I’ve been reading a lot about World Suicide Prevention Day recently. And it’s really making me think.
Last year, at this time, I was on my way into a spiral that resulted in inpatient hospitalization. This was the second time that my husband would be called by my therapist to come and get me and take me to the mental hospital.
This year is the first that I’m even aware of a suicide prevention day, let alone a month of awareness.
I don’t really remember details of how I was feeling the day I was hospitalized. I know that I was sure that everyone would be better off without me. The removal of myself from their lives would allow them to be happier. They would not be constantly dragged down by my depression, my panic, my presence. If I died, my husband would get the life insurance money from the policy we have through his work. So, his financial situation would improve dramatically.
I honestly wasn’t really seeing a downside.
I read my journal from this time period and I’m seeing some things that look like patterns. For instance, not sleeping. According to my journal, I was lucky if I was getting 5 hours a night, and it was never all in a row. There was a general feeling of not being able to accomplish anything, or not accomplishing anything correctly. A lot of anger, a lot of frustration. We added an extra person to our household and I was definitely having trouble coping with that. I couldn’t figure out how to incorporate another person into the daily struggle that I was having.
I don’t know if anything could have been said to make me feel better. I really don’t.
I think that hospitalization made a difference, because it took all the pressure off. If I had been home, and my husband said “watch TV, color, do jigsaw puzzles and I will take care of cleaning and cooking” it would not have helped. The guilt that I would have felt, that he was having to take care of everything would have swamped me further. I could not have tried to deal with what was going on with me, because I would not have been able to stop worrying about him taking on what should be “my” duties.
By being hospitalized, it took all the thought out of surviving. I still wasn’t really sleeping enough, but someone was in charge of getting my meds, someone was in charge of giving me food. There was a doctor every morning to listen to how I was doing/feeling. And I didn’t have to feel guilty about any of it, because these were people who were getting paid to do these things. They trained to do these things. They wanted to do these things.
And beyond that, finding other people who were all also suffering made a difference. There is profound help to be found in the knowledge that we are not alone. Talking about what is going on with each of us and finding the ability to laugh is remarkable medicine. There was a structure to our days, but we didn’t have to set it up or even enforce it. The therapists and nurses told us where to go and when to go there.
By the end of my time in the hospital I was feeling a little more steady. I had a plan for how I was going to structure my days. I had a new diagnosis (bipolar) and new meds. I had a pile of appointments scheduled for therapy and my pdoc. I had a phone conference with hubby and the psychiatrist at the hospital. There was a plan and everyone agreed to live by it.
And I’m still here.
It hasn’t always been easy. I’m not going to say I’ve never thought about suicide since then, because I have. But, there is a difference between having the thought and making a plan. Or between making a plan and executing the plan.
But, and we hear it all the time (but I still think it bears repeating) if someone tells you that they are contemplating suicide, then they need help now. Don’t wait. Ask questions…listen to the answers. Because, admitting that we don’t have the desire to go on living means we’re serious about our suicidal thoughts. And it also means that we want help, even if we haven’t the slightest idea what that help may look like. It may seem counter-intuitive, but I honestly feel that asking for help is our last ditch effort at strength. We just need someone on the other side of things to listen to us.
I’d like to see a lot of these types of stories emerge as World Suicide Prevention Day draws near. I’d like to see us all share our stories of survival. Because, no matter how bad we may feel right now, we are surviving and we are survivors. We don’t have to look far for understanding and those people who “get it”. We have only to share our stories.
I’d like to see awareness and understanding grow. Because that will help reduce stigma. And reducing stigma helps all of us.