When To Disclose

I’ve been thinking about disclosure, coming out, gender, sexuality, childhood trauma, mental illness, abuse, identity, love, relationships, and so on.

A good amount of my friends are LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender).  A good number of my friends are genderqueer, gender non-conforming, non-binary, agender. I know a small amount of folk who identify a pansexual, and a small amount of people who are polyamorous. How I identify is in my About Me section.

The thing is, all of us at one time or another had to decide to come out or not come out, who to tell, who not to tell, if to say at all. How to say it, to write it. How to disclose? If it is necessary. When is it necessary? And on top of all this we live. We live our lives.

About a week and a half ago someone friend requested me on FB. We’ve commented on each other’s posts. On Thursday I got a message asking how I was (I’ve been sick ALL week) and then I asked how he was. The response said he had been depressed a little and that it sucks having bppd and BDP. I asked what those were. BPD is Bipolar Personality Disorder and bppd is borderline personality disorder. I was a little taken aback that he mentioned it so casually and so soon in our interaction. He says he does it so people can decided if they want to know him or not. He doesn’t take medicine. He live with what he has and his mood fluctuates often.

Then I did what I normally do when someone tells me they are bipolar or have a loved one who is bipolar.

I told him I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 in 2004. I took meds for 6 months and then I stopped because I didn’t agree with the diagnosis. Then 6-7 months later I found myself in the hospital. I was raped in the hospital by another patient. I was in full blown mania and my mindset was that I had to get along with everyone. It was about being a mediator and bringing people together. Conflict resolution. Making peace. Meeting people halfway. I didn’t want go in the room but he asked me to. He guided me into the bathroom with him but I didn’t want to go. He wanted me to so I did. I did what he told me to and.. I got through it. I told the nurses and they put him in another ward. I remember answering questions in a room with a woman in a suit. I didn’t tell anyone else for weeks and months. I didn’t file police charges or have a rape kit done. I didn’t know if anyone would believe me and I felt it was my fault because I didn’t take my meds and I was in a psyc ward and people thought I was crazy and something was wrong with me, and I didn’t fight, I went with him, I didn’t scream NO!! I didn’t scream for help. It was my fault. I know now that it wasn’t.

The good thing that came from that situation is that it made me never want to have to go back to the hospital again. I did everything they told me so I could get out. I have been med compliant since then (2005). When I left the hospital I was heavily drugged. I couldn’t read more than a page at any given time, for over a year and a half. I used to read a book a day. I was sleepy all the time. I felt like I was living in quicksand and everything seemed far away.  My psychiatrist at the time said I’d be on medication for the rest of my life. I needed to accept it. But I couldn’t and I didn’t. I finally found a doctor who’d work with me to get me off my meds. We reduced the number of medications and reduced the dosages and over a period of 3 years and eliminated all but one of the medications. I’ve been on one mood stabilizer ever since. Lamictal (Lamotrigine). It’s a drug made for epilepsy but is sometimes used for those who suffer from Bipolar disorder and it works for me.

I’ve been thinking about how open I am with my life in general and how much easier it is for me to be out as Trans than as someone with Bipolar. The stigma of mental illness for me is greater.

I didn’t know how stigmatizing it was until I had an awful experience with telling a roommate early on in my treatment. Her girlfriend worked in Child Protective Services and I guess had been around destructive people with Bipolar. Her experiences colored her viewpoint and she lumped us all together. I wasn’t judged by the content of my character. My roommate told me that she and her girlfriend would never have let me rent the room had they known I was Bipolar. Her girlfriend didn’t talk to me really for the whole 8 months I lived there but she and I got on fairly well for the most part. We’d watch movies together often and talk about her time in the Navy.  At that time I worked long days and was out of the house from like 6a to 6p and then I hung out with my friends a lot so I was really only there to sleep. I never felt at home there.  Never.  I decided after that experience that I wouldn’t tell people. People didn’t need to know. I didn’t want to be treated badly based on being pre-judged.

The older I get, the more I know from experience that when people tell the truth about their lives it helps others. Even if only one person. When someone tells me they are Bipolar, or deal with depression, anxiety, ptsd, other traumas, I can share with them my experiences. I feel safe to open up.  For the most part everyone that tells me they are bipolar I let them know, me too. I say that I am diagnosed with Bipolar. I am not a mental illness. People don’t say I am Cancer or I am Diabetes. Dealing with bipolar disorder, living with it can be challenging. It’s been years and I know myself really well. I take care of myself. I reach out for support when I need it. I am vigilant about my mental and emotional health. I have to be. No one can live my life but me. I do the best I can with what I have.  I like who I am.

The issue that is up for me right now is that I like someone. I really like him and I think he likes me. We’ve been messaging for 4 or 5 days now and I feel like maybe I need to tell him. But when and how? I’ve never had to do this before. I don’t date much and I usually meet people through friends. It’s just never been a problem and I don’t want it to be now. I don’t want to be rejected.

May I ask those reading now, when would you share, when would you want to know? Any advice on how to go about it?

Pride and Asking For Help

It’s hard for me to do this. I know there are many people in need right now. I know people right now in my life who are homeless. Family members (a sibling, a cousin and her family), a friend, and a young veteran I met yesterday. I know that we all have our hardships, we all have our bills to pay, our health issues, our many issues. Life can be challenging at times. I know that some of us live by the belief that it takes a village. I know that this is asking a lot. I know if I don’t ask now, I’ll suffer in private, semi-private silence, and be mad at myself that I didn’t get over my pride and just put it out there and ask for help. Very few of my friends and family know what I am going through at this time. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been telling the people closest to me about my current situation. I’ve been vacillating on whether to do this or not for awhile. Been working up the courage to post on FB. Some of you (my readers) already know that I’m struggling. I made a gofundme page. I’m asking that if you are not able to donate, that you share this. Many thanks to you.

About me: Hi All! My name is Evan. I recently graduated with Honors from my local community college. Graduation just happened to fall on my birthday! I earned an Associate of Arts degree in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Child Development. Graduating from college is one of the accomplishments that I am most proud of. I am asking for help at this time so that I am able to continue pursuing my educational goals. My immediate need is to pay the rent, which is past due. I am about to lose the room I rent. Without a place to live, every aspect of life is much harder. Please, if you can help me by donating and/or sharing my page, I would be forever grateful. All donations will go towards my Summer/Fall school and living expenses.

School: This summer session I am enrolled in two Art History classes. They start on June 16th. My tuition is payed for through a Board of Governors fee waiver program for low income students. Some friends and family have chipped in to help me get my books.

I am two classes away from earning an Associate of Arts in American Sign Languge Studies and after this summer, 4 additonal classes will earn me an Associates of Art in Art. I plan to apply for Universities this Fall for next Fall (2015) and I am currently working on gethering information to apply for scholarships. My current GPA is a 3.79 with 86 units completed. Truthfully, I love learning and I think down the road I’d like to be a Professor.

Work: I am currently working customer service at a bookstore. I love my job and my co-workers. I work between 12-15 hours a week. During the summer we are not as busy so less hours are available. The job usually covers my monthly bills. This past school year I took out student loans to pay my rent. I am not eligible for any financial aid for the summer because I have a degree now. My plan is to get a second job this summer as a Plant Operations Aid. The pay is a bit better than the bookstore. The job will be available in mid July and I’ll need to pay for a background check. This fall I may have an opportunity to work in a daycare. I’ll need an infant/child/adult CPR certification. Donations will go towards obtaining these items.

Overcoming obstacles/hardships:
I am the first person in my immediate family to graduate from college. It’s been a long road. Poverty has been an issue throughout my life. While in school I have had periods of homelessness. During 2012, I spent 9 months of the year on people’s couches, floors,and sometimes sparerooms. I don’t want to go through that again.
I’ve been at my current place since November. I stay in a small add-on room. It’s private and conveniently a 5 minute bus ride/25 minute walk to school and work.

Extra About Me:
I am part of the “T” in the LGBT family. I began medical transition in June 3, 2009. Being able to start on this path freed me up so that I was able to give my attention/concentration to improving my quality of life. I started community college 6 months later, and now I am a college graduate! It hasn’t been easy, but transitiong is the best thing I have ever done for my life. I am proud of myself for my strength of character, never giving up, and having the courage to live my life with integrity and authenticity.

Besides school and work I volunteer in my community. I believe in giving to the community at large and paying it forward. I’ve spoken on panels at UCLA, UCSD, San Diego State, and San Diego Mesa College, talking about lgbt issues with an emphasis on Transgender issues. I volunteer with a local community group that provides resources and support for LGBT families. The families consist of LGBT- headed households raising children, and non-LGBT-headed households raising LGBT children. I usually do arts and crafts with kids ages 5-13.

This past week, I was approved for Calfresh so I am now able to purchase food. With the help of low-income health programs I have been able to get some of the medical care I need. With the help of the Disability Support Program and Services, great Professors, counselors, and classmates, my time in school these past few years have been good overall. If not for the love, support, encouragement, and well wishes from friends and family I wouldn’t have made it this far.

Thank you for your time reading all this!

Please share if you can/want to. Any help is appreciated. Thanks!

Donate Here.

Visible Bodies: Transgender Narratives Retold

In honor of International Transgender Day of Remembrance I thought I’d finally get this posted.

This past winter I was invited to be a part of a photo exhibit with a focus on transgender experience and visibility. In mid August it was featured in an article on Huffington Post. I am really proud to be a part of this show. I’ve been meaning to share but have kept putting it off for some reason. Well…here it is!!

Here is the picture!

Evan Visible Bodies Exhibit

Here’s an audio recording of the caption that goes along with my picture:

Feel free to leave a comment.

Cheers All!

Visible Bodies on Facebook

Advocate article about Visible Bodies Exhibit