Drifting on the echoes of the hours.

I'm Alexandra. I'm 27, queer, chronically ill, mentally interesting, and I live in the Canadian Prairies.

Here you will find beautiful pictures, beautiful words, surreal humour, adorable animals (especially birds and bats), nature, hippy shit, neat art, queer things, feminist things, Buddhist things, things related to knitting, Greek and Roman Classical stuff, period film/tv appreciation, things that appease my inner goth teenager, and posts on living with chronic illness and mental illness that don't involve the word "spoons". And maybe the occasional Teen Wolf gif set because nobody's perfect.

#mental health

“Body acceptance is often more complex than just “loving your body.” It’s become really easy for healthy people (especially “body positive” feminists) to say “Love your body!” and leave it at that, but as anyone with a chronic illness will tell you, it can be downright difficult to love a body that makes you sick or actively causes you pain. Loving your body is a great goal, and while it’s great to see more women striving for it, such rhetoric often leaves people—and women—with disabilities, chronic illnesses and pain out because our bodies are already portrayed as not “normal” or beautiful enough to be worth loving, or even accepting! Loving your body on days when it confines you to bed seems counter-intuitive, and for some folks with chronic pain, it’s just not going to happen. By contrast, body acceptance can be a process of meeting your body where it is, and striving to be okay with a chronically ill body—even on bad days.”

– Anna Hamilton, “Six Things I’ve Learned From Dealing with Chronic Pain”  (via healmycrocodileskin)


Treat yourself the way you treat your favorite characters. Look into your back-story to understand your current plot. Sympathize with yourself. Recognize your flaws, and appreciate your strengths. Defend yourself. Cheer yourself on when you go into battle. Appreciate every relationship you make and always look for hidden potential. You’re the protagonist in your story. You’re the main character. You’re the hero.

Treat yourself like one.

1. Trauma permanently changes us.

This is the big, scary truth about trauma: there is no such thing as “getting over it.” The five stages of grief model marks universal stages in learning to accept loss, but the reality is in fact much bigger: a major life disruption leaves a new normal in its wake. There is no “back to the old me.” You are different now, full stop.

This is not a wholly negative thing. Healing from trauma can also mean finding new strength and joy. The goal of healing is not a papering-over of changes in an effort to preserve or present things as normal. It is to acknowledge and wear your new life — warts, wisdom, and all — with courage.

2. Presence is always better than distance.

There is a curious illusion that in times of crisis people “need space.” I don’t know where this assumption originated, but in my experience it is almost always false. Trauma is a disfiguring, lonely time even when surrounded in love; to suffer through trauma alone is unbearable. Do not assume others are reaching out, showing up, or covering all the bases.

It is a much lighter burden to say, “Thanks for your love, but please go away,” than to say, “I was hurting and no one cared for me.” If someone says they need space, respect that. Otherwise, err on the side of presence.

3. Healing is seasonal, not linear.

It is true that healing happens with time. But in the recovery wilderness, emotional healing looks less like a line and more like a wobbly figure-8. It’s perfectly common to get stuck in one stage for months, only to jump to another end entirely … only to find yourself back in the same old mud again next year.

Recovery lasts a long, long time. Expect seasons.

4. Surviving trauma takes “firefighters” and “builders.” Very few people are both.

This is a tough one. In times of crisis, we want our family, partner, or dearest friends to be everything for us. But surviving trauma requires at least two types of people: the crisis team — those friends who can drop everything and jump into the fray by your side, and the reconstruction crew — those whose calm, steady care will help nudge you out the door into regaining your footing in the world. In my experience, it is extremely rare for any individual to be both a firefighter and a builder. This is one reason why trauma is a lonely experience. Even if you share suffering with others, no one else will be able to fully walk the road with you the whole way.

A hard lesson of trauma is learning to forgive and love your partner, best friend, or family even when they fail at one of these roles. Conversely, one of the deepest joys is finding both kinds of companions beside you on the journey.

5. Grieving is social, and so is healing.

For as private a pain as trauma is, for all the healing that time and self-work will bring, we are wired for contact. Just as relationships can hurt us most deeply, it is only through relationship that we can be most fully healed.

It’s not easy to know what this looks like — can I trust casual acquaintances with my hurt? If my family is the source of trauma, can they also be the source of healing? How long until this friend walks away? Does communal prayer help or trivialize?

Seeking out shelter in one another requires tremendous courage, but it is a matter of life or paralysis. One way to start is to practice giving shelter to others.

6. Do not offer platitudes or comparisons. Do not, do not, do not.

“I’m so sorry you lost your son, we lost our dog last year … ” “At least it’s not as bad as … ” “You’ll be stronger when this is over.” “God works in all things for good!”

When a loved one is suffering, we want to comfort them. We offer assurances like the ones above when we don’t know what else to say. But from the inside, these often sting as clueless, careless, or just plain false.

Trauma is terrible. What we need in the aftermath is a friend who can swallow her own discomfort and fear, sit beside us, and just let it be terrible for a while.

7. Allow those suffering to tell their own stories.

Of course, someone who has suffered trauma may say, “This made me stronger,” or “I’m lucky it’s only (x) and not (z).” That is their prerogative. There is an enormous gulf between having someone else thrust his unsolicited or misapplied silver linings onto you, and discovering hope for one’s self. The story may ultimately sound very much like “God works in all things for good,” but there will be a galaxy of disfigurement and longing and disorientation in that confession. Give the person struggling through trauma the dignity of discovering and owning for himself where, and if, hope endures.

8. Love shows up in unexpected ways.

This is a mystifying pattern after trauma, particularly for those in broad community: some near-strangers reach out, some close friends fumble to express care. It’s natural for us to weight expressions of love differently: a Hallmark card, while unsatisfying if received from a dear friend, can be deeply touching coming from an old acquaintance.

Ultimately every gesture of love, regardless of the sender, becomes a step along the way to healing. If there are beatitudes for trauma, I’d say the first is, “Blessed are those who give love to anyone in times of hurt, regardless of how recently they’ve talked or awkwardly reconnected or visited cross-country or ignored each other on the metro.” It may not look like what you’d request or expect, but there will be days when surprise love will be the sweetest.

9. Whatever doesn’t kill you …

In 2011, after a publically humiliating year, comedian Conan O’Brien gave students at Dartmouth College the following warning:

"Nietzsche famously said, ‘Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ … What he failed to stress is that it almost kills you.”
Odd things show up after a serious loss and creep into every corner of life: insatiable anxiety in places that used to bring you joy, detachment or frustration towards your closest companions, a deep distrust of love or presence or vulnerability.

There will be days when you feel like a quivering, cowardly shell of yourself, when despair yawns as a terrible chasm, when fear paralyzes any chance for pleasure. This is just a fight that has to be won, over and over and over again.

10. … Doesn’t kill you.

Living through trauma may teach you resilience. It may help sustain you and others in times of crisis down the road. It may prompt humility. It may make for deeper seasons of joy. It may even make you stronger.

It also may not.

In the end, the hope of life after trauma is simply that you have life after trauma. The days, in their weird and varied richness, go on. So will you.

Catherine Woodiwiss, “A New Normal: Ten Things I’ve Learned About Trauma”  

geesh this was nice to read

(via arabellesicardi)

Suicide and Chronic Illness


I have been thinking about how to write this piece for many days now. It is just such a difficult subject to think about, to talk about to write about.  Its almost as if just by typing out the letters S-U-I-C-I-D-E, I will make it happen for myself or for someone else. Its like a conversation ‘killer’, its so serious we can’t even joke about it. We can’t consider why it might be an understandable decision for some people who are forced to live lives where they don’t feel that they have any options open to them. It’s personally hard for me to write about because it is very personal to me. I seriously tried to kill myself as a teenager. My cousin hung himself on new years day this year. In the last 10 months or so the idea of suicide has been heavy on my mind. I feel it’s important to write about it to talk about it, I’m sure it’s a personal issue for so many people, yet it is something we all struggle to talk about. It’s a part of life that would be easier to not think about. I am filled with the guilt that I did not help my cousin; that I did not have the chance to talk to him about it, to help him find the courage to talk about it. I know logically that it is not my fault but those feelings are still there: I want to rewind the clock. Maybe the hardest thing to face about his death is that I can relate to that desire to end it all so much. It’s so close to my heart. I so often cannot stand this illness, the way it has stolen so much of my life from me, the person I use to be the things I used to do. The statistics say that 1 in 10 suicides are related to chronic illnesses so I’m certainly not alone in this struggle.


I think of being diagnosed with a chronic illness as being given two illnesses: there are two weights to carry, they are tied permanently or semi permanently onto your body and you can’t shake them. One of the packs is the disease: it’s living with the every day experience of disease, the unpredictability of it, the lack of a cure, the lack of control over your own body, the change in your life, living a smaller life, living with constant pain. This first heavy pack sucks, it’s heavy and constant and drains hope, and takes so much strength to keep going through, but the second pack is almost worse: it’s the weight of having to live with other people’s perceptions about your illness, it’s having to live with prejudice, misunderstanding, the isolation that comes with having a chronic illness especially having those illnesses that are so badly understood like, CFS, Fibromyalgia, Crohns disease, Lyme disease, Lupus, Hepatitis, Emotional health illnesses, Ménière’s diseasethe list goes on… having to live with the limitations of medicine which is so often unable to relieve many of the symptoms. Also having to live with the dismissal of medics who often see people with these illnesses as time wasters or worse as hypochondriacs. Having to explain yourself to people constantly, sometimes having to deal with the abuse that you get, having to live with the stigma, people thinking your making a fuss about nothing, people feeling sorry for you, people treating you like you’re crazy or invisible. The second pack is a killer as if the first pack was not enough to kill you! The second pack is often the thing that threatens to push me off the edge. Considering how heavy and relentless the first pack is, the least people can do is make the second pack lighter, offer understanding, support, make the world more accessible, more comfortable for us, but my experience is that people just make it harder to live a chronic life, even good meaning people can cause me so much exhaustion or physical and emotional pain.  There are those days, those moments where it overwhelms me. When I feel imprisoned, in this body and in this oppressive world and death seems like a way out.  No one can assure me things will get easier, this illness is so unpredictable; no one can tell what the future holds for me. I can hope that people will change, that people will understand, that I can teach people and keep fighting for people to understand.


I’m conscious that I feel compelled to end this piece with something positive to those out there struggling to live. I want to say hang in there. I want to convince myself that I can keep going. I don’t know really. I don’t see the problem as people including myself not having enough strength. Living with chronic ill health forces you to be super strong, emotionally resilient, you have to fight for understanding, for medical attention, to get through each day. That is strength that cannot be measured. So it is not to those that are suicidal that I should feel compelled to speak, it’s to the people that treat us so badly. It’s to all the managers I have had that have worked me into the ground and discriminated against me because of my illness. It is to all those doctors that make people feel like liars, time wasters, hypochodriacs. It’s to all the able bodied and non-chronic people who ignore, dismiss, abuse, insult, and care less about people with chronic illness. Maybe we all have a responsibility to making sure our behaviours do not dismiss people, do not close down people’s options until death feels like the only way out. 


Audrey Lorde’s powerful message that self-care is political warfare speaks so much to me right now. It is not just about chronic illness and disability, it is about all of those people in society that feel silenced. It is about all of those people in society that are systematically targeted by the oppressive and discriminatory politics of the powerful few. I don’t know what it is that keeps me alive, that keeps me going that keeps me fighting, but I like to think that it is because I do not want the powerful to win. I do not want to believe that my life is not valuable just because the world makes it seem that way. I want collective self-care, I want to keep caring for myself and for others because I want our survival to mean something, I want our lives to be lived and for that living to be witnessed. For the creativity, the laughter, the tears, pain, love and the beauty of our lives to be archived to be valued. I feel a little like I’m being all slushy and touchy feely I guess I am but I’m also militant about it, I will not go down easily.

“Illness is neither an indulgence for which people have to pay, nor an offence for which they should be penalised, but a misfortune, the cost of which should be shared by the community.”

– Aneurin Bevan, founder of the NHS.
Happy Birthday, NHS (5/7/48)


Fun little trick I learned in therapy: validation. When someone is upset, don’t try to fix the problem, point out the cause, or tell them it could be worse. Just validate their emotions. Be like, ‘shit yeah man, that sucks. I’m sorry you’re going through that. I’m here for you.’ That’s literally all you have to do to make them feel better. Thank you and goodnight.



Why is the blame for romanticizing mental illness lodged at teenage girls documenting/trying to cope with their struggles with mental illness and not grown men who make movies about how medication is evil and schizophrenia is magic powers.

I’m just gonna reblog this every time I see it.

And people with life-destroying anxiety are just ~quirky and ~need the right man.