On postponing death

When I resurface from my depression for a few hours or a day or something, I try to blog because it shows hey, I’m ok, things are good, and they will continue being good, right? It’s much easier to read a depressed person’s perspective when they can talk about it in the past tense. “I WAS suicidal but I’m good now and here’s how I survived my mind” is a bit easier to stomach than “I don’t think there’s hope for me, and I probably will die from this.”

It’s isolating, because people in my life have offered to talk with me, or they’ve given up evenings to come spend time with me while at my worst. People have let me reach out to them when I’m incorrigible. It’s amazing. But to tell  you exactly how bad it is is probably pretty alarming, and often the one I reach out to ends up feeling uncomfortable–not just because they are untrained in psychology but also because I sound pretty scary.

And I get that. So I sometimes try to water it down a little bit, so I can still get some support but maybe not be such a scary ticking bomb.

Whenever I feel good, I am so relieved because I assume it means I will never feel bad again. It’s actually very similar to how I feel when I’m down. I feel like I’ll never feel good again, even if I KNOW I will, but it sounds impossible.

At the end of 2016, my girlfriend lost someone close to her and this funeral was yesterday. It’s been of utmost importance to me that I show up for that, that I be present, in the moment, fantastically supportive. No matter how my brain is feeling, I must go to this funeral, and I must be there for her and her family. I was able to attend and even though I was kinda sad (other than for the fact it was a sad event), I pushed with all my might to be there for my girlfriend as she is so often there for me.

As a suicidal person, it’s weird to be at a funeral. Every funeral I’ve thought of lately has been one for me. To be in the presence of death and the family who’s lost someone, it puts a different perspective on death. It’s sobering. Just Friday morning I felt like I was choosing between suicide and going to work (Note: going to work has nothing to do with my depression–my job is actually really great. It’s just brought up here because it was the morning of a business day). I literally sat on my bed half-clothed wondering what I should do next.

But then I went to this funeral and suddenly the selfishness of suicide seems laughable. Why would I ever consider doing that? This man we celebrated on Saturday was so accomplished. He lived a full life, climbed mountains (literally), spent a ton of time outdoors, loved his wife, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren to a full extent, making an everlasting impression on them. I only met him once and I’ll never forget him. He asked me some questions since I am dating his granddaughter, and what could have felt interrogating actually felt welcoming. He hugged me goodbye when I left his house.

I feel like I’ve just been postponing my inevitable suicide. That’s how it feels sometimes. And it still comes in waves but I MUST stick around. I must. I keep forgetting but I need to keep re-remembering. It’s not all better and I’m not magically cured. But it’s okay because I can be fueled by the times I feel good again. I can coast for the bad parts, that’s fine, but dying is not an option. There’s nothing like a funeral outside of your imagination to remind you of that.

I’ve been reflecting about this and I think I need to do two things:

  1. Start exercising
  2. Start and continue a large writing project

I’m not going to get into the fat thing in this post, but all I know is that I hate my body and what I’m currently doing (nothing) is not working. Capitalistic industry or not, I guess I just have to live in this society too, and even though I know it’s fucked up, I can’t outsmart it.

As for the writing project, I need to write poems, a book’s worth. I need to write good poems and bad poems and collect them. I want to be able to write something other than poetry but I also don’t want to, so like, w/e.

Thanks.

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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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Resilience through an amazing life

A year ago I:

  • Had double pneumonia. I was beyond sick. I couldn’t get out of bed. I had it for like six weeks before considering going to the doctor (which I couldn’t afford). I started taking antibiotics and they took a long time to work. It was unreal. All I did was sleep and lose touch with my friends.
  • Was poor. Not just poor in the general middle class everybody-is-poor sense, but using SNAP (food stamps) and relying on kind aunts to supplement my feeble income to get by at all. Giving gifts for the holidays was not a thing. Eating ramen and salty things from the dollar menu at Taco Bell was.
  • Was single. There was some girl who dated me and then I got sick and we lost touch. I still don’t know what happened there. I wasn’t just single, but lonely. I wasn’t sure that I was lovable. My heart was still broken from a delightful woman who I had no business dating.
  • Had just been in the hospital. In early October of last year, I checked myself in. Not very many people know that, but I was ready 2 die. It seemed like I had hit rock bottom (when in fact I’m just a bottom feeder and I’m always at rock bottom lulz). The cost of this hospital visit financially was ridiculous, and I had to face my father, who cried in the psych ward lobby. How does one forget that?

This covers just a snapshot of where I was at a year ago, early December last year. With all my privilege, I had a pretty shitty life. I had friends but felt isolated. My poverty was all-consuming. It’s hard to think about ambition and advancing when you feel like there’s no hope.

Where am I at this year at this time? I:

  • Am kind of healthy? I even have “fantastic” blood pressure (direct quote from my nurse two weeks ago). Yeah I could lose a little weight, eat a little less McDonald’s. But I certainly don’t have pneumonia, and I have more support to get medical attention if I ever need it. I even have paid sick time.
  • Have a great job that pays me fairly. I work 40 hours a week and when I go home, I am home and not at work. I love the people I work with. I have a retirement savings plan. I have insurance that I carry myself. I am not on SNAP and in fact I support people who help give food-insecure people resources. I get to write all day. I have a fantastic boss. Everything is so much better when you’re not completely fucking broke.
  • Have an amazing, beautiful, supportive girlfriend. Can I talk about her enough? No. We’ve been together for ten months and I feel like I’ve grown as a person and as a partner SO MUCH. She is a blessing to know, much less be loved by.
  • Have stayed out of the hospital. I have a terrific, life-changing therapist. We are working through stuff I didn’t even know I needed to work through. I tell everyone I know about her because I think she’s a magical miracle-worker.

My life is more or less the opposite, measured by the above metrics, as it was one year ago. And yet, yesterday I made plans to die. Not just vaguely suicidal, but developing a course of action. My girlfriend called me and I’m fine but like, what? I had CONVICTION.

It’s tricky because I want to be REAL with you but I don’t know how REAL to be. How can I face you, you who helps make my life great, and say, “yeah, I’m on meds, I have a great therapist, great supportive network who gives me affirmation and validation constantly, and yet I’m ready to check out.”

It makes me think about resilience, but resilience through what? My difficult circumstances? No. My life is cool. I’m in love and I can support myself and I have this cute truck that makes me feel more confident. I can buy myself Pad Thai (instant happiness) when I’m feeling like treating myself. I feel like I’m always meeting great people. On Friday evening I sang Karaoke for the first time, a goal I’ve had for years and a 2016 New Year’s resolution I feared I wouldn’t actually be able to accomplish (it took me until December but hey!). I’m driven and I’m starting to make scary adult phone calls without having to give myself a pep talk first. Maybe I’ll even get to the dentist soon.

Resilience through what?

When the tool to get through resilience (your mind and body) is the thing you need to get through, that’s something else entirely. I don’t have the answers. I don’t even know the right questions. But I love you, and I’m sorry.

My doctor once referred to my mental illness as “hard-to-treat depression.” I think about that sometimes. I often think he’s right, but I’m also like, does that mean it won’t be treated? Does that mean I have to learn to live with this?

How can I be so in love, feel so lucky, and feel so desperate to end it?

But I keep somehow surviving. If I had died any time I wanted to, I’d be dead before I turned 10. I wouldn’t know any of you. I still have so much work to do. I have things to write and feminism to spread and capitalism to end. I have Trump to criticize and call out. I have memes to laugh loudly at. I have a dog to one day own. I have a girlfriend to love. I have a sister to be there for. I have a BUNCH of friends to be grateful for.

It’s not helpful to say to someone who’s depressed, “You have so much going for you,” because they probably know already. It’s obvious. But that doesn’t mean I’m well. I’m just serotonin deprived, or something.

Thanks for listening.

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