Tag Archives: Bipolar disorder

Suicide


Hopeless-4fd5b14b0d0f2

So. You’re reading this because you googled suicide or something similar. Maybe you’re thinking about it. Maybe you know someone thinking about it. Maybe you’re just trying to understand why people do it.

First of all, since this is a touchy subject in the extreme, let me introduce myself. My name is Arthur. I am diagnosed Bipolar 1 with psychotic features. To make that understandable, I have physical and emotional experiences that don’t necessarily relate to current events in my life, and I always see and hear things that aren’t there. It makes life… interesting, to say the least.

I have attempted suicide multiple times, and I still think about it. Every day. The question that doctors and such like to ask: “Do you have a plan?” is almost meaningless. Potential means for suicide surround us constantly, so the plan is always available. I haven’t successfully done it yet(obviously… 😛 ), and while I make no guarantees for ‘never’, I haven’t actively attempted in quite a long time.

I still remember the sensation of every attempt, from the sawing sensation as the blade bit through my flesh, to the taste of gunmetal and blood as I scratched the roof of my mouth with it, to the fear I hadn’t taken enough pills and the ensuing chocolatey yet dirty taste of the quart and a half of charcoal I had to drink afterwards.(You poop it all out, by the way.  It’s bad.)

Sorry about that.

Sorry about that.

But why? That’s the question I want to answer. Why do I, and maybe other people, think about, attempt, and sometimes succeed at, suicide?

In some cases, I was just so tired. Every breath was an effort, all food tasted the same, and all I could think was that it just never gets better. No matter what happens, the joy is always short lived and the grinding way that life goes always brings you down.

In others, my brain just wouldn’t shut up. Nothing made sense and I couldn’t grab one of the bits of thought that was racing around in my head and tie it to another one in a way that made any kind of sense. Tons of energy and no motivation to do anything with it.

But that’s me. What about other people? (Maybe you?)

There are a million situational reasons. Maybe the person doesn’t feel loved. Maybe they suffer from an uncurable illness. Maybe they feel guilty. Maybe they’re just tired of fighting, grinding their way through life. In the end, though, it all boils down to one thing.

A lack of hope.

The thought process goes something like this: This sucks. Tomorrow, this will suck, therefore tomorrow will suck. The day after that will suck. The next week, the next month, and I just don’t think it’s worth experiencing the amount of suck that is going to occur in order to experience that potential joy that I’m told exists but that is so far removed from me that it may as well be a fairy tale.

As far as hope goes, when it’s there you never notice it. It just is. It’s part of the way you think and the way you are. When it’s gone, you don’t generally know that that’s what’s missing. You only know that everything is intolerable and you are simply done with it. That’s when the thought first shows up, for many.
That first thought is terrifying for some, and they run directly to get help. For many, it isn’t terrifying. It’s a comfort, even beautiful. It’s the most soothing siren song in the world, and if you’ll only do this one tiny little, simple thing, all the pain goes away.

It doesn’t tend to mention that it’s all a lie.

Suicide is not an easy thing. Your body, your mind, fights you even as it encourages you to do it. Pulling a blade across your skin is easy, pushing down hard enough to hit an artery is beyond hard. Overdosing and ‘just going to sleep’ is beyond difficult as well, as the dosages required to kill you are far greater than those that will just destroy your body, shortening your life span but making you live under constant watch and care as your destroyed organs fail. Putting a gun in your mouth and pulling the trigger requires you to mentally overcome every survival urge your body has, and it is in that moment that your mind tends to flounder about, reaching for any hope that it can call up to keep you from squeezing the trigger.

The main thing that I have lacked, as far as successfully committing suicide goes, is enough anger to accept that I will hurt people simply by no longer being there. Anger is as irrational and powerful as lust, I think. That emotion is what makes a person do whatever it takes to die, and is probably at the heart of these public suicides that take the lives of others in the process.

So. Hopeless anger is what causes suicide by cop, suicide by shooting people, suicide in public or with a manifesto attached. Even that quiet end where someone manages to overdose and die in their sleep, they were tired, hopeless and angry enough to take enough pills or whatever to make sure they wouldn’t wake up.

How do you fight it?

I have some survival questions and rules that have kept me from attempting for a long time. Here they are:

1: Is my pain of greater value than the potential pain this will cause others?

Generally, no.  Your death will probably cause pain to at least one other person, even if that person is just trying to bury you.  More than likely, people will grieve, probably for years, and be sad, depressed, and angry, much like you’re feeling now.

This falls apart when delusion takes over, though. If you aren’t angry, then this should be a big deal, and your empathy should kick in to some degree. In my case, I tend to fall into this place where I believe that a lack of having to deal with me would be a good thing to those that this choice would otherwise cause. That’s when I move onto the next rule…

2: Wait 24 hours, and sleep for no more than 8 of them, and no less than 6 of them.

Sleep does some amazing things, including allowing your brain to take a break. If you can’t sleep at all during those 24 hours, go to a hospital and tell them the situation. Yes, they will admit you. Yes, it will suck. Take a bag, something to read, and a notebook and pen so that you can write down all of the crap in your head.

I limit it to 8, because past that amount, I tend to feel worse. I will want to make sleep my escape, and it will turn into a situation where that’s all I do. This will hurt others just as bad, and if I don’t commit suicide, I’ll have to apologize to those it hurts, which sucks, which feeds into the thought process I mentioned above with some self-hatred and anger thrown in.

3: Do that thing you like, that you have access to, one last time.

Let’s say you like milkshakes. Go to the store, and buy one. Think about the fact this may be the last one you ever have. Love the sound of crashing waves? Go to a beach. Let yourself experience that, and think about the fact that this may very well be the very last time you do it.

You may find that you’d like to be able to do it again, enough to go to the hospital or police or whomever and tell them about it.

4: Once it’s done, it’s done. Did you do everything else possible?

Suicide, if successful, is the very last thing you will ever do. That’s it. No takebacks. Heaven, hell, reincarnation, none of that is guaranteed beyond your own personal belief. As far as you know, you are hitting the off switch on life with a hammer. There’s no turning it back on. Did you try quitting that job, leaving that relationship, moving away and starting over from scratch? People do those things, and are successful. Did you try them? Maybe you should.

I’m not going to lie to you. Life is hard. We fuck up. Other people hurt us. We hurt ourselves. We dream of comfort and stability, we imagine joy, but none of those things are guaranteed. We try to get help and the system we have has long waiting periods for appointments, and no real concept of fixing anything, only mitigating symptoms and making us manageable by society. (Seriously, world, what are you people doing? You say you care, but all you do is say it and encourage people to take the pills when we have all of this marvelous technology and money to throw at all of these other things… but I digress.)

Even then, suicide is probably not the best answer.

I know, if you’re here because you’re thinking about doing it, you’re still thinking about it. So, make a plan. Plan your death, the whole shebang, including your obituary and funeral arrangements.  Think about who will react to it, how they’ll react, and what you want them to take away from it.

At the same time, make another plan. This one is to leave the situation and just go somewhere else. Plan on being broke, homeless, jobless, and without a friend in the world when you go. It’s the same thing as suicide, but you’re giving yourself one more chance to find something tolerable. Plan it all the way out, to include what paperwork you need to take, how much you can reasonably carry, and where you’ll go.

Now. I want you to consider this: the end goal is to make the old situation go away, right? Both plans do this. Both plans hurt people emotionally, but you’ll be either dead or away from those it hurts, so you don’t have to deal with that unless you want to alleviate the pain.  One way means that perhaps you’ll find joy in a starlit night or be able to dance in the snow.  Maybe try that one?

Final Thoughts

I’ve been in there, in that space. I know. I care. I’m not the only one, but none of us are psychic. You have to talk to us, and not just the people that blow it off or don’t listen or freak out. Everyone’s not like that. Use your words. The smallest words you have are enough. If you do decide to go, though, and there’s no changing your mind, know that you will be missed. You might have been that person who I’d run into someday and we’d be become best of friends. You might be the one who saves someone else from something horrible. You might be just a comfort to the people around you, just knowing you’re there, you’ve been through hell, and you’re still here, and that’s enough to make them keep going. If you still go, know that I hope that you find it’s better on the other side.

If you comment something personal, it will remain private unless you say in the comment that it’s okay to share.
Feel free to share this out there into the world, too. Maybe it’ll help somebody.

1 (800) 273-8255 Suicide prevention hotline

http://hopeline.com/ (This one is all a chat)

Dandelions are called names, killed, and generally despised. They keep trying anyway, with everything they have. That's hope, to me, and I love them for it.

Dandelions are called names, killed, and generally despised. They keep trying anyway, with everything they have. That’s hope, to me, and I love them for it.

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Filed under Mental Health, Social ideas, Things I like, Thoughts

What racing thoughts are like…


Over the course of many years of psychiatric care, I have been asked a number of questions for which I had no good answer.  This is the best way I can think of to answer, “…and what’s that like?”…

Here’s an example “stock” answer I filed away for those times when I knew they were going to ask: Sometimes my thoughts are like raindrops.  Bold and surprising when they hit me, but I am aware of more.

I have come up with, what I think is, a way that maybe I can show you.  This will require some participation on your part, but all you need is a deck of simple playing cards.

Look at the cards.  Say each name.  Take in what it looks like.  This is me when I have a good handle on my thoughts.  I enjoy the little nuances, the texture of the card, the way it shines in the light.  Sometimes this thought-mode weirds me out, because I become acutely aware of whatever I’m doing…  like typing…  (lol)

Now, take the deck in your hands and begin moving the cards, one at a time, from one hand to the other.  I use my thumb to push them over, like I’m sorting through a hand of cards, but don’t spread them out.  You only need to move them about a half the width of the card.  (Yes, I like specific instructions.)

As you’re doing this, pick a card to watch for.  Generally, you can sort through pretty quickly and still find the one you’re looking for.  This is how a thought process should work.  (I imagine.)

My true normal is with the following added challenge:  Focus on the center of the cards as you’re doing it, and try to focus on a spot in the middle distance, that area that is somewhere about 6 inches from the cards.  It’s doable, but it can be a challenge.  Decisions take a bit longer as I try to sort through things.

More on decisions later.

“Racing thoughts” is when you take the cards and just flip through them really fast.  Like trying to spot a card as someone shuffles them.  Remember the instructions before about picking a card?  Try to stop on that one.

If possible, try to have someone else flip and stop when you tell them.  See if you land on the card that way.

Yeah, that’s racing thoughts.

 

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Filed under For followers, Mental Health, Thoughts

Having Bipolar-A down day.


“How are you?”

I’m a little down today.  My anxiety is up, which shrinks my temper.  I want to do things, but don’t want to do them, too.  I want to be around people, but the people annoy me, which makes me feel anxious and irritated.  For their sake, I isolate myself.  It’s not the best way of handling things, I know, but it’s what I know to do.  I want to be held but don’t want to be touched.  I want to be productive, but to be productive I’ll have to be around people.  I could try to find something ‘fun’ to do, but right now everything irritates me anyway, so why try?

“I’m fine.”

“Are you sure?  You look like you’re mad or something.”

I am mad, but not about anything I can put a name to.  Everything I try to think about I see only the dark, cynical, hopeless side.

“No, I’m okay.  How are you?”

“Oh, I’m good… (insert attempt at conversation here)”

I would love to listen to what you say and take an interest, but any response I have is a struggle to get out.  I wish I could be in your head for a little while, to know what it’s like not to overthink everything, to not be in this space.  To have access to simple emotional responses without having to run them through the filters of ‘Is this reasonable or not?’.  I look at you while you talk, and have no idea how to respond.  I guess I’ll go with…

“Oh yeah?  That’s nice.”

“Um, well, I have to go do something else.  Bye!”

Now I’ll spend some time berating myself for failing to interact in a reasonable way, for driving you away.  I didn’t mean to do it, didn’t want to do it, but without some kind of telepathic mind-link or something, I simply can’t say the things that are going on inside of me right now.  I have no idea why I’m feeling this way right now, and if I did tell you, you would want to help me.  You’d ask that question:  How can I help?  I would respond:  I have no idea.  The conversation would end and we’d all stand around feeling awkward.  You don’t deserve to go through it.  I would really rather you think I’m an ass hole or being moody or a jerk than have you in this weird space.

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Down days suck.  No pithy advice here, just an experience.  Go read something upbeat or look at lolcats or something now.  Smile for me.  Don’t worry, this will pass.

Some funny pictures

Cats with funny or cute captions

Monty Python

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On bipolar…


I posted this on http://forfreepsychology.wordpress.com/  Like it here, like it there.  🙂

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rollercoaster

I am not Bipolar.  I have Bipolar.  It is not me, and I live with it, but I do not allow it to have me.

I know, this is all quibbling with language, but when we use language to think, to define ourselves and who we are, our words and their meanings become vital.  All to often, people are classified, or classify themselves as “Bipolar”, as if it were a nationality, culture, heritage or something that defines who we are.

I refuse.

Cancer patients don’t call themselves,”Cancerous”, although Cancer decides much of what they do and how they live.  They have Cancer.  Some lie down and allow their lives to go the way they go.  Some fight tooth and nail.  Some ignore it completely, living with it to the end.  There may be an exception somewhere to this, but I haven’t met anyone who said,”I am cancerous.”  They have it.

So, that’s my attitude.  It’s not for everyone, and if you are a “Bipolar” and embrace it, then good for you.  It’s not for me.

How do I fight?

First of all, I take the position that, despite the way my decision making abilities are tied to my emotion and energy and the way that they don’t always make any rational sense, I am the decision maker here.  If I choose to start behaving in a way that is a danger to myself or someone else, I made that choice.  I own it.  It may have been a poor choice, and may have been helped along by having Bipolar, but I made the decision to do X.  No one made me do it but me.

This position has it’s good and bad points.  It allows me to claim control over something, when internally it’s as if I’m mostly an observer.  Society appears to be all in favor of me lying down and claiming,”But, I’m bipolar, and I am out of control.”  I don’t want that.  I am 36 years old.  I’m a father, and if one of my kids says,”I was out of control”, as a parent, I still punish them for acting badly.  I have more control than a 4 or 8 or 12 year old, even if that control extends only to,”This is getting too hard, I need help.”  It allows me to live and be productive and helpful and a positive influence on my friends and family.  It makes me “happy”.

Secondly, I pay attention.  I pay a LOT of attention to what is going on with me internally.  For example:  Right now, I am a tad stressed, but not bad.  I’m on an “upswing” towards a potential hypo or hyper manic phase, but I won’t know how far it will go until I get there, but I know it bears careful attention to my sleeping patterns and closer scrutiny of decision making.  My chest has that odd “excitement/panic/fear/happiness” tingle to it.  My muscles are “sparkly” as I describe it, that sensation of when the adrenalin is about to drop into your system before a competitive race or something.  My thoughts are quick, but not racing, yet.  This all means that my patience is less, my temper is shorter, and I should probably not make any major decisions on my own and without reflection right now.

I know what I need to do, and the decision is mine as to whether to do the things that will allow me to continue to live and be a “good” influence on those around me or not.

Third, I try to focus my energy on things that are intangible , if I have an excess.  If I am manic and not sleeping, I will try to make myself consider philosophical thoughts, and if possible, engage someone in discussion.  Maybe I’ll pay attention to a social issue, and research it until I feel that I can come to a reasonable conclusion.  Maybe I’ll work on some creative writing.  I know that, me being me, I should try to avoid people that might take advantage of my heightened energy and such until it calms down.

I know what you may be thinking,”That’s not what so many other people say/think/write”.  Nope.  It’s not.  This is what works for me and how I think.

Should Bipolar be fought against or embraced?  I think that’s a decision each of us has to make on our own.  To me, embracing bipolar means “riding the roller coaster”, or more accurately, trying to form my life to where the roller coaster takes me.  If it were just me that I was responsible for, this might be a reasonable choice for me, but other people are effected by everything I say and do.  I choose to accept this responsibility to those people I love and care about and try to set aside my own feelings as I can.

Sometimes, it gets to be too much, and I have to tell everyone that I must take a break.  They can react how they like, but sometimes I have to tell the rest of the world that, for a little while, they can all go hang, or they will be without my influence.  This is a complication to the way I deal with life that the average “boss” will not accept or understand, and that’s ok.  I live within the means that I am able to create for myself or have access to.

I am an individual.  I am not Bipolar, I have it.  It does not define me, that is something I choose.  I do not fit into the “bipolar” category.  I don’t think that anyone really does.  Sometimes I am up so high that the world seems distant and beside the point.  Sometimes I’m so low that the world is monster threatening to destroy me.  It is not those times where I can do this stuff on my own.

So, I work on it.  I think through things, to the point that I research and plan things to the point of it being ridiculous at times.  My thought process is slow and complex, as I sort through information and determine the importance of it in order to come to a decision.  The way I do things internally doesn’t work out very well if I choose to follow an unplanned impulse.  I don’t do well in oral conversation, not having time to think about what I’m trying to say or having an easy way to rewind what has been said and make sure that my own impressions are accurate.  It allows me to live, though, and I’m used to it now.

There have been times I was in a hospital because, well, that’s where the rollercoaster had taken me.  I rode the rollercoaster into a dark, seemingly unending depression, or a manic phase dotted with delusions and hallucinations, or worse, into some bizarre mix of hyperactivity and depression, or a complete lack of energy and a nice dose of racing thoughts and grand ideas that, while grand, were impossible.

It has not been an easy road.  I did not get to this point at the flip of a switch or by taking a magic pill.  I have been fighting for 20 years since my first episode.  Therapy, meds of various kinds, and lots and lots of internal work and thought and reflection.

I know that it only takes a small slip to wind up back in a hospital, so I am careful.  If I see that I am on the way “up” or “down” or otherwise entering a realm where my decisions may not be the greatest, I try to act ahead of time, talking to people who will help me to make good decisions and good choices that allow me to continue.  If the help I get in “public” is not enough, then I may seek something more intensive, but I avoid that option if possible.

I am not bipolar.  I have it.  It does not define me.  I do that.  This is my mantra.  Every day that I wake up and lead a relatively normal appearing existence is a success.  Every day that I wake up and simply live, exist, function enough to get things done that make others’ lives easier is a success.  The only failure, for me, is to board the rollercoaster and raise my hands and let life happen to me.

Will it work for you?  That’s up to you.  Do I think anyone else should or should not choose to fight and live as I do?  No.  That’s up to you and your life and situation.  This is mine though.

It’s my life.  Because I am not bipolar.  I am me.  I am an individual.  I can not be defined as bipolar any more than I can define you as bipolar.  Who you are is your choice.  It may be the only choice you get to make, so make the choice that will make you happy and that will allow you to live as well as possible.

But, I define myself, and I am not bipolar.  I have it.

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🙂

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