I talk honestly and openly about my experiences with mental illness, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome through the lens of feminism, fat acceptance and process theology. I also do recipe and book reviews. My mission is to spread the message that hope is always real for a better life, despite living in a world that is often very harsh.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Empowering Inspiration

Change your life.  God's kin-dom is here! (The Message Bible, 15)
I've been thinking about inspiration lately and when it is empowering and when it becomes harmful.  This is what I posted in response to the article, Inspiration Porn: What It Is and Why It Hurts:

I have much conflict with this.  I feel like it applies if a person is born with a disability.  But if it happens later in life, then choosing to give up is a much more realistic choice. I feel like especially when it comes to severe mental illness, the success I've achieved IS rightly inspirational.  I graduated college and it was one of the hardest things I've ever done and the only thing that made it so hard was my disability-severe mental illness. So yeah, I'm proud of that.  I do a lot of mental health presentations where I put myself as an inspiration to others. On the other hand, sometimes I am used as a commodity.  Like people only see me as inspiration and not as human, like I've got supernatural inspirational powers, almost.  People don't have hope for their loved one or themselves, so I get the sense that they're trying to squeeze all of it out of me.  A very unpleasant feeling. I even turned down a presentation once because I was told that My inspiration was needed, which made me feel objectified.  So I think inspiration porn is on a case by case basis and doesn't just apply to all disability inspiration situations.
Yesterday I expressed to my therapist my conflict of misrepresenting myself when presenting myself as an inspirational speaker.  More and more I am feeling like people do not see the real me.  Yes, I have come a long way.  Yes, I have gained a lot of wisdom.  Yes, sometimes I have it all together.  But when I am tired...then I am still very prone to panic attacks that cause me much misery.  I am getting better and better but I do not by far have it all together.  Also, like I said in response to the above article, sometimes I feel very objectified, commodified.   

 The therapy appointment was a DBT catch-up appointment for the interpersonal effectiveness section.  This section is filled with acronyms and unfortunately, I usually have trouble remembering what the letters in an acronym stand for, so she told me to just try to remember what the main point of each acronym is instead of trying to remember the exact words and I found that very helpful.  

The first acronym is DEAR MAN and is about getting one's needs met in a relationship.  I was told to think of it as, "What is my objective in this relationship?" - "What do I need?"   I was then asked, "What is your objective in your presentations?  It seems like you are being taken as an inspiration when that may not be your objective..."   That was an a-ha moment for me, as I thought about what I really people to take away from my speeches and I realized she was right.  I don't want to be an inspiration anymore - I want to make people think about mental illness in a different way.

 I usually start my presentations saying that I want to educate, dispel stigma, and inspire hope, and so, of course, people are being very inspired.  I have now come to realize that way I am being perceived is all my own doing and that is a very liberating feeling because I can do something about it.   I will now say, "I am speaking with you today to educate, combat stigma, and to help you think about mental illness in a different way than perhaps you have thought of it before.  There are many common assumptions about having mental illness that I want to talk about and disprove."

 Inspiration is not a bad thing at all and I do want to leave people feeling hopeful but I also want to be seen as myself, not as a superhero, not on a pedestal.  I don't want people to think that they need regular doses of me in order to make changes in their life - ultimately, we must all find our own inspiration within.  I think now instead of saying that I want to "inspire" hope, I will say that I want to "empower" hope. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Summer Vacation 2016 - Take My Body Love Pledge

I am now traveling home.  It will take approximately ten hours, so I should have plenty of time.  I am condensing the rest of my vacation into one single post in several parts because I always struggle with timeliness after getting home from a vacation.  This last post is about the most important lesson I learned-to love my body. I. I could not be totally body positive forever. As the fattest woman in our group who is woefully athletically challenged, my self-confidence and self-love started to diminish.  So I took a picture of me in my bathing suit to see if I looked as awful as I felt and to my surprise, I loved the picture!  Here it is:
This is not an expensive bathing suit-I got it in the plus size section of Target for twenty-something dollars, but it's a superb suit.  But this is not just about the bathing suit. I took my picture fully expecting to see an image that I would have to berate and instead, I felt nothing but love.  I love my haircut, I love my bathing suit.  I love the fact that I am not depressed so that I am caring about my appearance again.  I love how happy I look because I really am. I see a person who is proud of herself despite what society says she should be.  Today, I wear my fat with pride, as it means that I am not trying to control myself with neurotic food rules. My funky hairstyle that is long in some places and shaved in others makes me feel proud because it means that I no longer am hiding who I am. I am an artist, I am self confident, I am queer, I am happy, I am peaceful, I am proud, I am gorgeous and I will not be ashamed of being these things.
After taking the picture and analyzing it, I had to accept that I am a. fat b. Not as fat as I thought c. Still happy and beautiful even so.  I also started noticing what it felt like to eat as a person on vacation. I let myself eat and drink more often and eat and drink things that I normally would not because I would deem them too unhealthy.  I reintroduced myself to moderation. I also realized that I had mentally poisoned myself when I started weighing myself on my roommate's bathroom scale several months ago.  I am not able to weigh in moderation-I am ashamed to say that I had gotten to the point where I was weighing myself five times a day and eating less to get my number to one more desirable.  When it comes to the scale, I am very much like an addict-I weigh myself once and soon I am craving more steps on the scale and less food to somehow make me feel more in control and more worthy, acceptable of I-don't-know-what.  As I said in a twelve-step meeting once, I make the scale my god.  The only way I can get on a scale safely is under my therapist's or doctor's care. (Unlike most people's therapy sessions, before we begin therapy, I am weighed.  Whether I need to process the number is the first topic on the table.). This week I noticed that I felt freer and happier directly as a result of not weighing myself.  I must not have gained an obscene amount of weight - my fear when I don't weigh myself - because my clothes still fit in the exact same way as it did when I left for the vacation.  
My Personal Promise
I seem to have to realize and internalize the lesson on my weighing neuroticism over and over again.  Will you take a pledge with me?
I solemnly swear to love my body.
*To recognize the truth that our bodies are not objects to control and diminish.  
I solemnly swear to take up the space that is rightfully mine-
That all humans deserve but few realize.
I also swear that I will take up space in a way that is respectful to all people.
That I will remember my own privilege and empathetically listen to others
While still honoring my own heart.
I swear to listen to my body and treat it with compassion
Even when I feel depressed and hateful.
I believe that it is only through self-love that the gospel can be realized-
For myself to truly love others, I must honor the sacredness of my own soul.
Tending to my heart and sanity will be my highest aim always
And I will fight anyone who tries to convince me that I should strive for anything else.
With my higher power's support, I will conquer my deepest fears.
Nonjudgement shall be my guide and love my salvation.
Come join me-let us love our bodies together.
*As said by my therapist
Link Love:

Friday, August 5, 2016

Slow Kingdom Coming - Book Review

whatever we follow is what we’re transformed by - Slow Kingdom Coming by Kent Annan.
Slow Kingdom Coming by Kent Annan - I hated the first part, which seemed like an advertisement for his friend's church but the book got better.  The book is basically about the fact that there are many ways to superficially, consumerally show support for justice but that with more focus and careful consideration, a person can make a better contribution to bringing God's kingdom to Earth.  I liked his section on confession as part of justice work.  I don't confess enough.  His book had nothing I had not heard of before but I put some of his quotes in my inspirational quote book.  I liked what he said about needing gratitude and joy. 
Joy can be a kind of lifeline as we work for justice, which exposes us to suffering and exacts a toll on us.
 I have also found them to be instrumental in keeping me going.  His book seemed to be basically spiritual intentional peer support (IPS) to me.  IPS is a training that I took at work and we also emphasize partnering with, empathetically listening, cultural competency, and showing respect towards all.  It was nice to see what I believe mirrored in a spiritual book, although it would have been nice if I had been introduced to something new.  Instead,  I had what I already believe and practice reaffirmed. (Although I did appreciate the reminder to confess.)

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Summer Vacation 2016 - My Queenly Self

We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we would stand-out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. (The Message Bible, 315)
On day three, the sea was very calm, just like me:
  The perfect weather for my brother to paddle me around the ocean.  I felt like a queen on the Nile:
And really, I am like a queen-I am the queen of my life. I get to choose how I react, think, and feel.  It takes hard work to realize a certain way does not serve me anymore but I am the one who gets to decide when I have had enough and how I am going to change.  I believe that I have the support of my higher power, whom I call by many names. I believe it is my higher power that prepares me and shows me new ways of being that I would not think of on my own.  It is up to me to open my heart to Her whispers.
A being who has far less choice is my brother's dog, Bee.  I've had fun taking pictures of her, as she is the queen of the questioning look, of peering around corners.
 Bee and I have the same happy look:
 My canine namesake, Corey, looks like a queen in this picture:
 I cannot be calm forever-I know that emotions tend to cycle but I am enjoying it while it lasts.  I feel very powerful as I take selfies and look at the ocean because I know that I have the power to decide how I want to be.  I want this awareness to stay with me past vacation so that I can have a more peaceful life.  May you be peaceful too.  Blessed be!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Summer Vacation 2016 - Recognizing Privilege

Live out your God created identity.  Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you. (The Message Bible, 22)
Yesterday, as I looked at my big family getting along and being merry together, I thought to myself,
I am so privileged.
I am not saying this because I think I am better than others or because I think I think I deserve more because of somehow working harder.  I do not have time for bootstrapping myths.  What I do have time for is to appreciate the good things in my life.
  • I have a big extended family that gets along for the most part.
  • My family has superb cooks who cook in a way that doesn't upset my stomach.
  • We know how to relax.
  • Despite my lack of money, my needs are fully taken care of.
  • I do not feel judged by my family.
  • I feel comfortable around my family.
  • I feel comfortable in my own skin.
  • I am surrounded by beauty.
  • I am safe.
  • I am loved.
Now do I always feel comfortable with my family or in my own skin? Of course not! However, life for us is much better than it used to be.  Should I hide away in my privilege and pretend that others less fortunate than I don't matter or even exist?  The world really is a hard place often times.
No.  I am hoping that this vacation will renew me-that I can reflect on the good things I have, the fact that I am loved, and that the world is achingly beautiful. When I get home, I will work even harder to make it this way for everyone.  My goal is to share the love I have for the world and the hope that one really can create a life worth in the midst of chaos, for even in heartbreaking chaos, there is a beautiful and logical order behind it. 
Blessed be for the universe!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Summer Vacation 2016-Sacred Sanity

You're blessed when you're content with just who you are-no more, no less.  That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought." (19, The Message Bible)


It is time for for my summer vacation posts!  I didn't do them last year because I was too busy.  Fortunately, this summer vacation is more relaxed, so I should be able to post every day.


We are at Nag's Head, North Carolina, on the outer banks. I wish we were boycotting North Carolina but as my family decided not to, I figure I might as well enjoy the vacation.


Yesterday, as I was climbing the stairs to the house, I thought to myself, 


nothing is more sacred than sanity.

 It is so refreshing and wonderful to be on vacation and not be exhausted and depressed.  I feel free.  DBT has helped me the way I knew it would and today I am not anxious but very happy. I feel comfortable in my own skin and it is a very luxurious, utterly enjoyable emotion.  Thanks to mindfulness, I am able to recognize these feelings and fully revel in them. Today, I am emotionally rich.


To celebrate my new found confidence yesterday, I took many selfies. So what if I am fat?!  I am still flabulous!  Because of my fibromyalgia, I am not able to exercise as much as I would like but I do genuinely enjoy eating healthy.  Many people assume that I am dieting when they see how I eat but I do not and never will.  One really can be healthy and happen to be fat.  Of course, even if I was not healthy, I would still be flabulous because health does not actually equal self-worth.


Here I am being happy:


I can take pride in how I look, no matter my weight.

Time to relax!