Using a safety plan to not kill yourself when the world is a shitshow!

Hi guys. Before we start this video I wanna put it out there I’m a stranger on the internet I’m not a therapist, you can’t hire me as a therapist, I don’t have the license. What you’re seeing is just a person talking to other people in her pajama pants. So treat whatever advice or insight you glean from this video in that way.

Yeah obviously I got the Hillary thing wrong. I didn’t see that one coming at all, I made plans with my friend tuesday night to get together with her and her little baby girl and we were so excited to have Margaux be with us while the first woman president came into existence and we were wrong about that, so the election hit me like a sack of bricks. Yeah and I know so many people who it hit like a sack of bricks.

And uh you know how I feel right now is the same way I feel when I’m driving in the winter and I feel my pickup truck start to slide and fishtail, which is a terrifying feeling, and I’ve felt it more, I never, I hate that feeling, I never want to feel that feeling again but probably living in Ohio I will feel it again. When that happens, when you are in a vehicle that you can feel sliding on ice, it is so terrifying that you actually have to not freak out. It’s so terrifying that you have to be super calm, because something very scary is in the process of happening and so you need to be completely present, to be completely responding to the situation in exactly the right way, making the right choices, strategically navigating an unsafe situation. And I know that this point in our political history, that’s where we are at.

We have to be really our best selves, our most present selves, making the right choices, strategically containing the harm done over the next four years and hopefully steering the country out of a car wreck back onto non-icy ground. We’ll see what happens, it’s gonna be a day by day thing. But we gotta be the best version of ourselves we can be and we have to be the calmest, and the most realistic, and the smartest versions of ourselves we can be.

Alright so hopefully we will all get there but it makes sense to have a week where we’re all really freaked out and for some people those feelings of feeling freaked out could involve having intrusive thoughts of suicide. I’ve gone through two periods of having intrusive thoughts of suicide in my life. One when I got really dragged on the internet when I was like 26 and that lasted for like a couple months, like 3 months, and one when I was transitioning, it was right after I had to stop taking testosterone for medical reasons and financial reasons and I still absolutely believed that I was a trans guy and for about 6 months it was pretty common for me to have intrusive thoughts of killing myself. And that was a very dangerous time in my life, I don’t think that anyone in my life understood exactly how much of a crisis I was in. I sort of understood how much of a crisis I was in, but it’s really hard when you are in a mental health crisis actually to get help.

If you’re in a mental health crisis right now I’m gonna put the number for the TransLifeLine and another suicide hotline down below, absolutely reach out and call those hotlines and they can hopefully refer you to other mental health resources in your community but I want to be realistic, the state of mental health in this country is that it is very hard for people to access good mental health care. Especially if you are a low income person, like the places that can serve you often have huge long wait lists and the sliding scale fees that they offer you are still economically restrictive. It is still worth pursuing. It is still worth getting your ass on the waitlist! Get your ass on the waitlist! Ok? Do it. Promise me that, promise me you’re gonna get your ass on the wait list.

But let’s be real, you’re gonna have to do self-help stuff till that first appointment happens, ok? So I’m going to be talking about self-help stuff in this video. Reiterating, not a therapist, not a licensed therapist, especially not your therapist, person who has gone through it to maybe person who’s been going through it. So if you were to get lucky and see a therapist quickly there are two ways that they could react to you talking about having intrusive thoughts of killing yourself. If they’re a little bit old school they might have you sign a no-suicide contract. So you would literally sign a contract saying I’m not gonna kill myself while this therapy is happening. They’re moving away from doing that because through research what they found is that all that happened with no-suicide contracts is that the therapist felt a false sense of security in terms of their clients not killing themselves and the rates of clients killing themselves didn’t actually go down. So they’re moving away from doing that, what they’re doing nowadays is, and I think it’s so much better, is your therapist will probably have you fill out a safety plan.

So I’m going to be talking about what a safety plan looks like so that you at home can just do this for yourself right now. You don’t have to wait to see a therapist to do this, and hey, if you do this at home right now for yourself then when you go see that therapist, then when you make your way through that waitlist and you finally see a therapist, you can bring your safety plan. And maybe at that point your safety plan will be better. Maybe you will have revisited it and made it better.

I know about safety plans because I’m in this therapy program and the way that they train therapists in terms of filling out forms is they’ll have them fill out the forms but for like fictional characters and stuff. So anyway, this is my practice safety plan that I filled out for the character Frank Underwood from House of Cards, which is like very apropros to this political situation.

Ok, so the first step of the safety plan is they will have you fill out three ways that you can tell in your life that a mental health crisis is happening. When I was in my suicidal period I couldn’t fall asleep, I was very fearful and socially anxious, just really hated being around people, my interactions with people often made me upset, and I was very sad in a very agitated way. I would start crying spontaneously, and obviously that’s like, it’s hard to like do your job and get around the city and like be a person when you might like spontaneously burst into tears. So those were my three warning signs, that’s just me. This is worth it for you to go through three ways that you can tell that you’re in a bad place, and there might be compulsive behaviors that start to pop up, thing like being compulsive about the way you eat, things like tearing out your hair, things like compulsively playing video games, compulsively using pornography, you know you know yourself, right? This is a great time for you to think about your daily behaviors and kind of like the things that you can tell that you’re starting to do because you’re in a bad place and you sort of want to avoid your feelings.

Pot and alcohol! Is your pot and your alcohol use like getting kind of out of control? I definitely abused marijuana in this time in my life, and it definitely felt like I had to because it was like one of the only things that kept- being high was one of the only things that kept me from crying during this part of my life. I was in crisis, guys, I was in crisis. So, if you get a piece of paper this is the appropriate way for you to be honest with yourself about this stuff. Are you getting high everyday because you need it to stop crying? Are you hiding out and avoiding people because you hate being around people? Are you compulsively doing stuff, cutting yourself, tearing out your hair, are your compulsions taking over?

I just want to put it out there we all have weird shit we do, it’s not- all of us. Yes these are signs you’re in a mental health crisis, they are not signs that you are somehow like, a lost cause of a person or something like that. That’s not the way it works at all. I sort of think that having gone through a mental health crisis or two or maybe more has made me a more valuable person for other people. And I think that maybe going through a crisis will eventually make you into a more valuable person because you will be able to be a resource for other people.

Ok, step two of the safety plan, we’re gonna brainstorm coping strategies that you can do by yourself that help you take your mind off of thoughts of suicide. Ok, so by yourself is actually a very important part of this process. There are just going to be times in your life where other people let you down. And they just don’t get it, they don’t notice that you’re in crisis, they aren’t helpful when you’re in crisis, they say exactly the wrong thing, you know…other people are not, people are limited in terms of their experience, and in terms of their insight into what happens, oftentimes people are real stupid. So like you do need some things where you can do them for yourself to get yourself to maybe moving away from a dangerous spot and you’re not having to take the risk of asking someone else to get involved.

Ok, so three things to take your mind off of suicidal thoughts, this is again very specific to you. And you know I’d actually love it if people in the comment sections left the things they do for themselves to get themselves in a better spot. Things that I found helped me a lot- reading fiction helped me a lot. I think because reading fiction can be so all encompassing that kind of really helped me step outside of my situation. My concentration abilities are like severely affected when I get in a mental health crisis place, so like a novel has to be really, really great for me to get all the way through, but during this time in my life I started reading horror short stories, I read a lot of Joyce Carol Oates, and it was exactly what I needed, I went through all the Joyce Carol Oates in the Berkeley library and man it really helped me. It might not be what you need at all, but for me reading fiction helped a lot.

For me, going to see movies helped a lot, again, it was like the all-encompassing, stepping out of my situation thing. Other things that might help you a lot, well we gotta think about what you like to do- maybe you’re an artist, maybe you’re a musician, maybe things like body work help you a lot, like massages, like reiki, maybe some form of exercise helps you a lot, maybe weightlifting helps you a lot, you know, I like love yoga, what else? Running could help you a lot, just, things that take you out of the suicidal storyline that you’re in. If people could leave what they tend to do for their coping strategies in the comments that would be great.

Alright step three is people and social settings that provide distraction. So not people that you’re going to spill your guts to, that’s not who we’re talking about at this point. We’re talking about people who just like, they’re fun, you can talk about other stuff with. Those people are really important in our lives, there are people who you get deep with, and then there are people you stay shallow with, the shallow people are also important. So two people who distract you, you’re not gonna open up to them, you’re not gonna say like, hey I’m like really scared by how much I’m thinking about suicide, you’re not gonna say that to them. It’s two people who you’re gonna say like, hey did you see Dr. Strange? Or, hey my cat threw up all over my carpet, this is a thing this cat quite a bit. Shallow people, people you’re gonna stay shallow with.

And then two social settings that distract you. Social settings were really hard for me at this point in my life because I was so fearful and socially anxious, but one place I’d always go to, I’d always go to Lake Merritt in Oakland and for me walking around Lake Merritt and running around Lake Merritt were like very important, very important, like that lake was so important in keeping me alive, and what was nice is that I could be around people but I didn’t have to talk to anybody, other people were, you know, Lake Merritt is so lovely, it’s like people dancing, and people doing capoeira and people running and people walking around with their babies and lots of people smoking pot and…it’s just a really good vibes kind of place. So if you have a good vibes kind of place in your city, go and like take some time there and soak up those good vibes. And I don’t know what that place is in your city. Cleveland actually has kind of a lot of good vibes places right now, so if I was having a crisis in Cleveland I would probably go to the lake and sit near the lake and watch people walking around, I might go to the West Side Market, I might go downtown. Just like, it’s a public place that has a lot of good vibes, you don’t necessarily interact with anybody. Two of those!

Ok, step 4, people I can ask for help, three people you can be deep with. Guys. I think that having three people that you can get deep with is, I think there’s lots of people who don’t have those people. It takes- you have to like cultivate those kinds of relationships, um…I can think of my three people now, I have those three people now, when I was in crisis back in California I did not have those three people. But so think hard. When I was in crisis in California I did have people in other cities, right, so I had my friend Mary in Chicago, poor Mary, she always hears all my crises, um, she was one, uh, who else did I have? Man, I was in a bad spot. I don’t know. This step might take you awhile to brainstorm.

And I’m gonna be real, sometimes we get in parts of our lives where like our social groups are not so good. And I need you to believe that even if you’re at that point in your life you can build a better social group. You can build deeper friendships where you can be more authentic. I would say at this point in my life I have like 5 or 6 people that I could call and be like, yo I’m in crisis, and they’d be like, yo I’m gonna be at your apartment in 5 minutes, I’m bringing my kid though, and some movies.

Ok, step 5, hotlines I can contact during a crisis, this is something that your therapist would give you, but I’m going to give you some hotlines underneath this video. There are national hotlines and there are local hotlines. The national ones are what I’m going to give you under this video, google the local ones for you. Have these numbers on hand! Have em! You might get out of this crisis and you never need to revisit this stuff in your life again, you will for sure in your lifetime following this time in your life meet people who are thinking about killing themselves. This is a normal part of the human experience. Every day the people we’re walking by on the street are considering these choices. Every day. You’re gonna want to have these numbers on hand. You’re gonna want to carry them around with you, have them in your phone, I swear, this is just, I know it sounds really dark and weird, it’s because we live in a dark and weird world.

Ok, making the environment safe, two steps that you can do to get in your own way when it comes to making plans to kill yourself. This can include if you have medications that you could use to hurt or kill yourself , is there someone who can keep those medications for you so that you aren’t alone with them? It could be the people that you asked for help, the people you got deep with, this could also be people that you kind of, you’re not going to tell them every part of your business, all you’re gonna say is like, yo hey, I need you to do me a solid, I have these medications, I need you to keep these and if they’re like, whyyy, just be like don’t worry about it. Just do me this favor, I’ll explain later. They’ll get it, frankly. Other things, obviously if you have fire arms around you, please find someone to keep those fire arms for you. Knives. You know, if you are seeing a therapist you can brainstorm with them about who in your life can do this for you. This is kind of a step where it’s really helpful to have someone to brainstorm the specifics in your life with. Worst comes to worst, if you have a fire arm, worst comes to worst, take the unloaded fire arm to a police station and be like, yo I gotta give this up. Put the knives in the garbage, worst comes to worst. Other things to keep your environment safe, maybe this is the kind of thing where you need a friend to start spending the night at your place. Or that you go and spend the night at your parent’s house or at…like, it might be that this is about finding ways for you to not be alone for a week or two.

Ok, that’s step 6, I do feel like step 6 is most effective if you have a person who you can individually brainstorm with how you can make your environment safer for you. But again this is kind of a self-help exercise until you can get yourself to a therapist.

Step seven, seven, four things that have kept your from killing yourself up to this point in your life. You know, I feel like there’s this real cult of positivity right now happening in America but you can like go dark on this stuff. For me, four things that were keeping myself from harming myself so far, I felt like if I killed myself there would be a lot of people who would be like, Carey was always going to kill herself and I was fuck those people! No! You don’t ever get that from me! I felt like there were a lot of people, you know when I was transitioning I had a lot of people who were like very into having a trans friend and like I got like a lot more popular and I was in this weird position of like both having a lot of attention for my transition and really not having much actual social support for the rough times I was going through. So I had this like vision of like, wow if I kill myself I’m going to have a lot of people who like share my obituary and be like, it’s so awful that trans people kill themselves, and I was like, I’m not going to go from being a token trans friend to being like some kind of symbol. I felt really strongly that like that wasn’t going to be my future. Like I didn’t want- I felt like I had been turned into a symbol in a lot of ways for a lot of people in my life and I didn’t want to have that be my death.

Other things that kept me from killing myself, you know, this gets kind of deep, but like I feel like when I was suicidal it was this time of really grappling with how dark and nasty this world is. And it was this time in my life of really seeing how vulnerable I was to other people’s nastiness and seeing how easily people could like objectify me and tokenize me and really take away like, my realness, like my humanity, as a person. And I also was at a time in my life where I was very re-traumatized, it was a time in my life where there was a lot of rape happening around me. I know that sounds crazy, but like, during this time in my life a had a friend back in Cleveland get raped, a guy raped a woman after one of my comedy shows , went on two months later to rape another woman, I was like talking to detectives about that case during this time, I used to have this like comedy project podcast that was people telling awkward sex stories and on that show three different times I had men tell stories where it was like very clear that there was no consent for the sex that they were describing, and sometimes there was like violent coercion in the sex they were describing, so when I was suicidal I was sitting with this deep grief and how am I going to accept how dark this world really is? What kind of broke in me was the belief that the world was supposed to be any other way.

What I think about the world right now is that this world is a really dark and nasty place and sometimes for other people, sometimes they will be such dark nastiness that me being cool and ok to them will be like a real bright spot. And so I need to be cool and ok to them. I need to be cool and chill and kind because you don’t know what other people are going through, there’s terrible shit happening in this world all the time, the details of other people’s lives are like awful. You hear other people’s stories and you’re like, how on earth did you live through that. And when I was suicidal what kind of broke in me was the expectation that this world was ever going to be not that.

You know, even if Trump wasn’t president, horrible stuff happens in other people’s lives. Even if it was Hillary Clinton, even if there was tangible proof that women were gaining more power in this world, and more economic power and more control over their own lives, even if there was more proof at the moment that we were constructing an America where it was really safe to be a person of color, really safe to be a trans of gender non-conforming person, really safe to be, god a refugee, even if we were existing in a moment in time where we had a lot more proof that stuff was getting better, there are horrible things happening all around us all the time. Like, that’s just the way it is.

And I was at a point in my life when I was suicidal where I felt like I couldn’t catch a break, I felt like I kept just waiting for someone to be kind to me and it wasn’t happening, it wasn’t happening over and over and over and over. I couldn’t catch a break. I was on the waitlist for the therapy services. The waitlist was long and it was going to be awhile before I got to see a therapist. And something broke. And suddenly I saw that like things were flipped. And like, oh, well that’s the way the world is, and that’s why it’s necessary for me to not kill myself so that I can be that piece of kindness in someone’s life. So that I can be the chill person who listens when someone’s in distress, who responds when someone’s in distress, who believes them when they saw they got raped, who takes it seriously that they’re in a mental health crisis.

And, I don’t know, it’s hard to talk about this stuff without sounding like a real condescending fuck, but I often fail at being that person. Because I have a lot of my own issues and like I’m so far from being the person that I want to be, but I just want you to think about- you know, we are moving into a very scary four years of the future in America. Maybe not, maybe he’ll get impeached! But even if he gets impeached, then we’ll have Mike Pence, that’s also incredibly scary for four years. We’re moving into a period where lots of people see that the way towards power is playing on people’s hate, playing on people’s fear, a lot of people are seeing that like, oh hey, you are constantly violating all the women around you, it really doesn’t matter, it really doesn’t matter, you can still be president. So the world right now does look like a shitshow.

So I think that that means you are more necessary than ever. That like, you having the experiences you have, the experiences of being gender non-conforming or trans, the experiences of having mental health challenges, the experience of being suicidal- you having those experiences makes you very, very valuable to everybody else. And if you kill yourself then you’re not going to be available when that next person needs someone. When that next person has been wading through the shitshow for months and has not found anyone who gets it, who can listen, who will believe them. You need to be alive so that you can be that relief for another person.

It’s like you’re in the truck that’s sliding, you’re the driver of the truck, like, you gotta keep your head in the game. You can’t just throw up your hands. You’re key. You’re essential.

Alright, ugh, that last step, I just kind of ranted for that last step. Four things that have kept you from harming yourself so far. In my case it was not wanting to give anyone else the pleasure of me being gone, and then also realizing that this world is a complete shitshow and so you need to be the best version of yourself. Because other people need a relief from the shitshow. Other people need just like a kind, reasonable, non-judgmental, like, listener, other people need it. We are living in a world that is so hungry for that.

Alright, so, safety plan, I’m going to leave the prompts underneath this video so you can take a piece of paper, fill them out yourself. Please leave in the comment section those internal coping strategies, the things you do for yourself that help get your mind off of suicidal thoughts. Yeah, I’ll leave the suicide crises numbers, yeah, ok, god, 35 minutes of this.

You’re very valuable. Being suicidal right now I think that actually makes you, will end up making you an even more valuable person for the people around you. That suicidal period in my life was awful, it was very dangerous, I think there was such a huge risk that I was going to kill myself, looking back I don’t think, looking back at that period of my life it looks more dangerous and more frightening to me. Also, it was one of the most valuable periods of my life. It shifted the way I approach the world in like this fundamental way and I know it’s weird but like I think that that period of my life was one of the best gifts I ever got. Like, I’m so grateful for the ways that it re-oriented me and I’m so grateful for the ways that it shifted my perspective and a lot of times when I feel myself getting miserable what I do is I kind of re-visit those lessons that I learned during that time. And I, you know, I just try and shift back to that way of approaching the world. The world is shit. Make yourself not shit. Because other people need not shit. Other people need not Trumps, people need to have people around them who aren’t Donald Trump to meet and to share their grief with. Ok. Alright, safety, take care of yourself, don’t fucking kill yourself! Bye.

Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565 8860
Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
The prompts for making your own safety plan!
Step 1: Warning signs that a crisis is developing (thoughts, images, mood, situations, behaviors).

Step 2: Things you can do by yourself to take your mind off your problems without contacting another person

Step 3: People and social settings that provide distraction
1. Name and phone number
2. Name and phone number
3. Place
4. Place

Step 4: People you can ask for help
1. Name and phone number
2. Name and phone number
3. Name and phone number

Step 5: Hotlines you can contact
Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565 8860
Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

Google 2 hotlines local to you! Then you have the numbers for you, your crew, and anyone else you meet!

Step 6: Making the environment safe- removing means of hurting yourself, strategizing how not to be alone

Step 7: What has kept you from harming yourself so far? (family, friends, children, religious beliefs, pets, future hopes, etc.)

Please leave examples of the coping strategies you use to take your mind off of your problems in the comments!


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