I couldn’t find the link I used so I created one. here you go.
I couldn’t find the link I used so I created one. here you go.
SPSM and Prezi and being a suicide attempt survivor
For the first time in a long time, I felt I was useful to the #SPSMChat that goes on every Sunday at 10 pm EST on Twitter. I learned about Prezi, which I am not sure what it is yet. I thought it was a video thingy but I couldn’t figure it out and I am much to tired to try. I did make a couple of layouts but it crashed my Chrome and internet so I think I will stick with IE.
What I was talking about with Prezi was being a suicide attempt survivor. Twenty-five years ago today marks the actual day I got help, or tried to. It was a very confusing time and my mother had a hard time accepting me as being suicidal. She was worried about me, as is understandable. But I had my own world to contend to that she didn’t know about. I will write that in another blog, but for now, just know that I was living between two worlds, one that I created internally to cope with the external world.
It wasn’t easy the first few days after my attempt, if you want to call it that. My wrist hurt from cutting and then I found out that cutting really released emotion better than talking did. So I started having my cutting kit. I had to be very secretive but then, I sort of was as I was living in two worlds. I had two facades, the one that school saw and the one my home life saw. It wasn’t much different except at home I didn’t talk to anyone. I didn’t talk to my sisters and my father was not there after his violent outburst the day before. A week after all this suicide talk and me not getting any better, my sisters felt that he had to know. I had a large decorative knife outside my bedroom door. I swore he was going to tell me to kill myself by stabbing myself with it. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Instead, he told me to jump off the Tobin bridge. He was giving me permission to kill myself essentially. Nice guy, huh?
I was a straight A student at school. I also had perfect attendance until that night. I think I had to skip school one day to meet with a counselor so that ended my perfect attendance record for the year. It didn’t matter, I lost interest in school. Nothing mattered to me except for dying. I was 15 years old. The school nurse helped me a lot for the rest of my years in high school. I don’t think I would have graduated if it wasn’t for her. She gave me hope every time I saw her and I knew that I couldn’t let her down by being depressed. She wanted me better so I saw the school counselor instead of going to a private therapist. Unfortunately, when the school year ended, so did therapy. I was deeply depressed, more so than I already was. The nurse got me in touch with a social worker at the community school. I saw her for about ten months before she got married and left. I had a breakdown. I skipped school for a week and then in April of 1992, I tried to kill myself again. I threw up the pills and thus saved my life. I lost all hope that I ever was going to die. I felt like more of a failure than I ever was. That summer, I had my first hospitalization and thus started the cycle. I was hospitalized every three months because my suicidality reached its peak and I couldn’t cope with life anymore. The third time I went into the hospital, I came out as being gay. I had dissociated while cutting because I felt an attraction toward a woman on the T (public transportation). I thought I was going nuts until I met someone in the hospital who was also gay. I came out with my treatment team and felt a huge burden off my shoulders. It wasn’t until two decades later I would come out as being transgender.
My teenage years were filled with hospitalizations and cutting. It was a vicious cycle that continued into my twenties. After graduation from high school, I had my longest hospitalization because I overdosed again on the antidepressant I was taking at the time. I was determined to die and no one was going to stop me. Except, a Jewish doctor that felt I had some hope. She told me the only way out of the hospital was if I were to see her. The outside therapist I saw didn’t want to see me anymore. She couldn’t handle my suicidality. So I started seeing her but my suicidality increased. I was in and out of the hospital from August of 1994 to Jan 1995. I felt like no one could love me. Until I met a boy from Nebraska. He was gay and he loved me unconditionally. He didn’t care about my past. He wanted to help me. And he did. I felt that if I had him, I could heal. It took a while to trust him and I did. We had long conversations about school and life and being gay. We joined BAGLY and met others like ourselves. I still felt like an outsider because I really felt like I was a man. I was too scared to tell anyone this. So I was called a lesbian or gay woman instead. My self hatred rose to new levels. But I always held it in check.
Amazingly, I graduated a two year school for medical assisting. I was still cutting. I changed therapists, again. This time I was seeing a male therapist. It wasn’t too long before I fired him. I had obtained the medication to overdose again and when I told him, he asked if I was suicidal. It was the most stupidest question I was ever asked. Do people obtain large quantities of medication just for the hell of it? Granted I didn’t tell him I was suicidal, but getting asked point blank was kind of silly.
After this therapist, I really didn’t want to see anyone else again. It was really tough because either they left me or I fired them. Most of them couldn’t deal with my suicidality as an outpatient. They just thought the hospital was the way to go. By the time I was 25, I had about as many hospitalizations in ten years time. I just figured that was the way life was going to be. I was going to be in and out of hospitals for the rest of my life and I didn’t like that option.
It took years for suffering till I was an undergraduate at a university where I was taking psychology classes. My cutting had stopped, least for now. I had met my current therapist and she wanted to help me. I was taking a class for psychometrics testing. I researched stuff about suicide and couldn’t find a damn one that dealt with pain. There was an overview of assessments, twenty-five in all, and not a single one dealt with psychological pain. Then I came across the works of Dr. Edwin Shneidman. He lead me to David Jobes and the world of suicidology was open before me. I still felt like a hypocrite when I became a member in 2007 but I learned so much. My hospitalization started to decrease. I was using Jobes’ work in my therapy. I was also using Holden’s work as well. My pain finally had a name, psychache. And with it I could finally stop the bleeding. I couldn’t control the bleeding because I still bleed to this day, but it’s much less now that it’s acknowledge and talked about.
I still don’t have supportive parents. My sisters try to be supportive around my transgender issues but I can tell they would just like me to be my birth name and gender. They don’t know how much my suicidality surrounds me not being in the correct body. I hope in time they will.
Had therapy today. I am glad I don’t have therapy tomorrow. I am glad my therapist is back, don’t get me wrong, it’s just that since coming off my suicidal plan, I feel disconnected with her and I am angry with her because she is keeping me here, if only for her own needs. Least that is what it feels like. I feel lost and trapped in this world and I don’t know what to do in it anymore. I have been trying to write but nothing comes of it so I just blog. It gives me some sense of purpose because maybe it will help someone who is going through the same thing.
I have been following the chat on Twitter for the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network conference (TSPN15). They had a doctor on that has been dealing with suicidal thoughts for 60 years. He had his first breakdown in medical school and had to drop out. He started Suicide Anonymous and then was surprised by his own relapse. I know the struggle he is facing. I may not have 60 years of it, but I battle through each day as if it was my last, because it could be. I don’t live for tomorrow because tomorrow doesn’t exist. Neither does next week or next month or even next year. To take from my favorite poem, I just have this moment and that is all that matters to me. What I do with it cannot be undone. Sure, I am typing these words and in one keystroke, I can lose them forever, but I choose not to do that. Not today anyways. This is why I always use a word doc to write my blogs because I am afraid of losing what I write on the web app. I have lost too many precious words that way and I refuse to lose my future insights.
My therapist was on a roll. She was talking for at least thirty minutes. I was getting tired of listening to her so I asked if time was up. I usually do this when I get antsy and want the session to end. But no, we still had twenty long minutes to talk. I told her I don’t know if this is effective anymore, that maybe we are just wasting time talking as I just seem to be deeper in a pit than out of it. I always seem to bring in new ideas but they never seem to get anywhere. We will have a “transference” session and I think things will change but next session is always the same. It’s like she forgets what we talk about. I get exasperated and just go with it. I don’t think it’s worth arguing over. I wish I could pinpoint what exactly pisses me off but I can’t. I just feel so awful that I think I am just expecting her to feel awful, too, but she isn’t and I feel more alone. I know she can’t share my feelings because I don’t think she gets depressed. But if she did, I don’t think I would want to know because then I would be her helper and she wouldn’t be mine. She does notice when I discount myself. It drives her crazy as she said so today. I wrote her a huge pile of letters, which I called bullshit. But she hasn’t read them yet so is thinking they are wonderful. I just wish I felt something other than feeling low sometimes. I had a feeling of happiness a little bit today when I found out my “little” cousin had a baby boy yesterday. He came into the world a few weeks early! My “little” cousin is in his 30s. I remember when he was little, he always called the house for us to come down to his Nonna’s to play with him. He is a sweet kid. He has a good wife and I couldn’t be more proud.
The happiness has left just as quickly as it came. It is such a fleeting emotion. It never lasts long with me. I try to hold on to it as long as possible but it takes too much energy. It’s tiring to be something you’re not. So I am back to being my depressed self. Last night, my academic self was in heaven. I finally got access to past journal articles of Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior. I got quite a few articles to read. Reading this stuff makes me a little happy because it could be the key to my own happiness and might just help me understand my moods a little better. I know that if I never found this journal or the works of Jobes, Shneidman, and Holden, I really don’t think I would be alive today. The works of Jobes allowed my therapist and I to explore the inner workings of my suicidality. Shneidman and Holden dealt with the pain and how to recognize the severity of it that could lead to a suicide attempt. I wish that was the case when I was thinking of taking my life on the 17th of July. The date is not significant to me. It is just a day I pulled out of a hat. I wanted to kill myself because I just couldn’t take living anymore. I had enough. I had the date picked at least two months before. This was to give me time to think things over and if I really wanted to kill myself on that day. Like previous times, I sometimes am hopeful on the day I wake up. But if I woke up in a rotten mood, I would have ended it. This time I did wake up in a rotten mood, but only because I was thwarted by going through with my thoughts. I had let my therapist and psychiatrist know of my plans. A dumb thing to do when you are suicidal. I don’t know why I tell them. Maybe it is because I am looking for hope that I just don’t have. There has been times when I have been suicidal outside of my “planned” dates. Those nights have been the hardest to get through. That doctor I was talking about earlier wrote a book about suicide addiction. And that is what it is. And addiction to suicide. You just can’t help but think about it. Though, I really think it has more to do with rumination than being addicted to suicidal thoughts. Because you are always thinking about your plan and ending your life, it leaves no room for thinking about anything else. You want it badly, yet you know there are people in your life that would be crushed if you died. It is always a guilt game that is played. The would be survivors that haul you in for another day of living a life you don’t want to live. And maybe that tomorrow won’t be so painful and depressing. You are always looking for that “high” of being relieved of the pressure on your chest. But it never comes and you just feel lost and alone.
Saturday Blog 27: Struggle with Suicide and Bereavement of Others
I will never again go to the Square on a Saturday! I got stranded there because there were no buses to take me home. I waited two hours and Twitter was no help in finding out why or the public transportation system for that matter. I had gotten a text saying severe delays due to traffic but not that there would be no service to the Square. I was so pissed. I hadn’t eaten anything but a bag of chips so was starving when I came home. I was lucky my sister was home and could pick me up. Then I got a migraine that just made things worse. So I am writing this blog a little later than usual because of the migraine.
I watched this video about “Life after Suicide”. It really made me think about the people I would be leaving behind and the affect it would have on my “kids”. It also made me feel grateful that I can talk about my suicidal feelings with my therapist and psychiatrist, openly and honestly. I think that if I kept those feelings to myself, I would probably act on it. It helps to hear my therapist say that she would be devastated if I went through with my thoughts. I don’t know how my psych would feel. Probably the same as I have known her for over twenty years. The thing is, I don’t want to live. I had made a decision with myself when I was young to take my life so I wouldn’t be old. Here it is twenty plus years later and I still struggle with suicide. It’s like it gets bashed around, deeply thought about, planned, and just never happens. I haven’t made a suicide attempt since I was eighteen and then I spent two and half months in a psych unit at the local hospital. I had met a psychiatric resident who believed in me and we worked together for three years. It was the most stable relationship I ever had with a professional, aside from my current therapist. I was still in and out of psych hospitals. When I was first hospitalized, I was damned if I was going to end up like the people around me. I was in a lot of psychological pain that I wanted it to end. Even though that pain has subsided somewhat, I still think about suicide. I now suffer chronic physical pain and it keeps the thoughts swirling around in my head.
In the video, the woman who talks throughout it says that you need to talk about suicide. In London, they have a place called the Maytree where suicidal people can stay for up to five days to deal with their crises. It is run by none other than a suicide attempt survivor. I have no idea if a place like that exists in the US. I know in my town, there is something called a residential place that is similar to what they were talking about. It was so long ago, I forget the criteria for going there. I know you had to be a part of the Department of Mental Health system to go to it. I was so ill then. I didn’t stay at the place. It was run down and dirty looking, nothing like the Maytree. But it was an alternative to the hospital. I don’t know if they exist anymore with budget cuts to the mental health system. They closed so many psych units in the last twenty years. Even the world famous McLean Hospital isn’t what it used to be.
Also in the video, there is a segment with Dr. Rory O’Connor (person that I got the video from) that talks about entrapment and how a suicidal person often feels trapped and feels the need to escape. This is often true. I feel trapped because of the guilt I would place on others by my death. I die and others feel hurt. In the meantime, I am left to deal with my own suffering that no one else can feel. How is that fair? And don’t dare tell me life is unfair. I know that already, I live with it every single day. I pissed and crapped my pants today and didn’t know it so don’t bother telling me that life is unfair. Another misery that I have to deal with and don’t want to. Dealing with the physical pain is one thing; it’s quite another to deal with your bodily functions not working right.
Throughout the video, I thought about my friends David and Melinda, who lost their significant others by suicide. David lost his fiancé almost six months ago. His fiancé was my friend Chris. I had felt guilty about his death because I am so involved with suicide prevention and yet I never reached out to Chris. I never knew the demons he was facing. He was always a stand up guy and looking at him, you never knew he was depressed. He hid it well. We will never know what made him take his life. David has been open about his grief on FB and it has been one of the reasons why I am still here. The grief he feels is so palpable it hurts to watch him go through it. Chris was the first friend of mine to die by suicide. I have had other friends die, but not like this. It is a unique death that no one can understand or make sense out of.
More Rants on Suicide
Have I mentioned how much I love Twitter? It brings me on the front lines of any suicide articles. I recently have two rants that I will discuss that I have read today concerning suicide and suicide prevention.
The first is a Washington Post article about a guy that wrote an email detailing his suicide, to multiple journalists. All he wanted was acknowledgement and validation of his work that he published in the 70s. What did these journalists do? NOTHING. Until it was too late. The author of the article asked “what was she supposed to do”? Answer: TALK TO THE PERSON! This guy waited several hours for a response before he jumped to his death. He was obviously waiting, desperately, for some kind of response to acknowledge his statements. And when he didn’t, he died. He died a needless death because these journalists didn’t take him seriously. The author states she got the email late, and he was in Japan, she was in the states, so went to sleep! Then when she woke up hours later, she decided to pursue the matter. In those precious hours, she could have responded with something, anything. All she had to do was hit reply. A one liner was, in my mind, all that was needed. It angers me that this guy was obviously in distress and was blatantly ignored. I hope this journalist learned her lesson. That suicide intentions of any kind are not to be ignored.
The second piece was about how psychiatrists deal with suicide. In the article, the author found it difficult to find someone to talk to about this. It was not talked about. Also in the article, it mentions her friend, who happened to be hospitalized for severe depression because she kept attempting suicide. Her friend had a therapist, that after she attempted, hung her out to dry. She didn’t want to treat her anymore. So now her friend is without outpatient care. She has not been able to find a therapist to deal with her suicidality. Because once you mention the “S” word, no one wants to deal with you. I have found this out myself. When my therapist permanently located to her current office 30 miles away from and my car broke down, permanently, I tried to find a therapist within a 5 mile radius of my house. I talked to 10 different therapists. ALL referred me to another therapist once they inquired about my suicidality. Because I had and was currently suicidal, they didn’t want anything to do with me. Then when I was able to find someone in my hometown, he was sweating bullets whenever I brought up my suicidality. How was I supposed to talk to him when it was obvious he was scared of losing me? I said fuck that and went back to my current therapist. We have phone conversations and I see her whenever I can borrow my sister’s car.
This article cited sources from the AAS and Dr. Paul Quinnett, two of my favorite sources. I commented on the article because it was dear to me. I know first hand the stigma around mental health professionals when a patient dies by suicide. I have read countless articles about it. It is a very difficult topic. And once a patient dies by suicide, it scars the practitioner for life. I have had many discussions with my therapist about what would she do if I died. She couldn’t fathom it, nor talk about it. I once brought her an article about what to do if I should die. She rejected it. And this is from someone who welcomes everything I bring her and hoards what I give her. I wanted her to know there were resources out there to help. She wanted no part of it. And this article highlighted that. Most professionals that lose a patient to suicide are alone, but they don’t need to be. As survivor resources that the AAS provides become more widely known, therapists are being helped by their peers and healing can occur.