Since the 18th of December, I’ve been suicidal.
Some people know why. This isn’t about the why.
Suffice it to say that I had a core belief in my life. One I’d built over five years. The belief that pulled me from an emotionally abusive marriage and make life worth living.
It was seriously disrupted one week after my birthday, one week before Christmas.
And today it was destroyed.
I’m not writing this post to garner sympathy, or grandstand – though the fact that some people might see it that way is part of why I am writing this.
One of my friends caught me trying to give stuff away and
called me out on the behavior. She took the time to listen, and
sympathize, to make sure I was okay.
I saw my doctor at one point during this time period, and he expressed concern about my safety. And I told him what I was doing:
* Not worrying about whether or not I smoked
* Focusing on concrete tasks that needed to be finished
* Trying to focus on my son coming to visit.
He nodded understandingly, and made sure I thought my plans were working, and to contact his office immediately if I needed more help.
And another person – the person I most trusted – saw the same behavior and saw it as a manipulative threat.
I did have to make other plans than the ones I told my doctor at times. The grief and depression come in waves. One night, it was bad enough that I asked a friend to be on “standby” if I needed to have someone stand on suicide watch for me. I’m making plans to not be alone after my son leaves on Saturday.
Again, I’m not telling you all this for sympathy. I’m telling you this because I’ve been on this merry-go-round before. And unlike the last time I tried to kill myself, I’ve been able to (inbetween spiraling depression) been able to make plans and strategies to keep myself alive.
But you can’t just talk about your suicidal feelings. Not in the present tense, at least.
Oh sure, you can talk about the past. Many people have had a suicidal gesture or ideation in their past.
But if you talk about the present… then too often it gets seen as attention-seeking behavior. Or as manipulation. Or as threats.
Sometimes, though, it’s really what it is. An actual recognition of how bad the pain is. A recognition of exactly how gutted and hopeless you feel.
It’s like my holiday wish. Sometimes it’s just exactly what they say it is, nothing more.
Maybe I’m some kind of abberation – that I can recognize the suicidal feelings now and try to do something about them during the brief lulls. That I can talk to people openly and honestly about exactly how bad I am without any desire for sympathy or attention seeking. That I am not threatening, or cajoling, or expecting anyone else to change.
I’m just telling people where I am.
But too often, that’s not how it is heard.
My deep thanks to the friends – Sarah, Laura, Lucy, Monica – who have taken me at my word and helped me so far. You deserve far more credit than I could possibly give you.
Everyone talks about suicide during the holidays, but the rates actually go up afterward. If someone you care about starts exhibiting the signs of suicide, take them seriously.
You aren’t responsible for their actions. Not if you’re the person suddenly breaking up with a longtime significant other, not if they say you’re the reason. You’re not responsible.
But at the same time, suicidal thoughts fester and spread with isolation. And simply shutting that person out will only make things worse.
I don’t know if I will make it. I really don’t.
The pain I have been – and am – feeling right now makes it difficult for me to function at all. The thing I believed in – the central focus of my life – has just been shattered, especially after I thought I was getting it back. And it was sudden, unexpected, and right as I thought things were going wonderfully.
But the suicide prevention hotline is 1 (800) 273-8255.
I have the number in my phone.
And I have friends who will listen, and care. And they trust me enough that they won’t think I’m trying to manipulate them. They know that if I’m talking about emotions like this, I’m simply being honest. And if I ask them for help, I really need it.
Do the same for your friends.
Being a solitary creature, mostly, I've had no experience with talking about it when those feelings are present, only muddling through it in some sick way or another and then talking about it after. Yours is not to worry whether it is taken as manipulation or threat at this point — these are your feelings, you are entitled to them, and those friends who recognize it for what it is will be there and will try to help. The fact that you were able to write this and share it shows strength, and a desire to pull out of what I know to be a suffocating hell walled in pain. You are loved. you will see this from the other side where the pain (not quite gone) is less, and manageable. no platitudes here, just experience. although I may have badly mis-spelled platitudes 🙂 can't google it to check and I'm useless without MS Word to red-line me! I'll see you saturday.
I think you are so awesome Steven. Really hope I get to see you again this year. You aren't the only one going through depression. I am too. Very much so. I don't know if this helps, but know I am thinking of you. Maybe you will think of me too and we can be that for one another.
Please fight on, sir. You are needed here, living, breathing, creating, inspiring.
Please take care of yourself. We have been friends for a very long time. I care even though I'm on the other side of the world. I read what you write. I just wish I would have seen your suffering sooner. In my belief, no one talks about suicide to get attention. If you've read what I post, you know how much I believe in helping people who suffer with mental health and I will fight the stigma no matter what. If you need to talk, I'm here.
It seems to me that living with a mental illness is to be a mirror for other people who perhaps have not come to terms with their own particular crazy. They ascribe their own thoughts and motives. That idea of "manipulating" someone else by trying to talk about what one is going through just caught me like a baseball bat to the head — what the hell?
I've been very lucky in that those times when I've drifted or toppled or sunk that deeply into the blackness, my husband will listen to me. Yes, it upsets him, and it isn't easy for him to just listen. Yes, I have a variety of (not always healthy) coping mechanisms to get through. You're doing things right as far as I can tell.
I'm just a stranger wandering in, but I felt like posting.
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