This post is about suicide. I am not a doctor or a scientist or a researcher. These are my own experiences and in no way should this post be used as advice…medical or in any other way. I am NOT currently suicidal.
Suicide is the boogeyman of mental health. We all know that it’s kind of the end-all be-all of worst possible outcomes when we discuss someone’s mental health journey. And of course it’s hard to understand. What could possibly be so bad that it would make someone want to end their life? Especially when you look back over their life. Some people look like the have it made and yet they make an attempt on their life. And we sit back and say “why” “she seemed to have it all“. Or worse there are the people who believe that the person attempted suicide was acting from a “selfish” place. “She had so much to live for” “what about her spouse/children/family“. But suicide is not selfish. It is sometimes the most selfless option the mentally ill can come up with. And that’s because depression is a horribly insidious liar…but it’s effective as well.
It’s important to understand that I love my life. I have a wonderful husband, two beautiful stepchildren, 2 grandchildren, parents, mother-in-law. I have a cute little house, in a mostly nice neighborhood. I have enough money to buy food and pay the bills and enough left over that we can wear decent clothes and even take a vacation once in a while. And I can afford my mental health medication and therapy. Right now, I’m stable as far as my mental health goes. Although keeping with the “you can’t have it all” mentality, my physical health kind of sucks. But that’s ok. I’m mostly a happy person.
But, depression doesn’t give a shit about any of that.
Long time followers of this blog might remember that I tend to think of suicidal ideation as a train. I stand off to the side of the tracks and watch it race by. As long as it keeps moving, I’m ok. Those thoughts of suicide have a tendency to flit by my brain here and there. It’s nothing serious, not really. It’s something to note, certainly. But, as long as that train keeps on chugging by me I can’t get onboard. It’s when the train stops that I have to worry. In my mental construction all the suicidal plans are onboard the train. If I can’t get on the train to browse through the possible ways of offing myself then the thoughts remain abstract and can usually be purged. At least for a little while. This is passive suicidal ideation. It’s the thought of suicide with no plan to attempt. No timeline, no plan in place. Just thoughts that fly by, like the cars of that big long speeding train.
It’s when depression starts to seep in that things get harder. At first I just feel deflated. Tired. Unmotivated. I know it’s coming. I hope it stays away, that it doesn’t get worse. And sometimes it does turn back. But sometimes it doesn’t. And it has never stayed away permanently. And the trip down to the depths is sometimes remarkably fast. One day I may be fine and the next I may be anything but fine. Sometimes the trip downward is so slow that I barely notice it’s happening until I’m already in the pit. The pit has smooth stone walls with no handholds. The only way out is with help. And the last thing I feel like doing when I’m in this place? Asking for help of course.
But this is where things start to get tricky. For me, when I start this downward trip, I become very paranoid about what people around me are thinking. I know for a fact that they are already getting annoyed. “Here she goes again” I can practically hear them thinking it. They may as well just say it out loud and get it over with. Tell me to my face. Don’t make me play this absurd guessing game. And I start to get annoyed. Any my annoyance starts to slip out in weird ways. I get upset about the way the cabinets are organized. Or WHY in the world does the dog INSIST on barking at the guy across the street?!?!?!?! Doesn’t everyone know that I’m tired and cranky and getting more annoyed by the moment? And that thread of logic that always remains knows I’ve been full of shit from the very beginning of this whole paragraph. Because NO ONE is annoyed with me. My initial paranoid thoughts are based purely on the fiction that depression has created in my mind. No one likes me. In fact….everyone hates me. There is no logic on display here. It’s pure fantasy. It’s made up to rationalize the irrational thoughts that bipolar depression has placed in my mind. And it creates the beginning of the suicidal ideation. If everyone you love hates you, well, wouldn’t YOU want to leave that place? But leaving isn’t really thorough enough. If I leave, I’m still out there. And as long as I’m still out there, I am causing a problem for those I love. And if I just run away, people are still stuck with the legal responsibilities that they have to me. I jointly own the house with my husband. We would need a divorce. I would have to move out. I’d have to go to my parents. They have enough to deal with. I’m still causing problems for those I love. And THIS, THIS is when that train starts to slow down enough for me to jump on. And I always jump on.
On the train are tables. And on the tables are different ways to commit suicide. Because, you see, at this point the thought that a more permanent solution to my presence in my loved ones lives is starting to take shape. But, at this point in my life, I have been in this place enough to know that there are only 2 really viable options for me. I’m a pill girl. Sometimes I think I’ll just put my car into a tree, but I don’t think I could really go through with it. We all have our own thoughts about the best way to kill ourselves. We have our plans and those of us who have attempted in the past, even have comparisons about what worked and what did not. We know which pills not to bother taking, which vein won’t bleed enough, what rope isn’t thick enough etc. I suppose it’s gruesome to some, but to me it’s just becoming a thought I live with. But, when I’m able to step onto that train, these thoughts become much more intense, much more powerful. I start looking at the medications that I take TO KEEP ME ALIVE and I start to consider which ones will now do the job of killing me. I’m not there yet. I’m having suicidal ideation, absolutely. It’s even active SI, meaning I know the plan and I have the intent. But, I’m not 100% of the way convinced yet. That stubborn little thread of logic that is still running through all of these thoughts knows that something is wrong. It knows that I should tell someone. It knows that I need help. But the downward slide isn’t quite over and it’s starting to feel like it would take more courage to admit what is happening than it would to just let my mind let go. But, my thoughts continue the spiral. Depression continues to plant nasty thoughts in my mind. Your husband doesn’t love you anymore, you’re just a burden. I continue to turn this thought over and over and over in my head. And it starts to look as if suicide is the ONLY way out. And when I’m in that place I can see CLEARLY how each person in my life will benefit from me being gone. This isn’t about being selfish and trying to sneak out the door without being caught. I understand very easily how everyone’s lives will be better without me in them. And, sure some of the reasons I give to some people are shallow, but in the depths of depression I don’t have the ability to sort through whether something is a good reason or not. There is only a reason. Good, bad, doesn’t matter. There is a very clear reason that every single person I know, especially the people I love, have to want me out of their lives for good. As confused as my brain is in this state, I am 100% positive that suicide is the right option. This is what my people need me to do. This is to help them, not hurt them. Twice in my life, I got this far. Twice in my life I took the pills. Twice in my life I failed to do what I intended. Thankfully. Not for lack of trying. Sadly, like anything in life, when you don’t succeed at something you learn more about how to do it right. I do hope I never make it that far again, because I fear that I’ve learned enough to be successful.
I get that far because depression takes advantage of the situation it creates. The more tired and run-down you feel, the more depression will tell you that you are failing. And the more you feel like you are failing the more tired and run-down you feel. And then comes despair and hopelessness. And the next thing you know you’re convinced that the sigh your spouse just let out was actually an expression of intense suffering and hatred. And the suicide comes as a response to this. It’s a response designed to free the ones I love, not punish them. Although now, while I’m stable, I understand that they are the only ones who would suffer with my decision.