I Am NOT Whatever You Say I Am

There are those little moments in time where you go somewhere, or something happens to you, or someone says something to you where you know it’s just changed your life. Good or bad, the fact remains that you’ll never be the same.

I don’t know much about my Cherokee heritage which is really sad when you think about it. The blood comes from my father’s side of the family and they live miles from me. My anxiety keeps me from communicating with them so I’ve never had to chance to ask about the woman holding me as a child with the two long braids and the drooping face and the flawless brown skin. All I know is that she’d my great-grandmother.

There were times throughout my childhood I met other people with native blood and they’d live in the hills with their dogs and their wolf skins on the walls and their sacred music and sacred prayers. I was fascinated by it. So I’m in the one Native American Literature class on my college campus (you know, amid the several dozens of Hispanic history, Chinese history, and american history classes) and so far it’s great.

Now, let’s get one thing straight. I’m of mixed race and when I say it pisses me off that there’s nothing geared towards African American’s or Native Americans (both a part of me) and that most of the attention goes towards Hispanics or male engineers, would you call me racist and sexist?

Most people would.

But let’s be honest. It’s not racism, it’s a fucking fact. I live in a town with a high population of Hispanics. My boyfriend is Mexican. I don’t have a problem with that. I have a problem with being ignored and disrespected.

Because I never knew much about my culture, I never celebrated anything, never learned about it, never instilled a pride in myself for not being like everyone else and it’s never been publicized that I should have pride in it. People say “hey, you might as well be Mexican” since I have the same skin tone and you know what? Fuck that. It’s offensive. Don’t walk up to me and start speaking Spanish like you know who I am, like you know where my family is from, like you know anything at ALL about me. I’m not being RACIST, I have no PREJUDICE against these people, I absolutely ADORE their culture, I adore ALL cultures, but you walking up to me and not bothering to be polite in questioning my ethnicity or respecting my culture is fucking disgusting. The fact that I have never paid respects to my own culture is also disgusting.

I have social anxiety disorder as part of my diagnosis and a lot of it is contributed to the fact that I never thought of myself as important, even as a child. In pre-school and kindergarten who were the ones in my classes? Hispanics and Whites. There were no mixed races, there was no one to tell me hey, you’re included too, you’re important, join us! I knew from a very young age I didn’t belong.

So, to Donald Trump I say get the fuck off my land. Go back to where you came from. No one wants you here. How dare you tell someone from Mexico to leave, how dare you claim they “rape our women” when your people had your way with my people’s women. Native people hold their women high with respect. Elder women watch over the chiefs. Society ran smoothly; no one was better than anyone. It’s people like him (PEOPLE not WHITES) who contribute to the reason why a lot of women are depressed, why a lot of women feel their PLACE is to be in a home. If you love being at home, if that’s where you feel comfortable that’s wonderful, but if you feel like you HAVE to be, that’s what I call a social constriction.

You think depression is 100% due to a chemical imbalance? Open a history book. There’s a reason anti-depressants aren’t a cure. And it’s not just because the brain is “complicated”. It’s not a friends-with-benefits relationship.

I’m still learning to accept myself. And tonight, when my professor said “It’s okay if you don’t want to talk in the groups, listening is an excellent form of communication. We need good listeners” I knew I’d landed myself in yet another class that I would come out from as a different person. No one’s ever told me that who I am is okay. I’ve told myself that but half of the time I don’t give a shit what I say, especially to myself. But to hear it out in the open, to hear that I’m an important part of society BECAUSE of who I am, not because of who I’m trying to be or who other people think I am, really hit home.

I have no desire to make friends. I really don’t. I want to be able to communicate with people in society because I know I need to have the skills. But I like myself as I am, I always have. I just didn’t know that was okay.

To everyone struggling with anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar, borderline personality, whatever; WE NEED YOU. We need that hyper-awareness in generalized anxiety; you could save someone’s life someday noticing something they don’t. How many of the world’s most brilliant writers, visual artists, and actors have depression, schizophrenia or bipolar? We NEED these creative minds in our world. They show us true human genius. And I’m not saying we need you because of your “disorder”, I’m saying we need you because of who you ARE. Who the hell decided these things are illnesses? I didn’t tell myself I was ill, someone else told me. In fact, I’ve never told myself I have mental illnesses. Because that’s subjective. What I define illness as might be entirely different than my doctor’s textbook definition of illness. And that’s fine. You know why? Words change over time and so do their definitions. In fifty years ADHD won’t be in the DSM, it’ll be the new normal. If your kid is too quiet, if they don’t like staring at multiple screens or jumping out of their seat in school, if they can only focus on one thing at a time then, then there will be something wrong with them.

It’ll be called Non-Disruptive Disorder.

I’m not ill. There are things I could improve for my own personal gain and that’s all I’m focused on. Fuck your medication, fuck your labels (except for insurance purposes, I’d like my treatment to be paid for please) and fuck your idea of normal.

I’ve never really declared who I am because I thought it never mattered. But it does. I’m a Polish, Cherokee, African American woman with fluffy ass poodle hair, a loud laugh, odd beliefs, crazy anxieties, awkward mood swings, and still I’m okay with me. Are you okay with you?