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Pain level ten always brings thoughts of suicide. That's my definition of pain level ten - it's when death starts looking better than going on putting up with the pain, when it's gotten so bad there is nothing but the pain. So I've had well over fifty years of finding ways to fight the temptation to kill myself. Demonstrably, I succeeded.

I will add that at no time has anyone else intervened in my life to stop me. I can think of a few times when those around me were tacitly making it easy, like leaving a clinically depressed child diagnosed with suicidal tendencies alone for hours in a basement room right next to an unlocked gun room with over 50 firearms and enough ammunition to hold off the Russian army. I would've had time to melt down the slugs and craft a reload to shoot myself with if I'd actually gotten down to doing it. I didn't tell the shrinks at the time because I didn't want that door locked. I wanted my options open.

There are different things people do to deal with the pain. Whatever the pain is, when it gets to the point of suicide, I treat that as pain level ten and respect it. I respect their reasons for being that hurt even if they may seem trivial to me. Most of all I'm aware that sometimes something trivial can make the difference between life and death.

I've also known someone I loved at the time who decided not to kill himself because he hadn't seen the next episode of a science fiction show PBS was airing in a couple of days. He chose to live because of that show. We were big fans. Fortunately, it turned out to be one of the best episodes of the entire series when we sat down together to watch it.

Anything that makes a person want to live at that point is worth it. That's not for someone outside to judge, especially if they're trying to help that person come back to the world of the living. I don't actually know what it's like for people who find relief with drugs or alcohol, when that temporarily blots out the pain. Only that for many addicts it does and they have a big physical problem with their brain chemistry being unable to function without that chemical unless they go through a lengthy difficult recovery process.

Drug/alcohol addiction is its own big topic anyway. It's an entire social process and maybe that's where some of the "ease the pain" goes away. Both drunks and recovering drunks have massive social support for their new, simpler identities as drunks or drunks in recovery. It's common for them to have been abused in childhood. Social wounds may actually get relief from social support, who'd a thought that? To me, that's a huge part of why AA works - what people take to drinking for gets provided without the booze and in a way that encourages personal growth.

But let's look at some other things. Junk food. Reading all the time, burying yourself in a book. Distraction. Burying yourself on the computer in game after game. Withdrawing from mainstream life into a narrow subculture.

When I was younger it used to be Dungeons and Dragons, table top role playing games. I threw over D&D for the Gurps system as soon as I found it, since the rules system was better for my style of storytelling and the setting was much more flexible, easier to adapt to give my games either an original backstory or base them on my current fandom. I wound up putting together not the giant support groups of AA and Al-Anon and their like, but a small six to twelve person intimate group of people all of whom knew me, liked me, had a reason to come over to my room and stay up all night.

That was a very big part of how I survived my pre-op years. Gaming. RPGs. Fictive universes. When I was with my long term ex, we gamed together, just a universe of two with a cast of thousands. Most of the games naturally had erotic subplots and assorted erotic or romantic plots. We met for the first time ten thousand times in a thousand different worlds and venues, which was as fun as it was the first time we actually did.

The biggest real reason we stopped having good sex was that my body energy ran out as I ground myself down on the treadmill of my 1980s Work Robot years. It takes a toll sleeping only on weekends and working 20 hour days and then madly spending it all as fast as it comes in so as to keep from jumping off a high building.

There is another one. Sex. This includes masturbation. If someone's thinking of dying, one-handed pleasure is a much better alternative to death. Orgasm can be an analgesic if you can get up to it with enough fantasy to let go of the reasons for the pain and fear. It's a particularly healthy one, it resets your nervous system for a little while and does wonders for brain chemistry.

I got disappointed with a lot of erotic fantasy for lacking fantasy elements though. I expected dragons, elves, magic, flying, your basic fifteen impossible mythic things to go on in the story. The normal stuff was dull, I didn't fancy myself a construction worker or rich guy in suit type to dom someone, I was more into the settings of my RPGs. Vampires, elves, dragons, aliens, the cool stuff. The window dressing of the other way I escaped from reality that was at many times in my life for real unendurable.

Many people escape how unendurable life is at its worst times by pretending that nothing bad ever happens to people who don't deserve it. This is one of the worst ways to face it. That idea sets you up for suicide at the first real injustice, with added self blaming and shame. It's surrendering to your worst enemies and validating their sadistic attacks. If you internalize the viewpoint of the oppressor, you collaborate in your own oppression.

Was that James Baldwin? It was one of the great black philosophers and poets. The ones who kept me alive and sane as a child, right along with the science fiction and fantasy writers. They talked about a reality that didn't deny injustice, a way of health that involved staring it down and not giving in - not down deep, not behind your eyes, never telling them that they're right to treat you like that.

There's more than enough real oppression in this world and this country for anyone to get depressed. There's more than enough real risk for anyone to get a bit paranoid. Staying on balance well enough to make it to work and live month to month on the edge of survival, whatever the actual income level of edge of survival is, that stresses people. A quarter of all Americans will be clinically depressed at some point in their lives.

Most of them have good reasons for it. So when you're trying to say something to help, the thing to say is to listen, let them tell the story. Take it seriously. Reflect what you heard well enough so that they know you actually did understand and care. The hardest thing anyone can do is listen to a gut-wrenching story and not be able to do anything to change what happened - but by listening, that is the one gift that makes a difference and can help.

Never, ever laugh at what they do to get through the night. It may sound silly to you but sometimes what matters is any reminder that anything in life is worth experiencing again, whether that is butter on mashed potatoes or next week's television program or that I hadn't been published yet and my book wasn't finished.

Why that's a rant.

I can't count the number of mental health professionals who disconfirmed my novels and my writing. Treated them as sick, treated it as a symptom, not an ambition or an avocation or a profession. Treated it as an unrealistic "grandiose delusion."

Yes. Something bad happened on Monday morning and I'm not ready to write about it. I'm not sure if I'll ever be ready. But I'm coming down from the flare and the PTSD reactions. I've turned to all my solitary comforts, mostly Diablo III, some junk food and a couple of new Terry Pratchett novels. "The Long Earth" by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter is excellent - not a screamingly funny book like Diskworld, good serious SF with incredibly grabby characters and fascinating premise.

I'm going to just take care of myself till my therapist comes back from her vacation next Monday, process everything as well as I can till then and not try to rush the process. I know that I will come through it and feel like myself again eventually, because I have been through worse. I'm still not going to let them win.

Last tip: pet the cat. That always helps. Purring and shedding on you will release endorphins, knock down the pain. A cat is incredibly supportive at times and majorly understanding. The cat does not agree with anyone who ever put you down. The cat's needs are simple and the cats' hearts are big. Substitute critter of choice if you're not a cat person. I am. Ari is my front line defense, he is right there whenever I feel down and will literally wash it away. When he does that, I feel better.

Amazing, how cat spit can change the way the world looks. But he means it with love and he makes me laugh and he's very sensitive to what's going on. He's also particularly happy because his big bag of good cat food arrived yesterday. 15 pound bag of super quality high protein food that is his top favorite brand, his own weight in cat food. Properly served one small handful at a time on demand, so it keeps its strong scent and freshness in the big sealed cat food tub.
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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 19th, 2012 06:30 am (UTC)
i'm glad the cat is there
to be with you and purr

nights get so long
the pain just seems so much worse at night
in a way i wonder if laying down is good for me.
i wake up with my foot feeling so much worse.

keep on writing love
and i'll keep on reading

purs and furry head buts
sweet dreams

luff you dearly
Jul. 19th, 2012 05:43 pm (UTC)
Laying down may help even if it's feeling worse when you wake up. It has to heal. Continuing to walk and be active on a sore foot is the road to sports injuries, that's been my bane for all my life.

PURR and thank you, Faun. When I say no one intervened to stop me, part of it is that I don't play that game of moping and making half hearted attempts in order to get people interested. I come out and ask for help, and when I do I've had the best of friends to help. It's more that I never had anyone actually look at me while I'm holding on and trying not to admit it hurts and say "Dude, you need to stop, take care of your feelings, you're falling apart." Let alone noticing it when it gets to suicidal levels of pain.

It is a very good thing to share it. It is a very good thing to reach out. That's one of the best ways to handle it. I should have listed that I call hotlines. They help a lot.

Pain seems worse at night sometimes beacuse of biorhythms, sometimes because at night there are fewer distractions and distracting obligations - when there's nothing to do but lay there and try to get to sleep, pain always takes center stage. THis is where Pratchett really, really helps, if I can get my head into an immersive story while trying to sleep I'm more likely to drift off thinking about the story. Even if I wind up wandering off in completely different directions with it than the author did. Sort of internal fan fiction stuff.

Take pain medication. That's the best thing to do for physical pain, because it will cause other problems both physical stress and emotional stress.

I'll try to write and post more often. Purr and thank you.
Jul. 19th, 2012 06:42 am (UTC)
I'm on a "secrets" community (based on the PostSecret art project, where people decorate postcards with a secret that is sent anonymously) for fiction and fandom. About once a month there is a secret posted that is basically "I didn't kill myself because if I did then I would miss out on {next tv ep, book, video game, etc}". Without fail, there is some person to be a judgemental asshole, but for the most part, people are supportive. If it helps you get through a rough time, GREAT.

During one of the worst periods of my life, part of why I didn't kill myself was because of my work. Because then I wouldn't get to finish the stories I had started.

But honestly, I suspect the people doing the judging have probably never been in that kind of headspace in their lives. Because once you have... yeah. You do what you need to in order to get through.
Jul. 20th, 2012 02:47 am (UTC)
I've been having a major cat-cuddling time over the last couple of months. I've lived for the next episode of a TV show. All the small things can really make a difference.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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