Temporary Lapse in Sanity

Oh my God, I am so stupid! WHY did I just do that?! Someone from crisis management just called to check on me. She asked if I had scheduled an appointment to restart therapy, and I told her I had not. I told her my case manager told me during our last appointment a couple of weeks ago that she would be speaking to a therapist at the center about beginning therapy with me and that I would wait to see what she found out. My next appointment with my case manager isn’t until July 9th. What was I thinking?! I need to talk to someone sooner! I wasn’t thinking — that’s the point. My thoughts are so scrambled right now that I can’t think straight. I just said the first thing that popped into my head. I even told her it wasn’t necessary to call back again when she asked if I wanted them to, before I knew what I was saying. WHY WOULD I DO THAT?? I’m left wondering, “Did my subconscious just take over and sabotage what I attempted to accomplish yesterday? WTF?” I tried calling back, but I just got a message machine. I feel like an idiot, an impossible idiot. Now, I don’t know WHAT to do.

Well, That Didn’t Help…

I’m emotionally and physically exhausted. My sleep is disrupted. I feel like I’m not sleeping at all. When I do manage to drift off into a restless sleep for a few hours, I wake up earlier than I should and can’t get back to sleep. I’m not eating either. I have no appetite. I haven’t eaten a meal since I made burgers Friday night. I’m really struggling right now. I made myself go speak with someone at the local crisis stabilization unit today to get an objective opinion about what’s going on. I read to her what I wrote last Thursday or at least a little over half of it before she stopped me.

I feel worse now after talking with her than I did when I woke up. For all intents and purposes, she confirmed my conclusion that this situation is my fault. No, she didn’t say that; but what she did say leads me to that interpretation because she said KR was probably suffering from heat exhaustion that night and only wanted to come home and relax after work. Having to cook a meal after a long day sent him over the edge. KR said as much. I knew this already but hearing her say it, too…. and then, go on and on about ways to make meal planning and meal preparations easier. Again, all things I already knew. This fucking food issue is a BIGGER issue than just making myself cook a god damned meal. Why does no one listen?!

By the time I left CSU, all I could think about was, “I do deserve to be treated badly. I’m a selfish, insensitive bitch for making KR’s life so miserable.”

On Suicide and Suicidal Thoughts

I’m hesitant to share a post regarding the topic of suicide and suicidal ideation, but it may give others an insight into the “struggle/fight for life versus the wish to die/to end the suffering” of so many of us who live with depression. It is most certainly NOT my intention to trigger others into a similar mind-set, only to share what this line of thinking entails. A common misconception about suicide is that talking about it might give someone the idea. While this is not true — talking openly about suicide can often be one of the most helpful things you can do — I’ll err on the side of caution by stating: consider this a trigger warningPlease, keep yourself safe if you are easily triggered into suicidal thinking or behaviors. Other common misconceptions about suicide include:

“People who talk about suicide won’t really do it.”

Not True. Almost everyone who commits or attempts suicide has given some clue or warning. Do not ignore suicide threats. Statements like “you’ll be sorry when I’m dead,” “I can’t see any way out,” — no matter how casually or jokingly said, may indicate serious suicidal feelings.

“Anyone who tries to kill him/herself must be crazy.”

Not True. Most suicidal people are not psychotic or insane. They may be upset, grief-stricken, depressed or despairing. Extreme distress and emotional pain are always signs of mental illness but are not signs of psychosis.

“If a person is determined to kill him/herself, nothing is going to stop him/her.”

Not True. Even the most severely depressed person has mixed feelings about death, and most waver until the very last moment between wanting to live and wanting to end their pain. Most suicidal people do not want to die; they want the pain to stop. The impulse to end it all, however overpowering, does not last forever.

“People who commit suicide are people who were unwilling to seek help.”

Not True. Studies of adult suicide victims have shown that more than half had sought medical help within six month before their deaths and a majority had seen a medical professional within 1 month of their death.

“Talking about suicide may give someone the idea.”

Not True. You don’t give a suicidal person ideas by talking about suicide. The opposite is true — bringing up the subject of suicide and discussing it openly is one of the most helpful things you can do.

[Source: SAVE | Suicide Awareness Voices of Education]

I do feel that it is necessary to educate the general public on the many facets of depression, one of which is the fact that depression can lead to suicidal thoughts/suicidal ideation, suicidal behaviors, and completed suicides. Remember, it is NOT helpful to shame or guilt the suicidal person into changing his/her mind. Just listen. Remind the person of his/her worth. For help in caring for someone who is suicidal, please, visit: Suicide Prevention — How to Help Someone who is Suicidal

“If a friend or family member tells you that he or she is thinking about death or suicide, it’s important to evaluate the immediate danger the person is in. Those at the highest risk for committing suicide in the near future have a specific suicide PLAN, the MEANS to carry out the plan, a TIME SET for doing it, and an INTENTION to do it.”

If you are feeling suicidal, please, call: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). What you are experiencing, what you are feeling does not have to be fatal. Please, seek help. I know, easier said than done. If you find that you cannot call, wait it out, just wait it out


For months, I’ve weighed the pros and cons of sharing such a personal admission of suicidality. I wrote this back in February of this year and placed it on the back burner because:

  1. It felt too personal to share.
  2. I didn’t want to risk being “forced” into medication again. As I’ve said before, I understand that psychiatric medications have helped some people; but my experience with them was arduously adverse.
  3. I didn’t want people to think I was being overly dramatic or attention seeking (I still don’t because that is NOT the case; more on this in a moment).

To be clear, I wrote this on February 6th, 2015, in regard to January 31st, 2015:

I wondered if I sat there long enough, would I freeze? How long would it take? Would I simply become tired and close my eyes, allowing the elements to finish a task that I could not myself? I stopped shivering. I had already been outside for more than 20 minutes, cigarette long since finished. The sunrise growing more beautiful as the sky lit up in a fiery blaze, would this be the last thing I saw? A perfect end. I closed my eyes no longer wishing to fight the cold, the temperature hovering right at 0°F. Could it really be this simple, so easy to die?

I heard his voice saying something or another, urging me to go inside. “Just let me sit here, please,” I begged. I smoked a second cigarette. My thoughts lost; my memory of the next few moments broken as I struggled to fight the impulse of giving in to one or the other.

In the end he somehow managed to get me inside, stripped of clothes, snuggled for warmth, as the shivering returned, until I fell asleep in his arms.

Seriously, I doubt that I would have frozen to death that night; but the fact was that I felt like ending it all for whatever reason — the emotional pain felt too overwhelming. I’ve experienced this type of despair, hopelessness, and helplessness for the majority of my life. One of my earliest memories from childhood, around the age of 5 or 6, involves these emotions accompanied by the thought, “If I jump out of this window, will I die?” I removed the screen from my second-story bedroom window and contemplated this thought on more than one occasion as a child.

As a teen, shortly after I was diagnosed with Lupus, I remember a moment when I stood in front of the medicine cabinet contemplating whether or not to down a bottle of Tylenol. Thankfully, I didn’t. I told no one how I was feeling. My family didn’t discuss emotions. I remember feeling mortified that I would even consider thinking such a thing.

Yet, the four suicide attempts I survived as an adult were all overdoses: #1, #2, #3, #4 (I didn’t provide much detail about each incident, only the events surrounding them). There was another instance that I held a gun to my head, praying for the courage to pull the trigger. I am so thankful for the thought of my son that stopped me. Numerous other instances come to my mind with detailed plans and other methods that crossed my mind. Years and years of emotional pain and turmoil built up with seemingly no end to the suicidal thoughts and my obsession with death.

Even the bargain I made with all the parts of myself at some point in 2008 to end this relentless insanity that is suicidality was fraught with an end to my life when the conditions were met. Survive until I can no longer survive. At the point when I lost the SSDI and my reason for not fighting to keep it was “it’s time to pay up.” In my irrational state of mind, I felt the Universe had given me an ultimatum, “Your debt is due. Accept this loss (the SSDI) and mourn your death (suicide) because the bargain — freedom to be you for however long you’re allowed to keep the SSDI in exchange for your life — is complete. The conditions are met (no longer have the means to support yourself, publicly tell your story, closure with your son and family).”

An amazingly remarkable thing happened as a result of this ill-fated bargain. No, unfortunately, the suicidal thoughts never completely went away. I fear my obsession with death will always be there, even as morbid and frightening as that is. However, the impulse to act on these thoughts faded considerably. The more in touch with my creativity I am, the greater likelihood I can cope with the internal thoughts, voices, and pressures that lead me to rumination. The Universe gave me the gifts of nature, music, art, and writing to help me heal, not an ultimatum. That ultimatum was/is the demand of a raging inner critic, a younger self, who I’m learning needs far more compassion and validation than she’s ever gotten in this lifetime.

The pressures of external forces in my life are still cause for concern. External pressures are the “make it” or “break it” factor. I understand I have no control over anything or anyone but myself; but I’m still learning to put to use the coping strategies that mental health services have taught me. Some days are far more difficult than others. Implementing changes in behavior and thinking patterns take lots and lots of practice; and unfortunately, I’ve been struggling with this for many years with little to no emotional support. I still struggle to recognize what triggers certain responses in me. I often have to fight like hell to remain in the present moment.

Recent events shook me to my core, caused these thoughts to return after a brief two-month respite. Hey, at least I got a couple of months of freedom from the suicidal rumination. I’ll take what I can get! A couple of days ago, I would have rated my level of risk at “high.” It’s the high and severe suicidal thoughts that frighten me most. “I won’t have your suicide on my conscience.” KR’s words still haunt me. He spat those words at me with such contempt and rage despite me having said nothing about suicide that night. However, I’ve had some time to process a lot of the distress while gently testing my will to live. It’s still intact. At the moment, I would put my level of risk at “low,” so no worries. These are the usual passive thoughts that occur almost daily when I’m feeling more stressed. I’ve grown so accustomed to these passive thoughts that I can generally let them go without too much effort, now.

Another tidbit of useful information to know when supporting someone who is suicidal — from HelpGuide.org‘s website > Suicide Prevention: How to Help Someone who is Suicidal:

Level of Suicide Risk
Low – Some suicidal thoughts. No suicide plan. Says he or she won’t commit suicide.
Moderate – Suicidal thoughts. Vague plan that isn’t very lethal. Says he or she won’t commit suicide.
High – Suicidal thoughts. Specific plan that is highly lethal. Says he or she won’t commit suicide.
Severe – Suicidal thoughts. Specific plan that is highly lethal. Says he or she will commit suicide.

The following questions can help you assess the immediate risk for suicide:

  • Do you have a suicide plan? (PLAN)
  • Do you have what you need to carry out your plan (pills, gun, etc.)? (MEANS)
  • Do you know when you would do it? (TIME SET)
  • Do you intend to commit suicide? (INTENTION)

If a suicide attempt seems imminent, call a local crisis center, dial 911, or take the person to an emergency room. Remove guns, drugs, knives, and other potentially lethal objects from the vicinity but do not, under any circumstances, leave a suicidal person alone.


I read a blog post (How do you Cope with Someone’s Suicide Ideation) earlier yesterday that refueled my urge to finish writing this post as it related to my current situation.

The author of that post stated:

“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.”

One question I have for this author would be: Are there really EVER any half-hearted attempts at suicide? Thoughtfully, honestly consider this question.

Having been diagnosed with BPD in the past, I fully understand and acknowledge the point of view that borderlines use suicide as a method of manipulation or “attention seeking behavior” as I’ve heard so many people put it. The point is if you really think about it, suicide attempts almost always are attention seeking behavior due to the desperate measures that person is resorting to in order to scream out for help! This isn’t meant to “glorify” suicide. I’m simply expressing the human condition, the human necessity to seek out understanding, compassion, and love — a connection to another human being who is willing to validate the suicidal individual’s experience by simply stating, “I understand you are hurting. I’m here to listen.”

And “without any apparent purpose to their testimony, other than to express how bad they’re feeling?” Isn’t that enough? Contemplating and resisting suicidal urges is a life or death fight. Period. Saying it is anything but that is stigma and a huge factor in why so many people won’t discuss their suicidal thoughts and die by suicide each day.

Had I not read so many similar remarks to these online over the years, I probably wouldn’t have included this last section; yet I think we, as a society, have far to go in the fight for mental health and a better standard of care, not only from providers but also from our loved ones. It’s important that we treat individuals who are suicidal with as much respect as we would any other person, regardless of perceived motives which may or may not be part of the mask of their illness.


And once again, if you are feeling suicidal, please, call: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or call a loved one or visit My Mental Health Toolkit for a list of tips and tricks that I use to help me de-stress and self soothe.

 

That Moment, That Terrifying Moment

“What do you want for dinner?”

I hate that question. Every single night KR asks me this, and I dread it because most nights I’ve given absolutely no thought to the subject so I have no ideas. My bad; but food is food. I couldn’t possibly care any less about food, meals, cooking… sustaining this life. Food is a HUGE trigger for me and a major power struggle between KR and me.

This doesn’t feel like living. THIS feels pretty shitty. KR confirms over and over again that he is completely miserable in this relationship, has been for a long time. I’m not sure if he’s over-exaggerating because usually he seems fairly content — keyword: seems. No, I doubt he’s exaggerating because someone who loves another does not terrorize that person, does not emotionally badger that person, does NOT act like this!!

It was my fault. I broke my headphones by banging them on the desk. The short in the wiring usually responds to such aggression, giving me one more use; but that short is no longer an issue as the headphones are in several pieces in the trashcan. I should have thrown them away a long time ago due to the frustration of trying to get them to work. KR completely lost it. His plate of spaghetti flew across the room like a Frisbee as he shouted at me. What he shouted, I can’t even remember now.

My memory is a little sketchy from last night. I’m trying to process, make sense of everything that happened, that was said.

I should back track a little. I thought everything was okay between us, actually better than okay. When I got back from my trip, KR seemed genuinely happy to see me — loving KR, happy KR. For the last couple of weeks, his mood began to shift as it so often does. He’s been moody, irritable. I thought it was due to work and the unbearable heat lately. He works on a 500° oven making plastic gas tanks; and the daily heat index has been high here, hitting right at 100° most days with the humidity (temperatures in the 90°’s).

I tried harder to make his life a little easier. I bought him Gatorade for work. I found him a few more bandannas to wear around his head as he often does to prevent the sweat from getting in his eyes. I even stitched up all the holes in his work pants’ pockets finally. Even though I’m no seamstress, I did this because it was one of those annoyances that he had been complaining about for a while. I worked harder to keep the house neat and tidy. I even cooked a couple of meals. Maybe 2 meals really is a pathetic attempt at helping out in this area; but for me, it’s a big deal. I made sure we had other quick, easy food options in the house so that when he did ask that inevitable, despised question, I knew what the choices were. I tried my best not to complain because I’ve noticed a pattern of how our moods feed off one another. I made sure I asked him each night, “How was your day?,” giving him the opportunity to vent his frustration with work. I know this results in at least a couple of hours of complaining from his end; but I thought if he vented verbally, it would give him a chance to get it out of his system and let it go. I tried my best to keep a positive attitude while listening to his complaints and offer validation, but nothing I could say would improve his mood. So normally, I just let him vent.

Nothing seemed to help….

Last night, KR came home angry, irritable, hot, tired. I should have just made the meal rather than waiting for KR to get home first, but I got sidetracked. The internet had been wonky most of the day yesterday, running very slowly. Rather than being annoyed over that fact, I chose to give my computer a much-needed cleaning, a time-consuming process. I’m glad I did because the dust build-up inside was awful! Bad enough to possibly burn out the computer in this heat. However, when KR got home from work and discovered the internet wasn’t working properly, it set his already bad mood into full on rage. I asked him if he wanted me to start a pot of spaghetti. Spaghetti is easy enough. I could have done it. “No, I’ll do it,” was his answer.

He got a shower and then started dinner. At some point he took a few verbal snipes at me to which I simply responded, “I know you’re hot and tired, but I would really appreciate it if you didn’t take it out on me.” I wasn’t mean about it. I simply stated an observation. As he finished dinner, he grew quieter and quieter. By the time he finished cooking and said, “It’s ready, ” the internet was up again; so I made sure I had our next episode of Dr. Who on Netflix loaded and ready so as not to disturb him any further. Rather than sit on the couch as usual, KR fixed his plate, taking it to his desk to eat without saying a word to me. I interpreted this to mean he didn’t want to watch Dr. Who or be bothered, so I found something else to watch and attempted to use my headphone so as not to disturb him.

I should never have taken out my frustration with KR’s bad mood and my frustration with the inoperable headphones by banging them harder than I normally would have; but I never would have expected the reaction from KR that I got.

The MessAfter he threw his plate of spaghetti across the room, he said he was leaving and didn’t know if he would ever be back. I lost my appetite. There was some yelling between both of us. I can’t remember what was said. As he walked out the door, I looked around at the mess — huge sauce stain on the ceiling, spaghetti noodles everywhere — and broke down in tears. All the hard work I put into keeping our house clean, all the hours I waste cleaning up the same messes over and over again, in one fell swoop — all for nothing. I slid my plate onto the counter, speaking out loud in despair to myself, saying as much. KR storms back inside demanding, “What did you say?”

I repeated, “I spend hours cleaning this house just for you to do… this?,” taking in the room’s appearance once more.

Completely overcome with rage and contempt now, he goes to the kitchen, grabs the entire pot of spaghetti (already in the sauce) and throws it across the living room! “Now you have something to clean for 6 hours!” He retorted.

Everything gets a little foggy here. I was sobbing. I had spaghetti all over me. The mess — my God, THE MESS! I grabbed a change of clothes. I got into the shower to wash off as KR was asking, demanding, “What are you doing?!”

“I have spaghetti all over me! I’m washing off!” I yelled. Full blown panic attack in the shower. After I’m dressed, still sobbing uncontrollably, I tried to leave the house, to get away from KR’s tirade. He held the door and wouldn’t let me leave. I begged, sobbing and stuttering uncontrollably, “Please, please, just let me leave.”

“No, you’re going to stay here and face this! I won’t have you out driving around when you’re so emotional. I won’t have your suicide on my conscience.” He yelled with vehement hostility.

I tried a few more times to escape, terrified. Each time he blocked me by his strength. I threatened to call the cops — an empty threat. He and I, both, knew I wouldn’t. I’m terrified by police officers as much as doctors. I gave in. There was nothing left to do but sit and listen to his list of grievances yet again. These were much the same as last October’s meltdown. He’s still obsessing over breaking his hand on New Year’s 2014, which I’m pretty sure he considers my fault. Maybe it is. Just like all of this was. My rational brain says, “No. Absolutely not. His bad behavior is a result of his bad upbringing and his OWN inability to manage his emotions and control his behavior.”

Still, those small parts of me are screaming, “It’s our fault! It’s all our fault! Everything is always our fault because we are so bad! We deserve this!”

KR cleaned up the worst of the mess himself, last night after he finished yelling at me. I was pretty much left in a daze, sitting outside in a catatonic stupor, for the most part, until I finally went to bed. KR slept on the couch. The kitchen, living room, and hallway need another much more thorough cleaning. I have no idea how to get spaghetti sauce out of carpet. Trying to wash that stain off of the ceiling proved impossible. Luckily, we had some white paint; so I painted over top of it today after cleaning as best I could. After I did that, I had to run out to the post office. Since I felt I needed to be out of the house for a bit longer — away from everything — I went to Burgess Falls for a hike. KR will probably be furious that I didn’t finish the cleaning (if he even bothers coming home after work), but I didn’t have it in me today to do any more.

I just didn’t….

New Page Added

Just a quick update: I’ve added a new page to my blog titled, “My Mental Health Toolkit,” for anyone interested. This is an ongoing list of tips and tricks that help me de-stress and self soothe. When it comes to my mental health, I’m constantly on the look out for anything that helps. It is my goal to continue updating this page as I think of other things to include and find other methods that help. Use these ideas to personalize and create your own list. Feel free to share in the comment section your favorite methods of distress tolerance and self-soothing as well as anything that helps you maintain your mental health. Best wishes to you all and let me know what you think!

Post-trip Processing

I’ve been back home from my trip to East Tennessee for 10 days. I spent 8 full days there with my family. It was actually a pretty great trip. I was such an anxious, neurotic mess before I left; but I feel this trip was the best trip back to my hometown I’ve had in years, maybe even since I left my childhood home 22 and a half years ago. My son, daughter-in-law, and I spent some quality time together. We were even able to do a lot of those touristy type things I’ve missed so much over the years. Dollywood has changed a lot since I was last there 17 years ago, so has Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg. I’m thrilled with joy and contentment to have had that time with my son and daughter-in-law.

While there, I was also able to help my mom out by giving her house a good spring cleaning, something that really needed to be done. Of course, I had to wait until she was out of the house at dialysis to accomplish most of this because I didn’t want her to feel bad about needing the help. It worked out well. She seemed genuinely appreciative and thankful for my efforts. I’m grateful I was able to help even in a small way by cleaning and running errands for her. The look of joy on my mom’s face when I arrived a day early, to her surprise, was priceless.

I’m also thankful for getting to spend an evening with my sister and her family at their house for a cook-out. I think that was the first time since my dad’s death, 11 years ago, that I’ve been to their house. It was a pretty special evening. We had some good laughs and caught up and the food was pretty great, too. My sister’s sweet tea recipe rocks! The perfect sweetness. Her kids are growing up so fast. I feel bad for not being involved in their lives.

These past 10 days have been an attempt to hold onto that fleeting optimism — an optimism that results from such experiences of connection and feeling loved. I want to hold it tightly, begging my heart, mind, and soul to savor the “good” times while acknowledging life need not always be so frightening and full of despair. I’ve spent this time processing the positive. It’s true, you know. Without suffering and pain, we wouldn’t recognize the good in life.

All those things I hide away, that I consciously or subconsciously avoid and distance from myself, I lock away in a far off, dark, shadowy place in my mind. I liken this place to an attic in an old decrepit house, something of a nightmare. This is a place where negativity, suffering, despair, anger, rage, deep sadness, loneliness, shame, etc. dwell. These are the darkest aspects of human nature — necessary to life, most of the time understandable when given to introspection, but often times very frightening. Yin.

The beautiful side of life includes those things that awe and inspire hope within me — nature, music, art, kindness, joy, love, gentleness, creativity, curiosity — the goodness of humanity. I need to spend more time there than I have these past couple of years. Yang.

“Seek balance between the two,” my higher self reminds me. Balance is key.

Yin and Yang

 


 

In other news, today I received a call from my disability advocate. My disability hearing is scheduled for August. I’m nervous about that. All the “what ifs” are rolling around in my brain, making me all kinds of distracted. For the last 2 and half years, I’ve lived without an income. I’m so thankful for KR’s support through all of this because without him, I don’t know where I would be. I don’t know what to expect from this disability hearing — the reason for my anxiety about it. I feel like my life, my choices, are on trial — not a particularly good feeling.

Also, I have a new case manager. I’ve met with her a couple of times, now. She’s nice, a bit more knowledgeable about her job than my previous case manager, yet I still have no therapist. I’m still not sure therapy would help that much anyway given past experiences, but I am willing to give it another try should the option become available to me. I guess that’s saying a lot considering a few months ago I was completely fed up with it.