Writing a Suicide Note to Myself

I think I deeply underestimate the effect of pain on my mental health.

Oftentimes that pain will lead me to seek out medical care.

That medical care will fall short in myriad ways.

The most damage is done when I am treated like I do not know what I am talking about(which I do, it’s my body and I’m a smart cookie).

They go on to not listen or ignore symptoms.

Systemic misgendering.

Ultimately, ineffective treatments and I have wasted hours, expending myself mentally and physically, with nothing new tried, no answers, no treatments, no referrals, no belief that it would improve, a whole mess of micro aggressions, and worsening pain.

I was writing my suicide note in my head while driving home.

I wasn’t worth listening to. I wasn’t worth respecting. I wasn’t worth treating. I was a drain on the system.

 

A creature of pure torture and it wasn’t going to get better.

Because I will always be the person that writes “LOL” when a form leaves 8 spaces for you to put your medication list.

Because I will need multiple specialists who for some reason can never coordinate their blood work requests.

Because the combined costs for the surgeries I will need to no longer squirm like a child at a funeral just at the idea of being in my body exceeds that of most suburban homes.

Because I have wanted to die as long as I can remember, and only regular therapy, medication monitoring, inpatient hospitalizations, and the occasional emergency interventions keep it from happening.

 

There’s so many stories lately about resuscitating addicts. Someone mentioned a “three strike rule,” where they’d no longer administer emergency medication.

So where does that come in with suicide? How many times do you wake someone up with a smile and tell them they aren’t worthless and sit beside them coloring and chatting as they stare off in to space and beg the universe that JUST ONCE someone would have thrown up their hands and said “well I guess they weren’t worth saving after all.” How many times do you say hello and goodbye to the staff that all knew you anyway before the EMT blacklists your house?How many interventions does it take until when a patient says “I’m worthless,” the reply is, “Well, you’ve met your mental health value quota so, yeah, you’ll have to find some worth somewhere else in life. ”

The mental health system is slow, toxically still full of stigma, and prey to every -ism.

But here I am still.

I was past three strikes years ago, folks.

I thought a line should go in my suicide note- “In lieu of flowers, please send letters to local hospitals and your congressmen.”

 

I came up with some clever lines. Even some stuff about the selfishness of suicide.
Because it’s not. It’s not about you, and you’re being arrogant if you think that. If anything, it’s selfish of you for wanting to keep someone who is suffering that much around, just so you can feel marginally better.

Things like that mindset guarantee I’m not pleasant to be around, I’m pretty sure I don’t have all that many friends, mostly acquaintances.

Profound mental illness, it turns out, is uncomfortable.

I hide behind biting sarcasm a lot. It’s actually the shield that bites back.

 

Then I got to thinking about family. Ain’t that a can of worms.

I thought about the funeral. It’d probably be at the church I grew up in and was chronically awkward in. The one that was 400 people that met in a pole barn when I was 2 and vomited on someone’s shoes and will never live down. I was there as it expanded. As it moved. As it kept rejecting me socially. I was there for the newest addition, millions upon millions of dollars raised. I toured it it when it was scaffolding, sheets of plastic and exposed concrete. I watched as it stretched a video outreach across the globe and my father would occasionally do some paint touch up work on the pastor’s massive boat.

Somehow non-denominational is its own particular denomination. Whodathunkit, it has some very traditional and conservative mindsets.

I knew that without a legally changed name and gender marker, I would be deadnamed among my family until we were all dirt.

And when I came out as pansexual I was told that “a line has been crossed in the eyes of God” if I would ever touch a woman.

And when I came out as transgender I was told that “this was an exploration” and “I will find a revelation.”

“God loves her more than we love her.”

You can change if it’s supposed to cut or be supportive depending on what you emphasize.

My dad had said in the session with my therapist that I have an “emotionally built feminine psyche” and that “guys don’t deal with these emotions.” He figured that a part of my transition goal was to get over trauma through that reasoning. He also said he has nothing but compassion for those that are internally conflicted, which I have been for a very long time.

He challenged me to find one person who was truly happy having done this, 10 years out, figuring that anyone who was transgender would just be so conflicted that they’d never really improve their lives.

Months later my mother was teary eyed when she asked me if I thought I was still saved.

She said “I have to hold onto the thought that you might still be in heaven.”

I wondered at the hellfire that was currently eating her alive, fresh and meaty and ripe, right on this plane of existence.

I thought of all this while I plotted my suicide note. The idea I could be so wrong, so broken that I would be cursed to brimstone and damnation had such a hold on her heart. I fumed.

I spewed. You know, in my head.

Then I craved. I wanted someone to read the note at my funeral. Read the note at the church I was raised in.

I wanted someone to tell them that this is not the gospel. Christ’s blood was spilled so no more has to be.

 

I got home.

I took some medication.

I pet fuzzy animals.

I relaxed on the bed.

I felt a little bit better.

 

Then I got angry.

Angry enough to do some good.

When you are low enough that you’ve almost stopped feeling bad, stopped feeling anything, you can find angry.

You can tap into it.

 

I realized that no one is going to do my advocacy for me.

I may already be fighting hard.

I will have to fight every damn day.

And it will keep hurting.

But I can’t give up and leave my mantle for another, they must carry their own.

I have to be vulnerable.

I have to do it myself.

I have to tell my story myself.

I have to live long enough to improve MY life myself.

To show who I am.

To prove it.

Maybe only to myself.

Whisper Sweetly

I have never been able to view myself as smart. Other people would hold that for me- teachers, tests, peers. My self esteem would not allow it. My parents had a systematic lack of regard for what I HAD done versus what I COULD do. “A 97? Why not a 100? A 100? Why not perfect attendance? We’re worried about your weight. Say, why are you coming home in tears so often? I guess it’s a teenager thing. Must need some space.” I lived in the shadow of my own potential, and my potential whispered sweetly about dreams and a future and having worth.

I cried writing the end of that sentence right there. It sinks me that I remain so far away from viewing myself as a creature with worth, yet I can dialectically hold the concept that all lives have inherent worth. I remain a raw, rotten lump of meat in the corner, an exception.

It’s been a rough 6 weeks or so. I’ve gotten strep, kinda beat it, had it come back with a vengeance and morph into walking pneumonia. My testosterone shot caused a giant weird painful lump in my leg. My mental health regressed enough that I ended up in a crisis residential program for a week. Additionally I’ve been in the ER three times, the Urgent Care once, and my PCP once. I got in a car accident and messed up my shoulder nicely. My anxiety is through the roof. Also, I’m not sure if it’s related to the car accident or the strep-hell but I can’t bind because it makes me completely unable to breathe. I’ve missed enough work that I’m worried about whether they’ll just give up on me like my last employer did.

I also got married, so that was cool.

I kept doing this weird thing during all this stress though. I kept house shopping.
See, I found out we were eligible for a down payment assistance program that’s really nifty.
It was a fun distraction if nothing else. But I let myself hope, and when it came down to it, if you’re getting 36 hours and your company still calls you part time, you have to have been there for 2 years.

Bye-bye hope.

I’ve had big dreams in the past.

Now all I want is a cute little fixer-upper and to SOMEDAY finish a damn degree above an Associate’s.

I was supposed to be so smart. One of those assholes that throws off the curve.

I’ll probably work entry level for the rest of my life because I am deeply, profoundly mentally ill.

Maybe smart doesn’t mean much if you’re broken.

The big bad monster crept out of my mind to stab potential repeatedly.

It doesn’t whisper anymore.

Albert Ross

Albert Ross

go ahead,
clutch
onto the
version of me
that you see
in your head.
the illness
of my
has-beens
and
human beans
is falling away
in my own.
I am re-making
my missed takes
in exciting
new ways.
you are wrong
and you
will flaunt your
wrongosity
with flags trailing
from tandem bikes
and flower crowns
and marching bands
stomping femininely.
the day
will come
when the
burden of
being wrong
will hang
from your neck
because the truth
will be evident,
marching into reality
day by day.
until then
you can
cling to
your version
of me,
like water
trailing through
my leg hair.

And still…

There was an incredibly powerful exercise that I did once in a group session with other alcoholics and addicts. It was about the first step-admitting you are powerless. It was recommended by one of our peers, who said his sponsor guided him through it. He gave us all an index card and told us to number one through ten, leaving two lines for each number.

Then he said “I want you to think of ten of the worst things you did while you were drinking, and write them down. Leave an empty line.”

Our leader, Bob, was feeling sassy, so he timed people. The first person completed his in 27 seconds. Others needed to think a little harder. I was in the middle of the pack.

Then he gave us the key for the exercise.

After every statement, we had to write “and still I kept drinking.”

We had to confront the fact that not only did we facilitate these terrible experiences, we chose our demon again. And again. And again.

So for me it would start out a bit like:

I broke a goddamn toilet, and still I kept drinking.
I was sleepwalking naked, and still I kept drinking.
I let the horses out in the middle of the night, and still I kept drinking.
And so on.

It occurred to me recently that this same method could be modified a bit for other situations. I thought of my parents, the spiritual abuse they put me through, and how I’d keep crawling back to them.

So here’s another list. Yeah, it’s different, because the first reflects more personal choice rather than something being done to or with you. It was still a key moment for me to process this list, though. I think it’ll help give me strength.

1. They taught me how to tie a noose when I was really young*, and still I gave them more chances.
2. They told me I was getting fat, and still I gave them more chances.
3. They had me work for the family business in a shop from an incredibly young age, and still I gave them more chances.
4. They made me write pages from the Bible every day to improve my handwriting, until I developed carpal tunnel, and still I gave them more chances.
5. They held me to such high standards that it was impossible to ever succeed or feel like I could be good enough, and still I gave them more chances.
6. They stayed close with my exes even though it made me uncomfortable, and still I gave them more chances.
7. They put down my perfectly healthy dog unexpectedly without telling me while I was away in the hospital, and still I gave them more chances.
8. They left bible pages open about raising godly children after finding a dildo at age 16, and still I gave them more chances.
9. They guilt tripped me for how I was making them feel by choosing to live in my car rather than with them during a complicated time, and later gave me a mattress shoved behind a couch as a bedroom, and still I gave them more chances.
10. They refused to let me see a therapist or get medication for my depression, then insisted on a Christian counselor when it became court mandated after my first institutionalization, and had him perform an exorcism on me, and still I gave them more chances.

It was a pretty frequent pattern that I’d get sick of them and run off, or end up in a mental institution. But I always crawled back, and was always made to feel broken and wrong.

The last couple weeks, I kept getting little barbs from my Mom that indicated that she knew about the transition although I hadn’t had the guts to come out directly to them. Things like telling me how I was the feminine version of my dad, or how girly looking my hair was coming along to be, or how “a girl can dress up pretty and wear makeup and heels and have fun but when a boy does it it’s weird.”

It got to the point that I just walked out the door and left their property after she said something like that. Stopped talking to her. I texted her and said if she wanted to talk, I was meeting with my therapist and she could join, so she did.

She claimed she didn’t have a clue about the transition. She said that when she looks at me she sees “a very confused young person.” When my therapist gave me a chance to express how I was feeling, all I could come up with for a minute was “tense,” and she jumped in saying “And I’m devastated.” Not only did she continue to deadname and misgender me after we explained my wishes, she actively tried to correct my therapist and fiance when they were using the right ones. She asked my fiancé if he was okay with this, and after contorting her face in disgust when he said yes, asked “WHY?!?!” When he explained that his love had nothing to do with my gender, she said “Wow, so anybody can do what they want if they love ‘em.”

There’s another therapy session scheduled.

I added to the list number 11. They invalidated my choices about my gender and sexuality.

Any chances from here on out are to be supervised by a professional.

*It actually wasn’t until very recently that I realized this was fucked up. I mentioned something about it in passing on Facebook and a number of friends jumped in saying how gross that it was. I had been under the impression it was fairly normal, like a Boy Scout thing or whatnot.

Or else it gets the hose again…

I caved and bought face wipes and moisturizer the other day.

I liked my skin. My skin was alright and did just fine on its own.

BEFORE TESTOSTERONE.

Now I’m an oil pit and yet somehow a dry oil pit. It’s a real bastard.

I’ve noticed this self care appreciation thing coming on gradually as I’ve increased my ritual before bed.

It really began with rubbing scar gel in where I was scratched at work. I’m seeing results, which is really like, dandy magic.

Then I bought the fancy floss.

God, I don’t even know what’s wrong with me. I’m so easily marketed to. I just- you know- I like nice things. I hadn’t known that floss was a fancy thing that I needed, before someone told me. Someone on the internet. Who was selling the fancy floss.

It came with a travel newsletter entitled “Flossophy.” There’s quizzes and recipes. Yoga instructions and an instagram challenge. It’s the most hipster goddamn floss on the planet.

But it is nice. Super scrubby feeling. Very effective. Why did I pay 8 dollars plus shipping for floss? BECAUSE SELF CARE THAT’S WHY.

To be honest, it’s worth it if I floss even a little bit more because of the fanciness. I gave up on my teeth for so long. I have such bad habits. I felt like there was no chance I’d even live to 30, so why should I worry about cavities?

I’m in a better state now, and I wish I could take that back. I think everyone that has neglected their teeth feels that way.

Now, though, I choose self care.

I rub scar gel onto my arms, so my battles can be my own business.

I floss so I can chew for many days to come.

I moisturize to keep from flogging myself with feelings of inadequacy.

Fecal Experience

It’s hard to come up with a way to say a resident sharted in their charting summary.

She looked a little proud of herself for an instant before it happened, almost like this was a punishment for the two staff she was talking to. She may have forgotten that she had been constipated and in a lot of pain, so laxatives were given. She waved the air behind her and warned people to get away. “Ooh, boy that stinks.” Then her face fell. “I think I shit myself.”

“Then go to the bathroom.”

She said, “No, really, I think I pooped.” This time she was quieter, conspiratorial..

I made a large gesture towards the bathroom with both hands.

She finally shimmied towards the restroom muttering “I can feel it…”

A few minutes later she emerged. “I get to be excused from group.”

Group was still a ways away. “Or you could change and then go to group.”

Her eyes narrowed, she seemed to be calculating how she could still change her clothes and manage to get out of going to group, but she went to change with no further complaints.

Five minutes into group she comes out. “I really need to shower.” It wasn’t hygiene time, but the supervisor was going to make an exception in this case. However, another resident overheard that and wanted to shower too. So I got them their soaps and towels, and an additional resident walks up, asking for deodorant.

I swear to god, I spent the next 20 minutes in a conversation about which of the three deodorants she had was the best, and “is that the superman logo on the front of this label”, and “I’m pretty sure this one isn’t mine but it’s got my name on it.” By the time I finally managed to wear her down into making a choice, she hands them all back to me and says “I didn’t actually need one right now, I was just checking them.”

I don’t really know what the moral of this story is. If you administer a laxative, you’d better be prepared for nihilistic deodorant juggling?

By the way, my solution for the charting? “She tried to get excused from group about a half hour after she farted and had a, erm, fecal experience.”

The Day I Lost My Husband

I had a few friends come out as transgender in the last five years. When I saw this piece posted by my friend, about their own processing in the relationship, my eyes welled up. I couldn’t help it. I later read it to my boy, who didn’t respond to it emotionally on the same level I did, but still listened intently and nodded along. I don’t know what he saw in it, where it met him. I do know that it made me feel a little less like I was betraying a promise of who he signed up to be with, and made me feel a little less alone.

 

The Day I Lost My Husband

Two years, not long to be married, practically still newly-weds, but then it happened. He had been sitting there in front of me. There was a deep fear in his eyes, his hands were clutching mine as though to let go would mean our last parting, then he was gone. I mourned him then, and sometimes I mourn him still. Never again would I be held by manly arms or protected by his masculine presence as I walked. There would be no strong pecs to rest my head upon as we watched TV at night, no strong square chin speaking my name in whispers of love. No deep voice would ever again tell me how much I was loved, protected, and cared for. There would be no deep flirtatious whispers, no manly romantic gestures, no masculine presence to wake up to and fall asleep in the comfort of. In the space of a moment, it was gone, he was gone, and I mourned. Sometimes I still do. This is not what was supposed to be, this was not our male and female union we promised to be, forever, until death do we part. He was gone, but hands still held mine in their frantic grasp. My eyes still met dark, beautiful, exotic eyes. And I asked the only thing that I could think to ask, “Are you leaving me?”. She replied, “Of course not!” and then I kissed my wife. I held my wife. My wife held and comforted me. We talked, as we had always talked. We joked and laughed, as we always had. We even told the same jokes. The soul in front of me said, “I love you.” And my soul responded with every ounce of it, “I love you too.” I realized I couldn’t lose my husband, I had never had one. I didn’t mourn for a husband lost, but for a trip Mammoth Caves that went to Virginia Beach instead, for the vanilla ice cream cone I ordered, though they gave me cookie dough instead. I mourned for the loss of the beauty of Earth’s second moon, the boat I never sailed nor moored. I mourned for the husband that I, for a moment, thought I could have had. Truth be told, there were never any manly romantic gestures or well defined pecs. No deep voice had ever passed her lips, and it wasn’t a masculine presence that comforted me as I went to sleep or woke. These things only existed in that moment of loss when my mind turned to the what if’s, the “this is how it’s supposed to work,” and “this was not the plan”. Love called me back to myself, my soulmate still spoke to my soul. And if there is some discomfort as I wonder if my friends will abandon me, or if a public kiss will be met with disgust, it is worth it. My soulmate let me see her true soul. My wife upheld her vows that day. Together, we will be our true selves, together our souls will journey, we will be there for sick or well, for time and trials. And, most importantly, we will tell the same dumb jokes, comfort each other as we always did. We will cuddle and hold hands and if anything has changed, it is this: Today as I look in beautiful, loving eyes and hold soft, gentle hands, I know that she is my wife, and always has been. One day, in one moment, I lost a husband, but truth be told, I never really had one.

-Jennifer Bennett Plowman

 

23 Pills and a Biweekly Injection*

That’s what it takes to keep me in operating condition.

Not particularly fantastic operating condition, either.

I creak, I groan, I piss and moan.

But I’m still alive.

And these *very expensive* pills are to blame for that. They can be a bit of a curse. It’s obnoxious to go pick them up all the time, my insurance doesn’t allow the pharmacy’s prescription syncing service because they hate progress or something. It takes me about an hour and a half for me to watch a comedy special and prepare the next three weeks of pill cases. It’d take less time if I were singularly focused, yes, but I’d also get so angry that I’d probably start chucking pills at passing cars. Truly though, cars don’t pass by my apartment often enough to let out that rage so I might feebly try to anger-juggle the bottles or some shit like that.

I used to swallow pills one at a time.
A few overdose attempts and having a regimen like this managed to train me out of that.

I also used to swallow Cheerios like pills when I was a kid. I’m not exactly sure why I felt I needed the practice, but I can’t argue with the results. I’m a real pro.

My psychiatrist appointment yesterday brought up my starting Testosterone. It all had happened so quickly, that he hadn’t even been informed yet. He was definitely surprised, but also said, “well maybe we’ve hit a root issue here and once you’re further along, we can start to back you off on stuff again.” That’d be nice. Maybe regular human doses and such!

A few months ago I weaned off Abilify because of drowsiness and weight. It went fine for awhile, then I tanked. So we are trying its new big brother, Rexulti, which is more potent so you take a lower dose and get less side effects. It’s also retails at around $1,100.

Yeah, I want off meds. It sucks that I have to take them. However, I have confronted the fact that I do not have a normal brain. I will never be able to be free of them and have a decent quality of life.

I doubt I’d be able to go off them for 6 months and physically survive, actually.

So, 23 pills and a biweekly injection.

I continue into the fray. I depend on them. They are my sword and shield in a harsh forest full of monsters.

When it comes to advocacy and stigma, I won’t say “I am medicated, hear me roar!” I don’t think we need more associations of crazy.

I might say “I am medicated, watch me manage!”

 

 

 

 

 

*Some are supplements, and none are fun.

In which I’ve lost neither pounds nor inches and yet am trimmer…

Soft and silent in a combative way, my self hatred spawned from a young, young age. It sat at my brain stem and sent little twitches of loathing, as central a part of my being as breathing or eating.
I am reclaiming my hate.
I’m coming for it.
Ink and hormones and surgeries will bring me closer.
Time spent in the gym will bring me closer.
I love what my body does.
I love the powers it has, I love the strength I have that no one expects of me.
But I do not love my body.
I don’t know that anyone who is trans can embrace a traditional form of body positivity.
I will seek out my male form, though.
I will sculpt it from underneath my hips and my breasts.
I will find a way to present myself, somewhere under there.

I weigh 333 pounds.
It’s a pretty number, but it’s not a pretty sight.

That’s up five pounds from three weeks ago, when these first pictures were taken.

Why did I take them?

I was starting Plexus. And I’m a skeptic.

Granted, I’m a skeptic with impulse control issues and poor budgeting skills. I wanted to try it out, and I wanted reference. I’ve gone up and down and up and down in my weight, over and over again. I usually try to not be entirely honest with myself about my body. I find its better for my mental health.

However, I’m on the cusp of some major changes. Testosterone for my transition. Bariatric surgery. I want to track how I change. I want records. A little bit of supplementation is a minor place to start, and easy enough.

They’re expensive, and sold through multi-level marketing. Does this mean there’s cheaper equivalent products out there? Maybe. But this is what I was going to try, after seeing how great my friend Susie and her family was feeling with them.

Naturally “becoming an ambassador” or buying in to the sales program gets you cheaper prices. I signed up. I got my shipment. I started my Triplex.

There’s the Bio Cleanse, which is basically a fancy magnesium supplement that’s supposed to help keep you regular. There’s more to the pitch than that, but that there’s the basics.

Probio5 is a probiotic that’s supposed to have great success surviving to get to the gut and actually do its work, it also has chitosanase which is supposed to cut through yeast overgrowth super effectively.

Then there’s Slim, the pink drink. You add one of these drink packets to your morning routine, and it helps to keep your blood sugar balanced and energy up. I can honest to god tell the difference on days where I’ve forgotten my Slim, I’m sluggish and crabbier and have worse cravings. It tastes a lot like a cherry tootsie roll pop. Not just the candy coating, not just the chocolate part. The whole damn thing at once.

I’m not big on thinking that shitting more regularly and an extra bottle of water each day are going to cause much of a health shift. It’s been three weeks, and I did not change my routine. I didn’t change how I ate. I intentionally set out to “work out” exactly twice.

I also have less joint pain. Fewer headaches. I’m less forgetful. Not as sore. And there’s tiny sections around my body where it almost looks like I’ve been pricked by a pin and am deflating slightly.

I see fat loss in my arm, the top of my belly and sides of my hips. I see more definition in my shoulders. The changes are subtle, but they’re there.

I’ve also gained those five pounds, proving that you have to measure victories on more than just a scale.

I don’t give a rip if you decide to try the Triplex. It’s great if you do, I’m excited to share the journey with you, but I’m not gonna go around trying to be a salesperson.

The person that I care about getting this stuff to most? Myself.

I’m kinda selfish like that.

Wanna check it out?

http://shopmyplexus.com/reximoriarty/

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