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Shakti perspectives: Daniel

Hi, my name is Daniel, I am a 26-year-old non-binary identifying individual. However, because of my visual presentation I typically go by ‘man’ or ‘male’. The reasoning behind this is because it is easier for my day-to-day life to cater to societal expectations and accept the colloquial language when someone calls or identifies me with word such as man, bro, or guy.

I have experienced poor mental health since I was five-years of age.

I will list three of the many reasons/struggles I have experienced throughout different periods. My earliest memory was experiencing childhood bullying. Due to the colour of my skin the bullying involved verbal abuse such as being called ‘black cunt’, ‘nigga’ and ‘dirty’ and physical abuse, through actions such as punching, locked in bathrooms, and intimidated with knifes.

It made me feel worthless, as though I was born in the wrong body, and I was not an attractive person. It created a thought process of self-destructiveness, poor self-worth, and suicidal ideation.

Other life circumstances which affected my mental health were living up to my parental expectations of what is good for me. They are academically driven and pushed me to achieve their standard of academic achievement, which rarely aligned with my own needs, wants, and desires. When I finished high school and had to choose my future career path, I dived into another deep depression. This period was a confliction between exploring who I wanted to become and catering to my parents. I felt trapped and pressured to go to university and get a degree so my parents could feel proud, feel like they were exemplary parents, and to get their love.  

A third impactful event I would like to mention was trying to fit into society’s expectations of what a man is. I have struggled with identifying with being a man. I never felt the same as other males or what a stereotypical man is. I went to an all-boys private college and found it increasingly difficult to fit in, feel connected, and find my community. During my high school trajectory, I could attend a co-ed high school. I found this experience to be more aligned with who I am and who I was as a person. I increasingly could communicate and relate more to my female peers rather than my male peers.

However, I did not feel comfortable identifying as a female, creating confusion and distress with my identification.

While these three distinct events are different and presented in a negative light, I am thankful I have experienced them. They have provided me with lessons and experiences which I would not have been exposed to. I learned the importance of utilising support networks such as therapy, friends, and family. Using tools such as mindfulness meditation, journaling and walking in nature. The importance of eating nutritious food, not abusing alcohol, caffeine or drugs; having a consistent sleep and exercise routine is and getting sunlight. Last, the importance of asking for help, support and being transparent to others, you cannot get help if you do not express it.

One last comment on things which really changed my outlook on life was volunteering with various organisations, becoming a mentor, making a list of my own values, needs, and wants from my life. Walking in a cemetery and thinking what I want to get out of this one life I have been given. I also learnt so much from what I wanted out of life was by trying new things.

I went through years of doing activities and saying yes to opportunities, which made me feel uncomfortable and I felt resistant towards. This provided me with the knowledge of what I really like and what I want to spend my time doing.

Using these the above tips, I have fostered self-confidence, know what I want out of my life, and become comfortable with just being. It is important to note that this is just my experience, my perspective, and things that have worked for my own personal life.

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