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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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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.

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!

 

 

 

New Year, New Blog!

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Ok, not a new blog per se, but a new desire to blog! A new urge! A new promise to myself to use this outlet to express my thoughts and feelings and ideas to the world!

Hello.

There is a lot of pressure associated with the new year. The holidays in general are filled with pressure from friends, family, society as a whole, to be cheery and happy and that can be really hard some of us. It’s just not realistic to turn on happiness for a set period of time in the year. I will write a seperate blog post about this, but for now I will just acknowledge that some of that pressure extends to the new year. We have to make resolutions, start fresh, “new year, new me!”, etc.

Speaking only for myself, I put a lot of pressure on myself to enjoy specific days. The new year has to be special and meaningful in some way. If my year doesn’t start off right, it sets a tone, or at least that is how I perceive it. I feel the same way about starting individual days off on the right foot as it were. I am trying to shift my mindset in this area.

This year I have decided to be much more gentle with myself. I will admit I am a bit of a new year’s cliche. I love to set resolutions and start new calendars and planners. This year I decided to fully embrace my desire for an organized life and started a bullet journal. My fresh calendar is up on the wall, my resolutions are written down, my habit tracker is laid out, and I am READY. That being said, I am giving myself a break. I have decided to tell myself that every day doesn’t have to be perfect, and it’s ok to start things slowly. It’s ok to ease into things. It’s perfectly fine to take time to test things out, figure out how they work for you, and change your mind about things later on. Not every resolution has to stick. Not every habit has to last. Not every day has to flow.

As they say on one of my favorite shows, “If every pork chop were perfect, we wouldn’t have hot dogs!”. Give yourself a break. Happy new year.

Being Crazy In The Age Of Trump

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He’s crazy. Out of his mind. A lunatic. A madman. These are the terms I often hear thrown around to describe Trump. I’m sure you’ve heard it too, if not said it yourself. Every ridiculous and hateful action taken on his part is met with bewilderment and a shake of the head, accompanying the claim that he’s just plain mentally ill. It must be as simple as that, he must just be nuts.

I happen to be a “crazy” person. I am mentally ill. I take a handful of pulls twice a day to control my severe depression, anxiety, and borderline personality disorder. I’ve been hospitalized multiple times as a result of my illnesses. In addition to being mentally ill I am also smart, thoughtful, compassionate, funny, and I try every day to do the right thing. I don’t try to hurt people, I don’t try to strip them of their rights. I try to be a good friend, sister, daughter, and partner.

Why do broad actions of hatefulness and ridiculousness get labeled as Crazy? What has Trump done to earn that label? He is ignorant, hateful, racist, sexist, homophobic, ridiculous, and has no concept of actions having consequences. He is a bad, angry person. Why are these traits conflated with mental illness? Is that what people think of me?

I don’t believe any of my loved ones that call Trump crazy think I am anything like him. And yet the comparison continues without thought for those that are victims of Trump. I am not like him, I am one of the people he wants to stamp out. I am a target. He wants to take away my right to healthcare, my right to choose, my right to marry who I want. He would have me suffer greatly as a mentally ill person by taking away my ability to afford my prescriptions.

Do we just label actions we don’t understand as crazy? It is easier to label someone as crazy than it is to confront the systems that they uphold. It’s easier to talk about Trump in terms of mental illness than it is to talk about how white supremacy got him elected. It’s easier to say he is crazy than it is to ask what we can do to stop him. To say he is merely crazy is dangerous because it dismisses his actions and beliefs. It also dismisses the lives of actual mentally ill people. It’s too easy, too lazy, to shrug off what we don’t understand and say oh, that’s just crazy. We must ask questions. We must dig deeper. We must remember that mentally ill people are varied and complex. When we dismiss Trump as being crazy, we must stop and ask ourselves exactly what we mean. Do we think all mentally ill people are unstable, dangerous, hateful? Or do we simply think Trump is not worth listening to because his ideas are mad? If that is the case, does that reflect the way we view actual mentally ill people? To dismiss Trump as mentally ill and nothing more is to dismiss real people. I am not to be dismissed.

Fewer Sprinkles, More Outrage

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I started this blog years ago as a way to work out my feelings about being fat and share my story. The fat acceptance community helped me to become the person I am today. It’s been years since I have written anything new. I thought perhaps I had run out of things to say that were new or interesting. I thought I didn’t have much to add to the conversation. Then life just got busy and I lost my interest in writing in general.

Much has happened since I last wrote for this blog. I’ve grown so much as a person (both literally and figuratively, hahaaaaa, we’ll get into that another time) and have learned so many new things. My life is filled with many more people than i knew before, and they have taught me about ableism, the gender binary, and many other things I never put a lot of thought into. I always tried to be  a good person and do the right thing, but in the last few years I have finally started to become a better version of myself.

I decided I wanted to start writing for this space again because I believe with my new knowledge, and several more years of life experience under my belt, I can bring something to the table that I couldn’t before. I’m stronger, better informed, more wiling to take action but most importantly, more willing to listen. I want to have a conversation. I want to hear the ways in which body positive spaces fall short for some so that I don’t fall into the same traps. I want to do more, I want to grow, and learn, and share what I can.

I’m back, and I’m ready to work.