Things I’ve Tried to Stay Alive

content warning: self-injury, suicide, overdoses, sexual assault

I’ve made myself extremely vulnerable over the years with the details & stories I’ve shared in my zines & on my blog. I feel like I’ve over-shared to an immense degree, but it felt crucial at the time; it’s kept me alive thus far, and it’s inspired friends & strangers to share their own stories, to practice vulnerability and embrace their own weirdnesses, and perhaps it’s inspired conversations, changes, actions, etc. But lately, it feels so dangerous. I’m not sure if all this over-sharing is helpful for me anymore, or harmful. All the encouragement & kind words from strangers have been amazing, but I’ve also been dealing with a lot of stuff that feels like it’s destroying my psyche.

When I started my blog, it was meant simply to encourage us to be weird, to share; it was just a simple act of encouragement. One of my favourite things to do is encourage others. That’s what I wanted. When I started this blog, I was living in a different city, I had different ideas & experiences than I have now, and fuck, I was living as a different gender. This blog actually brings me a lot of negativity, though; the comments are moderated because people write mean shit in them, and I don’t want them to be public, I don’t want them to harm anyone else. But they hurt me. I remember each and every one of them. I remember the people who told me I’m not allowed to be a feminist, the people who told me that I have contributed absolutely nothing tangible or intangible to the world, and folks who have told me that it’s not okay to ask for the help & support that I need; I know those words are untrue, but they stay with me.

I’ve been chronically depressed and chronically suicidal since I was 8. I started self-injuring when I was in Grade Four, and it hasn’t stopped. Writing about all of this publicly has been necessary, but it also means I’ve opened myself up to the opinions of folks with such a dangerous lack of compassion, such a lack of positivity, that I don’t want to do it anymore. I don’t know what my future writing is gonna look like, or how I’m gonna share it. I’ll find a way; writing is the only thing keeping me alive. I’m about to share a whole bunch of personal shit below, and then I’m gonna stop. I’m sharing it because I feel like I need to, and I’m sharing it in the hopes that maybe some of the more kinder, delicate, crazy people who’re reading my blog might have more ideas. I don’t want to to kill myself; I want such intense changes in my life that I do not know how to begin. But I can’t avoid it anymore.

Thanks for reading.

marandaelizabethstayalivediary
My diary, with pressed flowers, August 2013

Things I’ve Tried to Stay Alive

– 15 different psych meds (ages 11-28, excluding ages 14-18) (including single-meds and multiple cocktail-meds)
– longer-term (2 months) & short-term (1-3 weeks) inpatient hospitalizations
– no meds, several times (cold turkey)
– alcohol (currently approx. 1,000 days sober)
– various therapies (CBT, DBT, group, individual, short-term, longer-term)
– psychiatry
– seeing a neurologist (who ended up sexually assaulting me)
– massage, reiki, physical/naturopathy treatments
– self-help books
– art & creativity books
– mental health workbooks
– on & off various birth controls (Alesse pills & Depo-Provera shots)
– on & off pain meds (Tylenol 3)
– anxiety meds as needed (Xanax)
– sleeping meds as needed (Zopiclone, Trazodone)
– multiple overdoses (Trazodone, Lithium, Seroquel)
– pot
– tea
– coffee
– walking, spending time outdoors
– learning about plants & herbs
– various vitamins & supplements (B12, D, valerian, Devil’s Claw)
– Rescue Remedy
– writing: zines, diaries, letters, fiction, blogs
– self-injury (cutting, mostly my arms & legs, sometimes my stomach, once my face)
– changes in appearance (shaved head, unshaved body, tattoos, femme, tomboy, goth, etc…)
– multiple emergency rooms
– crisis lines, crisis counselling
– weird, possibly traumatic therapies in my childhood
– too much time online & also quitting the internet (deleting accounts, discontinuing internet access, etc.)
– mindfulness
– meditation
– writing workshops
– radical / disability / self-care / etc. workshops
– stretching & exercising
– bike-riding
– painting
– starting mental illness discussion groups
– practicing vulnerability
– femme as self-care & magic
– changing my gender
– traveling, touring, reading my zines out loud, tabling at zinefests
– speaking on panels
– (self-)publishing two books
– making crafts (knitting, sewing, screenprinting, making bike streamers…)
– crafternoons
– fucking everybody & fucking nobody (being a slut & being celibate)
– being vegetarian, then being vegan, now eating everything ever
– living alone, living with roommates, living with partners
– moving a lot (31 places in 28 years, including detention centres, group homes, & psych wards)
– living with 2 cats, and living with no cats
– witchcraft, reading Tarot cards, prayer, etc.
– volunteering, working, being on disability
– organizing
– online dating
– Y membership (yoga, water aerobics)
– mad pride
– Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous

Things I Haven’t Tried (Yet)

– murder
– acupuncture
– traveling further away, traveling within Canada
– long-term therapy (preferably queer-friendly, trans/*-competent)
– staying in one Home for an extended period

Things I’m Currently Trying

At the moment, I’m in short-term therapy at Planned Parenthood. I’ve been given five free sessions. I have three sessions left. It is scary on so many levels. Mostly it hasn’t been helpful at all, but it has been radically better than every other mental health care treatment I’ve had access to thus far. I’m hoping they’ll be able to put me on a waitlist for long-term therapy. I’m taking a bunch of meds, a bunch of vitamins, I’m creating a new daily life in my new home, I’m attempting some really difficult changes. I feel so fucking desperate, angry, sad, hopeful, violent, scared. I feel completely unable to take care of myself, but I’m trying anyway. I want to be quiet, I want to take up less space in certain circles, I want to be by myself, I want…

Know Hope,
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