THEBATHTUBPROJECT

exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Tag: PTSD

Liz and Abrina

 

Date of Interview: June 12, 2017

Names: Liz and Abrina

Ages: 20 and 21

Pronouns: They/Them and They/Them

Location: Chicago, IL

 

How often do you both bathe or shower?

Abrina: I shower usually every three to four days, just because I grew up with acne issues and stuff. Skin care is a really, really big part of my life and I also use it as a self-care thing. Obviously, I don’t always enjoy showering. It feels more like a job than I want it to. But I feel like it’s important to shower more often, for myself at least.
Liz: I’m usually like two, and maybe if I’m feeling extra cleanly, I’ll do it three times a week [laughter]. But that’s about it. And I’m a bath fan over showers, always. Like baths over showers, forever. So, that’s just for me. I took only baths until I was in fifth grade and people thought it was very weird.

Is bathing a self-care act for you?

Liz: I think so. Yes, it’s a lot more relaxing for me. And it’s also, you just get to sit down [laughter]. The idea that I’m standing up just makes it feel less relaxing for me, and then once I’m sitting in the bath I’m like, “Now I can chill [laughter].” But when I’m in the shower I’m like, “Oh shit. I’ve got to go.” I don’t know. Just the body language of showering vs. bathing.
Abrina: So I have major depressive disorder, and I have anxiety. And when I was 12 I experienced a really traumatic episode. So I was diagnosed with PTSD really early on. And it was always really hard for me to deal with my mental illness, and just find effective ways to handle it and cope with it. So I think that, with also struggling with acne issues, got me into makeup and skin-care. So I started using makeup and skincare as a way to not only help my skin, and make me feel better, but also as a way to make me feel better about myself.

If you were an underwater creature, mythical or real – whatever it could be – what would you be?

Liz: That’s a good question. I have to think about that. Probably a turtle. A sea turtle. I feel like they just live forever, but then they also have their own thing going on. They know how to form a group effectively, and travel well. And I respect that. I’m a social person. I’ve got my own thing going on. Also, they live a very long time, which I was always like, “Fuck that,” but now I’m interested [laughter] to live a long life.
Abrina: I think that I would be an octopus. I just really like them. I think they’re really weird and I just really like very weird looking animals [laughter].

What are you passionate about?

Liz: Everything? I feel like that’s cliche to say, but I feel like there are so many things that I love and care about. My friends, the people that I love. And creating things. Helping other people. Love. I could go on. But I’m not going to [laughter] because that would take forever. I would be here listing things that I love and it would just be midnight immediately.
Abrina: I agree. I definitely am passionate about people that I love and my relationships and kind of bringing good energy to the world and always trying to keep a really positive outlook. I’m really passionate about Andrew W.K. [laughter] because I really love his Facebook status post because he’s always– I don’t know, he just has this idea of partying, but partying in a way that’s positive and just bringing good energy and vibe to the world and like loving people and taking care of yourself. I just really, really love that and I really respect that. And I think that’s a big motivation for me.

Do you think social media and community are intertwined?

Liz: Oh, yes. I think absolutely. Social media is part of how I maintain my sense of community. It’s very easy to keep in touch with people when they have social media, and I have friends that don’t and it is more difficult. Of course, I’m totally willing to do that, but there are certain things where I’ll be like, “Oh, I want to invite you to this Facebook event,” and then I can’t. But being able to share things like that on the internet, where I know that we can all interact with each other with such greater ease, it’s just easier to interface with the people that you want to interface with.
Abrina: Yeah, I think social media community is really important, honestly, because I think it gives us a wider range of access to people. And also, I feel like, especially if you’re a person who’s a POC or LGBTQIA or any combination of different identities, it gives you an outlet to see and meet other people who are like you and who can share similar experiences to you, whereas you might not always get that depending on where you are.
L: Yeah, if it wasn’t for social media, we wouldn’t have met.
A:Yeah, we wouldn’t have met, because we met on Tumblr.
L: Yeah, I followed Abrina on Tumblr for a long time.
A: It was a thirst follow.
L: It was a thirst follow [laughter]. But I realized how similar we were from the things that we would post, and the things that we would say and care about. Of course, that’s not all that there is to a person, but I got a really good sense of who you were.
A: Yeah they sent me– I reblogged this ask meme at night [laughter], and then it was like, “Oh, tell me something about yourself, but don’t be–”
L: On anonymous.
A: On anonymous, yeah. And they sent me something like, “I’m really bad at taking care of plants but I’m really good at smoking them,” and I was like, “Oh my gosh, I need to–
L: Now they were like, “Oh my goodness.”
A: –to talk to them in person [laughter].”
L: I was like 17. Oh my gosh. But yeah. And then I started Skyping with Abrina [laughter].
A: Yeah. And now we’re here [laughter].
L: Shit is so wild.

So the two of you are engaged?

Liz: Yes.
Abrina: Yeah
L: As of June 21st. Oh my gosh, what, a year ago? We took a vacation in Portland with my family, and that’s where we got engaged.
A: Yeah, we got engaged at a ramen shop because ramen is my favorite food. But their ramen sucked. But they gave us free alcohol, so it was okay [laughter].
L: That’s true. We’re doing long-distance now. It’s definitely hard sometimes. I remember just before you were here, I was like, “Okay, I have no physical touch outlet in my life, because you’re not here.” But then also, I don’t want some people who want to do that in their life. But also that you’re the only person I really want to touch, so then it’s like I just got to wait around until you’re here to sensually touch you. But it is hard though because I feel like– of course I’m an affectionate person, I get affectionate with my friends, but that’s not the same thing. And also, for my friends, I want just to have friendships. I don’t want to have a different element to that relationship personally for me. And, as much as I’d love to be like, “Monogamy is overrated. I hate it. It’s stupid,” I don’t feel that way. I want to be with you. I like being only with you.
A: I want to be only with you, too! And yeah, I mean, I’ve always been an openly sexual person and I have been in open relationships before, but they just never really worked out for me. And I feel like I can get affection from my friends, obviously not in the same way as I do with my partner, but I feel like that affection is able to hold me over, basically.
L: Right. And there’s a lot of power in a hug. Hugs are a powerful thing.
A: I think that, as a society, we are made to crave affection in a specifically sexual and romantic way and we demean affection in other ways. And I think what we need to focus on is how important just small acts of affection are from any person that you’re in a relationship with, whether it would be a romantic, or friend, or familial, or anything like that.

What are your thoughts on relationships – platonic, sexual, and otherwise?

Liz: Relationships are basically one of the number one things for me. And even a relationship with yourself is important; how you relate to yourself. Relationships, I feel like they’re one of my favorite things [laughter]. No, but I love people so much and I love sharing the experience of being a person with another person because that’s, I feel like, one of the most unique things we can do as humans, with each other, is share what it’s like for us to be a human because hey, we’re the weirdest animals there are [laughter].
Abrina: Yeah. I think that having a relationship with yourself is definitely the most important thing and should always be your top priority because I feel like it’s really hard to have effective relationships with other people if you can’t have a relationship with yourself. And obviously, I don’t mean that in a way to demean people who find it hard to have relationships with themselves for other reasons, but I feel like any effort you put into having a relationship with yourself, first and foremost, is really the most important.

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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