A week without suicidal thoughts - part A

Discussion in 'Suicidal Thoughts and Feelings' started by mytime, Nov 21, 2015.

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  1. mytime

    mytime Active Member

    I haven't posted for quite a while but something stunning has happened to me so I thought I'd write a bit about my story here.

    I have what my doctors describe as recalcitrant, major, clinical depression. This is despite the fact hat I have no reason to be depressed. I have a good job where I'm well respected, a fantastic family including a wife who's stood by me through a nightmare, I live in rural paradise, we've financially secure. I did have a difficult childhood but before getting depressed I felt I'd totally got past that.

    Despite all that, for probably 10 years, the most positive I got was thinking I could delay "leaving" for a little while longer for the sake of my family. The worst I got was five "very serious" (in the works of my doctor) attempts. I survived by a thread, was angry about failing and was despondent that I couldn't even get ending my own life right. I've spent months in psychiatric hospital wards under compulsory orders or the threat of them. Over most of the last 10 years or so I thought about suicide every day. Many days, I was desperate to die, others I could push it away just far enough to get through most of the day OK. By evening, I was mostly deeply depressed and managed by drinking enough to bring the day to an early end. My doctors seemed lost. They tried medication after medication, so many I lost count, but probably more than 30 different antidepressant medications.

    Eventually, my work situation exposed my dysfunctional approach to life (if anything is wrong, it's my fault and I must fix it by working harder). I had too many really major responsibilities and ended up working 20 hours a day 3 out of 4 days for a couple of months. Then I had a moderate family conflict and felt abandoned and totally unknown to my family. I believed they didn't even know who I was, let alone that they loved me. I'd already researched medications and discovered I had a good supply of one that was frequently associated with fatal overdoses. I went to a lonely spot and combined the medication with a few others that I thought would increase the effect and a good dose of alcohol. Once I'd taken the cocktail, knowing I'd be dead within 30-40 minutes, I felt fantastic. The relief was incredibly overwhelming and I'll never forget that sense of being freed. But, in that clearer state of mind, I thought of my wife. I'd only left the barest of notes and I thought she deserved a better explanation and especially reassurance that this wasn't her fault. That was my "mistake". I called her and tried to apologise. As I started to lose consciousness, I apparently lost focus and told her where I was. She called my son (who was closer) and the police and I was found. I'm told, the ambulance crew worked on me for quite a while on site, took me to hospital and I survived, just. The hell my family went through that night will always be something I'm ashamed of. They have forgiven me the best they can (it took five years for my daughter to do that) but it's not something any child or wife should have to go through.

    I thought I was at rock bottom but things got worse from there. Not only did I have all the original problems but I'd just created a huge pile of extra ones. At work, my colleagues looked at me in a different light. My family was badly hurt (they couldn't understand who I was any more, the person they knew couldn't have thought of doing that to them) and thrown into crisis and confusion. _I_ had no Idea who I was any more. Professionals were telling me all sorts of things I didn't believe about myself. I accepted I shouldn't die for the sake of my family and friends but that was a nightmare. I hurt. I hurt really badly but in a way no one could see or understand. I couldn't find any way to stop the hurt other than dieing. Other attempts followed, some better than others. I've since learned that the pain very depressed people feel activates many of the the same pain centres as serious physical pain. I'm not surprised to hear that. Thoughts of suicide became a powerful tool for me, helping me to cope. "Yes, this really sucks but I don't have to bare it forever, I can always kill myself." That often gave me the strength/courage to go on a bit longer. But it also poisoned my mind.
  2. mytime

    mytime Active Member


    Fortunately, the medical community didn't give up on me. I am so blessed to live in a country where this support is widely available and, in my case, free. After so long, they finally started to find the the keys to the medical side of my depression. They were not all in typical depression. Without knowing it, I have had ADHD all my life and they treated that with two different medications. I couldn't believe the difference that made. Things I'd always struggled with (like reading) got much easier. Looking back, I can see that I had all the symptoms as a child but growing up back in the 60s and 70s no one recognised them; I was just naughty. They put me on another antidepressant (an old fissioned MAOI). Through an injury, I have mildly low testosterone. Because of my growing up experiences (my psychologist uses the term "child abuse" but I don't like that ... I was basically well looked after), I have also high cortisol. That's a bad combination and I was started on hormone replacement. They treated me for the nightmares I've suffered all my life with a PTSD medication. This combination of medications really seemed to help.

    In parallel to all that, I found a clinical psychologist who was really helpful. We worked through present issues and, probably more importantly, my childhood. I learned to "take out" episodes that happened when I was young. Things that were incredibly emotion charged. I learned to see them with "adult eyes". A really powerful question I learned to ask is "If I saw this happening to some other child today, how would I understand the situation and feel about it?" I discovered how I'd carried childhood understandings of bad situations (frequently underrating them or believing I was at fault when I couldn't have been) into adulthood. For example, I'd made my first suicide attempt at boarding school at age 10. At the time, I was told I was "just looking for attention". I'd always looked back on that episode with amusement (it couldn't possibly have worked) and believing that I wasn't really suicidal, I actually just "wanted attention". Wanting attention wasn't a valid thing for a ten year-old to want. My "adult eyes" see that very differently and I also see a link with the episodes of sexual abuse that occurred at that age (something else I'd always minimised). It sounds simple when I write it but it was a very rocky process with lots of raw emotion.

    My psychologist also taught me about mediation (yes, I know it sound very "new ageie") and, to my surprise, it seemed to help. Through meditation and "mindfulness" I learned to recognise unhelpful thinking and in mediation I had insights about who I really am. Critically, I've also disengaged with work. I've officially gone part time (3 days a week) and manage to do my job to an acceptable standard, almost every week, in no more than 5 days a week. I also read some really helpful books, e.g. "Depression: The curse of the strong".

    All of this helped me to push suicide a bit of a distance away. It was never far away and I often found it centre stage, but I managed, for the sake of my family, to keep putting it aside. My last time in hospital (no attempt but very serious risk) was two years ago. It seems much less than that; hospital was a nightmare for me with NOTHING to do all day and no way to distract myself and it's burned into my memory.

    But the real surprise for me is that now, a couple of years later, I have whole days at a time when suicide doesn’t enter my head. Not at all. I can't say I really want to live, but I no longer feel that desperate need for my life to be over. Or, at least, I don't often feel it. Sometimes, it's more than a week between thoughts of wanting to die. And sometimes I can almost feel the sense that I don't want to die that I remember most people feel so strongly.

    I don't know for sure that I will live. But now it sees like a serious possibility. I don't want to live indefinitely with the sense of ambivalence I feel about living or dieing at the moment, but I have a vague sense that somewhere, not too far off, is the desire to live. That life might offer enough for me to want it to go on. That's an honest statement but I feel a sense of guilt about it, I have so much and I'm sure many of you have much better reasons to be depressed than I do. But at the end of the day, depression really is an illness. There's no good reason for it.

    Where I am now is so amazingly better than where I was a year ago. I feel frightened by what I remember it was like and the thought that I might end up back there. It was bone crushingly horrible. I desperately hope I never get back there, or if I do, it's not for long. It you are there now, my heart goes out to you. I'm not just saying that, _I_ know, it's truly awful. I wish I could say to you that I know you'll get to where I am, or even better, to where I hope to be. But I can't because I don't know you. But I can say, I'd given up on life ever being tolerable again. My only hope was to last as long as I could and do as little damage as I could when I died. But now I'm immeasurably better than that. Life isn't good but it's not so awful that I can't cope either. And I can, just, find the hope for it to become good. Someday. Perhaps.

    So please, do what you can to hang in there. Your friends and family deserve your very best effort to get through another day. If your medication isn't helping, keep at your doctors to do better. If you don't have a really fantastic therapist, look for another one. I understand that it may be immeasurably harder for you to go on living than to die. I understand how you may feel that even if someday you can get better, getting there it isn't worth it. I felt that. But I know too that I'm so grateful I didn't do more harm to those who love me. They don't deserve to have to carry the weight of my suicide for the rest of there lives. I'm not saying it's your fault if you don't cope but I think you can be really proud of giving it everything you have to not do that to them, even if it's just for one more day.

    And who knows, perhaps you too can get a bit better. Or a lot.

  3. Sea Sparkles

    Sea Sparkles Well-Known Member

    Thanks for sharing this!! Great inspiring post :)
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