Obviously the trigger warning here is suicide, I want to add a caveat – if you’re a survivor, I’m extremely concerned that my post will cause you pain, and I don’t want you to be sore.
Firstly I just need to say RIP all the warriors who fell on their own swords in battle, and if you call that cowardice, fuck you. I quoted this the other day, but I’m doggedly determined to get the world to read it and understand.
One of the things that baffles me (and there are quite a few) is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls. Not unlike a tour of Afghanistan (though the bombs and bullets, in this case, come from the inside). At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of.
They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.
Carrie Fisher, Wishful Drinking
Comrade Doritos’ Meds Cocktail Party invitation:
1. Your diagnosis (or your loved one or friend)
2. What meds you’re taking
3. How you’re currently doing
4. And anything you’d like to share regarding suicide and suicide prevention
Superhero Pills anyone?
Fuckit. They sold out of Loki supervillain pills.
There was a time when I had a sensitive, difficult and depressive personality; now I have acronyms. There was a time when the word ‘cocktail’ didn’t make me think instantly and spontaneously, ‘meds’. It’s the same for all of us, for my tribe.
Dx: Bipolar I (ultrarapidcontinuouscyclingwithmixedandpsychoticfeatures flavour), agoraphobia (I don’t see why being terrified of shopping mauls is a problem), complex post traumatic stress disorder (because having a complex complex is just lovely). RLS, TMJ, ADHD, LGBTQ, DMZ.
Rx: lamotrigine (anticonvulsant), chlorpromazine (antispsychotic), sertraline (antidepressant) and prn sulpuride (anti anxiety), wirblewind (anti aircraft).
Some of the above information may contain traces of pure bullshit, the infopinions below do not. Accordingly, this is where I stop taking the piss. Seriously, this post is a total downer and I’m almost certainly going to give you cause for disagreement. It all turned into therapy for me.
I’m never bloody OK. I have intervals of happy that soar too high and then it’s all Icarus – one flash, three feathers and that’s all she wrote. The reason for it is that my bipolar disorder cycles continuously, so I don’t have periods of “normal emotions” and never have. I asked my psychiatrist (who is confident of getting me there) how I’d recognise them; she said, “you won’t, but I’ll tell you.” So the flavour of “not ok” that is currently doing pirouettes across my palate, is my baseline (depression), with the added seasoning of it being melancholic depression. As warped as it may sound, I’m far more comfortable with a mercifully constant depression, free of accursed mixed fucking episodes. Therefore, I’m about as OK as I get. I’m so down that tears are always there, I feel permanently dazed with sadness and, pertinent to this post, I have suicidal ideations coming out of every pore.
And today? Well today I had therapy and it started like this:
Blah: It’s World Suicide Prevention Day today.
Shrink Two: And the whole month too.
Blah: I’m going to save your life, Shrink Two; do not commit suicide today.
Shrink Two: Okay blah, please don’t commit suicide today either.
Shrink Two: Sorted.
We then proceeded to spend an hour talking (as usual) about suicidality being my default setting. Considering I am now middle aged (and frequently quite medieval too), the fact that suicidality has been my default setting for as long as I can remember pales against the fact that I am, to all intents and purposes, alive. There’s a cyst and some scars on my wrists, but the pulse behind them is fine. Overdoses made me as seriously sick as a seriously sick dog, but my organs are in great shape. I’m alive; o joy o rapture, I have survived a decade of abuse, a few suicide attempts, a ludicrous amount of losses and grief, witnessing deaths (and not always peaceful ones) and… you get the picture. I wouldn’t get gold at the suffering Olympics, but I’d be on the standby substitute team bench thingy. I’m quite good at seeing context and perspective; I know that compared to the overwhelming majority of the entire human race (past and present), I am very fucking privileged. And beyond that, I completely agree that life is precious, not to be squandered and that suicide hurts other people.
I want to die. I do not want to be alive. I support right to die movements. I do not believe anyone should have to endure risky, physically and mentally painful, humiliating and nightmarish suicide attempts. Solution? A utopian mental and physical health system, with euthanasia/assisted suicide available after rigorous investigation using incredibly strict guidelines. I’d meet the requirements in Belgium and the Netherlands. I’d meet them on the grounds of the severity of my primary diagnosis and the way it cycles. Have another look if you missed it at the start; I’ll wait. There is no right or wrong here, and religions tend to proscribe it (Tibetan Buddhists call it “taking four”, because it interrupts your journey to nirvana by giving you an incarnation as an animal).
Why do some folk have disparate opinions about abortion and euthanasia?
I am not cavalier about this, it’s not that I’ve never lost anyone to suicide. Try three friends in a year. In one of the cases, I completely agreed with the choice, in the other two, I understood one and was utterly bewildered by the other. I know the difference between suicidal ideations and suicidal intentions, and every time Shrinks One and Two ask, they know I’ll clarify. You know the drill; ideations are the first stage, intentions, plans and wherewithal are the danger zones.
I have a plan.
I have a plan, but it’s for a decade into the future and a lot can happen in a decade. I have a method, but I won’t discuss it, because people online are encouraged not to. I didn’t find my chosen method online, but I could – and I could also learn to make a bomb, join a cult, buy child pornography and assorted nightmarish horrors. It’s all about choice innit? And then we’re told that not all choices are legit, because no matter what the disorder or circumstances, people think the choice was made under the influences of factors outside of “the norm”. I think that argument is bs.
I do not believe all suicides are created equal and I’m going to use myself and someone I knew to show you my reasoning.
Him: young, plenty of friends and relatives, good qualifications, terminal disorder.
Me: fuckall family, friends are far, can’t work due to disorder.
The difference is the potential support network. The existence of family etc doesn’t mean they’ll form a support network, but the potential is there. Say, however, that someone has so few people, because most of those people have died – a support network is a bit tougher to find and form. Someone might have social anxiety and not be able to handle socialising much. Someone might get triggered towards mania even after a lively visit with one other person. They’re badly short of money, they cannot work – perhaps they are incredibly courageous and have fought hard and hurt hard for most of their lives. They form the best possible support system under the circumstances – psychiatrist, a few friends, a dog. It’s not enough, it has to be enough – the someone keeps going, but it just doesn’t work and exhaustion sets in, along with the despondence. From there, it’s a very short walk to despair.
This whole monologue could continue infinitely, but for me the crux of the matter is that I don’t need to convince you of anything, I don’t even have to convince myself. I do factor in the people I love – and let me reiterate that in terms of it being a ten year plan, that’s enough time for the old many a slip twixt cup and lip concept to kick in. So it could change; things could remain the same or get worse and reinforce the plan, or they could get better and/or I could find whatever changes I’d need to make to cancel the plan. It’s a plan, a safety net; one thing is most very definitely is not, is a threat. And I’m telling you fuckers in confidence, because it isn’t the sort of thing one talks about. Let me not veer off into too much attempted objectivity, I’ve written so much about suicide on this blog previously anyway.
What am I saying? Where is this going? What’s the conclusion? I. Don’t. Fucking. Know.
All of the above is absolutely subjective. I am absolutely not trying to convince or convert any of you. If you’re a survivor of a suicide attempt yourself, or of the suicide or attempted suicide of someone you love, all I can possibly say to you now is – I’m sorry. I’m so sorry about your pain and I am truly sorry if I’ve just triggered it horribly with this post. I was in two minds about publishing it at all, for that very reason.
I’m standing by my own tangled thoughts, however, but not defending them. This is simply who and what and where and how I am. I wrote all of this is response to the initial Meds Cocktail Party post, but then (as usual) navel gazed so hard that I discovered there’s actually a rabbit hole in there too – and then promptly feel down it. I always forget to choose the blue pill dammit.
Suicide prevention? My answer remains what I said earlier in this post: utopian healthcare is the place to start.
I am so fucking exhausted, and I’m very surprised that I just spilled my guts all over this post. Well that was all very fucking cheerful wasn’t it? Dunno bout you, but I need to yank the curtains open now and let some sunshine bleed in.