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Jay's Story



Jay talks about their experiences as a non-binary person with mental illness.

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[Title on screen reads, ‘Jay’s Story’]

[Text on screen reads, ‘Content Warning: Includes discussion of mental illness, suicidal ideation, and depression’]

[Our Site logo]

[Twenty something Jay is seated wearing a black t-shirt with white lettering which reads ‘Please Go Away’]


My name's Jay, I'm a queer, non-binary and mentally ill Tasmanian. And I work in academia as a PhD candidate, and also as a performance artist. So, I have anxiety, depression, touches of post traumatic stress disorder and borderline personality disorder.

I came to poetry via storytelling, I guess, 'cause I was writing stories for myself for quite a long time before I started doing spoken word poetry. I only really came to an open mike night just because I wanted to tell a story to an audience and get some feedback and then I heard other people doing spoken word. I do feel a lot more comfortable in those spaces, particularly as both of them...Parts of the burlesque community and most of the spoken word community have quite strong ties with queerness and transness. So, it is an...It feels like a much safer space to talk about who I am.

[Jay is standing with her fingers cupped in front of her. Her hands gesture and she moves to express her poem]


I knew a girl born with her heart in her hands, though, of course, they couldn't hold it at the time. They were trapped under its beating chambers on her chest. She struggled to release them, as the medical profession collapsed around her.

[She runs her hand over her hair]


They blamed her for the pains she brought behind their eyes as they tried to wedge her into their world view sideways. A beautiful, healthy baby girl with her heart on the outside.

[She moves her hand from over her heart, reaching forward]


She didn't see doctors very much after she left the hospital the first time.

[Jay is seated]


I haven't actually told any healthcare professionals so far that I am non-binary. I have been accessing healthcare, partially because I'm non-binary, though. Like, I recently... How long ago was it? A couple of months ago, I got tubal ligation surgery, which I presented to my healthcare professionals as because I never wanted children, which is very, very true. But I think part of the reason I wanted it was because no matter how good my contraception was, I was still fertile. I don't think that was congruent with my image of myself or my gender identity or any of that. I didn't want to be able to bear children and it just made me feel very gross. I think it might have been dysphoria, I'm not sure. Like, I don't really know what dysphoria feels like to anyone else, so I don't know if that's the feeling that it is, but... That was quite difficult. And I know if I had brought up that it was to do with gender stuff, it probably would've been even worse. 'Cause I already had to prove that I'd gone through every other form of contraception first before I could access that.

[Jay is standing and gesturing with her hands to express her poem]


At school she was the most popular freak the halls had ever seen. The novelty of playing tetherball with a human heart just has a way of not wearing off with kids. She felt the popularity was worth the stretching and the bruising to her vessels. Her mother disagreed. Especially when her heart came home looking like a steak that had been dropped in the dust.

[Jay is seated]


One of my particularly prevalent symptoms of borderline personality disorder is constant pretty much chronic suicidal ideation. Imagine if every time you had any problem, that you had... Even the smallest, stupidest thing, like you missed the bus or something, your brain telling you to kill yourself. And it will tell you you're a coward if you don't. It's pretty much my all day, every day is every time there's something that's wrong or something that I can't deal with, something that stresses me out, it's just constant... It's the Swiss Army knife of solutions, really. You never have to have another problem in your life! It does make it very difficult to get by at work, 'cause it's difficult to listen to people when it's going on in your head. During supervisory meetings, if my supervisor's giving me a problem to deal with and that's going on in my head, it's very difficult to respond in a meaningful and professional way. There's no end to it. And, you know, it's important to speak up about that so people know they're not alone and they know that they're not completely broken.

[Jay is standing and gestures with her hands, then cups her hands in front of her. She smiles]


I knew a girl born with her heart in her hands. Now, she keeps it in a studded steel case, with articulated chain piping for her blood vessels. And, boy, is she handy with it!

[Text on screen reads, ‘If you are thinking about suicide or experiencing a personal crisis help is available. Call Lifeline on 131114. If you, or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 000’]

[The logo for Lifeline]

[Text on screen reads, ‘Watch more stories at Our Site oursite.wwda.org.au’]

[The logo for Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA)]

This story is tagged under:

Life Choices
Taking Part
Sex and Your Body
Safety and violence
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