I had this all written out so nicely, so serenely. I could almost hear the greats of literature clapping from on high as my mouse approached the submit button. But just as the written word is a godsend, Windows and Bill Gates were surely shat from the nether bowels of Hell. The more twisted of you—I among them—might chuckle at the thought that the blue screen of death was very nearly given a double-meaning. Sadly, I was forced to sell my firearms and do not trust pills to do the job, so here I am to pick up the pieces once again. Since this is my first post and will likely be my only major one, I feel I should offer a formal introduction, in as far as that’s possible online. I am a 26 year old unemployed writer from Washington who was dragged to Hell, I.E. Florida, as the tender age of 2. I am now stuck in the armpit of America because of circumstances beyond my control, namely my complete and utter reliance on family members for my survival who decided to come here to die. Florida is very much an elephant graveyard in that respect. But I digress. As I said, I’m a writer, if a broke one, and this is an opportunity for me to write without worry about word count, so if you’re in a hurry, look elsewhere. This may take a while. For those of you who’ve the patience, please bear with me as I try to sum up my existence in a few simple pages. I am not depressed. I’m just not the type. That’s not to say I don’t have moments of existential dread, feel so very alone, and wonder what the hell I’m doing with my life, nor is it to say that I’m not suicidal. I am. But, where it seems so many people are pulled toward suicidal tendencies by something deep within themselves, I feel pushed toward it by external forces. I suppose I’m wondering if anyone else can understand? Allow me to elaborate. I am physically quite imposing. Six-foot-ten, face as grim as a tombstone, ex-bouncer trained by Marines, stabbed and shot multiple times and was too pissed off to notice until the other guy’s ribcage was in splinters. The macho/psychotic type. I have xxxx in self defense, which I am not proud of, but it has given me a good deal of perspective when it comes to mortality. To look at me, not a soul would realize that I am very ill, and only getting worse. That has made it all the harder to actually obtain treatment. And don’t get me started on the disability jerks. I was born with a slight irregularity of the hypothalamus. It does not control the function of my endocrine system as well as it should. Maybe it’s tweaked my testosterone levels and pituitary gland, explaining my size and strength. I don’t know. What I do know is that, in situations even slightly stressful, the hypothalamus in my brain mistakes the situation for a life-or-death one and signals my adrenals, which dump everything they have into my bloodstream all at once. A full on flight-or-flight response is triggered, with either bowel-quaking fear or towering rage comprising my entire world for a short time. While this might speed your reflexes were you behind the wheel of a car that was careening toward a semi, thereby aiding your survival, imagine what it’s like trying to control yourself when you’re taking an exam in the 1st grade and every cell in your body is shrieking “RUN!!!!” Yeah, that’s kind of a good way to get a reputation around the schoolyard. I was shunned like a leper. And in the podunk Bible Belt town I was raised, more than one minister wanted to perform an exorcism. One even tried to setup camp on our front yard until Dad got the shotgun… Hey, it was trespassing. He was within his rights. From the ostracism I learned to keep my own counsel, and don’t mind the solitude as much as I used to. The ongoing issue is frequent panic attacks, which, if anything, are even more socially awkward than they used to be. I’ve lost more than one job as a result of freak outs. Were that the only problem, I would just lump it and carry on, but nothing in my life has ever been that simple, or pleasant. I was diagnosed with a functional motility disorder at the age of 9. It’s classified as gastrointestinal, but only because the physicians in this country are living in the last millennium. It’s neurological, whereby the brain’s signals to control the functioning of the gut are garbled, resulting in starts, stops, spasms, and a LOT of pain. It is this disorder which has ruined my life, if you’ll pardon the emotional cliché. Over time, it has gotten worse, so that now I cannot hold down so much as a part-time job or even leave my home for more than a few hours a week. I won’t go into the nitty gritty, but I spend roughly 40 hours per week in the bathroom and lose almost a pint of blood in that time. I am rushed to the hospital on account of severe dehydration about six times a year. And me with no insurance. Were I not living with my mother, who is herself on the losing side of a battle with breast cancer, I would be homeless and would’ve starved to death years ago. The doctors do nothing. They say it’s something I just have to cope with. I have repeatedly asked them how a person can possibly cope with not being able to stay out of the bathroom, but they just chuckle and turn to leave and bill their next patient in line, as if to say it couldn’t possibly be as bad as I say it is. Condescension and accusing me of being a liar, all while charging me for the privilege. It’s a wonder the mortality rate among physicians isn’t higher. I first realized that working outside the home just wasn’t feasible two years ago. In that time, I assessed what abilities I had and considered my options. It wasn’t encouraging. I had a degree in psychology, which was useless outside an office environment, and a string of minor publications for short fiction. I always wanted to be a novelist, read voraciously, and had tried to put together several novels in the past, if only for my own amusement. Too bad for every successful novelist out there there are about 3,000 failed ones. Long odds indeed. So I applied for disability and Medicaid in hopes that what aid might be offered would cover my prodigious medical bills and float me along until I could get a book published. Surely I, a taxpaying American citizen with legitimate medical issues, would be approved for aid to which I am entitled, even if it required an appeal or two to get things moving, right? That was two years ago. Do you know when the final rejection arrived? Last week. December-fucking-23rd. Merry fucking Christmas. In that time, I’ve gained a dozen more minor publications to my name. Barely cover the cost of the paper they were written on, truth be told, but all writers have to spend time in the trenches, and I need the experience if a literary agent is meant to take me seriously. They laughed me out the door the first time I wrote them. All 500 of the cushy bastards. I’ve written a book and come up with three more in that time, but have had no takers as yet. Funny; I’ve no other options, so with me it is quite literally publish or perish. At my worst moments, I fantasize about walking into an agent’s office with a manuscript in one hand and a xxxxx, and then telling him to choose. What worries me is how much that makes me smile. What saddens me is that my stomach wouldn’t allow for the journey. But these last two years have been fruitful in other tragedies. Shortly after deciding to become an author, what else should fall ill but my eyes? I was diagnosed with superior limbal keratoconjunctivitis. It’s an inflammatory disorder in which my immune system attacks my eyes, and no one knows why it happens. The pain is constant and all-consuming. Its base state is a burning sensation almost identical to accidentally getting onion juice in your eye. But, as my eyes dry out throughout the day, the pain escalates. At its worst, I fight to keep from trying to claw open my skull and drag out the two red hot coals that have taken up residence there. As it does not affect my ability to see, just my ability to keep my eyes open and retain the will to live, my ophthalmologist will not consider the surgery to correct it. Why? Because I’m uninsured, of course. This is a perfectly curable disorder which no one will offer help for because it doesn’t threaten my life, just makes me miserable. When I begged the doctor, literally, he told me to use ice cubes. Ice cubes! So, with no choice, I walk around with ice cubes pressed against my closed eyelids all day. They numb the worst of the pain temporarily, but it always comes back. And God help me if I run out of ice. It’s become a party trick of sorts, as people don’t believe me when I tell them the pain feels like my skull is being roasted from the inside out. All I do is put a fresh ice cube against a closed eyelid and let the meltwater run in a steady stream through my fingers. They tend not to question after that. And then there was the cancer that popped up about a month after my eyes caught fire. Testicular. Damn thing swelled up to the size of a plum in under a month. I was approved for the local hospital’s charity program, without which I would now be dead. I realize they were trying to help, but I can’t help but wonder if it would’ve been better for them to let me die. The cancer is still not gone. When it was discovered, it was already at stage 3, in my abdomen. I’ve since had three major surgeries and technically died once on the table once, not to mention almost six months of solid chemotherapy. I look like a walking zipper, and had the distinct pleasure of waking up while on the operating table to see all 25 feet of my small intestine on the gurney next to me while the surgeon dug around my spine for my lymph nodes with what felt like a rusty grapefruit spoon. Sadly, he missed a few, which have now sprouted new cancer cells, meaning more surgery is on the horizon if I can convince a surgeon to do it. It’s not like I can pay any of them, after all. In this case, having no car, no savings, and no property is to my boon. Debt collectors can take nothing from me. Funny how you become a connoisseur of pain after a while. You never get used to it. No, never. And it saps you like you wouldn’t believe. And then there’s the fear, because once you’ve known enough pain, your imagination kicks into high gear and you begin to realize how many new ways there are to hurt. But, you learn how to recognize each pain for what it is and how it evokes different feelings. The chemo was like having a mild acid scorching my veins from the inside out. It didn’t really start to burn until the fifth or sixth day in a row. Neupogen, now that was another matter entirely. It’s a drug that forces your bone marrow to produce more red and white blood cells so the doctors can pump you full of pesticides without having to wait for your body to recover naturally. Makes it feel like your pelvis and femurs are coated in napalm, an oddly different type of burning. Then there were the blood clots in my arms that formed from the intravenous lines. They felt like molten fishhooks had been attached to the tendons in my arms and were being pulled out on deep-sea fishing line. And let’s not forget the pulmonary embolism that formed from the physician prescribing the wrong blood thinners to deal with the blood clots. That was almost pleasant. Whenever I stood, it was like two heavy hands pushed down on my shoulders, firmly guiding me down to the ground. Of course, that was because the blood clot that had migrated to my left lung could’ve killed me at any moment. Painless too, and I consider it a lost opportunity now. The worst pain was not being cut from pelvis to sternum and having the incision stapled back shut, though what happened when those staples tore out during the car crash on the way back home from the hospital certainly runs a close second. The worst pain I’ve ever known was the 12-hour long spasms from gallstones. You see, the chemo affected my liver and gallbladder, and I had to have the latter cut out back in October. It was almost a month of daily trips to the emergency room for something to dull the pain of the gallstones, and God forgive me for saying it, but if I ever feel pain like that again and it doesn’t go away fast, I wouldn’t think twice about killing myself to stop it. So there you have me, a mass of surgical scars and malfunctioning flesh. But, I am obligated to find a way to survive, if not for religious reasons than for the family I would be harming by committing suicide. I am not depressed. In fact, I am quite rational about the situation. I have no way of earning a living in the traditional sense, am facing an uphill legal battle with the state for Medicaid and disability for at least another year, am flat broke, and lose hope for a long-term future with every uncaring, generic rejection letter I receive. I want very much to live, but once my mother passes away, I will be homeless, and then I am dead either way. So, the question I end up facing is, do I take the quick way out and kill myself when the home is stolen out from under me? Or do I try to endure until I starve on the street or die choking of pneumonia in a gutter somewhere? In this way, I feel pushed toward suicide rather than pulled. It seems an inevitability, and the only way I can spare myself more needless suffering. I have not run across anyone like myself. And most suicide prevention sites talk about depression almost exclusively, making me feel left out once more. Should anyone be facing a similar situation, I would deeply appreciate the opportunity to commiserate.