Category Archives: Suicide

One of the Gateways to a Suicidal State of Mind

As World Suicide Prevention Day was on the 10th, I would like to write a couple of posts this coming week about one of the gateways to that suicidal state of mind, depression.

One of the worst things about depression is the uncertainty of just how low the mood will go or the duration of each episode. That sense of losing control of our own mind can quickly become a terrifying prospect.

thVMG1QV7RWhen I first became clinically depressed in 2000, it felt as though a bus had just hit me from behind. I was completely drained of emotion, exhausted, and hung out to dry.  My entire body was suffering from chronic pain, eventually earning a Fibromyalgia misdiagnosis. Days rolled into weeks, months became years, and I steadily lost track of time.

The only routine I could muster was a simple structure based around a minimum of 16hrs sleep, an inadequate junk food diet, and lots of time caring for my two adorable cats, who sadly passed away last year. The quality of sleep was poor due to endless night terrors and I would start each day feeling as if I had just lived through every minute of those nightmares.

What I didn’t realise was that the SSRI antidepressants I had been using for a decade were renowned for vivid dreams and perhaps not the best choice for nightmares associated with PTSD. The Doctors held little interest in my recovery and seemed more concerned if I was suicidal. Their questions were more to do with covering their own ass than any genuine interest in my wellbeing.

I haven’t met one person that suffers from depression who has never experienced a certain degree of suicide ideation, but I was petrified of psychiatric wards and it was shameful to admit those morbid fantasies of killing myself. I will say a little more about this in my next post.

If I had been more honest, or possessed enough strength to find new Doctors, maybe there would’ve been more opportunity to manage the depression and recovery might have transpired sooner. When our mood is this low, we’re definitely not thinking straight and paranoia over losing more control can lock us tightly within that revolving door of depression and ineffective medication.

Of course, everyone’s experience of depression is different and we need to find own slow route to recovery. If you’ve ever been depressed for years, it’s easy to forget what life feels like without a degree of despair looming overhead. A perfect example of this happened to me on Friday.

I returned home from group therapy feeling unusually hyperactive with racing thoughts, rapid speech, and a general feeling of wellbeing. At one point, I wondered if someone had spiked my water with speed and even considered taking a benzodiazepine to help bring me down. While it wasn’t a bad feeling, I didn’t know what was happening or how I should respond.

After a few hours of buzzing around, doing additional spring-cleaning and bribing the dog to go for yet another walk, I realised that for the first time in fifteen years, I was actually feeling free of depression.

I was desperate to share the experience with my neighbour and friend, Sarah, but every time I attempted to say the words, “I feel happy,” I burst into tears. Sarah must have thought I had already lost it, but the tears were an expression of my relief to have come so far. This might be difficult to understand if you’ve never lived in the dark world of depressive illness.

black dogIt doesn’t seem to matter what stage of recovery we’re at, one of the biggest fears and major obstacles to reclaiming our lives is relapse. We’ve all been there, feeling relieved at that faint glimmer of improvement, only to open our eyes the next morning to find the black dog of depression is growling at the door once more.

It doesn’t seem to matter how often I’ve experienced this, each episode is fraught with grave disappointment and that familiar fear of the unknown. According to some internet figures, in a small minority of people who suffer depression, the symptoms seldom go away entirely. Those who experience two episodes of depression are more likely to have a third.

When we’re depressed or only just recovering, the last thing we want to consider is the prospect of relapse. However, a recurring bout of depression or a temporary worsening of symptoms is a very real probability and I find this knowledge has helped me to deal with the life-sucking disappointment whenever it happens. Even though I feel relatively good today, that awareness is always on standby.

Unfortunately, I’m not a lover of self-affirmation techniques at the best of times. The trouble is, I become so consumed by the depression, I just can’t be bothered telling that sad face in the mirror how wonderful and capable he really is. It just doesn’t cut it for me.

My technique has always been to accept the mood as it is for today, although I appreciate this may sound a little too much like giving up to some people. Stressing over the process was never helpful, but by accepting those backwards steps as inevitable and even an integral part of our healing, did remove a proportion of the sting.

One of the most important tactics for my own stability is to maintain a simple routine. This may only be within four walls or a short distance from the front door, but having a basic purpose in our day is enough to plant the small seeds of recovery.

How do you Cope with Someone’s Suicide Ideation

This might be the one of the worst subjects for me to open up for discussion and some might view my opinions as a little controversial or maybe even cruel and unsympathetic. I would be interested to hear what other people think, even if it is to help me see the error of my ways.

There were times in the past when I was just as suicidal as the next person who suffers from a mental health condition. I imagine most of us have experienced this kind of dark ideation. I do get that.

I seldom say that I feel suicidal, although I may well have used that terminology as a means of expressing the sheer hopelessness of depression.

I remember once admitting to a Psychiatrist that I was a suicide risk, but my intentions were purely to seek the appropriate help I needed at that time.

I understand and admire all the reasons why someone would be brave enough to admit their suicide ideation.

What doesn’t sit well with me is when a person chooses to elaborate on the ins and outs of their half-hearted attempts at suicide without any apparent purpose to their testimony, other than to express how bad they’re feeling.

Maybe I should feel more sympathy, but I just can’t identify with this need.

We are all partial to various degrees of self-pity but there are other ways to indulge, rather than talk for an hour about an insipid set of events, which supposedly portray a serious suicide risk.

I don’t want to listen to stories about climbing to the top of a tall building, only to remember that vertigo stands in the way of jumping off the edge.

I would rather not know about someone buying two bags of heroin to swallow with the very last £20 state benefit money, even though she is currently on a medication that cancels out the effects of the drug.

While I do know how it feels to sit at home isolated and unable to answer the phone, I do question why anyone would then take a call from a relative, just as she begins to feel ill from taking an apparent overdose.

“Sorry, auntie, I can’t talk because I am just about to die,” is hardly the voice of someone wishing suicide.

I have watched people in seizure and as far as I am aware, they usually experience amnesia before and after the event. I am sceptical if someone describes a convulsion in detail.

When I have listened to someone’s wishy-washy endeavours to die for an hour, my patience runs out.

I am not a mental health worker. I have no responsibility for anyone who is on a ‘woe is me’ trip and neither do I need to take it seriously… I just wonder if I should, morally.

Maybe I should have more empathy. Maybe I should feel more concerned for someone’s state of mind and safety. Maybe I should, but I don’t. The only emotion I feel is anger, which feels confusing to someone who usually possesses bundles of compassion.

I tried last night to think about any experiences from the past that might contribute to my lack of empathy for this kind of scenario. I don’t know if this is it, but I had a flashback to my mother’s depression.

Mum was a very moody and temperamental character and we all know how everyone in close vicinity suffered the brunt. I remember her speeches of martyrdom and even though dad provided a comfortable life, she was always having such a terrible time. Her suicidal depression was my fault.

They say psychotherapy unlocks memories buried deep within our subconscious and perhaps this is the root of my agitation. Nevertheless, the realisation does not help me feel any more compassion.

I would love to know how you deal with other people’s suicide ideation.