exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Tag: Depression

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!




Date of Interview: January 4, 2017

Name: Sandy

Age: 42

Pronouns: She/Her

Location: Rockville, MD


How often do you bathe or shower?

That depends… I cycle through depression. If I am in a depressed mode, it’s more likely that I’m not going bathe. However, I have this really weird “thing”.  I will always make sure my puss and my butt are clean. SO those get cleaned every day. If I’m in an accident and something happens, my junk is cleaned up. The rest of me might not be ::laughs::. However, when I’m in a good phase, let’s say every day.

Do you feel like mental health correlates with your life in ways outside of bathing?

Yes, it does. I think that’s what helps me… it’s funny, I used to hate that I have depression. I also have a disorder called  trichotillomania. It’s a hair pulling disorder. Two in 50 people have it and it used to be the worst thing ever for me.  I used it unknowingly  to push people away, but now it seems to be the thing that can connect me to people. People come to me with their “stuff.” Even if it is different from my stuff, on some level I might get what they are going through. I feel all emotions really big and I like that. When I’m sad it can be awful and deep. However, I get the equivalent amount of feelings and depth when I’m happy. I appreciate that I can feel that fucking happy. Most people don’t feel as happy as I feel when I’m happy since many people tend to mute their emotions. It is impossible to mute just one emotion. When one mutes one, they mute them all. Feeling them so big  can be a gift and a curse. It can take up & impact a lot of my life. That said, when I see something beautiful, like when you came in and I was watching that gorgeous scene from American Beauty, I cry. I’m just so moved it can bring me to tears in a good way. I like it and I hate it.

What are you passionate about?

That’s a good question… Nature. I wasn’t raised that way but I always liked being outside. One day I saw a deer on the side of the road that was hit by a car. I did not see it get it. It was still alive. I ended up helping to save it. After we got it to safety in the woods, hours later I could not help but go back and check on it.  I slept in the woods with it for awhile. It was 1 in the morning but I needed to know that it was okay, which it was. It was this beautiful moment… there was a full moon. It was summer. He let me pet him and feed him….and the breeze… that moment was my most favorite, perfect moment in my life. After that, I became even more connected to nature. There’s just something there.  When I’m not feeling good, I can go out and ground myself and feel I’m a part of something. The world makes sense, and I make sense when I’m out there. I feel people don’t appreciate nature as much as they should. I hate that it’s being destroyed and I don’t think people get how important nature is.

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?

Honestly, just embracing me and who I am as much as possible, as well as being okay with it. I feel when I’m out in the world with people I’m both extroverted and introverted. That said, there are many people when I am around them, I get the feeling I do not quite fit it. Most of the time it is something they said to me and I get they just do not get me, who I am, how I live my life, as well as what I stand for. I’m waiting to find a zipper on my body because I feel like an alien a lot of times when I don’t fit in. I can imagine finding the zipper and pulling off my human skin and underneath there is this other alien body exposed.  I can see myself saying, “This is why I don’t make sense to all of you!!” But there’s something about that. I feel accomplished because I have this inner part of me that’s beautiful, awesome, and makes sense to me. It doesn’t need to make sense to anyone else as long as it makes sense to me. I think that has allowed me to love myself. That’s a big fucking deal. Especially since I spent a lot of my time hating myself for many years. I worked hard for that.

What supported you with getting more comfortable with yourself?

I wonder if part of it was getting older and growing up.  I also took many self-development courses, was a coach, and I have a coach myself. Sometimes, we all get in our own way. When I do, sometimes I need someone to ask “what’s that about?” I needed guides to help me… ask questions I couldn’t ask or see what I couldn’t, or see what was in my way. Meditating in the woods helped me a great deal. A lot of amazing people showed up for me.  I feel like they had little red bows on them. They were gifts to me, even if they were temporary gifts. I had a lot of good supportive people. I still do.  I think that, as well as being ready. I was ready or it would not have happened otherwise.

What is something you still struggle with?

Probably my body. I’m working very hard at accepting where it is at. I have been a lot bigger than I am now, 35-40 lbs bigger. I do get some of our bodies shift due to age. ::laughs:: Intellectually I get it.  I was sick on and off for two years and my body is the product of that.  I was honoring where it was at by allowing it to rest a lot more, and work out less. It’s still a beautiful body… it’s just a little bit different than it was and it may not go back. I struggle with that.  For instance, these are my big boobs now and I don’t like them this big. I like smaller breasts.  However, this is where they are at and it is what it is.

What do you want to do this year?

I want to create positive energy this year. I’m looking forward to being outside more. I want to be in the woods more. I’m looking forward to that. I feel this is a scary time for a lot of people. I would love to collectively create something that would feel supportive and positive for others, a safe space. Or even myself if I should need it. I want to have fun too. I want to have fucking fun! I want to see live music, embrace my inner child and go roller skating! I want to create adventure, love, self-love, support, health, prosperity, and so much more.

Samantha Yvette

Samantha Yvette


Date of Interview: December 14, 2016

Name: Samantha Yvette

Age: 25

Pronouns: She/Her

Location: Washington, DC


How often do you bathe or shower?

Everyday if I’m not being lazy. I start with a shower and almost always end up taking a bath because this is a jacuzzi tub. I like lining the edge with candles and I play music or read until the water turns cold and I’m super pruny.

If you were an underwater creature, which one would you be?

I think I would be a mermaid. I grew up in Florida and I was always swimming or at the beach. Everyone in Florida has a pool, and that’s pretty much the only thing to do because it’s too hot to play or do anything outside for a long time. My grandma used to have to yell at me to come out of the water and I never wanted to, so I learned how to hold my breath for a really long time so I that I could pretend to not hear her ::laughs::. So yes, definitely a mermaid, I already feel like one. I’m most comfortable in water.

What are you passionate about?

Music and movement. I have found it to be really healing, especially now. I was always performing and singing as a child and recently found my latest passion which is fire dancing. It has brought a whole new meaning to my life. Because of it, I’m now a part of a community that feels like home and am able to continue my performance career through this new chapter in my life. I’m also currently in the process of learning how to DJ, so hopefully I can give back the feeling of what music and movement has given me.

How has it been healing?

I… I have been through a lot in my life. My mom was a single mom and my dad wasn’t in the picture. She had my brother and I very young and she most likely had mental health issues she didn’t address before having us. It always seemed like we were a nuisance to her. She refused to get help from anyone even though she needed it. At one point we lived out of the country with my Aunt while she stayed in the states because she couldn’t take care of us. My family would criticize her so she secluded us from them. I guess it was her way to protect us and because of that I never developed strong relationships with most of my family. I kinda…never felt like I was loved by her, so when I met my first boyfriend at 16, he gave me so much attention and took care of me and that felt really good. After a year, the relationship turned abusive. Because of him, I had stopped doing everything that I was passionate about. I stopped dancing, I stopped singing. I had to put him first, you know, he kind of manipulated me. He made me feel like I was nothing without him and that no one else would love me or deal with me. He knew my weaknesses and had me wrapped me around his finger. He ended up convincing me to move to Alabama the second I turned 18 because he was going to school there. We lived together for almost 3 years and he had me enroll in the same classes as him so that he didn’t have to do anything. He also didn’t let me work which was another way for him to control me. He didn’t let me go out, I couldn’t have friends. If I was talking to someone online or in person he would always question me about them and get really jealous regardless of who they were. I felt trapped and was really depressed. My way to cope with my depression was with was food and I ended up gaining over 90 pounds in two years. I couldn’t even walk ten minutes without getting shin splints because all I did was stay at home. It was the worst feeling. Then he started telling me, “Oh, you’re fat now, I have to cheat on you because your body disgusts me, I don’t even want to have sex with you, I wish you were skinny and blonde”. At that point I was 19, and we had been together for 3 years and in those 3 years he had fucked with my head so much that I just did whatever he wanted, let him say whatever he wanted and didn’t fight back so that he wouldn’t leave me. Because I wasn’t close to my mom or family, I didn’t feel like I could reach out to them for help. When I was 20, my mom got engaged and was living in DC, so I came up for the wedding and I didn’t go back. It was still really difficult for the first 2 years living here. I wasn’t used to such a big city and I didn’t even know who I even was as a person anymore so I was extremely insecure when meeting new people. I finally changed my lifestyle and diet and started losing some of the weight I gained and could finally dance again, and it brought me back to myself. It brought me back to everything being okay again and now I can’t stop ::laughs::

What do you feel accomplished with?

I guess, that I’m even here today. I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety and always felt that I was fending for myself and that no one else was here for me. There were many times that I just wanted to give up and wondered what is even the point? Who even cares about me? But I’m still here and I’m really happy with my life now and the direction it’s going.

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

I think human connection is really important. I cherish my platonic relationships more than my romantic ones. Dating is hard for me because I still struggle with a lot of my past trauma and because of it, I’m still insecure and hold a lot of my feelings back because I don’t want to get hurt again. Even though I still deal with the trauma, I’m thankful it happened because I’ve been in a couple of romantic relationships where I’ve seen the red flags of abuse and I now have the courage to call them out and end them before it gets worse for myself or for anyone else. I’ve had some beautiful relationships since that ex that have showed me what being in a healthy and loving relationship is like, but right now I have a lot of goals and ambitions and things to work out with myself, so as much as a romantic relationship would be nice, the best thing for me is to be in a relationship with myself and I’m totally okay with that.

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