Bipolar Disorder is a biological brain disease that often has environmental triggers. I ended up in the hospital for suicidal plans and intent again this week, though only for a few days (yay! a short one!). My psychiatrist thinks the anxiety I was holding about my mom’s breast cancer surgery a few weeks ago had a chance to come out as well as the fear, and that destabilized my mood. Sounds about right to me.
Even though I was doing pretty well, pretty stable, two weeks ago I started feeling suicidal again due to the environmental trigger. I am grateful for a short time in the hospital, yet worry that I will end up in again as has often happened after short hospitalizations.
I have to say that having an environmental trigger took the stigma and shame away from a hospitalization for me. Usually I feel embarrassed to be back in the hospital, even though the staff is generous and welcoming. But this felt like a tune-up instead of a personal failure. But I guess that’s a whole other post, that shame of being in the hospital for the twenty-somethingth time.
Over the last couple weeks I’ve had to call a suicide prevention crisis line (1800-273-TALK – call them!), written a will and ruminated to no end on what possibly I could do to kill myself. My other plans will just land me in the ER, not what I’m searching for. I’m looking for an end. And I’m miserable waiting for one to show up – tortured by thoughts of wanting to hurt myself and tortured by the feelings behind those thoughts (sadness, anger, desperation, frustration).
But a part of me still asks for help and uses skills to make it through difficult moments. I do things that are healthy and seem to make a meaningful life.
My therapist surmises that I really want to live, and we need to wade into the painful waters of the feelings behind the suicidal thoughts and behaviors. It won’t be easy, will likely be very painful, but it will end the suicidal spiral I’ve been in for so long.
I decided after the time with my therapist that I didn’t need the safety of the hospital and could go home. I could be miserable at home or miserable in the hospital. Only difference is safety. And since I don’t have a viable suicide plan, I’m just miserable, which isn’t a real reason to go into the hospital.
All the way home, I questioned my decision as I wallowed in suicide visions and tried to think of a way and was miserable. I’m completely packed up and ready to go in the hospital today. Sometimes I don’t pack up all the things, and just carry the clothes in the trunk. But after the last couple days of misery, I was worried that my psychiatrist or my therapist would send me to the hospital. I was very, completely, gruesomely honest about my plans and actions. Both of them leave the decision to me to decide if I am safe or if I need the hospital. Why, O Why, don’t they help with the decision???
So, I’m heading to a NAMI support group meeting (National Alliance for Mental Illness) where I’ll have a chance to share this and get some support, I hope. But I think I should bring all my packed items in case it’s too much and the misery makes me unsafe. Or I come up with a plan that would work. Because I’m pretty sure I would follow through if I could be sure it would work.
I’ve made it a considerable amount of time into the program. I have adapted to the schedule, but I’m starting to notice days when I’m doing too much according to the Spoon Theory, and then having to make up for it with a mostly day of rest. Therefore, I’m still trying to find the balance. I’m staying away from the gym as much as I usually go (5 days a week, down to 3, maybe 4). That reduction might be reasonable with what I have planned. I go to a NAMI support group twice a week and a MeetUp group once a week. I’m having meals or coffee with friends in person or online once or twice a day in order to keep social and not just be focusing on myself in my little corner. I see my psychiatrist and therapist once a week each, and my therapist calls me another day. I’m part of group therapy/class called AIM for an hour twice a week.
It’s a very busy and focused schedule, very much like how regimented a residential program is – which is the point of what I’m doing. The other thing that is going on that makes this likes a residential program – again, the point of what I’m doing – is that it is bringing up painful or uncomfortable issues that I need to address and resist addressing. Having places and people to process with, and expressive therapy such as art therapy every day, helps me try to change a little bit at a time.
I need to stay away from the hospital, or what it represents – safety from myself for feeling suicidal. I have many times come to the conclusion that I will always have suicidal thoughts, and many times I’m able to use Thought Defusion and Expansion/Acceptance to just let them be and go on with my life. I was especially able to do this after the residential experience in February, and stayed out the hospital for 6.5 months. Since early September, I’ve lost this ability and been in and out of the hospital. I had such a hard weekend that I thought I was going to end up in the hospital again. In my trunk I was carrying a bag of clothes and toiletries to go the hospital. It’s still there.
Addressing committed action according to my values – core idea of ACT – seems to trigger me toward believing that I’m not sure I want a life at all and suicide is a good idea. I’m ashamed that I believe in suicide, but the mental pain becomes so strong and I can’t find a way out or through. And the pain takes me by surprise and I try to use skills, to no avail most of the time.
Yesterday was the first day in a long time that the thoughts were less and I felt like I could manage the thoughts. Today, not so much again. I think I need to fully pack for the hospital when I go out to see my psychiatrist since she is near the hospital. I’m ashamed of how many times I end up in the hospital for not being able to handle my suicidal visions and thoughts and the desire to die. I know that’s what they are there for, but I am embarrassed each time I go. I have the belief that using the hospital is a one- or two-time experience to stabilize you and then you use outside resources to keep going in your treatment. I shouldn’t need to be stabilized so freaking often! 30 times in 5 years. Sigh.
I hope I can continue in the DIY residential program, and I hope it keeps me out of the hospital.
I haven’t written it yet. I have a little hope that I won’t. I’m suicidal again and have activated a safety plan that may keep me out of the hospital. Yesterday I was completely convinced I wanted to write a suicide note and overdose on my meds. Today the urge is less, but my friend has my meds, and so I have less ability to follow through.
The urge is frantically searching for a way out of the deep pain I feel. Some other plan to die so the pain will stop. The pain of grief for 2 cats lost from my household, from a recent divorce, from the acceptance that I may never be able to work again, and be a part-time volunteer forever. The pain of a deep knowing that I will die young, perhaps at my own hand. The pain that is depression – a vice around my heart and one around my brain, squeezing life out of me, as my gut has a constant sinking feeling.
This is what I want to write:
It’s not your fault. I tried every conceivable way to deal with the intractable pain, and I couldn’t bear it anymore. I found the end of my rope and I can’t hang on anymore. I know you will weep for me, but weep also for the pain that had the power to drive me crazy. I’m not in my right mind, and I can’t find it anymore. Know that in my right mind I said and did things that showed I cared about you. And I meant it. Hold on to that, and let me go so that I don’t hurt so deeply anymore. There was nothing else you could do. Don’t blame yourself. I couldn’t fight anymore. Bipolar wins. Be mad at that.
That is what I want to write. And I’m ashamed of it, but I’m honest. At least give me credit for honesty.
We have experienced yet another school shooting in the USA. The 45th this year. And before the facts are clear, we hear that the shooter’s motivation may be mental illness.
When will this stigma stop? Whenever a white boy or white man shoots people, media and popular opinion nearly immediately want to say mental illness was at play.
Maybe that’s true. But in 45 cases in 2015 alone? I assure you, as a person with mental illness, that we’d much rather hurt ourselves than others, and are more likely to be the victim of a violent crime than a perpetrator.
I propose that anomie – and not mental illness – is the culprit. Profiles of the shooters seem similar whether there were signs of violence ahead of time or not. A loner. Few friends. Little academic or personal success. Access to many guns or violent weapons. And I’m sure many more characteristics. Life is not going the way the man wants, and he feels out of control. The American doesn’t know where to turn to feel better about his situation. He doesn’t think of counseling or trying to find a new peer group, and these are not options presented widely in the culture or in the media he consumes. Violence is a way to let those feelings out, and is an accepted part of American culture and media.
Mental illness is not a catch-all for people acting out. Stop using it as one.
It’s been 104 days out of the hospital, four days longer than I made it in all of last year between hospitalizations.
Progress! Due in large part to my support system – you – who offer support to make it through the good days and bad days.
I’ve been having rocky weeks with my mood, all due to stress in several areas of my life (taxes, divorce and knee injury all come to mind). I’m missing the exercise I need to even out my mood and help with stress reduction (knee problem preventing good, long workouts). And so help from my care team and my friends has been crucial to keeping me confident, and I thank you. I even contacted my therapist from residential to get back on track, which has helped a bit.
I still have suicidal thoughts every day, multiple times an hour sometimes. It’s a curse. No one seems to know a cure or a blessing to make them stop. I suffer. And I’m ashamed that I suffer. I want to tell you that all is better now.
Yet I remain true to my commitments to this new life without suicide, despite my desire to bring it into play again. Even when I am drowning in stress, I’m not turning in my thoughts and emotions in the same ways as before. I am confused by dangerous thoughts and tempted less. Truly, a new chapter has opened up since residential.
All things considered, I still suffer and am stressed, yet I’m relying on my care team and medication, support system, and coping skills in stronger ways. The bad outweighs the good I feel, but that’s distorted, I think. Progress that I know that?
If you see your way clear to help me pay for the miraculous experience of ending suicidal obsessions I had at La Paloma, check out my “Saved My Life” Go Fund Me page at www.gofund.me/nlckak
Suicidal visions are back again. I’ve always got thoughts, and I’ve been able to swat them away with my mantra and promise: Not an option, never gonna happen. Suicide was taken off the table while I was at residential treatment in February.
If I’m completely honest with myself, it’s back on the table as an option. I didn’t want it to be. I wanted to keep my promise. My therapist and people in my support system keep telling me to stop playing with the idea, that suicide is already off the table.
But you don’t have to keep seeing yourself maim and kill yourself on a regular basis (every few minutes, interrupting what I’m doing). You don’t have pain that prevents you from cardio exercise that would regulate my mood. I’ve been depressed, but safe, for over 3 months since I got back.
Now I’m waiting for the visions to get obsessional as they have in the past, and I’m waiting for the desire to die to grow, as it’s doing.
And then I’m safe for a while. And then I’m not. And then I’m keeping my promise to myself. And then I’m putting suicide back on the table.