One of the reasons I write about depression is to normalise the discussion around it and to explain it. A lot of the time we see amusing memes and comics that try and explain it, but I always feel that they can be filled along with cat pictures and pictures if trees with quotes about my inner beauty. Well meaning, but ultimately disposable. Although they educate, they are a click and gone, they don’t necessarily hold attention beyond ‘That’s so true’ followed by ‘ah a video of a turtle snowboarding, that’s adorable.’ When I’m going through a relapse, as I am now, I can talk about it from being in it and hopefully that gives a greater insight into the way it feels and works. Of course it also helps me as a form of catharsis.
But I haven’t really spoken about this one.
The S word is like the C word we don’t talk about it. We don’t talk about it because its seen as cowardly, admitting to suicidal thoughts makes other people blame themselves and most of all saying it out loud makes it real. Not to mention it’s just bloody unseemly.
This cycle or rage, guilt, sadness and loneliness that comes with depression takes a toll and often that toll is counted in the life of the person with depression and those that surround them.
First of all, I’m not about to kill myself and this is not a plea for an intervention. Turn up on my door trying to save me will result in me being grumpy, you learning some new combinations of swear words you haven’t heard before and . But I do need to talk about this from my perspective to make it a little more real, and maybe someone might go ‘hey, its ok to talk about this.’
I suffer from suicidal thoughts, its part of my depression. I can identify them as illogical, I know what they are and apart from a couple of times I have never even got to the planning stage. This is from CBT and Mindfulness training. However if you are trapped in your head, unable to talk about the feelings that are in there, ashamed, scared sad and angry, those words get seductive fast. Before I had been given that training? Well it was a bit of a crap shoot if I’m honest.
You see most of the time they are a fantasy in many ways. I try really hard to explain what living with clinical depression is like and trying to function with it and hopefully I get that across, so hopefully at some level you understand that the idea of not having to struggle through getting up, making yourself talk to people, explain its not their fault, do a full days work and taking breaks to hide and cry ‘just because’, go home have no motivation to do anything with the only view of tomorrow being more of the same….the fantasy of not doing it is appealing.
For me I give those thoughts their time, I acknowledge them and I deconstruct them logically, then I move on. When it gets bad and I catch myself planning or there is any kind of actual effort towards suicide I go to the doctor.
Also they are not always something you see coming, much like the Staypuff Marshmallow man they just pop in there, and much like him they are very destructive. Sometimes its as simple as ‘I forgot the sugar, I am sad and angry, if I kill my self I don’t have to feel this way, where did that come from?’
I have a system, I have had help and I was willing to acknowledge to a professional, with support from loved ones, I was too week to do this alone.
It saved me. If I am honest I almost walked in front of a car and I have almost overdosed. Ironically the guilt of what it would have done to those I cared about and the poor copper who would have had to have picked up the pieces is what stopped me. Amusingly the resentment that I couldn’t is part of the horror show that is depression.
For many people this isn’t an option. You see we are raised to see mental illness as almost a failure. Certainly talking about it makes people uncomfortable, and from this side of it explaining it is tiring. In many ways constantly saying ‘its ok, you haven’t done anything its my depression’, ‘I’m quite because of x’, ‘I need to be in my own head because x’ over and over is not as much fun as it sounds, cause constantly revisiting feeling rubbish to make other people feel better is a fast track to misery and anger. In many ways even the conversation is a difficult and uncomfortable one without talking about suicide, thing is we must.
Suicidal thoughts are not the norm, but you are not alone.
Often you will hear ‘it’s ok, we all get them’. That is an awful thing to say.
‘It’s ok, people sometimes feel like that and you can get help’, Is helpful, but suicidal thoughts are indicators that something is wrong and dismissing them as ‘hey it’s normal.’ Pretty much dismisses someones feelings and fears.
By saying they are normal gives the indication that you should just deal with them, and what people in this state is support, not to be pushed away or told that they shouldn’t worry.
For me actually being told that feeling suicidal wasn’t normal was a relief, certainly through my teens into adulthood they have always been around in the back of my head, I had believed that we don’t talk about it, its normal, depression and mental health was something you shouldn’t discuss in polite society and that somehow identifying with those feelings of sadness and loneliness that came with them somehow made me less.
To be stuck feeling like this is horrific and certainly we can’t address the S word without talking about it seriously.
So what to do?
*First up you can get help and it’s ok to say you need that help. No one that matters is going to judge you for it.
*Secondly get that help, there are lots of ways about going about it, but even just saying ‘hey I feel this way’ helps. Doing it anonymously is fine. Here’s a great resource from the wonderful NHS:
*Get treatment. Like any illness it wont go away because you really want it to. CBT, Mindfulness and medicine or whatever works for you.
*The Meds will make you feel worse before you feel better, prepare for that. Also accepting medication is not failing and your doctor is literally trained to give you the best advice.
*Don’t feel bad it’s not fixed straight away. I have been fighting this for years and will be fighting it for years. It is a fight, but it’s worth it.
*Make time for yourself. I’m bad for this, but you need to be able to say stuff it I need to do something to cheer me up. I feel guilty about it, I’m a bit rubbish on this one.
*Do something, the worst thing in the world is doing nothing. The world may feel like its in slow motion, but you need to engage with it even if its a walk.
I hope that at some level me talking about my experiences will help someone get some help or feel a little less alone, because god knows it is lonely.
Talk about it and don’t feel ashamed ‘cause it ain’t just you and you can get through it.