(The Last) Long Overdue Blog Post, Part 6: February 2020-the present.

Clearly, I did not die that night. After that I had an arterial catheterization and several other tests and they couldn’t find a single thing wrong with me. I was sent home, but decided to take two weeks off work so I could recover. Joey ended up flying us down to Florida so I could get some sun and relax and he could keep working on the motorhome. That was a very nice time. 

When we got back, it wasn’t long until Covid was getting serious. Joey shut down his business before the mandate. My workplace didn’t shut down, so I said I couldn’t come in because I had some sort of unknown heart condition and also Joey has lupus. They understood, and I got disability pay. However, as things progressed, I was very unimpressed with how they handled Covid and our livelihoods, and I ended up sharing my opinion and not accepting the offer of the job after the furlough ended. 

And then it was Covid. We were stuck in our homes. You know the deal. Strangely, business skyrocketed for Joey, and he was finally able to buy land. The perfect place just seemed to appear. It all came together. This isn’t to imply Joey didn’t fight very hard to make it happen. 

And now, here we are. Joey, me, Drew, and two cats, just like in the motorhome days, plus two beautiful angora rabbits, chickens, ducks, and all our other animals. Gardens. 96 acres of land with forests and fields and a very large pond full of fish, that you can swim in. A beautiful house already built. It’s a fucking dream. 

But I’ve been endlessly anxious. I can’t seem to get a break. In my class at PROS, we learned that anxiety is often covering up another emotion. I realized mine is fear and sadness. 

I’m so afraid. 

We’ve been really monitoring my mental health this past month, because the first time I was hospitalized was not too long after the 2016 election. When Trump won, I felt we were all in deep shit. I was pretty sure we would have an equivalency of Nazi Germany in a few years time. The sad part is, I don’t think I was wrong. People told me to relax, and didn’t get why I wanted to leave the country (unfortunately it wasn’t possible.) I felt like I only had Joey. I started smoking a shit ton of weed to try to relax, and my paranoia got worse and worse. I started believing all kinds of shit, like that people of the resistance were communicating with me through twitter and google maps, such as the singer Morrissey (don’t get me started on what a dick he has become) and Chelsea Manning. I believed I was particularly on Trump’s radar. 

Anyway. I don’t feel psychotic now. I’m not on drugs. Haven’t been for over a year. But I am terrified again. Today Joey and I were talking at the table about how important it is just to enjoy what we have….what we are SO VERY LUCKY to have. What we’ve wanted since we were children. This amazing home. This beautiful family. And love. But we’re both depressed and anxious. 

“Maybe Biden will win and people will protest but it won’t be that bad,” I said. Crazy that in this day and age I’m like, “maybe just *some* people will die….and it will be sad, but we’ll be OK. Most of us will be OK.” But I feel absolutely helpless. The Supreme court will be corrupted entirely after tonight. It’s the end of any shred of justice in America. 

I asked Joey if I could tell him what I’m really afraid of. He said sure. I started sobbing. It’s been more common since I greatly reduced my testosterone. 

I told him I was afraid there would be nazis, trumpys, actively coming after all who disagreed or represented one of their hated groups. I have visions of them taking my parents. Destroying the city I grew up in. Coming up our driveway. Burning our home. Harming us in ways I can’t even say. Killing my loved ones in front of me. 

I’m crying again. I still think this probably won’t happen? But it does happen, around the world, all the time. It could easily happen. I honestly feel…humbled. Being an American is not being immune. It has never been, for many. And I have faced horrible discrimination….but never this level of fear for my security and my loved ones. 

I briefly mentioned my scorn for Morrissey. He has decided to side with the fascists of this world, and as my hero for so long, he broke my heart. But my relationship to him was unhealthy anyway, even if his music was a necessary, and beautiful, crutch that got me through my twenties alive. I wanted to get tattoo removal on my chest, but now I feel like I need the words more than ever. “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out.” I could never see that light before I got better; before my ketamine journey, before giving up drugs and alcohol, before learning what true love with Joey meant. But even when I got that tattoo, at age 22, right after my mastectomy, I believed it existed. And it may still be one of my favorite songs someday when I can listen to it again with some distance. I’m glad to have those words on me for now. The light is love. I’ve never understood how important love truly is. That’s what I hold onto. That’s what is calming me down. Love for my life, and for those in it.  Forgive me for sounding so saccharine. But seriously, all we can do is live, laugh, love, enjoy one another, and be in the present moment. That’s what I’ve learned on this journey. Make art. Be kind. All the cliches are what is really deep in life.  

It’s raining lightly but steadily outside my window. My face is tear stained and I’m sure my eye-makeup I put on is running. This past 2 and a half years have been insane. There is still so much more to tell, but I’ll save that for other entries. For now, I end my 6 part blog series, wishing you and your loved ones happiness, safety, and peace.

I’ll be writing more soon. Please follow. 🙂

Long Overdue Post Part 5: February 2020.

So I ended up in the hospital. What was funny was I chose that day to be brave and dress more femininely than usual. You probably know if you’re reading this that I was assigned female at birth and transitioned to male about ten years ago. Well, I now identify as something between male and female, and often I want to express my femininity and feel too anxious about being judged. So that day I wore some eye makeup and a red camisole. Anyway, I was super nervous with the doctors. A male nurse made a comment about my polar bear print socks, basically teasing, but I was like, “whatever, I’m proud of them!”

Erica was with me the whole time. She went and bought me an amazing gluten and corn free dinner from one of our favorite restaurants in Ithaca, The Heights. I had salmon in the hospital! She is an amazing friend and advocated for me. She was helping explain to the nurse that I am afraid of needles and blood and can faint, even just talking about veins for instance. Erica said, “I mean this in the most loving way, but basically treat Elliott like a five year old.” This cracked me up because it’s true, and it actually helped with my comfort throughout my stay.

So after they did some tests, they confirmed that I did have a heart attack. However, the doctor had no idea why. He asked me if I used cocaine or any stimulants and I said no, because I have never used those. He said that he’s never seen a healthy person my age with the elevated troponin levels I had. Now, looking back, I wonder if it was Covid-19. Check out this article about the virus causing heart problems.

Joey flew back from Florida as quickly as he could and was there for me every day. They even let him stay overnight one time. I had a nurse who would not listen to me. I was having chest pain again, and she kept insisting it was just anxiety. I wasn’t even that anxious at that point. I was on the phone with Joey the whole time. We asked to speak with the oncall doctor and he said the same thing. What the fuck? I just had a heart attack!

Eventually she gave me morphine for the pain and they agreed to let Joey stay over the night and keep and eye on me. I was very drugged and wrote my will and told Joey all the things I wanted him to know if I died. I barely remember it, but I still have the will. It’s all pretty sad, but maybe a little dramatic. It’s actually pretty hilarious in parts. I give instructions for caring for my succulents. I also drew a picture of a ghost on it. Oh morphine.

This one is a little short, but I’ve been delayed in getting it up, so I think I’ll leave it there for now. I want to work on another writing project today before I lose my steam. Thanks for reading.

Long Overdue Post Part 4: December 2019-February 2020

In which things get even crazier…

So I was finally feeling happy. I spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with Joey and Drew and the cats. And in early January, Joey and I had a talk one morning over coffee and both decided we were back in a relationship. I was so unbelievably happy. Well, the truth is, it took some time to kick in. I have a weird thing where good news after waiting can sometimes make me feel sort of depressed. But it only lasts usually a few days, and as I said, I was soon very happy.

I was doing great at work. I was actually really enjoying myself and feeling passionate. I kept getting great feedback. This was great for my self-esteem; I never thought I’d be able to hold a regular 9-5 adult job due to my disabilities. Unfortunately, I did start to have a serious problem with a co-worker, but I won’t talk about that here. It was mostly dealt with. Sorta.

Around December/January I started feeling sick often. It was stomach pains, diarrhea, and what felt like very bad heartburn. This was happening almost daily, and it got so bad I had to leave work once. I’m still not sure what caused it. I was getting very close to calling the doctor because it had been almost a month.

In February, Joey took a trip down to Florida to work on fixing up the motorhome, which was currently parked at his parents’ place. I once again stayed at the apartment to take care of the cats and fish, and to keep Drew company.

One morning I had an appointment with my therapist, so I took an Uber downtown. The buses are hard to navigate from that apartment. While I was riding in the back seat, my teeth and jaw started hurting in this very strange way I had never experienced before. The mental health building is right next to the pharmacy, so I stopped inside. I couldn’t find any ibupropfen, and just decided to walk less than five minutes to GenderCat and ask Erica for some. I still had a little time before my appointment.

As I was walking, my chest started hurting pretty bad, with that sort of heartburn feeling but more intense. Then my left shoulder started hurting too. I stopped outside the GenderCat office because I was very out of breath and dizzy. I Googled my symptoms and it said at the top of the search results, “You may be having a heart attack. Call 9-11 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately.” I found that unlikely…I was thirty-one years old and healthy. I called Joey in Florida and told him my symptoms. I asked him if he thought I should go to the emergency room. He was calm but clearly scared, and said yes.

I think I’ll leave it on this cliffhanger. 🙂 But yeah, suffice to say I’m okay now.

Part 5 coming soon.

Long Overdue Post, Part 3: July-November 2019

I had given up on getting into the mental health housing I wanted. I think it’s called Hillview? Anyway, it was too much work with too little time, and I found out it was usually a tad cheaper, if you had PA (which I didn’t) but still wasn’t free. Silly me to think that affordable housing for vulnerable people could exist…

My sublet was about to end August 1st, and I didn’t have a place to go. Joey told me I could crash for a bit at the old apartment if need be. I started looking for jobs online and downtown. I was seeing my counselor again and she was really encouraging me. I felt like it was a life sentence. I applied at the Salvation Army and got a call back, but didn’t get out of bed the day of the interview. The same happened with Kohl’s. I never heard back from most places. I even applied at the gas station. I figured it wouldn’t be forever, but I still felt pretty hopeless.

Then I learned that Finger Lakes Reuse Center was hiring a retail assistant. I sent in my resume and letter and heard back the same day. I was offered the job the same day of the interview! I accepted. After a rocky start at the cash register, I ended up in the warehouse sorting, cleaning, and pricing items that came in from donors. My specialty was households, but I also sorted some clothes. My co-workers were quirky but amiable. My heart definitely wasn’t in it, but it was a simple bus commute and I was able to force myself to go without too much pain. I did spend all day counting the minutes til my cigarette breaks and feeling hopelessly depressed and overwhelmed. But I was actually pretty good at my job, and got positive feedback.

Joey took me to Syracuse to get my first ketamine treatment on a work day. I got the afternoon off. The office was small, but very nice and zen. The doctor was very nice. She is an anesthesiologist at her other job. She and Joey had struck up a rapport from his last appointment, but I was super shy as usual.

I signed consents and filled out a questionnaire on my depression levels. She gave me a rundown of what to expect, and then it was time to start. I really struggled with needles, but I got through it. I waited in the arm chair in the room by myself, staring at a beautiful painting of falling leaves and cedars on the wall. It took about 10 minutes for the medicine to kick in. The painting got blurry, and started moving. It was even more beautiful.

I don’t remember much of my first journey. I remember feeling I was something between a lion and a lioness, and that was my place in the pride of my life. I thought of all the people in my life as my pack. I saw dancing foxes, and the great Tiger Mother. There were moving visions of wheels, almost like mandalas, and Aztec art. I felt …primal. And connected to the universe. I really never had spirituality before this, as much as I wanted to. I felt intense waves of euphoria and comfort. Belonging. Unafraid of death and life. And when it ended, it was OK, unlike when other substances have worn off for me and I’ve immediately needed more. I was ready to come back. I cried and cried and let so much out. I was shaking. Joey held my hand. I felt completely changed, forever.

On the car ride home, I noted that I felt no anxiety. I didn’t even realize how much it manifested in my body until then. But my heart was still, my breathing calm, my mind at ease. I was in awe.

Everything felt easier. Work, chores, cooking for myself. I was able to rent my own room in an apartment, also downtown. I started showering regularly and shaving and grooming again. I wore cute outfits again instead of just gym shorts and baggy tee shirts. I got a hair cut. I sometimes put on make-up. I started journaling and drawing and going over plans for self-improvement in the evenings. I was actually living.

Then, things took a dip. I decided I was better, so I could try smoking weed again. This was a huge mistake. I smoked all of my weed pretty much in one night and couldn’t stop. I was doing it at inapropriate, unsafe times and doing risky things to acquire it. And the worst part was, it didn’t feel like it was working. I wasn’t getting high, just sleepy and stupid. I later learned ketamine does that for some people; it’s just never the same. But it is so worth it. Desperate to feel something, I started binge drinking again too. That also just left me feeling tired, stupid, and hungover.

I started getting paranoid at night, and felt some psychosis creeping back in. Even worse, I was getting incredibly depressed again. I was needy and pushing Joey away, even though we had established a solid friendship.

In September, Joey went on a trip with his dad to the Grand Canyon and the west in our motorhome. I house-sat while he was away. All I did was lie in bed endlessly scrolling through memes, not even laughing or smiling, and taking breaks to smoke cigarettes. I did stop smoking weed because it’s adverse effects were pretty clear, and I started going for drug treatment again in the outpatient program. I dropped my counselor again that summer because I told myself I was “better.” The truth was I wanted to smoke weed again without it showing in my urine.

Luckily, I got back on track. I made the resolution to quit drugs and alcohol for good. They just didn’t do anything for me anymore except cause problems. I raised my antidepressant dose. I had a few more ketamine treatments. And one day I woke in November at Joey’s apartment and realized I just felt fine. Not amazing. But good. Content to go to work. It was so foreign to me that I could hardly believe or trust it.

I started excelling at work. My boss was so impressed, and I basically became the head of my department. I was incredibly fast and skilled at valuing items. I worked harder than anyone. I started to really really enjoy it. I felt okay.

One day in Novemeber, Joey and I were on a walk in the woods and it hit me. I was standing on a wooden bridge over a creek, surrounded by forest. It was sunny and beautiful. I was actually taking it in. I was actually HAPPY. Happier than I could literally ever remember feeling, even as a child, and certainly since I became depressed at around age 11. And definitely since my major depressions in my twenties and my intense crash after my first hospitalization. I had happy memories from me and Joey’s relationship, especially on the road in the RV. But still, there was always a black cloud over my head. And it was finally gone.

I started going to yoga. I joined a clay class. I was feeling passionate again. And that Thanksgiving weekend, I was finally able to quit cigarettes for good!

Part 3 coming soon. I didn’t expect this to be so long! I’m actually really enjoying writing for the first time in a while and it’s beautiful. Thanks for sharing in the experience. ❤

Long Overdue Post, Part 2: March- July 2019

Picking up where I left off.

I went to the hospital in Ithaca. Everyone seemed hesitant to let me in because I hadn’t actually attempted anything, only thought about it. Eventually, they said there were no rooms available but they wanted me to stay in an inbetween wing while I waited for one to be available. This ended up being horrible.

I was in a bedroom with no windows and nothing on the cold blue walls. Just a hospital bed, and a TV that got a couple channels, which I never turned on. I had access to a bathroom and a nurse was available down the hall if I needed something. They brought me a plate of food 3 times a day.

This is honestly too painful to write about further in detail. I will say this: they kept me in that room for 3 days and it was traumatic as fuck. And Joey waited until I was safe in the hospital to let me know he had to break up with me. He couldn’t go on like this. And so ended the most amazing relationship of my life, and my past six years. Gone in a flash as I cried and held the metal dial phone on a cord, in the main area of the psych ward.

After about a week, I went to stay with my parents in Syracuse until I figured out my next move. Joey had wanted me to come stay with him if I wanted, at least until we figured the future out, but I didn’t realize this. I didn’t think I could see him again or stay in Ithaca, as i t would be too painful. So I was back to the suburbs and my teenage bedroom. It wasn’t long before I was also back to my lifestyle of smoking weed in public places, alcohol binges, and reckless, loveless sex.

I wrote Joey an email saying I was out of the hospital and alright, and goodbye. He never got it for some reason. My parents and brother went down to Ithaca to move all my stuff.

It was horrible. I slept most the days. I went for walks down suburban streets, barely ever seeing another soul. I talked a lot to my mom. It took months before I was able to see a therapist, and I just dropped mine in Ithaca because she had done couple’s counseling and it was too painful to see her or talk on the phone. I grieved Drew (Joey’s son) and the cats too, staples of my life for the past 6 years. I’d lost my family. I tried to write and ended up with sad, simplistic poems. More like sad strings of sentences. I tried to read books about grief but couldn’t focus. This was the saddest I have been in my entire life, and it lasted months, without getting any easier. I cried everyday, several times a day. My only escape was listening to music and smoking cigarettes on long walks.

I was sure he no longer loved me, and doubtful I’d ever love again.

Then I was watching Schitt’s Creek and it was the episode where Patrick performs “Simply the Best” at the open mic night for David. And I went up to my room, and I felt like crying. And I thought, “I’m still completely in love with him. What do I have to lose?” So I unblocked his number and called him, not expecting him to pick up.

But he did. And he was so relieved to hear my voice. He didn’t know for a long time whether I was alive because no one was seeing me on social media (he doesn’t use it). Like I said, he never got my email. He had no sense of how I was doing. He explained that he never meant to drop me and cut me out of his life. I was still family. I told him how miserable I was in Syracuse with family. It wasn’t going to get better. It was an unhealthy situation. He encouraged me to seek mental health housing, like they have in Ithaca, and to talk to my old therapist, because she could help set it up. I suggested I just come back to Ithaca, where I at least knew him and some other people. In Syracuse I had close to no one. He thought that was smart. My plan was to live in the mental health sort of halfway house thing that I can’t recall the name of, and hopefully get on PA and eventually social security. All of these things turned out to be impossibly difficult.

I asked Joey, against my better judgement, if there was any hope for us, if I got my shit together. I had asked him this when we broke up, and he said no; this was for real. He paused for a long time, and I couldn’t believe it. Then he said something like, “I don’t think that should be your focus right now…You need to focus on you and your recovery. But honestly, that would be what I would want.”

I was so happy. I went for a walk and played happy love songs. I had hope, even though I probably shouldn’t have at that point.

My parents saw Joey initially as a bit of an asshole in all this, because he “abandoned” me. In reality, Joey stayed with me for years and years of battles with mental health and addiction. Somehow at the hospital they got the idea he was abusive. It’s possible I was experiencing psychosis again and said this, but I truly don’t remember. It was a part of my delusions the first time I was hospitalized in 2017. Joey has never done anything abusive to me, and honestly, I’m the one who has been emotionally abusive in the past. Particularly when on substances or out of my mind, but that doesn’t excuse it. It’s been hard for me, but I am learning to face this and forgive myself.

Unable to get into mental health housing, I did manage to rent a sublet in downtown Ithaca for June and July 2019. I moved in with three strangers I barely saw. I started seeing my therapist at first, but dropped her again.

The first time I saw him after those months, he was walking down the street to meet me. We were on Cayuga, right near State Street. When I saw him, I almost didn’t recognize him because he was wearing a burnt orange waffle shirt (he usually only wears white tees) and he had a grey flat cap that I’d never seen. He reached out his arms and I was pleasantly surprised to hug. The feelings in my body then were indescribable.

He bought me a coffee at Gimme! and we went to sit and watch the ducks at Cascadilla creek. We talked, and I cried, and chain smoked. We also laughed and he invited me over for dinner and to see the cats.

I saw Joey pretty regularly, and this was wonderful and painful. I got to have my family and my cats back. We went for a lot of nature walks. I would inevitably ask him if he still loved me, and he would ask me to please not ask him that. He did, I now know. He never stopped.

Then something miraculous happened. Joey told me he had learned about ketamine. It was legal, and adminstered by a doctor. Basically you trip (or go on a journey, as they say) for about 40 minutes and come out feeling forever changed. There were incredible testimonials of people no longer feeling depressed after just one to four treatments: sometimes immediately. Joey was going to try it for his depression and anxiety. He wanted to pay for me to do it, too. I didn’t want to get my hopes up…but when he called me and said his experience was life changing and he couldn’t remember ever feeling this free, it was hard not to start hoping a little. I would not be disappointed.

To be continued in Part 3.

Long Overdue Post, Pt. 1: May 2018-March 2019

It has been almost two and a half years since I last wrote an entry. So much has changed…where do I even begin? I should start by saying that the summer of 2018 through to the fall of 2019 was a horrible year. In fact, the worst of my life. Since August 2019, things have started looking up, and after November 2019, things really got better. I mean, incredibly better. I suppose I will attempt to tell the whole story.

We lived at the big house in Lansing for about another 8 months. We moved back to Ithaca in February, and got a much smaller apartment about a 5 minute drive from downtown. It wasn’t accessible to walk though like when we lived downtown before. I was working at GenderCat part-time and really struggling there. I was also going to mental health programs, as well as alcohol and drug treatment, and sometimes trying to stand AA meetings. I was sober but miserable.

I spent a great deal of time aimlessly wandering downtown between the mental health building, library, coffee shops, and GenderCat, waiting for Sacred Root to open at 3pm so I could sit in a comfortable place and be around people. It’s a very hippy place, in a dark, not-well-ventilated basement. There are candles and a bar to sit at, and a golden Buddha head, and beautiful paintings by Gaia on the wall. She was the main bar tender there and we became friends. The music was always soothing. I would chat some, write, and sometimes just stare off into space undisturbed. It was a sanctuary for me.

All and all, I remember very little of the rest of 2018. I was horrifically depressed. I was delusional, jealous, and terrified of losing my relationship. This kept us physically distanced, as we had been since my hospitalization in 2017 and some of the horrible happenings. There was also the incident where I broke up with him in desperation, only to immediately regret it. I hate thinking about that day and that time. I was getting support from my long-distance friend, James, but felt very alone. I had a couple other friends in Ithaca but had trouble opening up.

My mental health got briefly better that winter 2018, and Joey, Drew and I took a trip to Florida to visit Joey’s parents. That was Christmas, and it was a nice one. Shortly after that though my mental health took another dive. I quit working at GenderCat with Joey and Erica and everybody, even though I was finally starting to do alright there and get the hang of things. I almost immediately realized my mistake but couldn’t go back. I still wanted to contribute to rent and do something, anything, so I tried working at a Regal Cinema. I lasted less than a week, and just walked out one day. After that, things got real bad. I wanted to sell and market my art but I had no energy. I started secretly drinking again.

In March of 2019, my life fell apart.

Joey was out of town on business. I was jealous and scared and delusional. My depression was so bad. I felt like dying, though I didn’t really express this. I yelled at him via text because I didn’t think he was showing enough concern. I took a Greyhound to my parents’ in Syracuse. Little did I know I wouldn’t be coming back home.

That night at my parents’, Joey finally had a break from work and responded to my texts, very upset and angry. I panicked, and it was the last straw. I wanted to kill myself. I started looking up a way to do it on the internet when Joey called. I confessed that to him. He wanted to drive down to take me to the hospital but I said I could get my parents to take me. They did.

I’ve started crying, and this is a very hard part to write. I think it’s really good to get this out though. I’ve neglected my writing for a long time.

However, this is the end for now, as I believe I will do this in parts. Thank you for reading my words.