I Work Hard on My Mental Health, But I Still Have Suicidal Thoughts Sometimes

I like existing. Most of the time. (Trigger warnings apply for talk about suicide.)
Publish date:
October 24, 2014
depression, mental health, bipolar, suicide, hypomania, mania

A while back, I wrote about how I had a plan for suicide when I was a kid.

It was kind of a scary thing to admit, even though I talk to y'all about all kinds of things -- not because I am particularly ashamed but because, well, kids who want to kill themselves is kind of a big scary topic. And sometimes it's still scary to share so much with so many people.

I have grown into an adult who, generally speaking, does not want to kill myself. I don't even want, most of the time, to just stop existing. I like existing.

Most of the time.

But most of the time is not all of the time and mental health issues don't really magically go away.

And, dang, but it's been tough out there lately, hasn't it? Trying to point to any one thing is useless -- it's about being overwhelmed and not having enough energy to just keep swimming.

While I have long since given up actively planning for suicide, sometimes the impulse still crops up. It generally takes the form of lingering thoughts when I'm driving in my car about how easy it would be to drive off an overpass (actually probably difficult) or into a lake.

I've had people dismiss this as a totally normal split-second urge that lots of people get to leap from high places. I 100% believe that exists. But I also need people to trust me when I tell them that isn't what I sometimes experience. My life is literally on the line with that one so maybe brushing it off as no big isn't the best course of action.

My therapist says I'm pragmatic; all I know is when I start having that idle fantasy on my morning commute, I know it's time to call my therapist and also to talk about meds.

That's because I also know I wouldn't warn anyone. This probably only seems funny to me, but it seems very funny to me: If I ever were to kill myself, I would be a suicide opportunist. I'd take advantage of a moment, an opportunity, a split-second in which everything resolved itself perfectly.

Recently, there was a pretty horrific accident at a toll booth here in Orlando. A thought that has lingered -- how well it would work for me if I needed it to.

I'm sorry if this is upsetting. I know it can be a hard subject for a lot of people and it can also make folks angry, sometimes because they don't understand. I wish there were a way to describe how an idle fantasy of suicide -- or plain nonexistence -- can be like the proverbial cool drink of water in the desert. It's the illusion of control in many ways, but that illusion can definitely feel better than everything else going on in your head.

Meds can be pretty great. Can be. Sometimes. It can be hard to figure out the ones that work and what dosages you need.

And in the meantime, life keeps moving. You do what you can -- but what you can't do doesn't get done. You feel guilty about what doesn't get done and other people pile on that guilt, too. And the hole you're in gets deeper.

Writing, which I have done for such a long time with such great joy, also got much more difficult (the idea that creative people need their mental illness in order to be creative is such BS to me).

I've tried to be pretty philosophical about that this time around. Yeah, sorry, those dishes didn't get done. That email didn't get sent. That werewolf story is only half complete. Also, I didn't kill myself. I think that's a fair trade.

All of this is why I spent most of the summer working really hard to get myself to a psychiatrist and then to get a medication routine that worked for me.

It really is work -- and it's extra hard work when you are already depleted. I almost gave up pursuing the process several times because the thought of calling yet another office and trying to figure out the tangle of paperwork was more depressing than the way my anxiety was making it hard to leave the house sometimes.

But here is what being on the right meds means: I look forward to talking to strangers again. I want to go into stores -- even the mall. I get excited about new experiences. I don't assume even my most loved friends secretly hate me.

Once I started taking meds, the change was both sudden and subtle. I felt better. But I didn't notice it at first -- I didn't notice it until suddenly it was so obvious. Ed and I went out to try a food truck we'd driven by a hundred times before and I knew things were going to be great.

Most of the time, I don't want to die. Which means that the majority of the time, I absolutely want to keep on living. After all, death is a pretty permanent solution to what is, at least at this point for me, a fairly temporary problem no matter how deep and forever it might feel in the moment. And that's enough reason, for me, to keep trying.

If these meds stop working, I'll try again -- I feel just as pragmatic about mental health treatment options as I do about suicide in general so I've never felt particularly angsty about potentially taking meds for the rest of my life. And I'll look back on moments like this as a reminder that it's good to be alive.

I'm not alone in all of this -- isolation is one of the most dangerous feelings, I think, and it's a feeling that lies to us all. So I want to ask you how you are doing lately -- if you're hanging in there or if you need some kind words of support while you do a difficult thing. How do you feel?