Suicidal Ideation and Career Ambition – Flying Too Close To The Sun


Suicidal Ideation and Creative Ambition are uncomfortable, conflicting, painful bedfellows. The duelling urges to prove yourself worthy of wide recognition and legacy, while simultaneously feeling crushed by the world and wanting to take the permanent solution to temporary problems can cause an emotional roller-coaster I feel ill equipped to handle.

I am well aware that I will one day die. That much is not up for debate.

I’m well aware if I die today, more people will notice my death than if I die in my 70’s of natural causes. More people will discuss my passing. More people will feel the need to look back over my legacy. More people will mourn my passing. More people will feel an absence in the world.

These are the kinds of insidious thoughts that make suicidal ideations hard to shake. These are the ways suicide makes itself seem like a route to success, to a better life, to a life worth more.

These are the insidious thoughts that make suicide feel tempting when you’re achieving public facing success. The idea you’ve peaked and your death is the only way to turn a life of ever diminishing returns into a life that ended at the top.

What keeps me here is creative ambition, hope of creative vindication, and fear that I’ll end my life before I hit my stride. What keeps me going is the thought that E3 this year might turn public attitude toward my work as past leaks and reports are shown accurate. What keeps me going is the hope that tomorrow might be the day that dream job offer appears out of nowhere and validates my work as being of value.

What keeps me going is the belief that maybe I can fly closer to the sun without falling violently down to the earth.

What terrifies me is the thought that I’ve already flown too close, and the desire to crash and burn spectacularly rather than to slowly spiral unnoticed, quietly drifting to my doom out of sight.

I honestly spend my days bouncing between the strength of ambition that first got me where I am today, and suicidal urges that I know on paper are not to be believed, but in reality take time, effort and energy to shake off.

It feels stupid to feel this strongly either way about a career discussing video games and whether they are good or not.

Transition – How I learned Not to Give A Shit and Fucking Love Myself

Growing up as a teen pre transition, I fucking hated myself. I blamed myself for my parents divorce. I blamed myself for letting myself be controlled by abusive relationships. I blamed myself for not preventing abuse done to me by people with more power. I blamed myself for the people in my life whose affection I craved not loving me.

Then, I started gender transition.

When you publicly and visibly transition gender, you have to start dealing with a lot more visible, immediate and inexcusable hatred from strangers who do not know you.

Growing up experiencing insidious small scale abuse from people you’re told you should be able to trust, it’s easy to blame yourself for the abuse you recieve. Those people are supposed to protect, like and love you. If they don’t, you’re the problem.

When the abuse is obvious and external, from people who you know you’ve never harmed, it’s a little more obvious you’re not the issue, they are.

Some people are just nasty, abusive arseholes.

Every time I’ve had to stand up for myself to a stranger during transition, be it fighting for my right to use a public bathroom or a store changing room, getting my ID accepted or getting hassled on the street by a creepy guy, I’ve found a little more strength and personal resolve.

Every time, I’ve gotten better at recognising past abusive behaviour used against me in my life.

Every time, I’ve grown in confidence.

Since transition, I’ve found the confidence to tell my biological father about how much his behaviour while I was growing up effected me.

I’ve found the confidence to track down the pedophile who abused me and take him to task for the impact his actions had on me.

I’ve found the confidence to track down my childhood bully and explain to him how his controlling abusive behaviour ruined several years of my life.

Since starting transition, facing visible abuse from strangers, and finding confidence in my own identity, I’ve learned to recognise abuse, and to address it directly before walking away on my own terms.

I’ve learned to do what makes me happy.

I’ve learned to move on and find closure from the abuse that crafted me.

I’ve Learned Not to Give A Shit and Fucking Love Myself.

Transition, Tattoos and Body Ownership


Before I transitioned, I had zero interest in ever getting tattoos or body piercings. The thought of altering my body from the way it was at birth seemed very odd indeed. Why would I make a permanent change to a body that itself wasn’t permanent?

I didn’t judge anyone with tattoos or piercings, but I just didn’t understand being that sure in something, sure enough to commit to permanently changing my body. How could anyone ever be that confident in the decision to alter their own body?

Then, I hit puberty. My body began to develop traditionally masculine characteristics. My voice dropped, I suddenly had a huge Adam’s apple, I was hairy all over and my own uncontrollable body made me feel routinely uncomfortable.

I didn’t like my body.


For me, puberty was a lot like renting accommodation on a short term contract. Suddenly this place I had to live all my life, by no choice of my own, was different. I had to adjust to living in a new skin, one I disliked.

I didn’t want to stay that way. I wanted a situation where I could make the skin I inhabited my own. I wanted ownership of my body, not a rental subject to sudden upheaval.

I decided to begin the long road of transition.

I began to take ownership over my own body as something I could control. I changed my clothing, I altered my voice, I changed my name and my gender marker and my hair.


I also started to get tattoos.

The road to physical help with transition is a long one in the UK. Years waiting to start hormones, and years beyond that to get surgical options done.

Years and years of waiting for the UK medical system to help me take ownership of my own body.

So I started taking that ownership myself.

I got three pixel hearts on my left wrist to celebrate making games writing my full time job. I got a My Chemical Romance quote on my right wrist to celebrate three years without a suicide attempt. I got a pixel magic bar on my left wrist to celebrate getting my Adam’s apple reduction surgery. I got the Let’s Play Video Games logo on my right wrist to celebrate going independent as a writer and managing to still thrive. I got the Non Compliant tattoo on my left wrist to celebrate lower surgery and taking pride in my own non traditional femininity. I got Faith’s tattoo from Mirror’s Edge on my left arm to celebrate having the strength to move from one period of my life to a brand new stage.


Every tattoo, whether it fades or blurs with time, will remind me of a time in my life I took control. Each one reminds me of a time where I made my life something new. A time where I committed to something.

Every tattoo is a reminder that this body is mine. This body is owned not rented. I can decorate the walls. I can put in a window. I can turn two rooms into one. I can make drastic changes. I can make this body a home of my own.

No landlord can take this body away from me.

As someone who has made a lot of changes to their body in the name of control and comfort, I will forever be proud of every change I made. Every surgery, every tattoo, every piercing and every modification a reminder that my body belongs to me, and I can make it home in what ever way I like.

The Mysterious Transition Turning Point

Mid 2014 Laura

I’ve been living full time as a trans woman for around three years now. I changed my legal name and got the gender marker on my passport back in 2014 and since then have lived every day of my life, without exception, as Laura Dale rather than anyone I might have been previously to the world.

For the vast majority of those three years, I’ve had to make a conscious effort to get gendered as female. With my hair down, face shaved, foundation and concealer, traditionally feminine coded clothing like skirts and tops that showed off the impression of breasts, I would still have a hit and miss track record getting correctly gendered in public.

I had to make an effort all day, every day, to still routinely get read as male in spite of my own efforts to present as female.

A few months ago, that seemingly changed out of nowhere. I’m not entirely sure why.

Mid 2016 Laura
Mid 2016 Laura

So, a few things have changed in my life since I started transition. I’ve started taking hormones, then hormones with testosterone blockers, then I had lower surgery and cut out the testosterone blockers. Most of these are things that will not be visible to the world around me.

As of right now, my body does not produce testosterone, and gets a daily dose of oestrogen.

My breasts, previously a bra stuffed with mastectomy breast forms, are now small but existent tissue of my own.

I don’t think I really look any different to when I started transition, but maybe that’s just seeing my own face every day.

The first time I realised something had changed was a night out in London where, trying to get home from a train station, four separate men tried to proposition me for sex.

It wasn’t a positive experience, it was honestly rather terrifying, but it was a night where I was clearly being clocked as female enough to face repeated creepy advances.

A few days later, I found myself getting catcalled more than I had before.

A few days later I ran to the shop in a baggy hoody, jeans, with my hair tied up and a bit of facial hair because I had not shaved yet. No makeup.

I got correctly gendered as female by store staff.

Lazy Laura
Lazy Laura

I found this starting to happen more and more frequently, I could make a “lazy day” trip to the shops making no conscious effort to signal myself as female, and still get clocked as female properly.

I’ve not had someone use male pronouns to refer to me in months. That includes days where I have made no effort on my experience and am bracing myself, expecting the reality of not being clocked as female.

I don’t know what turning point I hit, but from talking to other trans women, it seems like they hit this mystery point to.

2017 Laura
2017 Laura

There’s some point in transition where, even without making an effort, something changes and people start to clock your gender correctly in spite of non traditional aspects that would usually be considered “tells”.

I wish I knew what changed, but knowing this mystery turning point has been reached makes me feel infinately better about myself.

I feel like I can now explore non traditional femininity, the kind of varied experiences of valid femininity often promoted within non trans feminist circles, without worrying about my status as female being quite so scrutinised.

It’s a nice place to be in life.

Fidget Cubes Awkward Relationship to Autistic Stimming


While I wasn’t diagnosed with an Autistic Spectrum condition called Aspergers Syndrome until I was almost 18 years old, looking back over a journal my mother kept during my childhood many of the diagnostic criteria were there from a young age.

From as early as age four my mother made records of various obsessive repetitive behaviours I would engage in, and the considerable distress that not being able to fulfil them would cause.

From hand squeezing patterns to jumps every set number of steps, bleeping noises to rocking on the floor, I seemingly needed to engage in sensory patterns to calm myself.

This is often referred to within Autistic Spectrum diagnosis as stimming. It can cover behaviours from small tapping motions up to full body twists, turns and rocking.

It’s often a response to sensory overload. As a person with Aspergers I often struggle to filter out unimportant sensory information. In a room full of people talking I might struggle to focus on one nearby and loud voice because of quiet distant noises, a light buzzing, someone breathing, an oven fan spinning and more.

When all sensory information is always present, having something routine to focus on, control and predict when it comes to sensory information can be incredibly helpful.

Over the years I learned ways to manage many of these behaviours in ways that were deemed socially acceptable. Having a trio of cylindrical magnets I could switch between a line and a cluster formation was much easier to explain than rotating my hands in large circular motions.

In recent months, I’ve replaced many of my smaller stimming patterns with a Fidget Cube (first a knock off, now an official version).


The Fidget Cube has become somewhat of a popularised talking point well outside of the diagnosed mental health community in recent months. It’s a small plastic cube whose various sides provide sensory tools to interact with.One side features a switch that clicks between two positions. One side features five small clickable buttons. One side contains a rotating metal ball and some gears to rotate. It offers a variety of controllable sensory actions for a variety of needs in one small and unobtrusive design.

While it felt to me almost purpose designed exclusively as a tool for people like me to manage their stimming in a way that was unobtrusive and stylishly presented, they have taken off far more widely outside the diagnosed mental health community as a valid relaxation and anti-anxiety tool.

For someone fighting a life long battle with stimming, I have an uneasy relationship with the Fidget Cube. It is helping normalise stimming behaviour to many, while also giving a false sense of understanding that can at times lead to dismissal of the necessity of more intense stimming in high pressure situations.

So, let’s look at the positives. While most people picking up Fidget Cubes right now don’t seem to be people who have had long term issues with needing to stim to manage sensory issues, their increased presence, media attention and ubiquity has helped to normalise the idea that sometimes engaging in repetitive sensory behaviour can be a way to reduce anxiety and stress. It has shown people that a specific item someone carries with them might be an important item for stress reduction, even if it looks on the surface like a colourful toy for children.

On a surface level, it normalises stimming. In reality, it only normalises a very small bracket of stimming behaviours, those already manageable in societally acceptable ways.

While I can replace my trio of cylindrical magnets with a fidget cube and have my small scale repetitive hand motion sensory needs met with a device people recognise, a Fidget Cube will never replace my more intensive stimming needs. A fidget cube may help keep a bout of rocking on the floor or hitting violently at the sides of my own head at bay, if I end up needing to do either of those, a Fidget Cube will never do the job. The Fidget Cube for me is preventative of larger meltdowns, not curative once they occur.


I recently had an issue on a bus where I ended up having to rock back and forth. A nearby passenger asked me what was wrong and I explained my condition and my need for certain repetitive moments to work through an Aspergers Meltdown.

She asked if I had heard of the Fidget Cube, and explained to me that it would be a much less obtrusive way for me to manage that obsessive need.

The Fidget Cube is the hot new cure for all repetitive motion needs, and as such it’s now the poster child for non autistic people to recommend how we could better manage our conditions.

How we can keep our condition less visible.

How we can treat our conditions in a more normalised way.

It’s a double edged sword. I’m thankful for the increased awareness of stimming behaviour in general but I fear long term how it may leave those not effected with Autistic spectrum disorders with a false idea of their place within our lives.

Still, I’m incredibly glad it exists. Being able to normalise my preventative actions is incredibly positive.