EXPOSURE THERAPY: Or, I’m Bringing A Drag Queen To Campus

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Alright everyone, so, if you’ve read my blog for a while you will know that I used to have a little problem.  This super tiny, basically nonexistent problem was that I had agoraphobia. In fact, for a while I couldn’t even walk out the front door of my apartment without having a panic attack. And then for years after that, I struggled to be in open places.  Luckily for me, I had an amazing therapist who gave me what’s called Exposure Therapy.

For those who don’t know what it is, it’s basically exactly how it sounds. You get over your anxiety by being thrown into the situations that give you anxiety.  It’s hell, I’ll be honest. But damn, that shit works!

For me, I had gotten into therapy way too late. I didn’t start until I had formed a complete fear of the outside world. Anywhere that wasn’t my house was a source of anxiety. Also, I’m gay and have always acted really weird around straight guys (because they were always mean to me) and I was especially weird around hot jock straight guys (because…you know, alpha male types are straight up cunts). Anyways, so my therapist, being the clever bitch she is, figured the perfect solution…. I was going to do my exposure therapy at the football stadium on campus…

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And not only would I be doing it there, but I would be doing it DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THE FOOTBALL TEAM AS THEY HAD THEIR PRACTICE.

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Yes, that’s right. She had me run up and down the bleachers, and then run onto the football field as they practiced and spin in circles to make myself dizzy… all right in front of the football team.  The goal was to make me feel like I was going to pass out, and then show me that I didn’t pass out.

Look people, it wasn’t easy.  In fact, as I ran the bleachers I was screaming profane things at my therapist.

“You’re a fucking cunt! You’re a fucking cunt! You’re a fucking cunt!” I screamed over and over.

She simply responded with, “You know, it’s weird, I didn’t know that people who were about to pass out had the energy to scream like that.”

I ended up really loving this girl. She was amazing and was exactly what I needed in a therapist, I just didn’t know it.

 

ANYWAYS, so what does all this have to do with Drag Queens right???? 

Well, one of my internships on campus is making episodes for a podcast. Back in January, the guy who runs the podcast was like, “Hey, can you make an event happen? An event would be great publicity.”  Now, I didn’t know much about drag, but I thought it would so bright and colorful to have an event with a drag queen.  And how much fun right? I’m all about having people learn in a fun setting. Trying to learn when you’re bored as fuck is impossible.

So, I’ve been spending the past few months making arrangements and learning everything there is to know about drag. It’s been a whirlwind, and now, it’s almost here. I am actually going to be hosting the event!  CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?  I’m going to be the one on-stage hosting the event and asking the questions. And here’s the thing….

This is going to be my first time on stage since developing anxiety.

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That’s right. I’m going to be in front of an auditorium that seats 200 people, with all eyes on me.  This is Exposure Therapy 2.0 bitches, and I’m determined to make this fun. I’m determined to not get anxious or have a panic attack in front of a crowd. I want to make people laugh. I want them to have fun, and to enjoy themselves.

And on top of that, I’m going to keep learning. This is the next step of my journey. I’ve done a great job of getting back into society, but this is my chance to crawl out from the shadows. I’ve always been a natural entertainer. A natural people-person. The anxiety and depression just kind of masked that for like… over a decade. But it’s never too late.

Do you understand that?

It’s never ever too late.

We can always grow and always be better. Depression and anxiety does not control us. We control them.

And furthermore, this goes beyond depression and anxiety. This is true for all of us, from people with PTSD, to someone who is having a midlife crisis, or anyone who just feels like they aren’t living to their true potential.   You aren’t dead are you?  No, I didn’t think so. And since you’re alive, it means you’re able to change.

To grow.

To be better.

To be happy.

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If this boy from Indiana can have the balls to put on a dress, then trust me, we can have the balls to change our lives.

 

Let’s Do This!

~ The Dark Horse

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Learning New Things: Or, Learning To Soar And Never Giving Up

 

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So, I’m picking up some hobbies. I’ve grown tired of feeling stale and boring. When people ask what I do in my spare time, I’m like… “I read, write, go to the gym, drink tea at cafes as read and write…and I eat….and stuff?”   And then I sit there and I’m like… my god, I sound like I’m 90.

 

I need a little more magic in my life. I need something that takes me away from the constant cycle of “reading and writing”. Which, don’t get me wrong, I love to read and write…but sometimes I just need something else.  Anything else, really.  I love writing and It’s a great creative outlet. But it’s so silent, so isolated. I want something performative and exciting!

 

Years and years ago I bought a banjo. A banjo I have hardly touched ever since because when you’re consumed with depression you don’t feel like you have the energy or brain power to do anything. But, I’m better these days. And it’s time for me to start doing all the things I spent so many years not doing. So, I’m gonna’ pick that bitch back up again. I love music and I wish I was better at being able to make it. And then I was like…

Well, I own a fucking instrument!!! Why don’t I do something about it????

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I’m working on this huge project right now at school where I’m writing a podcast episode on Drag. And even though I’m gay and have had a few experiences where I’ve seen a drag queen walking down the street or something, I’ve actually never been to a show, nor have I ever watched Drag Race or anything. So I’ve been doing a crash course in Drag lately and have been discovering a whole bunch of really talented people. The crash course is what’s gotten me into the UK Big Brother season that Courtney Act on it (who thank god won, cuz everyone else in that house was a bloody cunt to her)

Anyhoo, there is this drag queen named Trixie Mattel. She sings folk/country/alt/singer-songwriter something type of music or something? I’m not sure how I’d classify her style, but anyways, she’s super talented. She can play instruments and sings really well.

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I had reached out to her for an interview for the podcast episode I’m working on, and she totally blew me off….which kind of sucks….BUT I’M NOT BITTER AT ALL..….WOULD A BITTER PERSON TYPE IN ALL BOLD CAPS????? I DON’T THINK SO!

But anyways, I was like, look: If this sassy cunt has the balls to put on a dress, wig, and makeup and then rock an autoharp on a stage….then god dammit I can learn a fuckin’ banjo!  And so, learn a banjo I shall!

 

 

On top of that, I’ve also started learning Mandarin.

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I have an internship in Shanghai this summer, and I’ve also been selected to do some travel blogging while I’m there, which is insanely cool!

The internship says I don’t need any experience speaking Mandarin, but fuck that. Goin’ to a foreign country without knowing any of their language is white-fuckin’-trash.   Ok…actually, I take that back. If someone is going to a tourist place for a week, then I can see them not needing to learn the language.  I don’t think anyone going to Cancun for Spring Break would have any need to learn Spanish (however, America is rapidly changing, so learning Spanish is becoming more and more useful in our country and I may argue should be a mandatory secondary language taught in schools).

Anyways…. what the fuck was I saying? … Oh right. So yeah, I’m going to be in China for the summer. And when you settle and live someplace for a while and have a chance to really just get into a groove there, knowing the language and culture is key. Especially since I’m going to be venturing out on my own to explore the city to write these travel pieces on top of the internship.

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So, I’m doin’ this! 

I’m living my life. I’m done sitting passively as life passes me by. Any of you, go back to my early blog posts. Read some posts from back when I was agoraphobic. It was insane! I literally let my youth slip by as I struggled and fought against the issues I was having. It breaks my heart when I go back and think about my years in California, Australia, and New Zealand. I was running and searching. I was looking for myself. I was trying to find who I was. But I was so hurt from my past and had nobody there to help me move forward, so I just stumbled tumbled and crashed.

But, that’s growth right?  Growth is moving forward and learning from the past so you can become better for the future. I remember a great line from one of my favorite movies, The Time Machine. The main character keeps trying to go back in time to save his girlfriend who dies, but no matter how many times he goes back and tries to change the situation, she always dies in some way. The past is cemented. There’s no changing it.

At one point he says “The only way to go is forward”.

~ The Dark Horse

INFJ and Emotional Intensity

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Hello my fellow INFJ’s!

So, today let’s talk about something we all experience: Emotional Intensity. 

 

Emotional intensity has been described by Imi Lo as:

“Emotional intensity is a form of neuro-diversity that is most often misunderstood by our culture. It is characterized by heightened and intense feelings, a constant stream of both positive and negative feelings — pain, distress, despair, fear, excitement, love, sadness or happiness — sometimes a mixture of many at the same time.”

For those of you out there who like images, I’ve made this:

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INFJ types are known for our strengths. Such as being creative, insightful, inspiring and passionate.

These come from our intense sensitivity, which we get from this emotional spectrum.  We can see such beauty, but also such pain. We can see the light and the dark, and we can see them with a sharpness that others can’t.

 

For example, have you ever been talking to someone and they’re going on and on about how great their weekend was?  They’re sitting there saying things like, “OMG we went to this bar and OMG we were there till like 2am…and I was like…OMG I have work Monday, but whatevs right, it’s the weekend?!?!  OMG it was so much fun!” 

And you’re staring at them blankly, almost in pain. Wondering how something so insanely boring and trivial could bring them such joy?

 

Well, that’s the emotional spectrum in play. Normal people can really only feel so much joy and so much pain. They live in a relatively constant stasis, unaware that there could be anything more. And for the most part, not even caring if they ever have more. Because as far as they’re concerned, they’re happy.

But not us. When we hear them talk, our stomachs sink and our palms sweat. When you’ve felt intense joy and intense pain, the idea of spending your entire life only 60% switched on is scary.  AND IT SHOULD BE! For us, living that lifestyle would mean that we aren’t letting ourselves flourish. We need more because we know that there is more. 

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For us, living that kind of life would be like being locked in a cage for eternity.

 

That’s why INFJ types are natural artists, travelers, philosophers, teachers, and preachers. We need more.  We need to feel like we have a cause. Like we have a purpose. 

And sadly, a lot of us don’t get nurtured and supported the way we should. A lot of people don’t understand us or refuse to help.  Then, our sensitive nature, which could have been there to push us to be the best we can be, ends up devouring us.

We wonder why nobody gets us and why nobody cares. We wonder why we’re so different…why everyone says it’s so wrong for us to just be…us. And thus, we fall to the dreaded INFJ dark side.

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But, we don’t have to.  We don’t have to hate ourselves. We don’t have to feel like crap. We don’t have to let society tell us that we’re bad for feeling such intense emotions.

Will people always tell us that our head is in the clouds?    Yes.

Just remember you’re not alone. There are other INFJ’s out there.  We are few and far between, but we are here. And we get you. And we don’t think you’re weird. We think you’re awesome!

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Let yourself bloom!

~ The Dark Horse

 

Feeling Alive Again. Or, Courtney Act on Big Brother Has Brought Me Back From The Dead

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So, I don’t know how many people out there keep up with the UK telly, but something amazing was just going down on what is normally a generic and trashy reality show.

The 21st season of Big Brother in the UK just concluded and that shit was bloody brilliant! As an American, I didn’t know much about the show except that Courtney Act was going to be on the show.  Now, I’ll say, if I were 15 years old, I would have watched that show every night of the damn week.

You see, as a teenager, I used to love Big Brother….And you know what, I should probably have a Big Brother breakdown here for everyone, because Big Brother is completely different in every country around the world.

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Here in the US, Big Brother used to be like a fucking marathon event.  The show was on, for no joke, almost 3 months. That means that everyone who made it into the top 7 got to stay for the entire 3 month period, whether it’s in the house, or the sequester house.  I know that in other countries, the show is only on for about a month. And then sometimes those Celebrity Big Brother seasons are only like 3 or 4 weeks.

Anyways, so as the gay kid in Ohio who was beat up and made fun of constantly, Big Brother seemed like a dream come true. It was this house filled with all these hot fun people, AND THEY WERE LOCKED IN WITH YOU….FOR 3 FUCKING MONTHS! 

It just seemed like the ultimate way to make friends. You could be close to all these people, and you were never alone. The hot jock would have to get to know you because you were sharing a room. The pretty cheerleading type would become your friend because an alliance needed to be formed. The wise old woman who’s been through shit could give you advice all damn day because you’re sharing a house together.  It all just seemed so perfect! I was sure that the reason I was alone all the time was because nobody ever took the time to get to know me.  But, if they were locked in a house with me for three months they’d have to!  It would be like one big family at summer camp!

So anyhoo, I used to watch the show religiously. All the episodes.  They’d have the Sunday, and Tuesday, shows and the Thursday live eviction show.  I used to fantasize about being the house with them. Watching all these people share a bedroom, share a shower, share the hot tub, share everything.  For someone who was alone all the time, Big Brother was fuckin wet dream for me. I loved the idea of having people in my life…even if they did potentially want to vote me out of the house. I used to stay up in bed at night, fantasizing that I was a member in the house too; making friends, and living life to the fullest.  I used to love the hope and excitement I felt watching that show, feeling that some exciting adventure was just around the corner!

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But as I got older, the show lost it’s luster. I stopped thinking that every new person was a potential friend. My heart hardened. Walls were built to protect myself. I stopped watching the show.

 

But, something with this new season began to attract my attention. I started seeing news articles creep up about something incredible happening in the Big Brother House. This season of UKCBB (United Kingdom Celebrity Big Brother) was titled “Year of the women” because this year marks 100 years of women having the right to vote in the UK. The show was already leaning towards a discussion of gender, and threw in 2 extra dimensions into the storyline.

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The first was India, The UK’s first trans woman to be a part of a news team.

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And the second was Shane J / Courtney Act, a drag artist who was previously famous from Australian Idol back in the mid-2000’s (which Shane did in drag as Courtney and pioneered the way for others) and then more famously, Ru Paul’s Drag Race.

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And then to counteract all of this, they also brought in ultra-conservative politician and super crotchety old woman, Ann Widdecombe.

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So, sparks started to fly because India was just god-awful, and Ann was just an old dusty bitch.   But the entire house, and all of the UK began to fall in love with Courtney.  She had multiple conversations with everyone in the house about gender, sexuality, and performance. She was willing to talk to anyone about the differences between drag, and trans. The difference between gay and pansexual, and the difference between gender and biological sex.

She even took to debating Ann about some of the more conservative and Anti-gay policies she helped enact back during her time in parliament. But what made Courtney so amazing was her ability to always remain calm, collected, and willing to engage in any  conversation that may have come up.

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And everyone loved it.  She was the house favorite, and the entire nation fell in love with her for knowledge, self confidence, and beauty.  The UK as a whole even started a national conversation on gender because of what was going down on the show. She wasn’t just teaching the other housemates, but she was teaching an entire country, and thanks to the internet, the entire world!

 

So this is first part of where I started feeling myself wake up inside. There’s just something about Courtney Act that I need to be more like. I need to carry myself with her confidence. I need to walk into a room and actually feel like I belong.  Somehow, even though Courtney Act tends to look like a slutty drag queen Barbie, she ends up being the shining light in every situation she’s in.  I need to have the self love and respect that she has.

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Furthermore, during the season, Courtney Act managed to school everyone on gender and sexuality.  She not only carries herself well, but she is phenomenal in conversations. She took what could have been some very difficult and controversial moments, and spoke to housemates about them as if it were just the most natural thing to her. I need to be better at communicating with others.  

Check out Courtney given’ the boys a lesson on Drag and Trans:

 

 

So yeah, I’m a guy, and I have never done drag, but damn, there’s so much to learn from Courtney Act.

 

 

Secondly, there was a bit of a show romance happing in the show as well! There’s an insanely cute guy on the show named Andrew Brady (He was on the UK Apprentice or whatever…)

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So get this…. from the very first second Courtney Act walks into the Big Brother house, he’s in love with her.

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And from there… a Bromance/Romance began!

They started getting really close, and Andrew was constantly flirting with Courtney Act.

Throughout the show the “friendship” grew and grew…..

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And then, as time went on, Andrew started like Shane, even out of drag… for a gay boy like me, it was like magic was happening.  A hot straight guy was getting along with a man who, out of drag, was an effeminate guy, and in drag was….well, a drag queen.  It was so amazing to see Andrew form this friendship and not care about labels or what other people may think.  He was just himself, and Courtney was just herself…and they connected.  It was amazing and heartwarming to watch.

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Oh my God…. they even had tub time one night!  It was fuckin’ amazing!  So yeah…that fifteen year old inside me who used to watch Big Brother hoping to find an amazingly close friendship… well, he felt super pleased watching this season.  I get those butterflies in my stomach again watching this season, just like I used to when I was a teenager. I find myself laying up in bed at night again, imaging myself in the house….Imagining some handsome straight guy was becoming my friend, and was having tub time with me too! I get this rush watching this season… a rush I haven’t felt in such a long time.  The rush of youthful excitement and passion and hope for some great adventure.  And ya know, I’ve missed that feeling…and I’m glad it’s back!

 

And You know what, everyone noticed that she was a shining light as well… because she won!

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Watch the win here:

 

But look, I think we can all be winners here.  I think we can all learn a lot about being your true self and letting yourself shine, even if your true self is something that the common man might find odd or different.  Courtney went into that house and literally changed people’s minds about the LGBTQ community and that is fucking amazing!   Let’s all try to be beautiful, engaging, and inspiring people! 

 

~ The Dark Horse

 

 

 

 

 

What Does This Dream Mean?

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Alright everyone, I have some questions for you that I want answers to. For the past few weeks I’ve been having dreams – Weird and stressful dreams.

 

The first dream I’ve been having for every night for the past few weeks.  This is a “chase” dream.  There is always some man (sometimes with a knife in hand) chasing me and a group of other people around.  I always end up somehow on my own, and nothing ever goes right.

There will be locked doors I can’t get into, no police in sight, no weapons for me to sue to fight back, and of course it’s ALWAYS dark outside.

The feeling in these dreams isn’t so much fear as it is stress.

When I’m running from this man, and I try to knock on a door, screaming my ass off, trying frantically to open it – the thought going through my head isn’t “Oh my God Im going to die!” , but it instead it’s, “Of course this door isn’t fucking opening because this is just how the world is!  Nobody is ever fucking there to help me!”

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There is nowhere to hide.  All I can do is try and outrun him.  All I can do turn left down a street, then right, then left, maybe hide next to a dumpster in an alleyway.  But of course, he always walks down that alleyway, so it’s only a temporary solution.  There are never any people on the streets in my dreams, and the group of people I’m with in the beginning always run off in some opposite direction and I never see them again.   It’s me playing a constant cat-and-mouse game with the killer.

 

Now here is where it gets even weirder:  Twice in this span of a few weeks where I’m having this chase dream, the killer hasn’t been a man….but dinosaurs.  Namely, the T Rex.

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The first dream was very Jurassic Park.  Except, just like the dream before, it was like Jurassic Park in the worst case scenario.  There were no cars or jeeps in my dream.  The compound was (of course) locked.  We had no weapons of any kind, and there was no way off the island.  It was once again me against the elements…and dinosaurs.  Having nowhere to hide…only to run.  And no matter where you’d go… you’d begin to hear the footsteps coming closer.

The sounds of rustling, and the roar of a large dinosaur.  Then when you knew it was close, you’d have to run again.  Always running.

 

The second dinosaur dream I had was more of the Jurassic Park: Lost World, or more precisely, a Cloverfield plot. We were in a major city with a T Rex (amongst other dinosaurs) running amok.  It had all the issues of the first dream, expect this time it had all the problems of your standard post-apocalyptic story as well.

You could run and ask someone for help…but would you trust them? …would they even trust you?  And if they did invite you in, we’re they wanting to help…or were they just hoping that they could throw you in front of a dinosaur to ensure their escape?   At one point we were on this guy’s boat floating down a river and watching people on the streets of the city.  People were begging to be let into boarded up houses and the homeowner would shoot them straight through their boarded up doors.

 

+++Now that I’m writing this post, I’m pretty damn these dreams must have centered around my trust issues and feeling of societal abandonment. +++

I wake up rom these dreams exhausted.  I have after all, been running for my life all dam

 

 

And here is the second weird dream.  This a reoccurring dream I have been having for years.  And every few weeks, I’m guaranteed to have it again.

 

I have a loose tooth in the dream.  A very, very loose tooth.  A tooth so loose that it’s literally hanging on by a thread.  I can move my tongue and feel the indent in my gum where the tooth should be.  I can move my tongue underneath the bottom of the tooth as well.   It’s literally only being held into my mouth with just one little vein attached.

I sit there, stricken with fear.  What does this mean, I ask myself in the dream.  Am I sick?  Am I diseased?  Why is this tooth falling out?  Am I so unhealthy that I’m losing my teeth???  But, I’m in public.  Always in a classroom or out to dinner.  I’m desperately trying to control my anxiety so those around me don’t notice my distress. I’m doing this because I know that they don’t want to hear my problems…nobody is ever there for you..

 

…WOW… ok.  Well, I think I know the meaning of these dreams now. 

 

Does anyone out there know more?  Anyone out there hip on the whole “dream meaning” scene?  I’d love to know people’s thoughts as to what this all might mean (aside from the glaringly obvious I suppose)  or more importantly, what to do about these feelings?

 

Dream on! (In the good way I hope)

~ The Dark Horse

 

We Need To Relax, Right Now.

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Ok everyone let’s all take breath and be real here:  For those of us who are already prone to depression and/or anxiety, the current world is too much.  From Donald Trump, to North Korea, to Russia.  Even things that are supposed to be helpful like #MeToo is incredibly stressful and exhausting.

 

 The world right now kind of feels like Singapore in the Independence Day sequel.

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And I don’t know about you guys, but I’m totally torn, and it’s killing my energy.  Part of me says, “I need to know this shit!  This is important.  This is the work we live in.  I can’t bury my head in the sand”

But then the other part of me is like, “You’re one person and you’re prone to depression and panic attacks.. TAKE A NIGHT OFF FROM THE WORLD AND DO SOMETHING THAT MAKES YOU SMILE YOU DUMBASS! 

 

And you know, that second part of me is right.  Yes, this is the world we live in.  And yes, a lot of people are saying a whole lot of mean and stupid shit right now.  But stressing myself out by thinking about it every night and asking how can I fix this isn’t going to fix the it.  In fact, all it will do is make my life worse.  So, what to do?

 

I think a balance is good.  Balance is always good right? So say most religions and philosophies least.

So, I’m working on a few articles that I want to try and pitch to HuffPost or something, or at least put on Medium (I’m like 99% sure they’ll all be rejected).  But that way I can at least try to have my voice out there.  But I also need time where I simply turn off.

This week I’ve been taking time before bed.  For 30 minutes I read Eat, Pray, Love (don’t judge, it’s actually a great book), and then the other 30 minutes I watch an old show called Strangers With Candy.  It’s insanely hilarious and offensive, but in this way where you always know it’s a joke. It’s one of those beautiful examples of something that can shock you but also make you feel really good inside.  I find myself laughing out loud when I watch it, and damn that’s life saving.  

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If any of you are interested, it’s about a 46 yr old high school drop out, ex-hooker user, boozer, and loser – who goes back to high school to pick up right where she left…

good times!

 

So yeah, I guess that’s it for now.  I’m learning to not stress myself out.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor was it built by one person.  We can all only do so much, and allowing the current global crisis kill us with stress won’t help anything.

 

So let’s do what we can.  Write to your congressman, write editorials about your views, volunteer to help the needy, and for god sakes get and out vote in November and again in 2020!!!!   In the meantime, do what you can, and remember to relax.  Life is hard, so let’s not make it any harder on ourselves.  We’re a lot more useful to the world if we’re not paralyzed and exhausted from depression and anxiety.

 

~ The Dark Horse