Psychiatric Disaster Relief

From Melinda Gebbie And Alan Moore's Lost GirlsI wrote this on November nineteenth but, I didn’t feel safe putting it online until I ‘got better.’ I’ve since taken a semester off school, begun to chart a new course, and have begun to take much better care of myself.  I wish I didn’t worry quite so much about what others think about the symptoms of my illness but I do. More than anything it’s the  fear that I might get passed over for a writing or performance gig if folks knew how sick I get sometimes.  Fortunately it looks like I’m all better for now, so here you go. 

A friend of mine posted this in an online support group for queer people of color with psychiatric disabilities:

 What do you do when you can’t get out of bed? How do you feed yourself? I’m so sick I can’t get out of bed and I don’t have any friends who can bring me food.  

I know just how she feels. Sometimes I’m so checked out that I don’t even know I’m hungry until I notice that my brain is unable to think clearly or that I’m in some kind of physical pain  that I’m unaccustomed to. Lately, I’ve been feeling so dissociative that I have a hard time calling it ‘my body,’ and more frequently find myself thinking of it as ‘the body.’ It’s difficult to even conceptualize my brain and body are a single entity and not two things at odds with one another. My first response to Andrea’s post was: 

Peanut butter. Keep a jar of peanut butter by the bed. And a bag of apples.

She replied almost immediately:

Yeah, I have done that before but I just didn’t want to acknowledge that this is the direction that things are moving in.

I could imagine her chain smoking and hunched over her laptop in her sweaty little apartment in Buenos Aires, little bird like heart racing as she frantically she clicked and clacked at the keyboard.  I didn’t remind her that I had gotten the idea from her the winter she was so sick she’d holed up in a mutual friend’s spare bedroom. It was then that she’d commandeered a family size jar of peanut butter which she ate directly from the jar. Two years ago, just after my husband and I had separated, I found myself occupying the same bed in the same spare bedroom  where she’d been lying a year before. I was despondent and unable to even perform the most basic tasks. I can remember staring up at the gnome shaped pattern on the ceiling when that mutual friend of ours, the fellow with the habit of taking in wounded birds, recalled with affection the weeks Andrea had stayed with him. He reminded me of the peanut butter and I told myself that I would remember this little trick to add to my metaphorical Psychiatric Disaster Relief toolkit.

So I started thinking about the things that I do to prepare when I know things are going to get bad. Typically the first thing I do is stock up on drinking water. Last week I asked my girlfriend (not without some shame) if she could take me to the grocery store. She agreed without  hesitation but still it felt critical that she knew that I wasn’t just asking but that I really needed her to take me. I didn’t want to be able to back out or play it off later as though my request were some inconsequential whim.

“I need your help and so I’m asking for your help. I’m out of food. And I don’t think I’ll be able to make myself go to the store alone.”

I wrote a big note and stuck it on the bedroom door where both of us would see it.

Ask K To Drive You To Store: Important

This Fall I’d driven to the grocery store several times only to sit in my car overwhelmed by anxiety until I was so hot and filled with shame that I drove away feeling as though I had just failed at life.  I needed to ask someone for help.

We walked through the aisles and I heaved a crate of shelf-stable soy milk into the cart. I felt certain she was judging me for buying food with excess packaging,

“These are for when I run out of milk and I am too depressed to take myself to the store,” I laughed even though it didn’t feel funny.

There was a yuppie lady pushing a cart past ours staring absently at the cereal. I wondered if she’d heard me. I wondered if she thought I was lazy and incompetent. If she did hear me she certainly didn’t seem to care but when I get in that place I feel certain that everyone must despise me as much as I despise myself. There is actually a note by my bed that says “Not everyone hates you. In fact, most people don’t.” If you sometimes think this way, you should also consider writing yourself a note.

When I am feeling well (as I am in this moment) and I read that last line out loud, that sometimes I despise myself, it seems somewhat melodramatic. But the fact of that matter is that the world and even your own reflection are often frightfully distorted when you’re in the thick of a storm.

I felt ashamed for buying all that food wrapped in plastic and felt obligated to justify my frivolous behavior  to my girlfriend as she watched me pretend to examine overpriced fruit.

“I know how to shop and get good deals and be healthy but I really can’t do anything better than this right now,”

I gestured to the cart filled with things wrapped in plastic. She wrinkled her brow and stopped in the store to squeeze me.

“I know,” she said,” You’re doing the best you can.”

Before bed I poked back into Andrea’s thread to offer one more solution to the hunger problem:

When you’re doing really good you can buy a lot of one or two things and eat them every day. For example, for the past few months I have mostly been eating yogurt, cottage cheese, apples, and hummus and arugula on lavash bread.

There is no response and I realize that my suggestions are of little use from the perspective of someone who is having difficulty managing daily self-care tasks that most people take for granted like eating and drinking.

I was lying in my bed stroking and patting at the dip just above my girlfriend’s clavicle when she asked me tenderly,

“Why do you think you have a hard time doing things for yourself?”

“I don’t need you to solve my problems!” I responded, feeling indignant.

I was immediately embarrassed by my inappropriate response. I expected her girlfriend’s  body to grow rigid in my arms, but she remained soft, unflinching.

“I wasn’t trying to solve your problems,” she said.  Her brown eyes brimmed with empathy.

I took a deep breath.

“I know you weren’t. I was feeling defensive because I feel ashamed.”

I took another breath.

“I feel shame when others know how little I care for myself.”

One of the exciting things about entering my thirties is that I feel  so much less judgmental than I was when I was younger. Until very recently I would have judged people who buy all their food at Trader Joe’s. I would have gushed and gloated about the ten pound sheets of tofu I scored from the Hari Krishna’s at the free market or my $20 South Central Farmers produce box. But right now the best I can do is ask someone to take me to the store and lay a bag of apples next to my bed.

I wish I could apologize to everyone I have shamed because they were too sick or too tired to shuck their own corn and soak their beans overnight.

While my current economic success often leads me to believe like I’m doing better than I have in my entire life, this may not be the case. I am certainly ‘doing more’ than I ever have but my capacity has diminished and now it would seem I am simply doing a poor job at many things simultaneously.  I say this with the knowledge that we measure success in terms of goals accomplished, money made, and how many roles we can fill at once. In other words, things that are not easily attained or sometimes even possible when you are struggling with chronic illness.

I feel ashamed for people to know that I think of the functions and needs of my bodies are problems that need fixing.

I want everyone to believe that I am happy and confident all the time and that I have a great relationship my body and the  natural whole foods I fill it with but that’s not the case right now. And the only way I know to move through shame is to open up the wound and rinse it out.

When I woke up it occurred to me that me that Andrea  does not wish to believe that she will ever be that sick again.  For me the past two years have been filled with lessons to teach me to know both my capabilities and capacities and just as importantly,  to accept them.

I ducked into the Disabled Queers of Color group again to read everyone’s responses and to leave one last comment:

If you live in a place that frequently experiences hurricanes than, when you have the resources, you should stock up on hurricane supplies. At the very least you’ll need clean drinking water and shelf stable food that requires little to no effort to prepare.

But I’m not really talking to her because that last note, that last note is really for me. I know I live in a body and a brain where disasters are a frequent occurrence. I want to work on my relationship to food and my body but right now the best thing I know to do is be prepared to hunker down and wait until the storm subsides.

Skate for Change Fundraiser

Mommy Fiercest:

“It’s Wednesday night! What are we going to do?”
“Oh! I know! Let’s go GAY SKATING!”

Originally posted on SoCal Queer Events:

skate for change
October 16. 8-11pm.
Moonlight Rollerway, 5110 San Fernando Rd, Glendale
$13 advance tickets, $15 at the door.
http://www.survivorstruths.org/skateforchange

To benefit TransYouth Speak, a social project in LA.

View original

I Stand With Trans Women #istandwithtranswomen

istandwithtranswomen 3Istandwithtranswomen 2 istandwithtranswomen 3 istandiwithtranswomen 4 istandwithtranswomen 5 istandwithtranswomen 6 Istandwithtranswomen 1

[A series of six images. A woman holds a hand written sign close to her face. Each of the signs she holds has been printed with the words"I stand with trans women because:" Text is transcribed below.]

I stand with trans women because I stand with women.

I stand with trans women because I stand with my community.

I stand with trans women because every woman’s voice is important.

I stand with trans women because women are my mentors, friends, and lovers.

I stand with trans women because I want my community to be safe for all women.

I stand with trans women because all women deserve to be treated with respect.

I also made this blog because I want every woman to know that feminism wants YOU.

Feminism NEEDS you.

Please submit your reasons for standing with trans women here: http://istandwithtranswomen.tumblr.com/submit and stand up to cisexism and transmisogyny when you see it. Every movement for the advancement of the rights of marginalized people needs allies.

Tell the world why you care.

Things That Are Hard (Unless you are super entitled or are like the Yoda of mental health)

image of author laying on her side, face resting in her hand. she appears tired and wears no makeup.

image of author laying on her side, face resting in her hand. She appears tired and wears no makeup.

  • Asking for help
  • Accepting help
  • Believing that you are deserving of good things
  • Pulling yourself out of a shame hole
  • Pulling yourself out of an anxiety loop
  • Feeling anger
  • Saying “No” to others
  • Saying “Yes” to yourself
  • Being honest with yourself about your own limitations
  • Accepting and operating within your own limitations

The Poetic Research Bureau presents… STEPHEN BOYER, SOPHIE SILLS, ZACK HABER

Image

[Image: A plain red book entitled "PARASITE" by Stephen Boyer]

Friday, 7 p.m. August 30 2013

The Poetic Research Bureau presents…

STEPHEN BOYER
SOPHIE SILLS
ZACK HABER

Friday, August 30 2013

Doors open @ 7pm, reading starts 7:30pm

The Poetic Research Bureau @ Telic Arts

951 Chung King Rd.
Los Angeles, CA

Stephen Boyer is the author of the novel “Parasite” (Publication Studios), “GHOSTS” (Bent Boy Books), “The Form of Things” (2nd Floor Projects), they curate the blog minorprogression.com, with the help of countless others they spearheaded the compiling of the Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology, recently they exhibited an installation at The Center for Book Arts (Jan-March 2013) showcasing both the Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology and the Peoples Free Library, which Stephen was a member.

Sophie Sills’ book of poetry, Elemental Perceptions: A Panorama was released from BlazeVOX Books in the winter of 2010. Her poems and reviews have appeared in Elimae, Cricket Online Review, thethe poetry, Jacket2, Manor House Quarterly and other journals. She lives in Los Angeles, teaches at National University and publishes Peacock Online Review.

Zack Haber is a poet who lives in Oakland and curates The Other Fabulous Reading Series and co-organizes The Oakland Youth Poetry Workshop. Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Dusie, Poetry is Dead, Calmaplombprombombbalm.com, Red Lightbulbs, and The West Wind Review.

Poetic Research Bureau
951 Chung King Rd., Los Angeles, CA

Poem: Demons And Other Monsters

Trigger Warning: Burns, fire, house fire, disfigurement, death, death of a parent

_______________________________________________________________________________

In July Something shifts two degrees to the South

I spend lots of money, drink too much, laugh for no reason

In August I peel off my linen halter dress

long bars of sweat form sour shadows

beneath the dark skin beneath my tits

remembering the Indian summer  I spent in

Fort Wayne the summer I turned 22

sifting through fire singed artifacts,

and signing forms so doctors could stretch pig skins

over my father’s ruined monster face.

when the long month was over

I flew back to Los Angeles,

my friends took me to the Presidential lounge

to  drink whiskey straight up

beneath greying oils of Democrats

made uncomfortable by grief.

 

We blow ashes from our noses for weeks

Every morning I wake up

demand she tell me

why the bathroom stinks

of smoke and purple vomit

I stand at the porcelain sink we share

stained the color of old bones

I can’t seem to scrub away

the grim imprint of death

pressed into my pale face

swollen like tortillia dough

No one has the heart to tell me

the woods and the hills are no longer burning

the sky has stopped raining its twisted ash

it is time to wash the campfire smell from my hair

CFS: CRIPPING CYBERSPACE: A CONTEMPORARY VIRTUAL ART EXHIBITION

http://medicalhumanities.commons.mla.org/category/calls-for-submissions/>
Publications<http://medicalhumanities.commons.mla.org/category/publications/>

Cripping Cyberspace: A Contemporary Virtual Art Exhibition
Friday September 27 – Friday December 20, 2013

Curated by Amanda Cachia with the curatorial committee, which includes Jay
Dolmage, Editor,*Canadian Journal of Disability Studies*, University of
Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario,
and Geoffrey Shea, Artistic Co-Director, Common Pulse Intersecting
Abilities Art Festival, Ontario College of Art & Design, Toronto, Canada

DEADLINE for submissions: Sunday, August 04, 2013

INTRODUCTION

Cripping Cyberspace: A Contemporary Virtual Art Exhibition is an online
exhibition that will offer a multi-modal, multi-sensorial platform for a
crip phenomenology of cyberspace. The *Canadian Journal of Disability
Studies*, in collaboration with the COMMON PULSE Intersecting Abilities Art
Festival and Symposium, will be hosting the exhibition at its website:
http://cjds.uwaterloo.ca/index.php/cjds. The curatorial committee welcomes
submissions of (new and recent) work for this online exhibition from
contemporary artists, collectives, community builders and can be makers of
all kinds in the Deaf and Disability Arts movement. Works should address
the main themes of the exhibition and are intended to work in an online
context. Documentation of work created for spaces other than the web will
not be considered. This unique online exhibition, to debut in the* Canadian
Journal of Disability Studies* in a new experimental format, will offer and
therefore encourages submissions like audio description and verbal imaging,
language and text such as captions, subtitles and audio transcripts, still
and moving image, and sound-based work especially designed and created for
virtual display, by artists who explore the exhibition’s challenging
questions and ideas in order to crip cyberspace. Artists are encouraged to
collaborate as a means to build virtual community and the space will
feature a blog to enhance participation from diverse audiences. Artist fees
will be paid. The copyright for artworks used in the exhibition remains
with the artists.

EXHIBITION THEME
What does a crip intervention in cyberspace look like and how might it
inhabit it? How might the representation of disability differ or be
expanded online, in the space of a computer screen? Evolving technologies
have enhanced access and assistance for disabled people to a new, dynamic
level, where they are able to now communicate through computerized voice,
text and image. Can cyberspace then, be considered a type of brain, or
prosthesis, that provides emotional, intellectual and sensorial support for
disabled people? Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have
also enabled disabled people to participate in an online community that
might offer alternative possibilities for both their physical and
metaphorical mobility. Crip movement in cyberspace is likely to look, feel
and sound different to the everyday social realities of their movement in
real time that is often littered with barriers in an urban environment
designed for the so-called average person. What are the alternative
constraints for disabled people in cyberspace, and what kinds of crip
artistic interpretations can fill out these spaces in order to make new
meaning? The pulse of technology is one that continues to migrate our now
posthuman/machine bodies – all bodies – to realms where our embodiments and
our senses develop new relationships with space. What might the virtual
realm offer disability aesthetics? The body’s exteriority and interiority
becomes usefully abstracted or ‘common’ in its difference, through the
filter of technological apparatuses. This effectively moves us away from
binaries, such as disability/ability, and instead focuses on a
phenomenology of cyberspace, which in turn provides a new language and code
for complex embodiment. Modes of conventional sensorial access that are
occasionally found in a museum setting, such as audio description, audio
transcripts or captions, will be offered in this online exhibition, where
they will not only continue to function as dynamic modes of interpretation
and communication, but they also become independent works of art in
themselves, which carry their own weight and space in this virtual crip
architecture.

IMPORTANT DATES
Proposals must be received by SUNDAY AUGUST 4, 2013. Notification of
acceptance will be distributed by MONDAY AUGUST 12, 2013. *Final successful
artworks must be delivered as digital files by MONDAY SEPTEMBER 2, 2013.*

The exhibition will be launched on the* Canadian Journal of Disability
Studies* website on the same date as the launch of the Common Pulse
Intersecting Abilities Art Festival on FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 27, 2013. The
exhibition will be presented for a three month period (until FRIDAY
DECEMBER 20, 2013), documented, and subsequently archived online by
the *Canadian
Journal of Disability Studies* and the Common Pulse Art Festival.

ABOUT THE CURATOR
Amanda Cachia is an independent curator from Sydney, Australia and is
currently completing her PhD in Art History, Theory & Criticism at the
University of California, San Diego. Her dissertation will focus on the
intersection of disability and contemporary art. She held the position
Director/Curator of the Dunlop Art Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
from 2007-2010, and has curated approximately 30 exhibitions over the last
ten years in various cities across the USA, England, Australia and
Canada. Cripping Cyberspace: A Contemporary Virtual Art Exhibition will be
her first online curatorial project.
For more information

http://medicalhumanities.commons.mla.org/2013/07/16/cfs-cripping-cyberspace-a-contemporary-virtual-art-exhibition/