burnt out on week 4

“It is important for me to take care of my mental, emotional and physical health at work”

This was the takeaway from therapy last week. I don’t know that I’ve done particularly well with it so far.

I learned one of my coworkers supports Trump and I would be lying if I said that didn’t bother me and loom over my shoulder in the back of my mind all day every day. I try not to let it interfere, or get to me, or otherwise influence how I interact with him, but the fact is, it does bother me. I work remotely so I don’t have to see him and am guaranteed some kind of safety through that, but it’s still a lot…on top of an already demanding and stressful job where people have FEELINGS at me all day.

I am starting week 4 and burnt out as fuck. I’m unsure both how to fix it and if I want to spend that energy. My work sets us up for failure before we start every morning – as the story goes with a small, understaffed IT firm, I guess. We’re booked and every day there’s more. They changed how our ticketing system works so it’s even more obvious how utterly impossible it is to keep up with requests and clients and communicating. It makes it hard to feel like there’s any headway, and when a client loses their shit at me, it’s my fault for not calming them well enough.

There is only so much that humans can do, and the expectations here aren’t able to be met by mere mortals. It’s triggering and reminds me of my childhood where I was expected to be capable of more than is humanly possible and reprimanded when I failed regardless of how much I’d gotten done already. My parents set me up to fail in life and my work is setting me up to fail every day before it even starts.

It’s grating and draining and not tenable.

It’s hard and I’m tired and I just want to flip tables and run away.

But I can’t.


Depression and Therapy and Burning Man (maybe)

It’s been a long month of more new scary things. Started a job being a glorified receptionist with the bonus skill set of being able to translate people’s computer problems into useful information for the IT people (and no, I don’t get paid more for that skill). Had housing fall through on me twice, the second iteration of which I am still currently fighting to get my deposit back. My potential roommate has been unreachable for the last two weeks so I’m starting a Small Claims thing on Monday and hopefully someone can find her. The lease demands she pay me back within two days if the move-in didn’t occur, so legally, she’s obligated, it’s just the tracking down that’s the problem.

I’ve been in an awful depressed spiral because of that + utter stress of a new job where people are grumpy about their computers at me all day and the hours are not conducive to my mental health or productivity (and the company documents I was handed use air quotes around mental health, which, as someone with intense mental health problems, does not make me feel safe at all). I managed to push through September, I did everything I needed, I started a job, I got to work every day, and was chained to the phone doing the best I could working between sobbing from the sheer overwhelmingness of everything.

I started seeing a therapist on Thursday (funnily enough the first day in like 2 weeks I was able to get through without crying or intensely passively wishing for death) and I told her about the overwhelmingness of everything and got to hand her my brain and be like, here, you hold this now. Someone who is not me is aware of the mess that is happening inside and is equipped to figure it out.

So I started off by explaining everything that’s happened since May. I’m trans, I’m divorced, a different partner broke up with me shortly after I moved here, I only recently got a job (that inevitably wants my soul), and even working full time I don’t make enough to afford rent, and I don’t have benefits or PTO. The stress is eating away at me and pulling at my soul through my back and everything compounds in on itself and I can’t handle it alone anymore.

And she looked at me and was like, so it seems like a lot of new things have just happened all at once and you’re doing a lot of transitioning right now and it’s stressful.

And I was like, yes.


It’s not bad. Just new. and a lot. and I can manage new.


I feel so far away from everything I want to do, but as I listed them out (CRHE, art, tech, learning shit) and she asked me if I’d stopped or been unable to do those things, I realized I hadn’t, the capacity just changed. It’s just new and adjusting. I haven’t stopped.


I feel like I’m in a rut or a dead-end. I need to forge my own path out. I know what I want and don’t want, I don’t know how to get there yet.

I don’t want to stay at my new job forever, the stress is a lot and not worth the not-being-able-to-pay-rent-or-get-sick deal. I want to work somewhere that I and my health are valued, and that pays me enough to afford to live out here. Somewhere I don’t wake up dreading. Because while I am fucking fantastic at my job being a translator receptionist, I prefer to not have the entire bay area and misc parts of California thrust upon me in an afternoon. I am a hacker and I can singlehandedly take care of the entire internet-based infrastructure of an organization. I am full-stack for myself and that’s a useful skill.

Taking messages for problems doesn’t give you the same feeling that solving a problem does, either.

Anyway, what I’m saying is, I need something better, but at least I have a stepping stone now, and I know that I have a lot more to offer than what I’m being paid (poorly) for. I don’t know how to make that happen yet.


She asked me if I liked the Bay and I told her I’d never intended to be here, I just wound up here because it was a place available to me when I needed it. But now that I’m here, I have that same feeling I had about Burning Man – there’s something for me here, something I need to do or be a part of, and I don’t know what it is, but it’s not time to leave yet. She asked me if I found that at Burning Man and if it was intuition or not – it was, on both counts. I found out a lot about my own strength at Burning Man, a lot about myself, I let go of a lot of things and it was what I needed. I don’t know what the next step out here looks like, but that same instinct is keeping me here, so I’m going to follow that and see what happens.

She was impressed that I was so in-tune with myself. I guess that’s what happens when you self-therapy until you just can’t anymore.


I’m writing this now from my other partner’s couch, watching the sun start to rise, and freezing. Life is fucking terrifying but I think I’m going to make it after all.


I made it out of that spiral, I can make it out again.


Rising From The Ashes

My life lately has been incredibly roller-coaster like, not necessarily in the fun way, but always in the make-you-stronger-or-die way. I guess that’s also not so much lately as a recurring theme, but that’s besides the point. While I was waiting for divorce paperwork to go through (still am. SOON), going through an additional breakup, and job hunting while scrambling to find a place to relocate to, I decided that going to Burning Man would be a good idea (it was).

I decided to go to Burning Man because I needed to prove to myself that I was strong enough and capable enough of a person to be able to survive the desert; and if I could survive an arid climate where nothing heals and nothing grows, then I could probably get through all this other bullshit life likes to toss in my direction.

And over the course of the 10 days I….actually managed to impress myself. Turns out, I am capable as fuck. I can carry a stack of metal 2x my height on my shoulder, I am incredibly prepared, and able to handle whatever random shit happens that I can help with. I can survive the desert. I can build infrastructure for people to occupy. I can get along with other humans in a desert. I can save a cabaret from being a flop (I think. At the very least, I had a blast). I can hold up the insides of a geodesic dome.

I am actually really quite strong – on all the levels that the desert is designed to bring out your weaknesses, I managed to be actually be okay.


The Temple Burn

Every year at Burning Man, we burn The Man, obviously, but there’s also a temple burn.

The Temple Burn has a sense of solemnity and it’s own atmosphere that’s radically different than the rest of the playa. The Temple opens earlier in the week and people walk through it and it becomes whatever it needs to be for them. As I walked through the temple I saw and felt the entirety of human existence and all of the hard and intense emotions that we face all culminate in one place. The altars and letters and tear-stained pieces of wood were full of love, anger, grief, loss, sorrow, guilt, hope. I started crying within minutes of stepping inside. It’s just a temple, it doesn’t mean anything – except that it means everything that you need it to mean. The Temple was more sacred to me than I thought it would be. It was a place to heal and face all of the things I haven’t processed fully. I picked up a piece of wood and wrote down the names of my dead family: my stillborn siblings, my gramme. I grieved their deaths fully for the first time, accepting the loss and allowing myself to shed the tears I wasn’t able to before.

I wrote the names of my living siblings  – the ones I raised and feel responsible for, the ones who’s fates keep me up at night. I wrote that I love them and will always.

I wrote a note to my parents, grieving the loss of a relationship that I’ll never have and never had, but always wished for.

I wrote a note to Matt and processed the loss I still feel sometimes from that.

I wrote my deadname on a block of wood, saying goodbye to everything I was told to be, all the limitations placed on me, and all the lies they said.

When we walked to the Temple Burn on Sunday night, it started before we reached it. Smoke billowed up into the sky, over us, reaching beyond us towards the moon in the horizon. Embers hung in the air against the smoke and slowly, gracefully, fell down to the earth.

The phrase that got stuck in my head enough to write it down a few times at the beginning of Burning Man was rise from the ashes, and as I put my old name in the temple and while I watched it burn, that’s exactly what I did. I lit my old demons and fears and everything holding me back on fire and watched it die in a surreal moment of light and smoke and embers.

I picked up some bits of ash on the way back, pieces of the burned temple – and when I have a place again, they will be part of my altar. Reminding me that I’ve left everything I needed to behind, and am now able to be a completely, wholly, unhindered me.



I keep writing and erasing. I want to write but I don’t know what to say.


I know what I want to do with my life and it’s the thing I’ve been doing for the last 3 years.

Art. Lots of Art. CRHE. Programming. School.


I want to be able to live off of what I already do. That is my dream.


A Reinvention of Myself

This space over the last 7 years has documented my journey from newly married, just-out quiverfull daughter, to outspokenly queer, artistic, techy, advocate for making homeschooling better for homeschooled students. This blog is where I came out as agnostic, bi, & nonbinary; this is where I posted the process of learning who I am and what that means. Chronicling what life looks like for me outside the bubble I was raised in. This has covered a lot of firsts – all the firsts since getting married 7 years ago, actually. Art, cars, moving, college….I’ve documented my growth publicly because I need to be reminded of where I am, where I’m coming from, and where I hope to go. I need to allow myself the authenticity, honesty, and acknowledgement of self that I was never allowed as a child. I need to show myself that it’s okay to be open about flaws, mistakes, and sadness – that it’s okay to get angry and have emotion, and I hope that by doing so, others will take that as permissions for themselves too.


I’ve been processing and re-evaluating everything I was taught here. It’s here that I face the stability of the past with the uncertainty of the future. I have uprooted my life and everything I once knew, I’m starting fresh and reinventing myself; sharpening my tools and forging ahead.


You’ve likely noticed the name changes that have slowly been taking place over the last few weeks. I’ve been paused, unsure how to talk about what I’m about bring up. Slowly rebuilding and re-naming pieces of my life that have been home since before this blog started. I don’t know how to change course subtly…

I’m getting divorced.


There are a lot of weird feelings associated with that, that don’t actually have anything to do with the divorce itself, but everything to do with the things I was taught about marriage, love, and relationships. Bridging the Gap is about evolution – getting from where I am to where I want to be. I won’t be going into reasons or details about the divorce more than to say: we still get along amicably and Alex is a good person who deserves good things. Forever is a long time and sometimes things don’t last through eternity, and that’s okay.


The last 7 years I’ve been wearing a name I happily adopted, the 18 before I wore a name I inherited, now I wear a name of my own making. I’m Kierstyn Fin Darkwater, and I’m venturing into uncharted waters guided by the stories in the stars and the compass in my soul.


College Week 4 Day 1

I should be actually doing homework, but I can’t focus and I’m waiting for coffee to kick in while contemplating finding out if I have ADD/ADHD because reasons. I turned in my first paper today and omg feels. I’ve never turned in a paper where the grade actually mattered in a real way, so this is kinda huge.

Anyway, enjoy this collage.

Also, I have less than a week left in the voting period for the 10k Scholarship. I need about 600 votes to secure my place in the top 10 and then it goes to a round of judging. So if you haven’t voted, please vote, and if you have, please please please share the shit out of it. 10k would go A LONG way in helping me get through college and also maintaining my levels of calm.