Eating Disorders, Adoption, and Why I’m a Semi-Happy Size 6

My binge eating disorder is this weird, omnipresent thing. It’s always lurking about in the shadows, but that doesn’t mean I’m binge eating every opportunity I get, but THAT doesn’t mean I don’t have it during the off-season. I mean, it’s like other mental illnesses in that way — I have clinical depression, but I’m not plagued with the sads and the “I-don’t-want-to-exist”s 24/7 (thank goodness).

So I guess that’s my way of explaining why I don’t discuss it all that much. I’m not ashamed of it so much as I’m either blissfully unaware that I’m in the throes of major binge eating till one night I’m laying in bed with the worst stomachache of life because I ate when I should have stopped five meals ago OR I’m eating just fine. Until I’m not.

Binge eating disorder is the one no one talks about and the majority of people don’t believe is a real issue (“You’re just eating because you’re bored,” “Everyone snacks before bed,” “You don’t look like you have an eating disorder”). Do we all binge from time to time? Totally. We have seratonin in our stomachs that reacts more strongly than the seratonin in our brains, and when carbs hit, we’re euphoric, and that feels awesome, so we have more. It’s not complicated. But the whole disorder — eating alone so others don’t see you, lying about what you’ve eaten, feeling such an incredible sense of shame nearly all of the time that you start to wonder if purging is actually as bad as it sounds. (I’ve never tried. I’m not one for throwing up.) It has nothing to do with the food — nothing at all.

Mine can be supposedly traced back to my days in the womb, little Fetus Mary just chilling in some amniotic fluid in the belly of a woman who starved herself to hide her pregnancy (which she successfully did all the way to the day of my birth, where I emerged feet first at 5 1/2 lbs.). As it was explained to me by both a Dietetics major and my psychologist, when I did get food — any food at all, which we can assume was infrequent and lacking in basic nutrition — I gobbled it up. I yearned for food, and when it arrived, I snatched up as much as I could because I knew it might be awhile before I got more. And my brain developed with the fear that perhaps the food wouldn’t come, that I had to eat what I could when opportunity arose, because it may be the last chance.

So here I am, 32 years old, with the occasional penchant to eating and eating and eating and eating and eating bread followed by chips followed by fruit followed by cheese followed by popcorn followed by a salad followed by a sandwich because deep down in my heart, I am afraid I won’t get another opportunity.

It’s perfectly illogical, so you’re preaching to the choir if you want to tell me all about that. I wish I didn’t have it. But when it is late at night, and there is a cookie in my pantry (or six or twelve or an entire package), there is nothing anyone can do or say that will fully convince me that it will still actually be there tomorrow. And then, because I am so stressed by my stress that I wanna up and vomit, I’ll eat some more to self-comfort. That I am not morbidly obese by now can only be chalked up to my Korean genetics, a strand of DNA that ensures I will never be fatter than around 140 lbs., even while binge eating, even while living a sedentary lifestyle. But please, whatever you do, don’t tell me I’m lucky because I’d take being fat over being mentally ill any day.

Lately I’ve been counting my calories in a non-obsessive, curiosity piqued sort of way through my Fitbit and exercising almost daily in hopes that at the end of the day, I will be able to have a small ice cream sundae or some McDonald’s fries or a glass of lemonade or some small treat — a reward, really — that tells me I’ve successfully achieved my daily goal of not overeating. Thus far, I’ve been able to indulge a little bit every night for the past week without going over a 500 calorie deficit except for this one night where I did, but I still ate less than I expended (and I’m very proud to inform you that I ordered a Medium fry at McDonald’s tonight, and I didn’t even finish it all). It’s been kind of liberating, taking charge of my eating habits rather than letting them take complete and utter control over me. I’ve been trying to make peace with the fact that I am no longer a rail-thin size 2/XS who can tuck her blouse into her pants and not look like sausage, that I am allowed to have new clothes, that I am allowed to look cute, and that it is perfectly acceptable for me to go up a size or two as needed because the clothes just look better (have you ever seen a woman who simultaneously muffin-topped and camel-toed? It’s tragic.). I am working on being happy. I mean, isn’t that all anyone wants? Just a general sense of happiness with his/her own physical, mental, and spiritual well-being?

But I know this may not last forever. We’re going on a cruise this Saturday, where an all-you-can-eat buffet and free room service will be my nemeses, where we won’t have internet service and I won’t want to log my calories anyhow because what a mood killer, and I’m a little worried that I’ll snap mid-way through and wake up one morning to make the unfortunate decision to have fifteen strips of bacon for breakfast, followed by hashbrowns, eggs, pancakes, toast, and fruit (I’ve done something similar, I really have, and yes I felt awful afterward). And I know, I know, I can start all over again and I shouldn’t consider it a failure as much as a lesson learned, but ideally I’ll just be a normal person who doesn’t lose her mind when presented with unlimited food. (Having my husband shooting me warning glances will probably help, and before you think, “Oh my gosh he’s a tyrant!”, know that he’s just doing what I need him to in order to survive through this life.) Ideally, there will be no self-loathing on this trip.

Perhaps even if my birthmother had been the peak of physical health and nutrition while she was pregnant with me, I still would have been struck with an eating disorder. It’s not really off the table. But sometimes I wish things had gone differently, that she’d felt comfortable confiding in a family member or a friend before it was too late, that she had a maternal instinct kick in that told her she needed to give me the best she possibly could because I was trying to survive in there and I’d need to survive, even longer, out here.

Sometimes I wish.

An Open Letter to Clothing Manufacturers

or, “I’m Tired of Your Body Shaming Antics” by Mary Nelson

To whom it may concern:

Look, I get it. Designers create clothing for humans who are abnormally tall and small; we see it on the runways every day, these willowy ethereal women who are small chested, with no hips, legs for days. But I think we can all agree that these women are few and far between (Gigi Hadid walks nearly every runway, it seems, as does Kendall Jenner), so I think it’s probably high time we started creating clothing for the Every Woman. You know, the one who’s had a couple kids, who doesn’t have a personal trainer or dietitian on hand, the one who is doing the best she can every day, working that hustle. Or, say, for the ones who are like me — 5’1″, with a comfortable fanny pack of stomach fat, a booty and thighs, and not much waist or legs. Because we exist, and we’re pretty awesome.

And here’s the problem: you’re body shaming us, the whole lot of you, and it needs to stop. We can all band together as women on a mission, fists raised in the air, talking big talk about how size is just a number, but when all is said and done, those numbers can really bum us out big time. (I’m not going to address the larger issue of wedding dresses and formals being sized entirely differently than street clothes, which is really the pits because a bride shouldn’t hate herself leading up to her wedding day because her wedding dress is a ginormous size she doesn’t normally wear nor want to. Another letter, another day.)

I decided recently that I wouldn’t let you bully me into feeling bad about myself, about being malcontent about my current state, about focusing on things less important than nearly everything, but that doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally feel a little twinge of disappointment when I have to go up a size. Did you know that I suffer from four mental illnesses and was somewhat recently diagnosed with binge eating disorder? Did you know that much of what I eat isn’t even necessarily what I WANT to eat but rather feel compelled, obligated, almost forced to? Did you know that I’ve been spending several months working on my mental health, putting it ahead of my physical health for the time being because it just seemed more important? Did you know that some days, despite knowing how much seratonin could be pumped into my broken brain, getting out of bed and going to the gym feels akin to trudging up a mountain with no end in sight, no food, drink, or oxygen, and a backpack of rocks in tow?  So why do you feel the need to make me feel bad when I put on a pair of pants?

I’m not as thin as I used to be. My metabolism kind of gave up the ghost when I was 23, but a recent medication has killed whatever was remaining, making it very difficult for me to lose weight despite some of my mediocrest efforts. I like the way butter makes my food taste, and carbohydrates are some of my dearest friends. So I understand that I wasn’t going to be able to squeeze a tiny frame into size 1 pants for forever. That’s fine. 1 is a ridiculous number anyhow. But do I feel like a Large? Not really. I feel like a … normal human person who’s 32 years old and carries her weight in her abdomen (which isn’t a LOT of weight, mind you.) My husband, who is 6 inches and 40 pounds heavier than me is a size Medium/Large, so it seems to me that I should, at the very least, be a Medium, don’t you think? Why do men get to feel good about themselves while we are forced to feel awful?

Just this morning I saw a picture of myself that is four years old, a time in my life where I was certain I was fat. I was adorable. I looked great. I was 20 pounds lighter than I am today. But I was always concerned about how my clothes fit me, whether I had a smooth silhouette, and I waited anxiously for the day I couldn’t fit into them any longer (which did, inevitably, come). I wish I’d been able to just enjoy the size I was at the time, I wish I could chill out about the size I am now, and I wish I could compel a cease and desist against you, dear manufacturers, for making women around the nation (and perhaps the world? I’m not sure about clothing sizes around the world, plus there are a lot of countries full of people who aren’t morbidly obese like America) feel shame for who they are. We all know that the former size 14 that Marilyn Monroe was so known for wearing is akin to a size 8 today, and there was literally nothing back then that equated today’s 00.

It needs to stop. You need to get your crap together. And for heaven’s sakes, start sizing women’s clothing the way it should be.

Mormonism, Politics and Why I’m Saying Bye to Social Media

Guys, I’m so tired. I feel physically tired, mostly because this afternoon while out I was suddenly hit with an enormous wave of depression that has left me alternately sad and apathetic and filled with physical pain.

And also the title is probably overly dramatic, because I’m really only peacing out to Facebook for now because people tend to be less dickhead-ish on Instagram. I have some friends with very adorable children whose lives I need to follow somehow and a makeup business to maintain, after all, so I can’t just go off the grid entirely (although writing that makes me think, “But maybe I could.”).

I’m going to say this once, and then I’m never saying it again on a public forum (and I assure you, I am filled with a lot of trepidation over even mentioning it in a not-very-publicized or even read blog, fear that I will be attacked by racists and/or misogynists or, even worse, friends who claim they love and respect me): I am voting for Hillary Clinton. I’ve been planning on it since 2012 and haven’t read anything that’s changed my position or made me think I’m making the wrong decision for myself. For a much better, more detailed explanation than I could ever give about the root of Hillary’s problems is that she is, unfortunately, a woman, check out this amazing article here (you’re not going to read it, are you? You’re going to skip it and have already thought up horrible things to say to me. Go ahead. I won’t read it for awhile anyhow.). Plenty of men, plenty of politicians, plenty of Republicans have done many of the same “egregious” and “unforgivable” things with little to no consequence, but America can’t seem to give her a pass. Do I love her? Not really. But I certainly don’t despise her, and I think she’d make a very fine president. Anyhow, I didn’t want to say it, but it’s important that you know my stance before I get into the rest of my post.

I am faced with two pretty glaring problems, however: 1. I am a liberal living in a predominately VERY conservative state and 2. social media has turned us all into argumentative, vicious monsters who are quick to anger and slow to forgive. We speak loudly and carry multiple big sticks (or assault rifles, you know. Whatever.), and we believe it is our God given right to tell everyone how wrong they are. I abstain from this behavior because my anxiety can’t take it, I respect my friends, and I think by now it’s been VERY effectively proven that arguing online neither changes minds nor strengthens bonds. It’s a whole new world of us vs. them, but we’re sacrificing families and long-lasting friendships in the name of being champion. If that isn’t America’s tragedy, I’m not sure what is.

Growing up Mormon, I’ve spent a lot of time questioning certain aspects of the religion, periods of disbelief, and moments of quiet contemplation, but I certainly don’t claim to know all there is to know about Mormonism. So most of what I’m about to say is kind of the Gospel According to Mary, and you may take it as you will.

Election years always bring to mind Article of Faith #12, which states: “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law (emphasis added).” So basically what it’s saying is we will uphold the law (except when it comes to driving down I-15 apparently) and we will honor and sustain our lawmakers, which includes but is not limited to our president, and that’s the rub, isn’t it? We claim to believe we will honor (which can mean respect, not attack or cyber-bully, or spread lies and rumors) the President of the United States of America, but in a religion that is somehow very Republican (and for those of you not particularly familiar with the Church, we are not told to vote one way or another — this is just how the cookie has crumbled, politically, within the Church’s culture for decades, and damned if I understand it), that’s pretty hard when the president is a Democrat. And I’ll say this goes the other way as well, of course, although the last time we had a Republican in office, social media certainly hadn’t taken off in the way it has today, but Democrats are not exempt from this particular Article of Faith. We don’t have to agree or like it, but we have to be respectful.

Newsflash: most aren’t. #religiouspeopleamirite

This year’s election, which simply cannot come to an end faster for me, has also brought to mind Article of Faith #13, which states: “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men … (emphasis added).” So this says very plainly that Mormons believe in not spreading lies, gossip, rumors, or falsehoods, and that we will bestow upon all others benevolence (which is defined as offering charity and goodwill) and virtue (which is defined as moral uprightness). I mean, basically we claim to believe in being literally the best versions of ourselves, kind, tender, forgiving, and honest. So I find myself utterly confused when I see dozens of Mormons all around me (and this is just within my circle of friends and acquaintances — I have no doubt in my mind that there are thousands, if not millions, of Mormons capable of this as well) posting anti-Hillary sentiments on a daily basis. It’s easy to repost a meme or a picture or an article or something that’s awful (even if it may be true). And apparently (and I’m speculating here, but I feel pretty confident in my assumption) Mormons believe in being benevolent to and honest about anyone except for Hillary Clinton because somehow she doesn’t fall under the umbrella of “all men” (I could say something again about misogyny but I don’t want to beat a dead horse). So that’s weird to me. And I feel like there’s some sort of discord and disconnect.

I’ve been heartbroken this year, particularly, to see individuals whom I held in very high esteem be, quite frankly, terrible humans online. It’s shaken my faith, it’s made me question why I belong to the Church still, in spite of everything, and I imagine Joseph Smith, who was martyred in the name of this religion, coming down from the proverbial mount with the 13 Articles of Faith, a modern-day Moses who just received the Ten Commandments, weeping because we’ve built a golden calf and do nothing but idolize it all day long.

A Conversation About White Privilege and Why it Exists

The title may be misleading because I’m neither an anthropologist nor a sociologist, so I actually have no real scientific or societal basis as to why White privilege began and why it’s still in existence. I have some pretty good ideas, but not founded enough to write an entire blog post about them — this is about how it DOES exist despite what some people may say.

First off, being a minority in America is a weird thing, especially belonging to the “elite” minority group, the one white people don’t really mind all that much except when it comes to penny pinching and a lack of understanding at nail salons. Have major strides been made since the beginning of American time? Absolutely. But why is it that not that long ago (less than a century, even) that it was illegal for me to marry a white man, to own land or a home, to even vote? Why were fellow Asians (the Japanese to be specific just in case you’ve been living under a rock and literally know nothing) forced into internment camps a mere 70 some years ago? Babies born in internment camps are still very much alive, which means it wasn’t long ago enough (of course it shouldn’t have happened in the first place, but it did, and nothing I can do or say will change that).

And to add to the confusion (for me and probably everyone else), I’m an international adoptee, which has garnered such comments as, “Well, you’re not a real Asian” or “So you’re basically White.” Have I said these things about myself? Totally. But there’s a difference between what a person can say about themselves and what other people can say, sorry if it bothers you and feels unjust. And I’m working on curbing comments like that anyhow so as to not add to the unfortunate race problem we have here in the old US of A. (And just as an aside, I recognize there are some major race issues in other countries, but I don’t live in those countries, probably you don’t either, and that doesn’t really affect how America acts. If it does, it most certainly shouldn’t — “Well, as long as there’s a group of people more racist, then we’re fine.”) But back to the issue at hand — I am most certainly a real Asian (my facial features prove that quite readily), and I’m not basically White since I am, last time I checked, full Asian. Also I’m not basic at all *snaps*. It would appropriate to say, under these circumstances, “Well, you’re ethnically Asian but culturally American, which is a predominately White culture even though White people can’t seem to get enough of Taco Tuesdays.”

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If you’re a White person reading this, fuming and foaming at the mouth that I am declaring that White privilege exists, well … sorry, but I don’t make the rules. Does it appear that White people in America have some unearned social advantages because of the color of their skin? Absolutely. Does it mean I expect all White people to sit around feeling bad about themselves because of the color of their skin? No. That would be racist. (And just to clear things up, we all say or do racist things from time to time, and those instances do not make us Racists. They make us humans who say and do dumb crap. When a minority says to you (should you be White), “That’s kind of racist,” don’t get all up in arms about it. Accept the feedback and reevaluate what you’ve done and then probably stop that particular behavior. Recently I got into a rather heated argument with someone over Facebook (which I most certainly did NOT want, by the way — I hate Facebook arguments quite thoroughly and don’t ever go to other peoples’ pages to disagree with them, even if I feel confident I can be diplomatic about it) in regards to whether “South Pacific” is racist. First of all, it totally 100% is, and I don’t give a hoot about in what decade it was written or what the original intent was. People are unintentionally racist all the time, and that doesn’t make it any less offensive. It just makes it steeped in ignorance. Plus, things age out. Let’s all agree to retire “South Pacific” because it’s 2016 and no one should be producing it anyhow. And rather unfortunately, the White person with whom I was trying to discuss the matter did NOT take my feedback well and then downgraded my distaste for racism to mere offense. I wish a more productive conversation could have ensued from the whole thing and that the other person could have begun to understand that when two Asian people are saying, “This thing is racist against Asians,” it very well may be. For a much better explanation of the ultimately too negative connotations to the words racist and racism, plus several good ways White people can overcome their White fragility (y’all are SUPER fragile) and occasionally swallow that uncomfortable pill of being wrong, check out this post here.)

“But what about reverse discrimination? White men can’t get anything these days because of all the benefits the minorities are getting.” HAHAHAHAHAHA shut up and go away, first off. No one wants to hear about how hard it is to be a White man in America. But that does bring me to my next point about The Problem with Affirmative Action, and Why it Needs to Go Away. It’s been proven time and time again that the government probably needs to stop making sweeping generalizations about groups of people and offering handouts to those they consider less fortunate — there’s actually very little that bothers me more than White altruism (I’m looking straight at you, Brangelina).

Story time. When I was in college, one of the organizations held Affirmative Action Day in the student union, where they sold food at different costs depending upon the buyer’s ethnicity. Spoiler alert: that didn’t go over well and no one thought it was a good idea. I mean, I guess it was cool that for just some pocket change I could buy a burger (or was it candy? Too old, can’t remember), and I think at the time I took part in it just because it was so cheap (cheaper for Black students, cheapest for Native Americans, which … the offensiveness runs deep with that one, kids.) Here’s my beef with Affirmative Action: it was created by White people, for starters, and appears to be a handout to POC (people of color) because apparently we can’t achieve anything without the assistance of our White superiors. Is it reverse discrimination, however? Absolutely not. It is, unfortunately, hiring employees or accepting college students for all the wrong reasons. Accept Black students into your student body because of their GPA, their motivation, their drive, their extracurriculars — not because you have a percentage you need to fulfill to appear diverse. They’re out there, they exist, and they don’t need your help. We don’t need your help. But ultimately till that goes away, when someone says, “I want you because of the color of your skin,” that is not in any way similar to, “I do not want you because you are White.”

I don’t think the answer is abolishing the notion that race exists at all. I’ve heard that argument, and it just ultimately sounds like something a White person would say. I’m proud to be Asian, to be a little different from other people, to have unique traits that no one else can have. I think there are dozens and dozens of cultures that shouldn’t be downgraded in the name of fighting racism under the guise of “But we’re all humans.” I DO think we need to open up the conversation about White privilege, what White people can do about it, how they can take responsibility for it, how they can learn valuable lessons from POC. And I think POC need to recognize that the majority of White people are inherently good, that they have good intentions, and that there’s a lot they (and we) don’t know. When someone says something racist, don’t be rude about it. Let it be a learning experience, and if they react negatively to that feedback, don’t engage in argument. You’ve offered up knowledge, and what they do with it is up to them. I’ve been told almost my entire marriage that the key to success is good communication, and that translates VERY well to all interpersonal relationships. When you take the time to listen and understand, that’s when growth occurs. That’s how we get rid of the race problem in America.

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A Bit of Turbulence

I know what you’re thinking — based off my latest posts and Instagram “Mary Talks,” this is probably going to be all about overcoming the hurdles of my many mental illnesses, about therapy and big pharma and ENDURING TO THE END.

But it’s not. It’s about the time I was on a plane and had to pee the worst I’ve ever had to pee (that’s probably an exaggeration).

Husband and I recently took a little jaunt to Boston for a vocal competition (which I was promptly cut from in round two, so we spent the remainder of our time as tourists, which was WAY better). Because we brilliantly decided to take a red-eye the morning of my competition (and no, I don’t attribute that to why I was cut), that meant I’d need to be as hydrated as possible all night long, that morning, and till the actual competition. There would be no shriveled up skin or vocal chords that day.

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Photo found here

The problem with drinking an entire large water bottle while waiting to board your plane is that you aren’t really given the opportunity to sweat it out, so you’re left with a bladder that magically re-fills itself almost immediately after bathroom usage. And despite using the restroom RIGHT BEFORE stepping onto the plane, I had to go upon being seated.

To avoid using public restrooms as much as possible, I have a tendency to tell myself to hold it.

So we waited while the remaining passengers boarded the plane (which was everyone, btw), whereupon everyone slapped on the eye masks the airline handed out and promptly fell asleep, including (but not limited to) my husband (center seat) and The Woman (aisle seat). Of course I took the window seat because the window seat is the best, most desirable. This is not actually the case when you suddenly have a pregnant woman’s bladder.

I was then left with a dilemma. Do I attempt to hold it for the next six hours or do I climb over husband and The Woman, waking them up, and step into what I can only imagine is one of the most under-cleaned bathrooms ever? Initially, holding it felt like the best option.

But then we hit turbulence. And it wasn’t the sort of turbulence that felt a wee bit bumpy. It was the sort of turbulence that shook the plane, made you think you were actually on a terrible amusement park ride that was going to result in dozens of bloody deaths, and actually forced your bladder to do flip flops in your body. I thought, “I’ll be fine. Deep breaths, and this too shall pass.” But then it didn’t pass. It continued FOR LIKE AN ENTIRE HOUR.

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Photo found here

Of course, during this time, the flight crew kept reminding us the seatbelt light was on and we weren’t supposed to get out of our seats for our safety blah blah blah, and not even the flight attendants were responding to calls unless they were dire emergency, which to be honest, I considered mine to be, but probably no one else would have agreed. So I was stuck, for an hour, in the window seat, with a bladder that was filling up by the second (I hit a point where I felt like I had water sitting in my esophagus that couldn’t go anywhere).

It was too much. I waited for the turbulence to downgrade itself to the Dumbo ride at Disneyland and stood up, climbed over husband, and then … deep breath … climbed ever so gently over the Woman who had somehow slept through everything that had just happened. I envisioned her suddenly waking up, my derriere in her face as I was straddling her to get into the aisle. Lawsuits. Court appearances. I was wondering why I thought I should go to Boston in the first place.

The flight attendant was quick to remind me that the seatbelt sign was still on and that we had been asked by the flight crew to not leave our seats, but I hastily announced that I had to pee REAL BAD and used words like EMERGENCY and jumped into the lavatory.

You know that scene in “A League of Their Own” in which Tom Hanks pees for what feels like an abnormally long period of time? That was me, you guys. I kind of hoped I’d open the door and one of the flight attendants or another passenger would say to me, impressed, “Good peein'”, but it didn’t happen. No one was impressed, no one said anything, and I had to climb back over The Woman and husband to my empty window seat with nary a compliment.

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Photo found here

Incidentally, I became remarkably dehydrated on our second day, to the point that I felt as though I might pass out or die, with a headache that somehow went down my back and throbbed with each heartbeat because I cannot win.

To the LGBT Community: I’m Sorry My Friends are Bigots

When I was a little girl and a volunteer at my mom’s library (I mean, she didn’t own it, but she worked there), I wasn’t allowed to use the public restrooms. It wasn’t even an unspoken thing — kid volunteers were supposed to use the staff restrooms (which required a key code) because, and I wish I were kidding about this, they had an issue with heterosexual male predators who liked to hide in the women’s restroom to watch women use the toilet.

It took me years, honestly, to feel comfortable using a public restroom because of this.

Those are the only individuals who cause me major concern when it comes to the usage of public restrooms. First of all, they’re not even there to pee — they’re there to peep — and despite there not being an actual set of rules of what you can and can’t do inside a restroom (middle school and high school aged girls will prove this because it’s rare they ever actually go instead of take selfies), that’s totally and completely wrong. I think this is something that everyone, Peeping Toms aside, can agree upon. Bathrooms aren’t meant for snooping.

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I have absolutely no concern over individuals who are using the restroom to empty their bladders. I’m a woman. In every restroom I enter that houses more than one toilet, there are stalls, which are as close to privacy as we’re going to get except for those extremely uncomfortable moments when we accidentally make eye contact and one of us sacrifices our own lives by flushing herself down the toilet because it’s just too mortifying. So to be perfectly honest, if a well-meaning man were to enter the restroom to pee while I peed because for some reason the men’s restroom were simply unavailable to him, I wouldn’t mind. If he tried to peek over the top, then we’d have a real problem. But then we get back to the whole issue of him being there for all the wrong reasons.

And sorry to get all anatomical on you, but if a trans male enters the men’s restroom (which is the way it should be), then either he has the plumbing and will use a urinal LIKE EVERY OTHER MALE or he doesn’t and will use a stall CREATING A CERTAIN DEGREE OF FALSE PRIVACY. So I see no problems there either. I’m not a man, but seriously it shouldn’t be a big deal.

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So let’s not talk about my sanctity or safety any longer. Frankly, I don’t need or want you to because I am definitely able to deal with life on my own. This “sanctity” is just a fancy, religious way to cover up what’s really going on — a high level of bigotry, prejudice, hatred, sexism, and transphobia that shouldn’t exist, especially in 2016, especially when we should all agree that human rights apply to everyone who’s a human.

And for the record, since it’s not resonating with so many of my acquaintances when an LGBT person says it, perhaps it will because I am a straight, religious woman: homosexual people, queer people, those who are gender binary, and the transgender are not somehow more apt to commit heinous sexual crimes than heterosexuals. In fact, statistically speaking, they commit significantly less. When a man says, “I believe I should be a woman” and then goes through all the emotional and physical pain of transitioning, far be it from me to then tell her she can’t use my restroom because I don’t understand how that feels. And it is INCREDIBLY unspeakable that I (or anyone else on this planet, especially other Christians) should ever imply that she is a criminal when really she is just about as incontinent as the rest of us.

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Photo found here

You’ve already shared the restroom with a trans person and lived to tell the tale (I’ve shared the women’s restroom with PLENTY of boys who were there with their mothers, who crawled around under the stalls and decided to hang out in mine, which was far more alarming than the possibility of a transitioning/transitioned woman being next to me, washing her hands). We closed the door on segregated bathrooms already in American history, and I don’t think we need to open it ever again.

On Having Depression

If you’re interested in reading all about OCD, check out this post here. I was going to follow it up with Things You Don’t Know About Depression, but I’ve come to realize that there are still things I’m learning about it, so probably I shouldn’t be writing some blog post like I’m the boss of the depressed. And if you suffer from Post-Partum Depression (for which I am very sorry, and please know that there are a lot of people in your corner, even though right now it may not feel like it), check out this awesome post by my good friend, Julie.

In looking back over the annals of my life, there are specific events that catapulted me into the throes of depression, but we didn’t really know that’s what it was at the time. My best friend moving when we were five. Middle school. Watching one of our cats die because we knew it was coming and Mom and Dad had to go to work. Most of the time, it was reasonable to feel sad because what I was experiencing were sad things, but I realize now that what I was actually feeling was clinical depression, one of my many mental illnesses that started taking root and growing every time I felt blue.

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The reason I’m less knowledgeable about depression is chiefly because when you suffer from OCD, you don’t get much time to focus on anything else. My morning routine (aka compulsions) takes about an hour before I get out of bed (my anxiety piquing in such a way I never knew was possible because the entire time I’ve got to pee, but peeing isn’t in the equation. I’m working on including it to lower my anxiety, but we’re not really there yet). And with OCD comes additional anxiety (I also have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and a panic disorder, but both are difficult to navigate because of, you know, the OCD). The depression became quickly and easily backburnered because I’m just so anxious all. of. the. time.

It’s all getting better. It is. I’ve worked out for a solid 30 days now (I don’t work out on Sundays and I missed two days, one due to a back injury and one due to a medical procedure that knocked me out for an entire day), and aside from the anxiety that accompanies OCD, I haven’t felt like scratching all my skin off because I can’t handle life (that’s not really a thing with me. I don’t actually feel like scratching all my skin off, but that’s the best description I can give for general anxiety that goes with you everywhere), and my depression has left the building. For now at least. My mother and I were discussing this today after lunch (at Chuck-a-Rama), and we both agreed that even if I were to never lose any weight or inches or fit into my “skinny clothes” ever again, all this exercise would still be entirely worth it because of my mental well-being. I eat, exercise, study, work, and socialize all for my mental well-being these days, and it’s been pretty great.

But having mental illness means I can’t just be cured of it — that one day I’ll wake up and that will be the end of all the anxiety and depression. It means that, despite all my best efforts, one day, sooner or later, brought on by something or entirely out of left field, I will wake up and be physically unable to get out of bed. Prior to my regular exercise (and prescription meds and therapist and Vitamin D supplements), my depression would attack me at least once a week and would last anywhere from several hours to a couple of months (depending upon any chemical imbalances, the weather, how much my job was killing my will to live, etc.). Mental illness attacks your mind, your soul, and even your body (depression, I have found, is incredibly painful, so oftentimes I stay in bed because it hurts to get up and work around my home).

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When you say, “I have anxiety,” a lot of people respond with, “I feel you.” And perhaps they do because they also suffer from anxiety, or perhaps they’re exacerbating their actual life experiences and know what it’s like to be temporarily stressed out, but either way, you receive a lot more empathy than you do when you say, “I have depression.” I’m not quite sure why that is — perhaps it’s because depression feels more vulnerable than anxiety or maybe it’s because anxiety is far more common — but I think that’s what inherently makes depression even more difficult to withstand. You don’t just feel like no one gets you — in fact, no one gets you, and what is already an isolated medical problem becomes even more isolated.

I get it. Not wanting to exist isn’t a feeling many people have experienced to the degree of the depressed, and it’s not the same thing as being suicidal, so it’s just confusing and weird. It looks like laziness, it sounds like an excuse. And while I am on occasion quite lazy and have a bag full of excuses, ready to utilize at any given moment I don’t want to do something, depression doesn’t fall into either category, and it’s offensive to imply that it does.

Why am I writing about this now? Because I’m genuinely scared that tomorrow or the day after that or the day after that or the day after that, I’ll wake up from this blissful depression-free life and hurt from the inside of my brain to the soles of my feet. And when that day comes, I’m going to need some understanding because I fear it’s going to be even harder than it was the last time.