I Didn’t Survive Suicide for this Bullsh*t.

It’s been about two years and three months since the time I went manic, decided I didn’t like this “game” anymore and tried to “quit.” (Weirdly, that was how I thought about it at the time. Yeah.) I have some pretty obvious scars down my wrist that were angry and red for quite some time, and that caused a LOT more people than I would have anticipated ┬áto grab me and tell me to stop hurting myself (however, a critical thinker might realize that scars are not the same as fresh wounds. So. Little bit late on that one, guys.)

Nowadays, the scars are still there, but faded. To the point that someone didn’t believe I’d ever had mental health problems. Ya know, cause I am so…good now. How do I phrase that one? I’m not perfect or something, but there’s something about the worst things happening, and still being here and being okay. Some kind of quality that makes you realize that some things REALLY don’t matter. But also, life is short, and you don’t have to put up with things that are going to make you miserable if you don’t need to.

I call this my “WELL, I didn’t survive suicide for THIS” attitude. Pre-suicide attempt me wasn’t ready to fail. Or even make minor mistakes. I’d turn over even the slightest mistake in my head (and being socially awkward, there were a lot of missteps!) for so long, I’d have trouble remembering what really happened. Pre-attempt me wouldn’t take risks, and especially wouldn’t let people see me break. And most importantly, I bent over backwards to please everyone, and put up with behavior I should never have.

I allowed people to not only walk all over me, but I put my energy into them without receiving anything back. And really, with the way I held everyone at arm’s length, I don’t know how they would have given anything back to me. I set myself up to really only work well with self-centered type people, because I couldn’t even begin to have a two way street kind of friendship.

Now, however?

I don’t pursue things that don’t fulfill me in some way. Job where I learn cool and useful skills? Cool. Friend who pushes me to hike over mountains? Fantastic. Volunteering somewhere I feel useful? The goddamn best.

Twin who insists I make her look fat by….existing in a picture with her? Blocked.

Mom who insists I must be pregnant because I live with two men? Bye.

“Friend” who says I’ve “friendzoned” him? I think y’all get the idea.

I realize looking back that I didn’t value myself enough to make sure that the people I surrounded myself with valued me too. And frankly, now that I’ve faced the kind of emptiness that I did, I’ve decided that these bonus years are mine. Not my twin’s. Not my parents’. Absolutely not anyone who I’ve decided to grace with my friendship.

Looking forward to the next few years of healthy relationships, fulfilling life goals, and trying new things. Two years, three months, and counting on.

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The Indestructable Trans Rep

Around a year ago, I lost my mental health battle and had a hard break from reality. You know, like the kind where you feel like you’re on cloud nine and in hell all at once. It was terrifying for me, and terrifying for those around me, I’m sure. Lots of people have embellished what happened (cause I guess it’s cool now to have a “crazy person” story), but what it came down to was that I cut open my wrist (to the bone!!!) and got to spend more than a month in a psych ward getting on mood stabilizers. Pretty intense, huh?

Zip back a couple of months, though, and one of the things that kept me from admitting, even to myself, that something was off was being a transgender activist. Okay, yeah, leadership roles and such have that effect on people, but even more so in this particular role. You see, nearly every day, I faced the argument that me being transgender was a mental illness. Even within the trans community itself, I got a lot of flack for being a non-binary identified person. It was like not choosing a side of the binary automatically labeled me as unstable.

So as soon as I had any symptoms of actually being unstable, I didn’t go to a counselor. I couldn’t even begin to admit that it wasn’t normal or okay that I wasn’t sleeping for days at a time. And maybe, you know, the paranoid delusions I had about everyone being out to get me weren’t that far off. People were out to get me; or people like me. Violence happens to trans people and visibly queer people every day. But more importantly, I didn’t need one more thing to invalidate who I was for other people.

In a lot of activism, accusations of the other side being “insane” or “delusional” are quick and common cheap shots, but the way they’re met speaks volumes about how activists respect mental illness. Which is wild when you think about how many people, especially in marginalized communities, suffer from mental illness! How can anyone jump back and staunchly deny any mental health issue, like admitting a mental illness is admitting that your viewpoint and your identity isn’t valid?

Of course, these days, I’m faced with the same argument; the idea that I’m mentally ill or sick because of the way I identify. And so what? I have a mental illness. And you know what? I’m still trans and I’m still valid.