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Dec 26 2015

You wouldn’t believe the most amazing things, that can come from some terrible nights

So much to catch up on to get everyone/anyone (including myself) up to date. Not only has my life been a mess in general but especially the past few months. Maybe I’m too worried about that though. I’m going to try to make this as freeing and untroubled as possible to get out. Just going to take it as it comes. Just going to… write. I’m Milo, I’m joining this blog to write with the wonderful, beautiful, and talented Josie. My voice differs from hers, as well as our stories do, but there are many overlaps and moments and feelings we share from the past and currently. As hard as it’s going to be at times, it’s also going to be fun and hopefully helpful. I have no commitment promises here, as much as I’d like to stick with it and use writing therapeutically, and have my voice reach people, if possible. But my mind comes and goes pretty easily with mental illness. That’s an important part of who I am and might give some insight to how I write and the patterns I (don’t) follow.

I’ve only recently started to reach out for medical help for what I feel has always been a problem(s) in my life since a very young age. So it means there’s a lot of unknown floating around… it seems like the various doctors I’ve been seeing are getting a general idea but aren’t sure of the best treatment yet. I’m trying to take their advice and do some trial and error so I can get help properly because I’ve learned the hard way, I can’t tackle it on my own (I am fortunate to have a great support system I always took for granted until recently – or maybe they took me for granted, but either way that’s been a big help but they can never “fix” me, or give me the answers I’m looking for… they can only, hence their title, support).

I have a lot of different issues – ones that have been diagnosed are: gender identity disorder, depressive disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia/social phobia, and the only one that comes to mind that hasn’t been is attention span problems, but I’m sure they assume it’s attached to one of the previously listed disorders. As far as the gender identity disorder goes, there’s the body dysphoria and disassociation all the time, always there… constant. And then there’s the biggest issue of mine in my opinion: existentialism. But that’s for a later date.

/Then/ there are the issues that stem from these things – self-harm, suicide attempts, multiple panic attacks daily, trouble sleeping, never getting things done due to lack of focus, genuine happiness I feel so rarely being ripped away too easily, hating myself as a result of never being able to escape from my body, being uncomfortable, terrified even, to bathe, dress/undress, or be nude in any setting, disconnection and isolation from the world and the people I love and that care about me.

That’s the basics of my head I suppose. Let’s catch up from when I moved back to Chicago, about six months ago. Before that I was living in southern Illinois in a very different environment. I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago (skipping around quite a bit) but my last six years were spent in “the south”. Moving here was a positive thing – so I thought. I /needed/ to be able to transition. And that’s not a thing you can necessarily do there (maybe with the right connections but we are talking empty, two hospital town, 15,000 people town, that you can drive from one end to the other in fifteen minutes). However, I was in the “city” compared to everything surrounding me. The closest real city was St. Louis, eighty miles away, which is especially far without a car or any sort of public transit system. The closest thing that felt like the suburbs was sixty miles away. Needless to say, I was stranded and needed to make it back. Both my brothers have been incredibly generous towards me and I’m so grateful for all of it. I was living with the oldest at the time but the second oldest and his girlfriend (now wife), extended the offer to let me come live with them to broaden my opportunities for my life. I was only out to my mom and best friend at this time. And on top of that, I was not financially prepared for the trip. (Also the generosity overwhelmed me… and subcnosciously I was terrified… it meant coming out, having to completely change environments, and what I didn’t know I was scared of at the time, leaving what I had there), So I noted the offer and stored it for a later date.

The later date was very specific. Decemeber 28th, 2014. I had planned to kill myself. I thought I was never going to get the help I needed (at that point I thought it was solely related to transitioning but regardless, still relevant). I was /sure/ of it. So I sat down and (for once out of the times I’ve planned/done this) wrote a note. It wasn’t very coherent, in any way. It wasn’t “dear so and so I have thought about this and need to do it and I’m sorry”. I do remember what it said for the most part but we’ll leave that out. The important bit it did say was that I didn’t think I was ever going to get to be me and exist as me (which in my head was and still is, exist /at all/). As I was doing this, something happened on the internet in my community, on the blog site I was most attached to. A transgender girl named Leelah took her life that same day and left her note on the blog site. It had happened in the morning but I found out in the evening as I was planning all this. I read her note. And though she was in a completely different situation, our circumstances aligned and I saw myself in her. And reading it, it triggered a need to survive. Not only because I considered that this beautiful life was now removed from our world, but she specifically voiced she wanted her death to mean something, to help people understand and grow. She saved me that night. I sat there and read how she did this because she didn’t think she would ever get the help she needed or be able to exist as the person she actually was inside. And it was almost word for word what I had written down. in that inhcoherent mess of mine. it suddenly stood out. I erased it all, cried for hours and hours and hours and then called my mom who came over and sat on my couch while I cried some more as I told her about Leelah (and not the rest). And I decided I was going to call my brother the next day and take him up on his offer to move there. And that was that. Six months and two weeks later I moved in with my second oldest brother North of Chicago. I had came out to him three months prior to the date with my best friend by my side for the trip and things were looking better. I’ll save the downward spiral of those six months in waiting for another post. Because there’s already so much more to go into this one.

Two weeks before the actual move, I started to get “cold feet” over it. The truth is deep down I knew it’s not what I wanted but what I needed. Which differed from what I had thought before that point. The entire six years I lived in Southern Illinois I refused to call it home. Chicago was home. Southern Illinois had nothing to offer me and every memory I made there was destructive… until a couple things happened that changed my life there, and in general. I found and adopted my dog. And then I met my best friend. They became my home and I didn’t realize, though I should’ve considering I moved seven different times throughout my adolescence, what makes your home just that is who and what’s there, not the location of it. I waited until the last minute to pack everything, which is the norm for me, but it was intentional this time. I pushed it off because I didn’t want to go. The night before I had to say goodbye to my mom, which even with all our problems, was incredibly hard. She was the first person I came out to, and had been my emotional rock, even if nothing else, through most of my life. I walked her home with my dog and halfway we parted ways and I cried the whole walk back, my dog worried once she got over not wanting my mom to part ways with us either. I remember stopping once my mom was out of sight and snatching up my dog, sobbing into her fur, terrified of what was to come. The day we packed up the truck, the pain over leaving my best friend and dog was nearly unbearable (I couldn’t bring my dog because of my second oldest brother’s dog but thankfully my oldest brother offered to take care of her until I could get her back). I won’t forget my brother coming back in from me saying goodbye to my best friend and wrapping me up in his arms, so genuinely understanding the pain I was in, which was pretty unusual for us to have a moment like that. He had increasingly become more compassionate, with me especially, but for him to understand that leaving my best friend hurt like hell instead of brushing it off was important. It did hurt so, so much, I hadn’t had a connection with someone in four years prior to meeting her. Leaving my brother was hard, too, but he was driving the truck up for me so I didn’t have to face that until later.

My first month was spent in a depressed, anxiety-ridden, self-sabotaging coma. I barely left my room, I barely communicated with my brother unless it was to talk about how unhappy I was. I thought I had made the biggest mistake of my life. I called my mom frequently to talk to her about that. And my best friend as well. Both who told me if it’s what was necessary they both had space for me to come back. But I knew better. I knew I would’n’t survive if I went back. It was what I /wanted/ but not what I /needed/.

I met Josie very early on during this point, within my first two weeks of being here, which was rough on my social anxiety, and with the state I was in of isolating myself. My brother had mentioned her to me before I even came out, and after I did he was insistent we meet. I was insistent about it, too. A small excitement in my horrible state. She came over to play games with my brother and a couple of his other friends, and turns out it was her first time wearing a dress so she was anxious too, even though I didn’t find that out until later. I spectated instead of getting involved, but got comfortable and joined the conversations at least and also felt something important was happening being in Josie’s presence. After that she extended her help to me whenever need be and also invited me out to my first time ever at Wrigley Field to watch the Cubs play. The rest is history.

After a lot of difficult talks, with my brother’s help (and my sister-in-law’s, too) I got one of the first jobs I actually put in effort in applying for, which was a dog handler at a dog daycare. It changed my life, in the sense of it was the most amazing job I could have ever asked for. It showed me /that/ was possible. I could get paid to pet and play with dogs all day instead of standing at a cash register for eight+ hours being misgendered and sexually harassed and full of misery. I /wanted/ to be at this job. preferred it over home. preferred it over everything. I didn’t have panic attacks for three hours before going into work. I didn’t cry over how I was treated when I got home (unless it was due to someone saying something awful to me on my way home). I still had bad days, very bad ones, but they were never /because/ of work. I loved my job. I loved the dogs, I loved my coworker(s), I even grew to love the hour and a half commute I did on the buses to and from, which was incredibly hard at first with the agoraphobia/social anxiety.

During this time, I ended up getting a lot of my doctor appointments made and lined up starting HRT through informed consent. This was the whole reason I moved, so I’d have this opportunity. There was a snag (one I initially had in Southern Illinois) but then it happened – I got my first shot of testosterone. I got to start my life. I got to start existing.

After that was mostly good for me, besides my brother wanting me to find a better fitting job for time and money’s sake. That conversation came up pretty often but he tried to be gentle. I knew he was right but it was so hard for me to let go of this new happiness I’d found, especially with things going so well. But, I lost it anyway five months in, due to the business closing. And it triggered so many things. Months prior to even knowing it was going to close I was slowly starting to struggle again. I would walk by this certain overpass… all my life for as long as I can remember I have never gone a day without thinking about killing myself at some point. Even on the good days. It’s there in the morning or at night or both or even the smallest things can bring it to the front of my mind throughout the day. The idea of not understanding my existence left me with that being the only consistent thing in my life: suicidal thoughts. And I didn’t even think they were strange or damaging, just part of me, as it is to me my “fate” to not exist. My biggest problem with carrying it out is I was never sure how. I had tried different things when they clicked but when I failed and wanted to move on to a new strategy, I had to find the right one. This overpass clicked. I walked by it and knew it was an option. It was caged over, as I’ve noticed most are here, I’m assuming for general safety reasons. But there was a column in the middle where the fence attached to it on both sides and a slim slit on each side of the column I could fit through. I knew without trying. This overpass was on the way to somewhere I would go to often because of its closeness to work and the cheapness of the store. And each time I passed it I had to suppress the urge to just do it, but also each time the urge to do it grew and grew. Losing the job, I was sure my last night I was going to jump off it. I don’t even remember why I didn’t. Because I had a good time with my friends/coworkers at the bar after we closed? Maybe. Because I was terrified of the pain it would cause the people in my life (the usual reason)? Probably.

Two days later I had the worst self-harm relapse I’ve ever had… a really really /good/ day, exceptional even, turned bad once I got home and a heavy conversation about my state of unemployment started, even with the request we talk about it later, tomorrow, any time but right then because I was feeling better than I had in, I would say years but it was probably more accurately months. Another night like this almost happened the next day but my brother and I managed to talk it out to a point where I didn’t hurt myself (I was considering running away, for good, at one point between conversations, because I was looking for a reckless solution that wasn’t “hurting” myself). Josie also helped talk me through this one. I was safe thanks to my support system.

The next day I had a psych appointment, a very important one, considering I didn’t believe my anti-depressants were working (in fact, I think they were working against me) and also needed guidance as to what to do next in general. The next step in getting better besides my meds. Because I was lost losing my job. I overslept. I was twenty-five minutes late (there’s a grace period of fifteen). I even had roller-bladed to the train station in hopes I’d make it. So I was at the clinic, with my skates and all, talking to a receptionist about how I needed to see someone. That I wasn’t safe to leave without speaking to someone. She gave me the closest thing they had to a crisis counselor, which led to me being petitioned to involuntary inpatient at the hospital they were affiliated with. Again, another story for another time.

I got out after three days and I felt better… but by better I mean I was euphoric to have my freedom back for two days and then dove headfirst straight back into depression and anxiety. But I had a partial hospitalization program to attend that week (which I’ve only had two days of so far, first being awful and second being wonderful), and that sums up events until now. I am, transgender, mentally ill, seeking help through PHP, and trying, so very hard. to exist. to survive. and maybe help fix this society, Leelah.

About the author

Milo

1 comment

  1. Marcy Browning

    Milo,

    Thank you for sharing your pain, struggles and hope. For making the choice to stay with us.

    Better days are coming,
    Marcy

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