The Faroe Islands.

Small, quaint, and very isolated. It is a beautiful, safe country that for most people is an ideal place to grow up. It's where I grew up. Unfortunately, I am not most people.

Societal abuse, gender identity issues, a dead sister, sexual assault and mental illness.

Those used to be the headlines of my life. I reframed my narrative and now share what I learned with other people to help them do the same.

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An Unusual Child

Breaking rules without realizing it

I was four years old when I realized I was transsexual, although I had no idea it had a name. I simply was one way and I could be no different. My unusual behavior for someone assigned a different gender than what I embodied – and I purposefully emphasize that word – made everyone around me uncomfortable, including my parents who were often embarrassed by my feminine nature.

 

If you’ve known me for years and this is the first you’re hearing about it: surprise!

 

I can explain.

In the Faroe Islands there was only one gender freak and it was me.

I was the first. You won’t read that anywhere because I never said it publicly and yet everyone knew. I did not have a choice in the matter. The potential danger and outright wrongness of outing someone is well known, but I have been systematically outed my entire life. I never got to choose who knew – that choice was made for me and it was always “everyone”. The more people knew, the worse I was treated.

 

Back then there was no such thing as an LGBT movement in the Faroe Islands and by the time one was established, I had been dealing with the effects of being “gender deviant” for over a decade and I was only a couple of months away from sex reassignment surgery.

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A Kingdom of Isolation

And it looks like I’m the queer

As a child, I was highly sensitive and kind, with space for everyone. I couldn’t quite conceive of mistreating others and did really badly with conflict, preferring to get along with everyone around me. I was raised to turn the other cheek and to empathize with why others behave how they do.

The bullying began when school started. I was five years old and living in Copenhagen with my parents. In Denmark the bullying was bad enough that we moved back to the Faroe Islands when I was 9. My parents weren’t aware that I was bullied, just that I was very unhappy. I had only spent my earliest childhood and holidays in the Faroe Islands and therefore had highly romanticized what my life would be like there.

Whatever my fantasy, the reality was I returned to a country where the notions that Pokémon was from the devil and Harry Potter was written by a witch were not exactly fringe beliefs, but rather something one might overhear teachers in public schools discuss during lunch breaks. As you can deduce, my life didn’t exactly improve. Quite the contrary.

Over the next few years, the treatment I received went from bullying to harassment to abuse. It spread from school to an entire society. My isolated childhood of being told I was disgusting and shoved into toilets paled in comparison to the dehumanizing, systematic, social abuse I was put through every day over the next decade. The spitting, the thrown objects, the slurs, the threats, the attempted stoning, the rumors, the lies, and the ever present undercurrent of general animosity was my normal.

No refuge. No safe spaces. No community. This was how an entire country treated me. 

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While dealing with the public’s hatred for me, I also had to deal with my hatred for myself. My body was developing in ways I didn’t like and that made me as disgusted with myself as other people were.

As the severity of the abuse increased, so did my self hatred and my mental health issues. During a particularly tumultuous time, my little sister died.

I put my life on hold for five years working a job I hated to gather the funds I needed to pay for my healthcare needs, even though I am from a country with "free healthcare". 

Afterwards, I moved away for university and changed all of my external circumstances. I became popular, I did well at university, I was dating, had a fun student job, and finally knew what it was like to be normal. No harassment, no abuse, not even a single sideways glance.

I was still miserable. I became so depressed that I could barely take care of my basic needs. I had to drop out of university and move back in with my parents.

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I changed my life. It changed nothing.

I was still Ceecee. I still carried the emotional weight of decades of abuse. I was considered "transsexual", which meant the abuse would keep happening whenever people found out. I still had mental health issues. I still hated myself. The only difference was that now I had exhausted the list of things I thought would make me happy. None of them did, at least not for long. I had lost hope.

 

The only thing that brought me comfort was knowing that at any time I could end it. I could die.

Life is short, but it's too long for someone to be miserable for its entirety. 

How we relate to an experience matters more than the experience itself.

Even - or perhaps especially - when that experience is extreme.

While planning how and when I would die, I had an idea.

An epiphany, really.

If I could change all of my external circumstances for the better and remain miserable, couldn't I do the opposite? If I could remain miserable under otherwise happy circumstances, couldn't I learn to find happiness under otherwise miserable circumstances?

I had nothing to lose. Armed with the knowledge that I had tried everything else and that I could take my life whenever I chose, I spent the next several years working hard to unpack the emotional baggage and psychological damage caused by a lifetime of misery, slowly developing a new way of thinking that radically transformed my mental health.

In a span of 3 years, I went from "suicidal" to "so happy I need to share my message with the world".

As a Speaker I share the my unique life story and talk about how I went from being suicidal to being the happiest person I know. I detail my struggles in a raw, vulnerable, and completely honest way in order to help you do what I did: choose happiness.