I’m going to try to update more often. As I mentioned in my last entry, things for the last 8 months seem fuzzy to me. The memories seem shallow and I feel somehow disconnected from them. My psychologist suggested that keeping a daily journal might help cement things better. I don’t know that I’m going to want to do this daily, but more frequently I can probably manage.
I had a job interview today. I have to say, applying for jobs as a trans person sucks. You’re forced to out yourself every time. For the purposes of a background check, they ask for any former names. So you’ve got to put your dead name on that app. I was filling one out today on paper (!?) and I considered leaving it blank. However later in the app, it asks again for the purposes of them calling all your previous employers to verify what you’ve put down. I know a background check without my old name will fly through without issues, but they’re not going to be able to verify employment for Addison at places that I worked five years ago. So you’re stuck. Begrudgingly, you hand out the only clue that you’re trans. It’s one of those things that you’ll never fully escape, unless you’re lucky enough to stay with one company long enough that they don’t even go back and check other employers.
In other news, I’m trying to keep myself out of the darkness. It’s hard, but I’m doing better. There’s not an hour that goes by that things don’t cross my mind, but I’m trying not to focus on that. Besides, If I need something to be depressed about, I can always just brood over my untenable financial situation. Right? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
As many of you know, I live my life through music and song lyrics. It’s an addiction and I’m proud to be #emo4lyfe. You’ll also probably remember that I’m a huge Manchester Orchestra fan. But for whatever reason, I’ve ignored Andy Hull’s other project called Right Away, Great Captain! I’ve been listening to the album “The Church of the Good Thief” and it’s really powerful stuff. The title of this entry is a line from a song called “Fur Stop Caring.” The second chorus goes:
“Stupid is as stupid does
And stupidly I pulled the plug on you
Finally stopped beating
Stupid is as stupid does
And somehow you’ll forgive the both of us
The load that we still carry
I am not me
I am not me
I am not me”
Standard mom stuff: If you’re thinking about suicide, please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
So here we are again. I’m back staring at this screen. For a second there, I thought I had written my last entry.
This post is a couple of things, which I’ll get to assuredly. This post is going to be the realist shit that I’m likely to share to a public audience ever again. By the time I’ve hit post here, I’ll still be alive. Thankfully. But I’ll be metaphorically naked in front of all of you. I am baring it all. What it’s not… is a cry for help, a ploy for attention, or an invitation to post a reply such as “I’m always here if you want to talk.”
Does that seem rude? It’s not intended to be. I know it’s what you say when you want to say something but you don’t know what to say. I just want people to know that I’m not the type that typically reaches out in that kind of way. The people who I reach to already know who they are.
I am not posting this for my own good, but in the hope that it helps someone else pull the proverbial panic cord, pump their brakes, call a timeout, or whatever metaphor you find works best. For the people who don’t suffer from some sort of mental illness, maybe it brings better understanding.
Throughout the post, I’m going to reference things that I’ve taken away from the Biodyne model of suicide assessment and prevention. I shouldn’t have to disclaim this, but of course, I’m not a doctor, I’m not a mental health professional. I’m just a person who struggles with her own mental health and who also sees others around her struggle with their own. Beyond that, the people who are left in the wake of disaster, the warm blanket of oblivion ripped rudely off of them in the night. With that said, onward and upward, shall we?
Starting sometime during the week of June 12th, thoughts of suicide started to creep into the forefront of my brain. They’re never far away, always lurking somewhere in shadows, waiting for a chance to seize the day. Waiting for the chance to become the all consuming thing that you can’t avoid, until they succeed in making you another statistic, a hash tag, a sad story. Or you “pump the brakes” and slow down long enough to take a look around.
By the end of last weekend, it was more than a passing thought. It had taken up residence right in front of me. It was all I could see. I had entered what they refer to as Stage 1. This is not unfamiliar territory to me. I’ve been there a number of times, it normally passes pretty quick and I move along, sending a passing email to my therapist saying something like “Hey, this happened, I’m okay but I wanted you to know.” Then we could talk about it at my next session.
Of course, this time, I didn’t do that. I didn’t send any emails. On the outside, I don’t think anyone could see the big black dog named depression that was following me around. Hell, I even went out and danced, something I don’t do, with random Lyft customers turned friends on Saturday night. I had fun. That’s the thing about depression. It’s not all sitting around, sulking and listening to Brand New and The Get Up Kids.
By Tuesday, I had swiftly exited the ideation phase and was actively planning the end of my own life. I started putting together certain documents, keys, passcodes, passwords, blank checks and other things that I knew people would need in the wake of it all. I started on my “note.” What it ended up being, near as makes no difference, was a 4100 word of drivel. A long, sad tale that ranged from my own failings to the perceived failings of others. At times a scathing, no-holds-barred airing of grievances that only one other person has read at this point. I intend to keep it that way.
Throughout my planning, I was even taking smaller details into consideration. Things that a stereotypical suicidal character on a Lifetime made for TV drama wouldn’t. I knew that more than anything, I didn’t want my kids to find me. I know that Grayson can sometimes be anywhere between 2-10 minutes faster than Megan to get inside my house. He doesn’t knock. Additionally, I didn’t want someone like the fire department to have to kick in a door. Someone would have to fix that later, right?
I even made a playlist. I’m not really sure who it was for. I think it was for me than anything. It started as 33 tracks and eventually I whittled it down to about 17. About the perfect length for a mix CD, 73 minutes. Of course, I didn’t have an optical drive in my laptop, and Spotify wasn’t going to let me burn it anyway.. but there it was.
This happened all throughout the course of Tuesday afternoon and Thursday morning. The only thing that really kept me out of the third and final phase was that I didn’t have a time frame for when this was all supposed to go down. I had a mental to-do list of the things I needed to accomplish before I could even get to scheduling the end of the end.
Tuesday evening, I went to dinner with Brian. We had wings and beer, as customary with the two of us.. I had been texting with a friend intermittently throughout the day, and as I understood, she was having a shitty afternoon. I invited her to come down and have a beer. She politely declined, as I expected. “Maybe next time,” I replied. It felt hollow, because I wasn’t expecting there to be a next time. A day late friend, I mused to myself.
My short term memory is so bad, I don’t remember what I did Wednesday morning. I know at some point, I went to Home Depot to pick up something I would need. Utility knife blades. Then I went next door to Tumbleweed and had lunch by myself. I ordered my usual burrito and a beer. I sat at the bar alone. Both in physical presence and mentally. The mix of even a really low dose of Klonopin, only a sixth of what my former psychiatry nurse practitioner had prescribed, and the beer apparently was a bad choice.
As soon as I got home, I passed out. When I awoke, later that evening, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to go back to sleep. Through out the night, I cried all the tears I had out as I worked on the playlists and the note.
Around 5am, the sun was rising and I felt satisfied with what I had written. I hadn’t eaten dinner the night before and had been living off Coca-Cola and loud music. I got dressed and went to Waffle House by myself. I sat in a dirty booth that no one bothered to wipe down after the previous guests had departed. As I sat in a dirty booth, eating my breakfast, I started beginning to have a moment of clarity. I paid for my half-eaten meal, got back in my car and pulled out onto Bardstown Rd, thinking about all that had happened in the last 36 or so hours. I considered certain contradictions in what I was planning. My jaw and head ached from clenching my teeth throughout the night, having foregone any additional Klonopin to ease the anxiety.
I pulled into the parking lot at Kroger, and went inside to buy some Ibuprofen. I couldn’t seem to locate the bottle at my house. Assuming either we had taken it all, or that it was sitting in a box somewhere in Rhode Island.
As I exited the store, I realized that I hadn’t bought anything to drink to actually take the ibuprofen with. Sitting in my car, with the engine idling and the transmission in park. I considered going back inside to buy a coke. I felt to numb, too out of sorts to even bother. I opened the bottle and took two pills, swallowing them dry.
Then instead of putting the car in drive and heading home, I pulled out my phone. I opened the app that I use to communicate with my doctor and I typed out the following message:
I’m officially pulling the fire alarm. This dizziness, lightheadedness, vertigo thing that I’ve got going on is starting to get out of control.
More importantly, certainly more time critical, is that I’ve passed through stage 2 of the biodyne model of suicidal thoughts. I know there’s nothing worse than having a Graduate of the Google School of Medicine for a patient, but I found this page:
And by my own self-assessment I’m at the completion of stage 2, entering stage 3, but not quite in what they call the “Auto pilot” mode. I considered going to the emergency room, but I haven’t, because well it seemed a little scary.
I’ve backed away from the proverbial ledge, but I’ve been up all night and realized at about 6am that I’ve amassed more than just a note, it’s 4100 words.
I’m safe right now, but I’m going to reach out now, in the interest of full disclosure, for better or worse.
Call, text, write. Love y’all.
Then I went home and went to sleep and waited from a call from them. I was in contact with them throughout the day, as they checked in on me and went over my medications. I should back up a bit and explain..
At the beginning of the month, I had visited because my fatigue was so bad that I couldn’t do anything productive. The doctor came up with a treatment plan, because she advised the combination of drugs he had prescribed had significant risks, including seizures. She tried to do it in such a way that the side effects of withdraw would be minimized, but still told me to stay close and let her know how it was going. Once I was tapered back to a safe dosage, we would reassess my treatment options. That appointment was/is scheduled for the first week of July. However, the side effects had continued to get worse, the more I tapered down on the medication that was being eliminating. Even yesterday, I was still feeling disconnected and kind of dizzy. Like things getting to my brain were being passed through a wah-wah pedal first.
Today is the first day in a long time, that I have a sense of clarity. I’ve got a touch of a headache, but at least I’m not clenching my jaw in an attempt to grind my teeth into a bloody pulp. It’s scary that I could have been a day too hasty in giving up.
The Edge… There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.
So there it is, my week. Why I’ve not been at work. Why I’ve been acting distant. Why I’ve been a bitch to a couple people, namely my mother. A lot of things. I quoted the verse “Let me tell you what I wish I’d known when I was young and dreamed of glory. You have no control. Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?” from the Hamilton musical. For today, I’m still at the helm, I still tell my own story. However, I came close to the edge.
I think I now know where the edge is, but as Hunter S. Thompson famously penned, “The Edge… There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. The others the living-are those who pushed their control as far as they felt they could handle it, and then pulled back, or slowed down, or did whatever they had to when it came time to choose between Now and Later. But the edge is still out there.”
I wanted to write this up before I forget any of the finer details. As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to take my mental health very seriously. With the amount of stressors that I have experienced in the last 2 years, I’m not ashamed to say that depression has been a problem. When you also consider that one of my best friends committed suicide about 10 months ago after losing his battle with depression, it becomes even more important to me.
Over the last year, I’ve been working with my family doctor and my psychologist to find a balance. My GP has tried adjusting my dosages, as well as trying different drugs, to no avail. Both at separate times suggested that I see a psychiatrist that had more specific knowledge on psychotropics. I was recommended to a center that was staffed with both nurse practitioners and doctors of psychiatry. I called and set up an appointment for this past Thursday.
As I normally do when visiting a new doctor, I downloaded their intake paperwork completed it a couple days prior to the appointment. Nevertheless, I arrived about 13 minutes early for my 10:15 appointment. I signed in at the front desk and took a seat. The first thing I noticed was how busy the place was. The building being a repurposed house didn’t have a large waiting room and it was full. Additionally, some of the people waiting had restaurant style pagers.
10:15 came and went as I amused myself on the internet as usual. As 10:30 came, I called my
manager to let him know that I would be coming in later due to a doctor’s appointment. At 10:38, I finally got up and went back to the window to see if they had forgotten about me. She motioned towards the check-in book.
“I signed in at 10:03. The sticker I signed has been peeled off”, I replied.
With no apology or explanation, she took my paperwork and a copy of my ID, then provided me with a pager of my own. I sat across from a mother and daughter, who were waiting for a 10AM appointment. She was finally paged at 10:52. In less than 5 minutes, her appointment was over. I’m thinking, “Seriously? SERIOUSLY?” in my best Meredith Grey voice.
About that time, I get called and simultaneously vibrated as my table for four is ready.. Oh wait, this is a mental health office, not Texas Roadhouse. So I meet my new person. His name is, well, we’ll call him Steve. So Steve invites me into his office. The first thing I notice is that it’s like my office at home. A mess. Stuff everywhere. Which, I can’t cast stones in glass houses, but hey! I don’t see patients in my office. We just play video games and post passive aggressive tweets. I digress.
He introduces himself, and we’re exchanging pleasantries. He mentions that there’s an Addison in his family, but that Addison is a boy. I told him that a hundred years ago, Addison was primarily a masculine name, but in recent decades has become more popular as a woman’s name. I also mentioned that I had a non-binary/agender friend and their name is Addison as well. This is where things started to go sideways.
“What is non-binary?” he asks.
At first I think he’s joking. Then as I look at his face, I can actually see the puzzled look on his face. It’s the same face my seven year old makes when I explain something technical. It’s not dramatically different than my dogs cocking their heads to one side when you say, “Who’s a good dog?”
I explained that there are people who don’t identify with either male or female, that there are people who are fluid between genders and then some, like my friend, who are agender. They don’t identify as any gender. I got the feeling that, maybe.. I was his first trans patient. Somehow, it feels slightly unfair that this guy brings in at least $75-100 an hour, but I have to educate him on things that he could find on google.
Next, Steve starts with a brief history. I give him the broad strokes, my laundry list of medications. What we’ve tried, etc. I always like when a professional asks me, “Why such a low dose of X?” To which I’m thinking, “Uh, IDK. That’s what the doctor told me to take???”
Anyway, he asks about family history. I tell him what I know, in terms of mental health. Then we go into alcoholism and addiction. I explain about my father and his sobriety up until his passing. He pushes deeper about the rest of the family.
“Well, I was raised catholic, so that should give you an idea”, I quipped.
He doesn’t get the joke and continues to push on it. I explain that if you go AA’s “Twelve Questions Only You Can Answer” page, many of my family members would have fallen on the spectrum at some point in their lives.
Finally, moving on, I’m asked about any past surgeries. Mind you, all of this was listed on my intake paperwork. I tell him that I had GRS in May and then Breast Augmentation in November. That I had my wisdom teeth out about 16-17 years ago but other than that, no other significant medical interventions.
I explain that I’m having a number of issues aside from just typical depression. My problem list:
Issues staying on task
Constant exhaustion, lethargy, and malaise.
Clenching my jaw subconsciously when I’m awake.
Then we take, what feels like, a drastic course change back to Transtown™. First is a question that’s so hard for a trans person to answer, at least in the first couple years.
“Are you still,” motioning with his hands towards his crotch, “…. um… male down there?”
I shot him the kind of look that only a mother would give to her kids when they’re out of line and replied, “I was never male.”
As he stumbled over his words and tried to make a coherent sentence, I asked if it was medically relevant to my mental health? Mind you, if he had read my intake paperwork, or had any familiarity with trans patients, he’d have know without asking. He said it was, because some of the drugs have sexual side effects, including erectile dysfunction.
And once again, I had to come back to Trans 101 and explain that a decent percentage of trans women who are post-op or non-op have issues with getting or maintaining an erection. Because of the use of anti-androgens, such as Spironolactone, our testosterone levels are typically lower than the average cis woman. I explained that mine were normally somewhere in the 8-12 range, on a scale of 8-55 for cis women, cis men having a much higher range from ~300-1000 (ng/dL).
I went on to explain that there was a much better way to ask those questions to a trans person. I suggested, “Do you still have a penis?” Or even better “Do you still have testicles?”
From that point on, I pretty much checked out on this dude. Especially when he started to show me facebook pictures of his sister’s lesbian wedding on his phone. Because, you know I’m a lesbian, so we must all lesbian together. Or something.
In the end, he had two cardboard boxes of some drug called “Trintellix” of which he rummaged through and gave me two sample bottles. He basically claimed it to be the best stuff on the planet and that a number of his patients had seen improvements in 1-3 days. Which is odd, because my understanding of SSRI’s is that they usually take a couple weeks to build up a normal level in your system. He wants to see me back in two weeks.
All I see are dark grey clouds
In the distance moving closer with every hour.
So when you ask “Was something wrong?”,
That I think “You’re damn right there is but we can’t talk about it now.
No, we can’t talk about it now.”
So I’ve not written in a while. I’ve just been in too much of funk that I couldn’t manage it. Funk is the wrong word, the phrase I’ve used a few times when talking to friends has been “mind-crippling depression.” I’m still very depressed, but I think I’ve pulled myself from the worst of it. The ideation has passed. I was going to say it was gone, but I know that at some point, sooner or later it’ll come back.
I still spend an enormous amount of time thinking about Kayla. I really do. I was (am) very much in love with her. I keep thinking all the things I could have done differently, but none of that will help me now. I think that’s the hardest part. It’s like having murdered someone and having to sit in a cell every day and replay those events in your head. For me, the cell is my own brain. It’s not a place one would want to visit. It’s the exit on the interstate that you skip when you’re looking for a bathroom.
Kayla had posted an idea of what her prime timeline looks like, with her doing successful things in Rhode Island, having never left. When I talked to her about it, I explained that in my headcanon, that timeline has me in Rhode Island with her. Everything is fine. I surmised that the two timelines had split the day we flipped a bottle cap to see which of us was going to move. In the darkest timeline, she came here and it played out as it has. In the prime timeline, I moved to her and everything is going well.
I want to be on the prime timeline in a bad way.
So the thought of leaving this place is again popping up. The only thing that kept me from leaving before was Kayla coming here. My reasons for leaving were only partly to be with her. They were also for me to have a chance to start over fresh without so much “dead me” baggage. This has come up due to my company finally starting to come around to the idea of transferring me out of the worksite. Since there aren’t any other call centers in Louisville with my company, they asked if I would consider moving to Atlanta, Miami or New Orleans. After doing some research, I’ve determined that no, I would not really consider that. I asked for something in a blue state. Somewhere that has statewide protections for trans people. I’ve been scanning the company’s open positions and I found a few that were interesting. I even applied to be a Store Manager at one of our corporate owned retail stores, in Providence of all places.
It feels weird to consider going to Providence and not be there with Kayla. It feels backwards. It feels like dating your best friend’s ex-girlfriend. In any event, I don’t think that I would be even considered for that job. I’d been applying for assistant manager positions in Louisville and couldn’t get a call back. As John Cusack said in High Fidelity, ” It was like trying to borrow a dollar, getting turned down, and asking for fifty grand instead.”
But whatever. But… what if they say yes. Then what the fuck do I do? I guess I’ll figure it out if that happens.
It’s nearly 2am, I had to take a phone call when I was really focused on this. I’ve lost that focus, so I’m going to just cut it off right now.
“There is whisky in the water
And there is death upon the vine
And there is grace within forgiveness
But it’s so hard for me to find”
This is an entry that’s hard for me to write. I debated writing anything at all, but this blog is my story, for better or worse. So, right…
i am a huge fucking idiot.
There, I said it. I broke up with Kayla. We were facing an issue that needed to be dealt with. She offered a solution, I dismissed it immediately and said that I didn’t see that it was a long term sustainable solution. Thus ending our relationship as we knew it. I let it marinate for a couple days. I had serious remorse of the decisions I had made. I tried to make those known, in an attempt to save the relationship. Alas, it was too late. She left Kentucky this past weekend and headed back to New England, this time to Maine.
From when she left up until now, I’ve been devastated. There’s no amount of antidepressants in the known universe that could have kept me top side in this moment. With the exception of going to work, I’ve been hiding in my bed ever since. I’ve come home and put the same shirt and sweatpants on, cried, watched tv and tweeted sad sad drivel. I’m not eating. I’m not sleeping. When I do sleep, I have the most bizarre dreams which usually have me in some sort of peril. No matter how much I hate to admit it, I’ll say that I’ve been suicidal. Still am to a certain extent. There’s no gestures or any plans made, but it’s there. It’s scary. It’s like this little nagging thought in the back of your mind that keeps pestering you.
It doesn’t help when you’re being bitched at by customers for telling the truth and being 100% honest with them. To have them tell you that you’re a bitch and “fuck you very much” before hanging up. That kind of thing is mentally exhausting on a good day. On a day like today, it’s all you can do to keep it all together and not start crying with the customer on the line.
At some point, I’m going to have to let it all go and just resign myself that I’ve fucked it up. That no matter what I do now, I can’t get mend what I’ve broken. That I may have lost the person that I love very much, forever. Considering how much time and effort I invested convincing her to come here in the first place, it’s hard to let it go. With such a drastic change in locale, it’s not like I could give it a few weeks and then show up on her doorstep and grovel.
I feel like I am barely existing right now. I’m so exhausted all the time. Mostly physically, but mentally I’m running on empty as well. Just like a Jackson Browne song…
I’m still healing. It seems to be getting better, but I think that has an impact for sure. Working is tedious. It’s hard to stay focused. I’m now on 3 different anti-depressants and I’m just kind of drifting along on autopilot, it seems.
Additionally, I just was forced to switch estrogen delivery systems. I had been on injections for the last 7 months ago. However, as of late, injectable estradiol is not available. It’s on a national backorder. For reals, It’s on the FDA website and everything. So now I’m using patches. But I’m only being prescribed half the dose that most people I know. I have to wait a month and go have my levels checked. That could be impactful to my energy levels.
Mentally, I have the stress of a divorce, trying to build a new relationship, and dealing with all the crap in my office. These days, when HR calls me, I have to ask which complaint we’re talking about. Still waiting on some movement from EEOC/Fairness Ordinance complaints that I filed, as well.
Used to be, when I was stressed, I would drink. I drank a lot for a number of years. Mostly alone, at home. Lately, I don’t even drink. I just want to sleep. Or watch TV.