robertsloan2: Ari sweet (Default)
In my last article there's a major tip I forgot to put in or emphasize. Really, really important one, something that saved my life hundreds of times.

If you are LBGTQ - QUILTBAG - youth at risk, The Trevor Project has an incredible hotline. 866 488 7386 is the number.

There's also a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 - this one is good too and I haven't had any discrimination from them when I bring up transgender issues. Only support and understanding. Once in a blue moon I'm educating someone on the line but they're open to it and listen supportively. It's rare because I'm probably not the first one who called, discrimination kills.

Suicide hotlines are a tremendously good idea. They are free. The hotliner is trained not to be judgmental. There is nothing more effective in releasing and bringing down the level of any emotional or physical trauma than being able to talk about it with someone who's attentively listening, cares, and doesn't try to give a lot of pointless advice.

I am alive today because I call those hotlines if I even start to think about it. I have never been involuntarily hospitalized or locked up because I used a hotline. It is safe to tell a hotliner anything. I came out transgender to hotliners when I was living stealth and couldn't stand it in Chicago. I did this even as a teenager when I was dead scared that my grandparents would find out and throw me into an institution - and was listened to and accepted.

It makes a huge difference. Use that resource. If you volunteer on one, thank you. Also please, take care of yourself afterward. Secondhand stress can become a cumulative burden. So taking care of your own feelings and feeling better afterward can save you a lot of heartache. Think of me and all the folks you do save when you're out there doing that. You're brave and good and doing something as needed as fire fighting.

I am starting to pull out of the flare and PTSD reactions from Monday morning's trauma. It was a particularly extreme incident of disconfirmation, something that was more like a New York homeless shelter experience than anything that I'd ever experienced or heard of in San Francisco. But this is still San Francisco.

When I went in to see my doctor on Wednesday morning, I had panic attacks and triggered just on going downstairs, so that was no good. I bulled through it and went to my appointment, explained that my PTSD was going off and so my blood pressure wasn't going to be normal and I was already doing what I could to calm down from the panic attack. They were understanding about it. Most of all my doctor asked what happened and when I explained it, she came up with a San Francisco solution.

I need to get the contact number for the group and give it to her, so she can arrange a training for the people involved. Wow. They do that here. It makes a difference. It's not "whistle blowers get stomped on." They solve the problem - I have done what I could to educate the people involved and they didn't get it. But cisgender experts are sometimes listened to over people who actually have the situation.

This is true of medical chronic stuff too, it helps to bring a healthy person to the doctor's office on initial visits to explain what your problem is because the doctor's looking at your body and listening to your voice tone as a diagnostician, ignoring what you say in favor of how you say it and guessing the most common reasons for your symptoms.

It also takes about three days for someone who's having trouble accepting or understanding transgender to wrap their heads around it and get over the initial shock. There is one. For many people it shatters their world view and even though they do come to understand, they're not going to understand on the spot. It's more important to put in the time and effort to calm down and think about it and accept it, take care of your feelings instead of taking them out on the transgender person. Just saying "I need time to deal with this" when someone comes out is a lot politer than telling them they're not who they say they are because they don't look like what you expect.
robertsloan2: Ari sweet (Default)
Pain level ten always brings thoughts of suicide. That's my definition of pain level ten - it's when death starts looking better than going on putting up with the pain, when it's gotten so bad there is nothing but the pain. So I've had well over fifty years of finding ways to fight the temptation to kill myself. Demonstrably, I succeeded.

I will add that at no time has anyone else intervened in my life to stop me. I can think of a few times when those around me were tacitly making it easy, like leaving a clinically depressed child diagnosed with suicidal tendencies alone for hours in a basement room right next to an unlocked gun room with over 50 firearms and enough ammunition to hold off the Russian army. I would've had time to melt down the slugs and craft a reload to shoot myself with if I'd actually gotten down to doing it. I didn't tell the shrinks at the time because I didn't want that door locked. I wanted my options open.

There are different things people do to deal with the pain. Whatever the pain is, when it gets to the point of suicide, I treat that as pain level ten and respect it. I respect their reasons for being that hurt even if they may seem trivial to me. Most of all I'm aware that sometimes something trivial can make the difference between life and death.

I've also known someone I loved at the time who decided not to kill himself because he hadn't seen the next episode of a science fiction show PBS was airing in a couple of days. He chose to live because of that show. We were big fans. Fortunately, it turned out to be one of the best episodes of the entire series when we sat down together to watch it.

Anything that makes a person want to live at that point is worth it. That's not for someone outside to judge, especially if they're trying to help that person come back to the world of the living. I don't actually know what it's like for people who find relief with drugs or alcohol, when that temporarily blots out the pain. Only that for many addicts it does and they have a big physical problem with their brain chemistry being unable to function without that chemical unless they go through a lengthy difficult recovery process.

Drug/alcohol addiction is its own big topic anyway. It's an entire social process and maybe that's where some of the "ease the pain" goes away. Both drunks and recovering drunks have massive social support for their new, simpler identities as drunks or drunks in recovery. It's common for them to have been abused in childhood. Social wounds may actually get relief from social support, who'd a thought that? To me, that's a huge part of why AA works - what people take to drinking for gets provided without the booze and in a way that encourages personal growth.

But let's look at some other things. Junk food. Reading all the time, burying yourself in a book. Distraction. Burying yourself on the computer in game after game. Withdrawing from mainstream life into a narrow subculture.

When I was younger it used to be Dungeons and Dragons, table top role playing games. I threw over D&D for the Gurps system as soon as I found it, since the rules system was better for my style of storytelling and the setting was much more flexible, easier to adapt to give my games either an original backstory or base them on my current fandom. I wound up putting together not the giant support groups of AA and Al-Anon and their like, but a small six to twelve person intimate group of people all of whom knew me, liked me, had a reason to come over to my room and stay up all night.

That was a very big part of how I survived my pre-op years. Gaming. RPGs. Fictive universes. When I was with my long term ex, we gamed together, just a universe of two with a cast of thousands. Most of the games naturally had erotic subplots and assorted erotic or romantic plots. We met for the first time ten thousand times in a thousand different worlds and venues, which was as fun as it was the first time we actually did.

The biggest real reason we stopped having good sex was that my body energy ran out as I ground myself down on the treadmill of my 1980s Work Robot years. It takes a toll sleeping only on weekends and working 20 hour days and then madly spending it all as fast as it comes in so as to keep from jumping off a high building.

There is another one. Sex. This includes masturbation. If someone's thinking of dying, one-handed pleasure is a much better alternative to death. Orgasm can be an analgesic if you can get up to it with enough fantasy to let go of the reasons for the pain and fear. It's a particularly healthy one, it resets your nervous system for a little while and does wonders for brain chemistry.

I got disappointed with a lot of erotic fantasy for lacking fantasy elements though. I expected dragons, elves, magic, flying, your basic fifteen impossible mythic things to go on in the story. The normal stuff was dull, I didn't fancy myself a construction worker or rich guy in suit type to dom someone, I was more into the settings of my RPGs. Vampires, elves, dragons, aliens, the cool stuff. The window dressing of the other way I escaped from reality that was at many times in my life for real unendurable.

Many people escape how unendurable life is at its worst times by pretending that nothing bad ever happens to people who don't deserve it. This is one of the worst ways to face it. That idea sets you up for suicide at the first real injustice, with added self blaming and shame. It's surrendering to your worst enemies and validating their sadistic attacks. If you internalize the viewpoint of the oppressor, you collaborate in your own oppression.

Was that James Baldwin? It was one of the great black philosophers and poets. The ones who kept me alive and sane as a child, right along with the science fiction and fantasy writers. They talked about a reality that didn't deny injustice, a way of health that involved staring it down and not giving in - not down deep, not behind your eyes, never telling them that they're right to treat you like that.

There's more than enough real oppression in this world and this country for anyone to get depressed. There's more than enough real risk for anyone to get a bit paranoid. Staying on balance well enough to make it to work and live month to month on the edge of survival, whatever the actual income level of edge of survival is, that stresses people. A quarter of all Americans will be clinically depressed at some point in their lives.

Most of them have good reasons for it. So when you're trying to say something to help, the thing to say is to listen, let them tell the story. Take it seriously. Reflect what you heard well enough so that they know you actually did understand and care. The hardest thing anyone can do is listen to a gut-wrenching story and not be able to do anything to change what happened - but by listening, that is the one gift that makes a difference and can help.

Never, ever laugh at what they do to get through the night. It may sound silly to you but sometimes what matters is any reminder that anything in life is worth experiencing again, whether that is butter on mashed potatoes or next week's television program or that I hadn't been published yet and my book wasn't finished.

Why that's a rant.

I can't count the number of mental health professionals who disconfirmed my novels and my writing. Treated them as sick, treated it as a symptom, not an ambition or an avocation or a profession. Treated it as an unrealistic "grandiose delusion."

Yes. Something bad happened on Monday morning and I'm not ready to write about it. I'm not sure if I'll ever be ready. But I'm coming down from the flare and the PTSD reactions. I've turned to all my solitary comforts, mostly Diablo III, some junk food and a couple of new Terry Pratchett novels. "The Long Earth" by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter is excellent - not a screamingly funny book like Diskworld, good serious SF with incredibly grabby characters and fascinating premise.

I'm going to just take care of myself till my therapist comes back from her vacation next Monday, process everything as well as I can till then and not try to rush the process. I know that I will come through it and feel like myself again eventually, because I have been through worse. I'm still not going to let them win.

Last tip: pet the cat. That always helps. Purring and shedding on you will release endorphins, knock down the pain. A cat is incredibly supportive at times and majorly understanding. The cat does not agree with anyone who ever put you down. The cat's needs are simple and the cats' hearts are big. Substitute critter of choice if you're not a cat person. I am. Ari is my front line defense, he is right there whenever I feel down and will literally wash it away. When he does that, I feel better.

Amazing, how cat spit can change the way the world looks. But he means it with love and he makes me laugh and he's very sensitive to what's going on. He's also particularly happy because his big bag of good cat food arrived yesterday. 15 pound bag of super quality high protein food that is his top favorite brand, his own weight in cat food. Properly served one small handful at a time on demand, so it keeps its strong scent and freshness in the big sealed cat food tub.


robertsloan2: Ari sweet (Default)

March 2016



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