The Mighty – Why We Must Discuss Suicide Openly

This article from The Mighty, along with a bit of my own insight below, is your 8th of the month post.

Why We Must Discuss Suicide Openly

“It’s unfortunate that when an individual tries to express their suicidal thoughts, they are quickly labeled as crazy, psychotic or attention-seeking. Yet once the individual actually takes their own life, they are labeled again as selfish. “They could have sought help” is often heard. What could be worse than saying someone is selfish because they died by suicide, having never known what they were feeling?”

 I have this bridge as both a suicide survivor and someone who has survived my own attempts and fights my own thoughts.

So many of the things talked about in this article are true. The way we talk about those who died vs the way we talk about and to those who are struggling . . .

And I hear and heard both because of who I am. And often the things that were said that are supposed to make me feel better about her losing her battle, make it harder to fight my own. And the things that are said to guilt me into fighting harder make her look like a horrible person because she couldn’t fight hard enough.

And the fact is, we just need to be allowed and encouraged to talk openly. I was able to go to derby this weekend because I knew I had a supportive group around me and if it got bad I could say I needed a break. I even had people asking if I was okay without trying to push me out of what I was doing.

I was able to email my boss and say I’m stepping down hours cause my mental health is slipping and she thanked me for my openness and asked how she could best support me.

This isn’t any different than diabetes or heart disease or cancer. It requires treatment and management and follow ups. And we need to be able to talk about it.

If someone dies from suicide, those left behind need meal trains, and support and comfort, not hushed whispers and “she shouldn’t be saying her wife died like that” ( true story).

I don’t post my struggles for pity. I post it each time it gets bad for 2 reasons. Because for one, it helps me to type it out and be heard.

And for two, I keep hearing how it helps others to see me be vocal. People who didn’t know it could look like this, people who are afraid to speak up. People who are afraid to ask for help.

Parker was the quiet one.

Parker is why we must discuss suicide openly.

Not what you think . . .

There’s a post I’ve shared a lot of times on Facebook, titled “I’m suicidal, and no, it’s not what you think.”  It’s about one of the grey areas of suicide, with constant suicidal ideations that never go away, even when there is no real plan.

I lived in that area for years.

Sometimes things would build up and it got so bad and so loud that I was afraid of myself and afraid to be alone. There had been attempts and there had been self injury. There were hospitalizations. Parker and Kidlet spent so many years walking on eggshells because I was sick.

And then she died and I very publicly pulled my ass out of the depths of hell and got better.

Except, I forgot the part where you don’t get better from this shit. You get stronger, you learn better coping methods, but you may never fully get better. This will always be part of who I am. I may always backslide, and there is always a chance that I may end up back in the hospital. It may even happen sooner rather than later.

Safe is better than dead, I guess.

I’m back in that space where every little thing knocks me back. It’s a constant roller coaster right now. And some days are very deep and very dark. I want them to change meds and FIX ME.

But it’s not a medication thing. It’s not an exercise it out thing. It’s a brain chemicals fucking suck thing and right now I just need to ride it out and try to keep moving forward at the same time.

I scream so loud on here about how much we need to remove the stigma and scream our stories out loud, but one of the hardest things in the world for me today was spending the entire day in bed, dishes piled up, my house in this crazy disorganized state where I left it mid project from this weekend . . . while Wonder Woman came in and out doing what she needed to do. I couldn’t stand that she was seeing me that depressed, that dark, that done. I wanted to tell her to get out and not come back till I was my normal level of crazy. She wasn’t supposed to see me this way. I wasn’t supposed to be this way any more.

I am petrified of this space I’m in. I’m petrified of backsliding to that person I was . . . I’ve said so many times “I want Parker back in this world, but I do not want the person I was back.” and right now, I feel like that person I was.

But at the same time, it’s also that whole “I’m suicidal and it’s not what you think.” Because I do still want a tomorrow. I don’t want to keep doing this, and I hate who I am when I’m like this, and I hate how I feel when I’m like this, but I don’t want to act on it either.

I still want a tomorrow, even if it means that there will be more tomorrows that feel like this.

Hopefully I can keep remembering that even in the middle of the fog that closes in during the worst of it.

But for now, the dishes are done again, and I ate for the first time today, and tomorrow will hopefully feel a little better.

Other Side

Here’s why ‘work’ felt amazing today.

When I was relying on food pantries and social service agencies and spending half the week finding whatever resource I could to pay bills and keep fed and still make it to doctors appointments …..

I’d show up at a food pantry and they wouldn’t be open during those hours anymore, or at all. Or, they’d hand me yet another box of cans to go with the 3 boxes of cans in the basement when what we really needed was some fresh food, meat, something that wasn’t loaded with salt and might make me feel human for a day or two. That meant I took time away from something else productive to get to something that wasn’t needed in that moment, or in the case of the closed pantry, that was completely useless.

Sometimes that meant spending money on transportation or using up a favor.

I said that we needed a wiki based program, something that could be updated by those of us using the services. Nothing is up to date by the time large agencies pass out lists or post them online and most of the small agencies don’t have the resources to man phone lines. And I started looking into what it would take to make it happen, at least locally. But it ended up slipping by the wayside.

United Way updates their database yearly on a rotating basis, I just started training to make the calls to the providers. She was emphasizing how important it is to get detailed information so the clients know up front what each provider is able to help with, to avoid wasting their time/energy. Fresh food vs canned, how much towards a bill, what are the income or paperwork requirements, etc.

And, they are working towards a searchable online system that would allow notes to be left by users. It’s a long way away but they know it’s needed because they can’t keep up either.

I don’t know if I’ll end up working here in a paid capacity, but it feels so good to be on the other side of this.

Anxiety

Between therapist and pdoc helping me figure out what was happening last week and this week, talk therapy, a lot of mental work while sitting around, clawing my way back up, a shit ton of ugly crying, and a med adjustment . . . . I’m seeing glimpses of the bad ass me that I know is in there. Mixed episodes and this kind of rapid cycling is far scarier and more destabilizing than I remember, and I’m really glad that I went so long without this.

My therapist asked me what my anxiety looks like, there is a piece of art hanging in her office, a random mashed together jumble of 3d mixed media stuff. I told her it’s this constant noise of thoughts and words that looks and sounds like the painting, all different colors and sounds and sharp edges and smooth, but 3d and even 4d isn’t enough to describe the amount of dimensions, it’s like a 20 sided die, but the size of the earth, and I’m an ant, or a grain of sand.

But it starts small, one thought, and if I ignore it, it echoes around and gets bigger, and bigger and bigger, so I voice it and it goes away. But at some point, the more I feed them the bigger they get and the more they multiply until I’m this tiny molecule surrounded by these swirling mixed media 20 sided die of thoughts and I can’t remember what I did yesterday, or even earlier today because I’m too busy trying to respond to every single thought and put it to rest so they stop getting bigger.

“Yes I’m good enough” “Nope, the house isn’t on fire” “No, that ambulance isn’t for my kid” “No, you aren’t going to screw it all up” “Yes, you paid that bill”

I keep trying to find answers for why I’m like this, or why I’m like that. I need a solution, I need to fix me so that it all goes away. But I’m not my labels, I’m not my anxiety or the adhd or the bipolar or the anxiety or the grief. Those things help me find ideas for solutions, it helps me look for coping mechanisms, but I can’t get too bogged down in trying to fix me because I’m not broken.

I’m still trying, and I’m learning how to put away what doesn’t work, and take a few steps back, and when the anxiety gets bigger than me, I need to learn how to go back and find the stuff that made me Self Saving Warrior Princess in the first place. I spent an entire year telling myself that I was enough, and then a few stumbles while I was learning some new skills completely knocked me down. I need to find what made me bigger than all of this in the first place, and figure out how to hold onto that, while still learning all of this new stuff.

What Doesn’t Kill

So, here’s the deal. I’m not going to be one of those people that say God doesn’t give you what you can’t handle. Because, seriously . . look at my life.

However, I was one that said this phrase, a lot. But, each one of these things that kept hitting me, kept making me more of the me I was meant to be. And then, after I recovered from each major thing I would look back and say I wouldn’t change a thing because it put me where I am today, and I’m right where I am meant to be.

Now, before I say this next phrase, please realize.

I Want Parker Back. I want my wife back. There is NO denying that.

However. That situation made me who I am and put me where I am right this second. So no, a year ago, I wasn’t already strong enough, because I wasn’t who I was meant to be yet. If everything would not have happened I would not be where I am this second.

And I’m right where I am meant to be.

And I love me. And that, is an amazing feeling.

One Year Ago Today. . . A Firefly Was Born

Losing Parker was such an inconceivable idea that in all of my over thinking, over planning ways, it was ONE thing I had never considered. Parker and I were so strong as an us, that I had never considered a tomorrow without her in it.

I had thought about what would happen if I lost a parent, and how I would react to that. It’s one of those things we expect to happen unfortunately..

For a few years, Draven spent 3 months at a time living in Maryland at his dad’s, and due to him one day turning 18, I’d considered a time when he would not be in my house every day.

But, for the larger part of 8 years, I had never once considered waking up and rolling over without Parker beside me.

We were not perfect. From the outside, we often got comments that we looked like a fairy tale, and parts of our relationship absolutely were. We fit, and we were meant. When you put two people with similar diagnoses that close together, it is either going to be great, or it’s going to be horrible. We were pretty great. We understood it, and all of the parts of it. When things got rough we rode it out together. We took care of each other in ways that not many others would. We saw our weaknesses as also being our strengths. It took a shit ton of work and the people we were when we met, were not the people we were at the end. Some of it good, and some of it bad.

Those who are closest to me right now have heard about aspects of our relationship that I’m viewing through the lens of grief and I’m thankful that I get moments of clarity that I can see that the lens is putting a difficult view on it. I _loved_ her. Every single solitary, pain in the ass piece of her. Every bit of her dual sided self. And you know what, she adored me with every bit of her being.

This amazing woman who is no longer with us made the decision to sell almost everything she owned. She even gave up her BOOK collection . . and not just any books either. In order to get on a bus with 2 duffel bags and come to Maryland, to marry my crazy ass and move into a homeless shelter.

She had a place to go in Florida. But we couldn’t go together. I said I’d come up here and get established and she could follow. But she wanted to come together.

I miss her. I miss who she was, I miss who we were together.

We used to say, “Where have you been my whole life” “Becoming the person you fell in love with”

And the thing was, we fell in love with each other over and over and over again because we kept growing and kept becoming new people together. And sometimes we’d get stuck and we’d hang on for dear life to each other when that happened. And unfortunately, I didn’t realize her grip slipped.

I miss her.

I said early on . . .that her death could never be in vain. I thought I meant that her suicide had to prevent other suicides. That it had to be some grand cause to change the world. I thought I was going to go on a crusade to fix everyone.

I didn’t realize that her death did prevent at least one other suicide. Her death did change the world. And I didn’t fix everyone. But her death has made a huge start in fixing me.

The day Parker passed, I wrote in a message “Now I know how important my degree is. Now I know how important the crisis text line is. She lost her battle, mental illness took my Love, it doesn’t get my life, it doesn’t get another fucking life.”

That day I realized that survival was no longer an option. I either had to stand up, or I might as well lay down beside her, because that’s where the path was leading. I have grown more in this past year than I had in the previous 20. I have achieved more than I have ever in my life.

I finally feel like I’m going to make it, but at the same time, even typing that line brings me to tears because it took her dying to make me realize I don’t have to.

I cannot help but mourn her being gone this past year. As much as I started building myself up to celebrate my achievements weeks ahead of time, I’ve been crying for those same weeks. But I don’t have to focus on that side of grief.

The other side of grief is the growth. The choosing to live bigger and bolder and brighter. It’s the pink hair don’t care, self saving warrior princess.

Thinking back to May of last year. I had home health coming 10 hours a week. I had a hard time standing long enough to cook, couldn’t cook then clean up the kitchen, could barely sweep a room, let alone the house. I had to stop and take a break when walking up the 2 flights of stairs to my apartment. Grocery shopping required a day of rest before and after. I was diabetic, had severe swelling in my legs. I was incredibly sick, and miserable, and barely living. I couldn’t be alone for any length of time..

In the first days and months after she passed every single thing from getting out of bed to showering to cooking dinner was celebrated with a shout of “gold star” from others in the house. Home health care was increased to 20 hours and honestly I was scared, I think everyone was. There was a lot of fears of what if . . . . . . what if I was next, what if I didn’t make it out alive.

But now an entire year has passed. I fucking made it. I didn’t only survive without my wife, my soulmate, the one person I never imagined living without. I also had a open hysterectomy causing surgical menopause and started with a new diagnoses that causes headaches and vision issues.

And I did more than make it, I’m thriving.

I quit smoking, and I’m more active than I have ever been. I’ve gone from struggling to walk ½ mile, to easily walking over 5 miles. I rarely go an entire day without leaving the house and actively look for reasons to get out multiple times a day. I don’t just sit on the computer all day.

I’ve signed in 158 times at the gym since the last week of August (55% of all days since the day I joined). I’ve learned to set mini goals and attain them, 5 minutes of elliptical was a struggle in April, this week I made it to 60 minutes and now I’m looking for the next goal to push for.

I started school each semester and even though I bombed horribly I did what I had to do to control the crash and burn. Even more amazing for me is that I picked up and tried again the following semester. I’m now on my third try and I will make it through this time.

Last spring I couldn’t go to a doctor’s appointment alone. When the ovarian cyst and then surgery happened I needed people with me. Now I attend them all alone, advocating for myself, and firing doctors regularly who don’t meet my expectations. I’m advocating for myself the way I advocated for Parker, and often more. I found myself a primary care doctor who will push for me to get the care I deserve. I’m taking a step back when needed and not letting medical care become a full time job, I’m prioritizing and not letting it become my life focus.

I’m also healthier than I’ve been in quite some time. This is a mixture of so many things. Not just the activity level but also lowering stress. Having more fun, not spending so much time focusing on being sick and what I can’t do and instead focusing on what I can. I’m no longer considered diabetic, my blood pressure is normal, my cholesterol is getting better. My resting heart rate has dropped 35 bpm into the 70s.

I’m riding local busses alone, I’m traveling out of state alone. I can depend on myself to get around where I need to go. When I realize that I’m beginning to depend on someone else I take a step back and make sure I don’t forget to depend on myself.

I’m setting up trips to places alone, without thinking twice about the fact that I’m going alone. I’m going to new houses with new friends without losing my mind about it being new. I’m planning vacations to NYC during pride weekend without worrying about being in the middle of a big city during a big event. I’m not letting anxiety control my life, I’m dealing with it when it comes up instead of letting the fear stop me from trying.

I searched out and started going to meetups alone, including walking away from ones that didn’t work for me.

While I’m not sure that I’m ready to date, I’ve put myself out there and made a profile on dating sites, mainly looking for friends but being open to options. This allowed me to step back and figure out who I was separate from the “we” that I had identified myself as part of for close to a decade, but, going beyond that I’ve actually met people in person, and I’m developing new friendships.

I’m becoming more confident in who I am and letting myself be that person.

I got on the back of a mother fucking motorcycle and I went sledding.

I’m wearing what I want far more often than not. I spent a lot of years trying to blend in and hide. While I had changed my hair, I was still wearing dark colors and long loose skirts trying to avoid people noticing my body. I am me, all of me, and that’s this big, bright, bold manic pixie pastel goth kind of person. Society doesn’t tell me what I can accomplish due to my size, I leave people in the dust at the gym, so society doesn’t get to tell me what’s appropriate for me to wear.

I have been taking pictures and posting them, and it doesn’t matter how perfect they are.

I realized that I will fail and I will fuck up and I learned how to dust myself off and pick myself back up. I’m learning to forgive myself, I’m accepting that it’s okay to be a work in progress and a beautiful masterpiece at the same time.

I became a Self Saving Warrior Princess.

I miss her. I miss her with all that I am and every ounce of my soul. I miss her laugh and her smile and that little wink she’d do when I was losing my mind and she’d catch my eye when no one was looking. I miss her.

I don’t miss who I was. I didn’t have a choice but to grab this new normal and run with it. We don’t get to go back, we don’t get do overs. I don’t miss the old me, and while I absolutely want my wife back, I don’t ever want to forget what she taught me by losing her battle. I don’t ever want her death to be in vain.

Always and Forever, Forever and Always, In a different sort of way. Miss you like mad fucking crazy my dear wife, my dear Parker.

Thank you for being my firefly.