THEBATHTUBPROJECT

exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Tag: Mental Health

Annabel Wheeler

 

Date of Interview: July 3, 2017

Name: Annabel Wheeler

Age: 26

Pronouns: She/Her and They/Them

Location: Chicago, IL

 

How often do you bathe or shower?

I try to shower every day, and I wash my hair as needed [laughter]. And baths? When I’m sick or feel like I need to relax.

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

A living organism [laughter]. Oh, gosh. Maybe a starfish. I could regrow all my little ends [laughter]. Haven’t thought about that. That’s a good question.

What are you passionate about?

I believe I’m passionate about a few things, like that Sylvia Plath kind of thing where it goes, “If you have too many figs, they’ll die.” And I’ve realized this year – mainly over the past six months –I’ve needed to weed out some of those. And I’ve narrowed things down to two, which are basically education and self-care, which go a long way. It’s not just me here [laughter], but the world at large, whether that be in hospitality in coffee, or working with children and people with disabilities, both are art and language in the community at large. I think there’s a lot going out there needs to be done, and there’s not only one way to do it. Guess I’m trying to figure how I can give [laughter]. My parents are both architects. And so when I was growing up, people would always be like, “Oh, Annabel. You can draw. So you’re going to be an architect, right?” And I, of course, being the little bitch I am [laughter], would reply, “No, I’m not.” And so I grew up saying, “No, I’m not. No, I’m not.” And now I’m thinking, “Maybe I should have gone with those [laughter], ‘You’re going to be architect.'” But I do appreciate growing up in that way because I learned a lot about the city, started drawing right away. And it’s one of the only things that – one of the few things that – gives me some kind of point of relaxation as well as a point of reflection. I do a lot of illustration internally, not necessarily caring about what the drawing “looks” like. More for myself in time. And if I don’t draw one day, it tells me that I was either really busy, sick, or really happy and just forgot.

Does art go into mental health for you?

Totally. Also. I think about art and educational system within STEAM.  With art programs being cut left and right, STEAM allows students and educators to implement art in history classes, or mathematics, etc  AND not everyone is learning the same way!!

What is something that you still struggle with?

Struggle is a hard word for me, but in 2008 I went to my first AA meeting. It was not until about four rehabs, institutions, and, detoxes later that I got some quality sober time. It was me who had to want it though. Now sober since February 17th of 2015. Still – almost two and a half years later – on a daily, hourly, second basis I have to make sure I have reasons to be places where drinking or drugging is going to be happening and that I have a plan B. Not the other Plan B. I don’t think I need that one. Yeah, it’s something that I’m proud of, as well as it’s a good reminder to myself and my growth.

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

What do I think of them? You know, I’ve only been in monogamous relationships and I have never been in a poly relationship. I’ve dated cis men in the past. My first year of college, almost ten years ago, came out as queer.  Also – dating? It’s hard. It’s really hard, you know? I’ve tried dating multiple people at once. That’s exhausting. Don’t do it. Tried it. If it works for you, great. Seriously. I feel like once I have a better grasp of who I am and what I can bring to a relationship, I can be a better partner – I want to be my full self. Platonic relationships? Love my friends. Family is kind of included I guess, in a way. I think that within social media and stuff like that, we see people moving across the country or internationally it’s hard to stay in contact. But. I think that even a letter, message, anything can just bring back something so great. Just say you had seen a leaf on the ground with a friend 15 years ago, and you found a picture from that moment and you just…send it off to them. You haven’t talked to that person in 15 years. And even if they don’t respond, it’s not about that.  They’ll receive it – perhaps – and that feels good. Just into space. I don’t think platonic relationships are just with people. I think relationships are being one within this crazy fucking universe and learning how to exist with the people walking down the street or buying a cup of coffee.

Kate

Kate

 

Date of Interview: April 5, 2017

Name: Kate

Age: 27

Pronouns: She/Hers

Location: Washington, DC

 

How often do you bathe or shower?

I bathe or shower randomly. Sometimes I shower twice a day, sometimes I go a couple days without. But with baths, I never feel clean so I usually shower afterwards ::laughs::.

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

Hmmm. I like starfish, although I find it kind of disturbing with sand dollars and stuff, when they don’t get thrown back in. Or… I like jellyfish, but I wouldn’t want to sting things. Once I had a dream that I was a fish, a regular one that was yellow and blue and I could breathe through my gills. Since then I’ve been really into the idea of breathing through gills. I don’t really know the process of breathing underwater, but in my dream if felt wonderful to breathe that way.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about a lot of things. Kind of too many things, I have trouble focusing. Lately it’s kind of cheesy, but I’ve been trying to focus everything that I do on two things. Making a difference in some way, even though that sounds really cheesy, or making something beautiful. I like sharing or experiencing beautiful things. I try to focus more on creating than consuming. So that’s a roundabout way of saying that I have so many things that I focus on passionately, that I want to go with those feelings and they are guided by those two focuses and principles. I am passionate about art, which goes into beautiful things, also nature. I’m passionate about mental health. I’m into mental health reform. I’m passionate about sex and gender based violence, I’m passionate about the rights of women. I feel like I’m passionate about a lot of things, and I try to do small things to make people happier. Equality is such a vague thing, but I am passionate about it. Like, with mental health reform, people deserve a chance, you know? It’s messed up how people are abandoned. Same with sex and gendered violence advocacy stuff, I think that’s so important and it really upsets me how unequal that is. Sexual violence it makes us so unequal because of living in fear. It mostly affects women, so it becomes a gender equality issues because of living in fear and living life differently because of it which can affect so many things. Losing income or having to pay so much money in therapy or medical bills because of it. Or not graduating college, that stuff really upsets me when it comes to equality. This connects to mental health reform ’cause so much of this becomes a mental health issue for survivors, it tends to hold people back a lot. I’m passionate about those things, and that people have equal access to beauty. People having equal access to art and nature… those are human rights issues. People think that it’s frivolous, people think that art is a luxury and I don’t think that art should be a luxury. Of course safety and putting food on the table should be a priority, and those are huge things but what I mean to say is that we need to make sure everyone has those things and more. Like, making sure that people can do more than survive and have access to beautiful things and things that make life good.

What is something you still struggle with?

Right now I’m struggling most with direction. The idea that you have to choose A path, you have to make choices if you’re going to move anywhere. Like, anytime you make one choice, you’re sacrificing all the other choices… so it’s basically FOMO ::laughs::. But in the larger sense, not just going to parties, but if I become a physiatrist, will I have time for writing anymore. If I focus on a writing or publishing career, will I even have enough time or money to feel stable. So balancing different desires of life.

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

I think, of course, they are very important. I think that we don’t spend enough time thinking about them or how to make them good. I think most of us are often lazy about them and go through the phases without questioning things… I think to have good relationships, it takes a lot of work and effort. Most of the work can be fun, much of time. I think a lot of people prioritize romantic relationships to be the number one. It can be, but often it’s up to the other relationships in your life and we put too much pressure on that one person. It can be healthier to get from more than one place. I struggle with maintaining my own identity and not merging with other people’s identities or people pleasing in my relationships. That’s something that I work on. I think they’re all important and it can be healthy to view in different ways. It’s also really important for me to think of myself with a relationship with myself. It’s good to remember that I’m a person too, I should treat myself kindly as well.

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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