What to expect when reading bi-polar wife

Thoughts and feelings of living with bi-polar as a wife, mother, and person in the world.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Feeling suicidal and being suicidal are 2 very different things

"A great many people think about suicide, but the majority do not go on to kill themselves. Like them, you can help yourself and you can get help from other people. There is no feeling so terrible that it cannot be changed. There is no difficulty that is insurmountable." (WWW.Mind.org.UK)

It's easy enough reading that statement, but when you are right in the middle of it, it really isn't as clear cut. For me, I have a readily available mind list of reasons not to die tonight. I also have a suitcase of CBT techniques, a raft of friends and family, and a stubborn streak a mile long. Mostly my focus  is my children and my loved ones. I follow the rule of, "If I can endure this for the next 12 hours, I can get through it until tomorrow, and tomorrow may be a different day." Even with all of these safety skills, it hard work.

The desire to terminate your life isn't a fluffy and whimsical dreamy thought that passes through your mind. It's a leaden and violent intrusion, that crashes in to your entire being and suffocates you. You cannot get away from it and it taunts you. I remember when I was first in psychiatric services, my husband requested that I don't kill myself as he couldn't bear the thought of finding me dead on the sofa, and then having to explain it to the children. I can see why he felt that way. I wouldn't want to explain a dead wife to 2 children under 5 either. But a suicidal thought sits piggy back on your head, and it natters incessantly about doom and that dying is really the best thing to. It'll put you and everyone else out of their misery. 

I am terribly aware that suicide is a very dark and rather taboo subject. So instead of random fear, lets do some statistics to ease you in.

"Although the overall rate of death by suicide is falling, more than 4,300 people still die by suicide in England and Wales each year.[...] In the case of depression, studies have shown that, on average, the risk of suicide is about 15 times higher than the average for the general population. [25] However, this is likely to be an underestimate, as many who die by suicide may have been experiencing undiagnosed depressive illness. The Mental Health Foundation estimates that 70 per cent of recorded suicides are by people experiencing depression, [26] often undiagnosed. [...] Depression is often accompanied by thoughts of suicide; indeed suicidal ideation is an important element in the diagnosis of depression. The deeper the depression, the more likely a person is to experience suicidal ideation. However, suicidal acts become more likely when a person is coming out of a depressive episode and energy levels and motivation become stronger" (WWW.mind.org.UK)

This all sounds a little contradictory - I'm too depressed to kill myself, but when I feel better I'll do it. To be honest, you can never truly know the mind of the person who is feeling suicidal, and a very small thing could push a person over the edge. The other thing I have learnt is that if someone really and totally wants to end their life, there is very little you can do. This is a tough one, particularity if it's someone you love and treasure. But what I do want you to focus on here, is that suicidal thinking is not necessarily suicidal doing. You don't have to panic.  It takes strength, courage and absolute conviction to end your life. And it takes a while to go that far down that particular route. Thankfully, for those of us with a CPN and family support, you can talk through your thoughts and know that if you cannot handle it alone, they can get you help.And if necessary, very quickly. I my experience, to spend 6 weeks, trying your best to not buy into the thoughts in your head  about dying, takes incredible effort. It takes patience, trust in the process of recovery, and a belief that eventually, your life will be worth living again and the thoughts will go away. For those people who have no support, either family or health, their chances are probably less than average.

What really annoys me is when you're on the tube in London, and the announcement comes over the tannoy about "A fatality" or "An obstruction on the line." You hear a lot of sighing, and phrases such as, "Oh how selfish", or "Why couldn't they do it somewhere less inconvenient." Nobody wants to see behind the inconvenience; the son or daughter, the mother....what tragedy and despair pushed them to deciding that death is the only option. I pray that you be a little less unloving and rash next time you here the ping-pong tannoy spring into life.

So here is my 6 weeks of hell in a few short bullet points - its easier to bear that way:

1) First 2 weeks, loud speaker volume on channel death, 16 hours a day whilst awake, but thankfully, off whilst asleep. Do the very basic stuff that I have to do and sit still and wait for it to pass. Rule for living - Do NOT act on thoughts.
2) Mid-phase week 3 and 4: Mid level noise pollution from channel death, with a few special intrusive thoughts from "hang yourself weekly" magazine. Functioning better, but still waiting for the madness to pass.Rule for living - sleep a lot, eat, rest and keep it simple. Do NOT act on thoughts.
3) Entering the calm phase - week 5 and 6: Someone has found the remote control and the noise is barely audible. Every now and then a few noises pop in but they are drowned out by reality and the mundanity of the normal, and slightly more sane, life. Rule for living - Remember There is no feeling so terrible that it cannot be changed.That there is no difficulty that is insurmountable. The insanity will pass. Get on with the business of living.

...and relax. 

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