Tigertarkla In Your Place

A walk through my mind, oh, we're jogging now, wait is that a couch, I'm going to lie down for a bit

Astrology

I thought I read you in my stars

Somewhere between Venus and Mars

The charts, the cards, the lines

They pointed your heart to mine

I read the constellations on your skin

Telling me we would never end

I forgot to account for the moon

Because you left far too soon

I now know from the start

I should have listened to your heart

Which was singing a song

Signaling our doom like a gong

I should have seen the signs

How clear they were in your eyes

The warning ever repeating

That your love was fleeting

My eyes have instead seen regret

No, Not that we ever met

But that I couldn’t plan ahead

When wrong stars were read

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Queering Things Up

One of the unfortunate things about having an early onset of a mental health disorder is that a lot of development things kind of get pushed aside. For me one of these things was my sexuality and gender identity. In middle school when people are thinking about first boyfriends and girlfriends, I was writing poetry about suicide. In high school when people are starting to explore the wide world of sex, I was trying to cope with anxiety and listening to copious amounts of Keane. In college where you might start experimenting with things, I was trying really fucking hard to stay alive despite the near constant screech in my brain telling me I didn’t want to be on this earth. I was about 23 when I got my diagnosis and in typical stubborn fashion I was 25 when I finally began to take meds for it.

25 is kinda late to be going through shit that I probably should have been exploring when I was in my teens. It’s been 3 years and I am kinda getting a grasp on it now but there is still some things that are fuzzy.

For instance, I am fairly comfortable with my bisexuality (I’m not going to get into the politics of labels but for my case bisexuality = pansexuality). This is one of the few revelations I had when I was a teen so I have a long time to get use to it. Still there are times when I debate whether or not I actually like men, because generally I don’t. Like my standards for guys are so high but girls, not so much. Still I keep the bisexual identity because I see a dude and I think, “nice”.

I’m somewhat comfortable identifying as genderfluid, or nonbinary. I think my doubts with this one are the fact that my body still presents mostly as female. I generally don’t have a problem with it other than a fairly intense hatred for my breasts. Sometimes though I feel really feminine and I doubt those moments where I feel really masculine. Like I am making shit up. Mostly though, I just feel somewhere in the middle, like a balance of feminine and masculine forces. I’m learning to kind of go with the flow on this and accepting that most people don’t give a shit how I present day to day.

The one I struggle with the most is identifying on the ace spectrum. Here’s the thing, I have a fairly strong sex drive but the thought of anyone touching me or engaging in sex with anyone literally revolts me like 80-90% of the time. So I’m not entirely sure what that is about but I kind of think I should probably have sex with someone before I come to any conclusions.

Mostly though, I just kind of figure my identity is going to be in flux for a while and I’m okay with that.

Boundaries and Besties

I think, sometimes, I’m not really good at being a friend. I don’t know if it is really super easy for anyone to transition from childhood friendship to maintaining adult friendships. When it comes to friends, I can count on one hand the ones I consider best friends. Only one of my besties lives in the same town as me, one lives clear across the nation, the other only the next town over (which in Wyoming means they are an hour and 1/2 away). Thank god for modern technology because otherwise I would have no hope of keeping up with their lives. All of my besties are in different stages of their life too. One is just starting to try and figure out what they want out of life. Another is single, knows what they want but is struggling to figure out how to obtain it. The third is married and has just welcomed a new addition to their family. Between distances and inhabiting different spheres of life it can be hard to maintain friendships, but layer on my own particular brand of mental illness it can be damn near impossible.

I know I can be a somewhat difficult person to handle. I tend to either over or undershare. I can be clingy or I can disappear from you life forever. I’m not always emotionally available. I can be jealous and possessive and I get vindictive when I am hurt. The thing is I know these things about myself and have learned to incorporate a few personal rules to help me navigate my current and future friendships.

  1. Honesty: I think honesty needs to form the basis of any personal relationship, romantic or platonic. Does this mean I need to tell my friends about every little secret or every thought that pops in my head? No. What it means is that I have to be honest about things that may effect our friendship. Like if my brain decides it can’t cope with life much less my friend’s existential crisis, I let them know. I let them know when I am going through rough times, I let them know when things are going well. I let them know what I feel about them, that I love them.
  2. Oversharing: going hand in hand with honesty though is oversharing. My friends don’t need a breakdown of my every day trials and worries. Let’s be honest it can be a bit overwhelming. I’m not saying I don’t share pretty much everything with my friends but I try not to dump all of it on them at one time. Like that’s what therapists are for, not best friends.
  3. Quid pro Quo: I can’t also be on the receiving or giving side of the relationship. This means I can’t only talk to my friend about what is bothering me and then completely ignore their own trials. It also means that I can’t just be there for emotional support for a friend without letting them provide the same for me. Relationships are are give and take which means you have to both give and take.
  4. Make an effort: This is important because I am such a homebody I would never leave my house if I was given the option not to. This means I have make and effort to connect with my friends. It can be as simple as checking in with a friend once or twice a week to see how their week went. It can mean making solid plans and committing to them. Both surprisingly hard things for me to do. It also means making an effort to take an interest in their lives. This could mean reading a parenting article, or watching a movie trailer or listening to a podcast. Nothing too major but things that keep me informed of what is going on in each of their spheres.
  5. Say no sometimes: one thing that I have done on past friendships is overextended myself. I try so hard to be everything a person needs to be that I turn myself into a martyr. I don’t like being a martyr so inevitably I react with the other extreme, selfishness. To strike a balance I have learned that sometimes I need to say no. Like, I can’t let you borrow money, I can’t listen to this right now, I don’t care to watch that movie. True friends accept no as an answer
  6. Accept the boundaries they put up: Just because you can see (or think you can) exactly what a person needs to do to fix their life, doesn’t mean you get to keep pushing when they tell you to back off. You are their friend, not their therapist, their mother, their doctor or anything else. You don’t have to fix your friends, you just gotta be there if you can and help them when they want and if you have good friends they will do the same.
  7. Be Yourself: It can be really hard for me to not absorb the personalities of my friends, but my friends are not my friends because I am a clone of them. I am allowed to have differing opinions and quirks they may find annoying. Besides what is the point of being friends with someone useless they are a unique individual with their own likes, dislikes, opinions and views of the world. I mean I don’t want to differ on everything, (I prefer it if we all agree that electing an orange cheeto to run the country is a bad idea) because mutual interests are generally what helps a friendship form but I don’t expect them the agree with me on everything.

So those are my rules, what rules do you live by for friendships?

But, What Do You Eat?

When you live in the middle of ranching territory, particularly in conservative Wyoming, this is a question you get a lot if you choose to tell people you are vegetarian. To be fair, I usually get this from the older generation who seem to be unaware of the concept of vegetables. Younger people seem to just accept it. (The younger generation is why I still have faith in America.)

Generally, if the conversation continues the topic of why I chose to become vegetarian about 2 years ago comes up. Cue a deep sigh. My reasons for becoming vegetarian are a bit complicated.

There’s the straight forward reply. I did it to reduce my impact on the environment, but in truth that’s only like a smidgeon of the reason. Sometimes I say it is for religious reasons. Now, I am not particularly religious but I follow the wiccan rede. My personal interpretation of it leads me to understand that I should do as little harm as I can in the world. Sometimes I say it’s because I love animals and I couldn’t reconcile loving animals and eating them. Sometimes if I don’t want to justify it I just say that I didn’t like meat all that much so I may as well give it up.

All of these reasons informed my decision. Things that didn’t affect my decision was the idea vegetarianism was healthier (if done right it can be but it isn’t by default), that I would lose weight (I am roughly the same weight now as I was before I went veg) or a sense of moral superiority (eating or not eating meat doesn’t make you any less or more morally superior to the next person. A lion isn’t morally inferior to a gazelle, they both are just animals deriving nutrition from the environment in different ways.)

Anyways, the takeaway from this should be, that if you think I am somehow starving myself because I am vegetarian, you should probably consider taking a look at the rest of the food pyramid.

Salads

I’ve been packing salads for lunch because, I need to eat lunch and also vegetables. (Also, I am trying to prepare for living on my own while actually functioning in spite of the bipolar and one of the areas of importance that I have identified is my eating habits, which are horrendous) Basically what I have been doing is prepping 5 days worth of lunches like Sunday evening. I have these quart cup Pyrex containers that are really good for this. I pack the same salad for the week because it usually takes me about 5 days to get sick of eating the same thing.

Last week I did a Mediterranean inspired salad because I remembered I had falafel in the freezer. It was mixed spring greens (my salad base go to), cherry tomatoes, sweet peppers (the small ones), mozzarella (those little balls of the fresh stuff) and falafel. I had some Greek yogurt dip stuff for the falafel and the peppers and then the rest of the salad got a dressing made of olive oil, basil, salt, and pepper. I combined that with some tomato basil wheat thins.

This week I am doing a southwest style salad. Again I started off with mixed greens. To that I added, tomatoes (Roma, diced), red onion, orange bell pepper, black beans (canned, unsalted, drained and rinsed), and corn (frozen, fried with a little olive oil, salt, chili powder and cumin till they were just a little roasted. I stirred the black beans into them before I added them to the salad). I paired with a salsa Verde yogurt dressing (I think it has avocado as well) and some tortilla strips for a crunch.

I also take along a small thing of yogurt (I’ve been doing chobani because it’s been on sale and I prefer the Greek style yogurt) and a fruit of some sort (bananas last week, berries this week). I also drink one thing of flavored green tea (Xing brand, the entire can is about 180 calories). I just do Huel shakes for breakfast then whatever I find for dinner because I haven’t gotten that far in my meal planning yet.

(Also, for the record, I am not counting calories. I find that when I do that I don’t eat enough food because I focus too much on the number. I am just trying to eat reasonable portions instead. Like my salads general consist of about 3 packed cups of leafy stuff and a little less than a cup of other things. )

Letting Go of That Skinny Bitch

According to a quick Google search, 91% of women are unhappy with their body. So it would be a pretty safe bet to call me a liar if I told you I was happy with my body.

The first time I can recall having an issue with my body was when I was fairly young,7 or 8, and a family friend said I was fat. Now let me be completely honest with you, I was nowhere close to fat at that age. I was a large kid, I’ll give you that, I mean I was 5’8″ by the time I was in 5th grade and compared to the kids with largely Mexican and Italian lineages I was a goddamn giant, but I was not fat.

From that point it seemed to become more of an issue. Puberty hit me fast and it hit me early and let me tell you, I was not happy with my changing body. I began to gain weight, as girls do when hormones start acting up. It probably wouldn’t have bothered me so much if it hadn’t have bothered my mother.

Now, my mother never forced me into a diet but there where things that she did that did me damage. Like the questions every time we went to the doctor, the gentle rebukes about how much I ate, the “if you lost some weight you could wear these cute things.” They build up.

I use to have this version of me in my head, the perfect me who could wear whatever, whose hair was always done right, who would be adore, all because I weighed 150 lbs. I use to keep a list of all the little things wrong with my body as if I could check them off one by one and when I was done I would be perfect. My life would be perfect. Honestly, that me, that skinny bitch, she had to fucking go.

Okay, first of all, lets be entirely straight, I’m never going to weigh 150 pounds, not without removing a few limbs. My lean body mass is around 170 pounds and I’m not even lifting weights like I use to. I am just a big person. Back in high school when I was riding my bike about 4-5 miles a day and going to the gym regularly, when I was a probably my most active ever, I weighed between 205-215. I had fat on my stomach and cellulite on my thighs and you know what? I was fucking healthy. You know what else I was?

I was big, I am big, my body type is big and learning to accept that has been a journey. It took reading articles. It took looking at my body with a objective eye, relearning the language I used to describe myself. It took reevaluating everything I ever though about my body over the years. Though I can’t exactly say I love everything about my body. I can say that I accept it. Plus, I definitely have more positives to say about it these days.

My body is big, it is soft, and it is strong. It has rolls and curves and hair in weird places. It doesn’t look good in skinny jeans but it can fill out the right kind dress really well. My body, it’s not perfect, but it’s okay, and I’m okay with that.

Yo-Yo: Dieting with Bipolar

It feels almost inevitable, the weight gain from a 4 month depression spiral. I don’t even need to step on the scale to know I have gained about 20 pounds.

I’m going to be completely upfront with you, I am overweight. I’ve been overweight to a level that could cause health problems since about sophomore year in college and a lot of the weight gain I have experienced is during depressive periods.

That being said, fuck diets. Particularly fuck fad diets, like those no carb, low carb, eat like a Neanderthal, cut out large swaths of the food pyramid and compromise your nutrition for the sake of losing 5 lbs. Yeah fuck those. I’ve tried them and honestly, if I have learned anything it is that they don’t work… not for me anyway. All they have given me is an unhealthy relationship with food that I am slowly rehabilitating.

The problem for me isn’t necessarily what I eat. I grew up eating veggies, whole grains, lean proteins. They are largely what I prefer to eat now. Also, being vegetarian severely limits my fast-food options. No the problem with me is I eat to the whims of my disorder.

Pro tip: The bipolar brain is the worst dietian/meal planner. It says to starve myself all day then gorge on an ungodly amount of food just before bed. It says to eat sweets until my teeth hurt because I’m sad. It says I can’t eat if I’m too anxious, or upset, or angry. In short, it’s a goddamn mess.

The thing is, I actually know how to eat correctly. I know how to meal plan, I know how to cook to eliminate excess fat.I know how to build balanced meals and portion things out. When my doctor a few years back suggested I go to nutrition classes at the bariatric surgery center I brushed him off, because I had literally been to all those classes 5 years prior with my mom. A lack of knowledge is not my problem.

It’s simply boils down to having my eating under control. All I need to do to lose weight is eat a reasonable amount of food, at reasonable intervals of time, and maybe do at least 30 minutes of cardio a day. Like I don’t even have to stop eating cake or pizza, I just have to stop eating a whole damn pizza after starving myself all day long. I don’t even hate exercising, I enjoy it. It’s so fucking simple, yet it feels like climbing Everest at times.

Because when I’m depressed, sometimes I have to force myself to eat anything at all because I know it’s been over a day since I’ve had anything and I need to eat. Sometimes pizza feels like the only thing worth living for or the feel of that milkshake sliding down my throat is the only pleasurable thing I’ve experienced in a long time. Sometimes, being awake and being alive is the best I can do.

I’m not quite ready to give up on it all though because I still haven’t shaken the belief that, if I do what I need to, I can be a healthy, happy person. Right now, I’m going to focus on actually eating 3 meals… And maybe cutting back on the pizza.

11pm: Text Messages From the Edge

How do you talk someone back from the edge when you are standing there yourself? How do you tell someone life is worth living, when you are not entirely sure it is?

Talking friends through crisis points in not a daily occurance for me, but it is a common one. It usually starts off the same way, a post on social media that to me sounds like a cry for help. Then I have to make a deciscion: Do I reach out? It can be a difficult choice. Sometimes I’m not the person they need to hear from. Sometimes my brand of comfort may not be the best for the situation. Sometimes though, it’s 11pm on a Tuesday night and no one else is awake, except me and them.

But what do you say?

When they say no one will miss them, you’ve got to tell them that you will. You tell them, even if they occupy the smallest corner of your life, that you’ll miss them.

When they say they have nothing to live for, you tell them to keep looking.

When they say they are a horrible person, tell them they aren’t. Tell them as long as they keep trying to make themselves better, keep trying to improve, they are worthy.

When they ask of it gets better, tell them the truth. It may never get better. You may always live like this. You may find ways to cope better. You may find meds, or religion, or yoga. More than likely though, they’ll always be fighting this, but they won’t be fighting it alone.

You listen to them and you answer with all the things you needed to hear. All the things you repeat to yourself when you’re awake at 11pm, looking over the edge, and thinking how easy it would be to jump.

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