the mental toll of long-term illness

It has been 5 years since I got sick.

People get sick all the time, so this shouldn’t be a big deal or an important event. I was a pretty healthy kid, got my yearly dose of the flu-like virus that was going around for that year and that was all. I haven’t been hospitalised since I was a toddler who snuck away to jump on the bed and foolishly fell off (something I’m sure most toddlers do at some point… it’s kind of a rite of passage). My point is that any form of prolonged or drawn out illness was a completely foreign concept for me.

For anyone who is jumping to conclusions, no, I didn’t get cancer or some terminal illness. Nothing as devastating or serious as that. I got glandular fever. Mononucleosis. One little virus. Again, it shouldn’t have been a big deal. But it was.

I was in my final year of high school, and it was an important year for me. I was taking subjects centred around science and maths and was to sit four scholarship exams. I didn’t have time to be unwell. So when my throat swelled to the point that I could barely hear, eat or drink, I went to school regardless. I would heal, I assumed. The doctor said it was strep throat (even though I told her I didn’t think it was). She gave me anitibiotics (which didn’t work and gave me a rash), and the tests came back negative for strep.

Eventually the swelling went down (mostly, I still have lumps in my throat though) but I didn’t fully get better. I was tired all the time, and I would get pains in my joints, mild fevers and just general unwell-symptoms regularly at the slightest overexertion. Emotionally, I was numb. I couldn’t feel anything at all. I just stuck to my routine of get up, school, sleep. Someone suggested I exercise, so I went for a swim and was bed-ridden for a week afer. Coincidence? I tried it again months later with the same result. I stopped going out with friends with the explanation that I just didn’t feel well, but people started to question it because I couldn’t be sick all the time, could I?

After about six months of my parents and my doctor telling me I would be fine and I was overreacting, I got a full blown flu and couldn’t leave the house (or my bed) for two weeks. I remember one morning, very clearly, lying in bed and hurting every time I tried to breathe. Suddenly I was completely convinced that I would not get better from this. I was certain right there in that moment that I would die. It was like I could actually feel Death standing in the doorway, considering me, deciding whether to take me now or come back later. I was utterly terrified and… sad. Sad, that I wouldn’t get to find out what the world had planned for me. I looked at my life and realised that I hadn’t really planned anything for my adulthood anyway. I could never really picture myself living beyond adolescence, and this just seemed to convince me further that I was about to die. It calmed me a little, thinking that this was how it was always meant to be. Clearly I was wrong about that, but it helped me at the time. My mum walked through the doorway around then and said that she would take me to the doctor. I remember clearly that the sun came out from behind a cloud. The doctor took one look at me (I had lost almost 10kg in the two weeks I had been housebound) and sent me for a blood test at last (what I had asked for at the beginning).

Glandular fever had effectively killed my immune system. The flu I’d caught as a result had taken down my thyroid. This meant I was burning energy faster than I could put it in. There was not much they could do, I had to wait to heal, but it was good to finally know that it wasn’t all in my head and that I wasn’t overreacting. I felt justified in my silent struggle. I picked up a few more symptoms to add to the list – heart palpitations and panic attacks – but I stopped losing weight. And as long as I didn’t exercise, or go out, or do anything that remotely resembled a life outside of my room and my classroom, I didn’t get sick. I dropped all my extra curricular activites, even those I had stuck with for ten years. It probably should have hurt, but I didn’t feel much. It was necessary.

My grades ended up being really good. I found that I was too tired and empty to care much at the time. (I am incredibly proud of my achievements now though). I wanted to study medicine, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to. I’d had a year to become very familiar with what I was no longer capable of. I was very careful in my first year of engineering at university. I didn’t drink, I didn’t exercise, I didn’t go out. I went to uni, then I came home and studied. I got good grades, I liked what I was doing, I could live with that.

Then part way through second year, two and a half years after getting sick, I started to feel again. And if I thought I was emotionally repressed before all this happened, that was nothing compared to how it felt to have two years worth of feelings suddenly start to stir. There was a lot of anger and feelings of injustice, a lot of regret for the time that I had lost and all I had missed out on, regret at my loss of fitness, hobbies, friends. There was a lot of feeling misunderstood, because I would try and try and try to explain this horrible mess of feelings to people, to help them to understand, but there was just nothing there for them to comprehend. It was all “Yeah, we know you got sick. That happened like two years ago. But you’re better now.” It seems that being sick and out-of-action for so long isn’t really something you can understand well unless you’ve experienced it. Even though my body was finally starting to pull itself together physically, the mental damage of being taken down so suddenly and for so long ran so much deeper than the physical sickness.

So I coped the only way I could. I started drinking so I could forget. I was an engineering student, it was expected of me. That’s what I told myself anyway. After a year and a half of that, I was beginning to realise it was getting out of hand. It got to the point where I was having at least one drink every day, I was showing up to classes and tests moderately intoxicated and I was struggling to remember what I was supposed to be learning. I can’t actually remember what it was that triggered this epiphany (which probably says enough in itself) but from one day to the next I decided to stop. Which wasn’t very fun. And the fact that it wasn’t very fun was the most frightening part. I hadn’t realised that I was dependant. Mood swings, shakiness, paranoia, panic attacks, hallucinations. I lastest a month, maybe two, before I caved and just about coma’d myself with a bottle of wine. I was so violently ill that night. Apparently that was what I needed though because I haven’t needed to get drunk like that since. I still drink, on occasion, but it doesn’t have nearly the same attraction for me as it did, I don’t crave it, and I don’t lose control like I used to.

I started running last year.

It seems insignificant, but it really isn’t. The fact that I can do this, without getting sick, that I can actually start to work on bringing my fitness levels back up, that I can actually do something to get physically healthier is a massive achievement and a huge weight off my shoulders. I’m not a fitness freak, but I was always active, and I absolutely hate it when I can’t do something, so this was a huge deal. I was taking back control. I would be all right. And a couple of months after I had started running, I woke up one morning and I realised… I felt content. I could face the world today, and I wouldn’t just be tolerating it. I felt as though I could begin to participate in life again. That morning, I looked at my ceiling and I decided, finally, that I was better. Almost four years after I got sick, and I was telling myself that I was fully recovered now. I was okay. And I was.

A year later, and I’ve hardly thought about the time when I was sick. The experience has definitely changed me and perhaps made me a harder person than I was, but I have learnt so much about my body and how people cope with illness. This post is really just for me to express my gratitude that I did finally get through that mess even though there were many times that I thought I never would. I hope that it can help someone who is struggling to hold onto the hope that there is an end to the pain, even if it’s a long journey away.

But really, the most important lesson I’ve learnt from all of this is to take care of yourself and listen to your body.

Q

jumping to conclusions

Source: http://groundedpsyche.com/iceberg/

One of the hardest things for me to accept is that moment where people learn some small scrap of information about you, and use this to build an entire picture of the person they expect you to be from that. Sometimes what they learn about you is something so ridiculously small that I can’t help but think, ‘Seriously? You’re judging me based on that?’ Not only is this practice misguided, but it’s also a giant punch to the gut. We are all so much more than just a sum of facts and past activities.

I mean, I’ve fought my way through a four year degree where I worked 60 hours a week to carry projects through and compensate for teammates who refused to show time and time again. I’ve dealt with family illnesses and deaths, personal long-term illness, and the death of the most patient and loving creature in my life – my beautiful cat. I’ve won awards, not just within my degree, but in language and Chinese calligraphy. I’ve written and continue to write stories that are read by thousands of people. I cry when I watch superhero movies and still dream of becoming one. I make my own costumes for dress-up parties, and I can do more chinups than most guys my age. There is so much more to me than you can possibly see after just meeting me, and you’re going to judge me based on the fact that I don’t have a driver’s license? Really?

Some days, people are such an effort…

Q

just a word of thanks

I was (finally) writing my About page yesterday, and realised something quite important. Although I built this blog with a desire to help others find people like them and come to terms with who they are, the simple act of writing about my deepest thoughts and feelings has already started to help me in ways I didn’t anticipate.

After only 2 weeks, a handful of posts, and a little time each day browsing other wonderful blogs, I feel as though I have become a completely different person. I have opened up about things that I have kept locked inside since I was about seven years old (or younger! But I only remember actively locking them inside from seven…) and I could never have imagined how free I now feel as a result.

Most of the time I feel calm and at ease in my own skin, truly and deeply accepting of who I am on the inside once I finally admitted it to a small and wonderful section of the world. But more importantly, I’ve now noticed that I’m actually beginning to really feel things again. Anger, frustration, sadness, joy – they are all so much sharper to me now, almost as though I’ve allowed myself to feel them properly now that I’m taking steps to properly accept myself. And it feels good to properly feel again.

And so I wanted to thank you all for being receptive to my posts, my rants, my stories. Thank you for making me feel welcome, and for giving me somewhere safe to express and accept myself. I hope you all find similar peace and support in your own blogospheres.

Q

a word on darkness

Warning – this post discusses dark and dangerous topics, especially suicide and its motivations. I urge you to carefully consider this warning and not to read if this could upset you.


The thing about life, is that it is supposed to hurt. If it doesn’t hurt you aren’t doing it right. Or rather, if it hurts, you’re doing it wrong, but you’re learning from your mistakes, which is what life is about.

But so many people get caught up in pain, because it’s such a strong and overpowering feeling at times. It’s terrifyingly easy to forget that there is much, much more to life than that! Life is an eternal balancing act. And when you get right down to it, what do we live for but the paralysing beauty that is so powerful and moving that our faces crumple and we are reduced to tears? The world in which we live is so full of this unending beauty that I fear we could surely die just from exposure to it! And that’s the precise moment when I know that I’m broken, that I’ve had too much to drink, too little sleep. When I just sit and cry for the perfection of the world and fear that I’ll shatter against such a bright light.

This is what my mind is like – at it’s good end.

It is irrational and it is beautiful and it is terrifying.

And I cling to it in complete terror and in the knowledge that such a wondrous feeling of clarity will soon be gone, stolen for who knows how long? Replaced by darkness, the other end of the scale, the polar opposite to joy, clarity, understanding, peace.

What comes after is pain, fear, self-doubt, anger. What comes after is a raw desire for the end. A complete conviction that the world conspires against you, that you are not meant to be here, that you are nothing, worthless. It takes effort – more effort than imaginable – to hold on, to stay in the world.

And then there is numbness. You’ve burnt all your joy and wonder, you’ve burnt all your despair. There is nothing left and you are hollow. There is no colour and there is no motivation. There are only whatever routines you have built for yourself, whatever safety nets you have put in place. You are utterly alone and only your past self, the version of you who took it upon themself in a moment of a clarity to look out for this version of you they knew would come, is keeping you alive. Only they are guiding you through the day. Without them you would surely fall.

Every iteration of this cycle is a terrible risk. I can only pray that the cycle will not collapse or become too unbalanced. I have no control, only the best safety measures that I can put in place. I know in my heart that if the cycles were to spiral out of control, my safety measures would not be enough, and I fear so much that this eventuality will come to pass.

People often say that they do not understand the motivations behind suicide. That is because sometimes there are none. Sometimes, people simply lose the battle with life. And sometimes it is a horrible choice, between that and something worse. I think, what if my cycles between joy and misery fluctuated instead towards hatred and violence? If I was afraid I could hurt someone, if I could lose my head and kill someone? I would take my own life over that risk. I would rather die a selfish coward than a monster, and a murderer.  When proper control over your actions is a luxury you were not granted in life, I cannot blame anyone for taking control in the only way they can.

I went to a funeral for a young man who took his own life and I couldn’t get over the fact that everyone was so angry. Yes, I agree that the loss of that young and brilliant life was indeed sad, that there was a lot of potential for good from him! But, if he was in the process of losing a losing battle with himself, if he was on the brink of deviating from that brilliant and good path that he had set himself on, I simply could not see his decision as a waste. If the bad that he prevented outweighed the bad that he caused by his actions…

Yes, life is precious and a wonderful gift and it should be fought for and preserved! But we should not be blind to situations where life should be relinquished. We should not blame and shame the people who have to make the decisions without considering their unvoiced struggles. Life is so individual. And we must all individually face our own battles and make our own choices.

My heart breaks for everyone who is brave enough to be true to themselves.

Q

more labels to toss around the room

Today I’m marching on to a topic that is becoming more and more acceptable to discuss publicly as it is explored in the media more and more frequently – sexuality, or sexual orientation.

I count myself as one of the few fortunate enough to have grown up in a time and place where no one has ever tried to teach me that sexual orientation is something that you can get right or wrong. That is not to say that I haven’t seen people being treated unfairly because of their sexual orientation, but I am full of hope that it is possible for members of the younger generations to get all the way to adulthood without being taught any prejudice, anger or fear for people based on this.

As a kid, I didn’t really think about relationships or marriage much – people try to avoid teaching you that stuff until you’re a bit older, so I just figured it was one of those adult things that would happen eventually. All the adults that I knew were either male/female married couples, or they were single (divorced, widowed or simply never married). So the only thing I really thought was that you either choose to get married, or choose to not get married. I was dead set on being a hermit on a mountain somewhere, so it seemed like an obvious choice for me!

No, not this kind of hermit! It would be pretty cool though.

As I got older, they started to teach me a bit more, and I came across the concept of homosexuality. It was interesting, but otherwise uneventful. I just kind of thought: “Oh, okay. I didn’t know that was a thing. I wonder why I don’t know anyone like that. I guess it’s just really uncommon.” Though I still held onto my dreams of being a hermit, I thought to myself that if I did end up getting married, it would probably be to a guy because then we could both climb trees and play video games together. I really didn’t want to think about spending all my time shopping and talking about fake tans. (Obviously there were no gender stereotypes in kid-me’s head at all.)

Clearly every woman is like this.

When I was about 15, I took a Health class as a more interesting alternative to Economics (which was driving me insane). It was definitely interesting. We had an all female class (the only guy dropped out after the first week… go figure) and I learnt a lot more about sex than I ever really needed or wanted to know. But I was introduced to the term, bisexuality, and that was quite an interesting thing for me to get my head around. I don’t know if I’m strange in this or not (I know I’m strange in a lot of other ways) but at 15, I had never really thought about sex in the slightest (possibly not helped by the fact that I was so conflicted with my gender identity).  I’d had a couple of boyfriends, sure, but they really were just that to me. Friends that were boys, that you got to hug, and hold hands with, and talk about everything with. Sex was something gross and weird and adult and I wasn’t ready to stop being a kid, ever.

So my then-current understanding of relationships was that there were three options:

1) You’re heterosexual and you get married to someone of the opposite gender

2) You’re homosexual and you get a Civil Union with someone of the same gender

3) You don’t marry, move to the mountains and grow a long beard

Option 4) Seduce Peter Pan.

There really wasn’t room in my understanding for bisexuality, because you couldn’t get married to two people. Around about this time, my best friend opened up about being bisexual. I didn’t really know what to think about that. I remember bringing it up with an adult who told me that people our age were often confused about what they wanted, and liked to experiment and try new things to figure it out. I knew that I didn’t have a clue what I wanted really, except for some good, close friends, but she had been very confident and relaxed about her sexual identity – like it was just another fact about her. She could have been talking about her hair colour. (Now, of course, I appreciate that that’s exactly what your sexual orientation is – a fact about you, and not a definition of you.)

medusa

Although for Medusa, her hair -kinda- does define her.

Then, I got a boyfriend (who I’m still with today). Unfortunately, around this time my best friend and I had a falling out and stopped speaking to each other. I doubt I’ll ever know what that was about – whether she was hurt that I wouldn’t be able to hang out with her as much, or if it was something more than that – but I realised that losing her felt exactly the same to me as losing boyfriends I’d had in the past. I’d enjoyed her company, admired her talents, loved getting to know her, and I kind of thought, what’s the difference between that and what I had with boyfirends?

From what I knew, the main difference between a close friendship, and a sexual relationship was the sexual part – the intimacy and the sexual attraction. The trouble was, the sexual part was the bit I felt I didn’t get the instructions for. I was capable of being attracted to people, but not really for their bodies. I didn’t really look at people and think, wow, they look hot. I could appreciate the difference between looking nice and looking ugly (which I actually feel bad for thinking. I hate judging people based on how they look), but I wasn’t really attracted to people based on this alone. It took me a while, but eventually I realised that it was people’s personalities, actions and motivations that spoke loudest to me. What I was attracted to was who people were, how they saw and interacted with life, and how they treated me. And with that understanding came the realisation that I really didn’t care whether they had boobs or a beard, because that wasn’t the part that mattered to me.

What mattered was whether or not they had a cat.

Since then I have learnt that there are a whole range of other sexual identites out there. There are multiple labels that could apply to me but I would probably say that bisexual or pansexual fits best. But the label itself is mostly academic as I am happy with my boyfriend.

I find myself reluctant to discuss my sexuality because it’s so easy to just let people assume I am straight because I have a boyfriend. I feel as though there would be no benefit to coming out as bi- or pan-sexual and risk being alienated by both my straight and gay friends. That being said, I don’t really try to hide my attractions towards girls (or my mix-and-matched gender identity), I just don’t put a label on it and nobody asks any questions. I’m pretty sure that some of my family and friends know or have guessed that I’m not your regular het girl, but they seem content to stay quiet and not throw labels around. The one or two people I have told have been very accepting, but often seem desperate to divert the conversation elsewhere. And I’m okay with that, because it really is just one more fact about me, and it doesn’t define me. It’s just a personal preference.

Thanks for reading and be sure to let me know if you have any thoughts or opinions on this topic.

Q

straight into the deep end

I’m going to start by taking a bold step and talking about the topic that is the most difficult for me to talk about to anyone, the topic that causes and has caused me the most anguish and unease in my day-to-day life. It is something extremely fundamental to who we are, how we perceive others, and how we decide on our own behaviours and reactions to the people around us. It is something that is normally so basic and straightforward that it is usually taken for granted.

If you haven’t already guessed, my topic for this post is gender identity.

Just to clarify briefly what I mean by that, gender identity is the gender or genders that you personally identify with. It’s how you feel on the inside. It can be different from biological sex, which is the genetics and anatomy that you were born with.

Most people assume that if you’re born with boy parts, you’re a boy, and if you’re born with girl parts you’re a girl. And for the majority of the population, this is a reasonably safe assumption. But gender identity is not something that is openly talked about usually, and so you may not even be aware that there are a significant number of people around you for whom this assumption is not true. From the safety of hiding behind my screen, I can put my hand right up and say:

“Hi! I am one of those people! Nice to meet you.”

So, I suppose I should tell a little bit about my gender.

I am biologically female. So I have boobs, and estrogen, and two X chromosomes, and I tick the box marked “Female” on forms and documents. But from a very young age, I have not been completely comfortable with the last item on that list.

When I was about 3 or 4 years old, I got a doll for Christmas. I immediately threw it across the room. Now, when you are about 3 or 4 years old, you think that your parents are the highest form of divine being. In your eyes, they know everything, and they are showing you to the path that is right for you. They are basically God. (Or at least that is my experience.) Of course, I never asked for things that I wanted, so in reality my parents couldn’t have known that I wanted building blocks, or toy dinosaurs, but I felt like they knew everything so they must know. I felt like maybe I hadn’t been good enough that year, that maybe I was being pusnished by receiving a present that I couldn’t really use or enjoy. Yes, you can judge me and say I should have been grateful I got anything at all, but really, I probably would have been happier not getting anything than having to face the realisation that:

a) my parents didn’t know everything and weren’t God (yeah, this was bound to happen eventually but it still hurt!)

and b) that I was a girl, and this was a girl toy, but we weren’t right for each other so… something wasn’t right here.

I didn’t get any more dolls as presents. And as soon as I started dressing myself, I stopped wearing dresses, skirts, or pink. This was made much easier because almost all of my clothes were hand-me-downs from a male family friend, but I think I would have avoided thoses items of clothing regardless. It wasn’t that I refused to wear them if I was required to for some occasion like a wedding, but I just preferred not to wear overly feminine clothes. Soemtimes my school friends would ask me why I always wore my trademark shorts and tee shirt and sandals and I would just tell them that it was comfy and practical, and that you can’t climb trees or monkey bars in a dress. Because at Primary School it was really only the clothing and hair that differentiated boys and girls. Anatomically there wasn’t much difference in size, strength and shape. I had the choice about my clothing. If I had the choice about my hair, it would have been short too. But at this age, just dressing and acting ‘male’ was enough for me.

Intermediate was much more challenging. We were introduced to school uniforms. To this day, I am extremely grateful that I went to such a realxed and tolerant intermediate school. The girls were allowed to wear skirts or shorts. I was told that none of the girls wear the shorts, but I didn’t care. I bought a pair of each. And within 2 weeks of school starting and me wearing my shorts alone among the girls, a handful of other girls had bought shorts too. I had gotten a few odd looks in the first few days, but after that nothing. And that acceptance was a beautiful thing to come so easily from 11 and 12 year old kids. Unfortunately, Intermediate school became challenging in other ways because girls and boys were starting to differentiate in appearance. And, (heaven forbid!) we were beginning to get hormones. (GASP) I felt, more than ever, that I would have to pick a side. It was becoming more and more difficult to get along with both boys and girls, and I didn’t really feel like I belonged with either. The girls were into suntans and makeup and shaving their legs and boys. The boys just wanted to muck around, run around, and play. I knew which side I wanted to be on. (Here’s a clue: I couldn’t care less about suntans or makeup!) But it was quickly becoming harder for me to pass myself off as “one of the guys”. They were all getting bigger and stronger, and I was getting curvier. Probably the most upsetting thing to me at the time was that I could no longer win any wrestling matches. (I know, so sad. I’ll never be a pro wrestler)

High school was a big mess for me. I’m pretty sure it’s a big mess for everyone. I think it’s meant to be. I stopped trying to be “one of the guys”. I kind of just stopped trying in general, socially. I drifted from group to group, and decided to focus instead on my schoolwork. As a result, I got amazing grades, but had practically no social life.

With these amazing grades, I was able to get into the most male dominated degree: Engineering. People often ask me if its difficult being in a class with so few girls, but honestly, we don’t really notice the gender imbalance. The girls in engineering do tend to stick together for numerous reasons, but in class we find that we all think alike. We don’t think like girls or like guys. We simply think like engineers. And, for the most part, (there are a few exceptions, but very few) we are not treated differently.

So after all of that confused mess of flashbacks, I still haven’t really given you a label for my gender identity. I think that that’s an important thing to note, because many of you may have come up with some possible labels while reading this story. It’s important to realise that it’s human nature to try to label things as it makes it easier for you to react to them and deal with them appropriately. But it’s equally important to remember that my gender identity is the label that I personally identify best with. Looking back at my story, I’m sure that there are many labels that could apply, and I could also argue that the only label I need is my name, that I am me, unique, and that’s okay. But I also find comfort in having a label for myself, because it means that there is a category for me. That I’m not alone, or wrong, or broken. That there are other people out there who are like me. And the label that I think best describes myself is genderqueer.

What does that mean? It means that I don’t really identify as exclusively male or female. Neither gender is strongly representative of how I feel on the inside, but rather I feel as though I am somewhere in the middle, enjoying traits of both genders. I feel that instictively I am more male on the inside, but over time I have ‘learnt’ (in a sense) how to be more female (helped along by being biologically female). I don’t really know if this is what I wanted to become or not, but it is who I am now, and I’m happy to accept that. When I was younger, I would sometimes entertain the thought of taking steps to actually become male, but the process seems so unnatural and destructive to me (I didn’t even really want to get my ears pierced for a long while!) and I don’t really want to put my body through that, or risk in any way the health and safety of the body that I have been given. I really want to add here that I don’t have anything at all against people who do decide to take steps to change their sex – quite the opposite in fact! I admire wholeheartedly the bravery and determination required for that kind of decision. You are much stronger people than I could be. And I respect that everyone has the right to make the decision for themself.

The other reason I chose this label to identify with is that I feel like this is a challenge that has been given to me – that I have been given this conflicting set of identities in my body and mind as a test that I must overcome personally. And it has been given to me to help me to better understand people and their diversity. Really, I have learnt so much about accepting other people through coming to terms with my own identity that I feel it would be taking a step backwards in my own personal progress if I were to decide to change my sex at this stage.

So this is who I am. It wasn’t really that difficult for me to talk about after all. But I still feel like it’s something you can’t voice out loud, whether because the suject is taboo, or because many people simply don’t understand (or don’t want to). All the same it feels good to get it off my chest.

There aren’t a lot of well-known genderqueer role models to look up to in the world. I don’t know of any and I haven’t personally met anyone that has told me they identify as genderqueer, but this doesn’t really surprise me since I haven’t really told anyone that I am (except for you guys)! Based on this, chances are that this could be the first genderqueer life story you’ve heard and I hope that I’ve shown you something new through my perspective on life. And to anyone reading who is genderqueer, or gender non-binary in some way, I would love to hear from you, and I would like to say to you that you are not alone in your struggles 🙂
To anyone reading (gender identity of any kind, including everyone who is thinking ‘but I’m just a regular guy/girl’), I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on what I have shared today.

Thank you so much for reading!

Q

silentlyqueer: Who am I and why am I here?

Well to begin, my name is Q, and I’m a white 20-something year old just trying to make my way through life. In a lot of ways I’m pretty content. I have a great family, a great education, and I live in a peaceful little paradise at the bottom of the world.  So what could I possibly have to blog about?

Well if you’ve been lured here by the title of my blog, you might have some clue. Yes, on the outside I’m incredibly privileged (and extremely grateful for everything life has just handed to me!), but on the inside I’m a little bit different in a number of ways.

For starters, I was raised to not ask for things and to make the most of everything that I had. Yes, I was one of those kids who used the pencil right down to the last few centimetres, and kept a treasure trove of tiny pieces of eraser that my friends couldn’t be bothered with anymore. I never throw out paper if there is still a side that can be written or drawn on, and I take great pride in appreciating and caring for everything I own. I learnt from a very young age that I really didn’t need the latest gadget, or toy to be happy. In fact, I never had to worry about losing or breaking toys I didn’t have and I saw this as a huge plus! The only thing I really wanted was a gameboy color and a pokemon game when they came out. But of course, I couldn’t ask for this. So I saved. At $2 pocket money a week, I saved up for over a year to get that gameboy. I still have it today.

But this is all a digression. The point I’m trying to make is that I don’t tend to really talk about the things I want in my life. I’m extremely introverted when it comes to my personal opinions and feelings, and in social situations I tend to focus on other people’s lives and problems. But there are things I’ve wanted through my life that are pretty unconventional. That I haven’t told people about. Hence the ‘silent’ part of my blog title. (Yes, its an ironic title. I am breaking my silence simply by having this blog!)

So really, the aim of this blog is simply to share my story. A perspective on a slightly unusual life that otherwise wouldn’t have been heard. Why am I doing this publicly? Because I know from first-hand experience (by living life!) that things can be tough and stressful in general, and we (as people) tend to get through the rough patches by talking to each other. But there are some things that are very hard for people to talk about. And if you feel you can’t talk about something, it can make everything seem so much harder. I want to show anyone out there who is a little like me (or not like me at all) that you can be happy, that you can be an amazing person, that things can work out, even if you’re a little (or a lot) different. I have learnt a lot through growing up silently queer – beautiful things and horrible things. I’d like to share some of these things with anyone that they could help.

So, in summary:

  • I’m a bit odd and I’d like to share my story with you
  • The purpose of this is to help others to understand and figure things out in their lives, so don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like to chat about something I’ve brought up.

Specific topics that I’d like to cover include:

  • sexuality
  • gender identity
  • perceptions, assumptions and labelling people
  • different forms of intelligence
  • mental health and mental illness
  • physical illness and death
  • substance use and abuse
  • different kinds of relationships
  • sprituality and a higher purpose
  • general happiness and wellbeing

And that’s the end of my first post!

Q