May 25, 2023
Author and speaker Jamie Windust joins Jameela this week to share about their personal journey of trauma and healing. They discuss Jamie‘s experience of sexual assault, the resources that were available to them as a non-binary person, learning to accept the healing process, the importance of medication and therapy as well as reconnecting with oneself, how trauma looks different than we sometimes expect, and more.
You can find transcripts for this episode on the Earwolf website.
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164 — A Journey of Healing with Jamie Windust
[00:00:00] Jameela Hello and welcome to another episode of I Weigh with Jameela Jamil, a podcast against shame. I hope you’re well, and I want to warn you upfront that this is not an easy lesson because we are dealing with the subject of sexual trauma, a sexual assault, and the incredibly tricky aftermath of that, especially for someone who is queer or gender non-conforming. My guest is Jamie Windust, they are a wonderful model and speaker and advocate and writer and general all around good human being. Few years ago they were subjected to a terrible trauma at the hands of someone else sexually. And we do not go into details as to what exactly happened to Jamie because I wanted to be very respectful of their privacy and to not retraumatize them in their generous move to come onto this podcast and unpack something that is very difficult for anyone to talk about. But I’m deeply honored that they chose me to come and discuss this with very personally, very thoughtfully. And I think their motivation for wanting to talk about this subject with people could not be more beautiful, because I think they felt very alone at the time that it happened and they don’t want anyone else to feel that way. And we really get into the weeds of how different trauma looks in all kinds of different people. In this episode, we discuss the experience of sexual assault, but mostly the immediate effect that had on their mental health. We discussed the services and support available to trans queer and non binary people and why it’s important to ask for support. And we discuss exactly how trauma responses look so different in everyone and how there is really no right way to feel. You know, I think from films and books and TV and songs, we have this kind of finite idea of of what trauma is supposed to look like in ourselves, and therefore we can’t spot it when it comes in more covert ways and from different angles and it surfaces old other traumas, and maybe that’s how it comes out. And so I think that’s a really valuable part of this chat. The whole chat is so valuable. But I think very few people talk about the subject of of the different masks that trauma can wear. And it’s really helpful to hear it like this because so many of us are walking around thinking that we’re not struggling when we are just dismissing our symptoms. And Jamie talks about this incredibly eloquently. We also discuss how Jamie has taken the opportunity of recovery to reconnect with themselves. They talk about where they are now a few years later and the healing that they have done. It is ultimately an uplifting conversation because I, as Jamie’s friend, can say that I have never seen them so authentic and and so at peace with themselves and at peace with their words and. It is as you know, I myself am a sexual trauma survivor. And so it always gives me hope to see people find a way to kind of rise from the ashes of another person’s sins. And it’s so unfair that any of us should ever have to go through that or do any of that. But given that it is something that is increasingly common in our society, it is nice to hear that someone was able to give themselves love, grace, patience, time and true space to heal not only from this one thing, but to try to heal from everything. And so I totally understand If this episode is too much for you, I don’t want you to feel any kind of pressure to have to listen through. I can see you next week. But if you are going to stick around, then please join me in loving, admiring and offering all of the support in the world to the excellent Jamie Windust. Jamie Windust. Welcome back to I Weigh. How are you?
[00:04:33] Jamie Thank you very much. I’m. I’m grand Jameela. How are you?
[00:04:36] Jameela I mean, you’re. Yeah, I’m good. I’m good. I mean, you’re glowing. You look good for it. I’m very touched that you’re here because you have trusted me with a really difficult conversation, and I’m. I don’t want to label it even as difficult. It’s really up to you to decide what the what the word is to describe it, but a fragile situation. And I really appreciate that you feel safe to talk to me about this today. Can you talk to me a bit about the mental health journey you’ve been on in the last few years? Because it’s been quite a ride.
[00:05:15] Jamie Yeah. Thank you. I, um. You know, first off, I’m really grateful to be able to have a space to share, um, openly and comfortably. And also, again, not to kind of be too preachy about it, but in a space where I know that people have access to conversations like this, people can engage with more conversations around mental health. So I’m really grateful for that. I wanted to just be like this is what’s happened in my life. This is how I’m doing now. And this is what I think as a collective group of people on this planet we can do to help other people who may be in the same situation.
[00:06:00] Jameela Mm hmm. And do you feel comfortable disclosing what that situation is?
[00:06:04] Jamie Yeah, absolutely. So it’s actually I, I Weigh has really been a thread in my mental health journey. When it comes to, like, pin, like pinpointing moments in my life, that really changed. So that first summer of the pandemic in 2020, you know, we’d all been through a lot. And I just recorded the series with I Weigh and the amazing team and literally, like I think two weeks to three weeks before that. I was raped and I. I then found myself in a position where it felt very much like sink, sink or swim. It was like. What do you do now? You either let this kind of wash over you and you drown in the repercussions of of of being someone who’s been raped. Or do you try and scramble for normality and try to continue with what was going on in your life before, despite the fact that your life is very different now? You know I can look back now and think it wasn’t because I was wasn’t trying to look after myself it was because I craved normality. I decided to stick with, let’s just keep going, let’s just plow on. Let’s just do what we were doing and let’s process this later.
[00:07:24] Jameela Mm hmm.
[00:07:26] Jamie Because that’s what I needed at the time.
[00:07:28] Jameela Yeah, I was the same. I was the same when it happened to me. I was exactly the same as I. I think everyone has a very different reaction and I think some people are I think our brains are very clever and they know that we can’t handle the information right now and they block it out. So I, uh. Yeah, it’s. It’s therefore, it becomes hard sometimes to know what’s going on with your brain, because we have a very singular idea of what the aftermath of sexual assault looks like because of the way it’s portrayed in the media. And and I. I appreciate you talking about that sort of numb. That comes afterwards.
[00:08:06] Jamie Yeah, because this. But I want to say this quite, you know, quite boldly at the start, the point of me having this conversation and talking about this today isn’t to continue my own processing, but is to shine a light on the fact that exactly like you’ve just said, the experiences of survivors are so complex and nuanced that it can feel like if you’re not experiencing life how it is in the films, or how is on TV after sexual assault, how how you think you should be, it can kind of feel like you’re doing it wrong or, you know, or you’re letting it take control or you’re not giving enough space. There’s so much like, What do I do? And I think what I wanted to do with with showing what happened to me is to say there is no blueprint on what to do because. I mean, there just isn’t like there’s not it’s not something.
[00:08:58] Jameela Yeah. As with a lot of what you talk about in your day to day life there’s a spectrum of responses. And, there’s a spectrum of everything. And, and I think one of the things that I thought would be really interesting for us to be able to discuss around this is the the spectrum of that pattern of behavior that you experienced over the course of the next few years, because it kind of it was a kind of slow burn that suddenly sped up. And and so could you give me a sort of timeline of of your mental health. So after it happened, the immediate aftermath, where where were you at? What was your lifestyle looking like? Were there ways in which you were trying to, I don’t know, live even more boldly? That’s what I did straight afterwards. I became even I became I became quite reckless and more bold than I’ve ever been before because there was a part of me that just kind of wanted to extra prove that I, you know, that I was I was strong and I was still here and I was fine. I was untouched. I wonder what your experience was like.
[00:10:13] Jamie Yeah, absolutely. That’s. Very similar to me. I think one of the biggest things that I’ve learned is that the body, the body tries to not necessarily recreate the trauma, but it can for me, anyway, it manifested as like putting myself in quite reckless situations or dangerous situations to try and rewrite what happened.
[00:10:35] Jameela You mean as in putting yourself in a in in somewhat of a a dangerous situation that you come out of safely to prove your own capacity for safety?
[00:10:46] Jamie Yeah. So it kind of saying trying to like disprove that it was that would happen every time. So saying okay, yeah, I might have met someone for an anonymous hookup that then turned into sexual assault, but that doesn’t need to be the case every time. And I think was is quite common. But definitely happened for me is I ended up back in that cycle in the months afterwards of thinking that I could reengage back into sex and intimacy with people. But it was in a way that three years on I can see was me just trying to rewrite what happened. And I was trying to convince myself that I had control. And I, you know, I was okay, which is completely natural. And that’s again, why what I’m trying to put out there is that all of these things that when you look back and you think, gosh, why am I doing that? Maybe it’s my fault, maybe I’m the problem. And you start to kind of internalize all of this shame and this kind of frustration with what’s happened. Actually, it’s just your body trying to look after you. It’s trying to rewrite what’s happened. It’s trying to kind of remind you that you’re safe. And like I said earlier, in that initial period, I kind of didn’t give myself any space to process it and just continued on with work, continued on with life. I didn’t tell a lot of people.
[00:12:06] Jameela Did you talk to a therapist. Did you go to anyone for help?
[00:12:10] Jamie I went to so I went through the traditional channels. So I went through the police initially and they had passed me on to the NHS, Mental health services and the rape crisis, mental health services. And, you know, due to the pandemic, due to the current way of life in the UK, the wait times were just in, you know, two years. I actually got an email six months ago saying that I was at the top of the list.
[00:12:37] Jameela Oh my God.
[00:12:39] Jamie Which. I think at that time, you know, like I live alone. I am quite an independent person. I. I have always been a really independent person, but to then be in crisis, it’s very easy for that to then turn to isolation. And what I needed was, was support. So what I did was I went to a private therapist and I was able to kind of begin there beginning to unpack. And yeah, that was that was the beginning of kind of where I am actually now. I’m still with the same therapists. I still work with them every week. And this phase of doing the work and of like unpacking things and deconstructing what’s happened and processing isn’t again, it isn’t how it’s perceived in the media or in film and TV. It’s messy, it’s ugly, it’s painful, and it’s also long. You know, it’s it takes time. And that’s kind of where I’ve been over the past, especially last year, you know, deep in the kind of processing of what’s happened. And I think that’s important to share because there can be a narrative, especially in the world as we exist in that processing happens through being able to flick through an Instagram carousel and reading quotes and then being able to feel confident and like, oh, yeah, I have now I’ve processed but actually it’s this a really isolating place to process things like that.
[00:14:14] Jameela What was your experience like with with the police and with your own feelings of who the fuck could I turn to? Who would care?
[00:14:24] Jamie Yeah. Thanks for bringing that and I think it’s a really important piece because that was exactly why it felt extra isolating is because, you know, my experiences with the police, you know, there were some, but there were some. You know, you could say positive moments where I was fortunate enough that in my part of London there was an LGBTQ plus liaison officer who I got to see for six weeks and he was there. He kind of came straight to me when I reported the incident. And I kind of I’ve written about it quite a lot since in my work, and I kind of almost think of him as this like translator. And so it was like the traditional kind of police turned up, and then they had to call in this LGBT liaison officer to kind of come and support, which I’m really grateful for. It did feel a bit clunky, but I’m grateful that that was there. And, you know, one thing I have to say is there are some amazing groups in the U.K. that were so supportive. You know, I was able to go straight to Gallup. They are an amazing LGBTQ plus resource in the U.K. who help people who are victims of sexual violence, but also domestic abuse. And also one one thing that I noticed in kind of in my experience with working and being part of services such as like survivors UK is how impactful yet easy it was for them to adapt to my needs.
[00:16:04] Jameela What do you mean?
[00:16:05] Jamie So, for example, I think as a marginalized person I was like, Oh, I can’t asked to see if they have any trans people that I can speak to or if they don’t have any trans support groups. So they’re not going to have this. And all I had to do was ask, and they were like, of course, you know absolutely that we have that. And 18 months ago they changed their whole kind of message and branding and ethos to say that we support men, non-binary people and trans individuals. So kind of, I guess predominantly, you know, and women, but they really made an emphasis on we no matter who you are or what your gender identity is, if you are a victim of sexual violence, you can come to one of the UK’s leading spaces for support. And they made that really public. And for me, that was shocking to see because I because they went against everything that I was telling myself when I was in that crisis of there’s going to be nowhere for you to go, you’re not going to be able to seek support in any space. Yet here was the UK’s leading charity saying, Come on in. And they got me back up on my feet and still do now. You know, if you’re listening and you know someone or you are in that space of, Oh, I can’t talk to anyone, I don’t need to go anywhere. Just have a little bit of hope and have a little bit of trust, because I know a lot of the time we don’t think there’s going to be anything there, but people will surprise you.
[00:17:41] Jameela So how long would you say the sort of numbness and denial phase lasted before you realized that actually something was catching up with you. What was that moment of of reckoning?
[00:17:56] Jamie It was about a year experiencing kind of patches of depression or kind of episodes of feeling a little bit anxious or. Things, not feeling like calm and consistent like they used to. I think what I noticed is that essentially was beginning to understand that I had PTSD, essentially. I didn’t know at the time. I hadn’t didn’t have the language. But what I was really struggling with was stress. I didn’t know how to manage stress in any form, and it was my biggest and first signaling sign that something wasn’t right is the things that I used to engage in, for example, work or commitments with friends or family. I just couldn’t. I couldn’t do it anymore because the feeling of commitment or the feeling of not being able to say no, or the feeling of not being able to change my mind. Suddenly it almost felt like my brain had been rewired. If felt like that was, I could only say yes now. I was never allowed to say no and say that that suddenly impacted all of my life decisions and life relationships from oh do you want to come over for coffee? You know, I just couldn’t commit because I felt like if I said yes, I’d never be able to say no and I’d be forced into it. Or work. You know, if I committed to something, suddenly I was trapped in it and that was new. And I felt that being really new and it was a real bodily thing. Yeah, that was my first big red flag of like ooh I think you need to slow down.
[00:19:34] Jameela Yeah. And your brain telling you that that you have a control issue, right? You have fear of your autonomy being taken away. It’s so fascinating, isn’t it, how the the brain can, like, find a little warning flare for you in another area that’s analogous to what it is that you’ve experienced, trying to let you know as gently as possible that you have something that you haven’t unpacked yet. And I think a lot of people experience that. It’s a sort of like it feels like a kind of cognitive dysfunction, but it must be really discombobulating when it happens a year later because especially because it’s kind of adjacent to what it is that you went through, but not directly. It doesn’t it’s not very on the nose. Right. And so at that time, did you even link it to what happened or did you just think I’m losing my mind? Were you able to place that that was a trauma response or did you not think you had trauma because you’d gone this year without really addressing it?
[00:20:35] Jamie This is a this is probably the most fascinating part is that what I worked out with my therapist is the the trauma of the sexual assault essentially was something that had landed on top of what we like to describe as like almost like a fault line out of unprocessed trauma from life. Being a trans person. And so this kind of one big doomp of trauma has essentially ricocheted and broken everything. And so everything that once felt normal or once felt okay is suddenly a bit shaky and it took me a long time to put two and two together. Exactly like you say I thought I was. You know, at first I thought, Oh, maybe I’m just bummed out. Maybe I’m working too much. Or maybe it’s my medication. Or maybe it’s because I was on antidepressants.
[00:21:27] Jameela Why were you on antidepressants? Do you mind me asking, how long have you been on those?
[00:21:31] Jamie So I. I went straight on those when I first had my first session with my therapist after the assualt.
[00:21:38] Jameela Right.
[00:21:39] Jamie We kind of were like, I think we need to look into antidepressants, and I’m still on them now. I’m on different ones. And that’s a journey in itself, finding the right one for you. But I’m still on them now, and I was in that period last year of finding the right drugs for me and finding what works. So I was like ok maybe it’s that. It was really discombobulating like exactly that you say, because trauma doesn’t make a lot of cognitive sense all of the time.
[00:22:06] Jameela No, and it’s not linear. It’s not linear. It’s just sort of like it is debris. That’s how the trauma comes out. It’s very like it’s a we make it sound more on the nose when we talk about it in the media because it’s so much easier to break it down that way. But that means that a lot of people therefore miss what trauma looks like because we don’t know how much of a weird sort of mist it is. And so. Okay. So you had a sort of like burn out phase right where you were no longer being able to do the things that you used to find relatively easy. And, you, I mean, how severe did this get with you getting to the point of anxiety attacks, panic attacks, or was it just a feeling of, no, I can’t do it?
[00:22:52] Jamie It was really, yes. There’s a to kind of if I saw it, I went through that period of what’s going on. I kind of feel this kind of bizarre reaction and like what I now know as a trauma response to feelings of commitment and feelings of not like I don’t have autonomy. And it got to summer 2022. And I essentially I was just experiencing a lot of anxiety and it was predominately around work. It was just this idea that if I say yes to something or if I can’t say yes to future work, I then won’t have a job. I then will end up having to move home, you know, And I kind of spiraled into this like not realistic, but slightly kind of catastrophic mind palace of this. Your life, your life will never be the same again because you can’t do your job anymore. You know, you can’t do anything. You’re just trapped. And I ended up having a moment where I just put the brakes on absolutely everything. I was basically housebound. I just stayed in, I couldn’t I couldn’t really leave the house. I struggled with fearing other people. So I was kind of like, I can’t like, don’t talk to me. Don’t try and make me do anything. Don’t speak to me. Don’t try and arrange plans with me. It was really hard because I needed help. But my emotional response saying, You can’t trust anyone, you can’t. Don’t let people in because they might make you do something you don’t want to do. And so it was yeah, that was the lowest point I think I’ve ever had.
[00:24:31] Jameela How did you get through that? Like, what was the. What’s the protocol when something like that happens? You just shut down.
[00:24:41] Jamie This is what I mean by doing the work. I was essentially through the therapy that I’ve been doing every week, and up until that point was, you know, kind of 18 months, two years of gradually going through what’s happened in the assault and in my life up to that point, this breakdown and this kind of collapse of me being able to do anything, although at the time felt like I’d gone backwards and I. And I’d let it win. Well, I can actually see as, okay, this was part of the processing. This is part of me releasing that trauma or letting it exist. Letting it breathe and letting it flow. And that’s what I mean by it looks and feels messy and horrible and it can feel like you’re going backwards before you’re moving forwards because I was stuck. But you know, the perks of that were that when I then come out the other side, which is where I am right now, I am a lot stronger and a lot more resilient and a lot more aware of my own accessibility needs. And I know that sounds a bit wanky to say, like, Oh, when you know, if someone’s listening now and they’re in that say, Oh, you know, when you come out the other side, you’re going to be going to be grateful for this. You know, ballocks to that because when you’re in that, you don’t want to hear that. But for me, that is that is what I experienced. But I think the most important thing I needed to hear, which I can now realize when I was in there, is this is part of the process. You’re not going backwards by being stuck. You’re not letting anyone down by if by stopping or by staying in bed, you’re not doing anything wrong. You’re listening to your body and you’re listening to yourself and you’re allowing yourself to process. That’s all it was.
[00:26:29] Jameela Yeah, I think for me a break down and also was so much easier to see this in hindsight. But the breakdown for me and I think for a lot of people is the brain’s way of showing you what it is that’s been hiding in your mind for however long and allowing it to roam free for a second and for you to see exactly how debilitating it is and what you’ve been overriding every single day, trying to run away from it. It’s like we cannot destroy or heal what we do not understand. And so sometimes that breakdown happens, I think, to create a stage in your brain for you to see exactly what’s happening so that then you can actually figure out a plan. If you know, if you should be so lucky to figure out a plan and get help and and be able to describe exactly what it is that’s happening because it’s so hard to do when you’re in denial, when you’re running from it. And so I do understand what you mean about coming out the other side stronger when I came out the other side also with a lot of fear and a lot of anger and and a really like sad and displaced shame. Did you did you feel any of those things afterwards?
[00:27:36] Jamie Absolutely. Because I think we live in a world we live in a capitalist world. We live in a world that doesn’t allow you to do that. It doesn’t allow you to stop. You know, if I was grateful in a way for the privilege to be able to stop. I’m self-employed. I was I had one of the most successful years of my career the year that I burnt out and collapsed, essentially. So although outwardly, I was succeeding in lots of ways. I had huge amounts of shame because I’d essentially gotten to a point in my life and career where I was really doing what? Ten year old me I dreamed of doing. And suddenly I was saying, Oh, no, let’s stop, actually. I don’t want to do that right now.
[00:28:22] Jameela One of the ways it made me stronger and I wonder if you can relate to this is that it taught me who I really was in a way, and I didn’t frame it personally as like, this is who I am as a survivor. I was like, Oh no, this is actually a lot of who I always was that I’ve been pretending to be for a really long time. Like, I really got to fucking know myself. When you have to look after yourself through something like that, when you have to survive something like that, you really find out what you’re made of. And. And for me, that shame turned into an immense self-respect. Once I realized how awful what I’ve been through was and and dealt head on with the trauma of it, I realized, Jesus fucking Christ, I’m really proud of myself for pulling myself out a slowly as it took. I’m still proud of myself as long as it took rather. I’m still proud of myself. And I I became much more autonomous in every area of my life, having my autonomy taken away in that massive, intimate, pivotal way. Changed me forever and made me, like, defiant to make sure that I am as much in control. Not in a hopefully not an excessive way, but of my own life now. And I’m so much more real about the plans that I make, the jobs that I take. I’m so much more self-protective. I was never protective of myself before it happened because I think that’s that’s the beauty and joy of youth, is that you don’t feel like you have to be. It’s just you’re just about gaining experience and knowledge, understanding. But something like that happens and it’s it forces you to go like, Oh no, okay, I am a little bit vulnerable. I am a little bit fragile, I’m human and I need to I need to self preserve. And I don’t know, it just may have made me take that incredibly seriously. And I really wish that it hadn’t taken something like that to do so. But I I’m grateful purely for the the lesson of survival. You know what I mean?
[00:30:27] Jamie Absolutely. Thank you so much for articulating that so beautifully, because that’s exactly what I have now, is is is a respect for the person behind all of the.
[00:30:40] Jameela Mm hmm.
[00:30:42] Jamie Wanting to succeed all the time. And the person who we see on social media and whatever. Nowadays, I’m so much more in tune with the fact that I’m just a really sensitive person. I’m a really vulnerable person at times that doesn’t. I don’t need to pretend that that’s not there. I think that’s what I used to do, is I used to think, well, no one else feels stressed by these types of things, so I shouldn’t or other people can do can work ten jobs at the same time and still have a social life and whatever I should be able to that’s nowadays and like. Okay. I really know what I like and what I don’t like in my life. I don’t like these things. I don’t like people who are overfamiliar. I don’t like people who need to see you all the time or for it to be a consistent friendship. I don’t need. I mean, I feel like I just did not in an arrogant way and not in a in like a harsh way either. But I just feel exactly
[00:31:46] Jameela You’ve got boundaries.
[00:31:47] Jamie Yeah, I know myself a lot more. And I’ve I’ve finally and that’s that’s what I’m doing now is I’m finally have boundaries and to have boundaries and to never have had them before, I think. For the start anyway, it’s going to feel like you’re the aggressor because you’re saying. I’m going to put this boundary up. And because I’ve never really done that, I’m finally getting to a point where I’m like, okay, it’s not a bad thing and it’s not a rude thing or shameful thing to say these are my boundaries.
[00:32:18] Jameela Absolutely. So to take us through the timeline that happened, you went through a year of denial and slight recklessness, and I’m trying to kind of, I don’t know, busy and fun it away. And then you had this immense forced pause in your life where you kind of melted down and came to a standstill and didn’t understand what was happening to you while it was happening. You thought you were just experiencing dysfunction that was unrelated to the sexual assault from the year before. So then what happened? How did you get out of that? Did you seek help? Did some to someone force help upon you? Did friends intervene? What did that look like? That the end of that period? How did you get from there to here? I think that’s a really important part of this, is someone who has also had like a slow burning PTSD response. How do you identify it? What the fuck do you do?
[00:33:21] Jamie It’s a really tough. It’s really tough to think about for me personally, to think about that period of time in my life and to think how did we get out the other side. Because, for example, when I was in it, all I wanted was to know how to get out every day. I was like, Oh, maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow and I’ll feel different. Or maybe. Maybe I just need a couple more weeks. And the way that I got out of it and the way that I like to think of it is twofold. There’s one way that’s quite like traditional, and that was I seeked medical intervention. So. I went and spoke to the doctor about my medication. He realized that maybe the meds I was on were not the right ones.
[00:34:08] Jameela Mm hmm.
[00:34:09] Jamie And which we went up into a stronger antidepressant. And we slowly built up my tolerance to that and saw how that impacted and that definitely helped. Medication is like one part of the puzzle, so that really helped in a way it helped me to begin to see slightly clearer.
[00:34:31] Jameela Yeah. Zachary Levi came on the podcast and he said, The medication I think doesn’t switch the light bulb on, but it gives you a stepladder so that you can reach the light bulb to turn it on yourself. And I always thought that was a really lovely way of explaining how medication helped is not going to take the pain away. It’s not going to change what happened to you, but it is going to give you the space from the it’s like a like a fire alarm going off in your brain all the time when when trauma devours you whole. And so it just stops that alarm so that you can fucking think clearly for a second. And so I’m glad you had that. It’s also really hard if you’re a trans person in the United Kingdom in the last four years, it’s very hard to know where your stress is coming from, given like an extraordinary culture of hate which we discussed the last time you were on this podcast, the first time you came on, and it’s only gotten fucking worse since then. So I can’t imagine going through something like this that is so dehumanizing in and of itself when it happens and then being so dehumanized all around you. I can’t imagine having to because that therein lies its own separate trauma. Right. So it’s so it must be so hard in a period like that to then even be able to identify where your fear or where your dysfunctions coming from or why you feel detached. Because there’s plenty of trans people in the United Kingdom who haven’t been assaulted recently, who feel incredibly traumatized and far away from themselves. So I imagine that also made it really hard, especially as you’re on the kind of front line of taking on those conversations and being the advocate or voice or fighting the enemy. So it must have been a really fucking hectic time to then be in recovery from, you know, one of the most life altering things that can happen to a person.
[00:36:25] Jamie Yeah, hundred percent. And that’s why I had my therapist. That’s why he kind of describes this this the sexual assault as like the final piece of trauma that broke the camel’s back almost because he I remember saying to him, I don’t know where this is all coming from. And he was like, You, you’ve been existing as an out trans person in the world for, you know, ten plus years. And you’ve been an out queer person since you were, you know, 12. You might not realize it, but that trauma has compounded in of layers of sediment inside of you so that your trauma, all of my trauma responses were muddled because I didn’t they were coming from was it coming from transphobia, was coming from the assault, Was it coming from being judged for being femme, presenting all of this stuff that I was feeling? I couldn’t like trace back to its origin.
[00:37:23] Jameela There were so many fires to put out, like, how do you even know where to start in a time like that?
[00:37:28] Jamie Exactly. And then the cherry on top is the kind of denial of it all. Like no, no, I’m fine. I’m strong. I can do this. And.
[00:37:38] Jameela And you want to be that, especially as an advocate and as a marginalized person, because you want to show everyone that they’re not getting to you all the people sending you disgusting abuse in your DMS or the people on television campaigning for your erasure. You want to show them that you’re thriving. You don’t want to just show them. You want to show young people, right? What’s what trans thriving and trans joy and trans beauty looks like. And so there’s this kind of like, you know, and I’ve seen this in a lot of my friends in the U.K. who are trans especially, that like there’s this defiance that feels like a lifeline for so many of you, because you also know that that that lifeline for you is a lifeline for some other 12 year old who’s watching you right now, who feels confused and alone. And so there’s there’s this huge responsibility that so many of my friends put upon themselves in the face of so much bullshit. Because they feel this like duty to prove the joy and the beauty that does exist within living your truth. But it becomes performative when you are in your, you know, your hour of need.
[00:38:44] Jamie Yeah. And again, thank you for articulating that so, so clearly, because that’s exactly what it is. I couldn’t it wouldn’t have been fair or right for me to say, you know, to kind of put up this illusion of what life could look like if I wasn’t honest with what the reality of it was. You know, I needed to say that. And I think through being able to be honest now and say all these things that have happened. That is me showing my trans joy and my trans excellence and my trans kind of mess is because transness is at the moment, especially transness is seen as something that has to be perfect. Otherwise it has to be erased. And if it’s not perfect and if it’s not, if it doesn’t tick all the boxes or if it doesn’t have any errors within it, then it’s okay. But no human being is like that. Everyone is messy and has problems and has to sort their shit out. And I think that includes being like transness is included in that. And I think a lot of the time we don’t see that in the world and we don’t see what goes into making someone the resilient person that they are.
[00:40:04] Jameela So upon learning that you have PTSD upon finally coming to accept it and that it looks different to what you had expected, what has the journey been like since then? To take it seriously and start to actually recover? To get to the point where when I asked you how you are today, you’re very well. Congratulations on getting from that point to this one. I think in a really short period of time. What has that journey look like since then? Since since understanding and accepting.
[00:40:37] Jamie It is very much akin to what you mentioned earlier around kind of self-respect and self compassion. The second I unlocked that awareness that a lot of what has happened to me wasn’t my fault. Not just the assault, but in my whole life. And so therefore, the responses that I have to the world are not me being deviant or are not me being malfunctioning. You know I’m not inherently wrong, but I’m just a product of my time and my existence in a transphobic and homophobic world, I was able to have compassion for the fact that I was just reacting to a world that felt like it didn’t love me. And so the antidote to that was, Well, let’s make sure we do all the things that you love. What do you love to do? What you want to do? So, you know, the theater going going back to fashion. Thinking what you want to look like now, what do you want to do? How do you want to, do you want to look like Tintin. Go in there. Let’s see what that looks like. But just coming back to like, scrapping things, you know, really putting myself at the center of the decision making for the first time and thinking. Is this for you? I was getting the autonomy. Autonomy back.
[00:41:58] Jameela Yeah. And it. And. Yeah, and it feels like you’re reinventing yourself, but you’re not. You’re actually figuring out who you were all along when you weren’t having to wear all this fucking armor and mask in every way. Right.
[00:42:10] Jamie Absolutely. Especially. And that’s why I find it so interesting to look at my enjoyment and love of theater again, because that for me is the pinpoint that this isn’t new. I’m just going back to something that I stopped enjoying.
[00:42:25] Jameela Mm hmm.
[00:42:26] Jamie Because I. Because life happened, because fear happened. Because prejudice came in. And I started this charade seems like a quite harsh word, but I started putting on the armor and now it’s like, okay, I still have the armor. And of course we all do, but I’m taking it off gradually, and I’m giving myself permission to say, have a life. People are going to have an opinion on it, whatever you do. And. I used to always hear people say that and I’d be like ah ballocks. And I’d be like sure, fine. I am doing what I want to do. But now I can say I’m really firmly beginning to understand that I am a trans person with PTSD who has different accessibility needs in this life and needs to take things sometimes at one mile an hour. And I like a routine and I’ll have a roast dinner on a Sunday if I want. And I’m quite traditional in certain aspects of my life. I prefer the National Trust to a nightclub, but I’m done kind of like making excuses for that. I’m just saying. Yeah, that’s what I want to do. Let’s see what that looks like rather than being what other people want me to be.
[00:43:47] Jameela Yeah. And having to feel this this need to be fabulous and glittery and shiny all the time is fucking exhausting.
[00:43:57] Jamie Yeah. You know that as well as I do.
[00:43:58] Jameela It’s exhausting all the time. Yeah of course. I mean, I’ve been a miserable old cunt on this podcast from the start, so thankfully everyone’s know I’m really basic and boring, and that makes me feel very free with the audience and with all of my friends. I’ve been. I’ve been living in my squalor-esque truth for a while now, and it’s great.
[00:44:24] Jamie I must say. You have helped me with that. And I think there’s a lot of there’s a lot of a lot to be said about people who who you couldn’t just see authentically being like, I don’t really want to do that. I’d rather stay in and just have a kebab, you know what I mean, like you know that they’re just being honest. They’re not saying it to try and be cool. They’re not doing it to, like, create this narrative.
[00:44:44] Jameela That I’m relatable.
[00:44:46] Jamie Yeah, Yeah. Like.
[00:44:49] Jameela No, no. I think I’m very unrelatable in many ways because I, you know, I just I just there are certain things that I just can’t do or that I don’t find interesting. And I have been given certain lessons as to how short life is. And now I’m just determined to not spend another minute of my life doing something that I don’t want to do. I feel obsessed with it. I start to panic when I’m bored. I start to actually panic because I’m wasting like minutes of my life doing something that I don’t want to do. It gives me actual, like almost hives, like a histamine reaction to boredom. But I’m yeah, I’m thrilled to hear that living authentically is like a part of your overall healing because it’s true. Sometimes it does take that one big event in your life. It could be the death of a family or it could be the pandemic to realize that actually, I haven’t been happy for a really long time. And there’s this there’s this thing that we do, especially, I think, like certain queer people. And not to delve into your family dynamic, but, you know, especially queer people. Like once we leave the family home, we often have to leave more often than not very independently, more so than kids who aren’t queer a lot of the time, to go off and live our true identity. But I think for anyone who leaves home at 18, it’s like you leave the parenting space and then no one tells you you have to parent yourself now, so you’re just totally untethered. To anything and you’re just going out there raw dogging the world, just just experiencing everything bare without the. Without a life jacket. And. And it takes a almost always a moment of some form of not always trauma, but something life altering that happens where you are made extremely vulnerable and your inner child comes to the forefront that you recognize oh shit. No one’s been parenting me this whole time. Even if you have parents, even if you like your parents, they’re just not with you 24 hours a day anymore. And that’s when you realize you have to parent yourself. That’s why you realize you have to kind of cradle yourself like a little baby, cradle that inner child and go, What do you need? What do you how do I get you to shut the fuck up? What do you want? Do you want an ice cream? Do you want a roast? Do you want a kebab? And I’ve been able to quiet the child in my head by integrating with her. And that is. That’s been a really interesting part of my recovery. So. So what would you say, given all of this, this like non-linear journey through a major event in your life, what are the main things you would like the listener to take away?
[00:47:33] Jamie I really want the listener to be able to understand themselves a little bit more. If it wasn’t for me being able to hit rock bottom and then listen to people talking about it like we have just done, seeing other people being so honest, I would never have gotten out of that space. So I want this to be a support for those who need it. A support for those who are in that right now, who want to listen to someone, share where they are and have it mirrored by also want it to be a resource for people who are in a good place to say, Well fucking done. Look how much progress we’ve made. I want people to be able to say. Yeah, we’ve made it through some hard shit and we’re on the other side. And I want people to be able to congratulate themselves for that, because that’s what I’m also doing here, is I’m talking to you, but I’m also reflecting on we’re both thought we’re reflecing on a life that is throwing us, throwing us around the block a bit.
[00:48:35] Jameela Yeah, I feel like a ping pong ball. It’s also really important, especially in this climate for a trans person to be able to come and publicly talk about the fact that we are so similar. And trauma and pain and human callousness and unkindness hits us all the same way, and we are all vulnerable. And we have similar, I won’t say, enemies in that way, but we the same people enact violence on us all. And we have been so poisoned by the media to see transpeople as the danger, as the perpetrator of the violence, as the threat. And. And actually. These are the much needed societal reminders that actually you’re incredibly vulnerable and in ways that are so similar to those who are not living in that same experience. And we all just need to look after each other and identify where the real threat is coming from together and support each other together and fight that archaic pattern together. And it’s very humanizing. And I really appreciate you coming on and being open about this journey and what it has taught you about the whole of your life, rather than just that one event, which in and of itself means that your recovery gets to not be defined by that one moment.
[00:50:08] Jamie Yes. Thank you. Yeah. Thank you for the space to be able to safely have that conversation and to to be able to sit here as a trans person who has changed a lot. And who will always change. But who’s someone who can say let’s look at the similarities and not the differences.
[00:50:31] Jameela Exactly.
[00:50:32] Jamie That’s exactly it. So thank you for that.
[00:50:34] Jameela Any time. Please come back again and again and again. And I thank you for your ongoing work for others and your your constant desire to share everything you’re going through as soon as you can in order to help others feel less alone. I’m glad that people that you were looking at or listening to online were able to do the same for you and we just all continue to pay that forward. But for now, it’s been really nice talking to you and I’m incredibly in awe of your recovery.
[00:51:09] Jamie Thank you so much. Lots of love.
[00:51:11] Jameela Lots of love. Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode. I Weigh with Jameela Jamil is produced and researched by myself, Jameela Jamil, Erin Finnegan and Kimmie Gregory. It is edited by Andrew Carson. And the beautiful music you are hearing now is made by my boyfriend, James Blake. If you haven’t already, please rate review and subscribe to the show. It’s a great way to show your support. We also have a bonus series exclusively on Stitcher Premium called Ask Jameela Anything. Check it out. You can get a free month the Stitcher Premium by going Stitcher.com/premium and using the promo code I Weigh. Lastly over at I Weigh we would love to hear from you and share what you weigh at the end of this podcast. You can leave us a voicemail at 18186605543 or email us what you weigh at IWeighpodcast@gmail.com. And now we would love to pass the mic to one of our fabulous listeners.
[00:52:06] Listener I weigh my openness and my fucking loud mouth and my love of my sister and I weigh my relationship with my kids and my society as much as I can’t stand it half the time and I weigh my rebellious attitude and protesting nature. Thank you for doing this.
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