Not a Solution
A personal strategy for dealing with severe depression and suicidal ideologies
The topic is suicide.
If you are sensitive to this subject matter please skip to the last paragraph. There you will find a listing of resources. Suicide is not a solution. Open discussion and correct information is the first step in preventing needless loss.
With all the recent media coverage, suicide seems to be almost a daily headline. Robin Williams, Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade ( Actor David Spade' s sister-in-law) and most recently YouTube personality Etika are just the start of a very long list of those we have lost to this disease, or epidemic. I think given the context either are fairly accurate descriptors.
According to the CDC approximately 47,000 died in 2017. That is 2000 more than 2016. Young, old, rich, poor, male, female, every demographic is affected. Females tend to attempt suicide more often. However, Males have a higher success rate. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for 10-34 year olds, and the fourth leading cause of death among the middle age. Like HIV, Hepatitis C and Diabetes, it does not discriminate. Suicidal ideologies and depressive disorders can be chronic. But it also can be managed. There are therapies and treatments available. It does not have to become fatal. I have been living with this affliction for over 30 years. Although I am not an expert or a mental health professional, the school of hard knocks has educated me, and I would like to share what I've learned. My hope is that by sharing, it may help others.
Maybe that is you or someone you love.
Even if that is only one person, then that is one less statistic for 2019.
Since age 12, I have dealt with depression and suicidal ideologies.
Bullying, hormones, past trauma, abuse and being the youngest of 3 to a single working poor mother to just name a few factors that may or may not have caused the depression. I am sure it all contributed to the progression.
With all my skills, killing myself is not one I am obviously proficient at by any means.
At that time, my thought was if at first you don't succeed. Now I'm going to leave out specifics of any methods I tried. The point of my speaking out to be informative, not instructional. Not having internet access has probably been the biggest factor in not being successful in my attempts. After a handful of times, just 2 months prior to my 14th birthday, I accomplished a trip to the emergency room and a 5 day stay on the hospital's 4th floor.
It had positive and negative results.
I got respite from all the things that made me hate my life and hate myself.
Unfortunately I was rooming with a girl who chose anorexia as her path to self destruction. It was nice to be with someone. I thought was the only one who got it. She didn't judge. She actually listened. Finally!!! Being a few years older, she was my Google search.
She gave me her tips and tricks on things she tried. Given the fact she was there with me, she wasn't successful either. The other negative was how my actions affected my mom. She took it personal. It wasn't I was trying to hurt myself. I succeeded in hurting her. Which may have not been the appropriate response. And here I thought among all the other gains, not having to deal with me anymore would have been doing her a favor.
What I had learned at that point: keep all my attempts to when she was at work. She never knew until I was 17 and moving out and we had a heart to heart. The look of disbelief on her face when I admitted that there were approximately 34 more unsuccessful attempts was almost too much to bear.
After I left the hospital, I had to go to the hospital way across town for counseling. This meant fast food and a taxi. My mom had to take a leave of absence from her job. Also going against her nature to coddle, she was almost vigilant in keeping me in a stress free bubble.
She grew up with old fashioned, no nonsense, Irish Catholic parents. She had no clue how to handle this. But damn I give her a lot of credit. She was trying to be a hands on Mom.
Hindsight is truly 20/20.
She finally got respite when my social life got better and I started going out with the man that years later would be my husband.
All seemed rainbows and sunshine. My gray skies seemed to clear up. I started doing all those typical teen activities.
Dating, hanging out with my future sister-in-law/bff skipping school, dabbling with drinking, and trying pot. That probably had the greatest benefit in treating my depression at that time. I have to state, I do not advocate underage recreational Marijuana use. But if I were to compare pot to some of the medications I have been prescribed, if it were an option, it would be my choice of prescription. Used in medicinal doses, it can be a safer alternative to most of the psychotic pharmaceuticals currently being prescribed. But that's a whole different discussion for sometime in the future
So with all that and my baby niece who I had every chance I got, it appeared like my ills were cured... However all that was just a bandaid. Thoughts of insanity would make a reoccuring appearances. With each "attack" it would set me back and take time to get back to where I was. Each I would bury those moments with the distractions of life. I was a mother, a wife, going to college and doing child care. There wasn't time for me. So I wouldn't heal. It would just be another bandaid. The pain was still there. I needed was to open those wounds address and treat them so the pain could truly go away. Several different occasions, I sought out professional help. But there was always a reason to quit and just add another bandaid. I just wasn't ready. It was very much an emotional carousel ride. There were ups and downs that always brought me back to the same place. The thoughts and some attempts at a "final cure" were inevitably reoccuring... My self-esteem at that point always gave me the justification to attempt suicide again. I wholeheartedly believed I would be doing everyone a favor. I wouldn't hurt anymore. I just wanted the pain to go away.
My wounds of the heart mind and soul were ever present, just underneath an assortment of bandaids.
I don't know at what point my thinking started to evolve. Maybe I didn't actually want to kill myself. But by this time, my thoughts would have to go through the whole scenario. You could say I had a plan of sorts. I had the means and on any given night the opportunity after my babies were in bed and my husband was working. So I would visualize the whole process from start to finish. I would write goodbye letters. Telling my girls how much I loved them and how sorry I was for not being a good mommy. But then I would visualize a heartbreaking image of my girls without their mother. As something liked divine intervention, that always stopped me.
As much pain as I was in, it would not compare to the pain of abandonment. That would be inflicting the same pain I was in. I could never do that to them.
Unknowingly, this was actually doing therapeutic. Writing venting and then reflecting on that moment of pain. There's always some current issue that would trigger the process. Past pain hadn't healed. That was really what was wrong. At some point I shared this with a trusted friend.
It was life changing. Finally I began to rip off the bandaid. I was now starting to purge the pain. It took time, but I finally shared this with the counselor both my husband and I were seeing for marriage counseling. We had weekly sessions together and one individual.
During a one on one session, I bit the bullet and told the counselor. It was a risk. This could have got me a long term vacation in secure accommodations in a fashionable self hugging jackets with plenty of happy meds that made you see the pretty colors that weren't really there. Therapists and other providers are mandated by law to report threats of harm to the authorities.
We established with reasonable assurance I wasn't at risk for hurting myself or anyone else. We went over what I was actually doing. It was something I did without thought with my roomie all those years ago in the hospital. I reached out. I opened up. All that time just keeping that bandaid covering the wounds, the distractions. the avoidance trying changes in the subject. The denial
They were all temporary fixes were just a bandaid. To a certain extent, was self-harm. I just didn't know it.
Long story short. I stopped trying to this by myself.
I still deal with this disease condition or affliction, call it what you will. I still have to be in therapy and after several months and being treated with medication I manage significantly better. It took my Mom going through hospice and passing at home that I had to get serious about treating the depression. For my family and for myself. Had I not sought help repeatedly until I got the right fit for me, it would have killed me. Suicide, It's not a solution. There is help.
So what can you do?
First things first. Acknowledge and accept your feelings.
Until you can be honest with yourself that you have a problem, you can not try to get help.
Feelings. no matter what they are, are ok. Self-harming is not.
Next, which maybe the hardest step, you have to open up to someone.
A sibling, parent, friend, facebook group, the hotline or if necessary your nearest emergency room.
The difference between those who commit suicide and those who don't. The ones who succeed are the ones who truly believed there wasn't one person that cared enough to reach out to. They believed it was the only way to stop the pain. Periodically, I still feel that way. That is why for me it is crucial to have my therapist, take my medications, supportive friends that I can vent to and doing some basic care.
The one thing i do not advise is to visualize the act from start to finish. The love I have for my kids and grandkids ( 2 of them I'm raising) if not for them, it probably would have the opposite effect. But kids, from babies to college graduates, lose mothers and fathers all the time. Some times that pain is too overwhelming. This is where visualizing something happy for a few moments is probably a better option. It helps to prevent acting on impulse.
Give yourself a mental break.Find an activity to do when you start to feel overwhelmed. Go for a walk. Take a shower. Call someone. Clean. Write. Try a meditation app or a game.
I discovered an app where I make my own music. Creating a way to let go of the stress to the point I manage anxiety and overwhelming thoughts significantly better. When I need to meditate, I have several different tracks for whatever mood I might be struggling with. I post to YouTube to share with others. I have been told some of my songs have helped with insomnia. My YouTube channel is linked below if you would like to try any of them.
Take medication as prescribed. Many of them take time to build up in your system to receive therapeutic results.
Don't drink alcohol, use recreational drugs or herbal remedies. These substances can make your symptoms worse. The combination can interfere with the effectiveness of the medications and possibly cause life threatening complications. If you have any questions, talk to your pharmacist. This is what they are trained in.
Take care of you basics. Eat a healthy diet. Exercise daily if possible. Try to get enough sleep. Do some kind of activity or hobby you enjoy. If your physical needs are met, you will be more able to handle the stressors in life.
Like any other chronic condition, some days are better than others. I am not perfect. However, with effort, suicidal ideologies and depression can be managed. Because suicide, it's not a solution.
If you or someone you know needs help. Call the Suicide prevention hotline
If you are in crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to anyone.
All calls are confidential. http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org