It Gets Better

Hey. It’s been a while. I’ve been busy with a lot of shit. However, I’d like to take this chance to delve into an area I usually don’t cover- my anxiety. This is the full story of my struggles in the past couple years and my hopes for future recovery.

Generally, I experience anxiety in relation to people around me (strangers and friends alike). At first, it presented itself in a more benign way- I just didn’t talk much. I was an introvert. I found it unbelievably hard to answer questions like who I found attractive and who was my friend. This started to flare up more around puberty, to the point where I began experiencing panic attacks in the beginning of grade nine. My coping mechanism, at that point, was a combination of obsessive avoidance of school and people and slowly fucking my body up with overdoses of acetaminophen. No, not taking fifty Tylenols and praying for death- I’d bring them to school, usually the nighttime ones so I could get the drowsiness too, and I’d take a couple in each class. Somehow I doubt it did any lasting damage to my body. It wasn’t all that much. But you know that thing about the nighttime Tylenol? At some point that wasn’t enough, and I started occasionally taking over the counter sleeping aids before and during school. My grades started to drop, I had no friends left, I had no motivation, and soon the teachers got concerned and I was put into an alternate program so that I wouldn’t have to go to school apart from one class. That one class was hell for me, and this only served to further my isolation and suffering.

Around this time, something started happening. This is going to be the first time I’ve ever admitted to this to anyone other than very close loved ones and anonymously over the internet while seeking help. I only feel comfortable mentioning it because at this point I have cleared up the feelings and look back on it as a dark time in my past that needs mentioning. This was the time I started experiencing suicidal thoughts and violent fantasies. I became fascinated by blood and my mind conjured up thoughts of hurting the people I was jealous of, killing myself violently in front of my classmates to make them suffer, and other terrible ideas. This sent me further down the spiral, as these involuntary thoughts were the last thing I wanted and scared the shit out of me. I tried hard to erase them but they persisted. At this point, I was genuinely feeling hatred towards myself and considering suicide, especially as the panic attacks got worse and I was unable to be absent from class. I was using the sleeping aids more than just occasionally, which made it all worse.

And this is when I decided to turn things around. I started to reconnect with an old friend, who I told about my gender identity, and they were a fucking blessing. I slowly began buying male clothes and cutting my hair shorter and shorter. I began to familiarize myself with anxiety coping strategies and did more self reflection to figure out the roots and causes of my anxiety and stop it before it happened. I still felt panic attacks coming on, but I started to be able to stop them in their tracks, something that made me feel even more empowered. I was beginning to do a bit better at my school work and went back to school full-time. As I became more comfortable in my own skin, I became more comfortable with the people around me. I gained back some old friends and began forging deep friendships with new ones, most of which were LGBT, providing me with so much support when I needed it. Finally, we visited the doctor about the panic attacks and anxiety and he prescribed me 50mg of Zoloft a day (a very small dose to start).

I’d love to say everything was all uphill from there, but there was a bit of a dip. Soon after returning home from a vacation that stressed me out due to constant misgendering and social interaction, as well as causing endless pain from wearing my binder too often, I began to experiment with the sleeping aids that I so enjoyed before. I burned myself and set small fires that I could contain when my parents were out of the house, drew elaborate patterns on my arms, among other things. This caused endless guilt, and I informed my boyfriend in hopes that reaching out would stop me from doing it again. It didn’t. The day after I told him, I took another one, and I attempted for five straight minutes to throw it up before giving up and feeling terrible. I feared for my life. So I did what I knew I should do. I reached out again. I spent the day around a person I trusted so that I would be able to calm down. Still didn’t work. I threatened suicide. About a week later, I threatened suicide again, this time with a plan in mind (a plan which wouldn’t have worked, now that I look back on it. I intended to just take all the medication I could find- all my Zoloft, Tylenol, pain meds, etc. But the amount I had wouldn’t have even killed me, just would have put me through endless pain on the way to the hospital. Fucking idiot.). My plan didn’t fan out. I reached out like my counsellor had instructed and my parents took me to the hospital to stay in the psych ward.

The hospital… I’ll spare you the gruesome details. It was a day of boredom, a night of loneliness, and another day of giddiness as I prepared to see the psychiatrist and… well, fix it. He bumped my medication up to 75mg for a week and then 100mg after that, which I’ve been on for about a week and a half now. I began a brief stint with self harm before it kicked in, and when I say brief, I mean really brief. Probably about a week at the most. However, while that happened, I started reaching out again to the people close to me. I told my parents when I wasn’t feeling okay so that they could keep an eye on me and I made sure to meet up with close friends to talk when I was feeling really bad so that I could calm down and avoid hurting myself. And then I stopped. And soon the meds began to work. Finally, they started working. The suicidal thoughts went away quite quickly- now I look back on them with disdain. I’ve become closer than ever with my friends, and have been increasingly friendly towards strangers and acquaintances. My anxiety has been muted, and I can now order food, go out in public, and probably even go to school without having too many issues. I have informed the school of my gender identity and am beginning my public transition at last. My parents are supportive as hell, and they’ve begun referring to me as J or Jas. I haven’t had a single panic attack in about half a week, and every time the anxiety comes back I use my coping mechanisms to diminish it. I’ve become more motivated, writing and drawing more often, making efforts to spend time with friends, and even helping out around the house and having fun doing it. Things that seemed impossible just aren’t anymore.

It’s been about a week and a half of 100mg. That makes three and a half weeks on Zoloft. It’s finally helping. And I’m finally making an effort. I’ve been working so hard to make myself and others as happy as possible. I’ve spent three straight days feeling almost elated with happiness and optimism. I don’t want to die. I don’t want to hurt myself. I don’t want to go back to unhealthy coping mechanisms. I don’t want to avoid my problems. I want to get better. And I am. And that’s fucking amazing.

So that’s what’s been up the past couple years. That’s my autobiography, essentially. All the shit that has consumed every waking hour. And I’m finally making the choice to fix it. I hate to tack on a little moral at the end of this, but I have to. If you are going through a tough time, if you self harm or have considered it, if you’ve attempted or considered suicide, if you starve yourself or binge or abuse drugs or struggle with anxiety or depression or any other disorder, please- reach out. See a professional. If you are a danger to yourself, tell someone you trust or go to the hospital right now. Because as cliché and stupid as it sounds, it does get better- but only if you try. It won’t get better if you bottle it up. It won’t get better if you hurt yourself. It won’t get better if you avoid the issue. For your sake, mine, and all of the people around you who care about you and want to see you happy, please, reach out to a hotline, a person you trust, or a medical professional. Make a plan. Get help. Rebuild everything that’s been destroyed by whatever it is that is plaguing your life. It’s hard, I know, but it’s so worth it to get to stare at the sunset and know that you are going to live to see a hundred more. Please do something about it, because I don’t want to lose you and I don’t want you to be hurt. I know that there is a solution to whatever problem you face, and if you search hard enough, I swear on my life, you can find it.

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