Some Days, I Surprise Myself

And today was one of those days.

Today, I made two important phone calls before I had the chance to talk myself out of doing so. That’s significant for 2 reasons:

  1. I took action to actually help myself rather than simply thinking about it and accomplishing nothing.
  2. I faced a few fears in the process.

After yesterday’s intake appointment at the new facility where I’ll be receiving mental healthcare, I felt hopeless, suicidal. This wasn’t because the appointment went badly or anything. On the contrary, both people I spoke with yesterday were kind, compassionate, and understanding. Rather, it was because I was told it could be late December before an appointment for therapy is available. That’s an excruciatingly long wait, especially for someone experiencing the level of suicidal ideation I have been for the past 2 weeks. However, in my overwhelm of being in a new place and having to start over again with a new facility and everything else going on in my life currently with mine and KR’s break up, I failed to mention that I’m experiencing suicidal ideation at a level of risk I haven’t experienced since 2005 or maybe as late as 2007/2008. I don’t know. This symptom is so difficult for me to pinpoint where it begins and ends. Too often, it “feels” so constant, despite knowing in my rational mind that it’s not.

Two weeks ago, I revisited a previous post, On Suicide and Suicidal Thoughts, in an attempt to put into perspective how I felt that night. That particular night I distracted myself from the thoughts and voices by literally “defining” my levels of suicidal risk. It helped. It got me through that evening, and that was the whole point. It helps to know your enemy. By defining my risk factors, I can also identify my triggers, measure and track these types of impulses, and seek out additional support when needed. Believe me when I say, this is very important when experiencing suicidal ideation. The levels of suicide risk are as much on a spectrum as the mental illnesses that cause these voices, thoughts, and/or feelings. I don’t know about anyone else’s range or levels of suicidality; but for me, it looks like this:

  1. Level 1 — No Risk of Suicide — Passive suicidal thoughts pop into my head out of seemingly nowhere. At this level the voices are actually helpful, encouraging me to “Wait it out,” distract myself, talk to someone, write about how I’m feeling, or use whatever creative method I can to prevent the thoughts from gaining control. Here, I can let the thoughts go usually by simply acknowledging them and reminding myself, “These are only thoughts. You don’t need to act on them.” Typically, frustration and lower levels of overwhelm or over-stimulation provoke these thoughts.
  2. Level 2 — Low Level of Suicide Risk — Suicidal thoughts increase in frequency and linger a while longer, yet no suicide plan or intent. Voices begin arguing among each other with most still encouraging and helpful while only a few are expressing discontent and fleeting despair. Still able to prevent ruminating thoughts and/or allow them only minimal expression for short periods of time, but it may take a bit longer to let them go. Higher levels of frustration, overwhelm, or over-stimulation trigger higher levels of suicide risk. At any level the trigger can be either internal or external.
  3. Level 3 — Moderate Level of Suicide Risk — Stronger and more frequent suicidal thoughts that may include a vague plan that isn’t lethal. I consider this to be the “romanticizing” level, where the voices (split right at 50/50 by this point) who are for suicide, glorify death and suicide as an act of great bravery while those against it are losing patience and compassion for those in pain, thus there’s A LOT of arguing going on inside my head. This is when I’m at greatest risk of using alcohol or marijuana in an attempt to “control” the voices, my mood, paranoia, and my level of distress.
  4. Level 4 — High Level of Suicide Risk — Obsessive, intrusive suicidal thoughts and thoughts about death, in general, are strong, frequent, and compulsive. Actively planning and researching methods of suicide with specific plans that are highly lethal. It’s rare at this level for me to focus on one single method. Indecision is a saving grace at this level of distress. Vivid imaginings of killing myself in a variety of ways. Aggressive voices bully me into submission and silence, preventing me from being honest with others about how I’m feeling due to severe paranoia. PTSD triggers can result in a jump from Level 1 to Level 4 with no warning. Non-lethal self-harm and suicidal gestures are at greater risk here, as well as a lower level increase in impulsiveness.
  5. Level 5 — Severe Level of Suicide Risk — Specific plan that is highly lethal with the means to do so, a time-frame in mind or high level of impulsivity (my greatest risk factor), and actual intention and determination to kill myself. Highly aggressive, loud voices that drown out any protesting voices. These are as constant as the ruminating thoughts of suicide and death. Let me reiterate: impulsive self-harm behavior can easily result in an impulsive attempt to take my life as the “will” to live is gone. Paranoia, distress, despair, and hopelessness are extremely high.

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.


I’ve coped with suicidal ideation for more than half my life. Usually, I feel confident in my ability to manage this aspect of my mental health because I’ve had so much practice at managing my symptoms without any real emotional support system; but these past couple of weeks tested my will to survive as my level of suicide risk increased due to external stressors and internal triggers. These past couple of months have literally been one trigger after another, creating the perfect storm of circumstances and symptoms that make it feel like I’m reliving bits and pieces of my past in quick succession. It’s a frightening place to be. I wouldn’t wish this hell on anyone. Ever.

I keep telling myself I’ve already lived through all of this several times over — being discharged from treatment, starting over at a new facility, the storm of symptoms, the break-up, homelessness, all of it — and survived each one. I can do it again. It sucks, sure; but I survived.

Yesterday, I don’t think I managed to convey how dire my current situation is to either the intake counselor or the case manager with whom I spoke. The first phone call I made today was to the case manager who had told me to call with any questions or concerns I had. I thought of several and wrote them out before finally making myself call. First, I changed my mind about the psychiatric evaluation. I may need the support of a psychiatrist given the severity of symptoms I’m experiencing and considering how long it’s been since I’ve felt any relief from these symptoms. Words fail me in expressing the fear I’m facing in even acknowledging that this is the case, let alone the possibility of accepting that medication might be needed. I said I would talk with a psychiatrist. I can make that decision whether or not to take medication later. It may also take a while before I get an appointment for that, but I agreed to it.

I also made myself tell her how I’ve been feeling, about the severity of suicidal ideation. Maybe just admitting that to another person is enough. I don’t know; but I promised her (and myself) that I would continue reaching out whenever these voices, thoughts, and feelings become too much to handle on my own — like I’ve already been doing during these past 2 weeks.

We spoke briefly again about housing as well as my need to find employment before that can even be an option. I told her I called Vocational Rehabilitation last week, leaving a voicemail for the person I was told to speak to, but no one ever returned my call. Housing and employment, both, feel so overwhelming right now that they’re causing a lot of the flashbacks (to prior employment and homeless experiences) and suicidal despair, making it nearly impossible for me to accomplish anything with regard to either. I’m limiting any online searches for employment to brief, half-hour increments of time to try to avoid a lot of that; but it’s a HUGE challenge and an obstacle I have to overcome to reenter the workforce.

I also agreed to undergo a complete physical to rule out any physical causes for my symptoms, which brings me to my second important phone call and accomplishment of the day. I called the health department to schedule that physical. It’s this Thursday. I have two days to mentally prepare myself for that. I’ve been to the health department twice before; so it’s not a new place, which takes away some of that anxiety — not all but some. I don’t like to be touched, especially not by strangers. Doctor visits are particularly vulnerable situations, especially considering everything a “female exam” entails. No doubt I’ll leave the health department in that same dissociated state as the first two times I went, but I’ll go and get it over with nevertheless. This time, I plan on writing out a list of symptoms that have been bothering me, like the increased joint pain and chronic fatigue that have prevented me from taking my usual hikes for so many months, now. In the past when I’ve brought these things up, no one took me seriously. I really need someone to listen for a change rather than telling me, “It’s all in your head.”

These two phone calls may not sound like much of an accomplishment to most people. For me, though, they’re a big deal.

I began writing out this post at 5 pm. It’s now after 10 pm as I finish this up. My concentration and focus just aren’t there anymore. I struggle daily in every aspect of my life. The fact that I can’t even imagine a future, let alone prepare for it, makes my situation feel hopeless and out of control. There’s no doubt in my mind that A LOT of people are struggling to survive these days. The mental healthcare system wouldn’t be so overwhelmed if that wasn’t true. I don’t know what my future holds for me, and most days I don’t even care; but for the first time in 11 years, I don’t feel like I have to –prove- I’m struggling to cope. And that’s enough to get me through tonight.


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.

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Vulnerability

I’m experiencing a hard shut down, triggered by vulnerability. “Vulnerability refers to the inability (of a system or a unit) to withstand the effects of a hostile environment.” [Source: Wikipedia.] I recognize my vulnerabilities as triggers for dissociation, panic attacks, flashbacks and nightmares, or any other symptom of anxiety, depression, or PTSD. My triggers for the defense mechanisms that serve to protect me are these vulnerabilities:

  • Specific Trigger Dates:
    • January 11th — date my divorce became final
    • January 15th — my dad’s birthday
    • March 1st — my oldest son’s birthday
    • April 11th/12th — date of first rape
    • April 14th — the day my dad died
    • April 27th — my youngest son’s birthday; memories associated with giving him up for adoption
    • August 11th — date of second rape
    • 9/11 — the day we, as a nation, were traumatized
    • December 3rd — marriage anniversary
  • Suicide Attempts (Possible trigger dates):
    1. August 9, 1996
    2. April 12, 1998
    3. October 14, 1998
    4. December 4, 2004
  • Holidays that I recognize as being triggering:
    • Easter
    • Mother’s Day
    • My birthday
    • Thanksgiving
    • Christmas
  • Certain strong emotions, e.g. rage, grief, terror, contempt, disappointment, despair, hopelessness, disrespect, humiliation, frustration, overwhelm, shame, confusion, and shock.
  • Confrontation, arguments, fighting.
  • Harsh or negative criticism and judgement by others, feeling persecuted.
  • Acts of aggression and violence (hostility). I’m horribly sensitive to media coverage that is gruesome or hateful or violent, etc. Coverage of stories regarding rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, or even sexual harassment can be triggering for me.
  • Exhaustion — whether it’s physical, emotional, mental, or all of the above.
  • Feeling exposed, out in the open, insecure paranoia.
  • Injustice. Feeling taken advantage of or inequality.
  • Abandonment.
  • Rejection.
  • Loss of safety or insecure environment. Threat of homelessness, starvation, or abuse make me catatonic, totally checked out.
  • Feeling misunderstood, unheard, or not believed.
  • Lack of consistency, routine, or structure in my daily life.
  • Change — big or small, I don’t do well with change.
  • Healthcare — mental health or physical health, either one. I still, to this day, have “institutional” type nightmares; and I never stayed at any psychiatric facility for more than one month. I have no faith left in the medical community, no faith in our doctors to actually listen, hear what they’re being told, and understand that I know my body better than they ever will given the brevity of time spent with patients. I have no patience left for psychiatry. I’m right there on that cliff of anti-psychiatry, ready to jump off. I don’t even have any trust left to give to another counselor or therapist. I have absolutely no cause to believe that corporations (pharmaceutical, healthcare related and insurance related) will grow a conscience and do what is “right” for the American people. And absolutely NO confidence in our government to protect us from their predatory greed.
  • Sex — everything about sex is triggering for me, everything. Some sexual acts are more triggering, like oral sex or anal sex (I would rather be tarred and feathered than do either); but even straight-up, vanilla, missionary position sex can cause hyperventilation or dissociation during sexual encounters with my boyfriend unless I focus on my breathing to control the physical and emotional pain I feel (and I mean, really focus on breathing, consciously aware, mindful breathing). The physical pain I feel during and after intercourse is almost as bad as the emotional baggage that prevents me from enjoying it, and sometimes that physical pain lasts for days afterward. It’s not just the actual sexual acts that are triggering for me, but also the pressure I feel to “perform” or fulfill KR’s needs. Any sexual touching triggers my startle reflex even on a good day. Waking up to KR snuggling or touching me in this way is a huge trigger! I can’t watch porn because it disgusts me to the point of dry heaving. I can’t even allow myself to feel “sexy” because in my mind, that would warrant sexual attention that I do not want. Sex was a huge issue for me long before the rapes, from the moment I lost my virginity. The rapes, sexual assaults, and sexual harassment I’ve endured throughout my adult life only further complicated this matter.*

*UPDATE: I plan to continue updating this list of triggers. I’m only now, after 23 years of on-and-off-again-therapy, beginning to recognize what triggers me.

 

The Requiem

Maybe I indulged an unhealthy obsession today or maybe it’s a process of grieving a loss. Either way, the result was a form of obscure poetry that speaks to the pain so many of us feel in the wake of one more light going out in the sky of a million stars. Linkin Park’s music got me through many a dark night when my own suicidal urges were at their worst from 2002 through 2005. Chester Bennington will be missed greatly. My most sincere condolences to his family, friends, and fans.

Linkin Park Playlist Includes:

Rebellion
Valentine’s Day
Iridescent
The Radiance
Runaway
Skin to Bone
Lies Greed Misery
Lying from You
The Catalyst
Victimized
Powerless
What I’ve Done
Fallout
Guilty All the Same
In Between
Castle of Glass
Burn It Down
Burning in the Skies
When They Come for Me
Heavy
Faint
Blackout
Empty Spaces
Numb
Wastelands
Forgotten
Wake
War
From the Inside
Battle Symphony
Crawling
In Pieces
Roads Untraveled
Leave Out All the Rest
Foreword
Somewhere I Belong
A Place for My Head
One More Light
Wisdom, Justice, and Love
Until It’s Gone
Points of Authority
Wretches and Kings
Hands Held High
The Summoning
Robot Boy
Drawbar
Session
With You
The Little Things Give You
Shadow of the Day
Tinfoil
The Messenger
Keys to the Kingdom
Halfway Right
Breaking the Habit
Until It Breaks
Cure for the Itch
Lost in the Echo
Figure 09
A Light That Never Comes
Pushing Me Away
Talking to Myself
Nobody’s Listening
Invisible
By Myself
Easier to Run
All for Nothing
One Step Closer
Nobody Can Save Me
A Line in the Sand
Final Masquerade
In the End
Given Up
Don’t Stay
I’ll Be Gone
Good Goodbye
Sharp Edges
Papercut
Bleed It Out
Hit the Floor
Waiting for the End
No More Sorrow
In My Remains
Mark the Graves
The Requiem
Sorry for Now


If you are feeling suicidalplease, 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.

I’m not giving up and neither should you.

I, quite seriously, feel like I’m losing my mind. I’m back to questioning whether I’m alive or dead. Nothing feels real, so I’m going with the latter. What if I’m the only person who knows we’re all dead and trying to work out our past life’s traumas? All of this talk of moving on is meant to push us into the next life — reincarnate to try again in a never-ending cycle of life and death.

I’m really struggling right now.

I feel like I don’t belong here, like an alien stranded on some strange — very disturbing — planet that’s about to veer off course into its sun. Half the population is creating hell while the other half of us are simply trying to connect the dots, prove there’s a better way to deal with suffering. Progress based in love and compassion is our only way forward. Hate and exclusion moves us backward to repeat past mistakes over and over again. Everything seems so black and white, good or evil, positive or negative. Polar opposites. The balance is teetering on the brink of destruction and each side keeps rocking the boat.

Chaos is winning.

I feel lost. I feel like nothing more than an observer, silenced by overwhelm, suffocating from too many triggers, buried alive under so much hate. I’m “out of my mind.” I feel like I’m experiencing all of this out of my body, lost and untethered, with no desire to bother coming back. Content to watch the world crash and burn, taking my soul with it, I mourn for our planet as much as myself as even she has lost the will to live.

The rape of our planet’s resources is the perfect metaphor for the crushing disappointment in humanity to defend and honor the female population.

What chance do women have in a barbaric patriarchy that treats us like objects to be used for their sick and twisted amusement?

This election and its aftermath left me in a state of shock and dismay. To say I’m disappointed in its outcome would be the understatement of the year. I find myself fighting dissociation, that familiar numb disconnect fueled by a desperation to survive the suicidal ideation triggered by the events of the past few weeks. I’ve had nightmares for at least the last 3 nights in a row. The flashbacks are intense, invasive and graphic memories causing severe panic. KR, trying to be helpful, took me to buy pepper spray. It was a sweet gesture; but knowing my freeze response when I feel threatened, I would never get the chance to use it.

In response to a comment someone left on a link I shared on Facebook, I wrote:

As a direct result of Trump’s language throughout his campaign and that leaked video, every time I see that man’s face come across my news feed or hear another ignorant thing he says, I feel triggered. I know, that’s *my* problem to deal with; and I’m coping to the best of my ability. However, I associate Trump’s face with every man who ever sexually harassed me, with every man who ever sexually assaulted me (grabbed or otherwise touched me inappropriately), and with the men who raped me.

THAT is what Trump represents for me. Half of the voters in this country validated his words and actions JUST by voting for him. I accept the fact that Trump won this election, but acceptance does NOT mean I have to tolerate his hate speech. Acceptance does NOT mean I condone his behavior or validate his twisted beliefs. Acceptance is NOT approval.

What I’m feeling isn’t “fear.” It’s disgust — not just for Trump but also for the 47% of Americans who voted for him, who condone the behavior of a bully and sexual predator. Disgust and contempt.

And that is what all of this boils down to. I’m not usually so open about my private struggles under my “real” identity. I was taught from an early age not to burden others with my problems, especially not family; but this election sparked an unbridled rage within me to speak out that I’ve never felt before. I broke down after writing that response.

I called RAINN’s support line for, ya know, support. I was transferred to an organization out of Murfreesboro, TN. I told the woman who answered, “I think I need to talk to someone.” She seemed annoyed when I gave my reason for calling. I immediately regretted having reached out to a total stranger for help. I thought, “I must be wasting her time over an issue that took place over 18 years ago.” I felt weak for allowing the political climate to trigger such a strong response within me. She took my name and phone number and said someone would call me back.

I’m still waiting 4 days later to “talk” to someone.

could have called any other crisis line; but I chose RAINN because I thought, “They’re trained specifically to deal with issues of this nature.” Right?

I never wanted to be a part of Trump’s reality, but I am. I have been for a long time. Men, who think they can grab a woman’s private parts because… they can? Consent means nothing to a sexual predator. It was bad enough that someone running for our highest office here in the US bragged about this type of behavior, but for that same man to actually become President of the United States?!

It’s not just a slap in the face to anyone victimized in this way. It’s like being sexually assaulted and raped all over again.

No. I’m not okay.

A lot of women are struggling today with these same emotions and triggers as a result of this election. Know that you’re not alone. I know from experience, too often it feels that way. I’m still searching for the emotional support and connection to people who understand what I’ve been through, but…

I’m not giving up and neither should you.

Broken

Broken

“What the hell is wrong with me? I feel like I’m going insane.”

Her words spoke to each of us, all locked within her pain.

Broken heart.

Broken dreams.

Shattered soul.

Silenced screams.

Stuck in limbo, time’s meaning lost,

Eternity couldn’t pay the cost.

Lost deep inside where nothing’s real,

Detached and numb, nothing to feel.

Without warning, a momentary lapse,

Jerked into consciousness, falling prey to traps.

The ever-present danger is all around.

Quiet, now, don’t make a sound.

Panic manifests in gasps for breath.

What is this crazy dance with death?

Racing heart.

Weak knees.

Mind gone blank.

Stop.

Freeze!

No time to delineate,

Everything fades in that dreamlike state.

Soothe her fears,

Calm her tears,

Just make sure she perseveres.


 

I had another lengthy post written out for today; but in the end, the Critic won out. I left that post on private. My apologies, but I worry about sharing too much negativity here. No sense in “beating a dead horse with a stick.” I’m attempting to push through this creative block by writing poetry. Sometimes, that works. This poem describes what dissociation feels like to me. 

I also want to share two songs I’m kind of stuck on right now:

Disturbed — The Sound of Silence < Probably one of the best covers of this song I have ever heard!

AWOLNATION – Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf) < This one — just because I love it.

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.

Dear Future Therapist

Dear Future Therapist,

I need to write you this letter because I feel I owe it to you to know what you’re in for. I’ll understand if you choose not to work with me. I can be a difficult client to work with. I recognize this and try my best to be open and honest; but sometimes, my triggers and my thoughts get the better of me. I ask for your patience. I’m not so easily persuaded to “speak my mind.” In fact, oftentimes, I struggle to speak at all. First and foremost, I will need your help in reminding me that I am there to work through difficult “stuff” and talking about these experiences will lessen their hold over me. At least, I’m assuming that this is the goal of therapy. Correct me if I am wrong.

I have a long history of psychiatric instability — a total of 10 hospitalizations for psychiatric emergencies and 4 attempts to take my own life. I have worked with more therapists than I can remember, but none have managed to break through that protective barrier I place between me and the world. I do not trust easily. It may take longer than we have to work together for me trust you completely. My only hope is that I find some benefit in working with you. I will question the process of therapy throughout our time together. Recognize this as an attempt on my part to avoid certain topics. Remind me that I told you this when the need arises. I can’t guarantee you that this will help because more often than not, I will “flee my mind” rather than confront the obvious. Help me understand why I do this.

I am stubborn to a fault. In this case I need a firm hand to call me out on such behavior. I guarantee you that I am more frightened to “express” my anger than you are to provoke it. I once had a therapist tell me that being strong-willed is not a character flaw. While that may be true, my stubbornness is not always a demonstration of strong will but sometimes, a defense mechanism to avoid taking responsibility.

I’ve lived through a great many painful experiences, some truly traumatic for me. I desperately need to work through these in order to “move on” in my life. I’ve been “stuck” for far too long. Try as I might, I haven’t been able to do that alone. I need help. I wish I could offer you some helpful suggestions or insight in this task, but I’m afraid that it is up to you to find an approach that will benefit my progress in helping me help myself. I’m out of ideas. I don’t understand the concept of “letting go.” It’s as foreign to me as “forgiveness” because I see no executable action in either. Help me understand exactly what these mean.

I’m overly sensitive. I rely on my intuition completely to guide me through this messed up world. I may not show them often but know that my emotions are locked up tighter than the vault at Fort Knox, yet I trust that these parts of myself hold great wisdom. If you can reach them, that is far more than most have been able to do. I do, however, need help in recognizing when I am being irrational. Too often I find myself drowning in the depths of that rabbit hole, unable to see the light of day. I’ve been told in the past that I dissociate from my emotions. I don’t recognize when I do this. In advance, I’m sorry. Please, again, have patience with me and help me recognize my triggers. Also, I may not always recognize exactly what emotion I am feeling. Continuously ask me to identify, label them. Teach me how to properly “process” emotions. I want to understand.

I often experience my thoughts as loud voices. I usually won’t express this or so much as talk about them. I haven’t in the past due to fears and anxiety surrounding the stigma attached to “hearing voices.” I leave it up to you whether or not to address this. I may never verbally express my concerns over this, but these fears are more disturbing than the voices themselves. My “inner voices” have an obsession with death, dying, and suicide. I’ve found that if I practice mindfulness, acknowledge but don’t engage these lines of thought, I can usually distract myself into a more positive mindset. I may or may not need assistance in guiding these thoughts to more productive areas of interest like art, music, or writing. Creativity is most certainly the most beneficial and rewarding avenues to divert my attention away from this line of thinking. Give me assignments to distract me when needed. Guide my thoughts.

At this time in my life, I won’t deny that I’m struggling. I know that I am. Most days, I don’t even care if I live or die; but I desperately need someone in my life to say, “Stop. Think about this for a minute. You are not (or are) thinking rationally about this. Let’s take a different perspective.” I’ve isolated for many, many years. Know that this won’t be easy for either you or me. But if you’re willing, I need — I want — the help.

Thank you for your consideration,

[gh0stwr1tertrixie]


This post was inspired by Girl In Therapy’s post DEAR POTENTIAL THERAPIST… To her, I will say: Thank you for reminding me that letter writing is one of the most effective methods of purging the mind of frustration. It’s also an excellent healing technique. Truly, thank you. This felt good to write. Maybe, it will even help me when it comes to my next  therapy experience, should I ever consider taking that on again.


 

On a side-note, today I was asked, “How are you?” by a department store clerk. After answering my usual, “I’m doing okay. How are you?” She answered, “Blessed and highly favored.” I thought to myself and said as much to her, “What a wonderful sentiment. I like that.” In my mind, I see that statement as a faith confession. I’m often on the look-out for statements such as this. It’s not overly religious. Rather, it’s a statement of intention. And, yeah, I really like that. She told me to feel free to use it. I think I just might.