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.

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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15 Responses to Things I’ve Tried to Stay Alive

  1. Caligula says:

    You are the most wonderful and amazing person I know. People are dicks. We should live on an extremely spacious boat and travel the world, though obviously not to anywhere inland.

  2. craftyweetzie says:

    Navigating these waters can be so tricky and perilous, and it never stops, I think… I’ve tried a lot of the same coping skills you’ve listed above, and sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t, and sometimes what works for something doesn’t work for something else, and I sometimes I can’t decide which is worse. For me, meditation and mindfulness (and reading Pema Chodron) and exercise and diet (along with writing) really help my depression on a regular basis when I’m off meds. And smoking for years curbed my anxiety, but now that i’ve quit that absolutely nothing in my arsenal is combating it, so I’m basically running around faking courage and outgoingness while constantly repeating “This is an irrational fear. This doesn’t control you. You can do this. It won’t kill you.” in my head. Which seems to work about half the time, if that, but at least it’s something, right? Years ago I used to stand on the roof of my apartment building and throw jars and drinking glasses and bottles and basically anything made of glass onto the rooftop next door to hear and watch it smash, most of the time while throwing a full on scream/cry tantrum. That helped, short-term anyways. xoxoxox

  3. lorigee says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your strategies and struggles throughout the years. Although we have different stuff, I feel like we are survival comrades. <3

  4. lorigee says:

    Oh, and that survival is a process with highs and lows and realness. <3

  5. Bani Amor says:

    That was super brave of you, and read a lot like a list I could write about myself. Going over all the shit we’ve done to stay alive is like woah! We’re fucking fighters!!

  6. I love this post and I love your ability to keep trying, even when you might not feel like it. You make me Know Hope like no other. ♥

  7. monstrosity says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I feel sometimes like people don’t have a lot of patience for those of us who find it hard to stay alive. I spend a lot of time feeling like I go in circles, a thing works for a while and then it doesn’t. A situation becomes unbearable and then it gets better, or I make changes, or changes happen whether I make them or not. A situation is a much-needed change and then it becomes unbearable.

    Being vulnerable sometimes feels like such a strong thing and sometimes like such a weak thing. I don’t know, when I was in high school I would have traded away all my vulnerability in a second, to be a cool kid, to not be weird, to be able to walk down the hallways with confidence/bravado. But now I’m so glad for my weirdness and my vulnerability and the ways those things connect me to other people. I have a lot of trouble being in the world sometimes, but I love who I am. And I love who you are, and how you express yourself, and how you keep trying. You deserve to be here, you belong here, and the world is a better place for having you in it. <3

  8. Julie says:

    I read this and I want you to know that I care.

    I listened to this last night and it really helped. Maybe you can listen to the replay tonight at 9pm?

  9. sarah says:

    Maranda! This post and the one before it broke my heart.
    I just want you to know that your writing has saved me, uplifted and inspired me so many times.
    I want you to know how many times I’ve been in awe of your bravery and strength.
    It takes tremendous courage to put yourself out there and to make yourself vulnerable. i haven’t done this yet with my art and i appreciate you so much for having done it.
    you have helped me so much and i know you’ve helped many others.
    please remember that your voice is so valuable! your spirit is beautiful because it’s pure and sincere. so many of us have gone through and are going through these difficult things (depression, anxiety, etc.), and each and every sincere and loving voice helps.
    I’m a 30 year old, femme, broke, struggling, confused, scared, hopeful, creative, magical, weird, spiritual, not-fitting-in person and I have really benefited from your work!
    i fell like you have given me so much.
    thank you for everything you have done. thank you for opening yourself to the public and sharing yourself in the most intimate and honest ways. you have touched me deeply and made a difference in my life even though i don’t know you at all!
    take care,

  10. Holly says:

    Hello Maranda,
    I am glad you wrote this. In reflection, I usually tend to ask if you’ve tried this or that (out of the good intentions of my itty bitty heart of course). Now I can see all the different routes you’ve taken to get some peace of mind. So many routes. What a long road you’ve had. I love that you have a list of things you haven’t tried yet. I know you’ll keep trying until you find what works. I am humbled by your strength. Stay well.

  11. kitty says:

    what you write is so important ! reading your zines and blog provides inspiration and hope on many levels, for weirdos, shy people, those navigating mental health struggles in their lives, and others who are generally questioning stupid binaries/patriarchal/status quo bullshit. yours may not be a narrative people hear often, hence the negativity and backlash, but that it is precisely why it’s so crucial to hear it.
    i hope you keep writing (in whatever capacity you can). take care~

  12. lily says:

    I wish the world was set up so more people felt able to talk about this stuff. <3

  13. Danielle Tice says:

    you have affected my life in myriad ways and i have no words adequate enough to express that to you. i relate to so many of your struggles and at the same time respect that they are yours, uniquely difficult and terrifying, and the way you work through them both publicly & privately are equal parts inspiring and beautiful. i don’t know you, but i think of you so often. be well maranda <3

  14. kimberley says:

    Your work is relevant and important to me. Your list of stuff tried looks a lot like mine, and that alone helps me to feel less of a loser for constantly quitting these behaviours and trying something else! Maybe you need to distinguish what you need to keep locked up, and what feels ok to let go out into the world, saving some of yourself for yourself, whilst still writing. maybe more fiction is the way to do that? thinking as I go along!

  15. Opal says:

    Your zines and blogs have meant a lot, I mean a LOT, to me. Your zine anthology is actually one of the first things I reach for when I am feeling drained and hopeless. You were the first other femme genderqueer person I was aware of, so your openness pretty much affirmed to me that I am real. Your writing has helped me give myself permission to demand respect and empathy when I had been taught that was unacceptable. Your fightin’ spirit and dedication to caring for yourself have informed the ways that I cope with my ptsd-depression-dissociation-chronic pain-ect. I wanna let you know that your work and your openness have had real impact, but I don’t want this to be a “don’t stop sharing we need it” message- you will be just as admirable and important and strong if you decide to stop sharing such personal stuff, or blogging, or anything else. You are a bright light and your existence is inherently valuable. Just some encouragement from an appreciative weirdo on the internet :)

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