A bluntly written piece on suicidal/self-harm ideation. TW. Please take care if you’re feeling particularly vulnerable yourself as you may find this distressing and triggering. I’m not in a good place today despite lots of good things happening and people being lovely to me. This is just a chemical ‘trying to come off psych meds and not tolerating it very well’ type of low. It will pass X
‘When you feel you have no place to go, lie low.’
That is what I tweeted out just now. Deep breaths. I’m not doing great. Technically, to say to someone you are “depressed” in a clinical sense requires a minimum of two weeks of consistently low mood, where you are low in mood almost all of the time. I have a different mental health condition however where the rules follow their own distinct logic and time-frame. I have BPD. Borderline Personality Disorder. Emotionally unstable is the other delicious term for this melting pot of intense raw nerve ending reactions and intense changeable emotion. Labile is the psychiatric term for changeable. I am that, all the time.
I have not felt consistently horrendous for two weeks solid, but the depressed feelings I’m experiencing today are definitely flooded with deep concentrated blue. What is depression to me? Depression is many things, but the most consistent red flag indicator of the arrival of depression is SUICIDAL IDEATION, followed by SELF-HARM URGES.
For the benefit of people who don’t know what I’m talking about, suicidal ideation involves recurrent trips of fantasy that you undertake in your mind, all based on the concept that you’d be much better off dead, and not only you, everyone who knows you. That is suicidal ideation- pure and simple. Wanting very much to die, thinking death would bring relief from your suffering, thinking living is too hard and just ‘not for you’. Life is for other people. Death is for me. Death is my thing. Death is my solution.
When I get bouts of suicidal ideation, I have noticed I start tuning into my body and scanning it in great concentrated detail, wondering if my antennae can detect any signs of serious illness, and then feeling distinctly disappointed when I don’t. Suicidal ideation is the type of thinking in which if the doctor told you that you may not make it, that there was no treatment, that is was cancer, and it was incurable, that you would willingly accept your fate without a struggle (and probably even welcome it).
If you found out you had a terminal illness while experiencing suicidal ideation then you would most be likely be pretty ok with that news. It wouldn’t make you recoil in horror at the unfairness of your impending death and all the missed opportunities. It would instead give you relief and peace that you can slip away without the societal guilt of suicide.
Nothing makes society more angry than suicide and people who want suicide. People think suicidal ideation results from a failure to count our blessings in a systematic and dedicated way. People think suicide is selected as a response choice by wimps who don’t want to get better and don’t care about those they leave behind. I don’t believe that, as I attempted three times. I therefore fully understand the appeal of suicide and empathise with those that go on to complete suicide. I feel a great deal of sympathy for those who are bereaved by suicide, but I cannot fully empathise as I haven’t been bereaved by suicide. I cannot profess to empathise with something I have not directly experienced.
On Friday I spoke with a camera in my face about suicidal ideation and how scary it was. Today is Tuesday. Today I very much know how scary it is because this is kind of exactly where my brain has gone. Down suicidal ideation alley. Suicidal ideation alley is not a place which is permanently shrouded in darkness. I consider suicide at all times of day. In all weathers. I don’t even have a fabourite suicidal jumper or costume that I put on to mark the ocasiion where SI has come to pay me a visit.
It is only ideation however. I must point that out before you worry. It isn’t going to happen. Suicidal ideation is simply obsessing over the dream of a permanent escape to your difficulties in living to allow you to temporarily tolerate your current discomfort.
I have daily and nightly psychological difficulties in living. I am emotionally disabled- but with no disabled badge, special parking bays, disability benefits or front row seats at the theatre. No-one is going to crowd fund on JustGiving for me to get a pilgrimage to some far flung spiritual destination. My legs can work fine, so people don’t see the problem with me.
Suicidal ideation is a big secret. Shhhh. Of course we must not openly talk about it. It disrupts societal norms of politeness and civility. It is barbaric the idea of swallowing an excess of pills, your lungs filling with water or other noxious substances that restrict your breath, veins being lacerated with sharp objects or the vision of a corpse hanging, neck limp, the pinkness gradually draining to grey then blue.
We must not discuss horrible things in society goes the unwritten rule. So what if you are a person who has had lots of horrible things happen to you and therefore feels a lot of horrible things? What do you do then? Now you know you are ‘unacceptable’.
I know my suicidal ideation is very unacceptable in the eyes of society. I’m a mum of two children for god’s sake. Mums are maternal, aren’t they. Mums never have bad thoughts, do they. Mums are always happy….are they?
No, we are not. I won’t be the first mum in the world who has had a life and a traumatic past that twists my thoughts towards the suicidal ideation path. I’m not a cruel person. I’m just a hurting one.
Suicidal ideation happens when we get tired of hurting. Can you really blame or condemn a person who tires or hurting? I do fully understand the HOW THE FUCK COULD YOU LEAVE ME? instinctive anger of the person bereaved by suicide. I do. If I loved someone and did my best for them and they departed the world by choice I’d be angry too. But I do get it from the suicidal person’s perspective. I don’t know how you can expect anyone to though, unless you have been suicidal and got to the stage of making plans for an attempt (or several attempts in my case) yourself. It is something that will never be got. There seems to be no rhyme or reason.
This is what happens in my brain (VERY simplified…) and how suicidal ideation can easily morph into urges to self-injure/self-harm (also a ‘thing’ I’m feeling now).
I was hurting a lot five minutes ago and that was hell, now I’m hurting even more…. twelve excruciating minutes later…still hurting and it’s getting even worse than the original worseness which was already at quite a horrendous intensity of shitness….wait….sinks….slumps….sunken void where my spirit used to be housed….I can’t do this….I want out….panic builds….dying wouldn’t hurt would it? says the curious depressive inner voice with an optimistic tone….imagining that death will bring relief is the only relief I’ve had all day…so I’ll keep going there in my mind…my insides are being tugged by invisible hands to cliff edges coaxing me off….but no.
Funeral family gather round grave “what a tragedy, a tragic loss of life” says the vicar.
‘That can never be a reality for them I say, so I remind myself this is fantasy, not reality.
So how do I arrest control of this suicidal distress? that seems to have a mind of it’s own; one that is nothing to do with me.
My veins bulge, whispering “cut here…you’ll feel better”…but I throw heavy blankets over the whispers to dampen the sound arriving at my ears. I don’t want to look at my shaking fingers as I type this. I am hot and sweaty. Adrenaline pumps at the mere thought of those urges. How do I feel relief and release? How how how???? There is no way I can choose death, and self-harm MUST remain an urge only, not a shame-filled head-hung-down regretful reality.
It’s just a dream I have. A dream where I don’t hurt. A dream that my raw nerve endings are bandaged up and I’m happily anesthetised to anything that could harm me.
I dream of hurting myself, to deal with how much myself is hurting.
Carry me away. Don’t let them see. Don’t pry. Just let me be.
Compassion. Un-slaved to passion. Creation. Innovation. Standing ovation. Train pulls in in SUICIDE station.
All a dream-don’t worry. Not real. I’ll wash the dishes and cope and thrive-that’s the deal.
Psychiatrist alerted. Therapist too. “Dreaming of pain” is what my emails reveal. Life ‘please allow me to mend and heal’.
No one would know from looking at me. How much this survivor strange bird wants to fly free.
Lost here. Lying low. Honest writing. Tired of all the fighting.
Recovery, and more anti-depressant meds appears very inviting.
Please don’t worry about me please readers. I’ll be ok and suicidal/self-harm ideation is pretty standard for me when my mental health slumps. I Just need to readjust the medication situation. It seems going anxiety med free is not for me just yet. At least I gave it a go.
I haven’t edited this piece at all so I hope it makes sense. I need to log-off and give myself some TLC me thinks X