My last inpatient hospitalization a few years ago,
they had a horticultural therapy,
One week we did like seeds,
flower arrangements another week.
I had never thought that something like that could be therapeutic.
I just had never really made that connection.
And I was fully uninterested,
because I killed cacti before that,
and that means that you just don't have it in you
to be able to take care of plants, right?
If you can't even keep a cactus alive.
Cacti are actually surprisingly
more difficult than you'd think to keep alive,
first of all.
Second of all,
when I actually got home from the hospital
I had sort of realized that
there was sort of a bit of value
in having living things within my space.
Because they do bring me so much joy,
they do remind me that
nature is this magical thing
and there is something so healing about
nurturing another form of life,
and learning the language that your plant uses
to communicate to you its needs.
And each plant does this differently,
and the more plants you bring into your space
the more that you realize this.
You know, some of them you can tell by
touching their leaves,
okay you're thirsty,
some of them you can tell by
if they droop a little bit
then you know maybe they're a little thirstier,
they start to turn yellow
maybe you're overwatering it.
You start to learn
the way that it can communicate its needs to you
and there's something that's
very, very healing about that relationship
between human beings and nature
and bringing them into your space indoors
I think is,
it’s been very healing for me
and I could write a whole fucking essay on that alone.
And if you're looking for
good starter plants to start out with
I can also direct you,
if you are interested.
I usually recommend that people start with
something like your standard run-of-the-mill pothos,
like a jade or a golden.
Cause they are very tolerant,
for example if you happen to overwater them
they have a mechanism
through which they can release excess water
through their leaves.
What some people call a
their leaves kind of shed tears.
And they're also
super duper easy to propagate
which means you can get new plants
as the plant vines and grows
you can kind of cut off little pieces and stuff like that.
And they're also pretty tolerant
to being under watered as well,
you can let the soil dry out
and stay dry for quite a bit
before they start to get too sad.
They're also a plant that's
very good to sort of learn how to
feel for problems with your plants.
Their leaves can tell you a lot
about how they're feeling.
So the more that the leaf springs back
when you try to touch it,
it's not thirsty if the leaf springs back.
The more that the leaf is kinda limp
and doesn't really spring back the way that it should,
that means it's probably thirsty.
So it's kinda easy to like get
a read with the way that they communicate with you
and it's also a good plant
once you sort of master the basics
of a golden pothos or a jade pothos,
there are so many other varieties of pothos
that you can get into,
that you can start collecting,
like the marble queen one.
Like, they have like slightly different light requirements
but that's really it.
You care for it the same way,
it sort of likes my southern window
a little better than my west facing window,
which like, fine.
It keeps the leaves nice and bright
and color and stuff like that.
So if you have a nice window to stick them in
then you can also get other
varieties of pothos that are stunning to look at,
and just as easy to take care of as the original thing.
Outside of the scope of people who identify as female,
you don’t talk about survivorship.
And that goes for cis men too.
You just don’t talk about it.
When you see these statistics
like as high as they are right?
And then you take into account that
it’s probably vastly underreported.
And yet the statistics are as high as they are.
That’s scary, right?
And same thing with trans suicide rates.
Looking at like x%, y% or something like that.
Some people who commit suicide never even come out.
They commit suicide before they can even get out of the closet.
Non-binary folks may not even be accounted for at all.
So, when you think about
how much high that number probably should be,
that’s even more scary.
Because we’re looking at at least half, if not more
of trans people within their lifetime
attempt suicide at some point.
We’re doing something wrong.
and it’s not trans people are inherently more mentally ill
it’s because the lack of understanding
from our friends,
from our family,
It’s lack of acceptance that’s really at its core.
I think that similarly with mental illness;
some people are willing to try to understand
and some people aren’t.
It wasn’t until I had a therapist
that actually was a queer woman
that I actually felt seen.
She really wants to be working with the LGBT population
and understands the lack of access to care for trans folks.
So, a lot of people she treats are trans folks
and otherwise queer folks
She started asking me the important questions
that I don’t think a cis person would have thought to ask.
That’s part of what moved me
to try to be a provider of mental health services
because there’s such a lack of access to care
especially for trans and gender non-conforming folks
it’s harder to find good help.
Here’s the thing,
there’s staggering statistics that
a lot of folks with mental illness
also have a background in trauma.
And I think that also that that number may be higher
if people’s understanding of what trauma meant
was what it is today.
Because we didn’t use to think of divorce,
for example, as being traumatic for a child.
Now we do,
which would then put all of those people
into that category of having been through trauma
if that’s what they’ve been through.
Or even absent parents,
negligent parents who aren’t around enough for the kid,
So, I think as a result of that
our idea of what love is,
is somewhat skewed.
The love that was modeled by my mother was suffocating.
The love that was modeled by my father was absent.
So, I never really learned what healthy boundaries looked like.
I never really learned how to communicate.
I never really watched them communicate
which they didn’t, effectively at least.
The love language in our household was yelling.
And if you don’t yell then you’re just not heard.
Growing up in this environment as a child
I felt like my feelings don’t matter
and if I want people to love me
then I need to suppress my feelings
because that’s what makes me more lovable.
Nobody likes me when I’m emotional.
Nobody likes me when I show that part of myself
so I just can’t show that part of myself.
And I very much internalized that.
And I think that because
so many of us come from these backgrounds
where we’ve watched our parents
go through relationship issues
or divorce or what-have-you.
Or any kind of childhood trauma at all.
I think that sometimes that can skew our idea of what love is
and when I went looking for love
I looked for codependency.
I looked for somebody to
tell me what the fuck to do
because I didn’t know what the fuck to do.
that put me in the hands of
somebody who wanted to manipulate and abuse me.
I don’t want to blame my upbringing for everything.
Had love and healthy boundaries
been modeled to me in a different way
I think I might’ve ended up in
a different place with a different person.
I think that I internalized growing up
based on how I was socialized
love is supposed to stay.
That if love doesn’t stay
then it wasn’t meant to be.
I used to think that
just because that my ex-fiancé
had stayed with me for a long time
that that meant that he loved me,
but when I look back on that relationship,
I don’t think he knew what love was.
I think that what I thought was love was actually fear.
It took me distance from my relationship just to see that.
Just because you’re really really really really scared
that somebody’s gonna leave you
doesn’t mean that you should stay.
It doesn’t mean that they should be allowed to
take up space in your life.
And sometimes maybe that should be a red flag.
Like real talk, not to get sappy,
but let me get sappy real quick
because my partner’s fucking wonderful
and I have begun to learn to love myself
because he has loved me.
And I think that he could say the same.
We sort of helped each other to recognize that,
“Well, I’m not a piece of fucking trash.”
He actually sees value in me.
Maybe I should start seeing value in myself.
That had to start from a place,
I couldn’t just find it within myself
to just love myself.
I didn’t see the parts of myself that were lovable.
They were buried beneath so much other garbage.
So much other internalized bullshit.
And I’m not saying either
that you have to find love
in order to figure out how to love yourself.
But that’s why I feel like
starting from a place of compassion
is so much more attainable than
starting from a place of love.
I think you can get to a place of love,
but you have to work past the compassion first.
You have to find the compassion for yourself first
and I feel like that could be a little bit easier
than accessing self-love.
I think that love is like a willingness to understand.
Does that makes sense?
But like I’m here to learn how your brain works
so I can learn how to work with your brain.
And also being able to do that for yourself.
You know on the other side of that with self-love would be
to be able to acknowledge and understand your needs
and to be aware of them and to try to learn to coexist with them.