I’m an open book, but not when I was struggling with suicidal thoughts. It was one of the most lonely periods of my life. I proposed to my partner so I would have something to look forward to, and kept looking to the future for answers. In order to recover from suicidal thoughts, I needed to completely rearrange my life to get rid of those components which were torturing me.
Suicide is something we consider when it seems there is no way out. I had a friend tell me he gave himself permission to do it in the future if he really needed. A few years later he was gone. Then someone else I knew from childhood killed himself some weeks later. I was on medication that made my whole body feel like it was on fire and suddenly the cry for a way out was the loudest it’s ever been.
I had reached a tipping point. It was now or never.
I had to fight to not let the moments consume me. I thought about the suicide barriers on a local bridge and saw them as a challenge. I was open about my suicidal thoughts on my youtube and got some amazingly well thought out responses encouraging me to not give up. I maintained my stance that I was not going to give in; I was stubborn. I had to completely take it off the table as an option.
I needed to exit the worldview where suicide was an ok option. Ultimately it was a question of my rapist winning or not. I saw the possibility of my eventual suicide as a direct result of my sexual assault, and so in order to not allow him to “win” I had to choose to stay alive. This was no easy feat, I was buried in shame around my assault and how it affected me, especially my writing. Eventually, I came up with Project Process as a way to take that struggle out in the open, and dilute its power over me.
I had to get creative to unhand suicides grip on me.
When I was suicidal, the thoughts came and went over a period of a couple years, all in the wake of my assault. I lost my career in social media and became a barely surviving barista. Even when I did get a job in the field of disability services, the thoughts didn’t subside, as I was still pained over my writing.
I was also unmedicated, as I previously weened myself off medication that was making me sicker and stopped seeing my psychiatrist. It wasn’t until I saw a doctor that was a gender specialist that I was open to medication again, but still, too high of a dose made the thoughts even worse as existence became physical agony and I was confronted by the suicides of two people I knew.
I started walking everywhere to help calm the fire in my body. I was overwhelmed by the prospect of bussing and resenting public transit. I thought about how I didn’t want to go through another winter of dislocating my knees (this has been an ongoing health problem since I was 11) on the ice while I tried to get around the city. So I decided to get a car. I was broke and living paycheck-to-paycheck (still am), but it occurred to me to try to increase my line of credit. I ended up getting approved for a $10,000 loan instead. This was my suicide intervention plan. I bought a car and prescription Prada sunglasses. It felt good but the rush of quick to disappear cash could only keep me afloat for so long. I was offered a different position within my organization, one that required me to drastically re-arrange my life but ultimately would be less stressful. Prior to this point, I would have been really resistant to trying it, but I had to open up my mind to innovative solutions to my problems.
I took the opportunity and was eager to start my new life, the rearrangement of how I lived made it easy to leave old patterns behind.
Being suicidal was comfortable, too comfortable. It became a standard thought in my day-to-day life. Changing that required me to go through great upheaval. I needed to distance myself from my triggers: a previously stressful living situation and upset over gender identity and how I was perceived. I came to realize that I was leaving the power of my happiness in other peoples hands: if they chose to gender me correctly or not. I had to become confident and self-assured in order to not let others pronoun use bother me. I even wrote a zine “She wants the T(estosterone)”, making peace with any pronouns. ‘They’ is still the most respectful choice, but I’ve decided not to correct other people or fight about it anymore. What a huge weight off my shoulders.
In rearranging my reality I discovered a few things. First was my own ambition, which had felt locked up and stifled. I needed the opportunity to let myself shine. Another thing I discovered was my persistence; I had the ability to keep going even when things looked bleak. I found myself overwhelmed at the possibility of experiencing joy in my life. More than anything, I had to learn how to let happiness in again and to believe I was someone worthy of it. I drowned myself in self-development videos and podcasts, listened to motivational speakers on youtube and tried every day to make the song of my joy louder than the song of my sorrow.
I also documented myself. I got roasted for having 6000 odd selfies, but they were all moments in time of happiness or sadness as I shifted through my realities, capturing fleeting moments and emotions. Reflecting on this gives me hope, and shows me how far I’ve come. Even if they are shitty pictures, they are art, they are me and they are perfect. My selfies my regular facebook updates allowed me to stay transparent about my life, even if I wasn’t sharing the fact that I was suicidal, I knew that was not the outcome of my journey. I reassured myself of that constantly as I faced my demons.
Again, I had to make the song of my happiness louder than the song of my sorrow and so I worked hard to keep posting positive and uplifting things even as I struggled. A lot of people thought I was a naturally happy person because of this. But what you see on the surface isn’t always the same as what is going on inside.
In overcoming my suicidal thoughts I learned many things. The biggest is that you have to find a way to take control of your reality, even if it is only in a small way. For me, I practiced magick and sent a sigil (similar to a spell or prayer for those unfamiliar with chaos magick) out for the environment in which I could thrive. This new job opportunity proved itself to be an answer to that. If magick isn’t your thing, just finding or creating something sacred that you can regularly honor is a big step. The usual, practicing gratitude, even for the smallest things, can give you hope. We can’t always change our reality but we can change how we perceive our reality, and this makes room for change to happen in our lives. We have to imagine ourselves happy and have faith that one day we’ll get there.
Like, I knew proposing to my partner wouldn’t change my suicidal thoughts but it gave me something to look forward to, and I could imagine my joy at getting married. Now that joy is something that is coming to me, as I plan our wedding and celebrate every step of that process.
Once we discover slivers of happiness we have to focus on them in order to multiply the effect in our lives; walk into the joy and possibility. Give life a chance.
Give yourself a chance.