exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Tag: Anxiety

A Klass


Date of Interview: August 8th, 2017

Name: A Klass

Age: 28

Pronouns: They/Them

Location: Chicago, IL


How often do you bathe or shower?

I try to shower at least every day, but that doesn’t always happen thanks to– I feel like my mental health effects that a lot so sometimes it’s longer, sometimes it’s shorter. It just depends on how it’s going, but my goal is to every day.

If you were a underwater creature, mythical, real, whatever, what would you be?

Probably an angler fish, because I really like how they look. And I love that they have– I don’t know. I just love that their molecules can emit light, that’s wild to me. I also love the fact that their teeth are so big that they can’t close their mouth and that’s also wild to me. So yeah, I like them.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about art. I’m passionate about creativity. I’m passionate about people. I’m passionate about people knowing that they’re seen and loved because I feel like that’s a really important thing and something that not everyone feels, something not everyone has felt a lot, including myself. So something that I try to do in my work and in my creativity is have representation for people. Being represented lets people know that they are seen. That’s important to me. And something I still need to work much harder on.

How does that manifest for you?

I think it manifests itself in my work. In my photography, I try– I feel like I photograph almost exclusively people who identify in the LGBTQ+ family now. I mean, growing up, I had no idea that being nonbinary was a thing and I was so lost and so– I don’t know. There was no representation for it and so I had no idea what I was. So I feel like it’s important to represent all these people that I feel like growing up I saw little or no representation for. And I want to change that for future generations.

What is something you feel accomplished with?

I think I feel accomplished with my ability to care for others and to love. I have a lot of platonic intimacy with people and I feel like that’s really important. And I feel like that’s something that is difficult for a lot of people. It’s something that not a lot of people do or a lot of people I’ve noticed don’t understand. And so, I think I feel accomplished in that because I feel very comfortable in that. And I feel confident in my ability to do that and with those who are comfortable with receiving it, sharing it with them.

What are your thought on relationships, platonic, sexual, and otherwise?

Relationships are very interesting. I love the complexity of them. I mean, my relationships in all those categories are the things that have kept me alive I feel. So I have a lot of deep admiration for those relationships even though a lot of them are difficult and have caused me a lot of heartache and pain in the past and present and future. But I don’t know. There’s a lot of beauty in that. Because I understand very well the temperance of things and I don’t really have an issue with things being temporary. It makes sense to me for things to be temporary. And I think its beautiful because I feel like it makes me appreciate those moments that I do have. And it’s kind of funny because, actually, today one of the people that I’m sweet on told me that they decided today to be monogamous with their primary and so we had to stop our, I guess, romantic side. And so it’s interesting because after that happened and after I’d sort of processed and accepted that, I then thought about this interview coming up, and I was like, “That’s a perfect day for that to happen.” But yeah, I don’t have any– I don’t know. I guess I’m just not mad or sad about things being temporary. Relationships are very interesting and complex things. And I do love the fact that they can exist in so many different forms and a mix of all three of those. Each one separately. I don’t know. That’s very interesting. I have a lot of feelings about relationships.

What do you think about your relationship with yourself?

Oh [laughter]. Yeah. We have a long history. I mean, it’s definitely my most difficult relationship. I can say that. Yeah. That’s one where every day it’s different. Yeah. I don’t know. It’s difficult. I see a lot of good things about myself, but it’s difficult for me to fully accept those. It’s hard for me to, I think, appreciate myself in a lot of ways. A lot of times, I wish I didn’t have to spend so much time with myself. A lot of times, I– I don’t know. A lot of times, I wish I could separate and not necessarily be someone else, but just somehow be alone with someone else in that way.

What is something you still struggle with?

Unfurl scroll [laughter]. I still struggle with anxiety. I still struggle with depression. And I still struggle with wanting to live. I struggle with loving myself, as seeing myself as worthy of love, of seeing myself as worthy of generally anything good. Yeah. Well, it’s interesting because I don’t know if I would necessarily describe it as coping mechanisms. But one thing that has helped me immensely that I have both realized recently and discussed recently is my relationships. And these people, they allow me to see myself as they see me and that’s really hard for me to do. And yeah, I mean, like I said, those relationships are the things that have saved my life countless times. Yeah. So I feel like that’s definitely what’s helped me the most. And even though I still struggle with it every day, the people in my life help me to survive that.

Seraphina Violet Cueller


Date of Interview: June 19, 2017

Name: Seraphina Violet Cueller

Age: 20

Pronouns: She/Hers and They/Them

Location: Chicago, IL


How often do you bathe or shower?

I shower every day now, because I work as a maintenance person. But I used to not shower a lot, yeah [laughter]. I bathe when I’m really stressed out. My parents live in the suburbs and I go back there and take like an anxiety bath [laughter].

If you were a underwater creature which would you be?

I would be a cuttlefish. I love them so much [laughter]. They’re these weird squid things that are– they change color. They look like little squids and they’re just awkward. And I very much vibe with that personality. So they’re super cool. I saw a documentary on PBS about cuttlefish and I’ve been crazy about them ever since.

What are you passionate about?

I’ve been asking myself a lot lately because I’m trying to get to the root of it. I’m very passionate about helping people, which is just such a generic thing that everyone’s like, yeah, I want to help people. And it really is something that’s at the core of my world. I’m very passionate about theater and that’s what I’m in school for, but I want to be able to take art that is not only just about putting something on a stage, but how you actually use art form to relate to other people. There’s a super cool thing called mirror neurons, and they’re the neurons that when you’re watching somebody else, like dribble a basketball, your neurons are firing like you’re dribbling a basketball. And so I think there are things that you can learn through actually watching something happen on stage or through film, that if you don’t have the experience going through it, then you can’t understand. So that’s why I’m so drawn to that.

What is something you feel accomplished with?

Ugh. I get out of bed in the morning, and that’s an accomplishment sometimes. That’s something I have a lot of trouble with because I have really bad depression and anxiety, and so it’s hard for me to do things. I have a lot of ideas. Like, my accomplishment is having ideas, but other than that, it’s really hard to feel accomplished about things. The thing I accomplished lately, I did a two-hour performance art piece on Kanye West, and that was my most recent– it was about exploitation, and mainly about me but using all of Kanye’s weird words and songs. And this is somebody that I vibe with. I know he’s like a super hard figure for a lot of people to vibe with, but he talks about struggling depression, in music, and a lot about fake celebrity culture. And it’s something about the isolation that I felt a connection to.

What is something you still struggle with?

Trying to stay in an art mindset, because it’s really difficult to actually keep doing things day-to-day. It’s something that’s hard to describe because it’s weird being like, “Yes, getting out of bed is difficult.” And if I don’t have somewhere to be in the morning, it takes me two hours to get out of bed. And that’s a normal thing of me laying in bed for two hours, just trying to do things. And I have a lot of social anxiety, and it’s hard to be around people because I love people so much, and I have this really intense curiosity about how people work and what people are thinking about, how to study their bodies. And especially through the acting training, you see so much about how bodies work. But it’s just being in a group, and knowing all those little things, and being sensitive to that, and then also having to be a participant, is exhausting to me. Yeah.

Do you think you’re more of an introvert, or extrovert, or introverted extrovert?

I am an extroverted introvert. I come off as somebody who– and it’s amazing to me. I come off as somebody who’s very confident to people, and I’m like, “Oh, no. I am not.” I mean, I’m really hard on myself. And it’s hard because I’m very friendly, and I try to smile at everyone, just because I know that I’ve been ignored so many times. And so it’s difficult. I want to be able to smile and be nice to people because I know I was brought up with that experience a lot, so I try to make people… comfortable, happy.

What do you think of relationships: platonic, sexual, and otherwise?

I think I’m not ever going to get married. And that’s something that’s so– all these things I say I feel like come off as like, “Oh, typical millennial, thinking all these things.” But for me, it’s like I am somebody who lies on such a broad spectrum, it’s hard to find people who relate to that broad of a spectrum. Like if I’m in my quiet mood, the party people who I vibe with aren’t going to get along with me when I’m in those moods. And it’s just hard because I need a lot of alone time, and I also need people to know that they don’t have to take care of me. And it’s hard because every time I’m upset, I’m very honest about that, and I will say I’m upset, and people think that they have to take care of me. And I’m like, I’ve been taking care of myself emotionally for so long that I’m like, “No. Just sometimes I need a hug, and that’s it.” But I am very much influenced by whatever little wind that blows by me, so I tend to run with the current. And that’s really bad in a marriage. Most of my sexual relationships are actually just with my friends. And yeah, it’s a little less pressure because I intensely love people, and I understand that they don’t feel the same way about me because I’m somebody that’s very wild, and  a lot of times, people are enticed by this idea that I’m somebody who’s wild and never feels any sort of guilt or anything about myself. And then when they find out that I actually have this fragile side, and I am really self-conscience about myself, they get freaked out because I’m not this confident dream person. I’m like the dark version of a manic pixie dream girl. That people like the intensity and the fire, and then they find out how tired I am all the time, and how really like– I keep getting to the phrase, broken woman, and then being like, “I’m not broken. This is just how I am. I’m just different than how most people function,” and kind of trying to vibe with that. And I don’t think that’s quite conducive to ever being with anyone else in a full-time thing. But I still, in my sexual relationships, like to find the love in there. But often I’ll love them, but it’s an understanding of getting my heart broken over, and over, and over again, and being okay with that. And now I’m so good at getting my heart broken because I can’t stay mad with anyone, so I’ve become an expert in heartbreak [laughter]. I get so excited about people and finding out who they are, and then I want to get deeper, but there’s always this stupid social restriction that keeps me from reaching– there was a moment– I was drinking on my college campus a few days ago because it’s summer, and why not have some drinks in one of our buildings? And I have this urge to touch my friend’s forehead and be like, “I’m here with you,” but I felt like I couldn’t. There were other people there and I was like, “That would be weird.” There would be this weird depth that I would feel I have to take care of then. And I know I am ready for that, but I don’t want to push anyone into an uncomfortable zone where it’s too intense for them.


Mary-Berkley Gaines

Mary-Berkley Gains


Date of Interview: January 29, 2017

Name: Mary-Berkley Gaines

Age: 26

Pronouns: She/Her

Location: Birmingham, AL


How often do you bathe or shower?

Probably… every other day, every day. Trying to cut back ::laughs::.

If you were an underwater creature, what would you be?

Mermaid. For sure. For sure, I’m a mermaid, most definitely. Ariel was my favorite when I was little, I love the ocean, I’m a Pisces. I’m a water baby, it’s just me. I actually had a fashion blog that was called the Teal Siren. I’m such a mermaid. And now it’s a thing so I have to chill on that because everyone wants to be a mermaid and I am one. I was one first, just so we all know the deal ::laughs::.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about radical self love. Being body positive. Self acceptance. Growth, just like, progressing as a human. Making my world and my community better. I feel like we can always push ourselves to be better. It’s my life, starting my organization and now we’re an official non-profit… Beautiful Bodies of Birmingham started as just a website and it’s now it’s own entity. It’s crazy! I’m a founder and I started it, but now it has this own life. It’s amazing.The people… we wouldn’t be anything without the community and the people and having people identify with it. We have followers from all over the country and even some people from different parts of the world. I think that in Birmingham we are the heart of the civil rights movement. We are where things went down, so it’s only natural that we have this project that we can be progressive with and move forward with in a different way. There’s always been that history, I think people forget that we are a city of activists. There’s still a strong community of people. There are all these protests for different things every other week, especially now and we can’t forget what our history is. It only makes us better and stronger. I think people connect it with a lot of negative things but it’s positive in some ways because we can continue to better ourselves. Being in the Bible Belt is really hard but we’re a pretty progressive city and we are a city in a very conservative place.

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?

Well! I think giving myself a break. I’ve always been really hard on myself and being a bigger person, being a plus size girl and having eating disorders and struggling with that and body dysmorphia and going through a lot of stuff and having PTSD and depression, anxiety, mental illness, having a learning disability growing up. Going through all this stuff, I never gave myself a break. It’s a lot going on and I never gave myself credit and was really hard on myself. So now, I can push myself forward and progress but I still have those checks and balances of telling myself, “you can’t do anything but take it one day at a time”. So giving myself a break is my biggest accomplishment.

What is something you still struggle with?

Probably still struggling with trying to get over that thing of being a human and that I’ll fuck up and that it’s okay. Being flawed and knowing it’s okay for me to be… that I’ll fuck up and it’s okay for me to be on this journey.

What do you think of relationships? Platonic, sexual or otherwise.

I think they’re really important. You can learn something from every relationship and I feel like we need to be more intimate with people and that intimacy isn’t just a sexual thing. I love that I have friends that I can be like that with, that we can cuddle and hold hands and love on each other without it being a sexual thing. I love that I have sexual relationships where I’m respected enough that I can explore them. I’m queer and I’m noticing as I explore what queer means to me, I’m finding out so much more about myself and I’m glad that I’m in a place where I can do that. It was hard growing up queer in Alabama. I always knew I had an attraction to women, that’s how it started, but I never was really comfortable with that. Well, I was comfortable with it but you know, when you’re younger it’s kind of weird to come out. You don’t really know how to navigate that. So, I only came out a few years ago. I struggled with that because there’s not really a gay scene here and it was kind of what’s the point if I’m going through all this shit if I can’t go out and express it or meet people. But then, as I got older I realized that I wasn’t the only one. It just took me going through college and having those experiences to finally figure out that I’m queer! And like, it’s a thing and I can experience it. It’s been about three years. It’s been great!

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