Don’t Assume Girls Care About Your Opinion

The following email exchange happened a while back.  I realise that I probably overreacted, but what he said still does bother me because a lot of guys do somehow think that an appropriate or relevant response to a girl expressing her low-self esteem is to assure her that they still find her attractive…  I’m just going to leave this here without expressing any further opinion on it.  You are free to come up with your own conclusions on this.

Me: “My initial response to “I can be beautiful at my healthy weight” was “wtf, no, you need to have a BMI of less than 17 and have visible hip-bones and a thigh gap to be beautiful”.”

Him: You are beautiful now and I absolutely believe you can be beautiful at your healthy weight.  And maybe I would fall in love with you then… You know my enthusiasm for girls at/a little heavier than their healthy weight.

Me: I don’t even really care whether [my love interest] finds me beautiful at my healthy weight, and if his opinion on this doesn’t matter…I’m sorry, but yours doesn’t really either.  The thing about my issues with weight is that it’s not even about weight.  To me, skinny=self-control=beautiful.  That’s why I do it.  It’s not even about society or media or anything else saying skinny=beautiful, and it’s certainly not the opinions of men!  And if you fall in love with me for my body, you need to stop. Love is not lust, and if you think they’re equivalent, you need to seriously re-evaluate how you see women.  Also, the world does not revolve around men.  Women’s self-esteem does not revolve around men.  Women’s desire to be thin is largely based on the fact that this is what other women judge them on, not based around what men judge them for.  If men’s opinions were at all important in this discussion, the standards for beauty wouldn’t be as thin as they are.  A very large number of men prefer curvy women because they’re biologically programmed to do so, curvy women are more fertile, favouring them favours the passing on of any particular man’s genetic material.

Him: Why is it that you this sensitive over topics that have to do with how men and women interact with each other (I’m not sure that one was brought up here)? I do notice that whenever I say something that has to do with women (I don’t know what exactly about women is it anymore) you do start telling me about how evil and unworthy men are. Do you hate men? And do you believe women are superior to men or something like that?

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Boundaries

PSA I posted on Facebook a while ago:
Don’t touch someone without their permission. Do not grab someone without their permission.
If you have already grabbed someone, and they try to pull away, let go; they clearly don’t want you touching them. Someone pulling away is not an invitation to grab tighter.
Some people will not verbally tell you to let go. Some people find it difficult to assert boundaries. If you are obviously making someone uncomfortable, you need to stop, even if they haven’t explicitly told you to.

This happened to me.  I would have been less bothered by the whole thing if:

1. They’d let go when I pulled away.  That they didn’t tangibly demonstrated that they had no understanding of the notion that many people are unable to establish or assert boundaries.  Since I’ve struggled with establishing boundaries before, this is something really important to me.

2. It was the first time that they’d displayed inappropriate behaviour or the first time they’d been called out on it.  The fact that this person consistently only ever does it to girls and that this person tends to treat any girl’s objection to this behaviour as not-to-be-taken seriously bothers me.  I can understand ignorance, especially in a society that fails to show people what boundaries look like, but when someone has told you before that your level of aggression makes people uncomfortable and that it’s inappropriate, the correct response is to look at your own behaviour and your own attitudes towards other people’s rights to see what needs to change, not to ignore the other person because girls just overreact.

3. If this wasn’t part of a pervasive attitude held by people, particularly guys, in our society.  I wouldn’t have posted it on Facebook if I was directing it at the person who grabbed me.  I would have settled it privately (I did, actually).  By posting it on Facebook, I was trying to tell a wider group of people that this is an attitude that needs changing (in hindsight, I should have hid that Facebook post from the person involved…but what’s done is done).

Long story short, though, for all the people who think feminism isn’t an issue, this is why it’s important.  Because women want to be safe in their communities, and they aren’t.  I was lucky, this person only grabbed me.  But people need to be taught that other people’s right to personal space and to not be made to feel uncomfortable by another person’s actions are important.  People need to be taught that women don’t actually overreact, and that if a woman says no, she means it.

Suicide

Read the title again.  This could potentially be upsetting.  [Slightly, you may or may not want to read this.  You know me offline, and you might not want to know this about me.]

A classmate of mine attempted suicide in Spring 2013.  A friend of a friend committed suicide a week and a half before Christmas.

One would think that after seeing the shock, the confusion, the guilt and the pain experienced by the people I would be completely put off the idea of suicide, and yet, in my darkest moments, I’ve come closer to actually doing it than I feel comfortable with.

A lot of the bookmarks on my web browser have to do with suicide.  I’ve made two detailed suicide plans (one as a backup in case the first one fails), right down to where I’d get the materials I need.  I have in my phone text history, a series of text messages sent between me and a friend written at a time when I thought that the pain of dying of asphyxiation over the course of a week was preferable to the pain of living my life.  Might I note that at this point in time, the reason why I felt life was not worth living was basically that I had written something rather stupid and someone I respected had seen it, and a dog I liked had died (and I couldn’t find a photograph of the dog that I was looking for).  Each of the factors on their own would have been manageable, but given who I am, that pretty much set me up for failure right then and there.

I look back at that now and think of how ridiculous it was to want to die so badly over something so small, and yet even now, I have moments where I find myself going over my suicide plans again and again, wanting to be released from the pain of living in this world.  People often like to tell suicidal/depressed people that things will get better.  I always find that difficult to believe.  I already have everything I could have ever hoped for, and yet it’s still not enough for me to want to live.  I don’t know why.  I wish I did, so that I could stop this.  Deep down, I don’t want to kill myself.  I don’t want to feel like death is the best option for me.  But I do, sometimes.  It scares me.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about suicide a lot.  For the past week, nearly every day, I’ve hit a point where I have seriously entertained the notion of harming myself (although I know that I’m most likely not going to make an attempt on my life).  When I was hospitalised, the first thing that I thought of was that after I was released, I might be able to use the pain meds to commit suicide (a subsequent check of the chemicals showed that they’re not actually suitable for suicide).  Thinking of the pain that I might cause to others if I committed suicide used to be enough to persuade me that it wasn’t a good idea, but it’s getting increasingly hard to believe that anyone would actually be upset.  I honestly believe that most of the people I care deeply about dislike me and I even think that my parents would be ambivalent about my death and move on quickly (even though logic tells me that this is most likely not true) because I’m slowly losing touch with reality.  Now the only thing that can reliably make me consciously choose to live is the knowledge that there’s a pretty good chance I won’t make it and I’ll wake up knowing that as much as I fail at life, I also fail at death, and I don’t know if I could deal with surviving a suicide attempt.

I don’t have a point I’m trying to make, I’m just trying to vent my emotions, really.  This is about as bad as things get for me, and I’m not always this insane.  [Slightly, if you’ve read this far, I’m sorry.  It’s extremely unlikely that I’ll do anything, so you don’t need to be worried about me.]

What Lies Beneath the Surface

I had a rather nice, honest discussion with a classmate about my depression the other day.  Most of the time, when I talk to people about my depression, I’m told that I’m just being a special snowflake and I don’t really have it (my father, most notably, although he has subsequently apologised for this, and admitted he primarily does it because he finds it difficult to accept that I’m struggling with something that he himself struggles with and finds incredibly difficult to live with…after all, nobody wants to see their children suffer) or I’m told to just do [thing] (my brother told me that he had depression but recovered by changing his lifestyle…and told me that I should just do the same…except it doesn’t work that way).  What made my discussion with the classmate so special was that this classmate just accepted that what I told him was true, and believed my version of my own experiences instead of trying to tell me that his interpretation of my life was more accurate.  At some point in the discussion, he mentioned that I don’t look depressed (without invalidating my experiences at all!) and that it must be hard for me because people don’t really realise, but I still struggle.

I’ve been told many, many times that I don’t look depressed.  After a rather difficult incident at school at the end of last year, I had to take some time off school because I couldn’t cope with my classmates’ reactions.  When I returned, a lot of people indicated that they were surprised because I’d always seemed so okay.  Even my therapist doesn’t fully understand my life, because I’ve always been told not to show emotion, and after years of having my emotions invalidated, I act okay even when I’m not, even without thinking about it, sometimes.  So yes, I don’t look depressed.  That doesn’t mean I’m not depressed, though.  I have struggled with depression for the past 3 years and very few people know (although I’m trying to be more open about it now).  So what lies beneath the surface?  What aren’t people seeing?

I’m not a person who cries much, but things lately have been getting too much for me.  Last night, I was crying alone in my room and my father happened to walk by and see me.  He had to hold me for 20 minutes while I couldn’t stop crying.  My mother saw, as well, and was so terrified that she offered to let me go horse-riding after the exams (this has been an ongoing battle… my parents didn’t want to let me ride).  When she made that offer, despite the fact that I was finally getting offered a chance to do something I’ve always had to fight my parents for, I wasn’t ready to take them up on the offer because when I’m depressed, no matter what I do, I don’t enjoy it (fancy medical term is anhedonia), and I didn’t feel like I wanted to go horse riding.  That’s my depression.

I think about suicide nearly every day.  I don’t want to.  The thoughts scare me, but I can’t make them go away.  I’ve made several detailed plans for suicide.  I’ve had thoughts that go something like “I want to commit suicide the day the IB exam results come out, even if I do well”.  I chose to accept an offer from a university that doesn’t require a deposit so that if I commit suicide, my parents can save money.  That is a truly awful way to pick a university to attend, but that was my reasoning.  That’s my depression.

I don’t believe the love anyone else has for me.  Even when someone stayed up talking to me past midnight when I was in the hospital until the nurse came with pain medication and I could finally sleep, I believed that person disliked me.  When someone tells me that another person likes or respects me, I always believe that the person is lying.  Even when someone tells me themselves that they like or respect me, unless I’m having a particularly good self-esteem day, I believe that person is lying.  I’ve had days where I felt like the love and care shown to me by my best friends and family has been part of some massive joke that they’re all playing on me.  That’s my depression.

On the surface, I look happy.  Most people wouldn’t suspect that I struggle with mental illness, unwanted suicidal thoughts, self-injury or anything else.  My life looks picture-perfect.  Generally good grades (at least in the past…this year I’ve been too depressed to study or turn in homework a lot of the time and my grades have suffered), supportive parents and I always have a smile ready…but that’s not my depression.  My depression is what lies beneath the surface.

Procrastination and anxiety

With a month left until my IB exams, I find myself relating more and more to this post.
“I fear failure. Probably more than anything else in the world… Because, to me, failing a thing is being a failure. As a person. If I fail a thing, I am a failure, and therefore I am worth nothing.”

ischemgeek

If you’re wondering why I’ve been quiet, it’s this: I have an important exam coming up in a month. I am extremely stressed out about this. So any spare minute that I’ve been calm enough to study, I’ve been studying, and when I haven’t been calm enough, I’ve been playing video games to try to calm down enough to study.

So I figured I’d post about procrastination. Because it’s relevant. And because something on Tumblr gave me an aha moment.

Procrastination is not and has never been a matter of laziness for me. I can and am willing to do the work. Usually, I like the work and find it fun. I have a strong work ethic. I have worked till 3 AM on experiments, then gotten up and arrived at work on time the next morning. Hard work is not alien to me.

It’s not a matter of…

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