My Mental Health In The Wake of 11/08

CW: suicidal ideation, self-harm

Much to my dismay, I keep waking up. I’m not being dramatic, I’m ill. I don’t remember when I had my first suicidal ideation. It may have been shortly after my parents separated. I certainly had many in middle and high school. They occasionally popped up in college, got much worse when I tried birth control, and all but disappeared when I moved to Spain.

I never felt the need to tell anyone about these thoughts until recently. They had never been true impulses, but more of a passive desire to not be alive. Occasionally while driving I’d think, “I could drive off of this bridge,” but I never believed this was something I would actually do. I kept these to myself in part because I was ashamed, and in part because I never truly believed I would act on them. It seemed unnecessary to cause my family and friends such worry. Then I moved back to the States and started suffering frequent crying spells for no discernible reason. I endured my first (and to date, only) panic attack, and those passing thoughts became a real desire to cut myself. While I’ve never taken a blade to my flesh, on a daily basis I’m bombarded with images of opening the skin on my wrist, or cutting my own throat. These thoughts are frightening, yes, at times even immobilizing, but I let them remain unspoken because they felt separate from me. They felt like a mere distraction rather than a real threat.

About a month ago, in a period of calm, I was able to get myself into therapy. Life started feeling less overwhelming and uncertain. I started writing again. I was working a wonderful job with wonderful people and was beginning to find my place in my new city. The thoughts of self-harm disappeared.

Then Trump won.

Every morning since I’ve woken up with a tight chest and a headache from dehydration. I can’t seem to replace the water I’ve lost from crying. Yesterday I called a suicide hotline for the first time in my life. I don’t owe my current state entirely to the outcome of the election, but it certainly delivered a tremendous blow to my mental well-being.

I am terrified and I know I’m not alone. I feel guilty for taking Clinton’s loss this hard. As a white cishetero I don’t have as much at stake as many of my friends. But I am terrified for my loved ones who are PoC/queer/trans/Jewish/disabled/otherwise marginalized.

And here I would like to pause and openly apologize to my friends who are members of marginalized groups. As a person who is more degrees removed from the epicenter of this collective pain and trauma, it’s not right for me to lean on you right now. But over the last few days I have unloaded my grief on you when your grief is even less bearable than mine. I’ll save my tears for the shoulders of cishetero white men and women.

I am terrified and overwhelmed at the work that is in front of me. I’m terrified and wracked with guilt for not having done enough to combat white supremacy. And yes, white supremacy is the reason this country elected an autocrat.

Like me, much of the country is in mourning. This grief is real but the grief is not easy to process when about a half of the country is in celebration, and a good chunk of the other half (the ones around me, anyway) has shrugged their shoulders and said, “oh well, life goes on, sometimes you don’t win.”

This election was not a three-legged-race at an elementary school field day. We’re not talking about a sporting event. People’s rights and lives are in danger on a MICRO level. Folks mourning and resisting this outcome are not sore losers, we aren’t being dramatic—we’re in danger.

This was not a normal election cycle, and Donald Trump was not a normal candidate nor is he a normal President-elect. He is a demagogue who ran a racist/misogynistic/xenophobic/homophobic campaign. We have no choice right now but to assume he and his running mate will make good on their promises to repeal the ACA (leaving 20 million Americans without health insurance), deport millions of immigrants, and ban an entire religion from entering a country.

This man is a symptom of white supremacy in this nation and what we have now is a diagnosis. Is everyone who voted for him a KKK-level racist? I don’t believe that. I can’t believe that for my own sanity. But everyone who voted for him decided racism, hatred, and bragging about sexual assault were not deal breakers. That means we failed. When I say we, I mean white people. We fucked up big time. White people voted him into office and now it’s on us to mitigate the potential damage he will do.

If you are not terrified, if you are not grieving, if you are not prepared to work, if you are not part of the resistance, history will not be kind to you or your memory. If you have ever said to yourself that you would have resisted the Nazis, or that you would have fought slavery, or that you would have marched on Washington, now is the time to prove it.

I want to promise that we’ll be ok, but I can’t. I don’t know that. But I can promise I will do my best to keep myself healthy and to keep fighting.

Did You Miss Me?

Did you notice I left?

Excuse the unannounced hiatus. Some shit went down in the year or so since I’ve been gone.

There have been trains. There has been sluttiness. There have been days of being unable to lift my head off of the couch. There was a panic attack at work. There was a wedding I officiated. There was NaNoWriMo! Now there’s a (really really rough) draft of Train Slut: A Memoir! There was a trip to visit Arthur in our nation’s capital. There were several piano lessons. A new baby in the family. A new boy. A breakup which turned new boy into an old boy. A newer boy. A prescription for anti-anxiety meds. A trip to Europe. A reunion with newer boy. A subsequent and excruciating realization that newer boy was ghosting me. (And an even excruciating-er realization that I didn’t know how to spell excruciating until just now.) A few late-night messages (that should not have been) sent with gin’s everlasting encouragement. A job search.

An understanding that continuing to write this thing is less painful than ignoring it.

And here we are.

So I’m back. It’s the start of a fresh dry spell, so you can expect to hear from me more than once in the next 12 months. That’s the only upside to me not boning: I get productive and other people get entertained by my misfortune.

I don’t know what else to promise you. I shouldn’t promise anything. There’s another trip to visit Arthur on the horizon. He’s one of my biggest fans and champions. If anyone can forcibly remove my head from my rectum and get me to work, it’s him. So prepare yourselves for pictures of crab cakes and tales of shenanigans. There shall be many.

It’s nice to be back here. Thanks for making it this far.

Don’t Cry For Me, I’ve Already Done It Enough For The Both Of Us

I wanted to give you better than this. I have a detailed list of backlogged updates, and my intention was to have them all to you before I started working. But my first day is tomorrow and you haven’t even seen the second city I visited.

The next post in the queue was meant to be a funny list of travel tips. You’re not getting that today and here’s why:

This weekend I suffered a mild emotional breakdown. It hit between Saturday and Sunday around 4 AM when the entire world was asleep. I woke up around 3, which has become something of a pattern for me since I’ve returned to this continent. Most nights I can roll over and reunite with sleep within a few minutes. This time, however, a family of jitters rented out a penthouse suite in my chest cavity. The night before I’d gotten into bed at 9:37 PM. I was recovering from a cold, high on weed-infused tea, and procrastinating the dozen or so writing projects I have started but can’t seem to make progress on. Surely this state of impermeable alertness was punishment.

I’d been in this house over a week and my suitcases still sat in a corner, spilling their plushy innards onto the floor. Thus, unpacking seemed a worthy use of my time.

Living alone has benefits, not the least of which is being able to blast Florence + The Machine without the slightest consideration for other human beings. I made the bed to give myself a flat surface upon which I could thrust every article of clothing I own.

Somewhere between putting dresses on hangers and folding Superman underwear, I was struck with the reality and the permanence of my decision. Also, I realized if I want to get laid this year, I’ll have to drive somewhere. No more ten-minute metro rides to DickTown. No more bottomless wine on dates. No more late-night burritos in lieu of hookups.

This sent me down a teary vortex for around two hours. During this time I: missed Madrid, missed my friends, questioned my decision to come home, chastised myself for my inability to finish a goddamn thing in my life, sent a Tinder message, told myself I’ll never be a writer, ate hummus, wondered if anyone will ever love me, brushed my teeth.

Around 6 AM I managed to fall asleep again, and was greeted with dreams about decapitating home intruders with a serrated knife. The whole episode rendered me incapable of leaving the house for the entirety of yesterday. I spent most of the day chasing sleep and online shopping for a therapist in my area. It seems there aren’t any that accept my insurance, which I only have for another two months anyhow. Happy birthday to me. My quest to improve my mental health seems to be leaving me less mentally healthy.

I’m better today, but I’m still in the midst of the shame spiral and fighting with myself to get out of my own way and get some fucking work done.

When I arrived in Massachusetts a little over a week ago, my mood seemed to lift immediately. I thought the worst of it was over.

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I took this from my window the other day. HOW DARE I BE SAD?!

But being back here is fucking hard. Really fucking hard. I expected this. I am smart enough to know it will be ok. But I could still use a hug.

And hey, if you want to see happier updates, I could use a bit of accountability. If you like reading this, email me at bb@trainslut.com and remind me to keep writing. I know you’re out there, fans. (We need to think of a cute name for you like GaGa’s Little Monsters, or Justin’s Beliebers, but, like, sluttier.) I know you’re out there craving new shit but not wanting to bother me about it. You’re not bothering me. I respond well to a little ass-kicking.

Oh, PS, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my first (and only) WordPress subscriber. You know who you are. xoxo

The Azores Part II: Terceira

Welcome to the second part of a whatever-number-part series about my family  trip to the Azores. I sincerely apologize for the delay in these updates. My time so far in Lisbon can be described by the following gifs:

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The day I arrived in Lisbon I met up with a friend whom I met when I was here three years ago. I  was under the impression that we were going to have coffee and hang out for a couple hours. Then we started drinking wine and then two in the morning showed up and I realized that I hadn’t eaten dinner. Result: ouch. We ended up hanging out for the better part of three days. There was some beach and a lot of wine. But he finally went to the south for a few days so now I can be my own bad influence.

ANYWAY.

Day two in the Azores went like this:

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Just Wanna Be All By Myself

TL;DR: Creepers be creepin’/If you’re a girl you should only be in a place if you look nice. And if you look nice, you can’t be left alone. P.S. Goin on vaycayyy wuttt!

I’ve been sitting on parts of this post for a week. I’ve been sitting on other parts of it for the better part of a couple years, in the hopes that my anger around them would dissipate, lest I run the risk of being more feminist killjoy than funny feminist killjoy. Nevertheless, I think I’ve reached a point in my life where I must come to terms with this rage that lives within me, much to the chagrin of friends and writing instructors who have advised I “tone it down” or people will tune me out. Because what I have to say is important. In the words of someone wise (Ron Swanson, prolly ): The louder you shout, the less people listen.

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PREACH

However, I feel that I (and you) must now accept this truth: my fury is part of my charm.

And I’m pissed. I’m pissed that I can’t sit on a bench alone in this (or maybe any) city.

Last Saturday: I was meeting a friend to go to a comedy show. She’s Canadian but has been here long enough to catch the fever of casualness that plagues this great nation. In other words: girl was late. I was hungry, so while I waited for her I grabbed a ham & cheese croissant and a can of Aquarius (the superior European version of Gatorade) and found a bench.

After putting away that sandwich in what must have been the most erotic fashion, covering myself in flakes of carbohydrate, a man saw me from across the sidewalk. He stopped, and looked at me as I flicked crumbs off of my tits. As I was at the height of sexiness, he sat next to me, smiling. I had my phone out and headphones in, but even through my billionth replay of Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money,” I could hear him insisting I tell him my name, his body twisted and angled toward mine.

Finally, after his seventh or eighth ¿como te llamas?, without looking up from my phone, I said, “I don’t speak Spanish.”

Now, this is a method that has about a seventy five percent success rate. It nearly always works to stave off folks with clipboards who try to grab me by the bank account on my way to work. But creepiness knows no language barriers. This man, impervious to my lies, said, “Oh, that’s ok! I speak English. And French. And German.”

Well, fuck.

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A Burrito Is Better Than A Boy

 

Although I’m not leaving Madrid for another 20 some-odd days, I had my going away party the other night. Thursday was a holiday and I wanted to get it over with before everyone shoves off to the beach to escape the inferno that is the Madrid summer. This post is delayed because I spent the better part of yesterday nursing a hangover. Fuck off.

I discovered I am far more popular than I thought I was. Either I’m loved by many, or, as my friend said, they just came to make sure I was really leaving. In any event, fun was had.

I’d say the last four years have been worth it simply for having met all of the incredible people that I have. I love this city and I love the people I’ve met here. I know I’m leaving for the right reasons, but I spent the better part of yesterday drifting in and out of emotional spells because of having to say goodbye to this place and these great humans.

I know there is little to nothing left for me here professionally. I don’t want to teach English for the rest of my life. But at the same time, what is the value of professional experience if it’s in a place I don’t like as much as this one?

Sigh. I am happy to go, but I’m not necessarily happy to be leaving. I’m excited to spend time with my family and I’ve been weirdly nostalgic for things in Upstate NY. I miss New England summers. I want to eat lobster on the porch of my family’s summerhouse and hang out with my grandmother and all the new babies on the South Shore. I miss my siblings who keep growing in my absence. This is right. I know it’s right. But that doesn’t make it easy.

I’m glad to be sad about leaving, though. I would rather feel like I am moving toward something and leaving something precious behind, than feel like I’m running away from something. Which is what I did when I came here.

By the way, I looked incredible last night. Like, the hottest I’ve looked in months. One friend commented that I looked like a sexy librarian. Another likened me to a mermaid. While I recognize that nerdy mythical seafaring creatures might not be everyone’s cup of tea, I find it astonishing that I didn’t even make out with anyone last night. At this point I think it’s safe to say this dry spell has graduated from self-imposed celibacy to California-level drought. Hide the almonds, people.

At the end of the night it was me and three other girls. We parted ways around quarter to six. I hadn’t stayed at a bar until last call in probably over a year. I don’t know how I managed to stay as sober as I did. Various shots were consumed. There was a lot of gin involved. By the end of the night I was certainly not apt to drive a car, to be fair, but was not slurring and I remember everything.

I especially remember the rather embarrassing decision to get a burrito at 6 AM. By myself. I weighed the pros and cons of such a decision outside the nearest Tako-Away after I said bye to my friends. I was sober enough to feel shame, which is probably an indication that I should not have done it. Everyone else in there was with friends. I was the only girl in the burrito line.

But I knew the guy working. Because of course I know the guy who works at the burrito place. I first met him about a year ago when I was on a date. (Yes, I went to a shitty take-away burrito joint with a date because of fucking course I did, do you even know me?) It turned out he’s Brazilian so I seized the opportunity to practice my rudimentary Portuguese on him. Because I am not a nice person and I use people for their language skills.

After that first encounter I started going more regularly. For the burritos. After midnight. Before the other night I hadn’t been in well over six months. (Note here that I’ve had more burritos in the last year than sex. Take a minute to appreciate how much better your life is than mine.) It had been so long, in fact, that he didn’t remember my order anymore. Even so, he didn’t miss a beat in the little routine we’d developed. Every time I go in there the exchange goes like this:

Him: “Did you hook up tonight?”

Me: “If I’d hooked up do you think I’d be here with you ordering a fucking burrito?”

Him: *laughter* “Well, I’ll hook up with you. I always tell you that and you never take me up on the offer.”

Other guy working: “She must have a boyfriend. Or be a lesbian.”

Me: “Ha. Put  jalapeños* on that.”

That burrito was delicious. I ate it on my way home as the sun came up above the Plaza Mayor. Some of the rice spilled onto my dress and into my shoe. Quelle romantique.

I love burritos because they are complex, yet uncomplicated. You special order them and they always come precisely how you want. There are never any hidden flaws or details you must put up with. They always leave you satisfied and smiling. Always. You don’t have to worry about whether or not they’ll call the next day. It won’t shame you or tell its friends about you. A burrito will never kiss and tell.

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Yes, as a wise woman once told me, a burrito is better than a boy.

I wonder how much I can let myself believe that lie.

In this sexual desert I presently occupy, it’s not even coitus I miss. That I can simulate myself on my own time. In dreams, even. Yesterday I had four (FOUR!) self-induced orgasms. And I am still fucking thirsty.

Well, invest in a new sex toy, you might say. Fine, but sex toys don’t kiss or undress me. There’s no unpredictability with DIY jobs. That’s what I miss. Anticipation. The element of surprise. Vulnerability and mild danger.

For now a burrito will have to suffice.

*I’m always too drunk to remember that jalapeños are not as delicious on the way out. I don’t regret the decision as a whole, but next time I’ll try to remember to give that particular detail a miss. It’s not worth fifty cents to suffer more than I have to.

 

There Will Be Blood

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As I enter my eleventh month of celibacy, I’ve received a scathing reminder that I am (still) not pregnant: menstrual blood. Praise Jesus, y’all. (And here I’d like to bid adieu to those in the live studio audience who are put off by periods. See you guys at the next post.)

To whom can I write to request a menstruation waiver? I think I (and lesbians worldwide) should be exempt from this event until I resume sexual activity. Because this thing is giving me absolutely no new information. At least when I’m getting laid regularly I have something to look forward to. When it shows up late I tend to miss it. If it shows up early, well, it’s a tad inconvenient, sure, but I’ll still graciously clear the coffee table and rustle up some snacks for my unexpected guest.

Now it just shows up like a friend who just can’t take a hint. Just like, “Hay gurl hayyy. Let’s eat ice cream and cry and poop like seven times in a day! Oh, and while I’m here can I ruin your fave panties? Thanks!” It’s like, read the room, Period. No one wants you here. No. One.

If I have to get it, can’t I at least excrete something fun? Like glitter. Or cornflakes. I’m going to start a Change.org petition to get periods amended. Who’s in?

By the way, if you’re new here you might be wondering why someone who calls themselves Train Slut hasn’t banged in nearly a year.

It’s self-imposed. Generally.

Last year I was getting it on pretty regularly with a dude I was sort of in love with I guess? It was the first time I’d ever slept with someone I liked and it turned out to be a bit of a mind-fuck. When it went south I went out with and subsequently boned one guy who was great on paper. It wasn’t bad but it was like every other casual partner I’d ever had: boring. Plus I was still hung up on this other dude and I was determined not to let the thing that made me get over him be another person. I put myself on a two-month ban and decided I wanted to wait until I found someone I could get excited about. Then two months turned into six and six into nine and I decided to go for a year. At first it was a matter of drive and desire. Now it’s turned into sheer determination and stubbornness. Just to say I did it?

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But you know what? Dry spell notwithstanding this has been one of the best and most productive years of my life. I did the Camino! I got into grad school! I started a blog!

However there is a piece of me that is terrified that I might not bang before my birthday and I’ll have spent all of 25 not having sex. There’s another piece of me that’s terrified I will never bang anyone ever again.

Maybe I’ll start taking applications, just in case.

I Don’t Have Cancer! (Or A Job…)

Today has been one of those days which is so long it almost splits into two in your memory. The morning starts splitting off, bleeding into the day before or trying to become its own day entirely. I wasn’t particularly busy, but I did a lot of things.

A few months ago a strange mark appeared just above my left ankle. It was about the size of my pinky nail and shaped like a star. Not a five-point, doodled-in-your-notebook star. A star in the sky, splattered and edgeless. Being the daughter of a melanoma survivor (and the hypochondriac that I am) I went to the doctor.

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Fun Is Too Many Monies

Most of the time I’ve spent on this blog thus far has been dedicated to setting up the email address, getting the fucking header to show up on the page, and installing the godforsaken icon for the browser tab. (Which still does not work!) Normally the process goes something like this: I try to do something. I can’t. I message my mother who is six time zones away and far more internet savvy than I am and say, “Mommy, I can’t figure this out!” Then she tells me what to do. I do it. It still doesn’t work. Then she says, “Give me your password,” and does it for me.

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