This is a long description, but I think it’s worth the read, so please bare with me.
I wanna start an important conversation.
About a week ago, I debuted this image that I had been working on for the last couple of days. Many responded well to it, some didn’t understand it and others didn’t really say anything. All of this was what I expected. I gave no context other than a couple of lines of lyrics from “Cold Water” by Major Lazer, Justin Bieber and MØ. I wasn’t planning on giving much more context than that unless someone asked until I had created more for this series, but given recent events with Chester Bennington and how much it has both affected the public and what people have been saying about him, I decided it was time I gave the real meaning to this piece and the future series.
While working on this I was in crisis. It’s probably no secret to anyone, but I have been struggling very heavily with my mental health, especially now that I have graduated college. I don’t talk about it because it’s hard.
It’s. SO. HARD.
I felt I was at my end. I was ready to call it quits because nothing felt like it was ever going to be okay. I felt like I wasn’t needed here. I didn’t know why I was here at all now. My sense of purpose was foggy. I was lost.
My medication stopped working, I was isolating. I stopped making art. I stopped eating as much and I lost weight because of it. Bathing was hard to do. Getting myself to get up and even brush my hair was difficult. I only cleaned up if I had somewhere to be. I didn’t want anyone to know this was going on. I was ashamed.
I’m -still- ashamed.
I’m ashamed of a lot of things about myself and I have been since I can remember. I can’t tell you why I feel this way, but it’s there. And even though I still struggle, I’m trying to change it.
I have been seeking therapy since October last year because things were just to heavy for me to deal with alone anymore, and it’s been great. I’ve really turned around some.
But there are still strong moments where that pain takes hold of me and I have no idea how to fight anymore.
I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, and now I’ve found out I also suffer from PMDD- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. I can no longer be on birth control because of the blockage in my neck and the stroke I suffered back in 2013. I have to deal with this now in other ways.
When I started falling into the hole, I began to really question what my depression looked like. I wrote a poem about it. I began to slowly piece together his image, not realizing how much symbolism he really had, and thus Erebus was born. This black shadow demon with the deer skull and the red strings of fate were a manifestation of all the negative thoughts in me and the weights I carry on my chains every day.
If you suffer from depression, you know what I’m talking about. You want to escape, but sometimes, there’s comfort in the panic. It’s all you know and sometimes, you’re afraid it’s all you will ever know. You feel so alone from these thoughts and like no one will ever understand, so you cling to this demon. This demon that torments you on a daily basis; who manipulates you and makes you feel like you’re worthless. You’re in an abusive relationship with yourself. And you have no idea how to leave. How the HELL can you escape your own brain?
So you are forced to sit there and try to not let this demon bring you down. And it’s so hard.
Unfortunately, Chester lost to his demon.
And I wanted to lose to Erebus.
I wanted to lose so much because the pain hurt so fucking bad and I didn’t know how to make it stop. I know suicide is not the answer; every rational part left in my brain told me it wasn’t the answer but my God guys, the pain. The pain made it more reasonable. It made it make more sense as I began to fall deeper and deeper to Erebus’ grasps. He was suffocating me. And slowly suffocating is suffering.
This is all scary as hell for me to even talk about. It’s so hard to admit any of this has even went through my mind. I know how the world views mental health. I know how my family views mental health. I know how even some of my friends view mental health. But I’m here.
I’m still fucking here.
I will continue to be an advocate for this. I will continue to be an advocate for people who feel like I do. For people who don’t even have the resources I do. For people who feel alone and insignificant. For people who feel their own demon is swallowing them whole.
I know it’s hard. I know it’s harder than anything else, but please for the love of God, please reach out. REACH. OUT. I’m learning how to reach out. I’m slowly learning to try and tell my friends and family what’s bothering me. Because if it can help me prove Erebus is wrong, if it can help me prove I am worth this life and needed in this world, if it can help me find joy and comfort in the right ways, I’m going to fight him. I don’t want Erebus to win. He can be enticing. He can be manipulative. But I won’t let him win.
As time goes on, I will continue to illustrate our story, but don’t let your demons win. I want this project to help us bridge the gap between hiding our mental health and being able to talk about it freely.
I want to start an important conversation. Let’s talk.
I, like many my age, owed my adolescence to Linkin Park. First thing I used to do when I got home from school every day was chill to their music at max volume (one full album per day, natch), I knew the lyrics to every one of their songs, bought every single album with my hard-earned allowance money. The icebreaker with my eventual best friend through secondary school was us arguing about whose bias was hotter (hers was Mike, mine Chester). I crossed one thing off my bucket list when I met Chester at a signing event and shook his hand.
Teenage me confidently thought the band and I are going to grow old and wrinkly together with me as forever their no. 1 fan. That didn’t happen as 1. I grew up, became “too mature” for their music, and gradually stopped following them, and 2. one of us didn’t even live to see old age.
I’ll be honest, I adored LP for their innovative sound but never thought much of them lyrically. I was disappointed when I listened a bit to their latest album and heard them still singing about self-hatred; I thought: why are they still doing this angsty teenage crap? But learning that he was battling depression his entire life gives a whole new meaning to all those songs I grew up loving, but never understanding. And after all the stories I read today of how Linkin Park songs have helped people through their own depression, I am moved that their words have touched so many, and I hope he (and Mike and Brad and Rob and Joe and Phoenix) knew that. Rest in peace Chester, thanks for everything.
So I thought I would create a list of all the ace-friendly universities I could find. I think there’s a US version of this post? But I’ve never seen a UK one. So here we are. (Explanation of where the information comes from at the bottom of the post.) The newest version of this list can be found here and will hopefully be updated often.
University of the Arts, London
University of Birmingham (have an ace flag on their website)
University of Bristol (ran events during Asexual Awareness Week!)
University of Cambridge
University of Chester (ran AAW events!)
Coventry University (included in their acronym!)
University of Derby (listed in the acronym for some resource from somewhere within the uni?)
Edinburgh Napier University
University of Exeter
University of Hertfordshire
University of Hull
Imperial College London
Kingston University (have run some asexuality workshops!)
University of Leeds (ran AAW events!)
University of Leicester
London University – University College London, Goldsmith’s
University of Manchester (posted an article on David Jay for LGBT history month)
University of Northampton
University of Nottingham
Queen’s University Belfast (ran a 101 session and showed the (A)sexual documentary)
University of Reading
University of Sheffield (lists AVEN on their resources page)
University of South Wales
University of Stirling (appointed an Ace Rep in 2014!)
University of Sussex (seem to have run AAW events)
University of Warwick (have run ace talks and workshops)
University of York (have a page explaining asexuality and specifically promising that aces are welcome in their society!)
And this is the list of unis that don’t mention asexuality: (under the cut because this post is getting long)
@nataliakelley: oh shit, that’s even worse if you knew him in person :( I only met him at a couple of M&Gs and events and stuff, but he was always so nice and genuine and he had this gift of making you feel important even though you’re just one fan among millions. In April I was able to attend a promo event and Chester was the only band member who stayed with the ~50 LPUers after the q&a and the acoustic set and talked to every single person who wanted to talk to him, took pics with everyone, signed stuff, he wrote out some lyrics for me when I asked him to and he recognised me cause he had seen me among the audience during the gig and made a comment that I make him feel special and it was the best. Then in June I saw LP in Berlin and Chester came into the crowd right where I was and he was so close, we all sang together and when he saw me he pointed at me and nodded and grinned while singing so he must’ve recognised me from that promo event and that made me so so so happy. And a month later he’s gone just like that. It’s just not fair.
Thousands of people flocked to Chester this weekend, me and my boyfriend went there on the sunday to meet up with some friends and spent the day trekking through filling in our map and getting our stamps.
Also saw two Articuno raids, got this bad boy on my 2nd to last ball after the first raid, but never had a chance to join the 2nd raid as the network crumbled under the strain causing a massive blackout spot around the gym it was at, meaning anyone on the same network as us was not getting anything.
All in all a good day out, but with the 2+hr drive each way I didn’t have the time or energy to actually tour around the castle before we headed back home.
Chester Lush were kind enough to invite me to a VIP beauty blogger’s party at the store last night, it was so fun! We got to make our own Comforter bubble bar and Butterball bath bomb. We also got the chance to demo a bunch of new bath bombs and try out the hand treatments! I didn’t even want to leave, it was such a lovely night 💕