CW: Sexuality, Mental Health, Stress, 90s TV shows.
It’s not a glamorous one, it isn’t a Hollywood blockbuster, it’d barely make an extended channel 4 drama, but a weekend in Berlin has given me a few sparkly eyed, look far into the distance moments that have been long needed in what can only be described as a long, hard depressive episode.
However, what got me the most was something that seemed originally quite trivial. I had taken a stroll and stumbled into a comic book shop which didn’t seem overwhelmingly mind-blowing, but I had an Indiana Jones moment where I saw the treasure and beelined for a little, sparkly manga all on its lonesome.
It was called “My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness” by Nagata Kabi.
It’s overtly pink cover, with a distressingly awkward animation on it, made my heart flutter. The manager of the store called it “profoundly sad” at times, it was screaming for me to read it. It wasn’t until my flight home, where exhausting the last drips of energy in my body finishing my previous read, I decided to give it a whirl [during mania I can devour a book in a day, or flick between 6-7 of them one chapter at a time, so energy isn’t always a problem].
Now here’s where the movie scene begins. Window to my left, sleeping guy with an obnoxious amount of aftershave on to my right, and all 6’3” of me crammed into that tiny corner with this pink trinket in my lap. I watched the sprinkle of lights fade out of sight for a while and momentarily thought a blinking red light on the wing was a fire, before it was consumed by clouds and I woke up a little.
Being night time, albeit a very short flight for any real rest, the lights were switched off. Ryanair must be upgrading as it had a UV-light ring running along the whole perimeter of the plane’s body that gave me [I wholeheartedly believe] a very 90s aesthetic, borderline Dawson’s creek feels. An episode that I wish would be more Pacey, but who am I kidding it’d be far more Dawson and yes, I am that white.
Anyway, bathed in this neon blue glow, I got down to it.
Having come out [as bisexual] only a few years ago, I am notoriously on the fringe of queer culture. I didn’t grow up with many LGBTQIA+ friends, any person who I have been around [family, friends, work] have all been incredibly homophobic, overtly or covertly. That being so, I have this internalised fear of all that isn’t straight. Maybe that’s not the best way to describe it, I have a dramatic anxiety about being too straight and therefore, not queer enough to step into the zone, so to say.
Yet, flicking through the first couple of pages I got my eureka moment. This artist, with their beautiful, painfully truthful manga, had gotten me. But how? They not only got me, but it spookily got where I was at right now. It opened up with severe mental health issues, it probed the water of dysfunctional families and their effects on your mental health, it literally made me choke with how the character [which is all the manga artist’s real life experience as a 28 year old, and oh did I forget to mention that I am 28 next month…] experienced eating disorders and work life with societal pressures. Finally, *deep breath* it got self-love to a tee.
The crux of the story was about how little they had been taught, showed or had experienced love around them and ultimately towards themselves. The whole premise of how they perceived what they were capable of, manifested in how they treated themselves. It was all so relevant. Poignant. Relatable. The character ultimately follows what they had thought they couldn’t do, because of how little they loved themselves and how that equivalated into their worth and ability – by loving themselves in small ways.
I closed the book and sat in awe for a while at how I craved for, and how necessary it is, hearing voices other than straight white dudes. I immediately found my first blog post to write. It made everything I was doing right now seem valuable, important and needed. Especially in a time of transition and instability with my bipolar, bisexuality and future.
Maybe I should write a short story called “My Bisexual experience with personality disorders”.
I’m not sure it’d be quite so pertinent.
[Here’s a link to the Manga’s goodread reviews, ignore some of the straights not seeing the relevance in sexuality to a story. They wouldn’t, would they].