It’s world suicide prevention day today, so it seems as good a time as any to tackle a subject I’ve only ever really alluded to in the past. There’s a big difference between feeling suicidal and having what I now know is called suicidal ideation. Thankfully, for me it’s more often been ideation, as in, I’ve thought about it without taking the thought further down the road towards planning. But, occasionally it has gone further than ideation.
I realise for someone who has never experienced this, it is incredibly difficult to understand. We hear a lot of talk about how selfish suicide is, how people who die this way don’t give any thought to those left behind to pick up the pieces. I don’t agree with this. At the times in my life where suicide has become a real and valid option, it seemed the best thing to do for everyone. When my mind reached this completely irrational conclusion, I was convinced that while my family might grieve for a while, they would ultimately get over it, move on, and be the better for no longer having to watch over or worry about me. There are so many clichés around this, but they’re clichés for a reason – they’re true. I was exhausted, and I simply couldn’t see an end in sight, particularly as for me, depression has been a recurring issue. At my worst, all I could see was a future where if by some miracle I did get better, it would only come back again, and again, and again. It is incredibly hard to persuade yourself to keep living when the very illness you’re fighting has successfully convinced your mind that dying makes more sense.
Looking back, I remember that at these times that I couldn’t see the long term consequences of what I was contemplating. I used to say that I just wanted to go to sleep, to take enough medication that I wouldn’t wake up. I didn’t think of myself as suicidal, just really, really tired.
Thankfully, I never got as far as trying. I did a bit of research online (yes, really), gave it far too much thought, but stopped there. What stopped me? More clichés. My kids. Hubby. My family. Therapist. And probably a hefty dose of fear as well- what if I didn’t do it right and made things even worse for myself? So, I didn’t do it.
Admitting to feeling suicidal is so incredibly difficult. It’s hard to say, and I can only imagine how hard it is to hear. It’s easier to be asked straight out if that’s what’s going on, something that Therapist has done many times. But for most people, it’s something that doesn’t bear contemplating, and even thinking of it as a possibility is beyond understanding, never mind asking someone if that’s how they feel. But the relief in admitting that things really are that bad is profound, because this huge, unbearable burden doesn’t have to be carried alone any more. If I were to be flippant, I could say the admission comes with a downside – I have in the past been watched like a hawk, and that makes me incredibly uncomfortable. It also makes me feel extremely guilty for creating yet more stress and upset for my family. But, it is an illness, one that takes control of my mind. If I were sick from chemo would I feel guilty?
So there you have it. Suicide has occasionally loomed large over my life, but I’m still here, and I’ve no intention of going anywhere. We’ve come through some truly horrible times the last few years, but, we’re out the other side. It’s not always going to be easy – depression could come back, and lets not forget the joy that is BPD muddying the waters for me from time to time. What I am confident of though, is that having come through those years, I’m better equipped to be able to handle whatever comes at me in the future. And more importantly, if I can’t, I will ask for help. That is a solemn promise, and one I can hand on heart say I will never break.