Suicidal Tendencies

Last week a close friend of my sister’s took her own life. Her husband found her in the middle of the night. She left behind her husband, a close group of friends, and three small children between the ages of 5 and 11.

Over the years, I’ve heard many people talk about how suicide is an incredibly selfish act. I’ve heard those say how talk of suicide or acts of self-injury and/or suicide attempts are nothing more than a way to get attention or manipulative acts to get one’s way.

Balderdash.

Suicide, suicidal tendencies, and self-injury are not acts of manipulation. They are not a way to get attention. They are quite simply a way to deal with suffocating and intangible emotional pain.

When I hear that someone has committed suicide, I know that their pain was so very great that they were willing to risk going into whatever came after this life just to end that pain. That’s powerful and that’s brave. Sometimes I envy their courage to go out on their own terms, but ultimately they leave a group of shattered people behind. That is unacceptable for me. My deep empathy and love for my family and friends has kept me from taking that step. I will always take on more pain myself to try and avoid causing pain to others, even people I hardly know.

That’s not to say that this desperate woman didn’t love her family and friends enough. In that moment, she probably deeply held the belief that they’d be better off without her, as she likely felt like a burden to them. The poignant song “Hate Me” by Blue October speaks to this. I’ve been there, too.

I intimately know what it’s like to be in so much emotional pain that you just want it to stop, no matter what the cost. I’ve been there, more times than I’d like to admit. One does whatever one can to get that pain to stop, even for a few moments of relief.

I’ve struggled with depression and an emotional regulation disorder for over 25 years. Most of that time my family has been in denial about it, closing their eyes to my pain because they honestly didn’t know what to do or how to help, so they pretend it doesn’t exist. They change the subject or tell me to smile, and then they move on. I’m unable to keep a job for very long because as much as a diabetic is incapable of producing insulin, I am incapable of dealing with certain situations and stresses. Yet my family would always advise me to “just stick it out.”

Years ago I stopped trying to communicate my emotional turmoil when it pops up, and it is by no means constant. In fact, I’m normally pretty happy and content, but the crazy time doesn’t stay away for good. Some days are worse than others. Some years are harder than others, but overall I am a very lucky woman who is surrounded by people who love and support her, even when they don’t know what to do. Very, very lucky.

Still, when the crazy time hits, I had gotten so used to people turning away that I stopped reaching out. I now fold deeper inside myself, repeating the mantra “no one cares how you feel but you and your husband.” And that is usually true for most people because everyone else has their own problems and demons and struggles to deal with, they don’t need to deal with someone else’s, too. I’m extremely fortunate to have one other person in this world who cares enough to stick around and do whatever it takes to get me through those times, no matter how long it takes. Many have no one else.

Believe me, I don’t blame the many, many friends I’ve lost over the years due to my emotional intensity (“good” as well as “bad” emotions) for walking away, because if I could walk away from it, I most certainly would. In a fucking heartbeat.

When talking to my sister the other day, imagine my surprise when she said (referring to her friend) that “it’s a disease and it should be treated just like someone who has cancer or diabetes.”

This is the exact thing I have tried to express for decades. Years ago, I had talked with them about chemical imbalances. I’ve sent them literature to try to help understand, but they never looked. Now because it was a friend, she gets it. I’m glad she gets it, and I hope that more people will reach out to friends in pain before they are gone. Please read this amazing post by the Kilted Travel Agent “Remember and embrace those close and not so close to you” while you can.

My sister went on to say how “everyone knew [her friend] was depressed,” but no one knew what to do. She described how her friend had expressed anger at herself for even being depressed because she had nothing to be depressed about. (yep.) Then the friend was ashamed of not only the depression but the anger, too. (been there.) Lately she had been dealing with anxiety attacks and such. (they really suck, btw.)

But…no one knew what to do, how to act, or how to help.

Fortunately we have something now that we didn’t have twenty-five years ago: the internet. If you have a friend or family member with a particular diagnosis, Google it. Get books on it. Learn about what they’re feeling and what you can do to help. If they are on medication, research that medication to see what possible side-effects might be altering their behavior or physical well-being as well.

As I said in a previous post, ultimately everyone must be willing to help themselves first. If they are not willing, there is little you can do; however, those people struggling with depression, self-injury, suicidal thoughts, and addiction might need a little extra patience and understanding from time to time. Learn how to reach out. Learn what to say and how to help them through that time.

Take it from me, no matter how tired you are of hearing about it, it’s nothing compared to how completely exhausting it is to experience.

Finally, through amazing groups like To Write Love On Her Arms, this silent, dark suffering might finally be brought out into the light and be embraced with love, not judgement.

Resources that might help:

*Please read my other articles on relationships and romance*

~ by omgrey on January 27, 2011.

19 Responses to “Suicidal Tendencies”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by christinerose and O.M. Grey, O.M. Grey. O.M. Grey said: Suicidal Tendencies: http://wp.me/pQA3i-9P […]

  2. Thanks for the sad, but very emotionally vunerable post. You have a deep insite and a beautiful spirit. I wrote awhile back when my nephew committed suicide. It helped to get it out, I hope it helped someone else to read it. I’m hesitant to promote my posts, but here’s a link if you want to read it. Sometimes you have to be there to understand. That’s why most people never can.

    http://christianundergroundministries.org/music/suicide.htm

  3. Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m glad your husband is there for you. You are helping others by sharing, and I hope that helps you feel a little bit better. You’re a blessing.

    • Thank you for the validation and compliment. I am certainly lucky to have my husband, and I’m glad my words might help others. You’re a blessing, too. Thank you for your comment.

  4. Thank you for sharing this. I think you are spot on: it is a disease. The bad part of depression is that the trigger is not the same for everyone, but the paths lead to same/similar behaviours.

    As stated in my post, Emily had a drug history. It was fueled by some pretty heavy emotional demons. Unfortunately in the end she did not have the support of friends and family that may possibly have kept her here with us. Listening to her brother speak, her family had not had any contact with her often in the last 10 years. She alienated friends as well. There were very few at the service.

    Cocaine was her outlet in high school and meth was her next choice when I saw her last.

    The other thing that people need to remember is that when someone is depressed they are not necessarily thinking their behaviour and actions are harmful.

    I have had bouts with anxiety for years and thought no big deal of mixing large quanities of alcohol and medications. The logic side of my brain tells that kind of action is bad. The anxious and depressed emotional part of my head tells me it’s ok and I would do it.

    I haven’t had those kind of emotions in a long time. I have had a lot of counseling and good family and a few close friends really know me and how to effectively communicate with me.

    I’m glad that you shared this delicate and very personal story. Thank for the good reference reading and especially the post link.

    I do have to admit that some days it seems easier to hide out in a dark room for a few days than not face the world.

    • Some days it’s most certainly easier to hide, no doubt. I’m so sorry to read about your troubles and bouts of anxiety. Anxiety attacks are very difficult to endure, especially day after day. Thank you for sharing your story and your thoughts. xo

  5. […] Talking to Your SO About Polyamory Healing Your Relationship Healing Yourself Writing for Survival Suicidal Tendencies The Morality of Love and […]

  6. After a serious storm, you are just relieved to be able to breathe…and to see the light again. It is not a place you choose to go, to that stormy, dark, hopeless place. It is not a selfish act. It is not something you have control over. It is horrid, awful, lonely, and you hate it! You wish there were someone there who understood, who would help you through…yet there is not. Thanks for bringing awareness out in the open. The storms are unpredictable, unwanted, and very scary.

    • Thank you for your comment, Karen. There are people who understand. I do. But they never are around when you seem to need them most. And even if they are, they feel helpless, as there is nothing they can do to ease that pain. It is a dark, hopeless place. I’m fortunate to not spend a great deal of time there, but it does come. And when it does, it’s sometimes hard to remember that it passes. I think we need to talk about it and bring it into the open. The work of To Write Love On Her Arms has done wonders for people who struggle in the dark. Thank you, again, for commenting. Peace.

  7. You have done an excellent job explaining exactly what I go through. I know how you feel. I thank God that there are times I go for quite a while without any symptoms. At those times, I begin to feel guilty for having felt bad, but the imbalance always comes back and once again I remember what it’s like….and it stinks. It’s always nice to know one is not alone. Thanks for your post.

    • You are most certainly not alone. I love those times with the symptoms are gone and everything seems clear, but the darkness inevitably returns. And yes, it does stink.

  8. Hello! I’ve just discovered your blog and I must say, thank you for making every effort to reduce the stigma that surrounds suicide and mental illness. I too suffer from severe depression as well as an eating disorder and the hurdles I’ve had to jump to get support are ridiculous. On Friday night I was at a high risk and knew that I needed to do something so as not to shatter the lives of those I love, so I called the suicide support lines. The trouble I had getting through to them was insane, they were hopeless, I ended up spending the night in a psychiatric emergency room being special and treated like a piece of rubbish that was wasting everyone’s time. I hope that with people like you spreading the word, mental health services and societies attitude towards mental health will change for the better.

    I wrote in my last blog post (http://thediaryofanursingstudent.wordpress.com/2011/10/08/dealing-with-the-mental-health-system/) about the trouble I had accessing support, I wonder, if I hadn’t had a friend who was so determined, what would have happened to me that night.

    • Over the past year, I had to call the suicide hotline twice because I was scaring myself. They certainly are not helpful, actually. I can empathize with having trouble accessing support on many levels. Mental Health services in my county has not answered my calls in 6 months. I’ve stopped trying. Only through the support of an amazing husband and friends have I survived the past year as well as I have. They are truly priceless.

      Hopefully more people will spread the word and talk about mental illness and such issues, minimizing and finally erasing the stigma around it.

      Thank you for your post.

  9. I also wanted to say that you are most certainly not alone, I send you all the love and strength in the world and I pray that the light begins to show itself to you more often than the darkness.

    Love and light, beautiful.
    xx

  10. […] effects such as panic attacks, hypervigilance, sleep disturbances, flashbacks (intrusive memories), suicidal ideation, and psychosomatic symptoms. The victims experience shame, depression, anxiety, embarrassment, […]

  11. […] way too many mochas. Therapy twice a week, plus calls in between when things get too hard and the best solution to the pain or emptiness or utter exhaustion begins to look too much like a noose. Talking and texting with as many people as will talk and text […]

  12. […] To ease your minds, friends, I never attempted suicide, not even once. I did come close to attempting in my grief, but I didn’t actually attempt. That’s why it’s called Suicidal Ideation. […]

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