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Balance

It's been a bit quiet on the blog front lately for a few reasons: life - I'm sure we can all relate to that - and self-care.


I've been writing an essay for my PG Dip in Gender Identity Healthcare Practice. It's given me the opportunity to reflect on mental health decline and the reasons for it. I read up on something called the Minority Stress model (Meyer, 2003; Hendricks & Testa, 2012). If you haven't heard of it, I really recommend taking a look. Hendricks & Testa do a great job of explaining, in simple terms, how three sets of processes contribute to poor mental health in trans people.


First set of processes

You start off in the position of a minority. Say you then experience discrimination or a threat to your safety, based on your minority status - sounds stressful, right?


Second set of processes

Repeated discrimination and threat will understandably make you more wary. You're going to start expecting it to happen before you've even left the house, before you've even left your bedroom perhaps. You're stressed. So what do you do? You mask. You take away the rod people use to beat you with. This only leads to further stress because it's not safe to be yourself.


Third set of processes

You internalise others' attitudes. You start to see yourself as the problem. You mask some more, distancing yourself FROM yourself. You don't reach out for validation, because you don't want to be in a minority group. And you can't reach inwards for validation, because your internal voice is telling you you're a burden.


It doesn't take a genius to figure out where this might lead. For those interested in reading more about LGBT+ mental health, take a look at Stonewall's (2018) report.


Medical model thinking places the responsibility for change in the hands of the trans person. Social model thinking places the responsibility for change in the hands of society. Forgive the crude oversimplification, but I hope this drives home the point: Do you punish the wheelchair user for their lack of lower limb mobility? Or do you blame society for not providing enough ramps?


To feel like YOU are inherently a problem is dangerous. Nobody, nobody, is inherently a problem.


In the spirit of self-care I've been giving myself more of what I need recently. I've been heading off out into nature, which is where I feel most like myself. I've been listening to great podcasts - Brené Brown's Unlocking Us being a favourite series of mine. And now I'm well-rested, I'm returning to some other passions: advocacy, kindness and connection.


So over to you. How do you practise self-care? Or how would you like to?


Take care and go well.


Lizzie


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