In the darkest places of my mind, I still remember how it felt when suicide was all that consumed my thoughts. What a dark place I must go to again, but this time only to better understand. Some are put on this earth so that they can help others deal with the same problems, I like to think this is one of those times.
I have so much to say about suicide because I have had the unfortunate pleasure of going down that road three times in my life, and survive. That doesn’t count the suicidal thoughts that have waged war in my head in the years before and after my diagnosis.
I am afraid and excited at the same time to write this blog post because I haven’t really explored my thoughts about suicide other than expressing that I am against it and that I have tried three unsuccessful times in my life. The topic has come up, but not in this way. It took one person asking to write my thoughts about suicide that gave me the strength to write. So here I go.
It has taken me many years to be in a good place with my diagnosis so that talking about suicide is something that I can do. It’s been a little over seven years since my last suicide attempt, and since that time I have always advocated against it.
To be in a place where suicide is the only option is still fresh in my mind and it is the worst feeling I have ever felt in my life. The places that my mind went to when my depression was at its darkest was hell and it felt like there was no escape. I wanted to be anywhere but in my own body.
In my own experiences, my suicide attempts were the result of weeks of very little sleep, the constant racing of my thoughts, and convincing myself that I was not good enough to live in the same world as everyone else. I went inward into myself and disappeared from the real world. I barely ate or spoke words, and spent hours on end in bed trapped in the darkness.
Nothing seemed real to me the weeks leading up to my first suicide attempt. My girlfriend at the time was constantly worried about my mental health because just weeks before I had said goodbye to the world on social media, but I was stopped before I could take it to the level of suicide. Somehow, I convinced everyone in my family including my girlfriend that things were fine and I was on the mend.
I honestly don’t know why I wanted to convince the people I loved that I was okay. It may have been a selfish need to make myself feel better about what I was planning, and yes it was very selfish. I didn’t think or care about anyone but myself and it showed in the fact that it took three suicides for me to come to grip with the reality that my suicides had hurt the people that love me.
Being who I am, I researched suicide. I saw the real statistics and I didn’t care if I became just another statistic on a website. The tools were there to let someone know that I was suicidal, like calling the suicide helpline, but I didn’t want to be helped. I wanted to not exist. I found the only means to take my life that was accessible to me an overdose. It wasn’t a great solution, but at the time it felt right, even if it felt wrong after.
Over the weekend and the day leading up to my first suicide attempt, I didn’t sleep. I was fighting a war inside my head, and the battles seemed endless. I always remember my first suicide the most vividly because of when it happened, during Thanksgiving week. I remember feeling angry that the doctors wouldn’t release me after telling them I was no longer suicidal (which was a lie) and sad that the first time in my life I would miss Thanksgiving.
Looking back, I think that first suicide attempt failed because wanting to not be a part of this world was just my cry for help. I think that is why I decided to tell the world that I planned to end my life, again. Deep down I wanted to be stopped, which is what happened. I was found in time.
It’s a weird feeling when you finally take that leap to commit suicide (for lack of a better word) and it that moment the world becomes surreal. Everything in my mind became clear and at the time I felt for the first time that I was at peace. It wasn’t real peace of course and it was only a temporary feeling.
I remember some of what happened next. Being rushed to the hospital. The doctors and nurses were forcing a black charcoal substance down the throat, faint conversations about me committing suicide, and then many hours later being pushed down a long hallway to the psych ward.
That was the first time that I was so deep into depression that I turned to suicide. Within a month, I tried again with the same result, a stint in the psych ward. I chose to write about the first and second suicide attempt together because they are quite similar in that deep-down I didn’t really want to die. I mention this because that is starkly different than the last time I committed suicide.
In 2010, I again wanted to end my life, and the need to not be a part of this world. It had been two and half years since my last attempt and my life had only gotten worse. I was amid the longest depression cycle of my life that spanned from 2007—and possibly since 2006.
I barely left my house. When I was alone my thoughts were dark. I imagined walking out of my house and down the street to walk into traffic on the highway almost daily. I thought about hanging myself from the huge oak tree next to my house. I thought about slicing my wrists and bleeding out on my bed. I thought about the many ways I could remove myself from existence.
Outside my immediate family, most of the people in my life had given up on me. If I am being honest only my mother still had faith in me. Most of my family came to realize that if I wanted to commit suicide, there was not much anyone could do to stop me. I don’t blame for giving up or at least feeling helpless because I was the worst version of myself during these years.
I remember one day I was especially suicidal and some of my family had come to visit my parents. I was alone in the dark with my thoughts when my aunt came in to check on me. My aunt is the sweetest lady in the world, but I really was in a bad place. I not only picked a verbal fight with her I resented when she called the cops after I told her if she didn’t leave me alone I would kill my myself. Suicide became this horrible weapon that I could wield against people who only wanted to help me. My aunt forgave me for all of it, but I often remember this and feel bad about the altercation.
It was much of the same behaviors as the last time I tried to commit suicide but it was also different. The most glaring difference was that for the first time in my life, I really wanted to die. There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted it to happen and that it would happen. Since the day I was diagnosed with Bipolar One, I didn’t believe that I would make it out of my twenties, or that there was something with me. At that moment in 2010, it was becoming clear that my life was going to end.
I planned everything this time. For weeks, I hoarded my Seroquel so that I could take such a strong amount that it would kill me. At this point in my life, I was no longer in charge of holding onto my medicine only to take it. I found ways to pretend to take my medicine. I told no one of my plans and I stopped all my online activity. I disconnected from life. It was just luck that my friend couldn’t get ahold me and had my parents checked in on me. It saved my life.
I don’t really remember anything after taking my medication that night. Years later my mom told me it was the scariest suicide attempt that she had to live through, and she reluctantly told me what happened. I was in a coma for three days (which I remember waking from and thinking what the hell, why is there a catheter in me?) The doctors had no idea if I would live or die, but one thing they were sure of, that my family barely got to me in time.
I spend a week in the hospital after I came out of the coma, and I was eventually released. About two days after being released I collapsed on the dining room table and had a seizure. I was rushed to the hospital where I had three more seizures over the next twenty-four hours. It was the scariest thing in the world to live through and sometimes it is hard to believe I survived it all. My doctors thought it was a late reaction to the overdose but they were never sure. I was on anti-seizure medication for two years and luckily never had another seizure. It was these two hospitalizations that changed my life and finally made me open to fix my problems.
Why tell this story? For one I was asked to share my thoughts about suicide after my last blog post. It was a great idea, but how could I tell someone reading this that suicide is not the answer if I don’t share my own experience? So, I decided that I would share my story and then my thoughts. Well here are my thoughts.
Suicide is dark and it feels endless. If you decide to go down that route there is a good chance that you won’t live past that decision. I am lucky in some ways because I am here, but it’s sad that I let myself get to that point. My story should be a cautionary tale because if you survive it you must live with it and it is better to never feel that way. No matter how much better I have gotten, my family will always be left wondering if they could have stopped me. It is always there that someday I could put my family through that again.
If you feel like there is nothing left to live for, I will tell you there is—your family. Life. It is worth living. Things are bad, even at their worst, it will get better. Yes, something is very wrong is happening in your life if you feel suicidal at this moment, but it can’t be so bad that not existing is okay.
Suicide is never the answer, and there are people in this world that are living with diseases that could take their life at any moment, and they have no control. You can control your situation no matter what suicide tells you, and trust me the voice that tells you suicide is okay is dead wrong.
I tell anyone who feels this way to seek help. Call the suicide helpline. Call a friend. Find a way to fight. I have my writing, reading, and music. I watch sports and when I am down I binge watch Netflix of shows that make me happy like FRIENDS. Please learn from my experiences and believe me when I say if I could go back, I would choose to get help instead of suicide.
For those that are not living suicidal thoughts but know someone who is dealing with depression or suicide remember this; 8 out of 10 people give signs their intentions on of suicide (Mental Health America.) Listen to the people around you especially those you love. If someone is joking about suicide (I have so many times in my life) or threatens suicide take it seriously. Call the authorities. It is better to be safe than lose some to suicide. Eventually, they will forgive you, and if they don’t it is still the right thing to do.
The greatest advice I can give those who are suffering from depression that is leading to suicidal thoughts is to first admit that there is something wrong. Its okay to admit this to people. When I started on this path to recovery and understanding of my diagnosis it took me saying for the first time “I am Bipolar, it is a part of me but it doesn’t define me.” When I finally believed that depression was a really dangerous thing in my life, it changed my outlook.
My life at times will always be filled with depression, anxiety, and the many other things I deal with daily. I still fight every day that I am lucky enough to wake up alive. It gives me solace. I want to be alive because death is never your friend. You never know when it will be your last day. Live as much as you can even if your depressed. I take days off too because sometimes you just need a mental health day.
My greatest aspiration in life is to teach people about suicide. The pain it brings to your life and those around you. My experiences are a part of me, and wouldn’t wish them on anyone. I can’t stress how I feel about getting help so I will say it again. If you feel suicidal get help, it not worth it to give up hope.
I really believe that someday we can totally prevent suicide. I know it’s idealistic to think this way. I’d rather believe this is possible than to see any more of my people live and die because of suicide.
Photo Credit: James Stamler