Sexuality Takes a Back Seat to Mental Illness

I have a mundane, boring fact to share about myself:

I am gay.  And most likely asexual.

I say that it is boring, because I am not suddenly gung-ho to hit the Cubbyhole bar  downtown to get me some tail.  I don’t want to go to the Gay Center in the village and join a social club dedicated to leather lesbians.  All of this is as unappealing as asbestos.

Perhaps this is my asexuality talking now.

As far as how lesbianism and asexuality intertwine… that is a complicated affair, and there are as many concepts to this as there are people.  As to my own experience, I will describe it here:  I find women attractive, but I have no desire to date anyone or go further than cordial friendship.  I also have no desire for intimacy.  Of course, for me to say “no desire” is perhaps an exaggeration of the truth.  Sexuality is a spectrum, many of us know.  We fall in between the extremes.  Sexuality also evolves.  Perhaps my own status will reveal itself further over the coming months and years.

For such a long time, it’s been so hard for me to accept my own orientation.  Since high school, I had an idea that I was a lesbian, but I was so afraid that people would know of it.  Even though I was surrounded by completely accepting people, I was still ashamed.  So ashamed, that once a fleeting thought entered my mind, I immediately squashed it like a bug.

And then I was struggling with that little thing called mental illness.

Going further back in time, to my childhood, I had perhaps innocent admirations of attractive females.  But as this emerged within me, so too did mental discord develop.  My father was a frightening person to live with, so there was trauma brewing within me.  This then “blossomed” into depression at the age of ten, and only worsened with every year.

When I started therapy, still a child… sexuality was the last thing on my mind.  I didn’t even know it was a concept at all.  It was the mid-90s, so sexuality was not a topic so prevalent among youth as it is today.  There was no internet for me to utilize as a research tool.  There was nothing except a filtered, childish world that the adults around me created.

When in therapy, the overall goal expectedly was to help me deal with my depression.  I applied in this task quite well.  I explored my thoughts and emotions, and I learned how to process the world around me.  I also developed a vocabulary to express myself to adults.  Never for one second did sexual attraction enter my mind.

I realize now, that much of my anxieties related to sexual orientation are the result of… my not talking about it to anyone!  As eloquent as I am in many things, I find myself at a loss for words when describing my sexual self.  I don’t like to think about it or talk about it much.  I even feel like there’s not much for me to say.  That’s “private stuff.”

But my attitude is old hat.  I must realize that I live in a sexually free society, mostly.  It is not old times… But why am I stuck in the past?  I have no idea.

At the age of thirty, I am now chipping away at this boulder.  One of the biggest fears I’ve had, is that I’m totally afraid that I will transform into some hulking beast with a buzz cut if I come out.  I’m afraid that I’ll transform into a person that I don’t want to be.  This is most likely the greatest fear that has kept me in denial.

Just recently, something in me clicked.  Accepting my sexuality will in no way change who I already am.  I will not magically transform into something else.  Instead… I will be exactly the same as I always was.

To describe my coming-out experience thus far, it is as mundane as a birthday.  Sure, it is celebrated at the time it arrives.  But then it passes, and one forgets about it as the year rolls along.  Our age is only a mere number, and that number doesn’t define who we are.  Granted, a low number would indicate immaturity and physical while a higher number indicates a wizened attitude and physical decrepitude.  But what does the number indicate about personality?  Absolutely nothing!  And certainly there feeble children and vigorous adults.

So too it is with sexual orientation labels. They are only markers.  Tabs on folders stowed away in a file cabinet.  The labels of “lesbian” and “asexual” only serve as a benign convenience, and nothing more.  To judge a folder by its label… such an attitude makes one not an expert of its contents, but a mere secretary at best.  (I mean not to disparage secretaries.  I attempt to draw an analogy.)

I hope to investigate my own sexual status with full confidence.  As I forge ahead, I want to become increasingly more confident and grounded.  And as for coming out to everyone in my life?  I’m not too keen on it.  I will simply write of it for now.  Those who read me will find me out, and word will spread like an internet virus.  Oh happy day.

Sexuality has become a hot topic during these early years of the 21st century.  Hopefully by the 22nd, it will have become as fully mundane as a brushing of the teeth.

I am an Overeater

It’s been a while since I wrote here.  But I realize now, that I have a new challenge that I must overcome…

I am an overeater.  And here is my story.  I tell it here, because I want to overcome it.

***

I was a thin child.  No matter what I ate, I always remained rail thin.  So it came to my surprise when I started gaining weight.  I was about 24 when it started.  I’m not sure if it was due to a psychiatric medication I was taking, or if it was just age catching up with my metabolism.  I always knew that obesity was around the corner, because my mother was obese.  One of my biggest fears was that it would happen to me.

And it did.  It got to the point where I gained 90 lbs.  At 5′ 10″, I went from 125 lbs to 215.  Same numbers, rearranged.  Cheeky.

My life was pretty low then too, bluntly stated.  I was on disability for Schizoaffective disorder, unable to work.  My grandmother was drastically afflicted with dementia, so I committed myself to caring for her full time.  It was very stressful.  She was constantly fearful, and rarely slept.  It was also sad.  A once-lucid woman, suffering terribly.  No one should live like this.

It was also strange then too though.

In October of 2011, as my weight steadily increased, I also began to fall into psychiatric relapse.  Always at these times, I voraciously watch YouTube videos, trying to make sense of the piecemeal logic in my head.  I stumbled upon a video of a woman getting a Christian exorcism, and suddenly I converted to Christianity.  I found a fundamental church, and began attending thrice a week.  I abandoned my hobby of songwriting, now deemed evil.  This I switched for skirts and a King James Version bible.

In March of 2012, I suddenly had a desire to exercise.  I trekked over to my local Lucille Roberts, a women’s gym, and joined.  While I deemed Zumba to be of the devil, I developed a friendship with the elliptical.  I also went on a diet plan, and gave up all candy and sweets.

6 months later, I lost 50 lbs.  At my lowest, I lost 70 lbs.  But now?  I’ve gained about 20 back.

I had maintained a lower weight before, because I approached my eating with an iron fist.  I would weigh myself 20 times a day.  I wrote down what I ate, which I still do now… but I was so hard on myself.  I hated myself, and that was the motivation for torturing myself with the strict eating.  It was a way for me to punish myself.

But now that I more loving towards myself, and am more accepting and forgiving of my flaws, the bad eating is coming out again.  With a vengeance.  This morning, I had about… 3000 calories worth of cheese.  I am admitting this, and I feel terrible.  The morning before, it was 5 chicken sausages.

I somehow compensate, by eating little throughout the day except for vegetables from my lunch box. People see me eating that way, and they think I don’t have a problem.  But when I’m alone… that’s when I eat badly.  I’ll be in the kitchen eating, and when my brother shows up I hide the food quickly.

I’m scared that now I’ve joined Overeaters Anonymous, I’ve become WORSE.  But have I?  I know my family has been aware of my overeating for a while.  They hide food from me.  I tell my mother not to buy certain things because it tempts me, but she doesn’t do it.  She says it’s for her, but then when she leaves for the week, she doesn’t take it with her.  So it’s just THERE.  Looking at me.  Tempting me.

I have attended 2 OA meetings so far.  I want to get a sponsor, but people tell me I should wait at least a month before doing so.  I understand.  A sponsor is someone that you really have to get along with and know well.  Typically, you report to your sponsor every day what you eat, etc.  I have gotten back into the habit of writing what I eat, so that’s good.  I don’t like what I write, but I do it anyway.

I need help.  This is clear.

I had actually been contemplating joining OA for a few years.  Around 2013, I met a woman who did OA and had successfully lost 100 lbs, which is quite a feat given her short stature.  Her encouragement was what gave me the discipline to write my food intake and calories down.  But now?  The discipline to “stick to what I plan to eat” has disappeared.

One good thing: I have a lot of good habits that are still sticking around.  I still work out at least 4 days a week, if not 5 or more.  Those workouts are intense, and are always at least 1 hour long.  I am getting into Spartan Races too.  I did one in April at CitiField, and I’m doing one this weekend in Tuxedo, NY.  In 2014, I did one at Mohegan Sun.  I’m thinking of doing another one in Philly in September this year.  My mother and I can trek out there and visit her friend for the weekend, and I’ll knock that one while we’re there.

And then I don’t eat chocolate or sugar or candy.  I eat vegetables and fruit, etc.  Sometimes my bad eating is also because I eat too much of a good thing.  Too much grilled turkey.  Too much coconut shrimp, 500 calories worth… that’s not good either.

A part of me worries that if I join OA, I will just “learn tactics” and get worse because others are influencing me.  But… I have to do something about myself.

I know 3 people who have benefited from 12-Step programs.  And all of these people… they are warriors.  Not in an overwhelming way, but rather… they are mindful, healthy and strong people.  They are self-aware.  They are positive influences wherever they go.  They are grounded.  Two of them have told me thus:

“With 12-Step programs… you don’t have to agree with everything you hear.  Take what works for you.  This is how you work the steps.

A setback for me also is that I don’t feel comfortable with embracing a Higher Power.  For years, I have had delusions and psychosis in reaction to adopting spiritual practices.  With every religion I pursued, from Christianity to following an Indian guru to Nichiren Buddhist chanting… everything exploded in my face and led to relapse and hospitalizations.  To go to an OA meeting and hear people talking about their Higher Power nonstop… It didn’t seem like a good time.

But now things are different.  I’ve been stabilized on Clozapine for over 3 years.  No longer am I triggered by people talking about a Higher Power.  Instead… I can figure out my own.  While I’m an atheist, or perhaps agnostic, I have devised another way:

My Higher Power is Artistic Expression.

Indeed, when I write, or compose songs, or perform… I feel that I tap into a part of my brain, or even a sort of “energy” outside of myself.  People call it Intuition, or the Muse.  All I know is… I am a creative person, and sometimes I feel a sense of wonder about how a song writes itself.  Or an essay.  A poem.  Sometimes I look at performers, and I am in awe of how they ply their craft.  How do they do that?

Overall, since joining OA, I’m listening to music more.  I’m realizing that the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan are my … bible?  Dare I say?  I just love that stuff.  I listen to it now while working out, and I am entranced.  I am physically stronger suddenly!  I’ll likely tire of the melodies soon, given that they’ve been the stuff of my life since high school.  Perhaps I’ll investigate other theatrical works composed by Sullivan, or else I’ll find his instrumental works.  Eventually I want to get into Shakespeare.

One day at a time.