feelings.

But lately, I’ve been reconnecting with my teenage self in different ways, and seeing new possibilities for creating a life worth living for me back then, and for me today. I remember being told that I felt too much back then, that I was too sensitive – so as an adult, as a traumatized Libra, I developed the skill of turning off those feelings altogether. They were so inconvenient. I learned how to not feel at all, but when I did (and do) feel, it was still too much. It’s only very recently that I’m learning how (or re-connecting with my forgotten ability) to feel without being overwhelmed, without hurting myself. I feel like I’ve found this big treasure chest inside me that I’d forgotten I’d buried so long ago!

On July 31st, with the Full Moon / Blue Moon in Aquarius, a true weirdo moon for real, I released my Tarot readings to the universe!

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Justice, Libra’s birth card, and the scales on amethyst, for healing, balance, and psychic intuition.

You can now book a Tarot reading with me at schoolformaps.etsy.com!

Tarot is one of the many paths I’m wandering through my process of healing from trauma, mental illnesses, and chronic pain & illness. This is a life-long path, in which I am more likely to be “recovering” than “recovered.” Tarot has offered me access to the wisdom, guidance, and magic I may not have found on my own, and it has new lessons and reminders for me everyday. For me, Tarot offers incredible insight; sometimes a gentle nudge in a new direction, sometimes a rug pulled out from under my feet, and often, more questions. Tarot can be a validating and magical way of taking care of ourselves, understanding ourselves and our surroundings, offering an escape route when we’re feeling stuck, and comforting us when we’re feeling lost.

There are infinite questions to ask the Tarot! My intent is to be open, validating, and encouraging in my readings with you. You may have questions related to creativity, spirituality, recovery, self-care, friendship, relationships, boundaries, healing, self-expression… whatever! I’m here to search for the answers with you, to nurture your inner weirdo, and help you feel more at home with yourself!

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My copy of The Practice of Witchcraft: An Introduction to Beliefs and Rituals of the Old Religion by Robin Skelton, a witch who died the year after his book was given to me.

This book was passed onto me from a friend who’d been given the book by her aunt but, luckily for me, wasn’t interested. I used it to start a coven with three of my friends in junior high, whose parents eventually forbid them to talk to me, which did nothing good for my precarious mental health, and I’m still learning about the impacts those situations have had on my current understanding of my health and my psyche.

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The Ace of Bones, Nine of Keys, and Seeker of Feathers in The Collective Tarot. What a reading!

I’ve been keeping up my daily ritual of writing gratitude lists. Some of the things I’ve been feeling grateful for lately are: the astrology fundamentals course I was able to take; writing 1,000 words for my next zine; learning about crystals; daily Tarot readings; bumping into friends around the city; feeling re-energized rather than drained after talking to friends; community acupuncture; sunshine; 99 cent nail polish at Honest Ed’s; $2 pizza slices; talking to my twin a whole lot; remembering my dreams; sobriety; getting rid of stuff I no longer need, putting it out on the sidewalk, and watching it disappear; resisting apathy & cynicism; delightful encounters with strangers; butterflies that fly in through my windows and land on my body; femme solidarity; the images captured below!

***quick little content note for self-injury below the photos, as I’m celebrating one-year without cutting myself & wanted to talk about it a little***

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The infamous, elusive white squirrel of Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto, Ontario! Some people don’t believe this magical creature even exists, but this weird little squirrel hung out with me for like half an hour on a sunny Saturday morning. A truly special moment for me!

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A bunch of crystals gathered on my windowsill.

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Zines! This is my table at yesterday’s Midsummer Pop-Up Fundraiser for Toronto Queer Zine Fair, who are raising money toward the costs of hosting an accessible zine fair on Saturday, October 17th! This was the first zine thing I’ve attended for I-don’t-know-how-many-years without having a panic attack, getting a headache, or feeling sick & gross in general. A weird, delightful, new experience!

Oh! And tomorrow night, I will be celebrating one whole year without cutting myself by going to a Marilyn Manson and Smashing Pumpkins concert! A magical experience for both 13-year old me & approaching-30 me! I have lots of complicated feelings about cutting and self-injury, as you know, and while I don’t believe cutting is necessarily unhealthy, and is definitely not bad or wrong or negative or shameful or embarrassing or immature or any of those things that we’re supposed to think it is, one-year cut-free is still a very important date for me to celebrate. As you may know, I started cutting myself when I was eight, and this became a pretty regular survival skill for the next twenty years of my life. So, I’m welcoming myself to a strange, new phase of my life by honouring my past, honouring the music that kept me alive, honouring the skills that kept me alive even (or especially) the ones I no longer need. Onward!

Magic-makingly Yours,
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befriending myself

I feel like I’m in the midst of recovering from emotional / spiritual / physical / creative burnout, and I’m not sure which direction I wanna wander next, but I’m happy to have made it to this place. Now that I have some energy, I find myself unsure of where to direct it. What I’ve been trying to do lately is become more myself, trust myself, embody the Queen of Wands, and write it all down. I’ve been trying to open myself up to new experiences & opportunities, new conversations, new feelings. I’ve been trying to befriend myself. It’s hard work!

I’ve been creating new daily rituals, and inviting some old ones back into my life. One of those rituals is simply drawing a Tarot card in the morning, and letting it guide me through my day. Although I’ve only been drawing one card, I began by drawing three, a quick Past Present Future reading, or, as I referred to it that day, “What the fuck happened? Where the hell am I now? And where am I going?”

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I drew The Tower for my past, The Chariot for my present, and Strength for the my future. It does indeed feel like a series of disasters, near-deaths, and everything falling apart over & over is how I’ve ended up here. The Chariot was a reminder that this is a process, a journey, but I do have inner resources & skills to carry me to the next place, even when it doesn’t feel like it, even when I don’t know where I’m going. And Strength, well, what can I say? There are many moments in which I do not feel strong, emotionally or physically, in any way at all, and yet, I know I contain many strengths within me, and that there is strength to be found within all these messes as well, strength within gentleness, sadness, and pain. I’m slowly learning how to embody these strengths, and how to redefine strength as well. (I recently saw a Tarot card in which Strength was drawn as a woman tickling a lion’s belly!)

The crystals in the photo were given to me by a lovely Tarot reader & witch in Toronto who really encouraged me to love myself, trust myself, and fully embody the Maranda I often feel is hidden so deeply within me, or is even way out there, so far away I cannot even find them. She gave me orange citrine for communication & creativity, amethyst for psychic ability, and black tourmaline for protection. I keep them with me tucked inside the little pouch that holds my travel-size Rider-Waite-Smith deck, in my backpack wherever I go.

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I wrote a new zine! It’s a split zine with myself! I felt as though I were telling two stories, but they could not be told separately, so, you can read one story, then flip it over & read the other. Telegram #37 Part A is about complex-trauma, resisting & (re-)imagining recovery, creating new boundaries, abandoning identity, navigating the city of Toronto with a cane, the ways the body remembers trauma when the mind cannot, winter survival & disability, embracing the present while mourning the past, self-protection, & gratitude. Part B is about learning how to stay present in my body, choosing compassion rather than empathy, learning about and practicing yoga, naming & learning how to embody my values, how MDMA made me want to stay alive, understanding suicide, & trauma recovery. Read it at schoolformaps.etsy.com!

Recoveringly Yours,
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permission to protect myself

I haven’t written much for a while because I felt like I was (and am) going through all these untranslateable internal processes and I didn’t wanna puke these messy words all over the internet. There’s this strange thing about writing / blogging / zining / existing in public that creates this illusion of no boundaries. I realized maybe it’s my habit of over-sharing that makes people feel entitled to my time, to my energy, to my advice, to more information, to everything (or maybe that is self-blame, and I am in fact entitled to my own personal boundaries no matter what I write). I don’t know. I’ve made myself too vulnerable over the years. I guess that’s what kept me going for a while, but it’s not useful anymore. I’ve been learning how to communicate my boundaries for years, but it still feels like no one’s listening. I hid my blog for six months because I couldn’t handle readers’ expectations of me, couldn’t handle feeling like people were writing at me like I was a therapist or a confessional, or like we were suddenly best friends when I didn’t even know them. I couldn’t handle feeling like I was being looked at but not seen. I still can’t.

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Hello Kitty Tarot cards taped to my door. The Devil, Justice, Strength.

I was recently diagnosed with complex-PTSD, which helps clarify all kinds of stuff in my life, and it also makes me want to retreat from certain spaces to focus on my recovery. I’ve said about a thousand times over the years that I need to “focus on my recovery” but I could hardly ever figure out what that meant, and my feelings of obligation to keep all that stuff documented, to share it, to validate all my weirdo pals and strangers, actually just led to this really gross lack of boundaries and an inability to take care of myself. I realized I was using writing as therapy for a long time because more meaningful, competent mental health care (beyond meds) was not accessible to me and, once again, that was useful for a time, it kept me alive, but it’s not enough anymore. I also realized blogging about my mental illnesses, as much as I wanted to share these processes, was hurting me way more than I was able to admit. So, yeah, not only did I hide my blog while figuring out what to do next, I also deleted more than 1,000 comments and 50 entries because I just wanted to get rid of all that discomfort. I’ve been writing out of such anger and pain and I don’t want to do that anymore. I kinda wish I’d written down all the kind words y’all shared with me, but I mostly just remember the harassment. (There is no longer an option to leave comments here. Self-protection, etc.)

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A stack of Telegram, my first book, which you can still get here.

I still have a bunch of zines available at schoolformaps.etsy.com, and I’m working on a new one, all about recovery & boundaries & self-protection & letting go & embodying my values and stuff. I’m still learning how to accept that as my chronic pain condition worsens, and as I try to heal all this stuff, a lot of zinester-type things (fests, readings, gatherings, conversations, whatever) are becoming more & more inaccessible to me. I still wanna make zines, but I’ve also got to mourn the things I used to be able to do that I can’t anymore (and practice the things I can do now that I couldn’t in the past!). There are very real physical and psychic barriers keeping me away, but I’m finding more ways to survive, and to do so much more than just survive. I’ll tell you all (well, some) about it someday.

Self-protectingly (Not) Yours,
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borderline personality disorder, psych wards, & friendship

content note: suicide, self-injury, overdose, psych wards, ableism, transphobia, the usual

I’m writing a zine about suicide, borderline personality disorder, & friendship, but I’m struggling because, gosh, I’ve been writing about these things for such a long time & it feels almost impossible to offer any new insights or hope. I’m also trying write about the ableism & transphobia I experienced on the inpatient psych ward at CAMH (Centre for Addiction & Mental Health in Toronto, Ontario) in May, but I am so sick of writing about gender & ableism & madphobia! I’m so sick of feeling trapped with it all.

Anyway. I’m sharing an excerpt below. Maybe you’ll relate, maybe it’ll explain some of my weirdnesses, I don’t know.

“Lately, I’ve been examining the possibility that it’s my borderline tendencies destroying my friendships, making me feel disconnected, harmed, and scorned. The DSM-5 notes: ‘conflicted close relationships marked by mistrust, neediness, and anxious preoccupation with real or imagined abandonment; extremes of idealization and devaluation and alternating between over involvement and withdrawal.’

Each time I reread those words, I feel like Arthur in Velvet Goldmine jumping up and down, pointing at the TV, shouting, “That’s me! That’s me!”

While I still believe that many of the hurts and traumas I’ve experienced through friendships and communities over the years are very real and very painful, and have had serious negative consequences on my life and my psyche today, I also know that some of what’s going on is my crazy brain and its inability to understand humans, friends, as complicated, complex, contradictory, and magical beings – despite so often declaring myself as such.

This kind of simplistic, all-or-nothing black-and-white good-or bad (binaries!) thinking is a destructive force in my daily life, and it limits how close I can get with my friends, new or old; it limits my possibilities of loving and feeling loved, caring and feeling cared for, and of simply feeling good in each moment.”

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A page from I Hate You Don’t Leave Me: Understanding the Borderline Personality by Jerold J. Kreisman MD and Hal Straus

“The system is shit,” the last doctor I spoke to at CAMH told me. I’m glad I kept a diary; reading my messy handwriting, I’m reminded of how much I’ve forgotten so quickly, the daily minutiae of psych ward life, the tiny bits of magic I tried to find nonetheless.

I’ve been admitted to hospitals four times in the last month and a half (twice I went to the ER & was sent home, once I was brought unconscious by ambulance to the ER, and then I was transferred to the psych ward for about a week). In April, I went to the CAMH ER. When the intake nurse started filling out my forms without asking me questions, I interrupted to tell her not to check the ‘female’ box, but to scribble in ‘non-binary, “they” pronouns’ blah blah boring shit I’m sick of talking about.

She cheerfully said, “Non-binary! I’ve never heard that term before! What does it mean?”

“It means I’m not a girl and not a boy,” I mumbled. “With so many gender options on your forms, working in this kind of environment, this term really shouldn’t be new to you.”

“Hey, I’m here to learn, too!”

I took a deep breath.

“I know. But you’re the one getting paid for this, and I’m the one in a suicidal crisis. Your education is coming at the expense of my mental health and your lack of knowledge directly harms queers and trans* folks coming to the ER. I don’t have it in me to teach you right now.”

When I came back to the ER a month later, I pretended to be a girl because I didn’t want a repeat performance of the nurse who thought I’d be an excellent learning experience – but “Non-Binary” was already on my file now, and they confronted me when they brought me into a private room, so I explained myself, but it seemed pointless.

The psychiatrist at CAMH told me she might be able to send me down to the women’s unit, and refer me to women’s only group therapy sessions. I told her that I’m not a woman and wouldn’t be comfortable there; I reminded her that I’d already tried to explain that pretending to be a gender I am not is partly what’s killing me. But she told me the women’s unit would be the best place for me (thankfully, she didn’t actually send me there after all). She told me, “As long as you make it clear to everyone there that you’re female-assigned-at-birth and don’t have a penis, your presence shouldn’t trigger anybody.” I was too exhausted to tell her that it’s this kind of gender essentialism that makes me wanna die, this hopelessness of the mental health care system that makes me wanna die, that she was exhibiting such Transphobia 101 that I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry (I did neither, I was numb), and that being in such a space would in fact be triggering for me and damaging to my psyche and my recovery.

Within two hours, I’d changed my mind from wanting to find a safe place to sleep, to wanting to give up entirely. I wrote my suicide note while the psychiatrist filled out my discharge forms. I walked home and overdosed about an hour later. I was brought by ambulance to another emergency room, fell into a coma for twenty hours, and don’t remember much. Later, I found myself on the inpatient psych ward. I actually didn’t know I’d been in a coma until a few days later, because none of the doctors or nurses told me what had happened, and my memory had been erased.

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When a nurse came to my room to bring me a bag with a change of clothes and my cane that my sweetheart had dropped off, she tried to confiscate my cane. Apparently, my sweetheart had tried to warn me via text that the nurse looked iffy about my cane, and to prepare for trouble, but my phone was locked up in the nurse’s station so I didn’t get the message.

She told me I couldn’t use my cane because I might use it as a weapon. I tried to remain calm and explain to her why I need to use my cane, and how confused I was that a hospital of all places would confiscate mobility aids, but she wasn’t listening, and I began yelling. Two more nurses came to my room to back her up. They stood too close to me, and I did begin to feel violent. My cane was folded when they gave it to me, and I unfolded it and used it immediately.

I remember them telling me to calm down and stop telling, that I was annoying the other patients who had just gone to bed. This made me feel the need to yell louder. “I DON’T CARE IF I’M KEEPING EVERYBODY AWAKE! I WANT THEM TO KNOW THAT THIS IS HAPPENING! IF SOMETHING SIMILAR HAPPENS TO THEM I WANT THEM TO KNOW THAT THEY AREN’T ALONE.” Eventually, my screaming became indecipherable; I mostly wasn’t screaming words anymore, just hopeless noise. I told the nurses that if I wanted to hurt them, I’d use my hands, not my cane. I became belligerent, noisy, triggered. The nurses left me alone to scream at the walls and the floor. They let me keep my cane. I thrashed my cane all over the room, breaking nothing, of course, just scuffing up the cheap black metal of it, watching it crumple and bloom again each time it hit my desk, my chair, my bed, the walls, the floor. I curled up in a ball on the floor and screamed until I slept.

Nobody mentioned it the next day, but whenever the nurse who tried to confiscate my cane was back on the ward, she’d refuse to make eye contact with me. I took names to file a report. I found out later that the staff are supposed to offer a walker to anyone who needs a mobility aid, because sometimes people do indeed use their canes as weapons (it sure is tempting!), but since I didn’t have my cane with me when I was admitted (because I was unconscious when I was admitted), they thought I was lying about my disability and didn’t really need it.

I spoke to yet another doctor the day I left and asked her how to get ahold of my file. “Of course!” she said. “You’re perpetually curious!”

Borderliningly Yours,
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P.S.: I have a new zine! Telegram #34 is about trauma. It’s not just about PTSD, but also about finding ways to exist in public with these messes and these stories, harm caused by one’s own communities, chronic pain, loss, getting sober and staying sober for three years, madphobia, in/accessibilities, and the im/possibilities of recovery and healing. Magic and Tarot, too, because they keep me going. It’s not gonna be the most fun read. You’ll probably feel uncomfortable. But maybe you’ll know what I’m talking about and maybe we can get through this together-ish.

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just another genderqueer femme with a cane

I got a cane today! I’m pretty excited about it because it’s already making walking a whole lot easier for me. My chronic pain condition has been progressing, and I knew this was inevitable, but I kept putting off buying a cane for all kinds of reasons. Despite having days where I literally cannot walk, I still thought maybe it’d fade and I’d go back to regular old wrist pain, instead of this spine-neck-hips-knees-tailbone mess, thought I’d just keep taking my painkillers and blot it out. But last night, coming home from the Heels on Wheels Glitter Roadshow Toronto tour stop, I had to use my umbrella as a cane, and I’m not sure how I would’ve gotten home without it. It was extremely difficult to walk from the nearest bus stop to my front door, and I kinda wished I had a friend with a wagon to pull me home. As I walked along the edge of Trinity Bellwoods, a racoon walked alongside me, and another racoon greeted me at my door. They’re good luck for broke fuck-ups, right? (They are to me.)

I’ve been hiding my limps from my friends, and nobody but my sweetheart has seen my crooked hobble-crawl I use at home, or all the dirty dishes stacked up in my sink because I can’t stand pain-free, or at least pain-lower, long enough to do the dishes. One of the reasons I don’t go to shows anymore is because I can’t stand or dance, and seats are often not provided. Chronic pain affects every moment of my life, every decision, every mood. Sometimes my legs give out beneath me. Sometimes I can’t afford transit and I can’t walk so I stay home. As I write this, my spine has tingling needles & pins, and a soreness beats through the right side of my tailbone, hip, knee, and shin.

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I also worried (and still worry) about how folks on the street’ll treat me, or at events, or whatever. I’ve identified as disabled for a few years, and I’ve written extensively about my mental illnesses and chronic pain. And I still feel like I’m annoying buzzkill when I make accessibility requests. In fact, I’ve tabled at zinefests where I made an accessibility request due to my chronic pain condition, and arrived just to find that my requests hadn’t been fulfilled after all. I don’t go to those zinefests anymore.

Now that I use a cane, and sometimes use knee braces and wrist braces as well, I’ll be among the visibly disabled, and that’ll be a new experience for me. I’ve often felt like conversations about invisible illnesses have shuffled conversations about visible disabilities under the rug. Sometimes it feels like one group is given “visibility” over another. I want both of these conversations to continue, and I’m grateful to be a part of them. (Grateful for pain and illnesses? Yep!) It took me a long time to decide to identify as disabled, but now I do.

As my condition worsens, I’m becoming aware that some of the spaces that are physically accessible to me today aren’t going to be in the future. I’ve been mentally preparing for this, but haven’t talked to anybody about it much because I thought somehow I could sneak away from that part. But I can’t. It’s already happening.

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I want my cane to be my magical wand that grants me the ability to walk when I want to. I hope it’ll feel good by my side. My cane is foldable, so I can carry it in my backpack, and of course I’ve already got Hello Kitty and Lisa Frank stickers on it. I created a ritual to welcome my cane into my life, and to welcome myself into this part of my life.

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Caningly Yours,
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Things I’ve Tried to Stay Alive

content warning: self-injury, suicide, overdoses, sexual assault

I’ve made myself extremely vulnerable over the years with the details & stories I’ve shared in my zines & on my blog. I feel like I’ve over-shared to an immense degree, but it felt crucial at the time; it’s kept me alive thus far, and it’s inspired friends & strangers to share their own stories, to practice vulnerability and embrace their own weirdnesses, and perhaps it’s inspired conversations, changes, actions, etc. But lately, it feels so dangerous. I’m not sure if all this over-sharing is helpful for me anymore, or harmful. All the encouragement & kind words from strangers have been amazing, but I’ve also been dealing with a lot of stuff that feels like it’s destroying my psyche.

When I started my blog, it was meant simply to encourage us to be weird, to share; it was just a simple act of encouragement. One of my favourite things to do is encourage others. That’s what I wanted. When I started this blog, I was living in a different city, I had different ideas & experiences than I have now, and fuck, I was living as a different gender. This blog actually brings me a lot of negativity, though; the comments are moderated because people write mean shit in them, and I don’t want them to be public, I don’t want them to harm anyone else. But they hurt me. I remember each and every one of them. I remember the people who told me I’m not allowed to be a feminist, the people who told me that I have contributed absolutely nothing tangible or intangible to the world, and folks who have told me that it’s not okay to ask for the help & support that I need; I know those words are untrue, but they stay with me.

I’ve been chronically depressed and chronically suicidal since I was 8. I started self-injuring when I was in Grade Four, and it hasn’t stopped. Writing about all of this publicly has been necessary, but it also means I’ve opened myself up to the opinions of folks with such a dangerous lack of compassion, such a lack of positivity, that I don’t want to do it anymore. I don’t know what my future writing is gonna look like, or how I’m gonna share it. I’ll find a way; writing is the only thing keeping me alive. I’m about to share a whole bunch of personal shit below, and then I’m gonna stop. I’m sharing it because I feel like I need to, and I’m sharing it in the hopes that maybe some of the more kinder, delicate, crazy people who’re reading my blog might have more ideas. I don’t want to to kill myself; I want such intense changes in my life that I do not know how to begin. But I can’t avoid it anymore.

Thanks for reading.

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My diary, with pressed flowers, August 2013

Things I’ve Tried to Stay Alive

– 15 different psych meds (ages 11-28, excluding ages 14-18) (including single-meds and multiple cocktail-meds)
– longer-term (2 months) & short-term (1-3 weeks) inpatient hospitalizations
– no meds, several times (cold turkey)
– alcohol (currently approx. 1,000 days sober)
– various therapies (CBT, DBT, group, individual, short-term, longer-term)
– psychiatry
– seeing a neurologist (who ended up sexually assaulting me)
– massage, reiki, physical/naturopathy treatments
– self-help books
– art & creativity books
– mental health workbooks
– on & off various birth controls (Alesse pills & Depo-Provera shots)
– on & off pain meds (Tylenol 3)
– anxiety meds as needed (Xanax)
– sleeping meds as needed (Zopiclone, Trazodone)
– multiple overdoses (Trazodone, Lithium, Seroquel)
– pot
– tea
– coffee
– walking, spending time outdoors
– learning about plants & herbs
– various vitamins & supplements (B12, D, valerian, Devil’s Claw)
– Rescue Remedy
– writing: zines, diaries, letters, fiction, blogs
– self-injury (cutting, mostly my arms & legs, sometimes my stomach, once my face)
– changes in appearance (shaved head, unshaved body, tattoos, femme, tomboy, goth, etc…)
– multiple emergency rooms
– crisis lines, crisis counselling
– weird, possibly traumatic therapies in my childhood
– too much time online & also quitting the internet (deleting accounts, discontinuing internet access, etc.)
– mindfulness
– meditation
– writing workshops
– radical / disability / self-care / etc. workshops
– stretching & exercising
– bike-riding
– painting
– starting mental illness discussion groups
– practicing vulnerability
– femme as self-care & magic
– changing my gender
– traveling, touring, reading my zines out loud, tabling at zinefests
– speaking on panels
– (self-)publishing two books
– making crafts (knitting, sewing, screenprinting, making bike streamers…)
– crafternoons
– fucking everybody & fucking nobody (being a slut & being celibate)
– being vegetarian, then being vegan, now eating everything ever
– living alone, living with roommates, living with partners
– moving a lot (31 places in 28 years, including detention centres, group homes, & psych wards)
– living with 2 cats, and living with no cats
– witchcraft, reading Tarot cards, prayer, etc.
– volunteering, working, being on disability
– organizing
– online dating
– Y membership (yoga, water aerobics)
– mad pride
– Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous

Things I Haven’t Tried (Yet)

– murder
– acupuncture
– traveling further away, traveling within Canada
– long-term therapy (preferably queer-friendly, trans/*-competent)
– staying in one Home for an extended period

Things I’m Currently Trying

At the moment, I’m in short-term therapy at Planned Parenthood. I’ve been given five free sessions. I have three sessions left. It is scary on so many levels. Mostly it hasn’t been helpful at all, but it has been radically better than every other mental health care treatment I’ve had access to thus far. I’m hoping they’ll be able to put me on a waitlist for long-term therapy. I’m taking a bunch of meds, a bunch of vitamins, I’m creating a new daily life in my new home, I’m attempting some really difficult changes. I feel so fucking desperate, angry, sad, hopeful, violent, scared. I feel completely unable to take care of myself, but I’m trying anyway. I want to be quiet, I want to take up less space in certain circles, I want to be by myself, I want…

Know Hope,
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Introvert Studio, know home

(content warning: self-injury, suicidal ideation, all the stuff i write about always)

Hello, hello, I went on tour and then I came back to Toronto and I had a mental health suicidal-feelings crisis, narrowly escaped the psych ward, and moved into a bachelorex (my genderqueer word for bachelor/ette) apartment that I’ve named Introvert Studio and now I am mostly being slow, quiet, self-reflective, casting spells & setting new-year-new-home intentions, and recovering from burnout and an almost nervous breakdown. I’d like to catch up for a bit, and then go back and hide in my little cozy corner again.

I’ve been telling folks that I write about “the illusion of community.” I have a hard time trusting that community can be real. I still wanna keep on trying to create my own little weirdo artist introvert community, but I’ve had a really hard time, especially over the last few months, with just feeling really exhausted with organizing, and punx, and feminists, and everybody, and I’ve been trying to figure out what/ where/ who my community is, trying to create a personal definition of what “community” is to me. There are a few communities in which I can participate but don’t actually feel like I belong: queer community, zine community, etc… But I don’t know if I want to, or to what extent I want to.

When I went back to my hometown after tour, the contrast hit me really hard and I broke down. In my doctor’s office, I burst into tears, told him that doctors & landlords have too much control in my life, I want to kill myself, blah blah. In my diary, I wrote, If I hate doctors and landlords and cops so much, but I also hate punks and anarchists and feminists, so much, what’s left? I started writing a list (of course) of which “communities” I could be a part of, & what made me not want to. On tour, I whined about all the mean shit riot grrrls have said to/about me, and felt better when folks came up to me after the reading to be, like, Yeah, I used to think they were cool, but now they just seem gross, and so on. I talked about nostalgia as violence. I talked about the feminists who called me misogynist and “denying-my-womanhood” and told me I wasn’t allowed to be a feminist anymore, and how I’m still bitter and angry about it, and how I lost A LOT of friends when I came out as genderqueer, and how tiring & disappointing it is. I didn’t know if I wanted to keep writing or quit everything.

I asked myself if I could consider myself part of a “Writer/Literary” community, but decided, no, because lotsa those folks lack the class analyses & gender analyses that I need in my daily life, and lotsa capital W-Writers have a big hate-on for self-publishing. I decided that Punk / Anarchist / Organizing / Activist communities are sooo extremely unwelcoming & inaccessible to folks with mental illnesses, and have been thinking a lot about how they are structured to prevent folks with mental illnesses from being able to participate.

I got really symptomatic over the last few months and felt unable to talk about it or do anything about it. I wanted to die. I felt like there was a ton of visibility for zines about “self-care” and “vulnerability” and “mental health,” & that’s nice, but when I am actually experiencing the symptoms of my mental illnesses (paranoia, especially, but other things, too, like all the destructive & self-destructive things), it wasn’t cool to talk about it, and when I actually tried to take care of myself and set boundaries, nobody actually wanted to give me time to take care of myself or respect my boundaries at all, and it was so very overwhelming. Every time I got a message on Etsy that a zine was taking longer time than expected to arrive via snail mail, I wanted to set all my zines on fire and just quit it all forever.

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Fun-A-Day 2014. The Daily Doily. Ten of Keys via The Collective Tarot.

Being on tour mostly made me feel really good, and I was very very very lucky to be with these new friends of mine who I really like and feel comfortable talking to and like I don’t have to hide so many parts of myself from. But coming home was so hard, I got so burned out. I forgot about post-tour depression. One day, I hid myself in the bathroom with a razorblade and cut up my arm 213 times. When the cuts started to heal, I went back to the bathroom and cut myself 119 times. It never feels like enough. I keep staining my favourite clothes with self-injury blood. And it feels like it’s not okay to tell that to anybody when all the “mental health zines” I’m finding seem to just be about, like, growing herbs and things-in-jars in your kitchen, and Mindfulness, and stuff that doesn’t help me anymore.

I got out all my books about Borderline Personality Disorder and Recovering From Self-Injury, and all that stuff just seemed like such impossible bullshit, and they felt like they were written to shame me; they had lists of reasons not to cut yourself that contained things like, “You might make people around you feel bad,” and “You’ll have to wear long sleeves on the beach.” I want you to know that I don’t care if I make people around me feel bad anymore, and I feel safer when I’m with people who have visible scars. I wish my friends didn’t have to wear long sleeves everyday to avoid dealing with the daily bullshit we get when we have visible scars.

Things I’m Exhausted With: exhaustion, bullshit white cis feminism, folks who don’t understand that my mental illnesses & chronic pain are real disabilities that make me incapable of doing a lot of things that they (you) do, organizing, capitalism, anarchism, white cis people who think art should be free or trade-only, folks on Etsy who think I can go to the post office every damned day, passive-aggressive criticism that seeks harming individuals over valid criticism that seeks to create positive changes, acting nice when I don’t want to, folks who don’t respect my boundaries when I make them very clear, call-out culture, unheated apartments…

Things I’m Excited About: my new home, meaningful friendships & one-on-one friend dates, alone-time, writing, JazzFM all day everyday, artists who are alive & making things, continuing to make zines but in different ways &/or forms, my lavender pea-coat, nail polish in every shade of purple, art art art, tea, context, fun-a-day, silence, solitude, friends who know that not all silences are awkward, creating a forever-home, cozy punx, winter survival…

I’m recovering now, again, and finding ways to deal with the messes I just wrote about. I’m changing my priorities. I’m really happy to be in my new home, and grateful for the queer community connections that made it possible for me to find a really dreamy place that I can actually afford. I want to get a lot of this negative stuff out, to write out my frustrations with various subcultures & communities and all their double standards and un/spoken rules and inaccessibility, etc. I do feel more hopeful today than I’ve felt for a while. I’m working on various projects, but doing so in a way that I’m not exhausting myself like I did throughout 2012 & 2013. I want this year to be different. My Etsy shop, schoolformaps.etsy.com, is open again, and I did this rad interview you might wanna read. I told my pals that my plans for 2014 are to make no plans. I want: silence, solitude, care, & art.

My goal is to be still long enough to let my nail polish dry.

Introvertedly Yours,
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