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brief recount of my mood and stuff
"Death at the Movies" by Car Seat Headrest
November 29, 2020 Sunday 2:58 PM
As is to be expected given the oscillation of my moods, I feel good! I am beginning to suspect the remainder of my mood swings post-Lamotrigine are mostly due to my period. They're still pretty severe (given my brief 2 to 3 week collapse into depression, which definitely threatened my performance in school—awesome). I am... weirdly very ashamed that it should be connected to my biology as a human girl. It feels, somehow, like a less legitimate reason than Mysteriously Faulty Brain Chemistry.
Hormones. That's all. Just me and my womanly hormones turning my brain into characterless gray mush. My existential crises and cripplingly low self-esteem and nightly forays into Bad Dreamland are just a simple consequence of some stupid Kidney-Pituitary-Ovarian-etc. system, carting along too much or too little. Am I extra woman or less woman? How am I living this internalized misogyny? I guess I already knew it was there—after all, I wish to be a boy because I think it more free—but I still wish I wasn't so defined by it at this level.
I drove Maria and Matt to the beach on Friday night, for shits and giggles. On the way there, we listened to Car Seat Headrest, because of course we did. Matt mentioned that he missed interacting with boys in that simple way—playing sports and stuff. I mentioned that I was always so jealous of that kind of dynamic, and Matt said that the playfighting relationship I have with Maria is pretty much exactly like "boyness" (although, he added that he hated to assign a set of behaviors a gender, which I agree with—but it's hard to talk about otherwise). Maria and I playfight a lot, physically wrestling and shit. I dunno why, lololol. Maria thinks it's because she was an only child and she missed out on the roughness. Idk what my excuse is—I just know I always Craved Violence™. I had a similarly rough friendship with Lily when we were kids, and I remember when Ethan was our surrogate brother, I felt happy because he was sort of violent too and inspired us to be kind of rough with each other. And I remember I wanted so desperately for my boy cousin to live with us because I just wanted. A boy there. I just wanted a boy there. I can't explain it.
This is, weirdly, where Isaac and I both meet and depart from each other. I know he knows how it feels, to want something like that so badly. He has mentioned to me that he gets jealous of his sister sometimes, for being a girl. I can't relate enough to express the details of his jealousy, but he wrote me a fragmented letter (literally fragmented, pieces of halved and unfinished introspection on torn bits of paper, interspersed between grotesque little doodles) in which he talked about gender.
I still don't know how to express it to myself. I remember when I was younger...—a short aside. I always mark a sort of Before and After centering around sophomore year in high school. It's automatic to me. You would think that mark would be reserved for eight/ninth grade, since that's when I went to the psychiatric hospital, but no. Instead it's marked at 10th grade, and I am starting to realize that this is the case because 10th grade is when I started to become friends with Liv and Alexis, which changed me. And that is also the year Elise died, which also changed me completely. I made a conscious decision to be more like Elise after she died and that really shifted my perspective on a lot of things—mostly the small things in life, since I always admired and envied her ability to find joy in the smallest things. I sort of just realized this. I mean, I already knew it—but I just didn't make the connection between that and my subconscious separation of the eras of my life??
The point is. When I was younger, I used to write exclusively as girls. But there came a point where I became unsatisfied, because I felt I couldn't write as a boy and I made it my goal to learn how to do that. My first complete story, in fact, is from the POV of a boy. Since then, I've sort of written as men and boys automatically, to the point where I don't really feel the need to define someone as a boy when I begin writing (I remember that being a point of confusion in my short story "Whenever You See Fit," because the people in my workshop, knowing I was a girl, sort of assumed my character would also be a girl so they were confused when later on he had a boy's name and all, lololol).
Actually, I have the opposite problem now, where I have to consciously think about it when I write as a girl. Because I think there is something very specific to the female experience that requires a certain care. Part of it is that I am generally unsatisfied with female representation in media. Sometimes there is this overcompensation for past misogyny and single-dimensionness, and as a result the female character becomes uber-capable, she becomes sarcastic and smart and she doesn't really express a lot of femininity. Obviously, this isn't always the case (take Mabel in Gravity Falls—a great example of a female lead character!!!!! Another good example is Pidge in Voltron, although she is also speculated to be nonbinary rather than a she. Hmm, other examples... I think that one lead princess in She-ra is probably a good example, but I only saw the first four or so episodes so idk). But it really annoys me when it is. Legally Blonde is an extremely effective story partially because it subverts that overcompensatory caricature.
I always find it hard to strike a balance, though. In characterizing someone as a girl (taking into account the sort of inherent but unconscious inferiority as I sometimes feel as a girl, while also not making it central—because, as I said, this is more of a subconscious thing than it is a defining aspect to my personality), it's kind of complicated for me to incorporate that depth. I think, with male characters, a level of depth is assumed by the reader (at least, that's my assumption) that is not necessarily given with a female character. Idk. Lately, I've been a lot more conscious about it and I'm trying to more often write from the female POV.
But god, do I have a strange obsession with male-male relationships, platonic and otherwise. I wonder to what point it is an accurate admiration and to what it becomes an unhealthy romanticization of it. Like, I am scared of writing gay relationships because I don't want to accidentally emulate Fanfiction or Yaoi writers (not to say Fanfiction writers are always this simplistic)—I don't want to write a gay relationship for the benefit of a female audience, a gay relationship that becomes a heterosexual one with different parts. I always admire the gay writing—usually in Fanfiction—that sort of centralizes the maleness (physically, behaviorally) of the romantically involved characters, but I am also really afraid that that centralization in itself is reductive and dangerous. I did read, recently, a story in which one of the male interest was trans ftm but was still sort of feminine (wore traditionally feminine clothing, and I think had some feminine mannerisms; I mostly skimmed because the writing wasn't great). I really liked that representation (I think the writer said, "normalize feminine trans guys" or something) because it expressed a nuance in gender that is easily lost.
It made me uncomfortable in a productive way. I think I am waaay too covetous of what I keep calling "maleness" and it borders on essentialist (in literary theory, and maybe beyond this, this just refers to an "essence" within the sexes; it used to be used to define women and it was overall a pretty harmful view) even though I don't actually think there is something that makes a guy inherently behave like a guy—it's mostly learning.
That being said, maybe I do believe there is some inherent maleness, borne out of a traditional physicality. But there are a lot of different physicalities... so how can I really reduce it to that? It has to do more with cultural norms. But what if its also ingrained behavior, the way it is in animals? A tendency towards violence and roughhousing that isn't always present in women?
But then, that in itself is a dangerous thought, right? Because gender and behavior is a spectrum, and even knowing that evolutionarily there might be a source to the trait, it risks ignoring that variation is an essential part of evolution, which means that this behavior is really not exclusive to maleness and does not even always exist in males.
I don't know. I'm getting ahead of myself. I haven't even defined my coveted "maleness" yet, so how am I supposed to study it? I haven't yet figured out the nuances of my attraction to it.
All I really know is it informs my self-image. I am not really masculine in almost any way except for in the way I dress. I like wearing boy's clothes a lot and I like loose stuff, but that has a lot to do with poor body image. But I don't want this, exactly. I want to be someone else, I want to be a guy. But I am not a guy, and I don't feel like a guy. Or I don't feel like how I imagine it feels to be a guy. I really hate my vagina, lol, but that's because I think vaginas are weird and gross, because I am a child and, as I said, whatever belongs to me I loathe. Ultimately, I have the body I have and it feels like it belongs to me, even if I don't like it.
And part of why I don't like it has to do with a lot of this internalized misogyny I have accidentally revealed in this entry, in the way I select my language around gender, the things I express about it.
So yeah, I am deeply self-conscious and ashamed that it could be my fucking menstrual cycle fucking with my mood lately—burrowing deep in my brain, making bloom the agony and the thoughts that go along with it. Those thoughts that feel like they have depth and source, but they don't, really. They're just overactive bacterial growths fed by the raw sugar of a hormonal imbalance. Which makes them feel simpler, somehow. Makes them feel like they're not mine. Not a thing I was born with, the way I was born with a mole on my right arm. Not a permanent mark but an incident.
Ideally, it wouldn't bother me. I shouldn't want to be defined by something like mental illness. The other night, as I was taking a break from writing my final paper for my lit theory class, Matt asked me if I thought mental illness was essential to making great art. I told him that I remembered my sister once told me, "You don't need to be depressed to write well," or something like that. And that made me aware of a thought I didn't even know I'd been harboring, and I felt guilty thereafter, for using the shrapnel of my disorder to inform the own jagged corners of my writing. Always disappointed in the way my characters had an essential wilt to them, a deep-seated and half-dormant painstar—I think I believe everyone is in pain somewhere, is susceptible to something like I have. The only thing being that I am more sensitive to it.
I do believe one thing essential about myself, which is that I am more sensitive to emotional stimuli than other people. The same way some people are born accidentally interpreting physical touch as physical pain, some people born with bones that break too easily, I was born to misinterpret the stimuli around me, to harbor pain and assign it a reason—the only reason I can protect is myself. And so it makes sense to me, that this sort of thing would happen, I guess.
Anyway, I think Matt believes it is essential to good art. He made it sound like "people like us" have an advantage. I really hope that isn't true, I really hope that isn't true. I think I believe it is true. I always remember the artists that struggle (within the term "artist," I personally include scientists and anyone who was a genius in their field, because it takes a great degree of creativity to do so). Did Michelangelo suffer? Did DaVinci get depressed or some shit? I don't know. Is that what makes a person good at something? There knowledge of pain?
Seems fake, now that I think about it like that. But I still believe it.
I hope it's not my period that has been the cause of fucking... almost a decade of mental illness. It certainly isn't the cause of a lifetime of pain (as I said, I was born with the problem of sensitivity, but it didn't interfere with my life in a significant way until I was 12). But it could be a driving factor for my mood disorder, the swings between one to the other. No romantic notions of BPD or bipolar disorder. Just a simple female problem. Fuck. Not even one with a guaranteed easy solution—we can try birth control (I'm planning on "confessing" to my very confused psychiatrist soon; in our last meeting, she wanted to change medications in December so that we can help me stamp out the remnants of my mood swings) but if that doesn't work, and if different SSRIs don't work (which, they haven't in the past), then I don't know what will happen.
I don't really know how to deal with the problem of being unhappy with this. I'm getting ahead of myself, I know. We don't even know if this is the problem, although I've begun tracking my moods daily to see how it appears to line up (I forgot to mention how I even developed this suspicion: on the first day of my period, I started to feel better after the worst of my mood happened—Maria pretty much dismissed my mood swings as period-related, which really hurt my feelings. Sometimes it feels like she doesn't take any of my problems seriously just because she also has problems, lol. I know it likely has more to do with how she treats herself than it does me, but it still really hurts). I need to figure out why I have such a problem with this before I can find a solution, a way to change my pattern of thought towards this.
Aside from all that. I actually feel really good (which, you know, disappoints me because it is positive evidence)! I feel creative and energetic and pissed about that. I wanted to talk about Attack on Titan today, because I've been watching it and I have some thoughts about it, especially in relation to Neon Genesis Evangelion (can't believe I'm becoming a weeb, god). Its soooo good.
OK I gotta pee now and maybe clean the kitchen and shit. Byyyyyeee!!