It's February, so it's a little bit too late for New Year's Resolutions, too late for best moments of 2014 reflexion-style posts.
It's February, so it's definitely more of a looking forward time of a year than looking backward.
The thing that finally got my out of my shell and caused me to re-open the dialogue in this blog is a post called "Coming out again why more queer folks with mental illnesses need to speak out." It spoke of the truths of how many people in the queer community take their own lives, and some of the reasons for it.
Our voices could save someone’s life.So where do we start? [...] It can be as simple as saying “me too” when someone in your community talks about their depression instead of just nodding; it can be as simple as saying “I know what that’s like” or “I have that too” or, most importantly, affirming that they are not alone.
I realised, when I started writing up this post, that I didn't yet have a tag for LGBTQIA, or even LGBT. I just had one for bisexuality. Which made me think that I've been doing my share of keeping my stories to myself, or sharing them only with a very limited audience, often within my own home.
So here is my voice. Here's my story:
My name is Nicole. I am a cis-gendered woman living in Melbourne, Australia with my two cats, my partner (man), and my fiancee (gender questioning). Towards the end of last year, my partner and I had a not!wedding--which suppose makes him my not!husband as well as my partner--because the laws of our country won't acknowledge legal ceremonies involving multiple relationships or gay ones. I should probably make a photo post of that beautiful day to post on here. Maybe now I actually will.
Outside of my home, I have a second house where my girlfriend lives. She is a beautiful young woman who is hesitant to walk down the street holding hands or kissing me because of the reactions we get from people in cars driving by.
As a bisexual woman in multiple relationships, I notice the differences in the way that other people view my relationships. I notice the way that I feel more "safe" walking down the street or in the shopping centre at night with one of my boys by my side. And, like my girlfriend, I notice the looks that we get from other people when we forget ourselves and hold hands, or stop to kiss because one of us has said something unbearably sweet.
I notice the pause, the hesitation in my voice when I go to my therapist or psychologist. So often, the topics that come up will intersect with the loves in my life. I find myself using gender neutral terms for all of them, or else casually dropping in the word "girlfriend" like it's the 1980s and "girlfriend" is a term used between women of a certain age group. I tell myself then that I'm not exactly lying if it's their misconception that leads to my obfuscation.
But who am I really hurting there? If I get a bad response from a non-LGBT friendly psychologist, I can just go out and find another one. Yes, the inconvenience and upset of needing to do that will be mentally taxing, but surely it's better than invisibility. Invisibility that I myself am perpetrating deliberately.
But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself.
I regularly see psychologists because, as well as being part of the queer community, I also suffer depression. Depression that, last month, culminated in my having to quit my full time job of 8 months due to said depression. I was lucky because I managed to leave that job on good terms and with references intact. I was unlucky because I couldn't quite manage to make myself hold on until I had something else to go to.
Depression is something that I have suffered with, according to this blog, about two and a half years. Although I'd had episodes of depression before that, the period between September and December 2012 was the darkest spell I'd had up till that point.
For a long, long time, I saw the treatment of antidepressants to be as bad as the condition. There were storms of weeping and anxiety as I feared that I would be irrevocably changed by taking that kind of medication that would then addict me so I could never come back off it again. It led me onto other types of medication such as St John's Wort which, sadly, was a stopper at the very best and seems an alternative from a long time ago now. It did not work for me in the long term.
As anti-antidepressants I am, I ended up on them between April 2014 and January 2015. The condition came to a head when I realised I could not imagine that any side effects from the antidepressants could possibly be worse than the depression itself. I had hit rock bottom, and I didn't care. Not for myself, anyway. It was my loved ones that, I'm glad to say, gave me the strength to ultimately make this decision.
In January, I had an appointment with my doctor that my fiancee attended with me. Together, we articulated how the antidepressants were keeping my lows at a reasonable level, however the highs were nearly uncontrollable so as to be almost manic. I speak fast and loudly anyway, but when my boys were having trouble telling where one word / sentence ended and the next began after half a dozen or so years together, we knew we had a problem.
I am currently surviving without medication. I"m not sure if this will continue to be the way, but I do know that I'm not up to going back to full time work. I have been lucky enough to happen to fall into a position with perfect part time hours for me that is not too far away from home. I have a nifty little car to get me there and back and audiobooks to keep me company. And, of course, the reward of a bath once I get home, with the cats making sure not to be too far away.
This story is far from over, but I am still here to tell it, and will have the strength to continue to tell it.