Hello? How does this work again?
I am writing a post about my experiences grant writing and on study section in response to a twitter convo that I was in last night. But before I posted that, I just wanted to say hi to anyone that might still be around. And maybe update folks on what's been going on.
The good news: I got tenure! I was lucky and I got funding and wrote some papers (still working on getting some of those out...). I was lucky to get to work with some awesome students and colleagues. And I got a lot of support, both from meat space and my friends here in the interwebs. So thank you all. The support and friendship that I've gotten from you all over the years means so much to me. And the folks that are and have been in my lab are fantastic beyond belief. They made the whole process worth it.
I had a rough time, personally, in the years I was going for tenure. I got divorced. I am still realizing and trying to work through how toxic that relationship was. My Ex tried to get custody of Twig. It was painful and sad. It took a lot of time, money, and emotional energy. I got depressed. I struggled with anxiety. I didn't do a great job at work, honestly. I just didn't have enough spoons.
My life is really good now. I'm really getting to know and love myself in a new and more profound way. Twig is growing up so fast, and I'm having the best time watching her grow into her own person. Being a mom is kinda awesome. But it is also hard. It's really difficult to be a single mom, even if I only have to do it every other week. I've learned to ask for help, and accept help when it is offered. I've had to learn to accept that I just can't do all the things (I still kind of struggle with this).
And now I'm back here. This felt good to write. Maybe I'll be able to get into this habit again. I've sort of missed this place. I wonder if Od still has that stash of beer over there?
This week was both World Mental Health Day and National Coming Out Day. It is surely not a surprise to anyone reading this that I am a lesbian. I'm out, and continue to come out (over and over and over again). I love my queer family and community. BUT! I do not want anyone to feel like they are required to come out. I am lucky to feel safe and supported, and being out is important to me. Everyone has to come out (or not) on their own terms and in their own time.
I'm less outspoken about my struggles with mental health. So here goes: I struggle with anxiety and depression, and I have ADHD. My brain chemistry can really fuck with my life, but with self-care and therapy and meds I'm doing pretty fucking well. Still, it sometimes feels that anxiety and/or depression are lurking in the corners, just waiting for me to let my guard down. There are days that it is hard/impossible to get out of bed. I have days that the best I can do is to stare at the wall and not cry. I have days that I can't sit still because I am overcome with fear and must "do" something.
There is still real stigma around mental health problems, and that is not OK. My parents still tell me that taking antidepressants is a (and I quote) "stupid waste" and that I should just "face my problems instead of hiding". That hurts. And it made me wait to actually get help, which totally fucking sucks. Then my (now ex) wife tried to use the fact that I was on meds to argue that I shouldn't have equal custody of Twig during the divorce. That really fucking hurt. This kind of bullshit has to end. I hope that being straightforward about my own struggles helps.
I believe in being out as a lesbian because it feels authentic and honest to me. I want to be honest about mental health, too. Because it is part of me. Sometimes a struggles, but more often a gift. I'm creative and smart and hilarious. I wouldn't be me without all the parts of me.
Getting help does not make you weak. Taking care of yourself takes courage and strength. Depression lies. Let your friends love you. Because you are awesome and important. And you are not alone.