I’ll probably never recover

And that’s okay. I’ll get better. I’ll learn to manage my symptoms. I’ll find ways to live a good and fulfilling life despite my struggles. In fact, I’ve already done these things. And I will continue to do them so long as I’m breathing. But will I fully recover? Nah. Especially now that bipolar is in the mix (it never goes away!) but even without that, I don’t think C-PTSD is currently curable. How could it be? Why would we expect that of people?

My parents used to ask what it would take for me to get better and live a normal life with a normal job. What I should have said was that it would have taken a childhood that they weren’t involved in. I remember sitting down at an intake for residential treatment, my parents seated next to me. My dad turned to the greying counselor seated across the room and said, “so can you fix her or what?”

Ohhh, you stupid idiot.

I wish at the time I’d had the knowledge or the audacity that I have now – enough to say something back to that. But instead I sat there, head in my hands, probably still hungover from the night before.

For the record, the treatment didn’t fix me. Didn’t even come close. It added more trauma to my life in the form of my friend hanging herself in the room next to me the night I relapsed. I left in far worse shape than when I went in. I got sober again a few months later on my own, without the expensive, infantilizing treatment.

I think so often we forget in our excitement to get better that mental health treatment is an industry. For many people, it’s a business. In some ways, we – the sick – are both the product and the consumer. The business couldn’t exist without us and no one would buy it if we didn’t exist. We are fueling a monster. A cursory Google search just now revealed that the industry is worth AT LEAST an estimated $300 billion. That’s more than the fucking diet industry. The two have a lot in common – false promises of a better life, faulty methods, and a system that people end up depending on for years upon years because… it doesn’t work.

I feel kind of crappy because for months – even years – I have tried to convince my partner to see a therapist even though my own experiences have been shit across the board. It’s no wonder he digs his heels in after seeing the bullshit I’ve gone through trying to find a decent person to talk to. And the help I get is free because I get help from the government. If he sees a shitty therapist, he has to pay partially out of pocket. If they suck or mistreat him, he’s literally paying for his own suffering.

I think I suggest therapy because a part of me still wants to believe that there’s a magic fix out there. That talking to someone can cure these massive traumas, these years upon years of pain and suffering. But most of these people haven’t come close to suffering in the same ways and if they have, they usually aren’t mentally stable enough to be helping others. Can’t really win.

Will I keep looking for the right therapist? Probably. I found someone decent to shoot the shit with but I don’t think she’s going to heal my trauma in a profound way. She’s more like a friend that I can vent to. In some ways, I think that’s the best I’m going to find until there’s a radical awakening within the entire system. It starts with adding C-PTSD to the DSM and ceasing to label deeply traumatized people with BPD. DBT is not the cure. I’m sorry, but it’s just not. It might help people stabilize to a certain extent, but that’s it. It doesn’t get to the core issues. I have yet to find a type of therapy that really attacks the core of complex trauma. And yes, I’ve tried everything that’s been recommended.

The more I strive for something unattainable, the more I suffer. The more I realize that I’ve made it in so many ways – that I’ve survived despite my circumstances – the happier and more satisfied I feel. If this is as good as it gets, I’m okay with that. I’ve come a long fucking way on my own.

You know what helps? Writing about it. Making art. Sharing your feelings with people you trust. Loving people. Making friends. Chilling in nature. Maybe the occasional therapy session but, trust me, it isn’t black magic. If your life isn’t 100% better after a handful of therapy sessions, there is nothing wrong with you. You’re just on the shit end of a terrible money-making machine.

Sorry to be so jaded but that’s what I have for you today.

Wish you well.

xo,

Leif

Grim indeed.


My mental heath is shit lately. Coming out of a depressive episode now that lasted about three months and in that time, I learned that I have Bipolar I, which has been causing me great distress since long before I realized what was going on.

My moods, like the river, are erratic. My moods, like the river, change drastically with the seasons. My moods, like the river, are uninhabitable for others for half the year. My moods, like the river, can drown the unprepared. My moods, like the river, flood into parts of life they aren’t supposed to touch.

I like the river because I’m also chaotic. I’m unpredictable. My changes come without warning. I seem fun from a distance but lurking in my waters is a recipe for trouble. I relate to this river. I feel her on a deep level. And for that reason, I don’t mess with her. I know what she’s capable of. I don’t tempt fate.

The river has many moods. Mostly mean. Even when she seems calm, she’s not. She’s just waiting to suck her next victim under, and I know that’s what many think when they think of me. They look from afar but they don’t get too close. I don’t blame them.

I wish that, like the river, I didn’t owe any reasoning for my changing moods. I wish people just knew when they looked at me that I‘d be liable to change course, change intensity. I wish, like the river, I wouldn’t have constantly apologize for these changes. That I could embody change in all it’s uncertainty and be accepted that way. But people expect consistency if you aren’t a river, even if I insist that I am. People want you to act like they do, even if you aren’t them. They want you to be slow, predictable, measurable. I am none of those things.

I’m a raging current and, like the river, if you try to tame me, I act out. I flood over. I destroy. Some things aren’t meant to be tamed or even understood. They are just meant to be as they are, imperfect and wild. Wild. Unrelenting. Immeasurable. Inconsistent. You read these words and you have judgments about them, don’t you? But are any really “bad”? Is it bad to defy? Is it wrong to veer off course?

I like the river because I relate to her and I’ve felt equally as misunderstood. I like the river because my depths also hold the casualties of my moods. I like her because, frankly, she’s beautiful, and endlessly intricate and complex. She’s more questions than answers, wrong answers, more questions.

I am sorry I’m not less like a river and more like a rock. I wasn’t made solid. I wasn’t made stagnant. I was made to rage and twist and flood and curve.

And I think that’s okay. You want stagnancy, swim in a pond. You want solidity, collect rocks. You want straight lines, find a stick. There should be a place for everyone. There is in nature. Nature doesn’t discriminate between types. It makes room for all.

I sit at the banks of the river and feel at home. Cradled. Understood. No words necessary. No excuses. No explanations. Home.

Imposter Syndrome

Another post I’m transferring from my new blog because it fits better here.

I enjoyed my blog more when I wasn’t trying to get followers – when it was just a project meant to provide a home for my photography. Now I’m back in that sick cycle of feeling irrelevant unless I have such and such amount of followers. I got back on Instagram and now I’m back to comparing myself and judging the quality of my photos. I see professionals who have probably been at this for 10 years and I think, “well I might as well give up because they’re so much further along than me.” But is that really why we, as humans, have hobbies? To show off? Or is it because we love the craft and the process.Mother Mary

I know this about myself – as soon as I get wrapped up more in gaining attention than in the process of making art, the art becomes miserable. Why do I do this? I don’t know. It could have something to do with my mania. But it’s unnecessary. An artist makes art because they have to, not fundamentally for others. Sure, the eyes of others are a bonus. We want that validation – everyone does. But that’s not why we make the art in the first place. It’s not why we need to write or paint or sing. We need to do those things because there exists a force within us that tells us those things are necessary. Save us all!

Because I have only been taking photos for about a year, I struggle endlessly with feeling like an imposter. It’s a brand new craft and even though I love it, there are many things I don’t yet understand and haven’t been able to grasp. Something that brings me solace is the fact that I’ve seen loads of old people take up photography as a hobby in their old age and, in doing so, they probably rarely if ever think about the eyes of others, but only about the fact that taking photos brings them joy. I hate this obsession I have with validation and needing the eyes of others to create and I think the only way to fight it is to keep creating regardless of who watches. To do it because I have to, because I love it.

I’ve been doing things I don’t really enjoy because I get more followers. Things like making videos for YouTube and considering a podcast and posting videos on TikTok. I did those things because I knew there were people consuming that type of content, even if it wasn’t the type of content I wanted to be making. Part of the reason I stopped blogging was because I knew people weren’t reading blogs as much, even though blogging brought me more joy. It was a slower pace and allowed me to practice the skill I went to school for – writing. I traded that for something hollow for the sake of validation from people I don’t know and will probably never meet. I couldn’t just be satisfied with the modest reader-base I had acquired. I needed more.

And I do think that’s my mania speaking. My manic self wants fame and glory. My depressed self doesn’t give a shit. She’s satisfied with hiding, with the slower paced, more modest life. My manic self is not. She wants the spotlight. And perhaps that’s not only because of mania but also because of my trauma. I seek attention because I don’t have a lot of people in my life. I seek validation from strangers because I don’t have a family. That’s sad. The validation I get from strangers isn’t the same. It’s not like the love of a family. It’s fleeting. And that’s why I always need so much more of it.

I don’t really know what I’m doing with my life. I thought I would have a book published by now but instead I have a child and I can’t afford to edit a potentially traumatizing book while I’m trying to raise her. So it’s gone on the back burner and I have photography in its place. I’m not the best at it but I’m not the worst. I’m just okay. And if I want to progress at all I need to be satisfied with that and stop striving for this American ideal of being the best. I know that’s where half of this comes from is just American dream bullshit. We’re not supposed to be satisfied with having just enough. We’re supposed to want millions, the big mansion, the fancy car, the perfect family, the perfected skill. We’re supposed to strive for greatness. And I think that American ideal got lodged somewhere in my brain even though my heart doesn’t fully agree with it – even though part of me wants a humble, quiet, just-enough life. I suppose that bipolarity fits my diagnosis, doesn’t it? I’m a person of extremes.

The undertone with all of it is a fair amount of self-hatred. I’m just endlessly uncomfortable with who I am, how I feel, the way I exist in the world. Because I haven’t been on social media for a few months, I feel like no one, like all of my friends have forgotten about me. It feels like in order to be loved, you have to be a slave to these systems that you may hate. And boy do I fucking hate them. I hate the feelings I get when I scroll Instagram and see people who seem to be doing better than me in this or that way – a feeling I don’t really have when I’m not on the Internet. I’m much more comfortable with modesty and humility when I’m disconnected. Social media raises the stakes in ways that feel involuntary. Does anyone else feel that?

I prefer the quiet life to the comparisons, judgment, self-hate, and isolation I feel when I’m connected to the Internet. Isn’t it supposed to have the opposite effect? But then how would they rope us in? These negative emotions are crucial for maintaining an audience. The worse you feel, the more you check, the more you compare, the more you judge, the more your scroll. It’s brilliant, really. And since social media has been compared to a casino, we can roll with that metaphor and consider the poor soul who loses ten bucks to a machine, feels shitty, and then is hit with this determination to feel better using the very thing that’s caused them distress. They spend ten more. Lose it. Another ten. Lose it. And on and on. That’s what I feel every time I post.

Blogging is different. It is slower. It’s fairly desolate. I’m doing it for me more than for accolades. And so I will continue to do this so long as I still have words to write. Typing hurts less than handwriting these days because of my pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel. And I enjoy providing a home for my photos. But the more I think about the eyes and trying to find validation, the more I want to curl up and die. So perhaps it’s best to just do this in silence, for myself, because I have to.

PTSD is ruining my life

Hi, my name is Leif E. Greenz and I’ve changed platforms! My new YouTube channel focuses on the same subjects as this blog, but the video format gives me the opportunity to be more vulnerable than ever before. I’ll be using Big Mouth to post regular updates about my channel. If time allows, I’ll try to post the occasional blog, too!

Are there any subjects you’d like me to write about? Let me know in a comment or email me at leif.e.greenz@gmail.com ❤

Subscribe to my channel: https://youtube.com/user/leifegreenz

This video is meant to provide an overview of where I’m at and what you can expect from my channel. I talk about being a “stay-at-home crazy person,” chronic unemployment among the mentally ill, and suicide rates in those with C-PTSD. This video the first in what I hope will be a longer series about living with debilitating mental illness.

Check out my other YouTube channel where I post old Y Lime? videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCr50Wr9uNiivBtaLBfQc8YQ

Let me write something for you: http://thewritingleif.com

Reader Question: Is Sex Work Empowering or Degrading?

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Last night, I invited y’all to suggest topics or questions for blog posts via my contact page. The first question landed in my inbox this morning. It’s a complicated one.

Rebecca H. writes:

“My question to you and one I’ve struggled with in the past is the line between feeling gorgeous and sexually empowered and the feelings of being a vessel men use and abuse for their own gain . . . In the U.K., stripping is one of those ever growing things and more and more clubs and bars are opening. It’s one of those topics that most women cannot agree on. Is this degrading or are we showing how strong and beautiful we are by getting naked for paying men?”

This is a difficult question to answer because it’s one that must be addressed on a case-by-case basis. There’s no single opinion about sex work among sex workers. Our stories and experiences are too varied. Some people are forced into sex work. Many enter the industry by choice. Others do so out of desperation. And these factors are just the tip of the iceberg. Sex work comes in a multitude of forms — stripping, fetish work, camming, prostitution, the list goes on — which makes it impossible to pin down.

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How 12-Step Programs Perpetuate Rape Culture

As most of you know, I no longer attend 12-step meetings. When I first told people I was backing away, I made a conscious effort to not offend anyone or talk shit on the program. Okay, well, I’m done doing that. Toxic people and systems encourage the kind of fear I’ve been sitting with — the kind that keeps people silent.

Y’all fucked with a big mouth.

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Cut You Open, Crawl Inside

By Jia Sung for my Narrative.ly piece.

The following is the result of me trying to fit a bunch of thoughts about love, sex, and intimacy into a single piece. It came out as a poem… or a list… or something. It’s a quick and probably painless read that dips into things like saying “I love you” too quickly, unfortunate standards around intimacy, and ineffective healing strategies.

Can I plz sleep inside ur skin, bb?

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