Self Care for Bi People: Taking the Care You Need
In our last post on self care we reviewed barriers to self care for the bisexual community. With that acknowledged and in mind, today let’s focus on how we can take care of ourselves.
First: How are you? Are you thirsty? Go on and get some water, this post will be here when you get back. Do you feel like your mind is in too many places? Here’s a one minute meditation video with instruction that might help with that. Feeling guilt for taking the time to focus on yourself? Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Self care is taking care of what we need so we can take care of what we need to do.
Last time, we left off with the importance of community. Community is powerful. And having access to a space with others who share the life experience of our intersections allows for self care. As Bri Carter, Non-Binary Femme Black Woman and community organizer and activist shares “I have so few bi+ in my life that when I finally get to a conference or just happen to stumble across someone like me with shared experiences such as mine it’s almost like I let out a huge breath that I didn’t even realize I was holding in. That feels like self care to me in a way.”
Image via sorrynotsorrybi.tumblr.com.
So how do we find this community? Many like me have found it through social media. Bisexual activist (and fellow writer for Bi.org) Harrie Farrow states, “social media can be hugely important to people who are isolated and closeted, in finding others who understand them, can answer their questions, accept and even cheer them on.”
Evan Slash Reed Peterson, editor at Bisexual Books, notes that local resources did not meet their needs. Evan shares that connecting online “made a world of difference on my quality of life to find other people like me.” Among their suggestions, “search the #StillBisexual hashtag on Twitter and find yourself in the stories of others. Make a Tumblr. Whatever gets you more connected with your community.”
Lynnette McFadzen, Non-Binary, Gender Non-Conforming Bisexual+ Activist, (fellow bi.org writer) and secretary of the Board Of Directors for BiNet USA, notes that “very often the bisexual/trans community are the only ones promoting their media. And they do an excellent job.” Speaking of an excellent job with Bi+ media, Lynnette is a producer/co-host of The BiCast, a stellar podcast for the Bi+ community. We’ll link to it and more at the end of this article.
We’ll also link resources such as Harrie Farrow’s Tumblr which she explicitly created “to give bisexuals a happy place to go to, to see only good things about bisexuality.” Harrie Farrow notes “there are many closed/secret or just not that easy to find groups on Facebook that are very supportive to specific subgroups in the bi community. If you are looking for a group like that, the best way to find them is to ask on one of the larger community pages.”
I hope you know you are welcome in the Bi+ community—and it can be a great place to be. As Evan Slash Reed Peterson shares, “I think that the greater Bi+ community is very supportive of one another. I know I can always drop in to the BiNet USA Facebook group or most of bi Tumblr if I’m feeling down and find something to improve my mood or someone I can interact with in such a way that I feel supported.”
Image via sorrynotsorrybi.tumblr.com.
Does your local community have a bi-specific in person meetup? You might be able to try it out at your pace by finding them on social media. HipsterAndré, Black British Bisexual activist and group facilitator of Brum Bi Coffee in Birmingham, England “regularly post[s] bi/queer related news articles to [the group’s] public Facebook.” Engage in the local group through social media, and try out the in person meetups too! Groups like Brum Bi Coffee often have a range of activities for different interests, availability, and resources. With chapters in multiple cities, amBi, the largest bi social club in the world is another way to find in person community. You can even start a chapter in your town if there isn’t one yet!
As much as I love going out and meeting new people, social anxiety can at times make it challenging. So I started inviting a few of my local Bi+ friends to get together every few months for a potluck. We break bread easy in the knowledge we can speak freely about our experiences as Bi+ folks. We know we can relax without the added weight of opening up to bi-related microaggressions or having to educate others on what it is to be bisexual.
In connecting with our community we also have a responsibility to it—in a sense, community care. Our entire Bi+ community is deserving of access to care and community spaces. If someone tells you your action or behavior perpetuates oppression, address it. Move forward with kindness. Experience tells us that by broaching topics that have potential to make others uncomfortable (say, addressing a microaggression) there is the possibility of opening ourselves up to more harm from the perpetrator. The person who pointed out your harmful action has done you and our community a kindness. Look inside at what informs your views. Look outside at your actions. Do not ask that person to educate you—educate yourself. Do your best to get there before you need to be called out. Learn about your privileges. Learn about intersections that are different from your own. Our community includes almost all of them. It is our individual responsibility to educate ourselves and minimize harm. As Lynnette McFadzen says, “we are all in this together.”
Image via sorrynotsorrybi.tumblr.com.
So now you’ve connected with community—great! Only problem: you’re maybe too connected. Checking your phone at the dinner table connected. Looking at your mobile as you cross the street connected. Many of us have been there! But using our electronic devices can be harmful. If you’re staring at screens it can impact your eyes causing various discomforts such as headaches and blurred vision. The urge to multitask while using a smart phone can bring great harm. A dependency on our phones has even been shown to cause anxiety and sleep problems. How can we maintain our community access without these negative impacts?
Something that works well for me is to use multiple pages. My main mobile screen is blank with the exception of my quick access bar which does not include any social media. I’m more likely to pan to the apps page because I have a specific purpose. This cuts down on aimless scrolling. I also use a free Bluelight filter app to lessen eye strain. I actively use my Airplane mode—it’s not just for travel!—to ensure uninterrupted time. Most phones also have a Do Not Disturb mode. This mode allows you to create a list of numbers that can reach you when it is on (parent, child, best friend, partners.) It holds all other alerts until later. You can even set it on a regular schedule. A helpful feature if you can’t turn your phone off at night because you need to be accessible to a select few, but don’t want to be woken up by a 2am group message about a great taco place your new acquaintance just found. Your time and energy are finite—it’s ok focus them on what matters most.
Speaking of focusing on what matters most, be easy on yourself. It’s ok to both expect more from your entertainment and enjoy it where it is. So they [spoilered] [Spoiler]! If watching it is restorative for you, catch up on Arrow anyway. And then let’s talk about Diggle’s helmet.
One concept that I’ve found is especially helpful is permission. We often don’t take steps to get what we need because we aren’t giving ourselves permission. We put all others before ourselves. Lynnette McFadzen encourages Bi+ community members to “avoid judgment…including for yourself” and “don’t be afraid to ask for help.” They “also recommend counseling. It really helps.” And while you’re at it, give yourself permission to put yourself first by removing racist, queerphobic, or otherwise gaslight-leaning connections from your social media circles.
Another way to be in the moment and take care of yourself is to have fun through coloring. I’ve found it to be centering and calming—and it’s so good for you! Since adult coloring is currently on trend, supplies are everywhere. Let’s turn the internet pink, blue, and purple—tweet us pics of your favorite #bipride coloring pages or other self care crafts!
It’s revolutionary for us to love ourselves without conditions, to take care of ourselves without guilt. The act of taking care of ourselves is something that we need to do. So thank you for taking some time out of your day to focus on you. You are so worth it.
I’ll just leave this list of examples of self care for bi people here—come back to it whenever you’d like.
- Be kind to yourself. Be patient with yourself.
- Give yourself permission to put yourself first, whenever you need to, whenever you can.
- Locate bi friendly care professionals through networking with our bi+ community and resources such as the Bisexuality-Aware Providers Listing.
- If you are an LGBTQ youth in need of support or crisis intervention, the Trevor Project is available 24/7 at 866-488-7386.
- Carve out some time to be away from those glowing screens.
- If it is accessible for you, color!
- Free coloring sheets can be found online. Thank you to BiNet USA Vice President Aud Traher for the tip!
- Find community and reflections of you online. Your suggestions are welcome—share your favorites in the comments!
- Bi.org’s Faces of Bisexuality; Bisexual.org Facebook, Twitter, Q&A, and our love letter to You
- amBi: your bi social community
- #StillBisexual Website, Twitter, and Facebook
- BiNet USA Website, Facebook, and Twitter; Bi Groups in the US (with map)
- The BiCast podcast, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr; all of the BiCast podcasts focus on the bisexual community, including: Polyamory, Black History, Youth, Asexuality, and more! “You’re not wrong, you’re not broken, you’re definitely not alone; you are a human being and you are Bisexual.”
- US based Bisexual Resource Center
- UK based Bisexual Index
- Bisexual Community listings and links
- Bisexual Organizing Project host of the BECAUSE conference
- Bisexuality-Aware Providers Listing
- Biscuit Mag “for girls who like all genders”
- Bisexual Bloggers
- Bisexual Tumblr
- sorrynotsorrybi Tumblr “Unapologetically bi.”
- They’re All Bi “Recoloring everyone with the bi flag. Because why not.”
- Bi-Trans Alliance Tumblr and Twitter
- Bisexual Reddit
- Bisexual Queer Alliance Chicago
- HipsterAndré, Black British bisexual activist on Twitter and Birmingham, England Brum Bi Coffee group Facebook
- Nottingham BiTopia
- Bisexual Women of Color (BiWOC)
- Bisexual People of Color
- No Longer Invisi(BI)le: 10 Bisexual Women of Color to Celebrate #QWOCTalk
- Jacq Applebee, Bisexual Non-Binary activist, writer, poet, co-founder of the support and UK based social group Bis of Colour and author of much, including this beautiful piece on love
- Bri Carter, Non-Binary Femme Black Woman and community organizer and activist on Twitter
- Recognize Bisexual Men Twitter
- Executive Director of Faith In America, Writer, Youtuber, and Speaker Eliel Cruz Twitter, YouTube
- Holy Shift, LLC: Christian/Agnostic/Spiritual seeking and interfaith spiritual direction for the Bi+ community (all orientations welcome.) Free online resources, spiritual direction on sliding scale. Email, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter
- Rebelwheels NYC YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr
- Harrie Farrow, Bisexual activist and writer, and her 100% positive Tumblr and Bisexual Batman activism on Twitter
- Evan Slash Reed Peterson, editor at Bisexual Books: Tumblr, Twitter; personal Tumblr, Twitter
- Larker Anthology, independent anthology making bi+ cultures visual/visible
- BiUs, Bi: The Web Series, BiUs CCO David J Cork #StillBisexual
- Full music video of “Getting Bi” from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
- Monique Mizrahi, aka Honeybird’s “TMBLGBT (You Put the B in LGBT)”
- American Institute of Bisexuality
- Journal of Bisexuality
- Resource Guide to Coming Out As Bisexual
- The author (SB Swartz) on Twitter, Tumblr and #StillBisexual
And until we meet again, dear you: Take Care.