Life, death and music…

CN: frank discussion of suicide

So I sit here in my nightie. I didn’t have anywhere to go today so I stayed in it. It’s cosy at least.

I just got myself dinner, feeding the cats first because they’re important. I was going to make french fries and gravy but I couldn’t handle peeling and chopping for that long. Even thought it would only be about five minutes. So I toasted myself an english muffin and made a mug of hot chocolate. I make them so often I can do it on autopilot.

I washed the dishes yesterday before dinner and I presume the dish fairy arrived shortly after. All the dishes look like mine but there’s way more there than there should be for a day. The thought of washing them is overwhelming.

Depression is like wading through tar. It clings to you and pulls you down further and further. Every single step is the hardest and every conversation is a struggle. How am I doing? Fine is too much of a lie. I usually settle for “okay”. It’s enough to slide by without sounding like everything’s all right. Because it’s not.

So I browse on Facebook, looking at the message box and wishing someone would message me. I am always the first one to message, which makes me wonder if there’s something wrong with me. Everyone assures me there isn’t. Besides that, I have no idea what to say beyond hi.

I read an article in the Reader’s Digest a bit ago. The author had been suicidal and jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. As soon as he let go, he knew it was a mistake. But what could he do at that point? Thankfully he survived. One out of four who managed that feat. Out of thousands who didn’t. And you know what? Every one of the survivors knew it was a mistake as they let go. I refuse to believe they were the only ones and it breaks my heart to know the thousands more were lost. There’s no second chance when you’re plummeting.

I also read a surprisingly graphic news story about a teenage boy who jumped from a four storey balcony. The surgeons discovered shattered bones and shredded organs. They had to stitch him back up and let him die. There was no way to save him. They couldn’t stitch together fragments. I’d wanted to donate my organs and gave no thought to what condition they’d be in after a fall. I figured I’d be just me, still intact only dead.

I’d planned on jumping off our seventh floor balcony (eight if you consider the slope to the basement). The only thing that stopped me was my fear that it wouldn’t be high enough. That I’d disable myself enough not to be able to try again. Thankfully my sister saw my rambling note on Facebook and drove me to the hospital and she and my mother took turns sitting with me while waiting for my turn with the psychiatrist.

Any time I start feeling suicidal in the least, I think of that first article and the four survivors. Some mistakes you can’t come back from and that’s one of them. Jeez, I waffle over which ice cream to buy at the grocery store. Deciding whether to die is so much more dire and the consequences spread devastation over such a wide range. That’s not a decision I should be making. Someday I will die but it won’t be today.

So here I sit weighted down by depression. Soon I’ll move my bones and wander over to my swing chair, where I’ll proceed to rock and listen to music videos.

And hopefully this bout of depression won’t last too long.

List of world wide suicide prevention lines

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Why do I keep going?

You keep going because puppies and kittens are a thing and tomorrow might have the best sunset you’ve ever seen. You keep going because of belly laughs and your favourite ice cream. For the glimpse of a cardinal. For music so pure and lovely that it sends shivers up your spine.

You keep going for the sound of a baby’s laughter and a new book from your favourite author. You keep going for a bubble bath that smells heavenly and for the crisp crunch of snow beneath your feet. You keep going for summer swimming and sunlight through new green leaves. You keep going for a glimpse of that big, fat orange moon in the fall, the one so impossibly orange you can’t believe it’s not photoshopped even though you’re looking at it in the sky right now.

You keep going because of your favourite meal and how you can’t imagine not eating it ever again. You keep going because your favourite show has been renewed and it’s only four more months until the new episodes. You keep going because that couldn’t be the last mug of coffee you’ll ever savour.

You keep going because life isn’t an exciting movie with cliff hangers and a fast paced plot. It’s a series of small things all strung together by you. And you keep going because maybe one of those small things is big enough to convince you not to cut the string.

You keep going because the alternate leaves you with nothing.

Trans Lifeline (Canada): 877-330-6366 (US): 877-565-8860
Crisis Text Line (US): text “go” to 741741
Crisis Text Line (Canada): text “talk” for English and “texto” for French 686868

Remembering Leelah Alcorn…

It was New Year’s Eve 2014 when I first heard about Leelah and how she’d chosen to walk in front of a truck instead of continuing to be ignored and misgendered at home. Colin was still non-binary, feeling like both male and female and the thought that he might end his life was chilling, even though he was being supported at home. I felt overwhelmed and the only way I could think of calming down was to write it out, and so I did.

I’m not going to write a whole new post. I’ll just leave the link to post right here. And remember, Leelah is just one of many who have taken their own lives due to lack of support. If you have a trans person in your life please, please support them and let them know they matter. It makes a difference.

Suicide Prevention Month…

I stood at the patio door and stared into the distance, my hands leaving sweaty prints on the glass. The space between the door and railing was empty and then there was nothing but air between me and the ground seven stories down. Eight if you included the slope to the basement. Seven or eight stories down to concrete or the dumpster if I aimed well enough. And in that case they wouldn’t have to do anything with me at all, just take me away with the trash. That’s all I was, wasn’t I?

I backed away carefully. Was it far enough of a drop? I figured it was but what if it wasn’t? I didn’t want to end up a quadriplegic, unable to try again.

Was it or wasn’t it?

My mind flipped between the two as I sat down to write a rambling note on Facebook. Within half an hour my sister was on her way to pick me up and take me to the hospital. Within four hours I had a diagnosis and a psychiatrist. Then I went to my parents’ house to stay safe for a week.

medsI’ve been admitted to the hospital around four or five times since then, luckily not in the past year, and take enough pills each day that I’m surprised I don’t rattle. I still struggle daily with anxiety. Some days I can’t make it out of the house. Some days I panic in the grocery store. And I have down weeks where I struggle to keep up with the chores and make semi regular meals. Everything seems too much. English muffins get turned into a meal far too often and, even then, they seem so complicated. I’ll stand in the kitchen, near tears, hoping the muffin will be toasted soon so I can scurry back to my room. And did I turn on the microwave for hot chocolate? Maybe… maybe not… and a five minute chore turns into a half hour.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month and today is National Suicide Prevention Day and I want to tell you something. Depression lies. It lies hard and it lies deep, hitting at every sore spot it can. It tells you that you’re worthless, that no one cares, you don’t matter, you’ll never matter, no one will ever love you, you’re ugly, stupid, lazy. Meanwhile it’s the one that’s lazy because it tells those same lies to everyone. It’s not just you. I honestly felt the same way too. I didn’t think my family cared. Meanwhile I’d been pulling away from them and they thought I didn’t care.

Reach out for help. There is help available. Check my resources page above for phone numbers and websites. Go to your local PFLAG meeting for community. And go to your ER if you are at the end of your rope and just can’t manage any longer. It will be a long and boring wait but they’ll have staff there to help you.

Be honest with your friends. You’ll be surprised by how many of them are suffering themselves and are looking for someone to talk to. You’ll be surprised by how much support you can get.

You are valuable. You are important. You are worth it. You matter.

Save a life today. Save yours.

tattoo no flash

Two years…

I deserve better blankTwo years ago I cried until I thought I could cry no more and still the tears kept coming. I cried until my eyes swelled shut and my head ached. I felt like my entire world had fallen in on me and there was nothing left but ruins. Like there was only one option left and that was to jump off my 7th storey balcony to the unforgiving pavement below. All that stopped me was the concern that it might not be high enough. What would happen if I ended up paralyzed? I wouldn’t be able to try again.

Luckily for me I’m a writer. I write about everything and this was no exception. I got on Facebook and a veritable flood of words was released. I lied and said I wasn’t planning to kill myself. Even so, what I said was worrying enough that my sister Jen called then drove me down to the hospital. My Mom traded off with her when Jen had to pick up her kids. It takes a long time to be seen for mental health issues but they do keep close track of you.

In some ways that day feels like the beginning of a whole different life but it wasn’t. I’d been struggling with my mental health for at least a year. My family doctor started me on Effexor the spring of 2015 and prescribed Ativan for my rare panic attacks. It was getting harder and harder to stay at work. Some days I’d grip the sides of the cash register or my arms in an attempt not to run screaming out the door. I had always been the fun loving person. I cracked jokes, sang along with the radio, hugged people who liked hugging, and joked with the regular customers. My manager joked that Happy was my theme song. All that slowly drained away as my focus turned inward, a silent struggle to keep running my life.

20180418_101120.jpgIt’s been two long years but I’m slowly rebuilding my life. I’m printing out my scrapbooking pages and am finally up to mid 2017. I’m starting to read again and am thinking, once again, about my novel. I’ve joined three groups and enjoy every one of them. I visit my family every week and try to get out once a month for karaoke (yes, I can sing LOL). It’s not the same life I had before. My attention span is negligible. I find two hour classes to be just long enough. Any more would be overwhelming. But I’m surrounded by friends and family. Life is good.

Am I back to normal? No. I’m currently taking twelve pills in order to function and still struggle with anxiety. Am I happy? Yes. And I think that’s the most important answer of them all.

building your life

Looking at life from both sides…

I remember, years ago in Sociology, the teacher talked about three different kinds of parenting; authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive. Authoritarian were the strict parents, expecting respect and obedience and deciding what was best for the child. Permissive parents wanted to be their child’s friend to the point of making little to no rules. And Authoritative was a blend of the two, giving the child a say but making the final decision.

I thought about that class a couple of days ago while I read comments on a Facebook post. I watched parents from both sides expressing love for their children and child abuse by the opposing parents. It was easy to see who was authoritarian and who was authoritative.

The authoritative parents were listening to their child’s insistent claims of being the other gender. They were going to doctors, psychiatrists, and counselors to sort out what’s going on. They were listening to their child but weren’t changing anything until the professionals were called.

The authoritarian parents listened to their child’s insistent claims of being the other gender and quickly and firmly told the child, “no, you are a boy/girl. I don’t want to hear any more nonsense about this”. And, of course, the child stops talking about it for years and years until they either commit suicide or come out as an adult. But, in the meantime their parents are certain they are doing the right thing. “Children are too young for stuff like that” is a comment I see regularly. Comparing being trans to sexual abuse is another, even though they are completely different things.

The authoritarian parents ask questions like “My child wanted to be a dog. Should I have got her a collar and started feeding her on the floor?” My sister pretended to be a dog for a little while too. She had to eat at the table but could crawl around and bark as much as she wanted. I was a child myself so I don’t know how long it lasted. I’m going to guess not very long. Trans children, on the other hand, are adamant they’re the other gender (or somewhere in between) and they keep persisting. And once they transition, they stay that other gender, for the most part. It doesn’t matter if they change their mind because the only thing that happens when a child transitions is they change clothes and hair styles.

I have some sympathy for the authoritarian parents. It’s hard to listen to your child’s choices when they make such spectacularly bad decisions. You put the goldfish where?!? But then I remember Leelah Alcorn and how her parents denied her truth over and over again, even after she died. And these statistics:

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The pale blue bars show the authoritarian parents. They’re the parents who said “no, you are who we say you are”. The dark blue shows the authoritative parents. Now look at the difference, especially the last section which is attempted suicide, not just talking about it but doing it. 57 per cent, more than half of the unsupported kids versus 4 per cent for the supported kids. Is being in charge all the time worth losing your kid? Sure you get your chosen name on the gravestone instead of theirs but damn.

I know I have groups of people who don’t like me, they show up in my statistics. They either think Colin’s getting manipulated into being trans. That kiddo could give a lawyer a run for her money. Or that he’s so developmentally delayed that he simply agrees to everything I say. This would be a surprise for his teacher. You know what though? I don’t give a rat’s ass what they think. My kids are far more important.

Right now Colin’s wavering between being Colin or Emma. I have no idea how long this wavering will take and no idea what he will choose. Either way, it’s his decision, not mine. And as an authoritative parent, I will support him either way.

One year later…

This winter went on too long then, just when I thought I couldn’t stand another grey day, the trees burst forth in blossoms of lime green. I’d forgotten how soft they looked pressed against the sky. How brilliant the green contrasts against the blue. How the weeping willows look like they’re dancing with veils. How new leaves glisten in the sunshine.

This time last year I was convinced my life was over. There was nothing to live for… no one who cared. I was going to jump off my balcony and land in the dumpster seven floors below. My thoughts at the time was it would save my family money for a burial. Somehow I figured the truck would simply take my body away with the trash. Obviously I wasn’t in my right mind.

I wasn’t going to leave a letter, I didn’t think anyone cared enough to read it, but a former friend of mine convinced me to post a note on Facebook saying how I felt. I didn’t see the point and then he dared me to. If there wasn’t a point then it didn’t matter? Why didn’t I try?

So I did try. I posted and my sister almost immediately replied. So did my Mom and countless others. People did care. I did matter. I’d cried until my eyes swelled shut, I was a mess, and people still cared.

If life were a made for TV movie, everything would be perfect now. I’d be back to work, my relationship would have magically healed itself, and music would softly swell over a picturesque ending. But life doesn’t work that way.

I didn’t jump that day. Thankfully. But my soul… my self… shattered and it hasn’t magically fitted itself back together again. I’m still fragile. I take a handful of pills a day to function.

And yet…

Just like the softened new blossoms are distinct and real against a twilight sky, my thoughts coalesce and form into a whole. I might not be perfect but I’m me. And I’m glad to be here.