bearthinking

About recovering from depression and suicide.

Note about Suicides

I am so sick and tired of hearing that suicide is the ultimate act of selfishness, or ingratitude, or cowardice.  Maybe that is true of some suicides; the ones who blow their brains out because they have suffered one major defeat and think the world is ending.  Maybe; heck, in a case by case examination I would probably grant the assertion’s validity.  But I argue that this is not the case in the majority of suicides and suicide attempts.

The majority of suicides and suicide attempts are carried out by people with a history of on-going severe clinical depression, Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome, Bi-Polar Disorder, schizophrenia, and paranoia, as well as other mental disorders.  The initial cause can be genetic, environmental, or both.  Over time, the disorder is a combination as the brain adjusts neurochemically to environmental stress, or the personality adapts to altered perceptions of reality brought on by neurochemical imbalances until the mind is caught between the two and unable to cope any longer.  The altered perceptions and imbalanced neurochemistry that are now the ‘baseline’ state of the mind become less and less effective at shielding the mind from the stresses of everyday life and indeed exacerbate them.

It is a catch-22 bringing on a situation strongly reminiscent of alcoholism.   Behaviours and neurochemistry intended to cope with stress become counter-productive.  To cope with the increased stress, the behaviours and neurochemical imbalance intensify; then the stress gets greater because the coping techniques are no longer as effective, so they are intensified.  A feedback occurs that lock the mind into a ‘tail-chasing’ cycle until it can no  longer take the strain of stresses.

The mind, the person, is cornered, trapped and seeking a way out of this unbearable situation, any way out that can be achieved.  This is where mental illness takes its most terrible form.  The person wants help, but perceptions are so altered that nothing promises a way out, they don’t know how to reach out anymore, nothing will work, shame is felt because they have gotten so far down this road, the situation is too much to solve, but the stress is no longer bearable and there is no way out, but the stress is worse, and there is no solution, nothing, nothing…

except…

death.

I’ve attempted suicide.  I’ve faced the moments just before the act; moments where you try to think of another way out that is not worse than death, moments trying to find another way out of the pain that has become too unbearable.  Moments recounting the course of your life, seeing if there is something that might work, that might offer hope, that might be a way out, a way through.  Then the moment before death.

Then comes another moment, one that should not be: the moment after death.  The moment you realise you failed, for whatever reason.  An sickly amusing failure, you could just die… oh, wait, no, you tried that.

What the suicide lacks is not courage, nor gratitude, nor selflessness.  What the suicide lacks is hope.  We live each day in unbearable pain, grateful for those small moments of oblivion that pain cannot reach, trying to help others like us find a way through the pain.  But hope does not ‘spring eternal’ with us.

We hopelessly hope that somehow, some way, one of us will make it out without dying.  That they can reach back and hold out a hand to help us out, so we can turn and reach out a hand.  That we can help each other out of the desert pit of suicide.

Then someone does make it out…  by dying.  Their meds failed, or therapy no longer could reach them, or worst… both failed.  It is not hope we feel but loss and even more despair, but we fight in our own ways to overcome it still.  Sometimes, though, it overwhelms us and we try to die.  We feel then that life has no options anymore aside from death.  So we face it, knowing we may not succeed even at this.

Try sometime waking up in your own vomit, or with an exploded garbage bag on your head, thinking “great, yet another thing I failed at”, knowing you have to face people again.  It is worse when you leave a note, or are discovered before completion.

Loved ones are hurt that you would try to leave to leave them behind not understanding that you weren’t trying to leave them, but trying to leave the pain you could no longer take.  Not understanding that you did not like what you were being forced to become by staying and enduring unendurable pain.  Not understanding that  you now live with the ultimate failure while still in pain.

But we go through the motions again, try new therapy and new meds, wake up each morning wondering if we will ever make it through, make it out, be able to live without constant pain again.  What many fail to understand is that we endure this for months, years, even decades.  I’m 49 and have dealt (or not) with severe, suicidal depression ever since I can remember, since at least the age of 4.

Tell you what, you try living with our problems for even half the time we do, then tell me we are cowardly, or ungrateful, or selfish.

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May 8, 2011 Posted by | autobio, depression, recovery, suicide | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment