FIRST: I am safe today. I am okay today. I am fighting and surviving. I have a strong care circle with good doctors, a dedicated wife, a few key friends and good medications. However, I wanted to get this down and out while I’m going through this to help share my experience in the hope it helps someone to understand. This is my story.
Ever wondered what it would be like to die? I do. Every so often the desire comes my way and if it weren’t for my incredible wife and dedicated care circle (see above) I would be lost. If you’re not living with me you don’t see my tears streaming down while sitting in my room in the mornings. You don’t hear my quiet sobs released into the pillow. You may not be able to imagine the pain of the depressive side of bipolar disorder. You might have a theory of what the highs are like as being fun and exciting but you may not understand the depth of the desire for the irrational perception of the relief that death would bring. You might think I have this great life, how could I ever want out of it? Well, suicide isn’t the reaction of a rational mind, rather it is an irrational action taken by those whose brains/minds feel they have no other option.
This is just one description of how it feels for me and millions of others.
I bet it’s hard to consider how I can feel all of that and still function most of the time. That’s because I don’t usually feel that way although it’s always hovering on the edges. Always. Except for when I was 12, 39, and now again at 41 when the gray has taken over and I have fought back.
Now to the support aspect. Where does one turn when they are suicidal? There is always the National Suicide Crisis Line (800-273-TALK). BTW, they now have chat and text options so if you don’t want to actually talk to someone you can still get the support you need.
But you don’t look sick! People don’t generally bring casseroles or set up meal schedules for those of us experiencing mental breakdowns. They don’t send “Get Well” cards, balloons and flowers aren’t delivered to the house. Our caregivers get limited support, if any, from those who would in any other illness be right at our sides. It’s as if my family and I are expected to still be able to function 100% while I’m healing from a severe depressive episode even though I’m really at about a 20-30% most days and it can take weeks to recover. It’s a terribly challenging process and if I’m not careful I will slide backwards – I have before. I have to be very careful and it can be hard for everyone.
So, now that we’ve established I’m actually ill, where do I turn?
Social media? Sometimes this can be helpful because of the sheer volume of friends I can reach out to when I need it but frankly (and sadly) these days it’s easier for most people to scroll past and not respond. Hell there are even people who say we *shouldn’t* reach out on social media because it’s too personal. WTF? If we can’t use facebook/twitter/etc for connecting in times of need then what should it be used for? Just kittens and politics? Can’t we elevate it further to allow those in need to reach out without being shunned for criticized for it?
Okay social medial might suck, you say, but how about friends? Who wants to scare them and what are they going to do? Tell me it will be okay? What if it’s not? Shouldering the burden they help anyway, at least the really good ones do (thankfully!) and help me get through it.
Seriously, if I had ANY other degenerative potentially fatal disease there would be no end of help for my wife and kids. But a desire for death to swallow me up so I don’t have to hurt anymore? Not so much. I’m not sure what goes on in people’s minds. I don’t know if people are just scared or what is going on, but there’s definitely a huge support gap.
Well what about family? Certainly I share with them, right? They would definitely want to help! Of course they do (see the friend bit above but only about 10x worse). I hate telling my family even more because I don’t want them to worry. Beyond almost anything I don’t want them worried. Even in a case where worry is warranted I still don’t want to be the cause. Besides, they live hundreds if not thousands of miles away, what are they going to do besides tell me to “chin up” and “I’ll make it through” when really despite how much they might want to save me from the twists and turns of my mind they aren’t here and can’t help in the ways they would like sometimes.
That’s where it gets tricky. Anyone who doesn’t actually SEE what is going on is basically in the dark. A phone call only conveys so much and it’s very easy to sound upbeat across the miles. They don’t see the seemingly endless days in bed because getting up is physically painful and mentally draining as it means a day ahead that involves being “on” in a world where all I want to be is “off” or at least on some damn “dimming” setting so that I have space to try to catch my spiral and heal.
Yes, suicide is selfish, I know this – it’s a huge part of why I haven’t followed through on any of my dark thoughts but that doesn’t mean the thought isn’t in my mind. Insidious and dangerously close sometimes. However, I want to actually see my children grown, meet my grandchildren, and enjoy my later years with my wife and at moments those thoughts have been (and will be) enough to stave off the soul-sucking desire to just be done.
It’s a battle so many families fight inside the walls of their homes and yet one we know so little about because it’s just not discussed. I guess it doesn’t make for good conversation. We must bring this out into the light, hence why I am sharing my story. I hope it helps someone.