[Content Warning: Suicidal Ideation.]
YESTERDAY I died.
It was four in the morning when I walked to my favorite bridge with a gun in my pocket. I hated mornings, especially cold mornings, but I was still drunk from the night before so I wasn’t really feeling it. I was feeling pretty shitty, actually, pretty scared if I could admit it to myself, but I took another sip of Laphroaig, because who cares about acid indigestion when you’re going to be dead soon?
No one was on my bridge, obviously. I had known that fact from previous runs. A child wouldn’t be the first to find me. It’d probably be another runner or commuter. I’d left the gun’s registration in my car.
The cold stung tears into my eyes. It felt weird to be wearing this much clothing. It also felt weird stopping on my bridge, like I should keep going as if this were a normal day.
I sank onto the wooden bench for one last view of the river. Even in the dark it was beautiful. I’d never really let myself take it all in before: the large slow-moving water, the trees, and the spider webs draped as lace over the rails.
The sun was lightening the sky over the mountains, so I tucked away my whisky and pulled out the gun. It was heavy and made my hands look pale and small, but I’d made up my mind.
I felt light.
* * *
I’VE IMAGINED many deaths, at different ages, but this time I actually wrote my will, picked out a song for my wake–everything. Admittedly, my therapist wasn’t too happy to hear about my latest thought experiment. I’m bipolar and trans and bisexual+, so… yeah, he really wasn’t happy about it.
I’d been struggling, he well knew, been trying to get unstuck in my life. I’d been letting negative forecasting from fear tear at nearly every chance I have at happiness.
I can’t get a good job because I’m bipolar.
I can’t get bottom surgery because I’ll be freakishly scarred.
People like me can’t be happy.
When I died yesterday, all those beliefs became irrelevant. As I was writing my will, they became excuses to not live a life I could be living, a life where I could—maybe—be happy.
Because all those beliefs became irrelevant, I sit here now with a new bottle of pills in front of me. It’s snuggled next to the other bottles I take every day just to have a shot at acting normal.
Because I died, I asked one of my doctors to schedule me another consult for bottom surgery, even though it terrifies me. Being scarred and a freak is better than dying.
Because I died, I finally told my psychiatrist I was ready to try anti-depressants again. I was ready to throw my life back into chemical uncertainty. Uncertainly is better than dying.
It’s not always my fault I hold these negative beliefs. My life experiences have supported many of my less than wholesome views about myself. And it’s not always me telling myself these things that keep me stuck. Some of the first words out of my mom’s mouth when I told her I was trans were, “But you’re too pretty to be a boy.” When I tell people—trans or otherwise—about some of the things I have done to try to feel normal, they tell me they are happy for me… as long as I’m happy.
As long as I’m happy…. I don’t think they understand.
I’m not happy I have to take all these pills. I’m not happy I have to stab myself in the thigh every week. I’m not happy I had to cut my chest into swiss cheese (actually, the pieces looked more like raw chicken). I’m especially not happy I have enough issues with my plumbing that even if I didn’t undergo bottom surgery, I’d still have to have surgery anyway, that’s how bad it is.
Top surgery didn’t make me look handsome. Testosterone is making me lose my hair. My pills make me have to take more pills. I’m in a constant war against my irreconcilable self in order to simply reach out for treatment, let alone do anything actionable about it.
I’m fighting against the stigma of people with mental health disabilities. Every time someone posts that damn picture of those trees and that bottle of pills and claims one is a cure and the other is not, I want to scream. Every time I fill out a job application I have to decide if I’m going to claim disability or not, and I have to analyze what that may mean for me professionally.
I’m also fighting against society’s views of masculinity. It took great courage and a larger measure of carelessness to even attempt to be something other than a five-foot-tall woman. I walk around the pool with jagged lines across my chest. I’m misgendered on the phone. I listen to gay men complain about vaginas. I’ll never fit in as a cis male—ever.
But I was wearing a body I was taking to an early grave, and being a freak seemed better than death.
There’s no one thing I’m going to do to make my world click into place, and at a certain point I’m just going to have to admit my world may never click into place. But if I haven’t achieved happiness yet it’s not from lack of trying, and I shouldn’t stop trying even if I think certain things may not give me the ‘cure’ I’m looking for.
The things I do for my health may not make me look handsomer or smarter or make me feel better in all ways, but as long as I’m trying I’m not dying. Maybe if I try long enough I’ll have a shot at a life that has more moments of happiness than not. Maybe I won’t.
But it’s better than dying.