Slice right for Frigay the 13th Horror Podcast: A review

By this point in time I can safely say I am well versed in this horror podcast. It is a combination of NPR mixed with news, commentary, queer culture and horror all rolled up in one tremendously entertaining yet highly informative podcast that leaves the listener dying for more.

I first discovered this podcast in 2018 when I was still in the closet. I previously wrote an over view shortly after I came out but that was so long ago I now have a much deeper appreciation of the beautiful work these two wonderful humans do.

The premise is simple. They cover horror in real life and horror in the movies. The show starts with headlines in a segment they call Certified Terrifying. They then go into their primary topic in an NRP inspired commentary on the theme for the episode. The topics are always quite informative. I can honestly say I have learned a lot from this show.

After that they offer up a segment called Wha’cha Been Watching, Bitch! where they tell listeners the latest movies and TV shows they have consumed. This section is spoiler free where they offer recommendations of what to watch and what to avoid. Everything culminates in their honest, no holds barred reviews of two horror movies that tackle the theme of the episode. Each episode is titled Something is Terrifying where something can be cults, video games, pop culture, etc.

The show usually wraps with a slightly lighter hearted, sometimes humorous mini game. Each episode features its own mini game from Slice Right where they pick the hottest person from the movies to more game show trivia fare. I will be honest I tend to skip the final segments as once the reviews are done the show has wrapped as far as I am concerned, for the most part.

The show is one of my favorite podcasts. I try to never miss an episode. In addition to their main episodes they also do bonus episodes where they take on a single film or news story often with guests.

The best part is the entire show is from an LGBTQ+ perspective! Both hosts are gay men who often stand up for trans rights in several of their episodes. The show is both entertaining and informative. Sometimes I leave an episode with homework and I am never disappointed reading further on the topics they introduced me to. Other episodes offer me suggestions of great films while some episodes are insightful looks into how awful the world can be at times. They are two very vocal, highly opinionated and very intelligent individuals who really know their horror stuff.

I highly recommend this show. I give it 5 out of 5 stars, a perfect show for passing the time. I never miss an episode.

Why I decided to start streaming Minecraft Skyblock at this time

I have a lot of projects I take on. I don’t always finish every project but every project I do work on is worth while to me even if I never finish. The reason is simple, I enjoy it! Hobbies are supposed to be for fun. One of my hobbies is making videos. Not every video I make has to turn into a long running series. Sometimes I just wanna goof off. That is where streaming comes in. 

I enjoy a nice relaxing Minecraft stream where I can build while talking about whatever enters my mind. The best part of streaming is it combines multiple hobbies into one. While I have never taken streaming all that seriously I do keep trying it. 

My goal is not necessarily to find success. Sometimes I wanna do something just for me, whether nobody else ever sees it or not. I have short films and videos I have made just for myself I never shared anywhere. This will always be the case. SO when I step into streaming I am doing it for me. As a way to share the game I love with others. I might try to get set up to stream other games but for now it will just be Minecraft, mostly Skyblock to be honest. 

That is all. I just want to stream for myself. I hope I find an audience if others enjoy my content but honestly the Minecraft field is so crowded enough as it is I doubt I will attract too many followers to this project. I do it for me. That is all.

Blog entry bipolar and day care work

Every single job I have had was found on a list of the worst jobs for someone with Bipolar Disorder. Oops. Apparently I wasn’t aware of the way this disease affected my past job history other than it absolutely did.

Whenever someone asks me what makes keeping a job so difficult for someone with bipolar disorder I have to go into a detailed explanation of how the disease works, with a focus on how it affects me specifically.

Whenever I am experiencing burnout on a job I tend to shift from productivity mode to coasting on auto pilot. Once this happens it is probably a sign the job I have is about to end. Other reasons I might walk out on a job could be having a bad day I might take everything personally. In this scenario I feel so threatened by the events of the bad day I can’t see myself returning to that job without having to put myself in danger. So I walk away.

Whatever the reason for losing a job I have gotten to the point where I need to find something that does work for me. That’s where teaching comes in.

Although teaching is high stress and can be the type of environment that could potentially trigger my stressors it does provide me with some attributes that are good for combating my symptoms. For starters the hours are ideal. Right now I am working a 7-5 shift with a 2 hour lunch break. It comes out to an 8 hour shift with a sweet break smack dab in the middle of the day. This break affords me an opportunity to decompress. One of the things that can overwhelm me is when I am over loaded and I can’t get away. My current job allows me several opportunities to step away for a few moments throughout the day.

I didn’t have a plan with this. Sometimes I write essays to better understand the world around me. Sometimes this is just a diary where I can jot down my thoughts and see how they lay out. Today is one of those. I didn’t have a plan just wanted to share a few thoughts I had.

How the tactile world of comic toys enhances the comic book experience

Ah comic books. I have written quite a bit in the past why I love them so much. They are a medium that combines art and storytelling in a way that resonates with me. Today I want to talk about the link between comic books and action figures. I want to specifically talk about comic book and super hero action figures.

I read a lot of different types of comics. My interests include comedies, horror, action, drama, irreverent, science fiction, fantasy, and of course, super hero. I have never been one to limit my enjoyment to sticking with a single genre or book. I enjoy a good Archie or Scooby Doo as much as I enjoy reading the latest Batman adventures.

That’s all fine and all but what do comic books have to do with action figures? I mean aside from the fact they allow you to own a physical, real world representation of my favorite comic characters. The best part for me is having a tangible item I can hold onto. It brings the world of the comics out of the pages and into the real world where I live.

The first comics toy I remember owning as a child was a Batman figure from Batman Returns. Of course this is before I discovered Transformers originated in comics so I never considered my TF toys as comics toys back in the day. I don’t know if that is a controversial opinion or not. Either way I do remember getting a handful of Batman Returns figures including the Penguin, a penguin soldier and a couple others I forgot which ones plus the Batmobile.

It was the Teenager Mutant Ninja Turtles that really brought me into the world of collecting action figures based on comic books characters. Today I have hundreds of toys ranging from dozens of different sources including largely comics. If I am being honest the vast majority of the toys I own are comics-related in some way. I love comics. I love toys. I love combining them even more.

When I was a kid I didn’t have a lot of friends. I am sure I have written quite a bit before about how I took my toys with me to school. They were my only friends for the most part. I used to sit in my bedroom for hours playing pretend with those different action figures. I especially enjoyed mixing and matching toys from different fandoms. Having Robocop fight Transformers or G.I. Joe soldiers chasing Star Wars “rebels” were some of the fun scenarios I would simulate with my toys.

Another thing I have written about a lot I am sure is how I do not collect toys, I play with them. I am not ashamed of that. I don’t just pose them and repeat dialogue to myself like I see some people do online, I reenact scenes from my favorite stories whether those originate in movies, tv shows, or yes even comics. I also rather enjoy creating my own stories around the characters. It’s my favorite thing to do.

The thing I love most about owning toys based on my favorite comics is the level of creative freedom it affords me. I can create my own stories with those characters free from the limitations of my lacking artistic skills and also expanded beyond the restrictions placed by the comics industry in their story telling. If I want to envision a scenario where Barbie marries G.I. Joe or Megatron gets defeated by Cobra Commander, I can. I am free to create a scenario where the Scooby Doo Mystery gang visit the Mushroom Kingdom from the Super Mario games. I love it.

As a storyteller myself I am fascinated by the story telling potential action figures presents. Sure there are some limitations in regards posability and the physical toys you own. However you can overcome any of these limits by using your own imagination. Of course this is only one step removed from using your own imagination for pure, unfettered role play, but still it is exciting in it’s own right.

Having a connection to the characters I admire is the key element I admire the most. The fact I can touch a representation of my favorite characters make them more real to me. That’s the best part. While it is fun acting out scenarios, sometimes I just have fun holding and admiring a favorite action figure of mine. The tactile rewards that come with physically touching the item help create an emotional bond with those characters making them more authentic to me. This is what I believe a lot of comic book toy collectors experience with their collections. Having a physical copy of their favorite hero helps them get closer to that hero. When I hold a toy of Megatron in my hand I am bringing the *real* Megatron into my home.

The reason I connect more with comic book toys is because I also enjoy reading the books, it’s a simple as that. It goes both ways. Reading a story about the Transformers brings those characters to life in a way my best imaginary play session couldn’t even dream of. I can get a glimpse into the every day lives of my favorite toys. When I read a comic book that features a character I also own a toy of it draws me deeper into the story. As with the emotional connection I feel touching the toy, I feel even closer to the characters events as they unfold in the pages of their books. It adds a level of intimacy with comics hitherto unobtainable. The fact comic books themselves provide a tactic connection to the story telling by being a physical thing we hold whilst we read further adds to the mystique.

Combining comics and toys creates a magical world that allows my imagination to run wild. It helps me to connect with my heroes emotionally. It provides me alternative story telling methods that go beyond the traditional, but above all it gives me an intimate connection to the characters I admire. Comic books and toys go hand in hand for me.

Why anxiety has destroyed so much of my life

Last year I was still calling myself the Retro Witch. I had a catchphrase that went along the lines of I lived, “where chaos resides” or something to that effect. I was pretty fixated on chaos. Of course this was before I discovered I was bipolar, I knew my brain was often quite cluttered.

Today I sat here looking at this empty writing prompt with around three or so topics brewing in my mind. The chaos or clutter of my mind was too much for me to get anything organized so I decided to write about what it is like having so much clutter, or background noise as it feels like, inside my brain.

I hear people all the time say they just want to get some “peace and quiet” but I never understood that. When I am alone with my thoughts, whenever it is too quiet is when my brain gets cluttered. That is when my doubts and fears come to the forefront of my brain.

In addition to bipolar disorder, PTSD and borderline personality disorder, all of which I have written about extensively, I also suffer from general and social anxiety disorder, severe. I have been diagnosed by multiple mental health professionals as such.

Anxiety is difficult to explain. With BP I know I have racing thoughts. With BPD I understand I have difficulty regulating my emotions. With anxiety everything feels intense. Couple this with the other disorders and I am a person with a lot of difficulty fitting a coherent thought inside my brain. More often than not my thoughts are like a flash of jumbled images all pounding their way into my frontal lobe simultaneously demanding attention.

Today I watched a video on 12 things people with anxiety do. I quickly discovered I do all 12 things. I want to talk about some of the issues that my anxiety causes me.

First is the emotional distress. Most people are aware that anxiety means distress. This is the picture people tend to have when you tell them you have anxiety. They figure it means you stress out easily. Which is true I certainly do stress easy. However the part that I don’t discuss is how intense these feelings can be. With anxiety I have intense fear of rejection. I am often so terrified of being rejected I won’t even bother putting myself in a situation where I could be told no. You can imagine how stressful applying for jobs can be for me. I am putting myself in  situation where I expect to be told no repeatedly. It is emotionally draining on me.

Deeper than the fear of rejection is the feeling of abandonment and inadequacy. These combine into a singular mesh of intense fears that are often overpowering.

Here is an example. If I send someone a text message I sit and count the seconds until they reply. I get so anxious waiting for a response I will shoot off a dozen texts to multiple friends in the hopes that any one would reply right away. The longer it takes to get a reply, the deeper the pain is. It’s a very real pain. It feels like a mixture of rejection coupled with abandonment, inadequacy and shame. At first I feel the anxiety in my gut. Why aren’t they replying? I must not be good enough. Oh no I am bothering them. I feel bad for being a pest. I quickly apologize for sending a text then I wait even more anxiously for their reply which either never comes because I figure I offended them or they reply with it’s okay I was busy, working, etc., to which I feel guilt and shame for disturbing my friend because I feel unworthy of their time and attention in the first place. All of these cycle through me in a matter of seconds. By the time someone does reply, even if it was mere seconds, it causes a sense of relief to wash over me. I feel less tense and suddenly worthy of my friends time.

The same thing happens whenever I call someone on the phone only it is magnified by the fear of rejection the longer the phone rings unanswered. I try not to take it personally but whenever I call someone if they don’t pick up right away I assume I am bothering them and then guilt plus shame sink in. If they do answer their phone I promptly apologize for bothering them which usually nets me a stern reprimand which further causes more anxiety as I feel I let them down.

Even when a friend does everything right. They answer my text immediately with affirming messages, agree to call me quickly and then proceed to all me right away, I still feel anxious those brief moments between initial text to answering the call. Once I get a friend on the phone I dip into guilt. I feel like I was a bother to them. I promptly apologize again to which I get another stern it’s okay stop apologizing and then we converse as needed. Before the conversation ends I will have my internal clock inside tell me if the conversation went long enough to satisfy my emotional needs. In the event that takes place I will end the call satisfied my friend is still someone I can count on and that our interactions enriched their life as much as it does mine.

But if any step of the way doesn’t go as planned the anxiety takes over. I feel a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Sometimes I would rather avoid the pain of the entire process than risk actually receiving the reward of a positive social interaction so I can often go days without saying anything. Sometimes I can’t muster more than hi.

Let me break down how important hi is for me.

I have written about how difficult it is for me to make connections with people. I have a limited space for friends in my brain. Once I have filled my friend slots I cannot accept any more without pushing someone else away or neglecting someone. This is because the anxiety once again kicks in. I feel like I am not capable of keeping tabs on too many people. It becomes an obligation to reach out, to say hi and check in on my friends. As time goes on I have to determine which friends I can count on to answer my initial hi with some sort of response. Sometimes I am too emotionally drained to go through the process of interacting. I don’t want to send a text to initiate a conversation as the prospect of said conversation sounds exhausting. Again remember the above process. Sometimes I want to avoid that process entirely but still let my friends know I am thinking of them. This is when I send a single word text, hi. In those instances not only do I not expect a response back, most of the time if I get a response I will feel threatened. This is difficult to explain. You see if I am feeling lonely I will reach out to all my friends and request a phone call or voice chat. Once I have exhausted the previously mentioned cycle of reaching out, rejection etc, I land in a place where I just want to say hi so they know I was thinking of them but I don’t want to start a conversation. Sometimes I will say hi with the expectations they will be glad I said so but it doesn’t go any further.

Then there is the hi, how are you doing? If I go beyond a simple hi which is like a tag we’re still friends code, into the how are you doing, now I am expecting a reply. Again anxiety will kick in the instant I hit send. The longer it takes to get a reply the deeper that anxiety cuts me. However if I send how are you doing I am expecting a response. In this instance I have determined we’ve not interacted enough lately and I desire, crave or feel the need to connect. Sometimes, most of the time really, I am satisfied with a good and you? Sometimes if I get too many responses right away that too will cause me even more anxiety. So when I say hi I don’t expect a response. If I ask how you are doing I kinda do hope for something but not much. This leads me to my next trap, are you free?

Sometimes I am incapable of initiating a conversation. I will say Hi and leave it at that. This is my way of showing my friends I still care. But sometimes I will desire conversation so strongly that the longer I go silent the more intense the pain of rejection feels. This is the most difficult emotion to manage because this is where I become annoying to most. I will be so desperate for a call I will message as many friends as I can with the hopes just one will reply back in the affirmative. I won’t typically care which friend it is as long as I have someone’s voice to sooth me on the other end. This is when the anxiety can take its toll. Some times life get’s in the way. People get busy, sick or have to work. Sometimes I mentally understand they can’t call me right now but emotionally I feel betrayed by their lack of urgency. Sometimes in my desperation multiple friends will respond and I find myself juggling too many conversations. This leads to more anxiety where I feel not only I panicked my friends for nothing but also that I am now taking on too many social interactions thus draining my supply of spoons faster than I otherwise would.

Then there is the urgent I need someone to talk to right away. It is rare I will send this message. It comes after an intense emotional trauma or distressing event has already put me into panic mode. Sometimes this is when I suffered loss recently, am facing a new hardship or overpowering negative emotions bog me down. Sometimes the pain these emotions cause me will be so intense that I shut down. In those instances I don’t want my friend to call me just to tell me it’ll be okay. These are the most difficult messages to decipher for my friends because I can often feel such intense raw emotional distress over the tiniest things that when I text urgent in that moment it felt like the most important thing in the world but once we talk it out I feel like a doofus for having been distraught over something so trivial.

This brings me to my final state of anxiety. I feel hopeless and just need to talk. IN this instance the actual conversation itself is irrelevant I just need to hear your voice, any voice will do. When I am in this state I have already gone through all of the steps of anxiety causes above. I have broken down and cried multiple times. This is when I feel such intense pain from my anxiety that I am willing to risk ending the friendship to nag my friend or guilt them into giving me attention right now immediately. This is the worst state of mind for me to be in because it could be a very real distressing situation with pressing need for assistance to a perceived crisis that only exists in my mind. If it is the latter I can become quite irrational in my pleas for help. This is the state of mind where I lose the most friends. They become so mentally exhausted by my intensity they cut me off for their own benefit. This returns me to a state of feeling rejected, betrayed and inadequate all over again. I will mourn the friendship, feel intense emotional distress for a few days then as suddenly as it all began erase that person from my memory and move on. This is callous but it is how I survive. My heart is fragile. If I get to the point where I have lost a friend and I know there is no mending the relationship without further trauma I walk away. I let that friendship end.

I hate it when this happens. I see it happening when it starts. I watch myself unfold right before my very eyes yet am incapable of doing anything to stop it from happening.

Remember when I said when facing rejection I have intense emotions, those will often devolve into intense anger my friend didn’t bother to care enough about my pain to respond in a timely manner. Again this is irrational but it takes over. If I get to this point I am likely to end the friendship over a single instance of betrayal, even if it is entirely fabricated in my mind.

This is what I suffer with. When I wake up every day I find myself in an immediate state of anxiety. I remain there until I finally get tired enough to go to sleep then I feel it throughout the sleep cycle which usually manifests as intense nightmares. This is my life.

The long path to discovering my ace side

It’s almost time for Pride month to begin. Like every year since coming out I am going to be doing a lot of reflecting on my own queer identity throughout the month. While I am doing that I have to keep one thing in mind, I am in a loving, committed queer relationship with a woman I am absolutely over the moon for. I have to make sure she is a part of my musings this year. 

That’s kind of the whole point of being queer in the first place isn’t it? Finding that special someone to love no matter what. For me I started going down the path of letting myself accept I was gay by slowly opening the door to being bisexual. I figured I was like the girl in Chasing Amy, and incredibly problematic LGBT movie from the 90s that was seen as totally woke in its day. The lesbian in the movie tells a story how she opened the door to women because she didn’t want to miss out on meeting the right person. I thought that was what I wanted to find anyone to love me so I opened the door to queer love. 

But as I grew in my understanding of sexuality and gender identity I came to realize I was living a lot of lies, layered upon layers of lies. I had to examine myself more deeply before I was able to peel back the layers. It was during this time of self discovery I learned sexuality is not a choice, but it can be fluid, much like gender identity. It took me a while to lock it down. Even today I am still discovering new things about myself. 

What does this have to do with my girlfriend? Well once I realized I was trans I had to determine if I was gay or bi. Eventually I came to the conclusion I was an asexual biromantic transgender queer woman. That’s the most I could narrow it down. I figure that describes me pretty much to the t. However it was my girlfriend who helped me see some of this. You see she is also ace and hearing her story helped me discover how ace I was myself. 

Last year I wrote an uncomfortable article confessing deeply intimate details of my sex life. I did this because I was caught up in the kink at pride argument which led me down a path of exploring sexual orientation more closely. Over the course of the next year I took a deep look back at my life and realize how incredibly uncomfortable the whole idea of sex made me. 

Here is a confession that builds upon last years peek behind the curtain into my soul. I am a virgin by choice. The whole thought of getting naked and rolling around in bed with another person grosses me out. I tried to justify this over the years with my ultra conservative religious right upbringing being the basis for my staunch anti sex stance. However I came to realize even after I left the throes of Christianity behind to explore paganism I continued to have feelings that would be considered sex averse. I already knew I was touch averse so I figured it was just a part of that. 

Getting to know myself through the lens of a romantic partner has helped me find who I truly am inside. It took me a while to admit I was ace. Even at first I said I was probably bisexual or biromantic but I wasn’t ready to plant my flag in the ace community quite yet. It wasn’t until a full year on HRT made irreversible changes to my ability to perform sexually when I realize I was actually quite relieved to no longer have the burden of that unwanted desire on my back. I chalked it up to hormones. I figured this was the case as once I changed hormones and things stopped working as before I sighed a deep sigh of relief. I was glad to finally be free from the pressures of sex.

I don’t mean to sound like everyone has to follow the same path as I did to be ace. You certainly don’t. It also came to my attention being ace is a spectrum. Some are further along than others and that is quite okay too. I determined I am quite adverse to the idea of sex as well as all discussion of the topic. I have always found it an uncomfortable topic to discuss. I am also disgusted by seeing other people engage in the activity. I am not drawn to pornography at all, it really grosses me out. Again I thought it was my religious upbringing that made me despise it but now I see I am not against others enjoying themselves in whichever consenting manner they mutually agree upon. I just don’t want any part of it be it the discussion or anything further. While my girlfriends views are her own and I dare not speak for her, I can honestly say being in a loving relationship with a queer woman that does not contain the pressures of a sexual component has been quite fulfilling and very rewarding for myself. I love being asexual as much as I enjoy being transgender. It is just a part of who I am.

Ode to G1 Megatron

There has never been a toy that has messed with my psyche more than the original Generation One Transformers Decepticon Leader Megatron. The toy is a mixture of plastic and metal that transforms from a robot into a very realistic looking handgun. It is a specific handgun, a Walther P-38 as it says on the side of the gun. 

I don’t want to write about the controversies surrounding the toy. Instead I want to talk about what this particular sculpture means to me. 

It starts with the Transformers cartoon. When I was a kid I was obsessed with the Robots in Disguise that were More Than Meets The Eye. I had comic books. I had story books. I had Find Your Fate Books. I had Toys. I had rubber stamps. I had note books and binders with pictures of them on it. I had playing cards and trading cards and everything else. When I say I was into Transformers I mean I was really into Transformers. I still am to this day in fact. 

I remember it was the cartoon versions that I was most drawn to. I watched that series faithfully. I used to flip through the channels late at night praying I would come across episodes of that cartoon. I would rent VHS tapes of episodes from the video store just to get my fix. I loved that series. One aspect that stood out to me was Megatron, the Leader of the Decepticons. He was the chief bad guy. The central figure that drove the plot of each and every single episode. He was the mastermind of the evil forces of the show. He was also a staple of my life.

We moved around a lot as kids. I was quite often finding myself in a new house, in a new school with new friends on a regular basis. There was little in my life that remained constant except Megatron was always on TV leading the Decepticon forces in some scheme or another. Truth be told I always rooted for the bad guys. I do in wrestling and horror movies too. I don’t know why. 

Megatron is a cold, calculating military leader obsessed with obtaining ultimate power. He is not only obsessed with military and political power but also electricity. He goes out of his way to horde all energy sources for his army while denying all others access to those same sources. He is also pretty ruthless in the series. 

That being said the fact he was such a regular staple of my life is why he remains a large influence in me to this day. It was 1994 when I got my first Megatron toy. It wasn’t the classic gun this article is about, rather it was Hero Megatron from the Generation Two toyline. That version turned into a tank. Now this was before I had easy access to the internet, long before I discovered alt.toys.transformers.classic.moderated where I could discuss all things Transformers related. I had no clue as to why they changed him from a kick ass gun to a lame ass tank. Looking at it as an adult a military leader that turns into a tank makes more sense than turning into a hand gun that has to be wielded by your least loyal follower. Talk about a serious flaw in cartoon logic! 

Once I was an adult I went on to ebay and bought myself an original G1 Megatron. I was a little surprised by it. I don’t know if it was a combination of fuzzy childhood memories mixing sources together but I always pictured the toy looking much different than it really did. For some reason I thought it was a white and black plastic rifle not a silver and black metallic realistic looking toy gun modeled after an actual gun! I was equally disappointed and intrigued by this new development. 

Putting the emotional conundrum of destroying my misremembered childhood memories, I quickly became enamored by this toy. I learned everything I could about the history of the toy. I researched variants and reissues available in countries outside of the U.S. I even started collecting other versions of the character simply because he continues to fascinate me to this day. Still, I keep coming back to the original. 

There came a time in my life when I needed money more than I needed toys. I ended up selling my entire Transformers collection to a single reseller for a fair price. It took me an entire decade before I would start buying toys again. It didn’t take long before I dropped the absurd amount of money necessary to bring this toy home. I won’t say how much I spent on it as that is not important. I can say I could have easily bought an entire months worth of groceries for that amount of money and then some. 

Today I sit here admiring the toy I never owned as a child. Even though mine is in well played with condition I still cherish it like a treasure. I don’t have a whole lot in my life at the moment. However one thing I do have is an original, authentic, functional Generation One Transformers More Than Meets The Eye Decepticon Leader Megatron Walther P-38 U.N.C.L.E. Special. The holy grail of toys as far as I am concerned. At the very least a valuable treasure to me. 

How I learned to survive, myself

The invisible disability. That’s what I’ve been told I have. A mental illness that prevents me from functioning like a so called normal person. I don’t wanna write about everything wrong with the word normal, rather I wanna talk about the invisible disability and what it means to my life.

When I was 7 years old I was sent to the principals office for “transforming” on my desk at recess. From that point on I was pulled out of class each week to sit with a therapist who was trying to figure out what was wrong with me. As a child I never understood the games we used to play. All I knew is it got me out of class away from the bullies and I couldn’t be happier during those times.

They never figured out I had bipolar back then but I am sure it was there from the start. I had a wild temper. I was easily distracted. I went from feeling like a lump on a log to feeling like I could take on the whole world and back again without any warning. Over the years I learned to live with my mental illness without treatment. I survived. Even my therapist as an adult called me a survivor. It wasn’t the bullies I survived though, it was myself.

Being bipolar does often cause me to participate in self destructive behavior. This is what I mean by I survived myself. Not just the suicide attempt of which there were many if we’re being honest. I survived my own tendencies. I got into fights. I drove recklessly. I drank a lot. I was a break dancer. I went out of my way to seek danger. That is when I had the energy to do so. Most of the time I was holed up in my bedroom incapable of finding even the slightest motivation to socialize. More often than not I stayed in my room playing with my toys or playing video games.

I write about the invisible disability because you can’t see bipolar disorder like you can being blind or being in a wheelchair. It’s a disability nonetheless. I don’t fully understand how it works. I only barely learned I have it a few short months ago. Since that time I have researched it quite extensively through reading articles and books as well as watching YouTube videos by others who have it or medical professionals who talk about it. I am becoming all to familiar with this disease. It is just that, too, a disease.

I have to come to terms with my reality. While the mental illness does explain a lot of my abnormal behavior, it doesn’t excuse it. I have to own up to my mistakes like anyone else. When I hurt someone I have to tell that person I am sorry. There are a number of people I have hurt over the years I have never been able to say sorry to, one of them is myself. I have to learn not only to forgive myself for the things I did, but to apologize to myself for having done them in the first place. In order for me to heal I have to recognize the mistakes I made were not entirely my fault the result of symptoms of a disease I never knew I had nor understood before.

Today I write a letter of apology to myself. Nobody will ever read it. I will not even save it to my hard drive but delete it upon completion. I do this not because anyone told me to but because I owe it to me. I need to learn to heal from the scars of my past. In part I need to let go of the things I did to me. Believe me as much as I have hurt others, and there are plenty of others I have hurt, nobody has been hurt by my self destructive behavior more than I have. I write this letter on my own accord as a way to find forgiveness for the pain I inflicted on me. It’s the least I can do for the survivor I have become.

My brief history with mental illness

I have been through a mental health diagnosis or two in my lifetime. I have tried many different methods to cope along the way too. Obviously the two most common treatments for mental health disorders are medications and psychotherapy. I have my share of good, and not so good, experiences with both. Today I am on the cusp of trying something new. Before I do I want to share some of my story.

My first diagnosis was at age 14. I had a therapist tell my parents I was a nerd. They needed to buy me a computer That wasn’t her official diagnosis but it was the word she used to describe why I was different. She said I lacked common sense but I made up for it with strong passion, whatever that nonsense was her solution was for my parents to remove me from the state I was in. Looking back on it I don’t think she had my best intentions at heart. I think she was tasked with getting me, a so-called trouble maker, out of the way.

My second attempt at therapy resulted in a host of words being thrown at me. They ranged from Borderline Personality Disorder to General and Social Anxiety disorder along with Severe depression. Of course I was a closeted transgender queer woman living in rural Nebraska so I had other issues boiling up mind you. She chose to treat the depression and social anxiety under the belief, or so she told me, those were the things ailing me the most. We tried medications for the depression, SSRI’s, and talk therapy along with group activities she sanctioned and administered.

Both of those experiences were awful for me. The SSRI’s made me suicidal. I tried several different ones before giving up entirely. But what happened next is what sticks out in my mind. She organized a meet up with other patients of hers who also have social anxiety at a Halloween party. I was told to mingle. To talk to other patients. I sat there at a table by myself the entire night listening to the corny music the DJ played. Then it happened. My first psychotic episode I can recall. I began hearing voices. I began seeing what I believed were spirits. The room began to spin out of control. I left. I ended my therapy cold turkey saying I never wanted to experience anything like that ever again.

I have had my share of psychotic episodes since. Mostly I either hear voices, have racing thoughts or sometimes experience extreme paranoia I am being watched by evil spirits. Sometimes out of the corner of my eye I see a woman smirking. Sometimes I hear laughter. It is the laughter I hear the most. The voices, when I do hear them, are incoherent. They aren’t tangible thoughts per se just random gibberish. Mostly whispers. They are rare but when it happens I cannot sleep for days.

I have had three separate psychiatric professionals tell me I have PTSD. One listed it as chronic on her diagnosis chart. I have been told that whatever trauma I suffered, mostly complex by their accounts according to my testimony, are what triggers my other ailments. Trauma. My mother has asked me what trauma I experienced. When I tell her she often scoffs that wasn’t so bad. I know, get over it I’ve been told my entire life.

Then they added bipolar disorder to the mix. Finally I had answers. I had a reason for why I was the way I was. No longer were they just treating symptoms, manifestations of my broken psyche but now they had a name for my illness that could be treated. Finally I had words to describe the things I have always felt. This was the first time in my life any treatment a professional had tried seemed to be working. For the first time in my life I feel better. I feel stable. I feel like I am not a victim of the universe rather a survivor. A warrior. I feel stronger at the same time more vulnerable than ever.

Having a name for my illness was a start. It also affected the treatment they tried. Things have been improving ever so slightly from before when I was shooting in the dark. I no longer sit alone, afraid of the sounds I might hear in that darkness, the sights I might envision out of the corner of my eye, nor do I fear the darkest recesses of my own soul nor what it will show me when I slumber. I understand myself better now.

The day I stabbed my best friend in the back

His name was Jacob. I was in 6th grade. I had just moved to a small town in Kansas called Miltonvale. Don’t try to find it on a map, there’s nothing to see but dusty old memories better left in the past.

My 6th grade year was pretty amazing for the most part. Day one I sat at the “cool kids” table; i.e. the nerd table; but I lucked out I made 5 of the best friends you could ask for that first day of class. There was Treff, the chubby nerd with an arm for football and a passion for Sega. There was Daniel, a chubby nerd who played D&D and practices witchcraft. There was Patrick who lived in the country but had a Super Nintendo and lorded it over us Sega-owning peasants. There was me on the end, the dork with an unhealthy Transformers obsession. Then there was Jacob. He was the Spider-Man geek who also liked Sega and Power Rangers. Okay truth be told we all had Power Rangers and Sega in common. Heck we even had the Power Rangers video game *on* Sega!

Each of these boys, and a few others, make up a tale in my memories not far off from the glory days presented in the cult classic Stephen King flick “Stand By Me,” sure we didn’t have a quest to find a dead body to unite us but we were united nonetheless.

Through the thick of it all Jacob became my best friend. He lived on the far side of town, near the High School. In 6th grade he would ride his bike to my house to meet up. From there we’d bike down the road to grab Kimberly and ride together as a unit to the elementary school nearest my house.

The following year we went into 7th grade Jacob, who lived across the street from the campus mind you, still rode his bike all the way to my house to bike to school with his best friend. Except we’re getting ahead of ourselves in the story. Let’s back it up a bit shall we.

What stands out in my memories regarding Jacob was how unashamed he was of who he was. While Treff succeeded in transitioning to cool kid by joining the football team, I took a much darker and bloodier route to get there. I got my first taste of it when Sarah from California moved to town. She was the new, exotic flower from the far off land of California. This was Kansas mind you we were easily impressed by outsiders. In a story for another day, let me assure you it is worth telling, she ended up “going out” with me the remainder of the school year. This is central to the story. She was the first wedge that came twixt Jacob and myself.

The day she walked into our classroom the nerds instantly fell enamored. The so-called cool kids aka jocks/bullies, they weren’t impressed as California was land of the hippies. As a practicing witch among a pool of fellow practitioners I, too, became taken under the spell Sarah cast upon us that first day. Unfortunately Jacob was also taken for this girl as was Daniel. Treff never fell for her spell. She chose me of the three and it tore the group apart during the early days of the so-called courtship. Alas the budding romance to be, my first mind you, ended with a kiss. The day, last day of school no less, she landed a kiss on my cheek the other kids began making fun of me. I slipped into my old habit of telling them off, to which she became instantly angry saying I was ashamed of her. We broke up by the end of recess.

As the school year came to a close and my relationship with a girl came to an end, Jacob and I were thrust into the throes of summer side by side, best friends inseparable. Or so you would have thought. I ended up in summer school, as did he. Not because I flunked or anything but because mom couldn’t afford a baby sitter so my sisters and I were all forced into that as well as other day camps to occupy our hours each day. There were only three of us “boys” in that summer class. Jacob, me boy presenting, and Corey. The only thing you need to know about Corey was I had a crush on his sister Ashely and he was one of the jocks/cool kids. Being stuck in summer school together the three of us bonded somewhat. Thus we would unite, him, Jacob and myself at the swimming pool after school.

This is where things turn south. The bully of the class, his name was Jared Guy, a name I will take to my grave, showed up to the pool one day. He noticed his buddy palling around with two bona fide nerds he reminded said friend his place in the social hierarchy which meant he had to ditch us nerds. Not one to miss an opportunity Jared agreed to let me hang with him and become one of the cool kids, for a price. That price was I had to stab my best friend in the back.

I won’t go into details but I lured my friend out back behind the pool and with a crowd of onlookers cheering me I beat his ass. He walked away in tears, nose bleeding swearing he would get revenge. I sat there in shock. What have I done? I thought to myself. With the bully firmly planted himself on his perch having destroyed a perfectly good friendship I snapped. I turned my rage towards him and wrapped my hands around his neck. I had a tight enough grip the lifeguard hopped the fence, tore me off the kid and called the cops. I was banned from the pool the remainder of the summer.

I wish I could tell you my friend and I never saw each other again. I wish I could tell you he moved far away and I never heard back. I would be lying if I didn’t tell you the rest of the story as difficult as it was to relive in my mind.

The betrayal fresh in my mind but worse, the cops called to bring my parents down landed me in all kinds of hot water. Upon fishing the truth out of me my mother shamed me in ways I never thought possible. I felt about as tiny as an ant turd. She dragged me over to my former friends house to force me to apologize. Not having any of it hearing her sons side, the other mother rejected my sorry and told me to hit the bricks.

I walked over there on my own accord the next day. His step dad opened the door with a stern get lost and a slam in my face. Jacob saw me and crawled out the window to the back yard. He grabbed me by the arm and asked why I did it. With tears rolling down my cheeks I said I wanted to be cool. I begged him to forgive me. I begged him to be my friend again. In a twist of luck, no fate perhaps intervened, he agreed. We spent the rest of the summer inseparable as if nothing had ever happened.  Like I said 7th grade rolled around and he demonstrated his loyalty to me, his best friend, by riding halfway across town on bike to my house just so we could continue our tradition of riding to school together, despite his house being literally across the street from the middle school to which we were imprisoned that 7th grade year.

I look back on my life with a pile of regrets tall enough to smother a horse. This is one of the few that sticks with me. The betrayal felt ten times worse after he so quickly forgave me. Of course he was one of those holly roller Christian kids and I was still converting to Christianity sorta so that may have played a hand in it. Either way I have learned over the years not to take my warm, fuzzy memories at face value. Every time I shine a light bright enough to tear through the fog of nostalgia I see the truth. In nearly every story I built up in my mind with a so-called happy ending I always find myself smack in the middle of being the villain.

I looked him up a few years ago on Facebook. He said he remembered me but quickly said the past is in the past. I knew right then he never forgot. How could he. I carry the weight of this and a dozen other similar tales on my shoulders. Today I feel a little lighter getting this pack of bricks off my chest.