Mental illness & compounded effects of marginalization

DISCLAIMER: This article is written only from my own experiences and is not meant to represent other people’s experiences of ableism, transmisogyny, sexual assault, or other experiences.

TW: Rape, sexual assault.

A lot of people look up to people who appear to be struggling with life, as if they are inspirational in some way. I feel like while this can be perceived as a form of understanding – it feels hollow to me. When people tell me I am brave for enduring so much shit, it feels like a way for people to be supportive without actually doing anything. I guess the point of this article is to get people to understand what living like this is like. When you are reading this, imagine if you had to go through all this – and then know that many people are going through it. Try and think of ways that you can make your spaces safer for these people, for people like me.

I have had to deal with a lot of crap in my life, including but not limited to sexual assault, rape, depression & anxiety. These issues compound together to make my life very difficult, which often result in a lot of disabling triggers and fears for me. I have various irrational fears as a result of this stuff, including fears of bathrooms [which are slightly rational], and fears of libraries. These compounded effects make spaces that should be safe for me, unsafe. I haven’t really used libraries or read books for a long time because the thought or similar brings up triggering thoughts. It is this behaviour that compounds with my mental illnesses and other marginalizations to make me feel unsafe and awful.

Living in a rural and regional area is really difficult for me because I can’t actually access any resources or events for me, or people like me. With 0.3% of the population [according to some American statistics] identifying as transgender, and even fewer being disabled as well – the chances of finding a disabled trans woman in a rural and regional environment is very low. Not having that kind of specific support can be quite demoralizing – having general support is good, but I often feel like I am repeating myself in explaining basic content to people.

Mental illness can compound these feelings of isolation – and depression is especially skilled at doing this. Depression makes you feel like everything you do is a colossal waste of time and energy, despite the logical half of your brain arguing that what you do is important. I feel isolated because I’m worthless and pathetic, and then I start to doubt my own identity because I feel like I am the only one who feels this way due to isolation. Being poor as well doesn’t help, as I can’t solve the problem of my isolation, or of medications to either slow down the depression or start a physical transition. And when people constantly refer to you as your deadname, or use the incorrect pronouns, it really is like getting slapped with a wet fish. And that starts the cycle of self loathing and hatred yet again, which never seems to end as everything continually sets it off.

Being mentally ill is a real challenge but at the same time… I don’t want people to praise me for how strong, or how courageous I am. I want people to actively try and make spaces safer for me, by not questioning why I am triggered by certain books or by libraries. I want the stigma against hospitalized people to be dropped, so that we can seek help without the fear or being shunned. It should not have taken me until this time to hospitalize myself, and seek the help that I need. I want people to promote self-care and self-love over one’s usefulness to the wider community.

Parents

TW: self harm mention, suicide mention, mental illness, transphobia, queerphobia

“i love you, parents” i say
as they teach me math
and help me learn words and sums
i am only three
i do not know better

“i love you, parents” i say
as they take me to school
i am six, and school is scary
i can hide in video games they buy
i can hide in their love

“i love you, parents” i say
as i am yelled at
for being friendless
for being bullied
for getting a C grade
i resolve to change myself
so i will be perfect

“i love you, parents” i say
as i graduate primary school
i am twelve, and confused
my body is changing
and i am worried

“i love you, parents” i say
after i come out as gay
after they tell me not to tell my brother
because it will give him ideas
i feel uneasy
i feel wrong

“i love you, parents” i say
as i let the blade into my skin
as i cry red tears into the world
as i loathe myself as much as they do to me

“i love you, parents” i say
as i get yelled at in the car
for being depressed
for being suicidal
for being fourteen, and wrong
i do not trust them

“i love you, parents” i say
as i wilt
as you misgender
and misname me
as i eat less than a meal a day
as i wait to die

“i love you, parents” i say
as i finally start to make friends
as you yell at me for not spending enough time with you
why would i want to

“i love you, parents” i say
alone into my phone
it plays back hollow and unfeeling
now i never have to say it again

“i hate you, parents” i say
under my breath
every waking moment is agony
i must live a lie constantly
but this is the only moment
where i can be truthful