Suicide Prevention Help

In the wake of actor Robin Williams’ suicide, I have added more important suicide prevention help numbers and sites to my page marked “Resources.” Please, feel free to take a look.

Through the statistics page of this blog’s host, I can see the broad categories people use to find me. Since yesterday, many people have searched for suicide prevention. To you, I say I understand. I have been there. I really have. I know that black pit very well.

I do not want to take your decision from you. I would like to say, however, that before you make a final decision you talk to someone anonymously. There are numbers you can call, sites you can use to chat, and other ways to reach out for help.

You are worth it.

I know you may not feel like it at this moment, but it’s true.

You are important.

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A Notable Suicide

Robin Williams, the Oscar-winning actor and comedian, died of suicide today. It is a very sad event. In a very brief statement, his grieving wife said he had been battling depression.

I am very sad, because he had a great talent that was wide ranging. He was a brilliant comedian, but his prowess as an actor won him an Oscar in 1998 for a dramatic role in the movie Good Will Hunting. I was a teenager when he made a hit on television in the show Mork and Mindy. He was indeed very funny, and he will be greatly missed.

Whenever I hear about anyone killing themselves, I remember my own story. It’s been a very long time now, but I understand the black pit of depression so deep and dark that no light shines. There is not even the slightest hint that light is shining anywhere. No light. Not an inkling. Not a tiny dot. All oozes blackness.

I was saved from my suicide attempt miraculously by the phone. It rang at just the right moment, and the person on the other end heard my cry for help. I was whisked away to the hospital and received help.

Over the years of living with bipolar disorder, I spent much time contemplating death, wishing for it sometimes and fearing it at others. I no longer think about death. Recovery has taught me many things about living with mental illness. I live with hope today.

I am reminded also of the simple words on the website Metanoia.org. They say

Suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain.

Those words are true. People with mental illness like depression think a lot about suicide, and they do not contemplate it from selfish motives. Suicide results from pain that is so great it outweighs a person’s ability to deal with it.

I meditate daily, and in my meditation, I call down light. I believe that light brings hope, and hope brings life.

Funerals, Memorials, Death, on and on

Clouds

I’m thinking about my dead friend and past lover. His memorial service was yesterday. It was lovely, being held in a small theater space where he had performed and helped out backstage.

Another friend provided pictures. They were very large and easily seen from every seat. There were lit candles, and flowers strewn about the tables and floor.

My heart is quite heavy writing these words.

A friend spoke eloquently about the kind man who chose to leave us so soon. Colleagues from his work shared their grief, and a regular of the theater spoke graciously of his last role. The director of that show brought a prop used by the departed man. He told us how he and my former lover drove the streets of our town singing with each other, and then he sang a hymn.

The father of the deceased spoke about the boy he had been and read a letter from a life-long friend.

I sat.

We all sang a group song, which I joined.

I returned home and distracted myself with mindless browsing on the Internet. I wrote an entry on this blog. I read other blogs. I chatted online with a distant friend.

This morning, I have been harassed by a fly. No amount of hand waving chases it away, and my mind – my easily amused mind – assumes it is the ghost come back.

Yet, I need no ghosts. I have text messages we sent one another to pour over. There’s even a picture of him. Our flirtations are right there in little bubbles. They are short bursts of yearning with a mixture of silly faces made from punctuation marks.

And there’s a long message from me telling him our sexual relationship was over, imploring him to seek care for his bipolar disorder. Quickly following that one were his questions, followed by my silence.

Today, I hear birdsong outside my cottage. Music plays over my computer. Cars rumble by on the street. A dog barks. There is no silence.

I sit.

I play no what-if games. I am simply sad. My heart aches.

Suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain.” My friend hid great pain. His questioning eyes and smile masked a soul full of angst.

Now, I’m left with pain, but it will pass. Time heals.

My friend is dead. I am here.

Water

Getting Help and Preventing Suicide

Please, let me reassure regular readers I am not suicidal.

As it states in the tiny “about” paragraph on this blog, I am merely here to share my experience, strength, and hope as it relates to living with bipolar disorder.

That being said, readers can search here and find times when I have been suicidal, and there were times before I started this blog when I was suicidal and others I have not written about.

I am writing this today to share some resources that helped me in crisis. There may be readers who are searching for help.

First, there is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline you can call in the US at 800-273-8255. If you search the Internet, your country may have a similar phone assistance program.

Second, there is a little website I stumbled across that helped me: metanoia.org There is an excellent line on that site:

“Suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain.”

I was jolted into remembering my first time to visit the metanoia.org site. I was deeply depressed. All around me was black. I felt like I was in the bottom of a pit so deep and dark that no light shone in. No light. There was not the tiniest glimmer. All I could feel was pain. All I wanted was for it to stop.

Depression is a disease. It is recognized by doctors as such. It is not a moral failing of the sufferer, although that is just how many people internalize their experience with it and how many of those around judge them.

Through many struggling years and patient family, friends, and caregivers, I reached a point where I began to think about helping others. I will start job training in the new year for that, and I’m anxiously awaiting it.

This blog has been both a form of expression for me and a way to reach out to others hurting, too.

I can honestly say that I’ve been very lucky. I’ve had many excellent psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, nurses, therapists, and caseworkers over the years.

One thing has stood out for me. I have used them. When I was in crisis, I sought out help, and it was given to me amply.

If you are in crisis, reach out. Extend your hand. Help can be found.

I Suffer from Bipolar Disorder Type 1

This is what the Mayo Clinic has to say about bipolar 1:

Bipolar 1 disorder. Mood swings with bipolar 1 cause significant difficulty in your job, school or relationships. Manic episodes can be severe and dangerous.

On their website, the Mayo Clinic lists the following symptoms for a manic phase of bipolar disorder:

  • Euphoria
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Poor judgment
  • Rapid speech
  • Racing thoughts
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Agitation or irritation
  • Increased physical activity
  • Risky behavior
  • Spending sprees or unwise financial choices
  • Increased drive to perform or achieve goals
  • Increased sex drive
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Easily distracted
  • Careless or dangerous use of drugs or alcohol
  • Frequent absences from work or school
  • Delusions or a break from reality (psychosis)
  • Poor performance at work or school

For depressive episodes, they list the following:

  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Guilt
  • Sleep problems
  • Low appetite or increased appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of interest in activities once considered enjoyable
  • Problems concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Chronic pain without a known cause
  • Frequent absences from work or school
  • Poor performance at work or school

Another sign of the disorder is

  • Psychosis. Severe episodes of either mania or depression may result in psychosis, a detachment from reality. Symptoms of psychosis may include false but strongly held beliefs (delusions) and hearing or seeing things that aren’t there (hallucinations).

I have all these symptoms at one time or another. Thankfully, they don’t come all at once, but they do come. My doctors tell me at times I am psychotic. In other words, I have a break with reality.

In other places on this blog, I have gone into great detail about my personal struggle with this disease. Please, explore and read. The disease is real and devastating. I live on disability payments from the government. The process to receive that distinction is long and arduous often requiring two or three attempts. I won on the first try. Even the government noted the severity of my case.

This blog is my safe place. I will not defend myself here. All comments in which my status or my experience are belittled will continue to be deleted. If you think mental illness is not real, go somewhere else. Leave this blog.

This blog is also meant to be a resource of others with mental illness. I want them to know they are not alone. Others experience the horrors of delusions. I once thought I could cure AIDS with eight apples and a plastic water bottle. I only had to breathe on the apples and write magic words on the bottle, and a person with terminal AIDS would be cured. It took six months of concerted effort to convince myself that delusion was false.

I have hallucinations. I hear voices that are not there, telling me secrets or just speaking gibberish. I have seen people who were not present.

The euphoria of mania is luscious. I am invincible at those times. I have a cracked tooth from trying to walk through a wall; another delusion.

The rapid speech baffles those around me.

The racing thoughts are scary. My mind careens out of control and often the only thought I can cling to is death.

My risky behavior has put me in places where I could lose my physical health, my freedom, and my home.

The depression is akin to being a the bottom of a black pit so deep that not even a pinprick of light shines through. I have sat on the side of the tub with a utility knife ready to commit suicide and was saved only by the chance ringing of the phone. I have been hospitalized twice for suicide attempts.

I have experienced everything in the list for depression.

It is demeaning that I am having to defend myself on this blog. Walk in my shoes. Spend a minute inside my head. If you can stand the horror, then I will count myself less a person.

I feel alone.

Ending the death wish

It’s impossible to say when it began, but I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be dead. I called it different things at different times: not wanting to be here, wanting to disappear, wanting to be invisible, wanting to fly far away, and simply a death wish. There are many reasons for this desire for self-destruction. Chief among them is being gay.

Growing up in a rabidly fundamentalist, evangelical Christian family, I had to endure hours of church each week. Many of the sermons centered around sin and how unworthy we all were, and that we were all hell bound just for being born. Being alive meant that we were doomed to an eternity of damnation and pain.

There was a special place in hell reserved for homosexuals, and it was the worst possible spot. Life for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered individuals was rife with torment, and there was to be no respite in the afterlife. We were subhuman and deserving of ridicule and hate. Why should anyone be nice to us? We’re a plague on society’s morals, after all. We should simply kill ourselves and go to the hell where we belong.

I grew up thinking that. The self-loathing instilled in me is deep. It wants to harm me, and it makes me miserable.

I have recently gone through a period of dangerous, self-destructive behavior, and the simple explanation is that I want to be dead. When I look that desire in the face, I see a self-hatred that wants not just to die but also to suffer and waste away.

I am angry at myself for feeling this way. I am angry at the preachers I grew up hearing who railed against the sin of homosexuality. I am angry at a society that relegates me to second-class status.

I am angry at my parents who told me that I would be cast out of the house if I was gay.

I am sick and tired of wanting to die. I am done with believing that I deserve to suffer and die. I reject the self-hate implanted in me when I was too young to know any better.

As I’ve written before, I’m a recovered alcoholic, and I chose to work the 12 steps on this problem. I recognized it to begin with. I talked to another alcoholic about it and recognized my part in my self-destructive behavior. What may be most important, I got on my knees, told my higher power I was entirely willing to be free of my death wish, and asked for it to be removed.

I don’t know if it’s gone completely, but I have felt calmer the past several days after doing that. I have not engaged in risky behavior, and I don’t have immediate plans to do it again. Only time will tell if there has been a real change.

I’m simply tired of wanting to die. I’ve known for a long time that I have to rid myself of this torture. I want to live. I want to breathe. I want to eat. I want to play. I want to lose myself in the pages of a good book. I want to feel the ocean on my skin. I want to know what it feels like to love myself.

Fright

Last Saturday evening, I found myself pacing in my room. Next, my thoughts were racing, careening out of control. They were dominated by doom and gloom and worst-case scenarios, all flashing before my eyes. “Would this person be okay in their present predicament? Would that person die unexpectedly?” Then the uncontrollable crying started along with the thoughts that I have worked so hard to get rid of. The negative self-talk. The self-loathing. The hatred directed at me.

My heart raced. My breathing was shallow and ineffective.

All this angst culminated in a certainty that I was simply going completely insane, and thoughts of suicide were present. I wondered if I could drive myself to the emergency room at the hospital. Would I be okay behind the wheel of a car at that point? I was sure I was losing my mind.

“A panic attack” flashed across my mind. “I’m having a panic attack.” While this thought didn’t calm me, it gave me something to hold on to. It also gave me a way out. I knew what to do. I did a very quick guided visualization exercise that I use as meditation and gained a moment of quiet, which I used to walk to the bathroom for the medicine my doctor has given me for just such emergencies. I took one and went back to my room to wait.

I told my therapist about it today, and she was quite dismayed to hear the news. She said something I hadn’t thought of. She said, “You’re having to work too hard to feel good.” Having someone I trust explicitly means so much. Relief washed over me with those words. Someone else saw my hurt and acknowledged it. I didn’t feel judged or wrong in any way. I’m so lucky to have people in my life I can turn to at times like these.

I see my psychiatrist tomorrow, and I will tell him about the incident as well. Keeping all my caregivers up-to-date with all my symptoms is an important part of staying as healthy as I possibly can.