The Emotional Paralysis of my Dissociation

 

I have a large compass tattooed on my shoulder and I still feel lost and overwhelmed.  I have no sense of direction and no map to point out if I am heading the right way, or if I am wandering further into oblivion. I have looked inside and outside for the answers, or at the very least for some guidance but I still find myself waking up questioning not only who I am, but why I am here. What were the reasons I survived three suicide attempts, it couldn’t be luck for all of them could it? What am I supposed to be doing in this life that I have been given a third chance at?  It certainly has got to be more than spending my days fighting my illnesses and my nights wondering what could have been. It has got to contain more than just struggle and strife; more than just years of trying to heal. When is that elusive day when I will go from surviving to thriving, or will I ever even get there. Is there a place where my emotional and rational brains both work at the same time and my future path will finally show me my direction.

I have trouble staying present in the moment. As with so many survivors the past not only haunts me, but it has interwoven itself through my thoughts and emotions, distorting every view point I have and interfering with every relationship I have. I have a hard time discerning that the same traumas that have been a reoccurrence for so many years of my life are not going to repeat themselves. The terrifying feeling of being repeatedly abandoned as a child, resurface every time a trigger presents itself, and my automatic reaction is that of an angry child with the same feelings of being lost, helpless and unprotected yet again.  I can’t help but think that trauma is going to occur again and either lash out or go numb as my form of protection.

Lashing out as an adult with a screaming, angry toddler trapped inside you does nothing but cause harm to yourself and those around you. There is no functioning between my rational brain and my emotive brain and the emotions take over and become vocalized in an extremely negative way. My other habit is numbing, or dissociating, which I have been stuck in for a while now. Dissociation for me is like being a visitor in my own body, and an outsider in my own mind. It is like watching a video of me going through the motions and actions of each day, without actually feeling through the emotions, like being an observer. I manage to “function” through the day but feel little attachment to what is actually going on; paying little attention to my surroundings.  I generally spend my time between hyper and hypo vigilance but dissociating doesn’t allow me to bounce around like that. Instead, it literally mutes my feelings. It doesn’t allow me to sink to the bottom levels of being actively suicidal, but at the same time it does not grant me the ability to feel pleasure.

Dissociation numbs my creativity and my sense of self and fills me with self-doubt. It has taken me weeks to put words to paper and even as I type I question the validity of my writing itself. I question the relevance of what I am saying and how it is being worded. I worry about it not being good enough, not keeping up to the level I have set for myself. Being numb does not allow me to write from my deepest emotions. It does not enable me to be raw and vulnerable; it does not allow me to be.  It takes any sense of direction I had and fills it with questions and negativities from an un-emotional, yet not quite rational perspective. It protected me when I was overwhelmed as a child, and it is once again doing its job, even though the same danger is not there. I am not a weak child anymore; I am an adult who has resources and strengths I did not possess then. I am no longer a victim and even though I don’t know what path is mine to travel, as long as I am journeying forward I’m heading in the right direction, and perhaps with some guidance I will eventually find my way.

 

Should the Right to Die Include Mental Health?

 death blog

 

It was 1988 when my mom wrote the first in a series of letters to our Prime Minister at the time, Brian Mulroney, regarding being able to end her terminal illness in a manner in which she had some control. It was in 1989 that she contacted the Right to Die organization based in Oregon and after numerous rounds of correspondence was mailed a book written by the founder about euthanasia. This book was not only a memoir but contained information about certain drugs and the amounts that would be required to overdose. The letters and pleas continued, to no avail, and after battling cancer for six long years and deteriorating to the point of having no quality of life, on September 10th 1990, she took a lethal overdose of pills in the comfort of her home. She had spoken multiple times about this plan over the previous months and made it quite clear she had no intention of dying in hospital.  She already had a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order and wanted to have some control over the last moments of her life.

She lay in her bed for hours but had merely slipped into a coma which caused enough concern that she was transported to the hospital. When I arrived at the hospital and saw her lying motionless, she looked so peaceful, like she had fallen into the deepest of sleeps. She remained comatose for almost a week before shocking everyone and waking up, which no one could explain given that they said the number of pills that she had consumed would have killed a horse. She had nothing but painkillers and IV fluids and continued to rapidly decline. There was one more failed attempt in hospital before the last one finally brought her the peace she was so desperately seeking. That was October 5th, 1990. She had written nearly 100 letters.

In February 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada made physician assisted suicide (Euthanasia) fully available to all mentally competent Canadians with terminal illnesses. Prior to the ruling, assisted suicide was illegal in Canada and punishable by up to 14 years in prison. There are strict laws governing the process, such as assisted suicide not being available to minors and only available to those residents eligible for Canadian healthcare. It cannot be used to relieve the suffering of any mental illness or long-term disability and patients are not allowed to arrange to consent in advance to dying, for example in cases of dementia or Alzheimer’s. This protocol has sparked debates in many areas but none as big as when a parliamentary committee recommended that people with mental illness be eligible to seek euthanasia to end their lives in the same manner of those with a terminal illness.

An estimated 90% of suicides in North America are associated with some form of mental illness.

The Netherlands was the first country to legalize euthanasia in cases of terminal illnesses 13 years ago, and in that time, the practice has become legal in Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland as well as in five U.S. states…Washington, Oregon, Vermont, Montana and New Mexico. In Germany, doctors are able to provide patients with the necessary drugs for a medicinal suicide, but are not allowed to take any part of the actual suicide, such as guiding the patients or supporting their hand. The feelings are mixed when it comes to people’s beliefs of right and wrong, but if you have ever watched another human being slowly, painfully, rot away with not an ounce of dignity left, it might just open your eyes to the reasoning.

Assisted suicide based on psychological suffering is permitted in the Netherlands, Belgium and Quebec. A 2015 Netherlands euthanasia report stated that there were 5306 assisted deaths that year, with 41 being for psychiatric reasons, and 81 for dementia. In early 2012, a group called the Life-Ending Clinic went into operation for people whose doctors refused to assist in their suicides. The clinic has pushed the moral debate to its highest peak by helping people with chronic depression to die, and allowing some dementia patients to sign a euthanasia declaration in the early stages of their disease. In the past five years the number of assisted suicides has doubled and in Belgium it has increased almost 150%, amongst which has included people who have had autism, anorexia, borderline personality disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome and chronic depression. In two of the more famous cases, the women had suffered from multiple mental illnesses over the years, tried pills, therapy and everything else possible before giving up on the thought of their lives ever improving. Should doctors respect their wishes to die in the same way they would respect the wishes of a patient with stage four cancer?

With regards to mental illnesses, the biggest issues are whether legalized euthanasia can lead to a suicidal frame of mind based on a desire to escape prolonged suffering, and whether a person suffering from chronic mental illness has the capacity to make such a life and death decision. Given that mental illness can distort thinking and impair judgment, perhaps on the finality of the consequences, we have to question is it the rational mind speaking or the voice of the illness. “Right to Die” advocates point out that doctor assisted suicide would be less traumatic than a hanging or gunshot, for everyone involved. The protesters say that accepting euthanasia as an option for the mentally ill would create a presumption of sanity for those who attempt suicide or request assisted suicide as candidates are supposed to be mentally competent to make an informed and voluntary decision. Statistics say almost all people who die by suicide have mental health problems and there lies the conundrum.

Having had three failed suicide attempts myself, I question if I would even be here if euthanasia was available here in Canada for chronic depression. I wonder where this debate will take us in the future, but for now, I continue to fight.

 

 

 

What Depression Exhaustion Feels Like

blog im tired

 

At some point, all people get tired. Sometimes it is a physically tired body that is run down and overworked and requires some rest to heal itself, other times it is an overwhelmed mind that needs some rest to clear out and organize thoughts. Often it’s a combination of both that drives us to exhaustion and forces us to slow it down a bit, and take some time to rest. There’s that tired where you can’t stop yawning, the one that nothing will cure but a good night’s sleep, and there’s a tired from actually sleeping too much, and then there is a tired that comes with depression and other mental illnesses. That feeling of being tired from dealing with a mental health issue is difficult to explain to someone who has never felt that.

 It is not something you can empathize or sympathize with, because in your mind there is no reason I should be so exhausted. After all, I am off work right now and have no set agenda, so much of my day is spent “resting”, therefore how could I be so tired. You might even be thinking that if I got off my ass and started doing more during the day or perhaps even did some exercise, that might alleviate the feeling of being so wiped out. Perhaps a routine during the day or a more regular sleep schedule would solve the problem, or maybe add a nap. You mean well with your suggestions and ideas and I appreciate the effort, but this kind of tired can’t be solved by any of the above.

This type of tired is like a constant state of exhaustion that riddles your body from head to toe. It is not a have a few cups of coffee and perk up kind of tired. It starts from the mental exhaustion that is from the daily wars that you fight inside your head from whatever mental health issue you are battling. It affects your emotions causing hypersensitivity to complete numbness and running the emotional gamut in between and having to constantly explain or justify it, believe it or not, is, in itself tiring. This type of tired makes you feel weak and vulnerable whether it is a reality or not. It makes every decision ten times harder to make and often means not being able to think clearly and focus or forgetting the simple things that before, you would have remembered.

For me, depression tired means my legs ache and every step feels like I am carrying a ball and chain, leaving me to wonder how I could possibly get from point A to point B. This fatigue creeps up my body sitting heavily in my stomach and tying it in knots before working its way up, making my neck and shoulders ache to the point of not wanting to lift my arms or hold my head up. The thoughts in my mind are rapid and unrelenting and my brain is tired from trying to slow them down, and in some way organize and process them. It means spontaneously bursting into tears for no apparent reason with no apparent trigger. It means feeling tired when I wake no matter what the quality and quantity of sleep is. It means having to summons strength from somewhere within my already drained body to get basic things done leaving me at a point of exhaustion that simply cannot be described.

My soul is tired.

I don’t expect to ever be my old self again but I would like to have some energy back. Depression has drained enough from me already.

 

 

 

 

Is the New Method of Suicide Note Online?

 laptop writing

 

 

I have been passively suicidal for most of my life and actively suicidal three times. I know what it feels like to be carrying a burden so heavy your legs can no longer hold you up. I understand what it is like to see nothing but darkness and pain in your future and to have lost every last ounce of hope. I realize the amount of pain you have to be in to get here; to reach the point where death seems like your only option, the only way out. Without getting into the gritty details, let’s just say with my last attempt was meticulous and organized. To me, suicide is a very personal and private thing and I do not want to traumatize anyone more than they may already be. I wanted to make sure the authorities found me and not leave that scar upon my friends. I think most suicidal people would tell you they are not trying to hurt anyone, they just don’t know how else to end their pain. To them, this is the only way out.

That being said, I ponder the people who are determined to make their suicide public. What drives them to jump in front of a train packed with commuters at rush hour? Is there any maliciousness towards others? Why not wait for a cargo train or an empty one? Why affect the lives of others intentionally? Have you felt so invisible your entire life that you felt this method of suicide would draw some attention to you for the five minutes of “fame” you will get as they mention you once on the news or in the papers? Do you feel that because you are in so much pain, then others should be too? These are questions that remain unanswered because there is no one left to answer them.

Technology has done so much for our society and we have come so far in such a short time. The internet has provided endless amounts of information and resources. It has connected people across the world, whether it is family or new found friends. The advancements are rapidly changing and many things become fads until the next new thing is available. We were once excited about the fact we could make a video and put it on the internet for the world to watch at any time but now that is “old”, as the latest and greatest allows you to post live and to show the world a piece of your life at the very present moment. Sadly, there seems to be no limit to what people share, or what people are willing to watch, hence the alarming raise in the number of online live suicides. Again, what motivates someone to share both the preparations for and the last moments of your life with the entire world, and what kind of twisted individual do you have to be to sit and passively watch?

The examples were certainly not difficult to find.

A 12 year old girl, who had previously broadcast a few times that a family member had tried to rape her, hangs herself from a tree, live streaming the whole 40 minute video. Not only did people watch her live, but many of those people online actually encouraged her to kill herself.

Another girl who had spent her life being bounced around foster care hung herself from the shower door of her bathroom, while 1000 people watched her make her preparations, many ridiculed her. A friend saw it and alerted police but they did not arrive in time.

A 20 year old university student went on a message board and offered to kill himself online if he could get help setting up the live video stream. 200 viewers watched as he chased down pills with vodka, barricaded his dorm room door and then set fire to it while he waited to die lying under a blanket. No one online called 911.

Those who turn on their webcams during the darkest, most desperate moments of their lives must feel a need for someone to bear witness to them, or perhaps wish that somebody out of the thousands watching the suicide would care enough to intervene and alert the authorities. They feel like finally their name will be heard and remembered, however within minutes of the video being taken down, most of the viewers will have already forgotten their name.

The internet provides an outlet to suffer in public, to share pain and gain the attention desperately needed, however in these cases, perhaps the internet is just the new form of suicide note. Even though social media sites “prohibit” the promotion of suicide or self- injury and ask viewers to report to authorities immediately, there is no enforcement or regulation for these things. It is impossible for the sites to monitor everything which shifts the burden to the community to help stop bad things from happening. There are now groups of volunteers who monitor many of these live sites hoping to intervene before it’s too late, or perhaps before it is even started.

What I find deplorable are the ones that watch. Are people so disconnected and desensitized that they can sit in the comfort of their homes and not only watch, but encourage a child to kill themselves. Unfortunately it isn’t surprising that online viewer’s tap into these streams, it is almost human nature. There’s no such thing as an accident without a crowd gathering and standing on tiptoes in order to see the person lying on the ground, or people slowing down to stare at the car accident.. Violence and destruction are everywhere in society, from the news to the entertainment industry. Perhaps there is a fascination with other peoples pain because it’s only one gesture removed from our own, or maybe it is just bystander apathy, which basically is a social phenomenon where people are less likely to help someone in need if there are other people present. We are all relying on someone else to make the first move, to differentiate themselves from the crowd, when in fact we should all feel a moral responsibility to help someone at risk, whether you take it seriously or not. How is it going to sit in your mind years from now that someone who was seriously sick killed themselves while you egged them on?

I have been on both ends of suicidal situations and I know the anguish you can feel inside and the desperation to get any bit of attention, but posting a suicide attempt live is the ultimate cry for help, and I will never understand how anyone would take the time to not only watch someone make preparations but taunt and encourage them to carry through with that attempt, most often with fatal results. Think about it, someone’s life was in your hands and you made the conscious decision to do nothing but watch them die. It frightens me, the number of people who feel no moral obligations. We are all human.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Emotional Vulnerability of Love for a Borderline

 

heart-writing

 

Relationships in the best of circumstances are tricky waters to navigate. They require not a captain and a first mate, but two co-captains, who are not only plotting out a similar course but are willing to stick together when the tides change your direction. Surviving childhood sexual abuse leaves emotional scars that twist your views and feelings on life and relationships, and the after effects tend to weave their way into various areas of your life, often on a subconscious level. One of the main attributes of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) aside from the intense fear of abandonment is a pattern of unstable interpersonal relationships. For me, the combination of the two is like being a one eyed captain trying to navigate the seas on a raft, with no compass and a map in Latin. In dealing with both of these things I had to self-protect in order to survive and my coping mechanisms involved shutting down amongst many things, trust and love.

That being said, living behind that wall of safety also limits both our life experiences and the corresponding emotions. We miss out on a lot because we are lacking in confidence, and remaining behind our wall in our comfort zone is a lot easier than facing the unknown fears outside. In my mind, it is a matter of weighing out risk versus reward. Is the risk worth the (in my mind) inevitable pain that will come at some point? I also tend to compare if this impending pain could be worse than something I have already been through, again trying to measure out the risk, and when emotionally rational, I realize there is very little in life that could traumatize me any more than has already occurred. Now don’t get me wrong, that by no means implies that I have broken down my wall and jumped head first into my fears. It is more of a case of taking down a few bricks at a time, enough to sneak out, but leaving those bricks within arm’s reach in case we need to rebuild in a hurry.

Being a survivor, I carry with me a sense of shame, a lack of trust and self-worth, and the constant feeling of being a burden. I have major attachment issues already, which are severely increased in intensity with BPD, and the combination of those plus the depression and anxiety leaves me feeling almost unworthy of a relationship. How could I burden someone with my baggage and complexities without feeling guilty, or expect someone to put up with the frequent and extreme mood swings that come with BPD. If I feel all these negative things about myself, how could they not be clear and apparent to someone else, or is it me projecting my thoughts onto somebody else? Do I even know how to love properly, or can I trust enough to let someone pass through the door in my wall? Am I just too messed up to be loved? All those things have run through my mind so often, and for so long they have become true to my emotive mind, and so I deem myself unworthy of a relationship, and by convincing myself of this it becomes my reality, and it is shoved to the back of my mind as a truth that no longer needs dealt with, after all, there are more pressing issues to deal with at the moment.

Life tends to throw things our way at the most unexpected times. It happens often in therapy, where you think you have done the work to get past an issue, and boom, there it is in your face again, and all you can hope is to put some of the new coping mechanisms into action before the innate instincts of self-protectiveness so quickly take over. So after having spent the last few years convincing myself I would be alone for life, suddenly someone walks right on in. At first, I don’t take anyone’s interest in me seriously because I can be a convincing outside package but when they find out the truth about my emotional instability and the traumatic past, they don’t stick around anyway. In the past, I have tried to hide it, but one can only mask their true identity for so long, so this time I decided I would just get it over with up front…part of the basics “I love soccer, animals, ice cream, and I am diagnosed with more mental health issues that you can count on one hand”. After my spew, I put my phone down, fully expecting that like everyone else, that would raise enough red flags to have her running in the opposite direction, instead, the conversation continues. She starts asking questions about the BPD, and every answer I give her comes with no reply of shock or judgment. The longer we talk, the more she asks and although she may not understand everything, she seems to be accepting it, which is amazing, but also sets off my BPD abandonment issue; the closer they get, the more it will hurt when they leave. It also raises red flags with the survivor part of me that has yet to develop a proper sense of self-worth. So as the days pass, some of my past comes out and again it is met with understanding and empathy rather than intolerance and apathy, which brings both a sense of ease and fear to the table. Ease because the comfort level has almost a sense of familiarity to it…like you have known each other for years and the fear because the closeness is completely overwhelming. Taking a few bricks out of my wall was the plan, but now there’s a full door, someone standing at it, and not leaving.

I would like to say after all the therapies, workbooks and readings that I employed all my acquired and practiced coping mechanisms and I am dealing with the situation in a rational manner and a level sense of emotion, but that would be untrue. Instinct and BPD took over in full force and although I tried to fight it, it carries the same comfort and familiarity as that favorite old sweatshirt you just can’t yet let go of. So BPD has this fabulous quality that in essence makes you test people as a child would test their parents, almost a form of “go away you are too close” to “please don’t leave me”, and with everything else BPD related, these emotions can bounce around five times a day or 100 times a day, with almost incalculable speeds. So I push her away, thinking every time will be the last and she stays, so I pull her closer, and the cycle repeats. I discount the positive things she says about me and she patiently reinforces them, without hesitation. BPD also includes this fantastic trait of impulsivity, which for me, is primarily verbal, and when my words precede my thoughts, she doesn’t get angry, but quietly listens and asks to learn more about BPD and depression. I figure if I tell her about the suicide attempts and constant thoughts as well as the history of cutting, that will be her breaking point, and she will definitely leave, but instead, says she is sorry I had to go through all that, and allows me to express the ideations at my darkest moments, without fear of judgment. My mind is spinning…this is not how life works for me.

Fast forward to today and even with countless number of tests, the rounds of verbal impulsivity and the rest of the issues that come with my mental illnesses, she remains, and despite the inconvenient circumstances which I will not get into, she makes sure I wake up to a morning text, and go to sleep with a sweet goodnight. Despite the physical distance and her hectic schedule, she makes an effort to spend time with me and is always willing to provide an ear to listen or kind words of support. I have only ever had this depth of relationship once before, many years ago, and she remains my best friend to this day, and always. I am trying again to learn to accept love, to believe I am worthy of it and to grasp the idea that someone sees not what I think of myself, but the things I can no longer see, and as much as the BPD is screaming at me to push and pull, I am trying to recognize when my emotive mind has taken over so perhaps I can control the impulses a bit better.

This is a big risk for me, letting someone get this close, allowing vulnerability and trust all while trying to put a muffle on the BPD which is screaming about fear of being left, yet again. That being said, being a minimizer I convince myself that the possible impending hurt of being left can’t be worse than the other traumas I have endured to this point in my life. My instincts (my gut feeling) have kept me alive this long and if they are saying take a chance, then I follow that path. After all, the heart truly is a remarkably resilient organ.

I hope she knows how appreciated and cared for she is, and how thankful I am for her support, patience and understanding, and for choosing me and following me down this often dark and unpaved road with me, when she easily could have exited and taken the highway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Self Harm and Cutting: Chaotic Mind with Painful Vice

self harm pic

The razor blade sits next to the knife on the coffee table. They are beckoning me as a shot of whiskey would for an alcoholic or a dime bag to a drug addict. Addiction does not discriminate against those who inevitably are using it as a coping mechanism, some method of escape from the pain that consumes their heart and soul. Any distraction from the savage thoughts that deteriorate what little is left of a sense of self is embraced like a warm hug from an old friend. Regardless of what we tell ourselves, the rational mind knows these means of escapism are only a temporary distraction, however, when you are in intense emotional pain and consumed by loss and hurt, any reprise is welcome regardless of the length of time. If we can’t control the suffering inside, we can control the pain on the outside. We cut into our skin because we are angry and sad; we are hurting, broken and lost. We self-punish, we even cut to remind us we are alive while drifting through the world as a shadow of ourselves. We kill the pain with pain.

The first moment that you press the blade into your skin, your eyes become fixated on the blood. The depth of the cut is irrelevant as it is not about suicide, it is an attempt at relief. You watch the blood build up and start to drip in all directions, down an arm, a leg, maybe a stomach. The wound burns, the surrounding area pulsates and your heartbeat rises from the rush of adrenaline. Your mind is instantly drawn from the depths of depression to feeling the relief this physical pain induces. You don’t think about the abuse, the emotional torment or the constant sense of emptiness and self-hatred. There is no longer a concern of whose words hold truths, who loves you, who is leaving you, who is actually a friend and who is not. Every possible negative thought vanishes as you still can’t remove your eyes from the incision that you made. The one thing you feel you can control when your world is torn apart.

Physiologically it’s not all that complicated. Self-harm releases dopamine and other feel-good endorphins in the brain, so you actually feel relieved after cutting. The endorphins released, literally make you high. It’s the same reason some people find exercise, tattoos or even sex addictive, which thereby contributes to the addictive quality of self-harm. Expecting someone to just quit would be the same as asking a smoker to stop cold turkey, or a heroin addict to flush his stash. Addiction is addiction. All that differs is the means.

Physical pain is temporary. The body starts to repair itself almost instantly, the adrenaline rush wears off and the thoughts flood back with the force of a tidal wave. The guilt, the shame, the embarrassment, the self- loathing starts to build back up, and before we know it we are immersed and drowning, just like we were at the start. Physically we heal from the inside out. The tissue and skin grows and heals underneath as if it was never separated, and we are left with a scar; the only small reminder of that rare moment of relief. The scars on the inside still holding the raw pain, never seeming to close.

Cutting has nothing to do with intellectual ability, social or financial situations. Almost every person who self-harms has experienced one or more traumas that are so tragic and harmful that the mind self protects, repressing the memories and surrounding emotions as a means of survival. Something so overwhelmingly painful happened that we may or may not ever be able to identify or deal with it. Actually stop for a minute and think about how much someone has to hurt and hate themselves in order to slice a blade into their skin; to trade blood for reprise.

So if you ask me why I cut myself, it is for the exact same reasons that you fall into your own vices

Suicide: An Insiders Perspective

Suicide. The word itself is stigmatized with weakness, and shame. We judge people who kill themselves as being selfish, people who just gave up. I mean really, what could be so wrong in ones life to drive you to actually end it? Suicide leaves a lot of unanswered questions for the survivors…the loved ones who are left wondering why, or if they could have helped. Well I hope this perspective can help you, the non-suicidal person to take a journey in the thought process of a suicidal person, so perhaps you can better understand and either be able to help or at least cope.
I am not going to speak on behalf of all suicidal people, but this is my story. First of all, you need to be made aware that most if not all people who attempt or succeed at suicide are dealing with some sort of mental illness, sometimes diagnosed, often not. Most of us have experienced moderate to severe trauma in the early stages of our lives. Most of us were in some way victimized as children or teens or young adults. The mind is an amazing tool with its own protection method by compartmentalizing things we cannot deal with at the time. It is locked somewhere in the back of our minds, and often we think that because it is locked away, it is dealt with. Sadly, that is far from the truth. These traumatized emotions sneak back out in multiple forms, some we recognize, some we do not.
I was severely traumatized multiple times until age 14. My first suicide attempt was at age 8. Yes, I know you are thinking…how can an 8 year old know what suicide is, after all at that age children hardly comprehend death…which may be true. Perhaps I didn’t understand the long term consequences of what I was doing but I knew that if you were dead you weren’t here. I remember my mom always warning me when we went to my Grandma’s house to stay away from all her pill bottles. “Pills will make you very sick and you could die”…..a statement that immediately made sense in my small mind. So I grabbed as many pills as I could and hid them in my pockets until we got home. I don’t recall the time of day or many other details, except for knowing that these pills would make me sick or die and somehow end my pain. So, I took them all. The rest is a blur really, recollections mostly through what I was told. Turns out they were high blood pressure pills and my mom had found me as I was throwing them back up. It turned into a hospital stay and numerous outpatient therapy sessions. I felt embarrassed, ashamed and was made to feel like I was selfish and mean for doing this to my parents. Keep in mind this is the late 1970’s and therapy and medications were nowhere near the standards they are today.
I had 2 other attempts in the following 15 years, obviously both failed or I would not be telling my story. Suicidal ideation is deeply inset in your mind. It can become a part of your every thought and action. We usually are self-destructive in most of our habits and relationships because we do not know any better. Our self esteem has been crushed to the point that we self-hate, we believe we are worthless and serve no purpose. We have a sense of emptiness and loneliness that we think can never be filled. We feel vulnerable, and that no one will understand why we feel this way. We feel so insignificant and lost in this big world. We have lost the ability to hope…which is essential for survival. Imagine yourself in a dark cavern with no exit, not a ray of light shining through. How long could you stay there? That is how our minds see the world…in a form of black and white instead of color. We are too ashamed to seek help or even mention the word because we are made to feel that way. We are made to feel insignificant. Our thoughts are so easily dismissed in many areas of the medical field. We often have to wait up to a year or more just to see a therapist, and I am telling you that from a suicidal mind, a day can seem like a year, so a year seems like eternity, an insurmountable wall. The overwhelming amount of pain that is involved to become suicidal drives us to the idealizations. The negative thoughts that have been burnt into our brain, emotionally and physically for years are now habitual in how we perceive ourselves, telling us that it there simply is no purpose for us.
We often have been diagnosed with some sort of mental illness, be it, depression, PTSD, Bi-Polar…the list is long on diagnoses and medications and short on preventative resources. Suicidal ideations can be common amongst these types of illnesses, but the problem lies when the door between idealization and action presents itself. Sometimes that door is opened when we relive a trauma, or have a memory from a trauma. Sometimes it is opened because our minds create it as a way to get out of the darkness. The bottom line is you can’t see it, or understand it, yet we live it daily. It becomes our sense of hope, as most of us are simply looking for some way to make the pain stop. We have tried medications, or not. We have self-medicated, or not. We have seen therapists, or not. Sometimes none of that is enough to close the door that is beckoning us out of our darkness, and that is when our thoughts may turn into actions. It could only be a 5 minute period where our brain is so irrational that we act. We could have been planning it for days, months, or even years, and something finally cuts that last piece of rope you were holding on to. That is when you choose to let go.
That being said, after 3 attempts and thousands of idealizations, I am still here fighting. Most people who end their lives are not looking to hurt other people with their actions, they are simply seeking emotional peace and see no other way to achieve it. Everyone deals with pain differently. Everyone’s coping mechanisms are different. Every person has a different length of rope. Do not judge us for not knowing where to turn, or for asking for help. Instead, perhaps take a look in the mirror and try some to put yourself in that persons shoes. Try to think how awful they must have felt to have ended their lives, and question not what you could have done differently, but what you can do now. Encourage people to end the stigma of suicide. Tell them it’s ok speak and ask for help. Be a voice for the ones who lost theirs, and if you can’t do that, at the very least stop judging something you are ignorant about.
Ignorance is not stupidity, it is the refusal to learn.