“He-She”

I’m non-binary/genderfluid. For me, that means that my gender expression tends to have a fluidity to it; I may present as either male, female, but most frequently, something in between. I consider myself trans.

It’s widely accepted that by the age of three, a person’s core gender identity is already set. This core identity doesn’t change, save for a few exceptions, whose identity may change due to trauma or exterior forces. For me, I’ve always known I didn’t fit into the gender binary. I was assigned female at birth (AFAB), but didn’t present as female until I hit puberty.

Growing up, I preferred to keep my hair short, and dressed in baggy “boy” clothes. I played sports and liked to get into fights. I was a pretty tough kid and thought of myself as a roguish scoundrel, like Han Solo. I had a father who treated me like the son he never had, who always spat upon femininity, which also affected me deeply. I wanted to be strong but I had been shown and told that only men could do that, so secretly, I coveted my masculinity and all of the privileges that came with it: I could wander off to play in parks by myself and nobody would bother me, I didn’t have to wear pink (I truly hated pink), I didn’t have to play with dolls (which I thought were beneath me once I hit kindergarten), and I didn’t have to look “pretty”, something I only dared to dream of being when I was alone. I thought back then that I couldn’t be both handsome and beautiful, even though I wanted both so desperately, so I chose the easier path at the time: present as male to fit my athletic body. Less questions that way. In kindergarten I once snuck into the boys bathroom, needing to see for myself what the big difference was. It was huge compared to the girls’, and had a couple of urinals that mystified me tucked off into one corner. I heard the door open behind me and quickly ducked into a stall, slamming it shut. A boy had come in to pee. I hid with my head in my hands until he left, and quickly followed suit when I deemed it safe, feeling changed by the experience. There was no difference. It was all so arbitrary to me.

Every day for me held the stressful promise of another stranger musing about my gender out loud. I would sit in parks and smaller children would ask their mothers, is that a boy or a girl? And the mothers, tactful yet clueless, would shush them and give me looks of pity. What an ugly girl, I imagined them thinking. I would lower my eyes and cry silently, or numbly wander off to hide myself in the bushes somewhere. Boys would play with me until they learned my name, Chelsey, then tell me off because they didn’t play with girls. I wanted to scream, “I’M NOT A GIRL!”, but then that would mean I was a boy, and that never felt right to me either. I didn’t even know about trans people back then, never mind non-binary people, so to me, I was just a fraud in boys clothes. How could I possibly explain what I was feeling to a bunch of dumb kids if I didn’t know what was wrong with me to begin with? I learned that I could never belong to the “boys club”.

I remember cross-dressing and gelling my hair down to go to the mall with my dad, and feeling betrayed when he corrected people that his “handsome son” was actually his daughter. I remember endless taunts of “Boy-girl!! He-she!!” from my classmates at school and wondering why it mattered if I was a boy or a girl. I would cry in frustration at Christmas parties after opening yet another girly pink nail polish set or knockoff Barbie doll, and being admonished by my aunt for being ungrateful. I remember wondering why nobody understood that I didn’t like those things, that I’m not like that, and praying to god in silent moments, sitting in my bedroom closet where I went to hide and cry, that he would change me and make me a boy so I wouldn’t have to hear anyone talk or ask about my gender anymore. Out of necessity. I fell in love with a show called Cybersix; the hero of which was a woman who cross-dressed by day as a quiet male high school teacher, and fought crime by night as a sexy, powerful female caped crusader. I wanted to be her. I obsessed over my appearance every waking moment and always felt eyes on me in public, real or imagined. Sometimes I would change outfits multiple times a day because I was afraid of my femininity, because any display of it immediately meant that I would be suspect, and I truly just wanted to go about unnoticed. For that reason, public washrooms were an absolute nightmare.

The elementary school I went to was big on sports, and I found myself constantly involved in them, so I spent a lot of time hanging around the building after class let out. I’d have to change in the girl’s washroom near the gym, which I learned to dread deeply because the stalls were sized perfectly for a first-grader like me, but when the older girls had events at the same time, they’d use that washroom to change as well. One day in particular I remember clutching my bundle of Birch Cliff athletic attire and pushing into the bathroom, to be greeted by a small group of tall, older girls. I tried not to make eye contact, but I knew I had of course been spotted, so I hurried to lock myself in a stall. They called after me, insisting I was in the wrong bathroom. I stayed quiet and began changing, hoping they would leave me alone. One of the girls walked right up to my stall and craned her neck over the door, being two full heads taller than it, and looked me in the eye, telling me I was in the wrong room. Horrified and ashamed, I quickly mumbled that I was a girl. She laughed and went back to her friends, who immediately began gossiping about the “boy-girl” as hot, humiliated tears rolled down my cheeks. I learned then that I would never belong in the “girls club” either. I was a freak. A curiosity for other people to wonder why I even existed. For them to deny my existence.

I spent a lot of time at the local swimming pool with my sisters. Sometimes we went up to three times a week, depending on what our extracurricular schedules looked like. When we were very small we would use the “Family”-designated dressing room so our dad could help us get ready to swim, but we quickly began going into the “Female”-designated one once we were old enough to figure things out for ourselves. I would step into the dressing room and immediately make a beeline for the most isolated spot. Often I would be intercepted by some well-meaning woman who would pipe up that I was in the wrong room. Sometimes there would be teenagers who would scream at me until I could stammer out that I was a girl too, that I was in the right place. I would get looked up and down my body as these women mentally removed my clothing and judged whether I had a penis or a vagina. I felt violated and foreign. I just wanted to get my bathing suit on and swim with my sisters, but I faced constant scrutiny and frequently locked myself into toilet stalls so I could weep silently as I pulled on my one-piece. I hated it because it forced me to cover myself in a way that I’d never felt was necessary. When I looked at my pre-pubescent body in the mirror, I saw no reason to cover my small nipples. When I was wearing nothing but shorts, I was perfectly androgynous. I was perfect as could be to myself. Nobody else believed it that way though, and when I asked why I had to cover myself while the boys could run free, adults would simply tell me that I was a girl and that girls had to do that. I would argue that it made no sense and was promptly shut up. Nobody had the patience for a loud-mouthed little girl and her disregard for social order.

Like just about everyone, I had to go through puberty. Growing breasts was alarming to me because I was quickly on my way to becoming A Woman, something I feared and hated. I remember getting my period felt sick and wrong. I remember growing body hair and quickly shaving it off, hoping that if I just removed it I would go back in time somehow, to when I felt I could control how strangers perceived me. Through the collapse of my nuclear family due to my father’s constant alcoholism, drinking and driving with my sisters and I in the car, and verbally/physically abusive behaviour, the intense bullying I received at school, and the spite of the girls on my competitive sports teams, I eventually broke. I caved and grew my hair out, and started wearing tighter clothing and sports bras. I became the girl that everyone told me I had been all along, in order to simplify my chaotic life. Another concession made out of necessity. At 12 or 13 men started to honk their horns at me as I walked along the side of the road, or called out to me at the mall, and I took this objectification as praise: finally I was pretty and worth something. I wasn’t like other girls, I was sure of it, but I figured that this acceptance of my femininity was the validation I needed. I no longer had to hide in public or answer questions about my gender. What I didn’t know at the time was that I was shoving myself further and further back into the closet.

Throughout high school I became obsessed with cross-dressing in secret, and gravitated toward gender-bending media. I loved drag queens and became involved with Pride. I watched The Rocky Horror Picture Show and any John Waters film I could get my hands on, and I fantasized about being able to morph between genders. In my early twenties, I cross-dressed at night, explaining to friends that I lived in a crime-ridden area (I did) and that it wasn’t the safest out there for a woman at night (it wasn’t). I wondered if I was a trans man, but that didn’t feel right. I somehow became familiar with the idea of non-binary genders, and everything slowly began clicking in my mind. I came out to a few close friends and my boyfriend at the time. I didn’t know much about pronouns and didn’t take it very seriously because I was afraid that if I expressed who I was I wouldn’t be pretty all the time, and therefore, I’d become unlovable.

It wasn’t until I met my housemate that everything really changed. We had just moved in together but I had previously known them by a different name. I noticed that they were presenting differently than I was used to seeing them, so once we had some private time, I excitedly asked them about their gender, and they patiently explained that they were currently transitioning, and that they preferred they/them pronouns. I came out to them that night, and the following month I came out to the world. If it wasn’t for their support, things might have gone differently for me.

Today, I am still sorting through a lifetime of trauma and internalized misogyny. I’m nowhere near perfect yet, but I am happier with myself than I have ever been, and I am able to express my gender fluidity safely and without any doubts. I am lucky in that in today’s society, at worst someone assumes I am a butch lesbian in the women’s washroom, and nobody yells at me anymore or invades my space. I don’t use male washrooms for fear of being assaulted or called out, but I hope that soon that will no longer be an issue either, as society learns to accept trans and non-binary people like myself. Gender-neutral bathrooms are starting to pop up more frequently and I always sigh in relief when I see them. Still, though, I will walk into a crowded changeroom or washroom and feel like that tiny kid again, all eyes on me, eyes prying beneath my pants and shirt, into my body which is nobody’s business but my own, crying weakly, “I belong here“. I know this fear intimately, like a ghostly appendage, and I bear it with me wherever I go. This is a reality for hundreds of thousands of trans and non-binary children and adults every day, and if you feel like this, you are not alone. You belong here, not just in some narrow-minded sorting of gendered rooms, but on this planet, with everyone else. Because this was never just about bathrooms in the first place.

Breakdown Of A Breakdown

It is April of 2016 and I can tell my bosses are getting frustrated with me. I work solo in a kitchen most of the time and it’s a demanding job. I’ve been diagnosed with bipolar for years and I’ve made it clear to my employers that I suffer from it, but most people don’t understand the toll of the disease unless they experience it first- or second-hand. My moods are erratic and I have great difficulty keeping my voice down most of the time, partly due to a recent car accident I was in that somehow nerfed most of my hearing in one ear, and partly because I have no filter. I’m late by a few minutes just about every day even though I live a 15-minute walk from the restaurant. I am aware that this makes me look like a huge dick. I live with two Ph.D. students who like to pretend that I don’t exist and I’m 98% sure I scare them. It’s very lonely. I’m preparing to move further North with two acquaintances of mine whom I’ve known for a couple of years; we get along pretty famously the few times we’ve hung out. I feel something building in my mind but I’m not sure what it is. I call in sick a few times because I can’t help but give in to panic attacks and fits of weeping, and this new thing where I’m hearing the voices of my dead friends. My boyfriend is a stoic young man who I accuse of apathy and reticence almost weekly. I am incredibly emotionally needy and I feel alone and misunderstood by everyone in my life. I drop a group of friends whom I’ve been spending lots of time doing loads of cocaine and getting wasted with at after-hours clubs because I regain some modicum of respect for myself amidst a life that I feel is quickly spiraling downwards.

It’s May 1st and I wake up after a day of moving things to our new house and working. I feel like my life is about to head somewhere better and I shower in preparation for work and choke down some coffee. Thirty minutes before I’m about to leave my boyfriend breaks up with me and I ride the bus into the Annex with tears streaming down my face. I feel simultaneously empty and full of a mix of emotions that I can’t put a name to. I wipe my eyes and clock in to work because it’s a Saturday and we’re busy as fuck- there’s no time for my feelings because there is work to do. I break down anyway in the basement as I’m filling a bus bin with food to restock the kitchen upstairs. There is nobody around except for the security camera above my station and I feel self-conscious despite the fact that I know nobody is in the office to witness the feed. The world goes fuzzy and muffled, and at some point one of my bosses is hugging me and I sink into her arms and cry. She tells me I am strong and that it is okay for me to feel hurt. I must have told her what happened but I have already forgotten. I somehow manage to make it through dinner service and head home to cry and drink wine with my housemate in our clusterfuck of a living room. We haven’t unpacked much of anything yet, so the room feels just as cramped and boxed-up as my brain does. A few days later I text a friendly bank teller whom I’ve known for a while and we get drunk and fuck. He becomes my rebound and he secretly drives me insane. Over the course of the next few months I see him pretty regularly.

I try to kill myself a few times. The first time, I’d just gotten home from a long night out that ended in me showing up at my ex’s house because I asked if he was still up and he said yes. He doesn’t let me in because there is a girl in his bed and he doesn’t want me to know- but I already know because I have the magic power of unbearable empathy and can read people like books. He acknowledges and confirms this with a nod and a sad look and I scream at him outside because he hasn’t given me any closure on our 2.5-year-long relationship and I feel like I’ve been suddenly and easily replaced. It is a cruel thing for me to do but I’m so upset in this moment that I couldn’t possibly care. It’s early in the morning by the time I get home and stagger into my housemate’s room because I don’t know where else to go. They wake up confused until they notice that my arms are bleeding. They hold me close in their lap as I cry apologies for getting blood all over their shirt. I go back to my room but at some point faint in the kitchen and I come to with both housemates holding me and wiping the blood off my body with wet paper towels. I feel embarrassed because I didn’t cut deep enough to finish the job and imagine that I am being judged for the shallowness of my wounds. They are leaving for Montreal and the cops are coming to our house because I posted a suicide note online, which was seen by a caring person who notified the authorities. I am furious. I’m carted off to the hospital in a cruiser and each time this happens I ride an adrenaline high as I sit in emergency, numbly laughing at the absurdity of the news ticker as other sick, injured, and dying people surround me, shooting awkward glances at my bloody, cut-up and cigarette-burnt arms. I know they think I’m insane and I wonder to myself if that’s true. Each attempt I find myself in an isolation room for over 12 hours and I muse to myself and the transient flow of doctors and specialists who visit me if they are trying to bore me to death. I awkwardly text my boss about what is happening and she tells me to take care of myself. I tell the cops not to call my mom but they do anyway and she frets over me and says she had no idea it was so bad. I laugh and weep at the same time and one of the doctors says my arms are “gross”.

The summer is hot and brutal and the weather takes a lot out of me. I spend a lot of time trying to distract myself with my housemate by playing videogames. I somehow manage to keep working in the scorching kitchen but I’ve started slipping. I forget things all the time and cry almost constantly. I call in sick to work more and more and during some shifts I have to hole up in the office because I think some malevolent force is following me. I hear voices and see things moving out of the corner of my eyes. I’m terrified and my boss is trying to calm me down and anchor me in reality. She lets me cut my shifts as I try to sort myself out. I’m exhausted and it finally occurs to me that I am having a Real Crisis. I catch myself falling in love with one of my housemates and hate myself for it. My rebound is just about to expire as he catches me kissing them at the end of one night and is understandably furious. I feel ashamed and terrible so I lock myself in the bathroom at home and down all of the pills in the medicine cabinet and steal the bleach while nobody is paying attention. It takes a lot of pleading to get me to open the door and I become enraged that an ambulance has been called, so I cuss out my rebound and tell him he is dead to me. I frantically lament the idea of returning to the hospital gurney. For some reason they always put me in the same room despite there being 6 isolation rooms in emergency. I wonder how many other suicidal people have sat in here alone with unwashed wounds, waiting for hours on end in this antiseptic and bleach-scented purgatory. It’s darkly funny to me how they don’t clean or dress my cuts despite asking to see them over ten times. Everything is funny to you when you’ve just tried to end your life. The doctors act like I am inconveniencing them so I put every iota of spite I have into my voice as they ask me the same questions over and over and over. When it’s all done with I’m told I have a follow-up appointment and a doctor hands me a little card with the date and time. I shirked it the first couple of attempts but finally it is my hatred of hospitals that sets my resolve to avoid this situation in the future, and I attend my appointment a week later. They sit me in a room and evaluate me for an hour, leave me to wait for another, and then come back with a diagnosis and a sheaf of paper. I have Borderline Personality Disorder with comorbid Bipolar and they want me to call some numbers on the printouts they just handed me that look like something I could have done with five minutes on Google and thirty seconds of access to a printer. Internally, I stab myself in the eyes. I imagine stuff like that a lot. They stress that it will be hard to get in contact but to “keep calling” and “eventually” someone will answer and put me on a waitlist that “might be up to eight or more months” long. I feel insulted and discouraged as I take a cab back home and I do eventually call and call and get put on the lists. I wonder how long it will be until I get a call and get in to see a therapist.

It’s a warm September day when I walk into work and my bosses sit me down and tell me that they are letting me go because they care about me and because I am completely unable to function at work and need to take better care of myself. I try not to cry as I sit there accepting this but traitorous tears roll down my face anyway. I feel weak and vulnerable and now I’m unemployed. I text my housemate-now-partner as soon as I leave the restaurant and they offer to take me out for lunch before they go to work. I am madly in love with them and want to be with them but my bones feel like lead and my internal compass is pointing me home, immediately home. I spend the rest of the day crying in my room. The following days I am mostly too depressed to even speak or sit up. I feel like my life force is draining out of my eyeballs. I self-harm again at a bar in front of my friends and nobody stops me. I am not sent to the hospital. I am convinced that I am worthless.

In the following months I wait. I wait for a call so that someone will help me without me having to be sent to the emergency room. I break my hand punching a hole in my bedroom wall and am filled with anger and hatred for myself. I wait in agony as my partner does all they can to soothe me and there are nights when we are lying in bed and I hallucinate the skull on a poster in my room coming out of the paper towards me, and I am scared. I daydream about meeting with Death and he is exactly as I picture him- skeletal and wreathed in flowing black robes. He holds me closely and I think of him as my true father. I beg him to “take me home”. I find peace in his presence and he tells me in his deep and beautiful voice that I’m not done yet and even though I know I am only imagining this it makes me cry bitterly because it feels so unfair. I am desperate to feel the embrace of eternity stretching out into nothingness but I refrain from hurting myself. I rearrange my room so that I don’t have to see the skull when I am in bed. A number of times over the months my partner has to pin me down in bed because I’ve convinced myself that there is something wrong with the bones in my arm or the organs in my abdomen and have to cut myself open to make sure I am okay. I continue to wait.

It is February of 2017 and I haven’t hurt myself in months. I still have frequent episodes and the world is even more strange and frightening to me than it’s been in years. I obsess over the news and worry that the world is going to end. My partner is tough and kind and takes care of me when things are especially bad and I spend a lot of my time in bed trying to gather the strength to get up or eat something. I’m typing a 2000+ word account of the horrifying year I’ve had and hoping that it will help someone, somewhere. I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow to meet my new GP and I’m hoping that she will help fast-track me to some kind of treatment so I can stop sitting at home with my worries and finally receive some help. I’m tired and sick with stomach ulcers. It feels hopeless but I’ve made it this far and I have to try to stay strong for the people who love me. I have to see where this thing takes me and hopefully I’ll be able to tell the tale in similarly grisly detail another year from now.

Reflections of Borderline

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I was diagnosed not very long ago, after a lifetime of battling crippling depression & anxiety, as well as Bipolar I disorder. A series of breakdowns and episodes of suicidal psychosis lead to me being carted off to the hospital either in the back of a cruiser or strapped down to an ambulance gurney on a few occasions. I received a full psychological evaluation, and my blood ran cold when they told me it was clear that I was suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder.

BPD is an emotional disregulation disorder that, for me, is characterized by capriciousness, a compulsion to self-harm, a turbulent sense of self, persistent suicidal thoughts, feelings of emptiness, an irritating degree of empathy, and a constant sense that I don’t belong; that I am foreign or alien; that my existence is a flaw in the universe.

The first thing I thought to myself was, well, fuck. Why me? Why this? I’d always had an inkling that it could be BPD, but told myself it wasn’t that bad. Sure, things were awful, but at least they weren’t BPD awful. Even as I slipped deeper into psychosis; as I sat in the office of my workplace and cried into my hands, absolutely sure that I was being followed by some malevolent presence; as I broke down day after day until I couldn’t even function anymore, I told myself that it wasn’t as bad as I thought and that it was all in my head. That I should shrug it off in my famous way. Unfortunately, BPD is a problem that only gets worse the more you ignore it.

That all being said, things make a lot more sense now that I’m armed with this knowledge. I now understand why I’ve been so transient all my life; shifting between friend groups and relationships every few years or so, what’s up with my rabid, quickly-cycling moods, and why I’ve always been hypersensitive to the emotions of people around me. I’m kind of a chameleon in my own strange way in that I’ll pick up on a person’s tone or vibe and reflect it back at them. I’m a 2-way mirror that, if you only just cup your hands against the glass, you can peer right through me.

A lot of people ask me what it’s like, and I struggle to describe the experience accurately. I often ask people to imagine that they are a sane and rational person. Now imagine, as someone who thinks they are sane and rational, suddenly experiencing something against your will, such as an audio or visual hallucination. Imagine hearing the voices of your dead friends reciting snatches of decades-old conversations from some indeterminate point in space and time. Imagine your dawning horror as you realize that this doesn’t happen to people who are doing fine. Imagine being so happy in one moment that you suddenly can’t breathe, that the world is crashing down on you like an icy wave and oh my god, am I dying? Suddenly there are tears running down your cheeks as you hyperventilate in front of a group of your friends, and you try to apologize but all that comes out are choked half-words. Your brain is screaming for you to get yourself together like a fucking adult but your vision is blacking out around the edges, your face is tingling and you can’t feel your fingers anymore. You sit down and one friend wraps an arm around you and tries to be soothing but by now you’re obsessing over how you must be so taxing to be around; everyone must really just spend time with you out of pity and kindness. You’re not even remotely good enough to deserve such treatment. You should’ve stayed at home but instead you fucked up the day and put all of your friends on edge. A series of scenarios in which you kill yourself in various ways flash through your mind as you resolve (again) to remove yourself from this world because you never belonged here in the first place. A surge of anger at how pathetic you’re being burns in the back of your throat and manifests as a tic that makes your eye twitch uncontrollably. You consider all of this and realize you are a Real Life Crazy Person.

It’s not always that bad or just like that; sometimes I’m more angry or sad. Sometimes I can function perfectly fine, and I forget what spinning out feels like. I live in a state of perpetual solipsism, unable to imagine anything other than what I’m currently feeling, constantly wondering when the other shoe is going to drop, when my next freak-out will be, or if I’m really just making it all up and I’m actually fine. I experience a staggering amount of uncertainty in my daily life that is usually best combatted through setting a schedule or routine and adhering to it. Minimizing chaos is an important coping tactic, personally. I try to practice mindfulness when I can and I’m on a couple of wait lists (6+ and 8+ months wait time) for criminally underfunded yet invaluable Dialectical Behavioural Therapy; a branch of cognitive-behavioural psychotherapy specifically tailored for people with BPD. Sometimes I feel like my pursuit of treatment is like chasing a rainbow. I can see it in the distance, but the closer I get, the more it actually looks like an ouroboros of bullshit, phone tag, waiting, mixed metaphors, repeating myself, and xeroxed pamphlets telling me “It Gets Better”. If there were ever a more appropriate use of the word “Kafkaesque”, I’d pay to see it.

I’m still on the road to recovery. I had to take a break from working so I could focus on getting my sanity back together, but things are a lot less bleak these days. There’s a nice, comfy veneer of restfulness about me now, like damask wallpaper pasted over drywall that was caked in black mold. All it takes is for you to poke a little hole in me and the evil comes out, but I’m a lot nicer to behold from a safe distance. Hopefully I can get myself to a less delicate balance in the near future.

If there were any major tips I’d offer anyone who has a loved one with BPD it’d be that chances are, we are absolutely terrified that you are going to abandon us, so please, be extra conscious about when you make plans with us. Don’t set a date if you know you’re just going to bail, it sends us into a death-spiral of feelings of inadequacy. Remind us that you love us, because we need the assurance. Look into BPD; it means a lot to us that you’re educating yourself. If you’re close with us, always be honest about how we’re affecting you, because we know we can be difficult to be around sometimes. Be patient if we don’t get back to you in a timely manner; it’s hard to keep track of our thoughts sometimes, nevermind our inboxes. For the love of god, don’t give us the silent treatment, and be prepared to be a bit more specific when talking to us. Try to understand that sometimes, we are taken hostage by our emotions, and we don’t always mean what we say, especially in anger. Don’t worry, we’ll never stop apologizing and beating ourselves up for it. Finally, try to be empathetic. Some of us feel our emotions with an uncomfortable intensity, and something that you might think is inconsequential might actually be a huge deal for us. The world can be very abrasive in our minds, and we’re a lot more likely to feel affected by world events and disasters. We’re just sensitive like that.

It hasn’t been easy, and it never will be, but with the right knowledge and support, things are going to work out. Or maybe they won’t, who knows. But for now, let’s say they will. This World Mental Health Day, be the ally the world deserves and do your part to get informed, smash the stigma of mental illness, and remind your mentally ill friends (or self!) that you love, respect, and care about them. Maybe one day we’ll leave the fear and misinformation behind us. I like to hope that day is coming soon.

The Interim In Picture Point Form

Hello again.

I have been absent from here for some time. Life has a way of getting in the way of art, so I’ve been trying to take more photos of the little details and creations in my life (whether it’s food or sketches) to compensate. Here’s a selection of my instagram photos from the past while to give you a peek at what I’ve been up to: