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In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, here are some important self-care tips for when things become too much.

For those suffering from acute or long-term post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, there are often times when these become so overwhelming that it can be difficult to even accomplish the basic functions of daily living. Often we end up in such vicious cycles post-trauma that we are unable to do simple things for ourselves like bathing or cooking, so we end up feeding and prolonging our bouts of PTSD and/or depression. In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, here are some important self-care tips for when things become too much.

1) Get some rest

Notice I don’t say get sleep, because sleeping can be tricky during these times, and we can get upset by the fact that we can’t sleep. Instead of worrying about sleeping, make sure you spend a few hours everyday in a dark room with your eyes closed practicing some deep, soothing breaths. Even if you aren’t asleep, doing this gives your eyes and body a small break. I also find that melatonin or valerian supplements can help me get at least a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. Weighted blankets are also a great investment.  

2) Drink water

We cannot survive without water, it is essential to stay hydrated. I know that the simple action of making the effort to get a glass of water can be enough to not do so, so I recommend keeping bottles around your home, in different rooms. Set a timer to go off at least every hour to remind you to have a glass.

3) Add extra fiber to your diet

Depression and stress mess with our digestive system big time. Comfort foods can also be difficult to digest. Daily fiber supplements like psyllium husk and probiotics can help keep things moving. Also, green smoothies made with protein powder and nut milks can give you a great boost of fiber, phytonutrients, enzymes, and protein so at least your insides can run smoothly. Being constipated only makes emotional issues worse. Let that shit go. Literally.

4) Plan your meals

Whether this is using a delivery service (if you can afford to) or doing a big round of shopping to prep your meals for a week, having food in the house that requires minimal preparation can be a godsend. It only requires that one day of cooking or prep, and it takes out that element of worrying what you will have to eat. Depending on your stress-relievers, the act of prepping and cooking can be quite relaxing. 

5) Cleanse yourself

Like being constipated, being dirty can add to our feelings of hopelessness and despair. A long hot shower or bath can help us wash away not just the grime of the day, but it can also wash away layers of emotional upset. Still, and especially if it’s really cold, the idea of getting soaked feels like a nightmare. Basic bathing, with gentle and non-toxic wipes or a hot washcloth can be the next best thing. If you notice that this is one of the harder things for you to manage when your PTSD/depression is flaring up, consider installing a bidet on your toilet so at least your nether regions stay clean. These bidets can fit underneath your toilet seat or can be a handheld attachment you stick to the wall next to the commode. They aren’t expensive or difficult to install, and can make a world of difference.
Related: POST-RAPE RESOURCES DON’T HELP TRANS WOMEN, BUT THEY COULD

I wanted to give those who read this and are getting any kind of transition surgery — or even just starting their transition in general — the tools to process the feelings they’ll probably feel.

For much of my life, I’ve had to hide who I am. Whether it was from relative strangers or just relatives, Princess, Alexzsa, Nykki, whoever I was at the time had to exist in the darkness. Although there are few men in my family, they cling to any person assigned male at birth and desire to subsume them in their toxically masculine, bro culture. Although some of it was less intense at times, my childhood included events where men in my family tried to shift me away from “female influence” and tried to get me interested in masculine or sport-y things. (Although sports aren’t masculine per se, they were certainly thought to be.) There was this need for me to be a “regular” straight, cis boy. But I could never be that. Although I realize that straight and cis people may not be able to understand the need for it, I ended up having to nurture two completely different personalities that never fully, truly had the opportunity to reconcile. I had to nurture the “ordinary latinx boy” façade while also developing myself as the girl/woman who I am. I became an expert in secrets, even hiding that I was taking hormones from my parents, they couldn’t tell that I was growing breasts until I had already and completely came out to them (before that, I was already a B cup). Having to learn how to hide everything I am makes it really easy for me to get the things that I need to get done, because I don’t need to worry about whether or not someone will approve of it or not. It allows me to function freely, because I could just hide it. I realize that this is deceitful, but when you’re a trans woman of color you sometimes have to move in darkness. A lot of the time, there is no letting our freak flag fly, so to speak. It was this history of basically having to move under the cover of metaphorical darkness that helped me survive the initial trials and tribulations of the closet and even non-closeted living. It helped me become confident in myself, my choices, and my choice of chosen family (which is, for me, a mix of blood and non-blood people). That said, though, it left me under-prepared for the biggest hurdle that I’ve ever had to face. December 22nd was a glorious, victorious day for me. After many years of dysphoria so bad that I wanted sometimes to do my own surgery, I finally had a genital surgery that I’d wanted: an orchiectomy. It was a magical day for me. I was so excited, so happy that instead of sleeping, I just stayed awake thinking. I was painfully tired by the time my surgery actually took place. It was a day where everything felt like lightning.
Related: OUR GENDERS ARE MORE THAN OUR BODIES: AFFIRMING TRANS IDENTITY BEYOND APPEARANCE

Self-care that fails to address the full dimension of individual healing simply isn't enough.

Self-care honestly gets a bad rep. There is a time for action and a time for rest, and our bodies and spirits need the balance of both to work their best. And while there's a space for self-care that incorporates face masks and bubble baths, the issue becomes apparent when self-care is only centered on addressing our appearances, rather than what truly plagues us below the surface. With self-care becoming more widely known, it's important that we understand the necessity of incorporating self-care that dives beyond the surface. Self-care that fails to address the full dimension of individual healing simply isn't enough. We know that self-care is important because, like other living things, we need to take care of ourselves before we can care for others. Marginalized people especially tire ourselves out, each day, by overextending ourselves out of necessity and survival. Running on fumes is normalized. And when so many of us commit the invaluable parts of ourselves to causes that go bigger than ourselves, we have to learn how to better prioritize our revitalization. But self-care as we know it seems to be misdirected. Its purpose doesn't come from simply feeling better at the moment, but in helping to normalize self-healing. Self-care is an important tool that teaches us what long-term self-focused healing can look like, but exactly what does that mean?
Related: 8 MENTAL HEALTH AND SELF CARE RESOURCES FOR QTPOC

Our collective healing, our resiliency, is power. Give life to that.

They say there’s a thin line between love and hate. Unfortunately, while we hope for love, hate carries an equal vibrational field on the heart as love does and healing seems fraught. Recently, it has been difficult to shift through the world without feeling the dark reverberations of hatred, even within ourselves. For example: I hate Trump. I hate white supremacy. I hate cis patriarchal capitalism. More importantly, I hate that I fixate on this hatred I have for all these things. Don’t get me wrong, this hatred I feel is legitimate. It’s not an alternative fact, and I’m not suggesting that we not allow ourselves to hate these things. However, if I’m honest with myself, then I must admit that the hatred which permeates my mind is draining. Last year, I focused a lot of my energy—way too much energy—on that hate, dwelling in the reality that was the 2016 presidential race, buried in disgust and, in my most vulnerable moments, despair. While the election of a white man as mediocre and hateful as Donald Trump wasn’t surprising or a new phenomenon for a nation founded on and maintained by white supremacy, another win for white mediocrity isn’t any less painful. Let’s keep it 100. Had a liberal democrat or democratic socialist won, things wouldn’t have been much different. The fact of the matter is, in racial capitalism, Democrats and Republicans are two sides of the same shabby coin. Yes, Ronald Reagan gave us trickle down economics, but Bill Clinton gutted welfare reform, cutting our safety nets, the only sense of systemic security BIPOC have ever known beyond our own support systems. Yes, George W. Bush botched up the federal response to Katrina which wrecked and displaced hundreds of poor Black lives, but Hillary Clinton popularized “super-predators” as a descriptor of Black youth and enthusiastically rallied behind her husband’s now-infamous and draconian Crime Bill, the impact of which we are still dealing with today.
Related: HOW ONE WOMAN IS RECLAIMING HERBALISM AS A FORM OF RESISTANCE

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