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Author Archives: Benny

The Unstructured Life

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Today I woke up early, had a yummy healthy breakfast, made a delicious smoothie… then went back to bed. Then I woke up again, puttered around on the computer for a while, listened to an audiobook for a bit, had coffee… then took a nap. I took at least one more nap later in the day, possibly two, but to be honest I can’t even remember.

I deal with fatigue quite a bit. The frustrating part of my fatigue is that it doesn’t seem to be predictable. I can eat lots of fruit and veg all day, like I did today, and still be exhausted. I try to get a full night of sleep every single night. I have coffee every morning. I don’t exercise regularly and I know that can help increase energy levels, but overcoming fatigue in order to exercise is a challenge all it’s own.

I love the idea of having some sort of schedule. I want to wake up at six everyday, work at my little desk until five or so, have dinner, and spend the evening reading or relaxing with some television. I crave structure. The problem is, my mind and body do their own thing. I never know when it’s going to be a fatigue day, a depression day, a crippling anxiety day. I can’t predict what I will actually have the energy and will to do on any given day.

I’m realizing that as much as I want to live a scheduled life, I need to accept that my circumstances require me to live a more unstructured life. I often need to cave to my energy levels. Some nights are eight hour sleep nights. Some are twelve hours. Some days are three nap days. Some days are clean the entire house days. I can’t plan my entire life when I never know what I will have the ability to do that day.

Being flexible is not my strong suit. I like knowing what is going to happen and when. I love planning things (one glance inside my bullet journal will tell you that) and being organized. I do what my therapist refers to as “future-tripping”; getting obsessed with what my future will look like and what will happen to me. Disability has forced me to be a little more loose with my expectations.

If you struggle like I do, just know you are not alone. I understand how it feels to have your day planned out only to end up spending it in bed against your will. I understand the frustration of not being able to make plans because you never know how you are going to be feeling on any given day. This is not an easy life, but I do the best with it that I can. Signing off for now,

-Benny

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Sleeveless and Fearless

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SleevelessFearless.jpeg

 

Instead of a blog post today I wanted to share one of my pieces of fat-positive art with you! I created the original version of this piece about seven years ago, but since I recently changed my name I wanted to update the piece. I hope you enjoy!

My Non Binary Body

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Like many, possibly most, I have a complicated relationship with my body. I always have. I’ve always been bigger. Bigger than what? Bigger than everyone else, bigger than I was supposed to be, bigger than what was considered good, right, or healthy. In my mind, as a child, I was huge. Looking at old pictures, I was a little bigger than the other kids, and usually taller, but that was it. But that self-deception is a blog post for another day.

Until a month ago, I identified as a woman. For 32 years, I was a girl, then a woman, who was bigger than everyone else. Girls are not supposed to be big. We are supposed to be small and delicate and cute and quiet. I’ve always been loud and big and bold and expressive. Not anything a girl is supposed to be. I’ve grown bigger and bigger as I’ve gotten older, more often than not being the fattest person I know, and the fattest person in the room. If there’s one thing proper women are definitely not supposed to be, it’s fat.

A month ago, I came out as non binary. I wouldn’t say I was closeted before then, because I didn’t realize I was non binary. I was fully identifying as and living as a woman. I was a big, fat woman. Now I’m a big, fat non binary person.

Since realizing I am non binary, the way I view my body has subtly changed. I’m at a point in my life right now where I am not physically comfortable and am trying to lose weight slowly via moderate exercise and eating a more plant-based diet. That being said, I don’t have hatred for my body. I think hating a body for being big is a waste of time and energy. It’s your body! It’s the only one you’ve got! When I was a woman, hating my body seemed like an obvious choice, because that is what fat women are supposed to do. I still didn’t hate my body as a woman, but I knew I was supposed to.

Now that I’m not a woman, I feel like I’m cheating the system. Haha, I don’t have a gender, you can’t make me do anything! You can’t make me hate myself anymore! Who is you? Society, I suppose. The world. The people in it. The people that want me to diet myself away to nothing because that is what fat people-fat women especially-are supposed to do. So as someone who no longer identifies with any gender, what has changed?

I feel like the rules shouldn’t apply to anyone, but not having a gender has almost given me a head start on breaking away from the idea of how my body is supposed to look. My body is not a woman’s body, so why should it look the way women’s bodies are supposed to look? And that being said, why should any body look a certain way? What’s the point? Why are there any rules at all? Who makes the rules?

Fuck the rules!

Benny

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Hi, my name is Benny Kay Hope, nice to meet you.

March 31st was trans day of visibility. I had previously decided I was genderqueer and had been living life that way for several months. Nothing much had changed. I was still using the same pronouns and the same name. I still felt mostly comfortable with the label of “woman”. Then trans day of visibility came around. It got me thinking where I fit into the spectrum of gender identities. Was I trans? Was that something I could claim for myself or not? Could I be cis and genderqueer at the same time? Was I cis at all?

The thing about visibility is, it can make you aware of things you hadn’t previously considered. I follow many amazing trans folks on social media and my twitter feed was filled with beautiful and awesome people on trans day of visibility. I got to thinking, and introspecting. I wondered, was I still comfortable in my identity? WAS I trans? Did I still feel comfortable being cis?

I started to realize the label of genderqueer didn’t feel like quite enough anymore. I started to realize the label of woman didn’t fit quite the same as it used to. I tested the identity of non-binary, rolled it around on my tongue and got a feel for it. It felt right. It felt better. In true extra fashion, I decided ON trans day of visibility that I was non-binary and I announced it on twitter. The name Benny just popped into my head and I was using my middle name, Hope, as my new last name. It all clicked into place. Yes, this was right. Yes, this is who I was now.

I don’t really understand how any of it happened. How my identity grew and shifted and changed in one day. I suppose it was brewing inside before then but it was happening without me taking much notice. What I do know is that the visibility of the people around me helped me to figure out who I was. It was those people that made me realize this was an identity that maybe I could find comfort in, that I could find home in.

I’ve been happier and more at home in my skin since realizing I am non-binary. It feels good and right. I feel better and stronger. I feel like I know myself like never before. It’s nice to meet me.

Out With The Old

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Today I went through my closet on a mission to get rid of things I never wear but it quickly turned into a mission with a different goal. Pretty soon, as I looked over the rows of clothes, I realized I wanted to get rid of everything that didn’t fit me anymore.

I’ve been putting on weight over the past couple years. Like many tend to do, I made resolutions this year to be healthier and be more active. I am doing this with the goal of getting stronger and having better stamina, but also wanting to lose some weight. I’ve reached a point where I’m not comfortable in my body and I want to navigate the world a little more easily.

Despite my goals to lose weight, I don’t see the value in hanging onto clothes that don’t fit in the hopes that they might fit again someday. I think this creates an unhealthy pattern where were lose a little weight, try the clothes on, find they still don’t fit, and get discouraged. I think it’s easier in some ways to discard everything that doesn’t fit and just get new clothes as we reach new weights. This is just what works for me, and to each their own.

As I rifled through my closet I thought about things that have changed. I used to wear lots of t-shirts and now I almost exclusively wear dresses, because I don’t have to worry about my belly poking out. I can no longer button up my favorite pair of ripped denim shorts that I used to live in a couple summers ago. I decided to get rid of my last two pairs of jeans, because I now wear leggings everyday (and have never looked back. Leggings aren’t just pants, they’re BETTER than pants. Fight me.) I hung onto my Star Wars shirts despite wearing dresses almost everyday, because those I knew I would miss too much.

I thought about how this moment would be considered by many to be a failing of sorts. Here I am giving up, getting rid of my smaller clothes instead of striving to fit into them. But what do I have to gain (pun fully intended) but hanging onto the past? I have plenty of clothes that fit me now, and are stretchy enough to fit me as I lose some weight, so where is the benefit to be had by letting ill-fitting, uncomfortable clothing take up space in my closet? What will I get out of trying on my shorts every few weeks, hoping that this time they fit? I would much rather buy a new pair of shorts in six months. Out with the old.

There is a fear that comes with getting rid of things that only those of us with limited means really understand. What if I need this someday and it’s not there anymore, and I can’t afford to replace it? This is why so many of us hang on to things we don’t need, “just in case”. I used to do this with a lot of things. I hung onto large amounts of art and craft supplies, for a project I might do, someday, sometime in the vague future. I hung onto books I never read, movies I never watched, things I never used. As the years have gone by I’ve become quite fond of clearing things out. I love going through boxes and drawers, finding what I don’t use, donating things, only keeping what I really need and use. I have very rarely found myself missing something I got rid of, and it was never anything I needed, only things that had a small amount of sentimental value. So why hang on to clothes that won’t fit me for months, maybe a year, maybe longer?

I filled up three paper grocery bags with clothes I don’t wear or fit into anymore. I thought, oh, I’m supposed to feel ashamed aren’t I, that I’ve outgrown this much. But no, I just felt relief to be getting rid of that which is not useful to me anymore. There is something comforting and pleasing about looking at your clothes and knowing you can fit into all of them. There is something freeing in letting yourself be comfortable, in not punishing yourself for getting bigger. Outgrowing clothes doesn’t make you any kind of failure.

Today I took control and decided to do what was best for my well-being by letting go of that which does not serve me any longer. It felt good and even more, it felt freeing. I refuse to play the game of holding up a pair of pants, desperately hoping I fit into them this time. I refuse to hang onto anything that makes me feel less than good about myself. After all, I can always buy new shorts.

Feeling Good For Once

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Hello. To cut straight to the point, I suffer from anxiety, severe depression, and borderline personality disorder. These things have been with me my entire life and only recently, within the last two years, have I been seriously trying to tackle my mental health problems through therapy and a variety of medications.

I will go into more detail on another post about how these illnesses have affected my life,  and what lead me to seek treatment, but today I want to talk about something amazing: I’ve actually been feeling GOOD! What? That can’t be right.

Ever since my journey of mental health treatment began, I have been told things would get better eventually, while I refused to believe it and continued to suffer almost every day. I was generally miserable and frequently suicidal. I never thought I would be a happy or optimistic person again. I had mostly accepted that things were as good as they were going to get.

Something happened recently. I’m not sure what and I’m not entirely sure how or why, but something shifted. I started to feel cautiously optimistic at first. Then I started to enjoy my days a little more. Then it seemed like I was enjoying more and more days. Then I stopped thinking it was the end of the world when things would go wrong. For about a month now I’ve been feeling more level and positive. That is a long time for me to be feeling good. Before now I was lucky if I felt this good for a day.

I chalk up this new view on life as finally having found the right combination of medications and getting a new therapist that I really like. After years I am in a good place and taking care of myself as well as I can. This is a really big deal for me, and anyone reading this who has struggled with mental illness probably knows that finding the right medication combo is the holy grail, and can literally take years of trial and error.

Now, I’m a realist. Have been for some time. I think it’s the safest way to be, because you never get your hopes up too high and you’re aware that things may go wrong so you can be prepared. Every day I wake up and sort of wait and see if I still feel ok. But things have gone wrong since my shift began and I have handled them, and more importantly I didn’t feel like everything was terrible just because things were going wrong. This tells me that this might actually be a long term change, that maybe I can handle the ups and downs of life without falling apart again.

I’m writing to express my joy but also to tell you not to give up hope. You might be where I was, struggling and unhappy every day and giving up hope. It is possible for things to get better, despite how impossible it may seem in the moment. I hated being told it would get better because I never believed it, but one day it did get better, when I wasn’t paying attention. And it kept getting better.

I don’t know what my future holds. I don’t know if my medications will keep working or what things will go wrong down the line. But right now I feel like I can handle what life throws at me. I can see through the fog. I can see that I am not alone. And neither are you.

Resolutions

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Just for fun I decided I wanted to talk about resolutions and goals for the new year. This year I decided to be more kind to myself in that if I don’t stick to my resolutions perfectly, that’s ok! I’m just going to do my best. It’s ok to skip a day in the habit tracker, or not start a resolution until partway into the year. That’s the beauty of resolutions; you have a whole year to do them! All that being said, here are my personal goals and resolutions for 2018. (Note: there is some talk of food and eating.)

-Keep a bullet journal. I have attempted this once before and gave up on it almost immediately. This time I am giving it a go with more gusto. I have already filled in seventeen pages and am having fun checking it every day to stay on track. To inspire me I started following bullet journal instagram accounts, and I’m enjoying seeing all the beautiful journals people share.

-Move more. I am an unemployed artist, which means I spend a lot of time sitting at my desk, usually on the computer, sometimes drawing. If I am not sitting at my desk I’m laying in bed, reading or watching Netflix. I want to move more, at least a little every day, without the pressure to lose weight or look a certain way. I imagine my heart growing stronger and don’t worry about how my body looks.

-*sigh* Eat healthier. UGH, SUCH A CLICHE. Setting this as a resolution has so much baggage as a fat person who embraces fat positivity and fat acceptance. I don’t want to diet, I don’t want to go hungry, I don’t want to deprive myself. I am trying to focus on how I feel, and just eating what makes me feel good. I am also trying to think about adding things into my diet, instead of taking things away. I will probably make a whole separate post about this at some point.

-Dental care! I have dental insurance, FINALLY, so I have started going to the dentist and will continue going for as long as I am able to in an effort to get my mouth in better shape. I have been flossing and started a habit tracker in my bullet journal to make sure I brush twice a day. This may be easy for some people, but I have a horribly sensitive gag reflex and this makes brushing difficult. If you also struggle with tooth stuff, you have my sympathies and you are not alone!

-Consume more new media. I have a habit of just watching Great British Baking Show on repeat so this year I am trying to watch more movies I’ve never seen before, read more books, and listen to new music. I also have a vague goal to understand a Shakespeare play.

-Keep taking my meds and going to therapy. This also warrants it’s own post, but I take anti-depressants, anxiolytics, and I’ve started seeing a new therapist. They are working great right now so I just need to keep doing these things.

-Less drama! I’m the sort who says they don’t want any drama but then shows up with the popcorn whenever someone else is fighting in the comments. Basically I just want to take care of my blood pressure and not get involved in bullshit, but, like, not completely. A little bullshit can be fun. After all, resolutions should be realistic.

Well there you have it! If I am still blogging at the end of this year I will check in and see how I did. Happy new year!