I’ve told my story in various ways to various people, but recently I’ve started telling it differently—as an account of an obstacle I’ve conquered, rather than a mire in which I flounder.
Here’s the bite-sized version:
My name is Jace Harr, and I’m a queer writer and educator who has become passionate about mental health and psychoeducation as part of my own journey towards recovery from depression and PTSD.
My childhood was fine on the surface, but my parents’ toxic tendencies swirled underneath. Around age 14 I began being sexually assaulted and abused by my peers, but had no understanding of the wrongness of the behavior or the effect it was having on me. I had a severe dissociative episode that separated me from reality and I began feeling suicidal all of the time. By age 15, I was wishing on my birthday candles for my own death. I finished high school with stellar grades and enthusiastic extracurricular participation, leading to parents and professionals denying that I had a problem even when they knew I was self-harming.
In college, my façade started to slip, along with my grades, as I entered a four-year-long sexually, emotionally, and physically abusive relationship. Soon after the relationship began, at age 19, I came out as transgender and became more devoted to being the person I really was. I started taking medication, I started going to therapy, but I couldn’t figure out why nothing was changing.
In 2014, soon after a suicide attempt, I met friends and lovers who showed me for the first time that people are capable of bettering themselves. I found the strength to rescue myself from that abusive relationship and, half a year later, from my toxic family. Since then, I have been actively working on my mental health and I try every day to be a better person than I was the day before.
Unofficial peer support has been the guiding light of my life. I’ve had loved ones who decided they wouldn’t leave me behind no matter what, and that’s the reason I am where I am today. I have about seven years of therapy under my belt but it’s been the 4am kitchen table talks that have made the most difference. It’s been the texts to make sure I’m awake on time that implicitly say to me how much I’m loved. My unruly brain is now managed with medication and, more importantly, my own hard work and ingenuity. I’m not symptom-free, and maybe I never will be, but I have recently found joy in life for the first time.
Taking care of my own mental health, and that of others, has become my purpose. In 2016, I created for myself a self-care app that ended up “going viral” and now has over a million play-throughs. Its popularity gave me a taste of the difference I could make in the lives of others.
From “Harrd Feelings,” you can expect mental health and recovery information from trauma experts, the kind that usually doesn’t make its way all the way to consumers. While I believe therapy and medication are important and irreplaceable aspects of mental health maintenance, I think that we often make the longest strides when we support ourselves. Therefore, I want to educate people so they can gain understanding about their own brains and use that knowledge to grow.
Please feel free to leave comments and ask questions!