Letter (Let Her) - Alexandra Sophie Day
December 8, 2016
CW: Suicide, suicidal idealization, depression, dysphoria
My name’s Alexandra Day and I’m a trans woman currently based in Wexford. I’m a 25-year-old media graduate who someday hopes to work in film and TV. I’d like to eventually work in either helping to create films or work in distribution but right now, I’m unemployed. I’m also going through my medical and social transition at the moment after finally coming out to my family three years ago. It’s an equally satisfying and frustrating experience with many highs but sometimes just as many lows. During these lows, I’ve dealt with severe depression and sometimes even dissociation from myself and my body.
A few weeks ago, I wrote my suicide letter.
As much as my depression had plagued me over the last few years, I never thought it would come to this. It was an action that felt surreal, even as I typed it on my laptop. As bad as things had become in the weeks leading up to this, I had hoped that they would somehow improve, that life would become more bearable.
The truth is that things have been leading here for a while. Save for a brief respite during the summer, severe depression has dominated my day to day life for the last year. It has slowly drained the joy out of my life and made me a reclusive, emotionally volatile person. The outside world had become so unbearable at times that I confined myself almost exclusively to my thoughts. As anyone who spends too long in their own head will tell you, spending too much time with those invasive thoughts erodes your will to keep going after a while.
I had also become disassociated from my body. It’s surreal to say that when so much of my life is focused on medical and physical change at the moment but the truth is that I would stand in front of the mirror and see a stranger. I simply couldn’t connect with the person I was seeing each day. Even when I did feel connected to my body, dysphoria took over and picked away at my insecurities. Too masculine looking. Not being able to completely get rid of facial hair. My complete lack of proficiency with hair and beauty. This extended further into emotional uncertainty. I began to panic that my family and friends would one day become fed up with me and abandon me. When you leave nothing immune from criticism, you begin to question your existence.
I decided to try and counteract this by starting to write for Shona.ie but after just two columns and while working on a third, I fell into a deep, dark depression. I became so down that I started to worry myself. I had become worse than ever before. I seemed incapable of functioning or living a day to day life. In the past, regardless of how bad things became, I had always been able to maintain a falsehood of being ok, even when I wasn’t.
My interactions with mental health care practitioners in Ireland have been a mixed bag. I found a fantastic therapist but he was too expensive for me to attend week after week. Before that, my experience had been a cyclical journey from GP to referral to Newcastle and to a local mental health practitioner or dismissal from Newcastle under the pretense that I would try and take care of myself more. This was the wash and repeat routine for months. The breaking point came when I attended a local clinic only to be told that they wouldn’t be able to take me on as a patient and to report back in three months, all delivered with no alternatives of what to do with myself in the interim. If you’re interested, you can read about that here.
Being told by Loughlinstown that I would not be able to access HRT unless I lost weight in August was another blow. I had known my weight was going to be an issue but watching my friends move forward with their medical transition while I stayed in the same spot left me feeling that my transition had ground to a halt.
All of these reasons have contributed to where I find myself now. Last night, I broke down again and considered ending my life. I don’t know how to keep going at this point. I know that I need to change certain things in my life but I don’t have the energy to do it. These days, I seem to be constantly fighting against my own thoughts. I don’t even know what this is supposed to be. Am I trying to reach out for help or just confirming the facts for myself? Right now, I’m not sure how to answer that.