Angela Ursery is a journalist, grant writer, and editor in Portland, OR. She was 59 when I interviewed her on August 1, 2014.
CONTENT WARNING: If you're uncomfortable with themes of rape, childhood sexual abuse, or discussion of specific suicide methods, please read with care.
My story of suicide began when I was 11. When I was 11, my mother [attempted] suicide and [tried to] kill our family, as well. By gassing everybody. My mother, at that point, was a single mother, and there were three of us. Four of us! Me, my younger sister, who was three, and then my older sister, who must have been 13. We had no money.
My mother was suffering horribly, and one night she made us close the windows. It was summertime. She turned on the oven. We had a gas stove, and she turned on the oven and all of the burners. She made us leave the door open. We didn't know what it was, because my mother was a smoker. Sometimes she would turn the burners on, and you would smell gas. This was before you heard that clicky-clicky noise, so it was really the smell of it over a long time that let us know.
My sister and I—my older sister—were in one bedroom, and my mother and my little sister were in another. We talked about it. I think I was in denial. I asked her if she smelled gas, and she did. Then, we were there, and we didn't do anything. I started getting really sleepy. [My older sister] made me wake up, and she made me—she was a bossy person—older sisters. You know. She made me go and turn the gas off.
I was terrified of contradicting my mother in any way. It's curious, I think about it now, that I was more willing to die than to have my mother be upset with me. But I knew somehow that I wanted more. So I got up, and I went in the kitchen, and everything was on. All the burners. It was just waves of gas. I turned it all off and I went back to bed. About half an hour later, my mother got up and turned it back on, which I usually don't tell people because it just seems like such a weird, overwhelming thing. By that point, I was somewhat emboldened, because I had done it once and she hadn't beat me, so I turned it off again. Then my sister and I stayed up all night because we were afraid she was gonna do it again.
That was the first time I was exposed to suicide.
In terms of my own suicide attempts, I ran away from home when I was 13. When I was about 15, I was in a foster family and I tried to slice my wrists. I didn't do a very good job of it.
I now look back and I think, "Why did I wanna do it?" I'm not sure. I think it was that much of my life was pretty stressful, and here I was in this situation where all that was gone, you know? I didn't know what to do with myself. I mean, I really didn't think I was gonna live past the age of 12 and then, when I hit 12, I don't know what I thought. Even at 21, I had no idea that I'd live that long. So, I sliced my wrists, and I didn't slice them very deep because I hate pain. That's really not the way to go if you hate pain, just FYI.
My foster parents were not very good with distress. They said, "Why are there bandages on your arm?"
I said, "Well, I cut myself," and that was our only conversation about it.
Then, last year, in May, I had this massive desire to kill myself. It was incredibly intense. I'd probably never had such intense ideation before. It was like a new lover. It was that intense. I wish I could express it. I had made a couple of decisions about writing. I decided I was going to do my own writing, which I had put off for years. Not long after that, I wanted to kill myself, but I didn't make that connection at the time. I was also in psychoanalysis—or psychotherapy with a psychoanalyst—and she didn't handle it particularly well, but that's a whole 'nother conversation. I had been reading Karen Horney and her book on self-analysis, and I thought, "Alright, I've been at this place before. I've made that decision before, and I usually do other things." Like, I'd get a shitty job with a person I hated, or something like that.
I said, "If I don't walk through this feeling, I'll never know," but I didn't take suicide off the table. I said, "I'm just gonna see what it's like." It was horrific. By horrific, I don't mean necessarily bad, I just mean that it took me over.
I started writing about it. I would spend a lot of time thinking about different ways of killing myself. I was thinking about jumping in front of cars, and then I thought, "Oh, that's so rude to the person who has to hit me.” Then I thought trains. And then I thought about weapons. Meanwhile, I was tired. I mean, desiring suicide, like any—I don't know if I would call it compulsion, but I would call it intense engagement, if nothing else—can be really tiring. I was crying a lot, and I was sleeping.
I told four friends about it.
One friend said, "You've gotta promise me you won't kill yourself."
I said, "Oh, I can't promise you that. I can't! But I will promise you that I will tell you what it's like as I walk through this."
She's also this born-again Christian. She really wasn't a very good support for me, but that was okay because I had other people who were. What I would do is, I would text them what was going on for me, or I would occasionally call them. Sometimes I would just call and cry. I would just call and cry with [one friend].
[Another friend], she'd email me, and she'd say, "Okay, how are you today? What's going on?"
I'd say, "You know, still here. On a scale one to ten, I'm at eight and okay."
Other times, I would go to her house because she also is away a lot. She goes to the coast for her family. I would just sleep on her sofa. I did whatever it was that felt comforting. I went to the library and I would cry at the library. I went for walks at night because sometimes, when I would look at people, it was just so painful. I couldn't, so I would go out at night.
Then, I wrote about it, and I started to notice there was a pattern. There was a rhythm to the desire. I realized that suicide truly does feel like a lover. I mean, it feels like the best lover you've ever had, who knows you in ways that no one else does. And like any kind of crush, there's something about being isolated with it, and also fantasizing about it. It becomes bigger and special. Once I saw that it wasn't me, [I saw] the rhythm of it, how it rose. It got really bad usually Wednesday to Sunday. Monday to Tuesday was alright, then Wednesday it would hit again. Once I saw that, I thought, "Alright. One, it's not you. Two, it's not a constant," so I was able to absorb it, and that was the gift. I was able to see it and to sometimes interrogate it, but other times just absorb it. Once I had that space, I then was able to choose how I engaged. Once you have the choice, well, then it's no longer the lover, really, because it doesn't know you by name. It doesn't speak to you in the language that no one else does, because it's no longer you. There's space there.
That was really beneficial and I learned a lot. I learned that I'd always thought that I would be killed by someone, even before my mother tried to kill us. I always thought that my role was really to be killed, to be sacrificed, and that I likely didn't want to speak because I would be killed for speaking.
That was actually a big thing. It was big in my family. There was a lot of abuse and a lot of sexual abuse. My uncle, who sexually molested me, raped me horribly when I was seven. Told me he would kill me. He would kill me, he would kill my mother, and he was killing my aunt, who he was married to, by tying her to the bed. I believed this man. I really did. It shouldn't have surprised me that I thought somebody was gonna kill me, because people had told me they would, and had tried to kill me.
Angela: What's most curious is that I had decided that the best method of killing myself was gassing myself, you see. I won't go through how I decided to do it, but it occurred to me as I thought of that, "Mother tried to gas us..." It had a resonance, you see? And I thought, "Fuck, I'm here again." At the same time, it gave me insight into my mother. That she must have been so desperately pained—[this holds for] anyone, really—that taking yourself out is the one solution.
Now, sometimes, I believe there may be time when everything is so painful, you don't have options. So people say, "Oh, there's hope," and it's like, "Oh, fuck you." There are people who are in situations where there is no hope. But in that moment, I said, "Alright, I wanna see this through. I just wanna see it. I don't have to give it up, but I wanna see it. I wanna not even understand it, but have it pass through me," and that's exactly what I did, and that's what happened. And then it eased over time.
This lasted about six weeks. It eased, and then it was gone. It's not permanently gone, but it's—it may be permanently gone, I have no idea, but that's what happened.
That's my story. It's the only one I have.
Des: We were talking before we were recording, of course, about hope. Hope in terms of the topic of suicide, rather than honesty—or hope with honesty. Ruminate on that a little more for me.
Angela: Well, I think suicide has gotten a bad rap... Because suicide is a signal. That kind of desire told me that there was some incongruity to who I was and some core part of me. There was such suffering on some level in my life that I was willing to leave this life, because it was too painful and overwhelming. So, if we know that, if we know that suicide gives us information, then why don't we mind that? Why don't we say, "Okay, just stay with the feeling and see what it tells you?" Not, "Oh, don't kill yourself..."
Oh, this is the rest of my story. This piece is kind of significant for me because it talks about hope.
My mother broke her hip. She broke many things. It's a wonder my mother lived as long as she did. She abused alcohol for years, she was beaten up, she had seizures and strokes. About eight years ago, she broke her hip, and she refused to have a pin put in it, so she was paralyzed from the hip down. She went to a nursing home. Well, when we was in the nursing home, she stopped talking, and then she stopped eating. My mother killed herself very slowly. She had a tube put in her stomach, and because she kept ripping it out, she had her hands tied down. Then my mother stopped swallowing. Saliva built up in her throat, dripped down her throat, and went into her lungs. It caused pneumonia four or five times, and that's what killed her.
People will kill themselves if they are suffering or feel that that's a solution. My belief is that we need to not be afraid of it, but ask, "What happens before the desire?" That's what I mean by suicide's gotten a bad rap. Sometimes there is no hope. I didn't not kill myself because of hope. I didn't kill myself because I got information from the whole process of suffering and staying through it. I believe that a lot of people don't have many options, and suicide does seem to be a good idea, but for me the question is not, "How do we stop people from [dying by] suicide?" but, "How do we reduce their suffering?" That's my belief.
Angela: I sometimes think that what we really need are respite houses, that you could just get up and say, "You know, Mom and Dad, I'm going to a respite house," and just chill out or talk with peers. Years ago, you would be sent off to the country: "Oh, I think you need to stay at Grandma's." Seriously. You had choices. You could get out of a smothering situation sometimes, and a lot of that's changed because economically—and also, I think, emotionally—people don't have that extra space and those extra resources anymore. Yeah, it's nice to have suicide lines, but why can't we have [more] warmlines? Why can't we have respite houses? Why can't we? The more choices people have, the more freedom, and the more likely they will be to choose them, and not, you know, kill themselves.
Des: What we're doing isn't working.
Angela: No, it's not, and we're not even looking at that larger picture. If that was so good, if all these meds are so good, we wouldn't be seeing these suicides. We wouldn't be seeing the costs that we're seeing. A whole lot's not working when it comes to mind health. A whole lot.
Des: Tell me why you decided to share your story.
Angela: I think, well, for a lot of reasons. I really respect you for the work you've done, and I also think that I like reading stories, and I like hearing stories. History was very important to me when I was in school, and it still is, so that's a part of it.
I think, for many African Americans, there's a lot of shame about putting your business in the street, about wanting to talk about suicide, and also not wanting to be Miss Pollyanna and say, "Life is hard, and I'm suffering." That's one reason.
Also, I don't know many people whose mothers have tried to kill them who've talked about it.
Des: There is that.
Angela: There is that, so I thought I would share that, 'cause there's probably somebody out there like me who may benefit from this story...
A key reason is to tell people that they can learn from suicide. It's not about shutting it away, but saying, "What can you tell me? What does this desire tell me?" And to let people know that it was about what works and what doesn't.
None of my friends (besides the one) said, "Oh, you're wonderful, don't kill yourself because we love you." That shit doesn't work. I'm sorry, it does not work.
What does work is, "Can you stand by me? Can you accept me from where I am right now, and can you ask me what I need?" And if you can provide it, that's cool.
My friend told me later that she thought it was odd that I slept on her sofa, even though I could have slept in her bedroom. In her guest bedroom. But it felt more comfortable. At the time, she didn't say, "Well, what are you sleeping on the sofa for?" She just let me sleep on her sofa, and that was what I needed in that moment. So, "How can I be of service to you?" That's really what we need.
Don't guilt trip about, "Granny is gonna miss me at her birthday." That's not particularly helpful. Nor is saying, "Hold on for one more day," because sometimes that doesn't do very much help. Don't guilt trip people who wanna kill themselves. My God!
I mean, the concept of what the future holds really doesn't matter, because the intensity of the feeling in the moment is so strong that it's like you're blind. You don't care. At least I didn't. I was blind. So, that would not have worked well.
I was really very fortunate. I probably would have been put on meds, and I'm so surprised that nobody dragged my ass off, because it was intense. I'm so glad they didn't, because I never would have gotten through to this place. I would've never had the insights. That's the thing about putting somebody on meds. It's kind of like erasing their brain for the moment. But the issues are still there, and once they're off the meds...
Des: Have you ever been on meds?
Angela: Oh god, yeah. I was on meds for years. I was on antidepressants for a while, until they pooped out. Then I developed bipolar illness, and then I was put on mood stabilizers. Then I developed treatment-resistant depression, and then was put on antipsychotics. I was on antipsychotics for about ten years and got off of all of them about four, almost five years ago. Oh, and that's another thing too, see. One of the challenges of being off all the meds is, if I did kill myself, they'd say, "See, now, if she'd been medicated, she wouldn't have killed herself," so there's a pride piece there, too. There's a pride piece, but that didn't come until later.
Des: When did you get involved in the mental health system? How has it changed?
Angela: When did I get involved? Oh, I got involved about 20 years ago when I moved to Portland. I was in therapy. I had a really good therapist, and we immediately got to some core issues. I realized I've been depressed and anxious almost all my life.
She thought it would be good for me to go on antidepressants, so I went to a doctor and I said, "Hi, I'm depressed, and I want to go on antidepressants."
The first thing he said to me was, "Which one would you like?"
And I'm looking at him like, ["What?"] But I knew. I said, "Prozac."
He says, "That's a good one."
That was my interview for antidepressants. It was a life-changing experience. Prozac for the first 11 months, 10 months—it was as if I had been living in black and white and the world was in color. I tell you, I had been anxious and depressed all of my life, and I loved it. I just loved it. I thought, "This is why people go on antidepressants."
A couple of things were kinda funky, though. One good thing about antidepressants, at least when they work, is that I didn't care what people thought about me. I loved that. I loved being kind of callous, because I was always so sensitive to everything—the look of somebody I didn't even know on the street. I had had writer's block. I'd been a journalist for a number of years and it was just painful to write. That eased up. Life was good. My sex drive went out the window, though. That was not so good.
Then they stopped working. The dosage went up, and he said, "Okay, well, that should do it," and of course it didn't, because I'd pooped out. I love that term, "pooped out." Once that starts, then you're on the carousel: "Let's try something else." I tried different ones. Then the poly-pharmacy kicked in. I was on Wellbutrin and, oh, Effexor for a while. That was horrible. Horrible. Horri-fucking-ble.
Then I was put on speed because I was diagnosed with ADD. Then, when I was at law school at U of O, I started abusing speed. I had a great psychiatrist who gave me bottles of the stuff. It was incredible! Meanwhile, I had been in 12-step programs for years, but that's a whole 'nother conversation. So, there I am with these bags of speed, right? I got really anxious and became psychotic because I was abusing it. I would sleep on Ritalin. Actually, he started me on the Ritalin. He goes, "Think of this as kind of like an hors d'oeuvres." Then I had the Adderall, see. I would take the Adderall, but because it wouldn't kick in for a while, I'd start with the Ritalin until it did. I loved him! I loved that man.
Anyway, I was also taking the other medication, and I think, at that point, it was still mostly Wellbutrin. I was still on the Prozac, which is kind of weird. It didn't work, but they never want to take you off.
I got kicked out of law school because I had developed agoraphobia [and paranoia] and only came out at night. My classes were during the day, so you get the idea. I came back to Portland and was put on Geodon. Actually, I was on another one. There's another antipsychotic that put weight on me like nobody's business. I hated that one. I can't remember. I called it the "potato drug" because I just went "Pfff." Really. I was still on the Ritalin, too, but not as much, because my guy was down in Eugene. Seroquel didn't come until later, but I was on Geodon for about ten years. I was a fucking zombie. I was then on Lexapro, Wellbutrin, Prozac, and the Geodon, and the speed. I stayed on that for about nine years. It was horrific.
Then I went to a health maintenance organization named Kaiser. Oops! Didn't say that. While there, a prescriber thought it would be really good to put me on Lithium. Unfortunately, he didn't wash me out, and so, about three days in, he said, "It's gonna be a little rough, I just want you to know. It's gonna be a little rough."
About three days into it, my partner at the time said, "Angela, I think you need to go to the hospital."
I said, "Why?" I was not making any sense. I couldn't walk. My heart rate was through the roof.
So, I get to the hospital. She finally takes me after like six days. I walk in and the nurse says, "Why are you here?"
I just say, "Lithium."
Man, they went BAM! I had serotonin syndrome. I was hospitalized for about four days. Took me off of all the medication, and then when I came out, I developed what's called rapid cycling bipolar. I mean, you don't clean somebody out like that. You just don't. After about a month—luckily the rapid cycling went away—I was put on Seroquel. About 800 mg, which is absolutely horrible, since the standard dose is 300.
African Americans, unfortunately, are usually dosed much more highly than whites, but that's another conversation. I fell over in the streets and the doctor decided to lower it to 600mg. He should have titrated me from, pretty much, 50mg up, and stopped at 300mg, but that's a whole 'nother conversation, too. So, now, I'm on Seroquel, Lexapro, Wellbutrin, because he put me back on everything else except the Geodon. I'm still on the Ritalin.
Then I had another doctor who decided that Abilify was the way to go, so he added Abilify to the mix. I should thank this man, because what started to happen was word searching, and I've never had that before. I started researching. I don't know why I didn't look at the other meds, but I knew that was the one thing that had changed, that I wasn't remembering words. Actually, what happened was that my friends started to end my sentences for me. I got really resentful, and I thought, "Fuck you." Then I realized it was because I wasn't finishing them—because I wasn't remembering words.
I called them up, and I said, "You know, these other drugs have raised my blood sugar, my blood pressure. I've put on 50 pounds. And this one is making me stupid. I'm a writer. I can't be stupid."
So, he yells in the phone, “You’re gonna have to be on this drug or some other drug for the rest of your life."
Well. Oh, hell no... I've been on all these other medications. Horrific side effects. Tardive dyskinesia for a while. That was really attractive. I was okay with that, but once the word searching happened, it was too important. That's when I decided to let go of the medication.
I found the Beyond Meds website and a few others... I found that there was a community of people doing this. There was a community of people looking at psych meds and making choices. Not thinking, necessarily, that either they have to get off all of them or stay on them. They had choices about the volume, the medication, whether there were other nutritional paths for them.
I decided to get off all of them, ‘cause I just felt that was the way to go. Also, frankly, I realized that I believed that other people knew better than me what I needed. That was actually a turning point, as well. Once I did that, I decided to go back to twelve-step programs, which I did. And that truly is a whole other conversation, because what happened... I stayed in twelve-step programs for two years and then I realized that it was not my belief system, either. Most people don't just leave. I mean, they do, but they just kind of fade away in twelve-steps.
But I told people. I said, "I'm leaving."
"Why are you leaving, Angela? You're gonna drink or you're gonna use."
"No, I don't believe—these aren't my values. And if I didn't believe mental illness is a disease, which I don't, why would I believe addiction is a disease?" That was a whole 'nother Ricki Lake, as my mother used to say.
It was a kind of letting go of something that I'd been involved in for twenty-some years, that was a whole kind of framework around my universe. There was some mourning. Fortunately, three of my friends who are Christian are not in the twelve-step program, so it's not as if I lost their friendship, but it was really like being excommunicated. There’s only one person who I'm in touch with now who still does the programs.
It was really kind of like an opening, a kind of transformation of my life. It wasn't just a letting go of my meds. It wasn't just claiming, "I'm not willing to give this up. I'm not willing to give my brain up for drugs."
That was the goal, I think. Then the doors stepped open. That's my medication story.
Des: I want you to have the conversation with me about African Americans being dosed more. I also want to hear about your thoughts on mental illness not being a disease.
Angela: Well, there was a recent study, that I tweeted, about schizophrenia in African Americans and health care providers. It was an interview with doctors and other health care providers about their diagnoses and race. Basically, this study showed that they didn't believe African Americans when African Americans said that they weren't schizophrenic or didn't have the symptoms that identified schizophrenia. They thought they were lying, basically; that their clients were lying and didn't know that they should report these symptoms. They also saw African Americans as being more aggressive and more dangerous, even if the symptoms presented by a white person were the same, and they tended to dose them higher. There's a lot of research on that.
My experience with the psychoanalyst, by the way, was telling. When I first went to her, she asked me about my history, and I told her about the depression. I said, "You know, I was also diagnosed with depression with psychosis." As soon as I said the word "psychosis," her body closed up. Her eyes narrowed, her lips tightened, she crossed her legs, and she crossed her arms. I was so desperate at the time that I ignored what I knew: this was a trigger for that poor woman. For whatever reason, that was a trigger. I think people who lived in a lot of trauma are probably hyper-vigilant. Which, of course, most therapists really should know.
This was before the suicide [attempt]. I'd been seeing her about six months when the desire to kill myself came up again. So, when I was wanting to kill myself, of course, like any therapist, she would say, "Tell me anything. If it comes to your mind, tell me."
I'd say, "Really?"
She'd say, "Really."
So, one day, I'm in there. I'm right in the middle of this suicide [ideation]. This was just one time. I'm lying on my back, right? I'm not raising my voice. I said, "You know, I've thought about killing you and then killing me." It really just happened like that. I said, "Now, why would I see you as needing to die?” I'm just talking my way through this, and I said, "I think it's because it feels like you've brought this pain to me. That you've unleashed this pain."
Wow. I was only seeing her once a week, right? Usually, she doesn't say very much anyway, but when I sat up, I saw the look on her face. It was the oddest look. But I honestly said to her, "I would like an extra session, because I'm having a hard time."
So, she's here, I'm on the sofa, her day book is over here, and she said, "An extra session?"
I said, "Yeah!" Not realizing that I had traumatized her, right? I said, "Yeah. Is there a problem?"
She said, "No! But my day book's over there."
I said, "I'll get it for you." It was clear I'd freaked her out, but, in Woody Allen movies, people say shit to their therapists all the time, so I'm like, "Thank you!”
She doesn't want to book an extra session with me. It takes me awhile. She doesn't make that session. So I texted her, and I said, "You know what? If this is difficult for you, why don't we just pack this in. "
She said, "No, no. I'll fit you in.
I go in. I'm starting to lie there, and she goes, "Let's sit up. Let's sit, Angela."
I said, "Okay."
She goes, "Well, I just want you to know that, uh, I got scared last time."
I said, "What? I didn't..." I said, "I wasn't threatening you. You told me to tell you everything so, here, I tell you. I mean, didn't you want me to tell you?"
She says, "Well, I'm not as sturdy as I would look.”
Then I realized that my diagnosis of psychosis from ten years before had caused her to freak out: "A black woman is trying to kill me." At our next session—which was our last session, by the way, because I ended therapy with her—she even said to me, "Do you think it's about race?"
I said, "Well, you tell me." I mean, really! Why are you asking me?
I wasn't upset with her either. I said [to myself], "You know what? You gonna walk in like a champ, gonna leave like a champ. Just be respectful." It was fine. I told her, "You can't come with me. You can't. Not everybody can walk all the way home with you, and you clearly can't come with me, and that's alright. I need somebody who can."
That was my only experience. But also, being on 800 mg of Seroquel, that is just something you don't do to people. It's really very common to see African Americans as much more violent and in need of higher dosages. I mean, really, I fell over in the street because I was so drugged out. I would wake up standing in the closet with half of my coat on backwards. I would wake up because I'd been sleepwalking, kind of. One day, I was trying to put on this blue shirt, and I'm like, "Why can't I get this shirt on over my head?" I'm like, "What's wrong?" It was a fuckin' pillowcase! See, that's what I'm talkin' about. You don't do that to people. A pillowcase. It takes like an hour and a half to wake up from them. When you take them at night, you're supposed to take them like an hour before [you go to bed]. It was horrible, it was just horrible.
Anyway, the second question about... Oh, it'll come to me.
Des: What was it? Mental illness as a disease?
Angela: Oh. Yeah. Well, mental illness, for many people, usually comes after a lot of trauma. Pierre Janet talked about that long before. People have been talking about it for years since. That is just common. Research has shown us that. Now, I'm not saying that everybody who has been diagnosed with a mental illness has suffered trauma, but there are many kinds of trauma, and many of the people who have the most serious mental illnesses, like schizophrenia—infrequently with bipolar, but definitely schizophrenia—have experienced some horrific childhood stuff. That's just the way it is. The same is true for borderline personality disorder.
So, it's curious that we spend millions of dollars on looking at genetic causes when, instead, we could be looking at reducing trauma. The reasons I think we look at genetic causes is, one, it identifies the illness in a person, so we actually look at systemic issues of power and abuse. Two, if I've spent most of my career getting a degree and status based on being, let's say, the certified smart person on mental illness, and we can reduce mental illness by creating better home lives—creating warm homes or whatever—then suddenly my status goes away. Because it's not like me fixing you and me being the smart person. It's a larger system issue. I think we then get people who are invested in keeping mental illness an illness because they have a certain status. Then we're also looked at as 'other.' You know, you become the one nobody wants to deal with. No one wants to see it as you grew up from harm, and I really believe it continues as part of stress.
That's my point of view. I'm not saying, again, that there are no mental illnesses, although there may be some. But I also think, sometimes, when you look at these broad categories—like schizophrenia can be—if you've got six providers, you'll get five diagnoses, oftentimes. It's not as if you could say for sure that it's the same illness. It may not be. Frankly, there are bioconnections in a lot of people who have schizophrenia. They also have massive rates of things like Crohn's and other gut illnesses, which is really interesting to me. The same is true with autism.
Why is that? And why do we kind of peel them apart? Why do we not say, "Hmm, they seem to come in a package. so why don't we look at the package?" but we don't. We just sort of look at the rule.
If you're hurting, afraid, or need someone to talk to, please reach out to one of the resources below. Someone will reach back. Please stay. You are so deeply valued, so incomprehensibly loved—even when you can't feel it—and you are worth your life.
You can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 (U.S.) or 877-330-6366 (Canada), or The Trevor Project at 866-488-7386. If you’d like to talk to a peer, warmline.org contains links to warmlines in every state. If you don't like the phone, check out Lifeline Crisis Chat or you can reach Crisis Text Line by texting START to 741741. If you're not in the U.S., click here for a link to crisis centers around the world.
Thanks to Dee McDonald and Al Smith for providing the transcription to Angela's interview, and to Sara Wilcox for editing.
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