Been a tad bumpy. You aren’t alone.

The last few weeks have been some of the best times of my life. I became closer to an already close friend and have formed a new partnership. My existing partnership continues to get more amazing every day. My heart is so full. 🥰

I had some amazing mental health training. I met some great people on the streets. I walked a 17 mile day and reconnected with another close friend. Broke some personal fitness records. Been spending lots of really good quality time with my partners and friends. Eating better. Sleeping really well. Taking my meds. Feeling hopeful and excited about the future. Exploring new photography stuff. Launched a couple websites. IFS. Job is good. Relationships are solid.

The last few weeks have also been a time of real struggle. I quit improv class. Last week on Monday and Tuesday nailed me to the ground. A shame tornado ripped through my soul. I thought it couldn’t feel worse. Then the last shame hurricane pummeled through Wednesday Night and Thursday morning. I talked to a crisis therapist. The eye passed over that afternoon and I thought it was over. The second and strongest wave passed Friday morning, and it devastated everything. My head was left spinning. I literally didn’t see it coming. I thought my world was gone. That was until a friend showed up unexpectedly, and intentionally that afternoon.

On my 199th day without smoking, I had a lit cigarette in my hand, and had already burned a half pack. He had coffee. He was there to check on me. Infact my closest people had been in talks most of the day to try to discern if and what kind of storm had hit me and what to do. I needed help and couldn’t say the words. They knew something was amiss. I was completely out of character.

(I want to share that despite suffering a major mental health challenge, I never became a danger to myself or others. I was never suicidal. I had spiraled with shame into a very hard place. It felt like a crisis that nobody would understand.)

Throughout these dark cold moody fall storms, my tribe has surrounded me with love and compassion. They have lifted me up. They understand pain and suffering. They get me. They remind me that I am still the same person I was before the storm. They emphasize that my core self remains unchanged. And they have let me know through words and actions that storms come and go. And we don’t have to weather them alone. We can weather it together. Joining hands with love and compassion we can survive anything life throws at us.

Struggling? I see you. I hear you. I love you. Let’s chat about it. Let’s #WeatherItTogether ❤️


Photocentric Minimalist Mental Health Depression

Never a dull moment with Chantix.

Trigger Warning: Suicidal ideation

Yesterday, I was suddenly consumed with wanting to die. I got out my toolset of things to do to cope with the suicidal ideation (it isn’t a new thing, but it is not common anymore these days) and started using them. I tried writing a blog about self-love. I tried drawing. I cleaned my desk. I listened to music. I went for a walk. I tried watching TV. I tried CBD/CBG. I googled “suddenly suicidal” and stared at the first page full of crisis phone numbers to call. I thought about reaching out to a friend or loved one, but I was telling myself, “you aren’t going to do it even though you are feeling the thoughts. The thoughts will pass and nobody will be the wiser and you can talk to your doctor about it tomorrow.”

So then I decided to go for a drive and listen to music. And I needed to grab some groceries. Both are usually good distractions when the mind isn’t well. I got to the grocery store, and felt trapped in my car. Tears running down my face. What the hell was wrong with me. Fifteen minutes later, I summoned all of the strength I had, wiped my tears off, and went into the store. Everything was louder and I felt like everyone could tell how I was feeling. I grabbed my things, kept my eyes on the ground, hit the self checkout and went back to my car. Got on the freeway, headed south. The more I drove, the more intense the feelings became until I was scared of my driving and made my way home. Somehow. By then, my partner had texted to see where I was (we were supposed to be meeting), and I had to tell her that I was in a bad place and was actually at home. She came over a few minutes later to find me slumped over in a mess of tears in my car, engine running, headlights on, parked diagonally in my driveway.

She helped me get out and go inside and I proceeded to just turn into a crying mess for the next hour, unbelievably sad, and for seemingly no real reason. It was a mood swing of none other for me. One of the worst I have ever, EVER, experienced. No big triggers. Just a day with some small normal everyday stresses that grew way out of proportion.

In a period of hours, I went from my normal self to literally mentally listing off the people who would and wouldn’t miss me. I went from calm to yelling and crying in my car as I drove down the freeway until I got home. Every ten seconds I wanted to flip the wheel and drive into the embankments I was passing. “What the fuck is wrong with me?!” “Nobody cares!” “I am so fucking sick of this life.” My mind was racing, my heart was beating fast, adrenaline was pumping through my veins, and there was no sign of the person I am. My heart was empty, no love, no happiness, no gratitude, nothing. Between the afternoon and sunset, I was a completely different person.

Then I remembered my doctor telling me something about the medication I am using to stop smoking. Chantix, aka Varenicline, has been known and is notorious for sending some people into a state of suicidal ideation and even psychosis. There I was. Three weeks without a cigarette, on the prescribed dose of Chantix, and completely consumed with wanting to die. My doctor told me if it happened, to stop taking it immediately, which I did. I talked to my doctor today and we both agreed that Chantix is off the table permanently for me. Although this is the first suicidal ideation I have had in over a year and the first time ever with Chantix, it is too risky. Chantix a few weeks ago kept me up all night with violent nightmares. And it has helped me stop smoking. Somehow in all of the madness in my mind yesterday, I never stopped to buy cigarettes. I was craving them big time, but was still able to say “NO” to the impulse to smoke again.

This isn’t an anti-Chantix post, but it is a post to warn people of the sudden onset of suicidality that it can cause and did cause yesterday. I was on the verge of leaving life behind just because I wanted to stop smoking (because I want to LIVE) and a pharmaceutical drug that was supposed to help me nearly took my life. In research I have done today, I have found countless sources of information with similar stories–and countless arguments from Pfizer about how it doesn’t cause any problems. I don’t want to lose a friend or loved one to smoking…and especially to this medication. The abrupt and severe onset of suicidal thinking has really scared me and I want people to know that it is real for some of us.

If you are ever feeling suicidal, contact me, contact a friend, call family, call your doctor, call 988, call 911, go to the emergency room or something. Please don’t go for a drive or try to out think it. Me trying to be a personal hero yesterday almost cost me my life. I was so embarrassed because it simply is not who I am today. I am not a suicidal person and I let my pride and ego get behind the wheel and drive me towards death.

Chantix has helped millions of people successfully stop smoking, but it may not be worth the risk, especially if you have any history of depression or suicidal ideation. I hope this blog helps others weigh the huge risks and benefits of this medication.

Sending all of my love to everyone suffering with suicidal ideation and/or battling an addiction. You are seen. Your battle is real. I love you.

<3 Tukayote <3

Fuck nicotine.

Jesus. Monday will be three weeks without a cigarette. Four days without nicotine. It’s a wonder that I haven’t had a real breakdown. My app says that I got 24 hours of my life back already. And I have saved $200. Its adding up.

And now I have some mental capacity to try to understand why I smoked. And it’s simple, it’s an escape from discomfort. Everytime I pick it up the habit again, it’s been after a conflict or abuse. Everytime I light back up after quitting, it’s because someone hurt me.

I get hurt and I relapse.

Now that’s something I can process and work with. Why do I go there (cigarettes) instead of to something else, hopefully healthier? That’s the question I am now asking myself, and it’s a deep dig. After twenty years of smoking, there are layers to dig through for these answers.

After a relapse, I use cigarettes to paint every single moment of boredom, stress, anxiety, or even happiness with color. An hour at a time. Until the next one. Sometimes without thought. Just the hourly motion of lighting up.

I’m fucking done with the cycle. I am not going into my forties as a smoker. And I am going to do my absolute best to never use nicotine again.

I have successfully avoided 321 cigarettes in 16 days. That’s probably equal to thousands of cravings that I have consciously said no to. I am doing this. It’s working. That’s thousands of wins.

I should write a blog I told myself. So here it is.

All my love for people suffering with addiction,

-Tukayote ❤️