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

Rant – Treatment

Ok, it has been awhile… a long while since I last posted here.  Why?  Meds.  It is that simple.

Celexa and Trazadone made me edgy, irritable, and isolating as well as messing up my sleep.  Gave me nightmares.   Pristiq made me scared, edgy, irritable, and suicidal as well as messing with my sleep and the nightmares.  Celexa and Geodon… legal LSD as far as I’m concerned, and yes, it messed with my sleep.  I isolated during these months because I was afraid of how I would behave… and had some evidence I was right.

Now, however, I’m on Celexa and Abilify.   It makes me capable of dealing with everything except the fact that I have Restless Leg Syndrome, and feel like I have ADD and mild Autism… can not concentrate for extended oh, look, a chicken.  And, again, it messes with my sleep, but at least the dreams are odd, not nightmarish.

I feel at times like I am defusing bombs.  I do things and report how it makes me feel and side effects (did I mention the nasty flatulence on the Celexa + Abilify?) that hit me.  I’m not writing these to scare you away from these meds because some do work for some people.  Also, the can work fine for awhile then lose effectiveness or produce new, bad side-effects.  Case in point, I did fine for a few years on Zoloft, then pffft, it crapped out on me when I needed it really bad.

The point is, be part of your treatment.  Watch your reactions to the meds, have others help if possible.  Make your doctor(s) respond positively to your concerns, or change doctors if need be.  I know that somehow I will get a med or combination that will work; it may take time, but it will happen.  I work with my pshrink, and we are working to get me on track neurochemically.

But meds alone won’t do the trick for long.  A problem with most mental illnesses is that while medication can help restore normal brain function, it does not change the habits of thought, the built up experiences and filters by which we gauge and respond to our environment.

I have an excellent therapist.  Here, as with the meds, what makes my therapist best for me may not make her best for you.  Again, participate in your treatment.

All certified therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists are bound to confidentiality – professional trust as it were.  But that does not cover personal trust or levels of comfort.  Choose your therapist if possible.  If not, and you are assigned one that you feel uncomfortable with, tell them out right and don’t back down.  If you can’t say whatever you wish to your therapist, you need a new one, one you can trust.

Make your treatment as effective as possible.  Take as much charge of it as you can and expand upon it.  No one knows better than you what is working and what isn’t.  Obviously sometimes you need outside input to determine that, but in the end it is your treatment, your mental health, your chance at a fulfilling life, your freedom from The Pit that is at stake.  Own it and no one can ever again take it from you.

May 6, 2011 Posted by | autobio, depression, recovery | , , , , , | Leave a comment