2020 Vision

Bi-sexuality, Covid-19, Josie Quinn

A ‘Chronically Fabulous’ post by Josie Quinn

“This year, Christmas is going to look very different, and it’s going to be really difficult for a lot of people, but that just makes it all the more important to be grateful for whatever moments of cheer we can manage.”

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Christmas has always been my favourite time of year; some would even say I love it to a degree inappropriate for someone in her early thirties (and to those people, I would likely stick out my tongue and call them a Scrooge!). In fact, my brother and I still insist on our mum filling the advent calendars she made for us as children with chocolate each year, despite us both reaching adulthood more than a decade ago. I love everything about it: getting to wear Christmas jumpers/earrings, decorating the house, finding the perfect presents to get everyone, drinking hot chocolate whilst watching my dog run in the snow.

So when I got a stomach bug last Christmas, I’ll admit I felt pretty sorry for myself. My partner had come round on the night of Christmas Eve; but unfortunately by that point I’d already started to feel unwell. Hoping it would pass, we had an early night, but when I awoke on Christmas morning I felt much worse; I spent the first hour of the day alternating between opening presents and rushing to the bathroom to be ill, which wasn’t the cosy, romantic Christmas morning I’d envisioned! By the time my partner left to visit his parents, I had crawled back into bed, where I stayed until the evening. Christmas dinner is usually one of my favourite meals, but last year my entire dinner consisted of one pig-in-a-blanket, one bite of turkey, half a roast potato and a glass of water. More devastatingly, and for the first Christmas in the thirty-something years since I developed teeth, I didn’t manage to eat a single chocolate all day!

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Looking back on things through the corona-tinted lenses of 2020, my perspective has changed drastically. With Tier-2 restrictions in full force, having to choose the two households I’ll be able to see over Christmas has made me seriously re-evaluate so many things: not only how lucky I am, but how grateful I am to the people around me, and just how much I appreciate, and miss, the social interactions that I’d been taking for granted.

Although a couple of days over Christmas last year weren’t great, I’m now thinking about the weeks either side: Christmas shopping with mum; wrapping up warm and meeting friends in town for fancy, overpriced, seasonal coffees; going to friends’ houses to drink Baileys and exchange presents. I loved getting hugs from my godchildren and those few minutes of their excitement on opening the presents I’d brought, before they became more interested in the next present/family cat/cardboard box which had contained the presents. At the time, they all seemed so everyday, just things that “always” happen around that time of year. But I now realise those moments are the reasons I’ve always loved Christmas so much, and they are the things I’m going to miss the most this year.

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This year, Christmas is going to look very different, and it’s going to be really difficult for a lot of people, but that just makes it all the more important to be grateful for whatever moments of cheer we can manage. So I’m still looking forward to the winter nights, watching Christmas films with friends, even if it will now be via webcam, and I’m going to enjoy playing Santa by doing doorstop present drops. But mostly I’m looking forward to this time next year when, fingers crossed, everything will be back to normal. Hopefully then, with the hindsight of 2020, I’ll be even more appreciative of being able to celebrate with friends and family.

Josie Quinn (she/her) is in her early thirties. She is a proud bisexual, disabled wheelchair-user and self-professed total geek! She worked as a Legal Executive before becoming too ‘Chronically Fabulous’ to continue, having been diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Osteoporosis, CFS, Anxiety, Depression, and PTSD. In her spare time she’s an avid reader (sci-fi, fantasy & graphic novels especially), amateur cosplayer and burgeoning tattoo addict. Twitter.com/Bendy_NotBroken … Instagram.com/BendyNotBroken

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Chronically Fabulous: The Critical Role of D&D in an Isolated World

By Josie Quinn: “In a year of isolation and fear, Dungeons & Dragons has not only kept me connected with the outside world, but given all of us the much needed chance to escape our current reality, even if only for a few hours.”

Giving Shame the Finger!

Louise Clare Dalton. “Let’s talk about shame baby, let’s talk about it and me, let’s talk about all the good things and the … oh wait. Hon, let’s not kid ourselves, there isn’t much ‘good’ to speak of when it comes to the shame surrounding sexuality and queerness.

2020: Locking Down My mental Health

Covid-19, Josie Quinn, Mental Health

A ‘Chronically Fabulous’ post by Josie Quinn

Addiction is sneaky like that; it reminds you of the brief rush you felt, not the days and weeks of regret and shame after, and definitely not the years of help and work it took to get to a stage where it finally felt under control. More than anything, that moment of temptation scared me and made me realise just how far I could backslide if I were to give up.

I remember saying, on New Year’s Eve last year, something along the lines of “2020 is going to be my year!” (Finished laughing yet?! Good). Having spent the last several years putting in a lot of work towards improving my mental health, I was determined to keep making progress. I was volunteering at an animal shelter whenever able, had joined a regular D&D (Dungeons & Dragons) game group in town, and was even cast as the Cheshire Cat in a local theatre company production. So all in all I was feeling pretty good about things for the first month or so of the year. Then March arrived.

the new york times newspaper

When lockdown first started, I’ll be the first to admit I did not cope well! My depression and anxiety seemed to be vying for my attention at all times, locked in a battle which left me constantly bouncing between two states: either I stayed in bed for days at a time, listless and crying, or I was in a state of absolute panic, terrified that the isolation was going to undo years of therapy and hard work.

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Not long into the pandemic, I caught myself, after a decade of not giving in to the urge to self-harm, looking at one of the knives in the kitchen and hearing that little voice once more, telling me how much better I would feel afterwards. Addiction is sneaky like that; it reminds you of the brief rush you felt, not the days and weeks of regret and shame after, and definitely not the years of help and work it took to get to a stage where it finally felt under control. More than anything, that moment of temptation scared me and made me realise just how far I could backslide if I were to give up. I needed to find ways to feel connected (and, subsequently, sane), and it turns out that my fear of regressing was exactly the fuel I needed to motivate myself to do just that.

Despite having been a member of a number of online groups for some time, with the exception of ‘liking’ the occasional post, and having attended precisely one Book Group meet-up, I had never been particularly active in any of them. The first thing I needed to do was narrow these groups down a little, in essence creating a shortlist of those which (A) didn’t have an overwhelming number of members, (B) seemed more friendly/welcoming than argumentative, and (C) where I had something in common with everyone in the group, be they LGBTQ+, cosplay enthusiasts or tabletop gamers.

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Next was practically forcing myself to start commenting on other people’s posts; even if that meant setting myself reminder alarms to do so, or drafting and rewriting the comment multiple times until I felt comfortable enough to submit it. Admittedly, there were days where my anxiety would get the better of me, and I’d rewrite a comment ten or twenty times, then delete it completely, feeling like an utter failure. But on those days where I did manage to engage with other people, it began to feel like I was really on the right track.

“A small step forward is better than any in the wrong direction.”

Beginning to join actual online events and video chats was a little more daunting. In pre-covid times I’d managed to attend one meeting of a local LGBTQ+ Book Group, so when I saw that they were still meeting via Zoom it seemed the perfect place to start, and hopefully build from. Though incredibly anxious in the build-up to the first group video call, once it started I soon began to feel much calmer, and afterwards was so happy that I hadn’t talked myself out of attending.

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Ever since that first online meeting, things have just snowballed in the best possible way. Not only am I still attending the (now bi-monthly, and slightly expanded) Book, Film & Music Group, but also regular online D&D and board game nights; recently I’ve even helped set up a new group and have hosted some of our online game nights.

Somehow I have made more friends in the last six months than in the previous six years, and my diary is fuller now than it was before lockdown and social distancing began.

So maybe 2020 isn’t going to be the year of glowing progress I hoped it would, and that’s okay. In all honesty, I’m a little proud that I managed to make any headway whatsoever considering all that has happened in the world this year; a small step forward is better than any in the wrong direction.

Josie Quinn (she/her) is in her early thirties. She is a proud bisexual, disabled wheelchair-user and self-professed total geek! She worked as a Legal Executive before becoming too ‘Chronically Fabulous’ to continue, having been diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Osteoporosis, CFS, Anxiety, Depression, and PTSD. In her spare time she’s an avid reader (sci-fi, fantasy & graphic novels especially), amateur cosplayer and burgeoning tattoo addict. Twitter.com/Bendy_NotBroken … Instagram.com/BendyNotBroken

Read all of Josie’s Chronically Fabulous posts

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