Is it suicidal to wish you were suicidal?
I’ve been feeling a lot of that lately: not wanting to die, exactly, but kind of wanting to want to die. It’s the feeling that everything about being alive is getting nearer and nearer to unbearable, and if I were suicidal I would have a way out, but I’m still too scared of death to think of it as a real option.
I’ve heard an analogy that suicide after a grueling struggle against depression is like jumping out the twentieth-floor window of a burning building. If so, the way I feel now is like being in a burning building but not being able to jump out.
And yet I’m one of the luckiest people in this country. I’m white. I’m married to someone of a different sex. I have a job that pays enough to live on and provides health insurance, and, for the moment, I’m healthy enough that I could probably survive a long time without much medical help.
And yet I’m scared. The way the country is going right now is going to affect all of us, eventually, even the most privileged.
I have very bad anxiety at the best of times. My mind is horribly drawn to thoughts about apocalyptic disasters, and this election… has not helped. Even if the new president manages not to start a nuclear war, we are entering a time of severe climate change, no matter what we do. (And, the way things are going, we’ll probably end up doing the worst stuff we can.)
Eventually the only way to be safe will be to live far north and inland, in a home built to be exceptionally resistant to extreme storms. Probably an underground bunker, or at least a hobbit-hole. Monolithic domes would be a good place to start.
If the world had any sense, we would already be busy with the project of creating climate-change-resistant homes for everyone, since we were past the point of no return on global warming a long time ago. But no, half the country is denying there’s even a problem, and the other half is still trying to stop what can’t be stopped and ignoring the need to deal with its results. There aren’t even any houses on the market that won’t leak when it rains, let alone ones that’ll keep you alive in a tornado or hurricane or weather too hot to survive above ground. So the only way to safety is to build your own.
And I can’t afford that. Most people can’t. And with the government stuffed full of Republicans, that isn’t going to change– the standard GOP plan is the worst kind of wealth redistribution, upward, from everyone who isn’t a millionaire into the pockets of everyone who already is.
A few other things that are messing up my life right now:
This is my left leg. The bruises are from blood clots in the surface veins. It’s getting better. A while ago, practically any leg movement hurt.
I don’t know if this happened because my pharmacy job requires standing on my feet for 8 hours a day with only one break, but it sure made that job harder once this started. It started twice, first in my calf, then that got better and then it came back in my thigh. I used up all my time off when it was in my calf. I had to work when it was in my thigh. I hope it doesn’t come back a third time before the year ends.
The blood clots aren’t the dangerous kind that can break off and go to the lungs or heart or brain. Those are the ones in deep veins. I know these aren’t that kind, because I got an ultrasound. I got the bill for it a few days ago. It’s over $800 and my insurance barely covered anything. I have to call the insurance company to ask why, but I know that call would take longer than a lunch break, so I can’t call them until I have a weekday off, which is 10 days from now.
If I get pain in my leg again, I probably won’t get another ultrasound. I hope that time it won’t be the deep vein kind of clot. I don’t think it will be, but you never know.
I’m lucky I have a job that has insurance. If I lose the job and there’s no Affordable Care Act, if I can be denied insurance for preexisting conditions, or if all the available insurance is too expensive for someone without a freaking job, a bad blood clot could kill me.
I don’t know if the Affordable Care Act is actually going to be gutted or destroyed. It’s possible that Trump’s actions as president aren’t going to be quite as awful as the persona he projected while campaigning. But I know that Congress is full of Republicans who want to destroy the ACA, and between them, Trump, and Pence, I can’t imagine anything good happening for people who need health care.
I have a coworker who hates universal health care because of how much it costs taxpayers. I said taxes are better than people dying. She said “People never die from not having insurance– the doctor HAS to treat you.”
I didn’t argue because I didn’t have the energy. But of course hospitals can turn you away for not having insurance, my dear coworker, as long as you’re not dying right this minute. And for godsakes, you work in a freaking pharmacy; you know perfectly well that the way the doctor treats you is prescribing medicine, and the way you get the medicine is going to the pharmacy, and remember what happens to people who come to the pharmacy without insurance or money? They don’t get their medicine, even if it’s blood thinners to keep their clots from killing them.
This is my bird, Sirius the Starling. He talks and sings and I trained him to play a little toy piano. He takes the most enthusiastic baths and then cuddles against my neck for hours. He is the smartest and sweetest bird you ever met and he loves me so much that he saves me from reading the comments on news articles by landing on my hand and pecking at my scrolling finger. He sometimes sleeps on my arm so long that he leaves little footprints.
If we have to move to another country we might not be able to bring him. Keeping starlings as pets is legal where we live, but their status as an invasive species makes things complicated when it comes to moving.
He started self-harming lately. Scratching at his face until the skin was bare, and then scratching until it bled. Scratch the wrong feather and it can bleed an awful lot. We improvised a cone for his neck. He would get his lower beak stuck in the neck hole trying to pry his way out. I would leave him home alone because I had to go to work, and I’d be on the edge of a panic attack all day. Even worse than the thought of coming home to find him dead was the thought of coming home to find him so badly injured that I’d know he wouldn’t survive, and then having to decide what to do.
He’s getting better now, but for a while we thought we couldn’t handle it. If his problem comes back I don’t know what we’ll do. We can’t stay home all day. It’s hard enough to find people who know how to care for a pet starling, let alone people who would adopt one who has to be watched every moment.
But being able to have a pet at all is a privilege. And I’m still one of the most privileged people in this nation. Some people might not even get to keep their children in the next four years, if all the gay marriages are annulled. As much as I panic about the stresses of my life, I have to keep reminding myself that others have it far worse.
I’m also lucky enough that I’ve been able to build a 401k. It has quite a bit of money in it. Not enough to cash out and build a house or move to Canada, but a good start for eventual retirement.
My pharmacy was recently bought by another company. And now we each have to go through the process of rolling over our 401ks from the old company to the new one. For months, we weren’t even able to access our 401k to add money or even see how much was in it. Now they have finally sent us a form for the rollover.
The form requires us to write in the account number and the amount of money in the account. We have no way to get those things, so I called the number on the form that says “call if you have any questions.” I called and got an answering machine and left a message. It’s been several days and I have not heard back.
I have less than 60 days to figure this out. I don’t know what happens if I don’t, but I think they would automatically send me a check for the amount of my 401k, minus an enormous amount in taxes. I don’t want that to happen.
But no matter what happens, I’m going to lose a lot of the money anyway, because the economy is going to see some hard times.
So, I’m frustrated, to the point that it physically hurts. I’m scared, to the point that I’ve had hyperventilating anxiety attacks at work. I have wished that I wished I were dead. And I’m not anywhere near being the worst off in this country.
Don’t say everything’s going to be okay. Everyone is going to feel the effects of this.