Relief From Suicidal Ideation
I've struggled with suicidal ideation[^1] for two years. The initial wave was so strong I took the first steps toward killing myself. Over time, the intensity lessened, but it never stopped.
I had my first bipolar manic episode at the end of 2017[^2]. My first bout of suicidal ideation followed in early 2018[^3]. With bipolar disorder, depressions often follow manias. That's what happened to me. It hit so hard it became the catalyst for fantasizing about ending my own life.
Understand, I wasn't depressed about anything. The chemicals in my brain simply went haywire. It was debilitating. And, it's one of those things that's impossible to describe to someone who hasn't been through it. The closest I can get is this: Physically, it felt like I'd been beaten with socks full of oranges for three days while suffering from the flu. Mentally, it felt like the flu was mixed with that torture where they blast you with glaring lights and death metal 24/7 so you can't sleep. There's more to it than that, but I don't have the language to describe it.
The depression slammed me into such poor shape that I could barely work. All I wanted to do was sleep, I couldn't focus, thinking was incredibly taxing, and I felt like shit. The impact on work was the seed for my suicidal ideation. My thinking turned into a constant, downward spiral that went like this:
- I'm struggling to keep up with my job
- Soon, I'll no longer be able to do my job
- I'm going to get fired[^4]
- I'm going to lose my house
- I'm going to end up on the street
- With all this pain and that outcome, what the fuck is the point
- I should just end it now
Every time through the loop it felt more intense and more inevitable. The thinking isn't rational, but it's what happens when the chemicals in your brain are all fucked up from depression.
So, that's the pattern that landed me in the psych ward on suicide watch. After I got out, I went straight into a seven week Intensive Outpatient Program[^5]. I hoped the program would cure me, but that's not how things works. What I did get out of it was several methods for coping with suicidal thoughts. They helped me survive while the depression burned itself down through a combination of time and 37[^6] medicine changes.
Over time, the intensity and frequency
It was diffuse. Sometimes I'd go a couple of days without thinking about it
It wasn't constant, as in it wasn't with me every hour of every day. It was diffuse. Spanning between once every few days to a few times in one day.
Last week, I had my 33rd med change[###] and something clicked.
If you're suffering, keep trying. I can't tell you it will get better, but I'll tell you it can. Hold on to whatever toehold you can. For me, I had no hope. So, that wasn't what stopped me. What did is the fact that I don't have a will and I wasn't sure if that meant my mom wouldn't get my house.
I was hurting physically and mentally.
[^1]: Suicidal ideation is a fancy way of saying you're thinking about, considering, or planning to commit suicide.
[^3]: The story of My First Bout of Suicidal Ideation
[^4]: Thankfully, I have an amazing boss who was kind and patient and worked with me while I struggled to fight out of the worst of the depression. So, I didn't lose my job. If I had, I doubt I'd still be here.
[^5]: Thank God for FMLA.
[^6]: The time was the aforementioned two years and med changes were a jugging of Aripiprazole (aka Abilify), Lamotrigine (aka Lamictal, both regular and extended release), Latuda, Lithium, Modofainil, Propranolol, and Vraylar.