(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.
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.
P.S.: If you’ve benefited from my writing in any way – if my words have inspired you, helped you feel less alone, or sparked some weird feeling within you; if you’ve felt encouraged, or curious, or comforted – please consider compensating me by offering a donation of any amount. Whether you’ve been reading my writing for years, or just stumbled into me this afternoon, I invite you to help me sustain the process!