Suicide is Painful

The first time I almost killed myself was in January of 2009. In December of the proceeding year, I had been fired during the darkest days of the crash. I had no meaningful friendships in Portland, and spent my days alone in my apartment, trying not to look at my dwindling cash reserves and trolling Craigslist. A beautiful, smart, funny girl approached me online and we got to chatting with an eye towards dating. I have never been approached by someone who said I was attractive and worth dating, except for her. After two weeks of online chatting, I was deeply infatuated with her. Then she broke off contact. Simply stopped replying to my messages, except once to ask what this strange number she was getting texts from was. I still suffer from the emotional damage I received as a result of severe emotional abuse I survived as a child. The loneliness, the anxiety about my unemployment, and the painful way the girl chose to end our interaction all piled up on me. I began to suffocate. I despaired over ever improving my situation. I couldn’t imagine getting to the end of the week, much less the end of the year.

I lived on Barbur Boulevard, in the SW of Portland. There was a blind curve around which buses would come at upwards of 45 miles an hour. I began to look at bus schedules. My plan was to jump in front of one. There was a very convenient tree, which cast shadows I could hide in easily until the bus was too close to stop. The 12, the 54, the 56, the 48, the 8, the 1. Any of these would do. My bank account was about to run dry, but I spent forty dollars on two handles of whiskey that week, because when I was drunk I was something approaching happy and safe. My moods swung wildly, and my sleep patterns eroded until wakefulness and sleep no longer had a schedule. I smashed my head into the wall as hard as I could, several times. I should have called 911. I knew I had to. But I didn’t. I knew I was in danger, and I should call for help, but if I had called for help I would have been saved and I didn’t want to be. I wanted to be dead. I could not bear to continue living a life where I would be poor, and unloved, and lonely, and pathetic. I disgusted myself. At this point the fear wasn’t death. The fear was getting hit by a bus and surviving.

It was a very near thing. I am glad I did not murder myself in despair. I managed to build a life, make friends, and find hope again. But  three years later, on the morning of December 18th, 2010, that life I had rebuilt died. In the space of four hours, every single facet of my life flew apart in a spray of shrapnel. I was woken up by a debt collector. I found out I failed classes. My roommate was threatening me with violence. My student loans left a huge gap over winter vacation I wouldn’t be able to cover. The apartment I was hoping to move into to flee the impending violence from my roommate turned me down unless I paid a bigger deposit than I could possibly afford. Stress from my gender dysphoria had been building and compounding with the stress of graduate school for weeks, and I found myself crouched behind a bush on the side of the street, sobbing in terror and sure I wouldn’t survive to the end of the week. For days I’d been playing the I’m Sorry game. It’s the game I play when things are so bad that I assume I must deserve it, and I begin whimpering “I’m sorry, I’m sorry” over and over to the Universe.

I skipped town. Hit San Francisco, stayed a few nights, and moved on south to Los Angeles. I ended up with my mother in her tiny, one-room condo. The stress started getting to both of us almost immediately. She made some mistakes. I made some mistakes. I started thinking about bus schedules again. She said I was a disappointment to her. Said she regretted that I’d turned out to be trans. I sobbed myself to sleep every night after she was snoring. I felt cut off from her, like I was unwanted. A burden. Worthless. Here I was, a quarter century old, and I had less to my name than I had even in high school. My academic career was in shambles, my resume was a sick joke, and my transition seemed hopelessly out of reach. I thought I was going to be an ugly, disgusting, pathetic wretch of a boy-thing who only brought pain to the people I care about for the rest of my life, and if that’s how it was I wanted to get it over with.

There was a pool, at that condo. I remember looking at it, and thinking how easy it would be. Wade in. Duck. A deep breath and it’s all over but the thrashing. I made the decision to return to San Francisco that night. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It was an admission that I couldn’t count on my mother anymore. Worse, that I couldn’t trust her. She may have meant well, although at the time it was hard to tell, but she was a danger to me. I had to cut her out of the dwindling circle of people I really trust, and that is something I have not yet recovered from. We I see her now, I can see how much she was hurt by this, too.

I don’t regret it at all. I would do it ten times if I had to. It saved my life.

Shortly before I left San Francisco, I considered taking a knife into a shower.I don’t want to talk about that one.

These days, I carry a suicide hotline number in my wallet at all times. I have a list of people I have promised to speak to before I kill myself. I have a standing promise to myself to call 911 before I do anything. There is no such thing as too many precautions for me now. These are things I need to have in my life to live now. In the first half of 2011, I was suicidal on such a regular basis you could almost set a calendar by it. Now I haven’t been suicidal in almost a year, but I am not free of thoughts of killing myself. That escape still lurks on my shoulder. On an almost monthly basis, it occurs to me I could solve it all with suicide. Every single setback in my life gives me at least a few seconds consideration about the merits of killing myself. Every single worry and care I have ultimately leads to an imagined scenario that ends with my death at my own hands. This will likely be true for as long as I live.  It is something I struggle with constantly, and silently.

I will never be free. And I will never have the luxury of being weak. Not about this. Not ever.


14 thoughts on “Suicide is Painful

  1. I wish I didn’t understand this. But I do.

    For me, it’s not gender but life that has me tipsy turvy day-in and out. The pain that my diseases give me make suicide a regular thought. I have a well discussed plan. My friends and loved ones all know it and I have promises in place to call them and allow them time to come say goodbye.

    That doesn’t make the disorientation of life any less. But it’s there, always my backup plan. Just a plane trip away.

    I made an agreement with my therapist that if I became actively suicidal again I had to give up my DNR. It’s hard. Very hard. And honestly, that is what keeps me straight in my head – I have set the thing there, and when I die, I die. It’s the first layer of protection, followed by promises.

    But it lives with me day in, and day out. And it’s awful and painful and made worse by fools who call suicide selfish. I just want less pain, and I live in sincere fear that I will have to make the exit call.

    So, I suppose, what I’m desperately trying to say in my long winded way, is that I hear you and your not alone.

    • “And it’s awful and painful and made worse by fools who call suicide selfish.”

      Something very much like that inspired this post. A friend (former friend?) who has been suicidal herself, and yet lacks empathy for it, said that people who struggle with it are pussies, and wouldn’t take it back when I reminded her I’m one of those people. Instead, she asked if I wanted her to walk on eggshells, and suggested I handle my own problems.

      It’s like she’s forgotten what it was like, or doesn’t want to remember, no matter what horrible things she has to say to convince herself she’s not scared anymore. No matter who she hurts.

  2. I’ve been there.

    I transitioned after realizing that if I didn’t transition, I would have within a year or so commited suicide. A year later after beginning transition I was experiencing suicidal thoughts after experiencing so many personal stresses — but less than half of these directly related to my transition. I knew I was trading one set of problems for another in transitioning, but transitioning was not the source of most of my then problems.

    I have cyclothymia, a bipolar condition. I still struggle with thoughts of suicide a couple a times each year related to trggering events -to external stressors. For example, I remember when my friend Christine Daniels died by suicide less than a year after detransitioning back to Mike Penner — later hearing the details of the last months of her life from her closer friends. Christine was bipolar like me, and she had a lot of stressors that impacted her bipolar condition.

    And more recently, I’ve been cyberbullied and cyberharassed in the past year. Those experiences were really, really stressful, and triggered significant mood swings and suicidal thoughts.

    And, although a recent letter from my Mom didn’t leave me with thoughts of suicide, it has triggered significant depression that’s lasted for a week…so far. And, I could feel the letter from my Mom coming for weeks before it came because of an exchange between us on Facebook.

    I carry my therapist’s number with me, and like you I’ve promised a couple of friends that if I’m seriously considering suicide, I’ll call them.

    What I’m basically telling you is you’re not alone.

    You really are more important to others than you know. Christine has been gone for two-and-a-half years, and although she believed no one cared if she lived or died I’m still grieving her.

    Please take care of yourself. And, remember none of us is so strong that we never need assistance from others — I’ve personally been leaning on a friend and my therapist a lot these past few weeks.

  3. I have to say honestly that I don’t care for the “Like” button for posts such as this, but I feel that I have to let you know I understand what you have said all too well. While I am not at the level you describe here, I too have attempted suicide, I too have had the same thoughts that the world would be better off without me in it. I too have played out the scenarios.
    I too understand this is something that will be with me the rest of my life.
    Maybe just knowing we are not alone in these thoughts and feelings will have some small benefit, and maybe by talking about it, we can help just one other person make it through one more day.

    Thank you for being willing to share this this. I know it wasn’t easy.


    • It’s easier than a lot of people think. I just tell the truth as best I can. If I can help people, so much the better.

  4. It’s been said that we should keep our friends close, and our enemies closer. In the time after hitting my wall, but before starting HRT, I was constantly reminded that this dark companion I had was a relentless little f*#&er who still wanted to have it’s way with me. I held on for all it was worth, and hugged this adversary very tightly, much as one would do with someone who is in a rage to keep them from harming themselves or anyone else. These days, I still have that companion, but like all the relationships I have in life and through transition, this one too has changed markedly. No longer are they a friend with sinister intent, nor are they a foe on a mission. They have taken the form of that annoying little twit who still tries to tease and taunt. I have learned to ignore their tactics for the most part, but I know in my heart of hearts that they are still there, and always will be.

    Thank You for writing this, it was something that I needed to read and be reminded of. Yes, it had trigger potential, but not in a bad way. It’s a reminder to all of us that beneath it all, we still have that survival instinct, no matter how deep the spiral we get ourselves into. And a reminder to the girl in your mirror that everyone is important, and that you are one of everyone.


  5. Yep, still got the suicide hotline, my psychologist, my therapist and my case worker stored in the never-turned-off cellphone. Still signing six monthly pledges to keep to the treatment plan, still taking the pills that they want me to take. Surviving can be a chore, but it’s better than quitting. Glad that you’re still in the game as well Sister.

    • And the people around us don’t see that, because it’s something you do in private. You don’t make a production of it. You simply survive. Every day.

  6. The part of this I “like” is the part where you don’t kill yourself. Where you make friends in Portland. Where life gets better, and goes on. We People of the Internet understand. And we think you’re a brave, amazing writer, and a brave, amazing person. What we know of you, in any case. Stay strong, and stay with us.

    • Thank you. It’s always nice to hear that the Internet has my back. One thing I have learned from the last few years is how to make friends, so I’m feeling pretty good about that.

  7. Although I know we’ve talked about this off-line (well, off-blog) before it’s good that you now feel that you can talk about it here. I’d call it a recovery sign, but I’ve been in the same mindset as you often enough to know that you probably don’t want to call it that, in case you jinx it and because, after enough time, it sorta becomes part of who you are, or the processes that made you who you are.

    Don’t rule out ever being free though – you may end up in a place and time where even starting the ideation seems so remote, so alien to how your life is, and with enough certainty in your strength that you can consider yourself as free as anybody who as ever been there can ever get. As far as I’m concerned, that’s free. Maybe not as free as somebody whose life has been so free of any trauma that it’s never entered their head but, well, still pretty damn free.

    I’m not there yet – the ideation still lurks occasionally, but like you’ve I’ve got a list of promises and people to call so long that I’d be likely to die of old age before I actually got around to acting.

    The thing about every little worry and care leading to a fatal scenario – that’s what you get when you combine severe anxiety and a fantastic imagination. Worst case begets worst case begets worse case, the spiral heads ever deeper and darker, until the only way out seem to be to Get Out. Some of it’s the dark price you pay for having a very fertile imagination. However, if you can get the anxiety under control, one way or another (I’m medicated, and will likely remain so my entire life), the imagination is less likely to trigger, and the spiral of all those worst case scenarios starts to become more nebulous and slowly dissipates.

    • “That’s what you get when you combine severe anxiety and a fantastic imagination.”

      That is exactly what gets me into trouble. I was once invited to a party where I wouldn’t know anybody there. I spent a lot of time figuring out what I’d do if someone tried to rape me. You know. At the dinner table.

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