CW: mentions su*c*de

Caption for the image above: The many faces of Dissociation by @what.is.mental.illness; Derealization, feeling disconnected from the world around you; Identity Confusion, inner struggle about one’s sense of self/identity; Amnesia, memory loss often described as “losing time”; Depersonalization, feeling disconnected from your own body, mind or self; Identity alteration, sense of acting like a different person some of the time.

What do you do when your soul detaches from your body, and you lose touch with reality? The following is my interpretation of what I call “nihilism attacks,” and how I combat them.

To start, this is (for me) a form of dissociation. It is visceral at the base level, as in it’s impossible to stop once onset takes place, just like my autistic meltdowns. But because I continue to grasp meta awareness throughout, I can’t say it isn’t partly intellectual still.

It goes like this:

Wave after wave of information floods my consciousness to the point of overwhelm. In the case of my nihilism attacks, and not regular dissociation, this overwhelm is always brought on by compounding thoughts about world suffering on all levels—suffering in my own personal life, to suffering external to the identities I hold (this includes friends and strangers alike), to suffering the Earth is facing everyday as global warming increases. There is no order to it, but each thought compounds the others.

Then I will feel a shift in my chest and gut—that feeling when you just barely avoid a crash on the road—and my mind will take on a lucid dreaming effect. That’s really the only way I can describe it. It’s like lucid dreaming but while awake: The shift increases until at last my mind perceives my soul to be 6 inches out of my body. Or in these particular episodes, it’s 6 inches within, too condensed, watching my life play out as if I were at the movie theater taking in a feature film.

a gif of a white individual with long hair in a ponytail and circular glasses looks anxiously at the TV and drops the popcorn in their hand

I can make decisions and witness my body doing them, but it doesn’t feel like I’m the one calling the shots or experiencing the consequences. I can look at my hands and put pressure on different parts of my body, but they don’t look or feel like mine. I detach from my humanity and reality.

The attack that inspired this post consisted of me rocking back and forth, hugging my knees, and wailing without consent—all very common in this next step of an attack. Literally my body will need to shriek and wail and cry to relieve some of the stress it’s under, and it won’t let me say no. I’m learning that even though this kind of wailing does stress my body out physically, and I’ve gotten sick from it in the past, it is necessary to allow this energy to come up and out. This is where meta awareness comes in.

Before meta awareness is helpful, it harms me. This stage is the ugliest of all, even though I’m not a pretty crier. It’s within this stage of attack that my mind has a conversation with itself about the meaning of life, how everything leads to suffering because the world is suffering, and how I should just give up. It is in this stage where not only am I detached from my humanity because I’m detached from my body, but I genuinely feel like I’m in the wrong place/plane in time. I feel like I’m not human at all, only a consciousness held captive within a human avatar. In this awareness, I am very attached to the idea that the world is a simulation strictly designed to torture us until we die, just so we can come back in a different body and be tortured again.

Even though this is a scary thought, and it does compel me to consider unaliving myself for a moment, it’s also my saving grace. Because if this nihilistic attack is going to make me consider that all of everything is pointless, that this is all just a simulation that repeats itself, then I might as well continue forward with that knowledge and make this reality one I can be proud of. If there is so much suffering, then why not become a conduit to less suffering while I’m here, to the best of my abilities?

Over time, with practice, my meta awareness has allowed me to:

  • hold space for the wailing, but also give soothing reminders to my system that I need to stop or it will hurt me more
  • understand that even if it’s all “fake,” I have autonomy and get to decide how I show up as who I am to any circumstance (i.e. I no longer solely exist in a reactionary state)
  • understand that who I am is love, compassion, gentleness, gratitude, joy, truth, and a whole list of qualities such as these (I believe everyone has the potential to see themselves and others in this way)
  • embolden my compassion and empathy, to use as a foundational tool to continue forward

All is not lost, because WE decide it so.

To be vulnerable is to allow the winds of life to blow freely over your soul.

Maria nemeth

Now this isn’t to say that depression isn’t real, or that people who do unalive themselves are selfish, weak, cowards, failures, etc. No. In my life coach training, we use this particular definition of vulnerability: “To be vulnerable is to allow the winds of life to blow freely over your soul.” And sometimes people get swept up in those winds, and lose themselves. How can we fault them for wanting an out? We can’t. Period. The whole point is that they decided for themselves what the next best step was for them, in the time/circumstances they found themselves in. It is not selfish to be so consumed by circumstances and brain chemistry that you find a way to quiet the winds permanently. Maybe if we had better healthcare and a more compassionate, understanding, and accommodating society, less people would unalive themselves. But right now these are the circumstances we have, and I refuse to blame anyone for doing what they thought best for themselves. (And I am speaking out of my own grief of losing friends this way, as well as from my own dark places where I’ve considered unaliving myself more than a few times.) Blame the failing infrastructure? Yes. Blame the individual? No.

However, it’s important to note the end of the quote I just used: “To be vulnerable is to allow the winds of life to blow freely over your soul. To let life in, on life’s own terms. To be vulnerable means you realize there is nothing to protect.” This is what encourages me to push forward. If there’s nothing to protect, why not give life your all and say yes to the future while you’re already here? I choose to flip that nihilism on its head. I don’t always get it right, but practicing the notion of reverse nihilism truly does inspire me to continue living. I choose to continue the work I’ve set out to do while I’m a physical part of this timeline, even if the physical form I have can be a living hell day to day.

Quick aside: I say reverse nihilism instead of optimism because I don’t approach this concept from an optimistic perspective; optimism is merely a side effect of flipping nihilism on its head. I am not optimistic because my attitude reflects “a belief or hope that the outcome of some specific endeavor, or outcomes in general, will be positive, favorable, and desirable” (Wiki). Rather my attitude simply reflects a commitment to seeing things through, whether perceived to be good or bad, in spite of my nihilism.

Welcome Back!

So how do I come back to Earth? My attacks can last anywhere from 3 minutes, to 3 hours or longer. There’s really no way to tell how long they’ll be, which is why practicing grounding techniques outside of crisis moments is so vital. You have to be prepared.

The attack that elicited this article from me lasted only 20-ish minutes, which is pretty damn good for me. Normally they’re much longer (I think I’ve only had 3-5 min attacks twice out of many). For this one, my defense strategy was this:

  • let my body wail a bit, but hold onto meta awareness
  • push out thoughts of suffering by redirecting my attention to what’s around me; things I can hear, see, smell, and touch (I save tasting for the end)
  • GET OUTSIDE and BREATHE; focusing on breath is HUGE (highly recommend reading You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment by Zen monk, author, and meditation master, Thich Nhat Hanh)
  • squish grass between my toes and move my body to dance with the wind
  • pet the dog, play fetch with her
  • stay hydrated and eat something comforting (avocado toast for me that day)
  • gentle aftercare (cartoons and stuffy cuddles with a weighted blanket)

By the time I was consuming avocado toast (yes I am a millennial, and no, $2.50 for a comforting meal is not why I’m in poverty), I had reconnected to my body enough to actually enjoy what I was tasting. The taste is what cements me back into my body completely—the final push.

So, if you find yourself having a similar attack, or dissociating in general, know that 1) you are not alone and 2) there are ways you can help yourself find your way back. Here’s a great list of more grounding and soothing techniques, as well as some tips to get the most out of them. And here is a quick article about dissociation if you’re looking for more information.


If you (or someone you know) are in crisis and need help, please call a hotline to talk with someone.

Trans Lifeline

National Su*c*de Prevention Hotline – LGBTQ+

Support Hotlines List (including more LGBTQIA+ specific ones)

Stay well, stay safe 💜🌈💜


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CW: transphobia, deadnaming, sexism, mention of sex acts, su*c*de

It’s funny to me (read: ironic and awful) how cis people can change their names all the time without so much as a second glance, and yet when trans people do it, suddenly their identity is up for debate and relationships are at stake.

“It’s not just about you, it’s about everyone around you. Calling it your deadname makes me feel like our relationship is dead because I gave you that name and cherished picking it for you.”

– paraphrasing my mom; it was not so kind the first time

Calling a deadname a deadname is NOT reflective of a trans individual’s relationship with others, but with themselves. It is selfish and entitled to make someone else’s identity about yourself.

“She’s not dead! She is a part of you!”

– Mom

Actually, no. It’s the other way around, and I really wish cis people would wake up to that truth. We’re not talking about the inner child being a part of the adult here. We’re talking about how I have always been Jaesic, just with the wrong casing and outer/inner perception. As a child, I was not a “she.” I was forced to believe that I was though.

I had to construct a box around me that was “girl” to keep who I actually was, safe. And what a bunch of crap the notion of “safety” was and is to be a girl in this world. #fuckthepatriarchy

I remember in preschool a boy was picking on me pretty harshly, and I was told that that’s because he liked me.

That’s two boards nailed together: girls take abuse from boys because that’s them showing affection.

When I was 6 years old, I started going to our Assembly of God’s youth program: Missionettes. I had zero interest in Bible readings, and learning how to be a sweet, demure female. All we did was study, and learn house keeping. I’m not kidding. The boys, however, got to learn survival skills in Rangers (it was the church’s version of Boy Scouts). I desperately wanted to be a Ranger. Not only did I get along with boys better, but my dad was one of the leaders, and I wanted to be closer to him. And how cool would it have been to learn survival things! I loved nature, and I loved camping (still do, and my dad is still very passionate about camping).

“Girls can’t be in Rangers! Enough!’ – Dad. I thought because my dad was one of the leaders, that they could make an exception, but no. I cried for days.

Plank nailed in: the house is the female’s domain, and even when you’re passionate about something, you can be denied access due to your gender.

I was 7 years old playing outside in a dress that I didn’t want to wear, and fell to the ground after spinning around some (apparently spinning around all the time was a way to stim). My legs were bent as I was lying there and my mother screeched at me to keep my legs together and keep them down.

Another plank nailed in: girls cannot be carefree and must be aware of how they present their bottom half at all times.

I was in 4th grade, and they separated the boys and girls into different rooms to teach about sex organs and bodily changes.

Another plank: girls and boys are different, and it’s taboo/shameful to talk about those differences together.

In 5th grade my grandparents took the family on a Christmas cruise. Mom forced me again to wear a dress I did not want to wear. It was too much for my senses: bright red, too tight on my torso, and had poufy short sleeves. I felt hideous on top of wanting to puke and cry from sensory overload. I was in a foul mood all night and was severely reprimanded.

Plank: good girls do what they’re told without protest; comfort is in pleasing others and nothing else.

In 6th grade, I was on the bus after staying at school late, and a high school boy started harassing me about sex acts, including fisting, which I had no conceptualization for. I just sat their mute, awkwardly nodding and smiling out of nervous habit. I was unable to get away because we were the only two on the bus and he wasn’t letting up. Instead of interrupting the conversation as he was hearing it, the bus driver (my favorite bus driver at the time) waited until I was walking down the steps to my driveway to then scold me with, “I heard what you were talking about back there. What would your mother say should I tell her?” Every bus ride thereafter was a hell of anxiety.

Plank: there is shame in being harassed, and girls have to take full accountability for others’ actions.

In 7th grade I was told I could no longer play tag football in gym with the boys.

Plank: girls can’t and shouldn’t keep up with the boys, especially in sport. We’re inferior.

8th grade: I was caught sexting an older high school boy. Instead of talking to me about sexuality and asking me if I was okay, my parents “prayed the devil out of me” and grounded me for a year. Fun fact, I was not okay. I was constantly uncomfortable with what was happening, but didn’t have the ability to make boundaries and uphold them. I thought all girls wanted this attention from boys, and I only kept up with it because I thought I was “chosen.” I hated talking like that and barely even knew what I was saying or being told. All of it felt wrong.

Plank: my body and sexuality are a sin.

9th grade: Freshman year, my boyfriend touched my genitals under a blanket at the after prom party (he was a senior). I wasn’t coerced, but I wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about it. At the time I was bound to Purity Culture, so I was not sexually active, and was not really interested in *touching* things yet. I asked my boyfriend later on why he needed to touch it when he knows we won’t be having sex. He replied, “I don’t know.”

Plank: Sex acts are for others’ pleasure and boundaries are negotiable.

I “wasn’t like other girls.” I liked playing in nature for hours and getting sapped by the trees, hated playing with dolls, despised skirts and stockings and anything “frilly,” got along better with “the guys,” the purple/pink combo nauseated me (still does)…

I could go on and on, but I don’t want to detract from the main message of this article. Bottom line is, the more I learned to be a “girl” against my will and understanding, the longer I stayed naïve, and the more abuse I endured—and not just abuse from “men,” but from all people around me. Because after building this box around me, and adding layer after layer, I lost sight of who I was, and I lost my voice. When you don’t know who you are, you’re susceptible to being swayed one way or another a lot of the time (at least in my experience).

Add in a lot of neurodivergence, and the masks I kept having to wear to “fit in,” then got nailed onto my box and became who I was. There was no light getting through the cracks anymore for me to witness my true self. Chronic pain only muddled things further. I had next to no tools for communicating effectively, or for emotional regulation, or for loving my mind and body. I had no tools to take the nails out of my “self-made” coffin…I wanted to die.

Since I could no longer access Jaesic, I couldn’t see me getting older. I didn’t WANT to see me getting older. Even on my happiest days, I still wanted to die. I didn’t and couldn’t feel like ME. Coming out as nonbinary two years ago, and discovering my autism since, has been a painful yet liberating process of me finding the light within and bursting out of the coffin the world insisted that I build.

“Well it seems to me that your trauma is why you reject your gender.”

Oh honey, no. Now I’m not saying trauma can’t play a role in forming identity. It absolutely can and does, as us humans do not exist in a vacuum. The point is though, even IF trauma forces that “choice,” then that individual has always had the capacity to be more than their prescribed gender, or sexuality, or job, or literally anything. Again, us humans are pretty damn complex. So instead on focusing what lived experience may have contributed to a person’s new (to you) identity, let’s just see the person for who they are in the present moment and respect how they want to be addressed. If we can do that for cis people (when they get married, go by a new nickname, change jobs, attain higher education) then we absolutely can do the same for transgender people too.

I have always been ME. It just took me longer to figure that out because I was traumatized into being a girl for the first 25 years of my life. And that right there folks is why we need to support trans youth. Trans youth are under attack for just wanting (needing) to be who they are! And they are at greater risk for depression, considering suicide, and attempting suicide than their peers when they do not have the support they need. Learn what you can do to fight against unjust legislation in the U.S. There are many organizations that have resources available to you.

The simplest thing you can do for trans people, though? LISTEN, BELIEVE, and LET LIVE.


Exploring gender or sexuality? Remember, everything is at your own pace. And I can help! If you’d like to talk with someone about what you’re going through, I offer consulting services on a sliding scale. Please don’t hesitate to reach out through the contact tab on the main menu.  🥰

And soon I will be offering life coaching! Stay tuned!