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Help lines (suicide topic may trigger)

In my last article there's a major tip I forgot to put in or emphasize. Really, really important one, something that saved my life hundreds of times.

If you are LBGTQ - QUILTBAG - youth at risk, The Trevor Project has an incredible hotline. 866 488 7386 is the number.

There's also a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 - this one is good too and I haven't had any discrimination from them when I bring up transgender issues. Only support and understanding. Once in a blue moon I'm educating someone on the line but they're open to it and listen supportively. It's rare because I'm probably not the first one who called, discrimination kills.

Suicide hotlines are a tremendously good idea. They are free. The hotliner is trained not to be judgmental. There is nothing more effective in releasing and bringing down the level of any emotional or physical trauma than being able to talk about it with someone who's attentively listening, cares, and doesn't try to give a lot of pointless advice.

I am alive today because I call those hotlines if I even start to think about it. I have never been involuntarily hospitalized or locked up because I used a hotline. It is safe to tell a hotliner anything. I came out transgender to hotliners when I was living stealth and couldn't stand it in Chicago. I did this even as a teenager when I was dead scared that my grandparents would find out and throw me into an institution - and was listened to and accepted.

It makes a huge difference. Use that resource. If you volunteer on one, thank you. Also please, take care of yourself afterward. Secondhand stress can become a cumulative burden. So taking care of your own feelings and feeling better afterward can save you a lot of heartache. Think of me and all the folks you do save when you're out there doing that. You're brave and good and doing something as needed as fire fighting.

I am starting to pull out of the flare and PTSD reactions from Monday morning's trauma. It was a particularly extreme incident of disconfirmation, something that was more like a New York homeless shelter experience than anything that I'd ever experienced or heard of in San Francisco. But this is still San Francisco.

When I went in to see my doctor on Wednesday morning, I had panic attacks and triggered just on going downstairs, so that was no good. I bulled through it and went to my appointment, explained that my PTSD was going off and so my blood pressure wasn't going to be normal and I was already doing what I could to calm down from the panic attack. They were understanding about it. Most of all my doctor asked what happened and when I explained it, she came up with a San Francisco solution.

I need to get the contact number for the group and give it to her, so she can arrange a training for the people involved. Wow. They do that here. It makes a difference. It's not "whistle blowers get stomped on." They solve the problem - I have done what I could to educate the people involved and they didn't get it. But cisgender experts are sometimes listened to over people who actually have the situation.

This is true of medical chronic stuff too, it helps to bring a healthy person to the doctor's office on initial visits to explain what your problem is because the doctor's looking at your body and listening to your voice tone as a diagnostician, ignoring what you say in favor of how you say it and guessing the most common reasons for your symptoms.

It also takes about three days for someone who's having trouble accepting or understanding transgender to wrap their heads around it and get over the initial shock. There is one. For many people it shatters their world view and even though they do come to understand, they're not going to understand on the spot. It's more important to put in the time and effort to calm down and think about it and accept it, take care of your feelings instead of taking them out on the transgender person. Just saying "I need time to deal with this" when someone comes out is a lot politer than telling them they're not who they say they are because they don't look like what you expect.
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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 20th, 2012 02:38 am (UTC)
i'm sorry you end up being
the canary in the coal mine(group).

its great they do training there

think they'd run into transgender folks before now
esp in san fransisco.

I've answered the lines at suicide hotlines
one of the things we did as a youth group
I hope i helped, maybe i did

I am glad you were helped.

i had the foot up against the wall
now its down and screaming
now to go back upside down

sweet dreams Love!

Jul. 23rd, 2012 01:26 am (UTC)
Thanks, faun. Good way to put it. I like that canary in a coal mine metaphor. That's me all right. Pretty much describes my entire sojourn in New York State from the point I became homeless. Something about the way I dealt with the problems was confusing and frightening to every agency I had to deal with, up till me they routinely crushed everyone and after me they'd clean up the system but too late for me not to come out of it with ever heavier PTSD reactions.

Good luck on the foot. Keep it elevated, sounds like that helps, hope you have someone helping you get things and take care of stuff.
Jul. 23rd, 2012 01:18 am (UTC)
"discrimination kills."

How right you are Robert. I only wish that these hotlines were there in the UK in the late '50s I lost a good friend because he could not cope with his gender issues. He may have been a teenage boy to the world around him, but in his heart, soul and mind he was a girl. we who loved him knew it. Society then was so unforgiving.

Needless cruelty killed him. I have never forgotten my dear Terry.

Jul. 23rd, 2012 01:28 am (UTC)
Postscript - I've got the contact number now - took a few days but I've got it. Now just need to phone the clinic tomorrow and leave it on my doc's answering machine. And see my therapist, who has an uncanny knack of asking exactly the right question that turns my head inside out and leaves me feeling more confident. It's just eerie how she does that, and the new ideas stick well. She's got a fantastic technique.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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