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 (Content Note: Depression, suicide.  Lara is both foggy and not used to using trigger warning, please forgive her if she forgets it.)

As with the previous writing project, I'm putting the first drafts here  as a means of saving the stories. This one was particularly difficult to write, but it will take the place of the original first story. Unlike the first story, the difficulty doesn't come from the story being forced. It comes from 

No one stood with her in the dimly lit room. A few pieces of sparse furniture met her comfort and sleep needs. Basic simple, meals lined the refrigerator and those were running out. The night stand stood in the corner, and a stack of pill bottles loomed menacingly on top of it. A few pairs of dirty socks sat by a collection of shoes next to the bed. Most of these shoes had collected dust in the past year or so. The dirty socks needed someone to claim them as badly as they needed laundered.

She thought she saw her cat play with them for a brief second, but then she remembered she had to give up the cat. Its empty food dish remained in the corner of the room. An empty, unused litter box stood in a downstairs closet. At times like this she might call a friend, but she had managed to alienate them the same way she alienated her former partner. No one wanted to be around someone with wild an unpredictable mood swings.

For a few seconds, she knelt down and began a prayer, but she stuttered over the words as they started to come out of her mouth. The pill bottle caught her attention as she stood back up again. The possibility of ending her own life had crossed her mind before. She’d even tried it once. The situation was different back then. She only had the death of a parent and the loss of her stability affecting her. She winced as a sudden jolt of pain went through her back and reminded her of what she now faced.

She shook her head as the thought of taking her own life crossed her mind.

“Suicide is not the answer,” echoed through the empty room.

The effects of the meaningless platitude were as unseen as the invisible illness that had changed her life. As she walked past the table, she saw the stack of bills. An eviction notice sat on the top of the stack. Letters denying her rent assistance sat below it. Memories of living in her car or in a homeless shelter flooded back to her. Her body shook with memories of the cold winter weather she experienced during her homeless period.

“Do I want to go through that again?” She walked towards the table and picked up the largest bottle. The cap came off with difficulty. Dozens of pills nearly tumbled onto the floor.

“I swore I would never do this again after the last time.” Not even a fly on the wall would have been able to detect any power or enthusiasm in the statement.

Light flooded the room as she flicked the switch. The nightstand drawers creaked as she opened the door and rifled through the drawer’s contents.

“No sense in acting too rashly. I’ve got to do this right, since it is one of the last things I will ever do.” After securing a pen and a piece of notebook paper, she sat down at her arm chair.

An image of the torn piece of notebook paper on which she had written the first torn note went through her head. As she put her hand down on the paper, she decided to carefully remove the perforated sheet. No one needed anything more than the practical details. Her life insurance remained in effect, even though the company would cancel it in three days. She carefully listed her reasons and put down the phone contact numbers for her next of kin. The landlord of the sheriff might need them after they discovered her corpse.

The outside sky grew darker during the hour she composed the note. When she was satisfied, she collected her pills, left the note in a positive place, and filled a large glass of water. She stuffed all of the bottles into her purse and went to her bedroom.

She opened the bottle of medication that made her most drowsy and swallowed several pills with each sip. She carefully put more pills into her hand before each swallow, and she repeated the process until the glass was empty. When one empty pill bottle rolled to the floor, she looked over at the remaining medication. Had she taken enough? Would this finally end the misery she suffered? To finish the job, she took out a few additional pills and swallowed them without water.

The random pain she experienced for the last two years subsided for a time, but as she drifted off to sleep, she experienced a host of other symptoms. Her illness kept her from being able to distinguish which symptoms came form her illness and which symptoms came from the overdose with any certainty. Even the strange dreams she experienced were not that different than her normal dream scape.

Eventually, blackness came to her and she found relief.

An unspecified time later, she woke up. As she opened her eyes, a flurry of blurry images and shapes rushed in to her mind. After blinking a few times, she gained focus. A white curtain hung down from her left side. A series or regular beeps came from a monitor to her left. Two simple chairs stood along the side of the wall. A blonde-haired figure sat in one of the chairs. Behind him stood a police officer.

A feeling off dread came over her. As with everything else in her life, she had failed at trying to end her life again.

She moved her head slightly to see if she could find a window. As she had expected, restraints kept her from moving too far or too quickly. The officer, dressed in a brown county deputy’s uniform, pressed a button to call a nurse. He moved his wrist up to his face to look at his watch. After confirming the time, he flicked the light switch close to him.

“Ma’am, it looks like this would-be burglar saved your life. After he broke into your home, he found you on the floor of your bedroom. He says he was looking for prescription medications to get high. It seems you did not have any. For some reason, he felt compelled to perform CPR and call the police. The paramedics he said he got to you just in time. You are one very lucky woman.”

She turned her head and looked at the officer with contempt. She found the tone of his voice grating, even as she looked into his eyes. For some reason, she noticed they were brown.

“I know you might be upset at me, but you’ll be staying in the psychiatric ward for awhile. This gentleman decided to save you and get help for his addiction, but he wants to tell you his story.”

The second gentleman spoke, “I was coming down off a high under the railroad underpass where I’ve lived for the past few years. I felt anxious, irritable and shaky. The windy weather last night did not help, and I feel the cold more intensely when coming down from a high. As I was walking through the run-down neighborhoods trying to get some money to feed my habit, I ran into someone who called himself Sam.’

‘Sam said he knew where I could get a lot some drugs and find something that would help me out. It may seem odd, but he described your house in great detail. He never gave me the address, but I had walked by it so many times that I knew of it. I don’t know how he knew, but he said I wouldn’t need to do more than open a window to get in.’

‘When I went to your house last night, I did as he said. You’d left the lowest front window on your first floor unlocked. I opened it from the outside without too many problems. I searched through the sparsely populated rooms, finding nothing but furniture and utilitarian items. Even your refrigerator looked like a deserted wasteland when I opened it. I almost gave up, but then I heard a cat crying upstairs. I thought it might be in trouble, so I went to see if it needed help. I never found that cat, but I did find you on the floor.’

‘I also saw the pills. I’m not proud of this, but I looked through those first. The empty pill bottles did not worry me, until I saw how many medications you were taking. I even recognized the name of an anti-depressant on one of the pill bottles. I realized then that you had probably attempted suicide, and turned on the lights. The eviction notice, the denials of requested help and several other items further deepened my suspicion. I started performing CPR and dialed 911. I don’t know what your problems are, but I’m glad I do not have them. You seem far too young to be taking that many medications.”

The burglar’s voice trailed off for a few seconds, before he took a deep breath and added, “Ma’am, I swear I heard a cat, and you had supplies for one? Will the cat will be okay while you are in the hospital?”

She turned her head back and sighed. She wanted to cry because giving up the cat still hurt, but she managed to gather a courage.

“I don’t have a cat,” she said.

sinisterporpoise: (Default)
 (Note:  The conceit is that these tales are part of a collection of short stories mostly about a person named Sam who seems to show up at the right time in people's lives or at key moments in an individual's history.  The idea for each story is to hint at divine or supernatural intervention without actually specifying such a thing took place. I'm  might be pulling some of this from the Mormon ideas about the continue existence three Nephites who met Christ in the Americas and the continued existence of John the Revelator. The three Nephites and John the Revelator are supposed to walk unnoticed among modern men. However, I do need to check some details on this, particular any commentary on the belief systems of others.  If I am wrong or unintentionally offensive, please correct me. -Lara.**)

The world angel is missing from all of these stories in this text, although many of the people have read them are certain some divine or supernatural influence happened to each person. While certain elements of each story seem fantastic, they can easily be dismissed as embellishments to the tale. When they cannot be dismissed as embellishments, such details might be the result of an overactive imagination.

The editors who assembled this collection have no opinion either way. These stories might become folktales at some point, if they get handed down to children. Today, we call these stories urban legends. Urban legends, like the myths and folktales that came before them, often exist to tell some deeper truth as well as to entertain. It is the readers who must decide whether each of the stories included in this volume has value.

Even though the editors and the publishers make no claim about the accuracy of the stories, one figure, in particular kept popping up. As they read the text, many people seemed to have encountered a person named Sam. Some cynics might suggest that the people in these tales did not meet an angel, but rather a demonic entity. Samaael is, according to some theologians, the original name for Lucifer Morningstar. Even though Christian tradition holds that Lucifer is the prince of darkness and the father or lies, there is no set Jewish tradition on the matter. Some Jewish mystics believe Satan is merely a role given to an angel by god.* The word merely means adversary Such discussions are better left to rabbis, priests, and religious scholars.

There is one other possibility that those of a more religious and spiritual bent should consider before reading these stories. The mysterious figure each person encounters may really be an angel. Much like Satan meant adversary originally, the word angel just means messenger. Despite the popular beliefs about angels, the Bible does not say they have to have wings. Angels are just messengers sent by God to deliver a message. Anyone can be an angel under this definition. We hope our readers keep this in mind.

*Jews, unlike Christians, do not have set beliefs about the afterlife. How a person lives their life is far more important than what happens to a body after it is deceased. Please consult a Synagogue or a library for more detailed and likely more accurate information.

**If I am intentionally offensive, please deal with it the same way I've asked people to deal with me getting their preferred pronouns wrong. Negative reinforcement seems to be the only way my mind will accept zir after so many editors having problems with the singular they.


 

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 I went to the public library today to get some writing done and upload a video. I completed the former but not the latter.  I spend almost two hours there, and I find myself enjoying the writing bit immensely. (I forgot that I *am* actually good at a certain kind of writing with all of the things that have gone on in the past few years.  I'm also remembering to run things through Natural Reader to catch errors and spot times when my train of thought doesn't even connect for me.)

At around 5:30, I pack up and remember that it's my turn to make dinner. I get in the truck and head home to put some fish in the oven and corn in the microwave.  As I am driving home, I notice my eye lids dripping and the car pulling to the side of the road several times.   Fortunately, I am on the street where I live. I park the car, put the transmission in park, go inside, and take a nap.

When I wake up, I tell my roommate that if things like that continue, she will be driving more places. It seemed wise at the time. (Plus there's the whole driving hurts my knees and elbows thing. Well, one of my knees. The left one seems unaffected in a vehicle with an automatic transmission.)

I found this bit a little strange. I've been experience more than normal fatigue a lot for the past few days. After I wake up, I decide to get a drink.  Following my doctor's recommendations, I've been trying to intake more water.  However, I remember the last time I had a similar problem, sports drinks countered the dizziness and light-headedness I felt when standing up.  I grab some of the PowerAde Zero drink enhancer that's on the counter and put a few drops in.  The fatigue vanishes in a few minutes after downing the glass.  Not even caffeine has done that lately, and that's not good for me anyway. 

Maybe the idea was just in my head from someone else.  I'm sure as long as my bottom blood pressure number has remains as high as it has for the past few months, I'll be told to avoid salt.  

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For the past few months or so, I thought getting a new hobby was necessary for some reason. I do not know exactly why I felt this way, although I can come up with plenty of reasons for it. Now, I realize that this is not necessary. My old hobbies still work. My ability to write has not declined, although I need to spend even more time editing than I have in the past. Because editing was not one of my favorite things to do thin the past either, this may take significantly more time than I would like. This does mean that I will have to give up the copy writing for quick cash business model favored by some of the content mills I use. I would mourn this loss, but I've come to the realization hat I hated this type of writing. It does not allow me to use whatever legitimate talent I possess, and some clients ask you to spread dangerous misinformation

Writing is not the only hobby I've engaged in. I still remain passionate about video games, although I I don't have the funds to purchase all of the latest games. I'm actually okay with this, as the most popular games cater to a different graphic. I'm not an 18 to 25 year-old male. Gamergate and the MRAs associated with it disgust me, but I am not going to give up something I love because other people are immature. As the Canadian Rock Band Rush once said, changes aren't permanent but change is.

As for programming, I still need to learn the most popular Java libraries for Android. While I've master the basics of programming in Java, it doesn't really help me in producing apps for this popular OS. I can't claim too much here. I've been slacking. I've also been learning real-world languages, although I'm reaching a point where Duolingo is no longer challenging my knowledge of Spanish.

Of course, I will continue to use Dreamwidth as an online journal and for some free-writing exercises.

And swimming at the Y today, yay!

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 I have managed to pull out of another funk, but it was not an easy process. The increased frequency of the negative mood swings worries me. I can find plenty of reasons it might be happening, including the Hashimoto’s Disease process, although I’m pretty sure my hormone levels as well as my TSH are still within the normal range. I’ll find out when I get the levels tested again next month.  However, all of this has lead to another decision. I should engage in more things to take care of myself. 

These items, which may be referred to as self care by some are things I should manage to commit to every day.  Some of these will be more difficult than others. Some of them I’ve even incorporated into my routine with more success than I expected, although I have had considerably less success than I would like.

Some of this comes from chats I’ve had with others, including one person who reads this blog, others are modified suggestions from my therapist. (If she is reading this, I am not suffering from a self-confidence crisis. It’s not that I can’t do the things you were suggesting. It’s that people seem to be unwilling to give me the opportunity.)

The reader may have guessed that this would be in the form of a list. This would have been a correct assumption.  Since they have given me the time to get around to it, I might as well start.

-Exercise at least 5 days a week. For now, this may mean simple things like doing the stretch band exercises, toying with the free weights, and getting walks in as long as my legs and feet are willing to cooperate.  If I can manage to pay the back fees, I’ll start swimming, doing the exercise bike and trying some heavier weight lifting at the Y as well.

-Get more vegetables into my diet. (I’ve managed to get this with the meals I make. Now if I could just get the roommate to start making them with meals.  As much as I love potatoes, they do not count as a vegetable in this context.)

-Take five minutes out of each day to enjoy some quiet. I’ll try meditation or prayer during this time.

-Write a little something each day. It doesn’t have to be much. This item appeals to my inner bard.

-Listen to my body when my symptoms are out of their usual range. Pushing through some things is fine, but if I’m flaring, it might be a good idea to postpone grocery shopping trips, or at least get the roommate to understand a little bit better that she doesn’t need to make shopping trips longer for unimportant projects while she can see I’m in pain. (This does not apply if she has a migraine.)

-Let my playful side out a bit more, but within reason I've been told I have one, and. least I think I have one. Other people have told me my trolling attempts in online games aren’t so much mean as they are full of play.

After talking to the therapist yesterday, I have some ideas that should bring a small income in. While it wouldn’t be as much as I was making while working normally, it is far better than the income I had coming in.  It may mean volunteering as a Bell Ringer for the Salvation Army as well.  Now, I’ve got to figure out why my left toe hurts and has been for the past few days. It’s probably arthritis or something related to the bone spur surgery back in April.

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Yesterday, my insurance company suggested calling the Indiana University School of Dentistry because they would not cover wisdom teeth removal. This came after a long session with them. Today, I spent a portion of the day trying to contact the oral surgery facilities at IUPUI.  I did not have success. I also spent a good portion of the day working on the E-book I'm planning. There are two essays left.

So, I think the mental exhaustion is justified in some small way.  Hopefully I can have this project done and on the Google Play market by the end of March.
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 While I have extra energy, which I assume is related to something resembling reasonable Winter weather holding sway for the past few days, I've been trying to get things done. (Washing dishes, sweeping floors, throwing out things the roommate hopefully won't notice or doesn't remember she has, and most importantly, doing some freelance writing and working on personal writing projects.) However, I have come to the more difficult parts of the project. Two of the essays "Exploring Femininity through Online Gaming" and "The Year in Shamokin" were particularly difficult to write.  Rewriting them and doing the final edits will be just as fun, I think.

These events revolve around stressful times. It took the death of my mother to pull me out of the original Everquest, a game which I spent ten to fourteen hours a day playing, and The Year in Shamokin details the events that led to my departure from the Keystone State. The latter ended with an argument from an Ultra-Christian landlord, who also suffered from PTSD.  If the events had not occurred at the anniversary of my mother's death, I might have handled them better. (I also should have asked the psychiatrist to up my Zoloft dosage at this time.  That time of year has always been difficult for me.)

But I have finished the 2nd draft of the first essay mentioned, and I'm reluctant to go on to the second.  As tempting as it is to take a nap, I'm pretty sure I've already slept for twelve hours today.  Perhaps I need cookies to restore my mana...
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Note: This post is part of a writing project. It's working title is Fireside Chats with a Sinister Porpoise.  I have told this story elsewhere, so I do not care if it gets read here. 2nd Draft.

A number of places offer help for people who contemplate suicide. The Trevor Project reaches out to LGBT Youth, and Dan Savage's It Gets Better Project works to reduce the statistics.  I am aware of the controversy surrounding Savage, and I have been targeted by him once. Although I disagree with some of Savage's positions, I applaud him for his efforts.  However, this is not his book. Discussions of mental health frequently come from people who mean well but who have no experience dealing with these illnesses. I do not wish people to think I am some role model of good mental hygiene. During dark times, I contemplated taking my life, and one time I actually tried it.
 
Despite the misery I felt during my junior and senior high school years, I managed to get through it. I do not recommend anyone else used my method. Sheer stubbornness and a desire not to let my tormentors win allowed me to make it through my graduation day. It took the tragedy of my adolescent, post adolescent and adult years to weigh me down.  I tried to end my own life when I was in my mid-twenties. It took place the year after my mother died.  I had lost my job, gone through four clutches in a six-week period, and I faced losing my apartment.  I could not see any way out of the situation, except for the Zoloft bottles that rested on my dresser. Ending my life, it seemed, would solve all of my problems.
 
My attempts to resolve the situation failed. Losing my job had forced me to go on welfare. The $174/month welfare gives an individual did not cover my rent. I lived in public housing at the time, and if I had talked to the landlord, the situation would not have gotten out of hand. Dealing with the person face-to-face terrified me. Social anxiety disorder always made it difficult for me to deal with people in these situations.
 
I wrote a note and gathered and took all of the Zoloft I had.  I left the note by my bedside and made sure the cats had extra food. As I went to sleep, the cats, as they always did, lay down beside my ears and purred loudly.  Guilt came over me as I drifted off to sleep. The animals depended on me, and I had let them down. Leaving extra food out for them seemed like an inappropriate measure.  If I achieved my goal, someone else would have to find them a new home.
 
Sleep came that night. Strange dreams that took the form of black and white drawings dominated the next eighteen hours. One of the dreams involved a rocket. Not one of these dreams contained deeper insight into my life or my situation as far as I can recall. If one of these dreams did have a deeper meaning, I had forgotten it long ago.
 
Anyone who reading this knows the attempt failed. The situation did not improve. I lost the important and someone else found the cats a new home.  Even though I like cats and eventually overcame my fear of dogs, guilt prevents me from getting another pet. After getting evicted, I lived for a few days on the street.  My caseworker, who learned of the situation, had me involuntarily committed. During the three weeks in the hospital, the doctors increased my Zoloft dosage and provided an incorrect diagnosis.  After the hospital stay, I lived with my sister for a few years.
 
Living with family  forced me to keep Lara hidden.  I tried and failed to make it on my own again.  Gender dysphoria did not contribute to the second attempt's failure. The experience taught me two things. First, I learned that I should deal with these situation as soon as they occur. Second, I learned that I overreacted to this situation. Dealing with the landlord and other support structures face-to-face would have prevented the downward spiral.

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