Betty White and me

(isn’t it cool I found a creative commons photo with Betty White and a ginger?)

In the year 2016 we’ve lost a lot of incredible public figures. To some, it even marked the end of American hope. By the end of the year, many people online were talking about people 2016 would ~probably~ take if it can help it. One of the most beloved celebrities is probably Betty White, and thus she was talked about as someone we must protect.

As the dialogue continued about who we’re afraid of dying, I couldn’t help thinking about myself. I know, sounds selfish when put that way. But people in my life really love me, or at least really think I’m worth the resources I consume. And yet I was so afraid of dying that I actually was quite unafraid of dying. I refused to reach out to people at several points. And when I would talk to people, they would be at a loss of what to say. At the time I usually took that as a sign I SHOULD die because nobody can argue with my “logic” and “persuasive argument” for my self-inflicted death.

I made a plan. I wrote a note. I even had an addendum to the note, when I thought of something I wanted to add. My note was not a vague scribble of hopelessness. It was like an essay with citations. It was insane. I felt so insane.

The last 6 weeks have been the worst of my life. I thought (and I KNEW, like I believed it as fact) that these 6 weeks would be my last. I took Lexapro for 5 weeks and it was truly the worst thing that could have happened to me. When they say to be careful and that thoughts of suicide may be a side-effect of antidepressants, don’t do what I did and think that’s just so they don’t get sued. It’s real shit. It made my suicidal ideation and helpless “planning” into TRUE PLANNING. I knew how I was going to do it, what time of day I was going to do it, where, and why. I just didn’t have the day picked out yet.

I’m only able to talk to you about it because I’m out of it. There’s this nurse I’ve been talking to at the clinic where my doctor works and she’s just super rad. I was talking about this whole thing with my girlfriend last night and I described this nurse as “the real MVP of my recovery.”

She got me an emergency visit with a CNP and this CNP ended up being a godsend. She actually reads! She is 67 but she isn’t old school by any means–she is extremely up-to-date with the latest research on mental health treatments. I went in with a terrible attitude about the appointment. I only went because that nurse I’ve been talking to practically made me. But I went willfully and expected it to go poorly, as every other psychiatry appointment has gone for me. Even halfway into the talk I was still very skeptical. But then once she started describing what my body is probably actually needing (and not just guessing, as so many before her have done), she wrote it all out for me and made me feel like there was actual hope for my future. I won’t even just have a good future, I’ll have a future at all.

She said to me, “You’ll never be in the ditch, ever again.”

Part of me cannot comprehend this. I’ve been depressed my whole life. But she spoke with such sincerity and hope that it was contagious. I believe I will live.

A few thoughts:

  • When I was in the deepest pits of despair, I was worried about what people would say when I died, inevitably. I was so concerned that people would think I was a trans kid trope, that I killed myself just because I was trans and sad about it. This couldn’t be further from the case. I barely even thought about gender for 6 weeks. It was all based on my inability to come up for air. Even post-bout, I want everyone to know that trans kids don’t necessarily die because they’re trans. Don’t conflate being transgender with being mentally ill. THEY ARE NOT THE SAME. It feels so important for me to tell you that.
  • My coworkers are amazing.
  • If your doctor (especially if they’re not a specialist, but even if they are) tells you an SSRI of any kind (i.e. Lexapro) is amazing and you will for sure get better on it, be skeptical. Ask questions. Ask them for the research about the success rates in professional studies. How many people ACTUALLY get better on Lexapro? (It’s 6%, which I didn’t know until I almost died).
  • When you’re as depressed as I was, there is nothing that will help except hope. And hope is impossible to generate if you have no energy to think about anything but death. But if you are in that place, just keep putting off the death, ok? Keep postponing it. That’s what I did. It helped save my life.
  • If a loved one of yours is in that place, PLEASE do not give up on them ever. Even if you’re exasperated or tired. Take care of yourself too of course but if someone is reaching out to you, that takes a ton of energy and sometimes even just listening can mean the world to someone.
  • Betty White and I are both going to live through this year. I probably have a few more years than her, since she’s like 90-something, but in a way we will both be around for a very long time.

Thanks everyone. Here’s to a 2017 worth living! Check out my New Year’s Resolution post if you’re interested.

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