The Truth about Mental Health 

Sorry bout it! It was crushing to be told I just wasn’t running enough, or exercising enough, or meditating enough, or not doing enough yoga, or not eating the right foods when doing everything “right” didn’t make my depressive or anxiety symptoms any better. I’m talking about years of meticulous vegan meal planning, strict and consistent yoga and meditation practice, daily gym runs, journaling, “positive thinking” and more! I felt like such a failure, I must have been doing something wrong, all these things were supposed to cure me! 🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️ A) mental illness is not curable, but it is manageable, and a lot of times it means not buying into the neurotypical bullshit and pressure of just not being depressed. What helped me the most was recognizing that despite their well meaning, my family and friends didn’t understand anything about what I felt, and that my feelings were valid-despite what anyone said. B) everyone deals with their mental illness differently, some people really do benefit from all the things I listed, but if you’ve tried it all and still feel awful, then try something different. ( I will block anyone who starts with but actually exercise/yoga/whatever helped me-that’s great! Make your own post about) C) western treatment is so vilified that I spent 20 years exhausting the “right” alternative methods. What an enormous waste of my time and energy. D) I’ve taught yoga for over a decade and stopped because the positive vibes brigade was bordering on delusional. Positive thinking IS JUST NOT ENOUGH when you have a mental illness!!!! I hope this helps anyone out there struggling with symptoms and being guilted for not running enough/not eating “right”[ a BULLSHIT CONCEPT, it’s all about intuitive eating, check out @chr1styharrison for an intro about it]/ or whatever. Your feelings are valid! Try talking to a therapist about your symptoms, that’s been the most helpful thing for me.

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Remembering the Forgotten 


This is my aunt, Yelena Baskakova, who was murdered by her abusive husband when she was 28, in July of 1990. Her family (consisting of my mother) was notified two weeks after the fact, and her body was not released to her family, instead she was buried in an anonymous group grave because of Soviet bureaucracy and the low priority of the murder. She was a wonderful artist, and a gentle soul. She was a victim of family abuse, spousal abuse, and the abuse that was to live in the misogynistic culture and laws of the Soviet Union. This is the only photograph I’ve found of her as an adult. This is my way of honoring her life. Thank you @stophatingwomen for giving me the courage to do this. 

Since writing this post originally on Instagram in March of 2017, my mother and I went to a beach in Malibu on Summer Solstice and did a symbolic burial for her. It’s never too late to honor your loved ones.

Infantilization

Imagine you go to a party. You put on a cute low cut top that is completely appropriate for this party. You feel great, you like your look. You wear a coat because it’s cold. You enjoy the party, you are having fun with your friends. You step outside for some air, or a smoke, whichever it happens to be in your case. You’re enjoying a quiet conversation with a friend. Suddenly, a man comes up to you, a man who you’ve never met, and buttons up your coat.

A man comes up to you, puts his hands on your clothes, and adjusts them to his liking.

This is commonly referred to as the infantilization of women in the patriarchal society. Women are seen as over grown children, and like children, they need to be shown what is right and what is wrong, they don’t have the cognitive capacity to make their own decisions. This attitude is disgusting and still very pervasive. This is the thought processes behind horrific laws that have recently passed, such as making a woman get permission (!!!) from the father to have an abortion, even if the father was her rapist! This is the thought process behind men attacking our reproductive freedom, because what could women possibly know about what’s right for them? If women have no agency, of course there’s nothing wrong with a man coming to a woman and adjusting her clothing as he sees fit.

This happened to my friend, Sarah, in what is considered to be a very progressive country, Norway. Here is a conversation she and I had about it:

Alex:How did you feel when that happened?

Sarah:Dumbfounded and offended, but moments later EMPOWERED because I finally had a good argument for why he shouldn’t do it.

You know how you often feel like something is wrong but you can’t articulate it until way later? But I was like, you can offer me your scarf if I look cold, but don’t touch me or pull my clothes, because you wouldn’t do that to a man hahahahahh. Not today, Satan!!!

But initially humiliated, that’s the feeling I was looking for

I was wearing a reaaaally low cut top and slut shaming myself pretty hard. So for someone to even insinuate that I should be more covered up, even if it was because of the weather, was so embarrassing

A:Yeah like you’re somehow wrong and he’s gonna set you straight. Like a parent to a child.

S:Like I can’t decide how much clothing I need . Because ground breaking concept: you can dress like a baby if you want, that’s a fashion statement, not a signal that you need a man to help you cover your basic needs.

 

Privilege Etiquette

Everyone holds privilege over someone: men over women, whites over POC, able over disabled, neurotypical vs aneurotypical, traditionally educated over non traditionally educated, rich over poor, the list goes on. How to properly handle the privilege you have in a constructive way? In a manner that doesn’t further burden the person over whom you hold privilege? Welcome to Privilege Etiquette!

When you say something like “I hate all men” as a man, to a woman who has just shared a negative experience with men, you are placing the burden on her. How? Because you are implying that you either A) aren’t like all men and therefore she should acknowledge that and/or B) you hate yourself, and therefore she needs to comfort you. This is not a theory, this is a fact. You may not be consciously doing it, in which case I urge introspection. What is a better reaction in the same scenario? “I’m sorry you went through that” will suffice, as it doesn’t place any burden on the person sharing and doesn’t press them for any reaction to *you* and *your* privilege. If they want to share more, simply listen. If you feel a surge of compassion and want to help, simply ask “What can I do to help?” It is imperative you refrain from going into your own experience unless the experience mirrors the other persons, ie. a trauma survivor shares her trauma and you share your experience, NOT a poc shares their experience with discrimination and you, a non poc, share your experience with “reverse racism”. It’s just rude and speaks to your massive lack of education, please refrain.

What about as a white person? Perhaps a white person who has a disability? You may hold privilege over a poc but be discriminated against because of your disability. How do you react to a poc who is abled when they are talking about their experience of discrimination? What if your poc friend says “I hate white people”? Please, do not chime in with “me too” because you will encounter the same problem as outlined above, placing the burned on your friend. Do you speak about your experience as a disabled person in reply? No! While your experience IS VALID, it is not comparable. How do I know? because you haven’t had your friends lived experience. Now if your poc friend was to go on about disability discrimination and liken it to their own experience, that’s a different story.

All of this requires conscious effort, but I promise, once you get into a habit of  being mindful about these things, you will have a much better time of it.

Dealing with Disappointment in Friendships


Life can be full of disappointments. Here are some techniques for softening the blow and dealing with inevitable fallout. Self soothing techniques are coping strategies that ideally are learned when we are children. When little Jackie doesn’t want to play with little Mollie, little Mollie is soothed by a teacher or parent and told that it’s ok to be disappointed, and that there are lots of other friends little Mollie can make. Many of us may not have been taught healthy coping mechanisms. We may be very hurt when our attempts at friendships as adults are not embraced with open arms, we may shut down and think there is something terribly wrong with us.

One of the many benefits of figuring out your own boundaries, and demanding they are respected, is that you start to better understand the boundaries of others. No one owes you anything, that includes your platonic friends, and acquaintances. Once you become more aware of your own boundaries, it will be easier to understand why someone may not be replying, or may be flaky. The most common reason is, they just don’t want to. They are not on the same page as you for whatever reason and THAT’S OK. Remind yourself that those are boundaries you will respect just like you’d like your own boundaries respected.

This is a skill that you will get at with practice, and I promise it will lead to you giving yourself a chance to try and reach out to more people, which will inevitably lead to establishing great friendships.

Being treated with respect ≠ Spoiled

Let’s normalize consent culture!

How many times have you been in awe after hearing a story about a guy actually asking for consent before initiating intimacy? How many times have you yourself described yourself as “spoiled” because you partner treated you with respect? This is the norm! anything less than that is NOT OK! We’ve been conditioned to accept terrible behavior because “men are just like that” and when we discuss it, we are told “#notallmen”

Having a partner respectful of your boundaries IS THE NORM! Do not accept anything less than this basic standard. Do not believe nonsense about this being a magical, rare occurrence. This can be the norm for you!

Your Pace of Intimacy is Valid

“I usually need to have sex within (X) amount of time, but I like you so I’m willing to wait [sometimes followed by] but only until (x) amount of time”

“Sexual chemistry is very important to me, that’s how I connect so if you don’t want to have sex, I can’t keep dating you”

How many times have you heard those lines from Men? Men who you thought were on the same page as you, men who you were attracted to? Did you cut them loose after they told you something like that? I sure hope you did!

These are ultimatums, either you give him what he wants, or he cannot continue seeing you. If this was stated initially, upon the first date, then I wouldn’t have any qualms with it, because if that’s what both partners wanted then great! and if it wasn’t, you can easily part ways and look for partners who suit your needs better.  I’m talking about the dude that seemed like he was respectful of your boundaries at first, then hits you with the ultimatum.

Before anyone can say “Devils Advocate” I recognize that these man boys may not ever comprehend the pressure and stress they are putting onto their partner. Guess what? Try explaining that to them, you will be met with a blank stare and a reiteration of why their needs are more important than yours!

 

Many more thoughts to come! Stay tuned for part 2!

 

Your pace of intimacy is valid!

You’re not submissive, you just need a service top

In my years exploring and discussing sexuality, I’ve come across a lot of women who say they enjoy being submissive. But what I find out upon further conversation is that they enjoy certain activities that sort of fall under the category of BDSM play but are not limited to the role of the submissive. For example, one friend told me she liked to be chocked during sex play and therefore assumed she was submissive. LADIES PLEASE! 80% of the entire population, men and women,regardless of sexuality or orientation, enjoy some form of breath play (choking). This does not make you a submissive! In fact what I realized over the decade or so I’ve been in the BDSM community is that most women want a Service Top. What is a Service Top? It’s a person who identifies as a true submissive, meaning they take the most sexual pleasure submitting to the whims of their partner and will do whatever their partner wants, including topping them.

The main difficulty women has with this concept is that they have to actually verbalize exactly what they want which is of course notoriously difficult for them due to social conditioning. Many women want their partner to “just know” what they want. That’s not going to happen, ask yourself, how often do you “just know” exactly what your partner wants? or even a friends? a colleague? Communication is the only way to let someone know that you really would prefer to close the window because you’re a bit chilly. I encourage femmes (here used as anyone who identifies as non male) to start practicing verbally saying what they want during sex. You can start by just saying it out loud in the privacy of your own home, by yourself. “I like when you do this” or “I don’t want you to do that”  it doesn’t have to be explicit, especially if  it makes you uncomfortable. Just little steps in practicing saying what you want to say will help you express that to your partner when you’re intimate.

I have so much more to add on this topic, and I will! Stay tuned!

 

How to Curb a Mansplainer Part 2

As we touched on earlier, the mansplainer genuinely believes he is doing you a solid by talking at you. If assuming a strong but notably disinterested glance is not working for you, simply leave. Verbally excuse yourself, although fair warning the mansplainer may not even register that and keep on yapping. As women we are often conditioned to be polite and nice. I myself still fall into this trap! I’ll keep answering someone who I’m getting a bad vibe from because I feel somehow obligated to answer him.You are under no such obligation!

 

How to Curb a Mansplainer Part 1

I’ve gotten several requests about sharing my mansplainer curbing technique, there are many I’ve acquired so this will be an introduction, if you will. Most articles I’ve read focus on what to say to the mansplainer, how to reason with him. However, 9/10 times, the mansplainer cannot be reasoned with. Don’t bother trying to enlighten him with statistics or your lived experience, the mansplainer is enjoying blessing himself with his verbal diarrhea. The best thing to do is adopt a dominant stance, and a serene but *disinterested* gaze. That alone will shut him up 8/10 times. Like a flame, the mansplainer cannot continue his mansplaining without oxygen, i.e. Your interest( please note, he interprets everything as interest including disagreement and argument). Stay tuned for part duex!