Been Away

I miss S.

It’s been almost 3 months since we’d said goodbye, and had our final session.

I miss having someone to talk to who not only wouldn’t judge, but also would provide essential feedback to me. I know I’m in a much better place now, which is why we both agreed on termination, but still, I miss him so dearly.

I have also abandoned this blog for a while, and lost contact with the mental health community here. I think I’ve just been afraid to come here because doing so would mean that I would have to do the work without S. I think I was just trying to avoid mental health work. If I stayed away, then I didn’t have to think about advocacy (for myself and others), analyze my feelings, or process things.

I think I also did that because I didn’t want to do all the work, but have no S to share the results of the work. I’d have to *gasp!* be content with sharing it with myself.

So yeah, I’ll admit that I’d been avoiding this blog. It’s hard to face things alone (I know I’m not technically alone).

Chérie and I have also just moved about 3 weeks ago, so we’re still settling in and trying to find some stability. She’s been settling in to her new job, and new role so she has had less attention for me. I think that has been hard on me because I crave the attention of a loved one, but I think I’m dealing with it better than I would’ve in the past.

I’m definitely ready to be on my own, but having S wouldn’t have hurt any.

Anyway, I do love the Pacific Northwest. I love the amazing weather here, and all the fresh seafood I could have access to! I even went tide pooling, and mussel harvesting 2 weeks ago. The more I’m here, the less I want to move back to the Midwest.

At the Farmers' Market

The picture was taken on the second day that we’d arrived at our new home. I also now have an addition of having a scar on my upper lip because I’d busted it while moving furniture. I tripped and fell face down onto the edge of a night stand, and bled so much that even I was alarmed. I got 8 stitches inside and out, which left me with the small streak on my lip.

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As a Suicide Attempt Survivor, I’m Still Waiting For Stories of Resilience On TV

A lot of things have happened to me in the past few weeks, and I will post an update soon but before that, I’ve found this relatable.

Let's Queer Things Up!

Approximately 92-95% of suicide attempts end in survival.

I didn’t know this, though, when I tried to end my life almost eight years ago. I’d only ever heard of stories that ended in death or in hospital beds. I’d only ever seen them as a plot twist on a television program or tragedy porn in the news. To me, people who attempted suicide overwhelmingly ended up in the ground, or on occasion in psych wards, but there was never any life to be lived afterward.

There was never a single story that said to me, “You can survive. And then you can truly live.”

Imagine my surprise, then, when I woke up alone, head pounding, room spinning. There was no point of reference. What do you do when you survive? Where do you go? Later that night, I googled “suicide survivor,” but back then everything I found was…

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Of Being Happy and Mindful

I am happy today.

I am so happy that my anxiety, and depression are temporarily gone from my awareness. It’s different.

Something else is different too.

For the first time in my life, I am not afraid to say that I am proud of the fact that I am happy. I don’t have to make excuses and downplay my happiness, like I’ve always felt like I had to in the past. I could never tell people positive things about me because of how afraid I am of others judging me for being happy as a depressed person.

In group today, I told Jenny and Brandon that I love them so much that it hurts me tremendously to see them both in the darkness, still struggling to climb out of the pit of depression. I told them that I felt really sad that Jenny have been victim shamed so much in her life that she can’t even bring up the topic of sexual assault or even believe that women are right to talk about their survival with her significant other, and that Brandon felt that he can’t feel okay with who he is. I recognized their pain because I was just a few months ago, steeped in it. I’ve been through all the shit, and muck, and though I still visit the pit from time to time, I’ve also been spending a lot more time in the sun lately.

I told the two of them (because only 3 of us attended group today) that I didn’t want them to misunderstand me – that for a moment, I didn’t want to tell them how I felt because I was afraid that they would judge me as ‘hypocritical’. I felt hypocritical because back when I was in the thick of depression, many supportive people have told me that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. That there is hope. At that time, I had scoffed at every single one of them and in my mind, had resolved that none of them knew how I felt. I refused to believe them because I didn’t think that they’d understand. That no one would.

Now I’m more stable, and can cope with my difficulties better. And I suddenly realized that I now know what those well-meaning people had been saying to me. I knew now that they weren’t just saying words to make me feel better but rather they really believe it.

I said, “I decided to say what was on my mind anyway even though a part of me felt like a hypocrite but I trusted… Or at least, I hoped that you two would get what I was saying, and where I was coming from. You both have seen, and experienced me at my lowest. You know how much I’ve struggled. So I hoped that you’d hear my message and see it as coming from someone who did go through shit and who did do all the hard work to come to this sunny side. And it is my hope, I am so so hopeful that you two can feel this way too because it hurts me so much to see you two struggle. I want so much good for you guys!”

Of course, I cried. I got very emotional and I explained that I didn’t know why.

T offered an explanation, “Jules, when you said all those things to Jenny and Brandon, I could tell that it came from your heart. That you genuinely wanted good things for them. And in saying those things, telling them that their issues are valid, that they’re worthy to feel the way they do despite what others have told them, is also in the same way, self validating. You were also talking to yourself, Jules. You told yourself that you were worthy, and that you were valid…”

What he said struck me. He was right. I was validating myself too. And that’s why I got emotional. I still have trouble telling myself good things without crying. It’s so emotionally impactful for me that I can’t do it without the tears.

Later, I shared with Brandon how I’ve been able to climb out of the pit – it was that I had built a support system around me who would remind me from time to time that I’m doing well, and that I’m heading the right direction. I told him that it’s all and well to be able to self validate, but to also receive such recognition, and encouragement, is huge. I told him that I felt so much stronger now because I have recognized who my people are.

I then told him how much of a privilege it’s been for me to watch him grow, and to see how much he’s grown. He used to be high strung, philosophical, cold, distant, and so stressed out. Today, he sat there with an even temper, and was able to participate in the conversation without even once going to the philosophical arguments. He was vulnerable, and allowed himself to be, and he was accepting of all the feedback he was given. I felt so proud of him. When T asked me how I felt towards Brandon, I said, “I feel so good. I feel so privileged to have seen such a huge change. It makes me extremely happy that you are reaching that point, and are working so hard yourself. I feel so much affection for you right now. It’s almost like you’re my little brother, and you’ve done so much good work!” I wanted him to know that his hard work is being recognized. It made me feel so happy to be able to say that because not only did it impact him, it also rebounded and hit me with the fuzzies.

Just before group, the Director of the Office of Health and Wellness said to me,

“When you learn to love yourself, those who love you will come back around to you. You don’t have to acclimate to others. You are a square trying to fit in a round hole. You’re not meant to fit!”

The Health and Wellness Promotion Coordinator then added,

“Those who are for you can’t go. Those who are not for you, can’t stay”.

Those two things have changed my life today. The words reverberated through me and I felt the anxiety that has been holding me back all this time ebb away. I was so afraid of losing people, and losing good times, that I was willing to settle for mediocre just so that I don’t have to rely on only myself. When I heard all that, I learned that I could let go, and the world will still revolve… And somehow, that helped me let go today.

It helped me stay uplifted, and positive.

So much so that I went and watched Power Rangers at the theater by myself. I was giddy with excitement because I felt like a child again, and Power Rangers was one of the more positive aspects of my childhood. I remembered how hopeful, and strong I had felt every time I watched the show. Watching the movie today reminded me of that. I also felt that the interaction between the characters to be similar to what I’d felt for Jenny, and Brandon today. It felt good. They feel like family.

I also was able to learn that when I love myself, it makes me love my partner, Cherie, even more than I already do. It made me secure in our relationship, and I am not worried about a thing right now. I confessed to her, and to group that my relationship has been going well – despite some fights – and it’s been going on so well that I have consciously caught myself thinking, “Wow. This is going well. Now what can I screw up so that I can go back in the pit again? What can I do to make it so that I feel depressed again?” I’m so used to being in the dark that being in the light feels strange, and uncomfortable. I know that now.

Today has been one of those really mindful days for me. I’m just so aware of my life, my speech, my actions, and my feelings. I don’t know if it will last or not, but I am hopeful that even if it doesn’t, that I’ll be able to handle it and turn the negatives into good growing experiences.

Potential First Tattoo

So I’ve come up with a design for my first tattoo – which I really badly want, but am not sure when I’ll actually get.

Last night, my temporary tattoo kit came in the mail so I decided to test out the design, and the placement. I wanted to see what it would look like before I actually getting anything.

The tattoo ink is made from the pulp of a fruit called Genipapo, found in Panama. It is similar to henna in how it’s used – the gel-like liquid is squeezed out from a needle-point bottle the way henna is piped out like icing on a cake. I’ve used this product several times before so I’ve gotten used to drawing the tattoo freehand.

I feel like I did a pretty good job, except I got the arrow all crooked because of the angle I was drawing on. The temporary tattoo has developed overnight and it should get darker in the next half a day.

The tattoo design represents many things. Essentially, it’s the story of my life in a few symbols.

The semicolon (made from an enso, and the Fibonacci Golden Ratio), represents my lifelong recovery from mental illnesses; the enso (circle) representing “a moment when the mind is free to let the body create” which also represents strength, enlightenment and life while the Fibonacci Golden Ratio reflects my interest in art, as well as math – this I find beautiful because not only does the Golden Ratio helps artists create beautiful art, it also helps mathematicians do math. I like the intersection of the sciences, and the arts because of how much conflict there is between the two fields (especially coming from the sciences who claim that anyone who can’t do, are artists…). 

The curly brackets represents code – most codes are encapsulated with “{ }” which tells the computer to execute a function from what is in the middle of the brackets. It is a reflection of the field that I’ve chosen to put myself in.

The arrow signifies my strength and resilience because an arrow is useless unless you string it to a bow, pull it back, and let go. This reflects my life because of how all the struggle I’ve been through has caused me to grow stronger, and more resilient – like the arrow speeding forward after it’s been pulled back, I am also moving forward in my life. The arrowhead is the Star Trek TNG symbol representing my nerd/geek side.

I chose the Pi because of how despite it being an irrational number, it is also a constant. It reminds me during my dark times, that despite everything that could happen to me, that the world is still revolving, and Pi is still Pi no matter what happens. 3.14159, always.

The message “Don’t Panic” comes from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and it gives me a message to read when I’m anxious. It’s a directive, pretty simple and powerful for 2 mere words. The “42” is also from the same book, and in it, the number is considered the answer to the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. I believe in the theory that the number is actually not a joke as most of us have believed, but rather an asterisk (*)  (since the ASCII value for an asterisk is 42) in programming. The asterisk is actually used by programmers as a wildcard when searching for something, deleting something etc (Example, if you type rm *.* – it means that you’re wanting every file to be deleted from your computer). This means that the answer to life, the universe, and everything is what you decide it to be. 

Lastly, the equal sign is a nod to my struggles as a queer person seeking understanding and acceptance in society. It’s a subtle enough symbol for my sexuality that anyone who knows what the equal sign means, will know how I identify. 

So far, I like the design, and if I can find a tattooist who is okay with using my design (I hear that most don’t like to do that), and who can do good black and white tattoos with clean, crisp lines, I think this might be the first tattoo I’ll ever get. And since I’ll be getting it while I’m in my thirties, I wonder how many people will think this is a mid-life crisis. Haha…