Epilepsy and props with meds

It’s been 18 months since I had my last seizure and was put on medication, and almost a year and a half since my August seizure episode.

On August 8th, 2014 while studying abroad in England, I started having a seizure during my sleep. I only know this because my bedmate was awakened by my jerking, and called for help. Apparently she had to get several people to carry me down the stairs (for some reason, this makes me laugh). I don’t remember any of that. I was not conscious for the seizure, only the odd aftermath:

Wake up. People are surrounding me.

Ambulance comes. They decide I should go to the hospital.

Hospital ride.

(Black out again. They say I had two more seizures and had to be sedated.)

Wake up in a South Warwickshire hospital bed almost 36 hours later. They’ve put needles in me, done a CT scan, X-rays, etc. My bed is wet. I fucking pissed the bed during the (second? third?) seizure.

I leave. My wonderful teacher, who stayed with me at the hospital, gets our train tickets. We go to Bath.

 

For the longest time, I didn’t want to write about it. Now it kind of seems comical. I can honestly say that time in the hospital was fine, great, even—I mean, how many times do you get to say, “Dude, I was so fucked up, they had to put me under.” And to this day, it was the best sleep of my life. The peeing part was embarrassing, but whatever.

pills

Before, I knew nothing about epilepsy or even what type of seizures I had. Now I know they are nocturnal seizures. They only happen when I’m asleep, because the brain is free to go crazy then.

Before, I took my medication semi-regularly. I had to take three pills a day (excluding my other meds) and I hated it. Now I have stopped. I told myself it was because I didn’t need to, because I hated pills, because I needed to focus on my depression. Surely I would die from complications from depression before I died of epilepsy. Now I think it’s because I hate parts of myself and I wanted my consciousness to melt away. It would be better if I had a seizure–maybe it would damage me so I wouldn’t feel bad. Or wouldn’t feel at all.

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If we thought we could do better

Almost everyone does the best they can do at the time. I see this in my own life and when I watch my friends struggle and grow. Some people are so ignorant. They think people are lazy or make excuses. Sometimes that’s true. But believe me, if we thought we could do better—be better—we would. If we thought we could jump higher, we would, we would soar!

If I thought I was a treasure, I would polish myself till I gleamed, and come out of that bottle the most beautiful genie. If they thought they were worth it, my friends would put down their razors and make their beds and sleep for eight hours. If we knew in our hearts that we could achieve something wonderful, we would. But we are afraid. We don’t think it’s true.

Sometimes it’s a struggle to get out of bed, make food, do my homework. So little things don’t seem important. They seem ridiculous.

How can my teacher be angry that I was 2 minutes late? I’m proud I even got to class. 

Someone wants me to sit them at a larger booth.

I have to use the term “folks” instead of “guys” bc it’s more inclusive? Get fucked.

I still care, which is the worst. I care too much about the little things and not enough about the important things. I am a zombie. So please, be considerate and communicative with depressed and anxious people. “It’s not like we can’t handle criticism,” said a friend. “I’m not going to kill myself if you don’t like something I’ve done.”

But please understand that I have a lot going on my mind, often things I haven’t shared.

A Look at Depression & Suicide

A few days ago, I was on an online chat forum. Often times, people will just spout out random things and tidbits. That day, a friend said, “A girl from my university tried to commit suicide by stabbing herself in the head. But she lived. LOL, so stupid.”

And thus commenced the eruption.

I was horrified. Why would he ever joke about that? I can understand making a joke privately to a friend you know well, but saying that online is horrible. I told him that. A girl who publicly made it known to everyone that she was chronically depressed jumped in to say she found his comment offensive. Another guy jumped in and supported the OP.

They kept saying stuff like, “Suicide is selfish,” “Killing yourself is cowardly,” “It’s stupid to off yourself.” I kept defending my opinion until I was exhausted. “These people are mentally ill, they need your support.” I got in the shower, and looked at my phone again after I got out.

DXXX: Depression is the latest fad (w/link)

Unbidden, all these horrible thoughts and feelings came back, and I started crying. He had posted that link long after people had told him to stop talking about the subject. How could people be so cruel? Where was the empathy?

The truth is that I am not an unbiased person at all. I come from a family full of unhappy people, spanning generations. My grandmother ate and smoked herself to death, threatened to commit suicide, tried to kill a family member, and was bipolar. My parents have had their share of unhappiness, which I am not permitted to discuss because they are still living and would be mad at me. And I myself was put on anti-depressants when I was 4 or 5, and have never fully been taken off. I was committed to a psychiatric facility for a week when I was 14 because I wanted to kill myself.

“Suicide is selfish, yada yada yada” argument

Even though I feel much better now, I find something lurking in that edge of my mind sometimes. That’s why their words really hurt me. Their argument was the same argument my leading doctor used in the psych ward. The thing is, it worked beautifully—at first. What the “suicide is selfish and you’re a coward and a wimp” does is instill enough guilt to prevent you from killing yourself. But as you think about it, you become so ashamed that you confirm your worst fears—that you are a horrible, worthless person. And you don’t really want to live after that, do you? It’s really bad for your soul and leads you to destructive thoughts. If you’ve ever said this to someone, shame on you! Unless they’re about to jump from a roof, try a different approach.

All that damn sympathy

I once went to a shrink that always, always, always had a puppy-dog look on his face. “And that must have hurt,” he would say after I told him something. Goodness, he was a lovely person but a dim bulb, I would say. He never questioned my judgment or implied I was at fault. Please, if you are ever in a therapist’s room (and I hope you go once) and they do this to you, walk away. Your money has been ill spent. Don’t get me wrong, sympathy is lovely. It’s needed. But not all the time. Don’t be friends with your therapist or call them by their first name. You are a buyer of a service. Most importantly, don’t play the victim. This constant “pat-on-the-back” nonsense only victimizes people more, and makes them feel like they are not responsible for their behavior, that it’s always someone else’s fault.

It’s a tricky road

Be careful when dealing with someone suffering from depression and/or suicidal thoughts. Even though I think the term is cliché, it is apt. They really do suffer, and what you say may help. It might hurt as well, but don’t blame yourself if something turns sour. Depressed people are people are people. Don’t put them on a victimized pedestal; they are often pretty smart, manipulative, desperate for affection or attention, and highly sensitive. They can lash out. Don’t take it personal.

Some tips:

  1. Try to talk to them about their feelings/behaviors. If they admit to feeling down or engaging in destructive behaviors such as cutting themselves, they are ready to get help. If not, a good thing to do would be talking to someone close to them (IF THEY ARE PHYSICALLY IN DANGER. If they’re feeling a little blue, maybe let it be.)
  2. Listen. Just hear what they are saying. Letting them discuss problems and issues may take a weight off their shoulders. And if you don’t know what to say, ask the 5 W’s + H. For instance, “Why do you feel that way? When did this happen? What are you doing to fight this?”
  3. Suggest that they join activities or support groups, or see a psychiatrist. Exercise is really great for alleviating stress and sadness. Here are some exercise tips.
  4. Don’t let a friend’s depression engulf your life and time. You can’t always be there for them, and you have to take care of yourself. There is only so much you can do—the rest is up to them.

Maybe you think me a little contradictory, harsh, etc… However, I think it’s important to be a wide-eyed sympathetic. In other words, don’t be blind. If someone keeps making excuses, they aren’t ready to get better. If they keep making destructive choices despite everything, they don’t care about themselves—and you need to let them come to a decision on their own. But if they ask for help, it’s your moral duty to try.

“Fixing society” and Leelah Alcorn’s death

 

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Leelah Alcorn, a trans MTF who committed suicide because her parents would not let her transition.

What seemed like another progressive year for LGBTQ rights is now slightly soured by the death of a male-to-female (MTF) transgendered teenager who committed suicide a few days after Christmas. Published only hours after Leelah Alcorn stepped into traffic, Tumblr suicide note caused an uproar about how society approaches the trans community. Why is this still happening? Why are trans people still not getting the support they need? How can parents do this to their child? What can we do to ensure the safety and health of transgendered individuals?

We can’t do everything. We cannot be in their own homes to protect them from emotional and physical abuse. We can’t trail them and discourage damaging remarks or prejudice. Most of all, we can’t prosecute guardians that don’t offer support, as some LGBT rights activists urge. Leelah Alcorn chose to commit suicide. We need to accept that it was her choice. What purpose would prosecuting her parents serve? It would do little, except maybe confirm those religious communities’ beliefs that the government is unrightfully persecuting them. It’s hitting a bully instead of teaching him how to love. What we need to do is tackle society’s stigmas with trans people.

Stop conversion therapy

Leelah Alcorn’s parents forced her to undergo conversion therapy to “cure” her. What a load of shit. I don’t know if people are born trans, gay, bi, or straight. I don’t know. But I definitely know you don’t choose to be a certain identity or sexuality. And I know many psychological associations dispel conversion therapy and cite it as potentially harmful. Telling someone they are unnatural then going through the techniques they sometimes use is horrible. It won’t help.

Use appropriate pronouns

I once heard a story from my coworker about a customer who was a transgendered MTF. She was waiting in line, and it was clear she was just starting to transition. Her hair was still short, and her breasts hadn’t grown in yet. The coworker remembered her chosen name, though: “She lit up when I called her name, like she was surprised. She was really happy.” Using correct pronouns and being respectful of whatever name they prefer is an important part of supporting someone as they transition and after. Sometimes people don’t mind which name they’re called, but make sure to communicate with them first.

Educate

I’m not just talking in schools. Schooling systems are supposed to give us the sex talk, and they kind of failed on that one (at least for me). No, I’m talking about hospitals and doctors. I’m talking about churches. I’m talking about any place where people look for guidance about children. Why not introduce gender dysphoria in a parenting class? And school counselors should be open to speaking about this unique issue as well.

more things you can do in your community

 

Committing suicide is not the answer

“Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say ‘that’s fucked up’ and fix it. Fix society.”–Leelah Alcorn

It’s really difficult for me to say that. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been on/off depression medication, and I can’t say I’ve never thought about killing myself. Really thought about it. But it’s not the answer to anyone’s problems. It wasn’t the answer to mine.

I don’t want to judge Leelah Alcorn’s decision to end her life. It is rare, but sometimes there is no other way to stop the pain. Brittany Maynard chose assisted suicide because she suffered from terminal brain cancer. Some secret agents kill themselves to avoid painful torture and execution. In this case, Alcorn chose to kill herself because she was isolated and unable to be herself. And what she went through sounds horrible. I don’t know what choice I would have made in her situation. But she incentivized suicide. She also did it as a fuck-you to the world, something she readily admits in her Tumblr note. She wanted to be a number that shocked society into change. Please, whoever you are, don’t try to shock society into change. Don’t. It’s rarely worth your life. Instead, be the change you wish to see, as Ghandi said in a nutshell. Be active in your community. Educate people, and try to accept others.

 

Thank you,

Chloe

 

 

 

 

Additional Information:

 

Suicide is not something to take lightly or dismiss. If you or someone you love is having self-harming thoughts, please talk to someone.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1 (800) 273-8255

 

For transgender people the Trans Lifeline can help: 
US: (877) 565-8860
Canada: (877) 330-6366

The Trevor Project for LGBTQ youth: 1-866-488-7386

The GLBT National Hotline: 888-843-4564

A Face Turned Towards the Other Grave

You loved
sitting under the willows in autumn.
Staring at the setting sun,
your eyes like celeste blue clouds,
pupils resembling little angels.
Now your grey eyes are always here,
but never really
here.
Like crows they shift
as your tainted lips curve
up in the lamplight.
And I know its not a smile
but a resignation, a withdrawal.
Those eyes are no longer my angels.

When your father died,
your angel eyes fell to earth and shattered
And the shades of shame
that covered those betraying eyes
now hang limply from your brow.
Day after day I would look for your eyes.
Are they in the pots? On the ledge?
Hidden in the snow?
But they’ve left me this winter.

Yesterday, I buried you
in the spring rain.
No flowers, no procession.
No church or priest.
Just an empty coffin
being lowered to new ground,
your face turned towards
the other grave, waiting for him.
I didn’t mean it, son.
It was an accident.
I was an accident.
I’m sorry, son.

I woke up this morning
to find your name
on my hand.
Just your name.
No message of consolation
or release, no
smile etched into skin.
Just a name—
pressed into my palm,
A few coins where once there was a fountain.

Today, when I was uncovering the mirrors,
I found those eyes.
Put together and bluer than before.
No grey.
They shimmered bright as the sky,
and as I stared into your eyes,
I realized
you were never really gone.