All posts filed under: Recovering the Self

Breaking Cycles | Lenée Voss

Content note: depression, suicidality, self-harm, sexual trauma Ever since I was about seven or eight years old, I’ve struggled with being present in my own body. To such an extent that I developed dermatillomania, or skin picking disorder (SPD). I experienced sexual trauma at an early age and have struggled to be in my body consistently since childhood. In clinical terms, this means I frequently experience dissociation, which is a detachment from my body and/or my emotions. Dissociation isn’t something you can control unless you know its symptoms, associated behaviors, and outcomes. Imagine being a little “spacy,” talkative kid who moves ahead in most of her schoolwork so she can daydream during class. Think about what it might feel like as an anxious, bright kid with performance anxiety, to be in such distress that you hurt yourself to bring yourself back down to earth. That’s what I carry. Every day. To carry trauma and not connect it your behavior, memory, or self-image falls under the category of what Ruth King, M.A. calls the mind/body split …

Unseen and Unheard: the fight for autonomy as a medical patient

“Let me ask you, Ms. Voss: how do you feel about having children?” After a certain point, I learned the answer to this question didn’t matter. The doctors: a succession of gynecologists and primary care physicians looked at my fat, Black self and didn’t believe that I knew what I wanted and needed. “At 37, you can still have a baby.” exclaimed the gynecologist whose biggest concern was whether her paleo diet handout made its way into my purse before I left our consultation. I had scheduled an appointment with her because of suspected endometriosis, PCOS, or fibroids. My symptoms were consistent with all three conditions. I initiated our conversation by suggesting a hysterectomy to stop the unbearable bleeding and pain. She scream-laughed as if she’d just heard something preposterous. “You can’t just demand a hysterectomy! We have to run tests, get imaging, a diagnosis, and even then, you can still have babies!” I sighed, resigning myself to being unseen. Though it was her job to facilitate the care of my body, this brand of …

The Best Parts

The first time I fell in love with someone, I disappeared into him. I was nearly 21 and eager to be desired, ready to prove my worth by pretending to be straight and monogamous. The relationship was my pet project, my proof that I could be in a successful relationship. I sought to be in a relationship different from that of my parents, who had been separated since I was four years old. My boyfriend was anxious, sometimes meek, and often escapist. I expended much energy nurturing him, trying to make him into the person I should have been dating. The partner my mother never had. Proof that I knew what I was doing. I got pregnant, because that’s what happens when you want the social capital more than you want the other person (or yourself, even). He, reality averse and seeking my approval, said we’d figure it out. We? We had about 30 college credits between the two of us. We didn’t have our own place — I lived with my mom, and he …