Seven Years.

as words fill up the page,
i’m writing for the sake of taking up space. 
the curves and sharp angles
will never capture my true meaning. 
too scared to be myself
even in the privacy of my own skin, 
i hide in spiral notebooks
rewarded with the satisfaction,
i have fooled my opponent.

i hold onto things that need to go free; 
half filled diaries,
empty glass bottles
(useless without lids).
no longer do they bring comfort 
aside from knowing they are still here,

i crave affection 
The kind that feels like
spinning in the middle of an intersection
drenched in rain.
submerged in affection.
without a care for safety.
but i am not fearless.

i hate change that i cannot control. 
i fear being left behind
but easily do the leaving.
i broke a heart without a tear.
But cried when they broke my own.
they wouldn’t fight for me.

she breathes
and i am left breathless. 
the smell of pine and campfire
a dare in the dark,
a chance to leap

a challenge of loyalty
i fight for her.
no road no rain
but I am left spinning

i set a dream free. 
so much harder than a friend,
or the potential of a glass bottle.

i forget to write.
i find a new way to take up space.

i threw away the old spiral notebooks.

Hi, it’s been a minute. Half of this was found among memories, written in March of 2015 – the spring before I met my wife. And so the second half is a sequel of sorts. Everything that happened in the next 7 years. The epilogue.

Talk to you soon,

~ Raelee


All in a Phrase

I don’t know if you have thought about this quite yet, but the new year is just around the corner and not only is it the end of the year – but it is the end of a decade!? I have been feeling very nostalgic and reflective, so this is one of 4 posts that I have planned in honor of the forthcoming 2020. I will be posting every Monday, each with some relation to the new year or the previous 10 years.
I hope you enjoy!

For the past 10 years, I have given myself a phrase at the start of a new year.

Sometimes these are borrowed from someone else, like “who you know is who I am,” borrowed from a camp coworker in 2014, or the entire chorus of “Dancing Queen,” borrowed from ABBA the year I turned 17. Sometimes its simply a sentence, like this one is for the takings, or keep track of your jackets. These phrases are sometimes used more than once, in a row or they bounce around. It’s just a habit I picked up around the time I started (seriously) keeping a journal, and it seems to stick with me throughout the year better then when I make a list of resolutions.

The first couple years of college were cataloged under: Push Through The Fear. Depending on your memory and/or how much of my blog you have read, this might look familiar. It is the title of a blog post all about trying to deal with my major anxiety, and was an alternate title considered for this post that I wrote in honor of my time as an actor. It’s a phrase that was written all over my notebooks, diaries, tucked away in blog posts, doodled on note pages. It is one that has stuck around with me for a while, and for me it acts as a chapter title for that time in my life when my ultimate goal was just to get-through-the-anxiety of whatever I was facing. I just wanted to get better at pushing myself to do what I needed to do, and stop missing out on experiences or relationships. That phrase is what got me through my first day at college; it is what got me to audition for my first college show and later my first performance of said show. Push through the Fear was what ultimately encouraged me to come out and try to build a relationship with my now girlfriend of 4 years. It was with me along every terrifying step of those formative years.

When I got sick and had to essentially quit my life, Fear wasn’t what was holding me back anymore so that mantra quickly got replaced. The goal has no longer been push through the fear, but instead to “practice patience,” because patience takes practice and practice takes patience. It’s been the title of my blog, it’s been doodled on note pages, written and underlined in my journals – I wrote about it too. The goal for the past 2 years has been to focus on slowing myself down, practice bettering my negative traits, and to be patient with – not only the people around me – but also how long it takes to grow. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is Raelee. So as I waited for every test result, as I learned new jobs, tackled medical bills, dealt with germy airplanes, and navigated scary adult processes like renting my first apartment – Practice Patience was there along the way. Not a push to just do it, but a reminder that it is ok to take my time.

Regardless, setting up a phrase for myself has been a way of setting intentions and gathering up excitement and encouragement for a new year. In times of crisis or depression it is something that helps me focus and continue building resilience.

I can tell that it will be a new phrase for 2020. I can feel the adrenaline of a new year, the lightness of a fresh start, the energy of finishing a book and picking up the next one. But I don’t know what it is yet. I never really seek them out, it has always been something that happens organically. I guess we’ll just have to see.


Image description: The photo is of a pile of Raelee’s diaries, journals, and planners. Some of the books are open to certain pages, one on top has a quote from Ernest Hemingway “I am a writer of fiction and so I am a liar too and invent from that I’ve heard. I’m a liar. My excuse is that I make the truth as I invent it truer than it would be. That is what makes good writers or bad”; one entry says “I kissed a girl and I really liked it and now we’re dating, but she leaves for Australia in September and also keeps hanging out with a girl who likes her and now I’m getting jealous” Dated August 3rd [2015]. The pile also features a bunch of scraps, like a dried rose head, movie ticket stubs, confetti from a Taylor Swift concert, and some Polaroids. 

September 4th

This is me in a moment of panic.
I’ve made a crucial mistake. It was amateur, really. I know better.

I stalked my old classmates on Facebook.

See, it started with one tagged in a photo of a mutual friend and then all the sudden I am on the spiral of sorting through photos of the people I never knew and know even less now. Suddenly everything I have ever done, or ever tried to conquer, is not enough. It’s not big enough. The milestones don’t stand tall enough. I’m not married yet. I haven’t traveled enough. I don’t have a degree. I’m not working for some giant impressive company. There aren’t enough photos of me laughing and smiling with my family in the sunny beach landscape. I am a failure. I have done nothing. I am a fraud. I can never write again because I have experienced nothing worth writing about. Why aren’t you going back to school this fall? Everyone else can work full time and at the very least take one class, why can’t you? You’re behind. You’re faking. You’re lazy. You are doing nothing with your life, you work at a bookstore and you haven’t even been reading.
I am drowning in my own assumed failures that literally no one but me gives a crap about, and measuring my life to people who are probably feeling as stuck as I am.

How do we find the balance? Needing things to be constantly changing so we have the illusion of movement and progression, but also having enough time to stop and enjoy where we are?

This morning I had a panic attack because I couldn’t find something to wear. It wasn’t a cute montage with bubble gum music and laughter and pillow fights. It was Raelee on the floor of the closet apologizing that we hadn’t left already because everything was fitting wrong. Frustrated because I knew that it was one part of my head controlling my actions against the rest of my will. Can’t wear a skirt because my legs aren’t shaven. Since when do I care that my legs are hairy? Today apparently. I can’t wear the black jeans because it might get hot and then I’ll be uncomfortable. Can’t wear that because I’ll look like I’m trying too hard. Can’t wear the sandals with those pants because the holes. I hear them laughing at my photo. Can’t wear this shirt because I wear it to work and I want to wear something I can’t normally wear to work. Can’t wear this fabric because it feels like it’s seeping into my skin. Can’t wear this. Not that. Maybe this? Nope, you’re ugly. They laughed at your photo. You’re stupid. You’re fat. I can’t possibly be fat, Anxiety Raelee, you’re a 0!> And even if you weren’t a 0, your size doesn’t measure anything other than the width of your hips. Chill. Please, knock this off right now. You need to go.

The sun is shining and YOU ARE MISSING IT.

I continue to let myself fall into this pit of self-doubt and insecurity. I allowed myself to get distracted from my own life because of what others may think, or how they may live. Why?! As the wise T-Swizzle said “you are not the opinion of somebody who doesn’t know you, or care about you.” Why do we let ourselves listen to this part of our minds? We deserve better. We deserve a chance to explore the world without having to conquer our own inner demons first. Although I guess when it’s timed right, it can push us to be stronger. In this very moment though, that doesn’t feel worth the price.

I’m glad this got me writing, but I really could have done without the dramatics.

So anyway, how’s everyone else doing this fine September?

This Post is a Confession

Alright, its official. I concede. After years of fighting the truth I am finally embracing who I really am. No more denial from me. I will learn to love this newly realized, disgusting part of myself, just as I learned to work with and appreciate my vanity. There’s no point in pretending to be anyone different to you, as I have been so honest up to this point. I will come clean. But please, don’t judge me.

I think….

Gosh this is harder than I thought it would be.

You see, the thing is… umm.

I think I am…. Oh god, my gag reflex is reacting and I’m not even speaking out loud. Wow

I, Raelee…

I am a morning person.

UGGH, I never thought that I would see this in writing, let alone be in agreement with such a heinous statement.

And I know that you are already making judgements, you stop that right now. Before you start picturing me as some bubbly morning person, I SWEAR, I’m not like that. At least. Not every morning. And don’t you dare assume that I am productive, because trust me, getting up early doesn’t seem to directly influence my production level.

Let me explain how we’ve gotten to this point. For one thing, there have been many, many, hints to this conclusion over the years. My mother likes to bring up all the times she woke up to find me playing with my toys as a toddler at like 3 am. As I got older, it got a little later, closer to 7 am. In high school, I would wakeup naturally around 9 on weekends, if I wasn’t up too late, but I would stay in bed for hours reading or on my iPod, which led my family to believe that I woke up closer to noon (like any normal teen I suppose). It didn’t help that I would pretend to sleep when they would text me, or call for me, or check on me (I wasn’t asleep family dearest, I was depressed and really didn’t want to hang out with you guys, I wanted to chill in Raelee Dreamland). On week days, my alarm went off at 5:45 am every morning and we left about an hour later. In college, I was granted the job of dropping Sister off at the bus stop around 8 am. Reflecting back, the best and most productive days are the ones I wake up around 7:30 and am fully dressed with Sister at the bus stop; as opposed to the days I crawled back into bed after getting up with two minutes to spare.

The summers I spent working at camp, I woke up at 7 am every morning, 6:45 on days I wanted to shower before breakfast. Depending on how late I was up the night before, it was relatively painless Unless it was super cold. Then it was a bitch.

The ultimate truth is, I do better when I get up early and have plenty of prep time. Mornings that an alarm go off tend to go better for me than the days I wake up naturally.

So why did it take me so long to realize I am a morning person? Well, it’s kind of silly, but I always thought that being a morning person meant that you LIKED waking up early. And to a point I don’t. I hate it. I hate the weird hangover-like haze of turning the alarm off and then sitting up. I hate that it tends to be cold in the morning. I hate getting out of my fluffy and cozy and warm blankets. I hate people who are peppy and sing and smile when the sun has barely risen. Well, ok, that’s not entirely fair because I seem to be one of those people, but in my defense, I am faking that joy and hoping that it turns into real joy.

But really… I kind of like getting up early. I like leaping out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off with no thought. That’s the trick to getting up early you see, you gotta just get up, you can’t think about how early it is. Ideally after that, you immediately put on peppy music (now I share a room with another person, and she doesn’t like blaring music, so I use headphones if people are home and sleeping). You have to make sure its music you know really well, and is dancey, otherwise you’ll just get sleepy again. Then, you make the coffee or tea. The past couple months I only wake up early to go to an appointment or to walk Sister to the bus stop, and today for the first time in a long time I took coffee with me to the bus stop, and OH MY GOD, what a great choice that was. I got to hold the nice warm mug in my hands while we walked in the cold dewy morning. There were birds chatting, and the quiet splashing of the ducks on the lake, and I couldn’t help but feel so at peace and cozy!? I realized later that it smelled like camp and that’s why it felt to familiar to me.

I got sidetracked.

OH, while the coffee is a brewing (or pouring; we’re a Kureig family), that’s when you wash your face. I read once in high school that Audrey Hepburn washed her face with ice water in the morning, so I picked up a similar habit. Without thinking I immediately walk to the bathroom and splash cold water on my face. If it’s a bad acne morning, then I’ll go ahead and wash with soap and warm water, but I still start and end the routine with freezing cold water. There is something so weirdly relaxing about feeling your cold face against the cold morning….

Then it’s time to get ready, (unless you’re staying home that day, then it’s time to read and drink coffee), hopefully if nighttime Raelee was nice, there are a couple prepared outfits to choose from, otherwise my room turns into a trashed dressing room. When I started college, I tried to get into the habit of not checking my phone until I was on the bus, that way I didn’t get sidetracked by social media. While I’ve been out of school, I try to look at most of it on my computer, because I’m more likely to start working on my writing once I run out interesting things to look at, as opposed to scrolling though Buzzfeed on my phone for way too long. If I’m being really adult, I make myself a healthy breakfast, usually something I can sneak on the bus and eat while waiting between stops, or just on the bus.. shh.

See, I didn’t know that enjoying all these little minor things made me a morning person, I thought to be a morning person you had to naturally wake up at 7 am and be immediately happy. But as I have aged (chill Raelee, you are literally 21), I have come to realize that more often than not, happiness and joy is a choice. You have to look around you and take in the little pleasures, like morning coffee, or the smell of a dewy morning. As someone who would ideally like to be a professional actress, appreciating an early morning will come in handy, given the traditionally early call times that filming requires.

On the plus side, waking up earlier has helped me go to sleep earlier. Now, instead of going to bed at 3am, I can fall asleep around 11pm. Crazytown.


Bonus: At my first theater festival, without thinking I posted a photo with the caption: “Heaven: Free Starbucks, 6:30 am wake up call, and a school full of theater people.”
My mother called me out for saying that a 6:30 am call time was “heaven” but to be honest? That morning, surrounded by hundreds of thespian artists, I barely even noticed the sleep in the corners of my eyes.

Embracing My Femininity


At some point between 5th grade and 8th grade, I stopped liking the color pink. Pink was for little kids, and I didn’t want to be a little kid. Being “girly” became something to be ashamed of. Boys didn’t like girls who wore too much make up, so that must mean that boys don’t like girly girls. Girly girls were high maintenance, and that was bad; so being girly is bad. Cool girls were slick and clean and mature, and not childish, so I must try to emulate that as well. I tried with all my might to avoid being Childish Girly. At least… publicly avoid it. At home, I just tried to hide it from my parents. It was something I was ashamed of, and so they must not know about it.

What is interesting about the whole thing, is at no point do I remember being told these things. My mother never cared that I was still playing with Barbies at 16; she had been the same way. She didn’t care that I liked Taylor Swift (she paid for the CD’s, lol), or what my favorite color was. I still haven’t fully figured out why I assumed she would judge me, but I’m working on it. Most of my friends were fairly feminine, and they even had boyfriends, so I don’t know why I thought that being girly meant I couldn’t have a boyfriend. But anyway. Purple became my safety net. My secret girly outlet.

I decided my favorite color was purple after reading The Clique series. My favorite character was Massie, and her favorite color was purple. I’ve also always loved Queen Elizabeth Tudor, and had read that purple used to be a sign of royalty. My favorite Disney Princess was Rapunzel, and she wore a purple dress. You could also make purple with pink, so it was kinda like I still had pink, even though I wasn’t “allowed” to like it anymore. Purple was good.

My bedroom for years was blues and greens and purples. My school supplies were purples and blacks. Nothing too dark and masculine to be tomboyish (god forbid), but nothing feminine enough to be childish. My love for all things Parisian was just for home. My love of poodles was only brought up when discussing intelligent dog breeds (they’re like, the 2nd smartest dog breed y’all, stop acting like they aren’t superior to your silly drooling Labrador…. I’m only slightly kidding). Glitter and frills were subtle in my fashion choices. I never really brought up any of my girly insecurity to my friends, and now I wonder what they would have said. We’ve talked about it a little now, and knowing I wasn’t the only one who went through a pink drought makes me wonder if we could have saved each other sooner. Anything that screamed Sandy I tried to avoid. I stopped reading young adult fiction and children’s books at school, only at home. I pretended to judge girls who liked pastels and flowers even though I was secretly salivating for more.

There was an interesting balance though, to what was childish girly, and what was sexy girly; the latter being completely acceptable. Instead of reading Seventeen magazine, I would read Cosmo’s and laugh about the silly sex advice with my friends, using words and lingo that I didn’t understand and felt crude on my tongue. I listened to Nicki Minaj and Ke$ha, chanting lines that I didn’t really comprehend. You couldn’t go overboard to slutty sexy though, because then you were slutty. That made shopping for special event dresses difficult. I wasn’t confident enough to wear the bondage dresses, but I managed to find one that was made out of ruffled fabric, just innocent enough that I didn’t feel like a boy would look at me too long, but sexy enough I didn’t feel like a fairy princess (even though I really wanted to). I gave away some of my Barbies to my neighborhood friends who I felt like I couldn’t play with anymore, because they were all in elementary school and I was 15 (even though I didn’t have any school friends that lived nearby, and I still really loved playing outside). In high school I hid all my stuffed animals in my closet, except for my giant stuffed unicorn which I left in my little sister’s room when friends came over. My beautiful fairy ceramic dolls were put on display in a communal family room instead of my bedroom. I was ashamed of my stress bitten nails, but at least they weren’t long and didn’t scream high maintenance. I took pride in my long mermaid hair, but hardly did anything with it except braids because otherwise that would be too girly, and people would judge me for taking too long to get ready in the morning. On my very first date ever, I wore a pair of jean Bermuda’s because I was too insecure to wear a skirt or a dress because I was worried the boy I was meeting would think I was too childish. I rarely wore summer dresses with sandals to school because I thought I’d be too girly, even though my friends were wearing them. For some reason wearing dresses in the winter with knee socks and boots was ok. I wore heels too, heels were mature.

I think part of the shame came from being blonde. Whenever I thought blonde, I thought of Elle Woods and Barbie, blondes who were seen as silly and girly and who loved pink. It would have been a cliché to be blonde and like pink. And I think part of the insecurity came from the fact that people have always commented on how young I look. It felt like all my peers looked so much older than I did, that by not looking girly, maybe it would make me look a little older than I was. If liking Selena Gomez hadn’t been such a childish thing to like at the time, maybe that would have boosted my confidence, because she’s got baby cheeks too. Liking Taylor Swift would have helped with my nail insecurity, because she has short nails. Oh well.

I was in my senior year of high school when I joined Tumblr. It was the beginning of the internet for me, because I could access it through my iPod. Before my first iTouch, I only had internet access if I asked to use the family laptop, or snuck my entire desktop computer into the unused office and hooked up to the Ethernet cord. Tumblr was the beginning of my feminine metamorphosis. All the sudden I had tons of people who I could follow and they liked the things I liked! They liked pink and candles and lotion and flowers and glitter and Taylor Swift. I could follow nature blogs, and art blogs, and Parisian blogs. It was incredible! Senior year was when I started experimenting a little more with nail polish, and earrings, and make up, and lace. NOT too much though, can’t be too girly. I found multitudes of strong imposing female role models, who happened to be girly! And they weren’t celebrities, they were just normal girls from all over the world. I also got introduced to Gossip Girl, who’s leading ladies are decked out in every episode, and they were considered popular and cool. Cool girls could be overly girly!? And it was because of all of this that when time came around for prom, I was brave enough to get the fairy princess dress of my dreams. Granted there was a plunging neckline which matured the dress a tad, but not so revealing that I couldn’t wear it. We did add a sheer privacy panel however. I was only 17 for goodness sakes.

The summer after I graduated I worked at a Girl Scout camp. At camp I was surrounded by so many different kinds of Girl, that it was overwhelming. There were the girls who shaved their legs, and the girls who didn’t shave anything. There were girls who got up early to do their make-up, and girls who forgot to change their underwear. There were girls who actively followed “camp fashion” and girls who didn’t realize that that was even a thing. There were girls who were all of these things, and none of these things. There were people who weren’t girls, but dressed “girly”. There were girls who kissed girls. There were girls who kissed boys and girls. There were girls who didn’t want to kiss anyone. But for the most part, and this was the most important and alarming bit, no one seemed to care what kind of girl you were. They just cared if you were fun, or not fun. I felt like Alice, getting lost in a fairytale world, and thanks to my camp name, Salmonberry, I had the full reign to have as much pink in my life as I liked. It was the first time in a long time, that I was truly and completely myself (ironically, it was also my blondest period thanks to all the sun).

After camp, I went to college. In two of my classes there was this girl. A blonde girl. A blonde girly girl. And she was so unapologetically girly, and so genuinely nice. Meeting her was a crucial step in embracing my own femininity. Not only was she so overtly girly, she had a longtime boyfriend (ha, lil Raelee. Some boys really don’t care!), and even though I had begun working through my internalized misogyny, this was an important observation for me. It was when I began to realize that the right person won’t care how you look or how you dress. They’ll love you because you are who you are. She always had nice nails, and always had soft looking pastel clothing. She was what I envisioned the true me as. Her bedroom was even full of Eiffel tower motifs. Crazy.

I had dyed my hair a red color, and was feeling braver about wearing pink now that I wasn’t blonde. I was even painting my nails regularly, and biting them less. I bought myself a nice smelling candle, and played with make-up more. I explored the world of cute undies and pretty bras. I went into stores that I’d been too insecure to venture into before, and slowly tried on the clothes that I’d been to insecure to try. I developed a love for curling my hair and putting on perfume. I started taking selfies that I really loved (and still love). I lathered up on lotion after I took a shower. I started taking bubble baths with candles and ice cream and Marilyn Monroe movies. It by no means was an overnight movie-worthy transformation, it’s still happening right now. I basically used Galentine’s Day as an excuse to bust out my mermaid onesie and my giant pink unicorn, and I still feel overdressed if I wear make up with a dress. But I’m working on it.

Being insecure about my femininity made coming out difficult too (an unforeseen complication back in middle school). The only gays I knew were in theater or at camp. In theater, they were mostly male. At camp, all the girls who kissed girls followed, or were similar to, the general lesbian stereotype and some of them were stuck in that mindset as well. I very clearly remember a conversation with a gay friend, a week or two before I came out, who informed me I couldn’t possibly be gay because I liked pink and Taylor Swift. No self-respecting lesbian could honestly like pink or TSwizzle. Apparently. (Well, joke was on her because I’m not a lesbian, I’m bisexual, but anyway…).

The first couple months of dating my girlfriend, I was insecure about my girly-ness. Did dating a girl mean that I needed to shed my femininity once again? I had literally just gotten it back, and I really didn’t want to redecorate my room again. I was suddenly self-conscious about wearing skirts and painting my nails all over again. My gay friends and I joke about my straight-looking self, and it’s something that was frustrating at first but I’m learning to take more pride in it now. I am living proof that you can’t predict someone’s sexuality by how they dress. But then again, there are “gay trends” that I wear mainly because it’s a part of gay culture. It’s a balance that I’m still struggling to find, even after almost 2 years. Maybe finding myself the perfect pink flannel would help. Learning about Lipstick Lesbians and Femmes helped my confidence in the LGBT community quite a bit, to know that there were, once again, hundreds of other women who love and look like me. I found comfort in not being alone.

Ultimately none of this means anything. I am no more a girl now then I was when I “hated” pink. I still get insecure when I’m too lacy or pink or floral. I still have to talk myself into being myself. But it’s an easier process now, and it keeps getting easier. Do I like how easily influenced I am by media and the people around me? Not really. But I know how to work with it. I follow people on social media who like those things that I like, and I find more ways to make my life pink every day. Not everything is going to come painlessly, and not every lesson gets learned quickly. Am I mad at our society for creating such a stigma around simple colors and the layers of implications that can be put behind them? Yes, but then again my struggle with femininity is nothing compared to what some people go through. As a “straight-looking” gay living in a über liberal bubble, I’ve never been bullied for who I love. Beyond that, being insecure and pretending I didn’t like pink kept me out of the dating ring in high school for the most part, which meant that I was mentally more ready and mature when I finally did start dating. It kept me from making poor decisions in effort to be seen as “cool.” It meant that I got a longer childhood than some of my peers, something I’m increasingly grateful for. If anything embracing my “girly-ness” has helped me feel more comfortable being “sexy” and wearing tighter dresses; while feeling ok with it and being proud of myself, it is such a new concept for me.

To find happiness, we have to find ways to live our own individual truths. And the truth is I love pink peonies. And I dream of retiring in the center of Paris, with a poodle in one arm, and macaroons in another. I love watching old movies, and listening to Taylor Swift. I love young adult fiction books, and I love fairy tales. Disney Princess movies are the best Disney movies, and I have twinkly lights above my white bed frame. My stuffed animals are as in the closet as I am, which is to say not at all. My makeup is splayed all over my vintage vanity, and I purposely add a blur filter to my Instagram photos to make them look softer and older. My most used highlighter is pink, and my washi tapes have bows and cupcakes on them. As I write this I have pastel nail polish on, and I’m wearing a pink dress. Yesterday I stalked Lauren Conrad’s Instagram, and jotted down a recipe for lavender honey lattes while watching the most recent live action Cinderella. My tarot deck is full of fairies, and my mother bought me Eiffel Tower champagne flutes to replace my broken Eiffel Tower wine glass. I took my morning medication with pink lemonade today, and ate my sandwich on a floral ceramic plate.

I’m here, I’m queer, I’m so girly its nauseating.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.



Tears and Fears

Last week was my last infusion for my GPA, as well as a first-time meeting with my new rheumatologist, the person who is my new go to doctor. During this whole journey, every doctor we came across told us that any GPA question we had would get answered by my rheumatologist, that he would have all the answers. It’s a rare disease, and he would be the one with the all the answers. (We had met with a rheumatologist before my treatments, but he came off as unorganized and poor at time efficiency, so my lung doctor got us in with one that she liked and had worked with before).

For several weeks, I wrote down all my questions that I had, planning on asking this one doctor. Questions about my future, questions about what the hell is happening in my body right now, questions about when I can work towards my life again. So, when we finally met the guy last week it was more than a little overwhelming. All the emotions I’d kept bottled up, because I didn’t even know if mourning for myself was necessary, came spilling out. Not to mention I’m PMSing, so like, shit’s real emotional right now. The entire week leading up to the appointment, my carefully painted and grown out nails got all bitten off because of my anxiety of what he might say, and what my future could look like.

Unfortunately, my new doctor took my tears and fears as a sign of depression.

Here’s the thing. I’ve been depressed.
I spent many a day in high school feeling numb and unaffected by the world around me. Dark days that started with hating my reflection in the mirror as I got ready for school and ended with me heading straight to bed when I got home. I’ve got the diary entries to prove it, Jesus it was terrifying. Heck, my Depression is one of the reasons I read so much, it was an escape. And many of those traumatic days were triggered by health flares, so I am in no way trying to claim that my mental health is uninfluenced by my physiological health.

But I was not experiencing Depression last week. If anything, I was experiencing Release.

One thing my mother and I have both learned through the past couple months is how important our voices are when dealing with doctors. We should have picked up on it sooner probably, since we have dealt with so many, but for some reason we didn’t “Get It” till now. My mother pushing the doctors to do tests they thought were unnecessary is very likely the reason that they caught my GPA so quickly. My lack of trust in my first Ear Nose and Throat surgeon is the reason that we got a different one (I’m sorry ENT #1, but why would you wear a creepy smile while talking about cutting into my sinus passage??? Wtf). So with this in mind, I brought up my concerns with my new rheumatologist, that I was not Depressed. I tried to talk about the little projects I’d assigned myself like writing, or cleaning, or painting, or photography.

I’m not saying he ignored me, but he certainly wasn’t listening. And I love my mother, but her immediate agreement with him about the Depression certainly didn’t help my case either.

I’ve been thinking back on that appointment for days now. And I think what happened, was reality punched me in the face. For weeks, I had been spending my days in a fairy tale land. Where my only job is to stay home and indulge myself in my own creativity. It was days of nature documentaries, and decorating dream apartments on Sims, and planning a Go Green initiative for my family. With the exception of a couple spastic 5 second breakdowns over my morning coffee after having issues opening something, my illness wasn’t directly impacting what I was doing. I had restructured my routine so well that the amount of times I interacted with the disease was limited. I stayed bundled up in blankets in sweaters, which meant my lungs didn’t hurt. I washed out my sinuses regularly, so they didn’t hurt too much either. Even on hard days, when I felt I needed to just stay in bed, I only felt like I needed to stay in bed because my limbs were tired, so by staying bed and watching a movie or writing, I didn’t experience a high level of discomfort. It was almost as if nothing was wrong with me at all.

And then we jump forward to that doctor’s appointment and everything became reality.

When I had been “well” I was a public transportation user. So, I walked and bused almost exclusively. Bellevue has plenty of hills, not to mention I regularly wear heels, AND I was in ballet classes. In October, my calves were quite lovely. Not like, athlete lovely, but average civilian lovely. When he tested my leg strength, and I was forced to acknowledge that I wasn’t as strong anymore.
So, yea, there were tears and fears.

When I had been “well” I bought my first pair of pants that were a size 5. In fact, I bought three pairs of pants that were not size 0. After struggling with being underweight as a child, I, Raelee, had a butt. Not like, a Nicki Minaj butt, but a butt. Since I bought those pants I’ve lost 10 lbs., and my butt. When he asked about my appetite, I was forced to acknowledge that I hadn’t been eating as well and that my new pants didn’t fit so well.
So, yea, there were tears and fears.

When I had been “well” I had a semi-decent social life. Girlfriend and I went exploring in Seattle, or hiking with Dog, or study dates at Starbucks. In October, I went to a corn maze with a group of friends; I went shopping; I was in rehearsals for a show. Not like, a huge show, but a decent little script. When he asked if my pain was interfering with my life, and I was forced to acknowledge that I was scared to try to leave my house.

So… YAH!
There were plenty of tears and fears.

This past weekend, ever since he made his claim that I am Depressed, it’s like that part of my brain that’s so slightly miswired was like “Oh! We’re Depressed!? OKAY! We’re Depressed now.” The routine that I had worked so hard on pushing myself into, got shaken. I couldn’t write, I couldn’t draw. Girlfriend and I have been slowing working our way through Lost, and all I wanted to do was lie in bed and watch till my eyes bled.

I’ve spent the past couple days trying to talk myself back into being productive. On Saturday, I planned a party, and I’ve been pushing myself to make decorations. I even walked to the grocery store next door with Girlfriend for the first time in months. On Sunday, I missed an audition that I’d been really pumped for back in October, and I pushed myself to email the director to see if she wanted tech help so that I could still be a part of the project; as well as made plans with friends to help me with party preparations. On Monday, I made Girlfriend’s Valentine’s Day presents.

I’ve been trying to teach that so slightly miswired part of my brain, that while someone looking in on my life might think that I’m not being productive, only I get to decide what my Productive looks like. Trying to teach myself that if I can’t focus on one of my goals, to find an alternative way to have that goal, or push myself to work on my other goals. Depression comes back to haunt me when I get distracted from what I’m working towards, and very quickly it tries to derail me. Instead, I’ve been trying to work with it, instead of getting rid of it completely. Too numb to get out of bed Raelee? Fine, set a timer for 2 hours and read, then you can watch 2 episodes of [blank] but you have to doodle or play Solitare while you watch. Too numb to actually get dressed Raelee? Fine, but you have to brush your hair and wash your face.

So, Mr. Doctor, I understand that I have no medical education other than living through what I’ve lived through. But I do not consider myself Depressed until I let myself slack off.

And considering I haven’t slacked off since before my surgery at the end of December, I am not Depressed.


I should also mention that the appointment went fine otherwise, and I’ve possibly already gained some of my weight back. He and my lung doctor want me to start working towards my “normal” life and to try to leave more often, hence the grocery store walk. I’m still scared to be around other people, because like questions, and my immune system is suppressed, but I got a flu shot and I have hand sanitizer. I’m working on my plans for Spring quarter at school, and I think I’m going to try to get back to my actual job soon, but limit my shifts so that I’m not overdoing it. Other than the Depression thing, he was very calm and explanatory, and it’s sounding like my life may not be as derailed as I thought it would by my new friend, GPA.
If you are dealing with health issues, don’t forget that it is YOUR body. You get to decide what happens to it, and who is happening to your body. If you don’t like a doctor, and you have the means to find a different one, do it. I think I’ll write about my ENT doctor drama to give you a better picture, but I am so grateful that we got a second opinion and replaced her. But also if doctors are telling you one thing, and your body is telling you another, TELL THE DOCTOR, because you know your body better than anyone.