The White Savior Complex

Everyone knows what “The White Savior Complex” is whether they’ve heard it in those terms or not.

The White Savior Complex happens when white people “help” others, usually POC, and act like they’ve saved these people from “terrible, miserable lives.” Without the white savior these people would be nothing in the “savior’s” eyes, and would have sad lives. A prime example is seeing a picture of a white teenage girl on Facebook surrounded by children usually in South America or Africa with a caption talking about how sad their lives are. Because without her five days of white guidance these people couldn’t possibly survive.

There’s a difference between actually helping people because you want them to have a better life, and “helping” because you want to feel good about yourself. Religious groups that do mission trips that last a few days to a few weeks are often are filled with these kinds of people. They’re so narcissistic that they think others would be lost without them. The White Savior also rarely listens to the people they think they’re helping, doing things like trying to “liberate” muslim women who wear hijab who are perfectly happy and don’t need or want any “help.”

The White Savior is always about having an emotional experience for themselves. Talking about how life changing speaking to a homeless person is, and using the one time they went to a soup kitchen on their college resume. Their volunteering is based in personal gain, rather than how they can be of service to others.

While mission trips and volunteering can be and often are good things, we need to examine our motives and attitude towards helping others. Getting involved somewhere that you can volunteer long term is always best! I also think we should call out the White Savior complex and call it was it is: racism.

 

What are your experiences with the white savior complex? What do you think about it?

 

 

P.S. Sorry to the guy in my header, I’m sure you’re a nice dude, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I laughed for far too long looking at the photo in this context

I Never Used to Cry

I wrote this when I was really sad one day.

I’m currently not feeling like this, but I like how it turned out so here it is!

I never used to cry

Tears were for the weak

And I was strong

yes

This brick wall I’ve built has become increasingly more unstable

The cracks becoming more visible to the naked eye

The foundation in the beginning stages of crumbling

yes

Tears sting my eyes more often than I’d admit

My wails are silent and unseen

Yet unescapable for me

break

The smile I paint on everyday isn’t turning out as well as it used to

People are questioning it’s authenticity

and I’m too exhausted to lie

Giving vague explanations, leaving something more to be desired

break

I deflect any questions you have

Giving the answers I know you want to hear

It flows from my lips with false confidence

And you buy it

break

Living in a sea of clear eyes and smiling faces

I feel as if I do not belong

My smile isn’t as bright as hers

and my eyes try to tell the truth, resisting every effort I make to fit in

break

I’ve taught myself how to sob without sound

My heart wretched as I lay in the shower

Confusing tears with the shower stream

break

I turn off the water and stare at the ceiling

Looking for answers that are never there

Too tired to move

Hoping if I close my eyes it’ll all go away

break

But I can’t escape it even in my dreams

or nightmares rather

The sadness infiltrates every aspect of my life

My eyes ready to release the truth

Ready to tell everyone how broken I feel

How broken I am

break

I never used to cry

But I wasn’t strong

I just created a charade I can no longer keep up

Getting Back into Things

For the past 3 1/2 weeks i’ve been going to the gym.

I gained a ton of weight on Gabapentin, like a lot. It’s hard to gauge exactly how much it is since before the rapid weight gain, I had rapid weight loss. Pre-chronic illness I weighted between 120-125 lbs, then I gained weight from meds and went up to 138 lbs, then I lost weight because of Cymbalta and Topiramate, down to 112 lbs, and finally I gained on the Gabapentin and Amitriptyline weight all the way up to 170 lbs. If you count the weight gain from when I lost a lot of weight then i’ve gained nearly 60 pounds, if you count it from before chronic illness it’s 45-50 lbs. Either way it’s a lot and needs to change.

For reference i’m 4’11 and 3/4 so being 170 pounds makes me over weight. I can deal with the weight gain, because I know I can lose it, but the stretch marks are distressing. I don’t have the silvery-white stretch marks that are barely noticeable. Since mine are “new” they’re bright red and everywhere. They’re the worst on my arms, but they cover my thighs, have crept onto my calves, cover the side of my stomach, and have popped up on the front of my stomach. I feel like a hypocrite because i believe everyone is beautiful and shouldn’t love themselves no matter what, but I honestly hate the way my body looks right now.

Right now I’m on an upswing with my health. I’m out of a flare and feeling pretty well. The biggest thing to celebrate is that I’m actually sleeping, so I don’t feel like a zombie all day. There’s no way I could go to the gym 5-6 days a week if I was still feeling so poorly, so for now I’m getting in all the exercise I can. I’m definitely not someone who loves going to the gym, it’s kinda boring and I don’t like working out around other people. Once you start to go regularly though you start to notice things.

For one, everyone is in their own bubble and doesn’t care what you’re doing. Also you’re probably not going to be the most out of shape person there. Sometimes super thin girls will get on an elliptical next to be and look half dead ten minutes in and by fifteen minutes they’re done. This is just one of a million reasons why weight doesn’t always correspond with health.

So far I’ve lost 4 pounds, which isn’t much but it’s better than nothing. I’ve been out of town for part of the time so I couldn’t go the gym, but for the most part i’ve been sticking to it. To me working out isn’t the hardest part, it’s eating healthy. When you feel terrible you don’t want to make something to eat. It’s easy to grab whatever’s available and takes no preparation. The problem with that is the things that take no prep are often processed foods, with little nutritional value.

Finding a diet that’s sustainable has been difficult. I really don’t want to put a ton of work into this now for it all to come back in a year or two. I’ve watched everyone in my family yo-yo with their weight so I know this isn’t going to be easy. I’m also currently taking another medication that can cause rapid weight gain, so I’m hoping I can go off of it soon since it doesn’t seem to be helping the tachycardia issue.

I’m counting on this getting easier the longer I do it. If you’ve lost weight/ started trying to live a healthier lifestyle, how did you stay motivated?

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

 

 

The Truth About Texas

Texas is the butt of many jokes, specifically about how conservative it is.

While it may be a red state, Texas isn’t always the hell it’s been made out to be.

I’ve lived half my life in South Texas – San Antonio, and the other half in North Texas – Dallas. I’ve always lived in the suburbs so my experience stems from that. Cities like Dallas, Austin, and Houston are all incredibly progressive and you’ll find more democrats than republicans there. San Antonio is a little different. There’s a heavy catholic influence so people tend to lean more conservative, but there re still more progressive people in the city than other places in Texas.

The high school I went to was predominately white, but also had a sizable asian population. While there was the occasional super republican kid who spit out all the bigoted phases they heard at home, most people were pretty chill. I came out to a few of my friends at the time, and while they were shocked, it wasn’t a big deal. There were LGBTQ+ kids who were out and dating and most people didn’t care or at least didn’t care enough to say anything.

You will see protesters outside planned parenthood or standing on an overpass with their open carried guns, but those kind of people are everywhere. Even in the most liberal areas in the US there are still conservative people. I think most people would be surprised how many progressive and moderate people live here.

My narrative may be different from someone who grew up in a small town. The small town conservative mentality reaches much farther than the South though. Being LGBTQ+ in Texas isn’t always the death sentence its made out to be. While I would never want to erase the struggles of people who have experienced abuse for being LGBT in Texas, I think it’s important for people to know that isn’t everyones narrative. There are happy LGBTQ+ people who live in the South and people who come from religious families who have positive coming out stories.

Do I daydream about living in San Fransisco where most people identify with being LGBTQIA+in some way or another? Yes of course, but for now i’m pretty happy right where I am. I want to see the Texas legislature be reformed and more sane people go into power. These past few weeks a lot of bigoted laws have been put into place, and that has to change. I don’t think running to leave Texas the first chance I get is going to help anyone, and for now I want to stick around and do my part to make Texas a place where everyone is respected and receives the equity they deserve.

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

Getting My GED

I finally bit the bullet and took all four of my GED tests!

I had studied off and on since January, but I knew I was stalling and needed to go ahead and get it done. Honestly I was just really afraid of failing.  When I was studying it wasn’t that hard, but I thought it would be really embarrassing to fail a test that’s supposed to be easy.

I took the social studies portion on May 2nd and passed with flying colors. Then I took the math test and the science test on May 9th, which were the ones I was most nervous about. Luckily I also did really well and overall it wasn’t very hard. Finally I took the English test yesterday. I’ve always done well in English and aced all of my state mandated English tests, so I wasn’t worried about this one at all. I could have done them all in one day, but with my chronic illnesses I didn’t think that would be a good idea. They allow you so much time to test, and I wasn’t sure how much I would actually take so splitting them up seemed like the best choice. I passed them all as college ready which was really exciting, and I was one point away from getting college credit on the science portion. 

I’m so so happy to be done with the high school portion of my life! I honestly can’t express enough how much this is a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I’m done with high school… early. Yes a GED isn’t as good as an actual high school diploma, but back in the fall I wasn’t so sure I was going to be able to even get this done before the Summer began. Now all I need is my license and I can start taking college classes at my local community college in the fall! The situation may not be ideal, but I’m choosing to celebrate the win and look forward to getting my life back on track.

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

Daith Piercing Update

It’s been a little over nine weeks since I got my first daith piercing.

Overall the healing process has been really easy and pretty painless.

When preparing to get this piercing I watched a lot of videos on other people’s experiences getting this done and a lot of them said it hurt really bad to get the piercing and was sore for a week afterward. It’s interesting to me how everyone experiences pain differently and I guess some people are also just dramatic.

My piercer told me day four would be the worst and it was, although all I experienced was minor aching that  I honestly wouldn’t even consider pain. The only problem I’ve had with it is hypertrophic scarring. This happens to a ton of people especially with nose and cartilage piercings. Here’s a picture of it at its worst:

Gross Right?

I think I got hypertrophic scarring from sleeping on it too much and messing with it. I’ve been using salt water to clean it and it has helped. I waited a little while to do anything about the scarring so it may take a few weeks to completely go away. Right now it’s probably half the size of what’s shown in the picture.

As for the migraines it’s hard to tell if it’s helped. Before I got it I had been having less migraines than I normally did. Since getting my daith pierced I’ve had 2-3 migraines and daily dull headaches 3-5 days out of the week. Back in the fall of 2016 I was having daily migraines that would last 20+ days at a time. I know that going off Gabapentin helped me tremendously, but I can’t help to think that this may have helped some as well.

The only thing i find annoying about it is trying to use headphones. The headphones that come with iPhones will not work with this piercing. I normally don’t use those anyway but my skull candy ones broke and so I tried them out. Headphones that have a silicone ear plug on them work fine- all I have to do is rotate the piercing all the way up. The piercing does cause ear phones to come loose faster than normal, but I have relatively small ears so that may just be a “me problem.”

I still plan on getting my left ear done as well, hopefully in the next couple of weeks. I really like the look of them so even if it doesn’t help it would still be worth it to me. I definitely have the itch to get more piercings now – i’ve wanted my helix done for a few years and now I kinda want my tragus done as well. I’ll start with the second daith and see where it takes me from there lol.

-Alyssa

Things I Wish I Knew Before Chronic Illness

While the unpredictable nature of chronic illness keeps you from having a perfectly clear idea of the future, I think these things would have been incredibly helpful to know at the beginning of my journey.

  1. You’ll probably have side effects

Every time I start a new med my doctors don’t usually go over all the side effects, if any. They usually tell you the alarming ones that would be cause of an emergency, but other side effects can be very alarming. For example weight gain or lose is a side effect of SO SO many meds; weight gain especially. Read up on every med you take and know both the short term and long term side effects.

2. The journey to a diagnosis may be long

For some chronic illnesses it’s pretty straight forward as far as diagnosing, especially if there’s diagnostic evidence to prove something is wrong. I’ve been searching for five years and still don’t have a main diagnosis. It’s a grueling process for some and definitely as easy as I thought it would be.

3. People are going to say stupid things… very stupid things

Some where along the way rather it’s a friend, family member, or stranger, people are gonna say stupid stuff. They’ll tell you to lose/gain weight, drink water, exercise, cut out artificial sweetener, go gluten free, try yoga, the list goes on and on. A lot of these things you’ll hear again and again, maybe you’ll even try them out of desperation. People will question your illness especially if it’s invisible, and tell you to just try harder even when you’re at your breaking point.

4. Pain meds aren’t always a magic fix

Tylenol will become a joke to you very soon after the beginning of chronic pain. Despite popular belief narcotics won’t take away all the pain, in fact for some people they may not help at all. If you find a pain med that works for you it can greatly improve your quality of life but that may not happen.

5. You’ll flare

Some days you’ll feel on top of the world and the next day you’ll feel like you’re dying. Flares can last a few days, or weeks, or even months. When getting out of a flare it can feel like you’re “better” and it’s easy to have a false sense of hope. Enjoy and be grateful for the times you feel well but don’t be too naïve about what it means. You’ll flare again but that doesn’t mean you should have fun while you’re feeling good.

 

What are some things you wish you knew before chronic illness?

Lots of Love,

Alyssa