To say I’m very disappointed is an absolute understatement. Devastated. I haven’t tried to take my own life for a few years now and thought all was in control, however this weekend it all exploded and I ended up in A&E for emergency physical treatment.
**** I have decided to take out the explicit content originally on this blog entry, after hearing the sad news of Linkin Parks lead singer, Chester Bennington, losing his life to suicide this week. I read about it through an email The Mighty sent to me. It contained a link to how people should write about suicide reporting and I realised I needed to change my content. For anyone interested, the website link is http://reportingonsuicide.org/
In a nutshell, I have been experiencing a severe bipolar depressive episode since late last year but had significantly improved enough to return to work. I was still experiencing mild low and anxious mood but assessed as fit for work and felt so. However, I started to get really stressed and tired, and I was taking a downward turn again. I told my CPN and saw my consultant psychiatrist a few weeks ago who decided to review me in a month (which will be next week). At that point I felt in control. The week leading to my attempt had been very difficult due to stuff I’ll talk about below. Feelings of hopelessness quickly ensued as I sank into deep thoughts of fear of a future full of illness and the dreadful impact on my family.
Hopelessness is dangerous
In a stupid attempt to unwind and feel better I drank some wine. And then the passive suicidal thoughts quickly crossed over to active. Whether I would have done so without alcohol involved, I do not know. In the past I have without it.
In my mind I was making a perfectly rational decision, based on the idea that I will never get better and that I would be an ever increasing burden to absolutely everyone and therefore they would truly be better off without me. I was in unbearable pain. Feeling trapped and very upset.
Actually I had lost capacity to make this so-called ‘rational’ decision because I don’t ordinarily think this when I’m well. That’s the scary thing.
After being physically stabilised, I was discharged the following evening after a psych liaison assessment. The outcome was referral to the mental health intensive home treatment team and I have received a couple of visits so far.
I’ve just resumed my usual psych meds and taken the week off work. I’m still not right and keep fluctuating but I’m safe. I’m not sure what the next step will be. My partner, and I at times, think I may need to go inpatient. I just don’t know and that makes me scared.
I’ve spent time trying to analyse what went wrong, and these are my thoughts written during more lucid moments.
1) Chiefly, it’s a stark reminder to me of how quickly one can move up the suicide scale (from passive thoughts to active which can be seemingly (arguably) impulsive.
2) I absolutely did not have capacity when I did that even though I thought I did.
3) Referring back to number 1) above, I need to somehow work harder on my warning signs.
4) Warning signs may not be obvious. I generally saw those as worsening ‘symptoms’ of bipolar and the BIGGIE factor in the dangerous actions I may take. In fact, for me, I frequently think about suicide as a passive thing but it’s really quite sparse, though it seems to be a default thought my brain explores and not necessarily a ‘warning’ sign, and I shrug it off….
5) So for me I see that triggers and warnings signs are not necessarily synonymous. Not immediately anyway. But triggers, chiefly stress for me, become a warning sign. I don’t know if that makes sense? So it’s hard to tease apart? But….
6) I need to realise that I withstand an awful lot of stress, much of which I can’t influence because some things are out of my control. Often I manage it for ages, but I need to be able to assess that much, much sooner, BEFORE it comes even close to the point of going tits up. I need to ask for HELP much, much sooner, before I say, “I’m feeling really quite low because I’m stressed but I’m safe at the moment”. Yes, I may be at that point for a long time, but that can obviously turn dangerous quickly – refer to number 1) etc.
Upon reviewing stressors properly with the intensive team I have identified them clearly. I’ll identify what I think I can do more to help in brackets next to the stressors below, some of which the team have helped enormously with.
Firstly though, I’ll say I thought I had my stressors under control through having a CPN, a support plan from occupational health at work in place, open discussions with my ex partner about our troubled daughter, and talking with a few trusted friends, mainly on the phone though. I was also trying and failing to address my housing and money situation.
What I can do
• Daughter suicidal and self harming – Very upsetting and scary (Keep fighting for CAMHS support and making sure they are effectively liaising with school, which I’ve realised they haven’t)
• Same daughter constantly in trouble at school – very upsetting and frustrating (Chasing the meeting I requested a couple of months ago to better identify her needs/ways to manage more effectively – as what they’re doing is not working)
• Same daughter temporarily moving to her dad’s in last few weeks – upsetting (tried to address this, need to all talk about this properly now as starting to go on)
• My resentment towards partner as shouty at children hence partly why daughter went to dad’s (tried to address this – but be more assertive and now understand it’s not all down to this)
Be more assertive
• Feeling helpless with above (be more proactive, consistently keep on agenda, talk more and therefore be more assertive)
• Me returning to work after 7 months off. (Missed CPN appt as slept through – make sure not to do this and if I do to respond to rearrangement more quickly)
• Chucked in at the deep end with work (although raised, not properly followed through – got on with it. Make time and be more assertive)
• Being in significant debt due to sickness and rent too high. (See through discretionary housing payment application, see through application to social housing register – ask for help with this, consider application for consolidation loan)
• Less social interaction due to job and sleeping in between to recuperate, leaving little time for fun. (Make sure I have face to face interactions with friends and family – make plans for this, balance it and respond to calls and texts, balance with sleep, don’t just sleep for fear of exhaustion)
• No exercise (walk!)
• No holiday (utilise weekends away to wider family as that’s free)
• Dog dying (can’t change that one)
• 7 month DWP fight for PIP reinstatement resulting in having to face a tribunal (won) (can’t change that one – did well!)
• No outer family support to come day to day (can’t change easily but may be able to work on this if I can bring dad and partner together to solve differences)
• No time for me and partner alone (can try to ask friend or dad to look after children occasionally – maybe hard, but try)
• Waiting for treatment for ADHD and medical review for bipolar. (keep making sure it’s done ASAP – have done as much as I can right now but keep on it)
Other things I can do
• Finish personal wellness and recovery action plan (WRAP) both for work and at home (there are 2 plan templates)
• Talk to line manager very frankly
• Establish better sleeping habits
• Don’t spend too much time on social media
• Don’t make everything about mental health
Any other ideas, thoughts and opinions, positive and/or negative would be welcome?
I’m still feeling fragile and the featured image describes it a bit. However, I think I’m glad I’m here to write this and see things more clearly now.
I didn’t mean to hurt anyone
I’m feeling ashamed, guilty and embarrassed. I didn’t mean to hurt anyone and although there’s still a part of me that wants to give up I’m doing my best to rationalise it and keep trying hard to pick it all up again. I’ve done it before and I’m trying to remind myself of this.
After all my past experiences I have become well again and achieved a lot – most importantly taken care of my family who I love dearly. I have valuable relationships with wider family, friends and colleagues and I know deep down that life has its fun times. I just need to accept (again) that bipolar interferes with this at times but not ALWAYS, as it feels now.
On a final note, I am including some suicide prevention advice below taken from http://www.reportingonsuicide.org
Warning Signs of Suicide
• Talking about wanting to die
• Looking for a way to kill oneself
• Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
• Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
• Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
• Acting anxious, agitated or recklessly
• Sleeping too little or too much
• Withdrawing or feeling isolated
• Talking about being a burden to others
• Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
• Displaying extreme mood swings
The more of these signs a person shows, the greater the risk. Warning signs are associated with suicide but may not be what causes a suicide.
What to do
If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide:
• Do not leave the person alone
• Remove all firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt
• Call a suicide prevention hotline: See the following link for hotlines across the globe: http://www.suicide.org/suicide-hotlines.html
• Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.
Reach out to someone
If you are a person feeling at risk, please reach out to someone. You may feel past this point and not want to, but please please try. You’re not alone. You can ring the hotlines, a loved one, message on a forum (or follow their guidelines for help), go to the emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.
Easy for me to say and I haven’t (clearly) always practised this advice. However there have been times I have, and if I haven’t reached out but managed to keep safe it’s because I use the following coping method. Try to promise yourself to keep safe for x amount of time, be it 24 hours, 1 hour or even each minute, then when that’s up try the above or make yourself another promise.
You are important. Someone does care. Help is there even though you may need to find a little strength to push for it. Someone can wrap you up safely to help you through this.
Much love, B xx
Reproduced with permission, originally posted here: Suicide Attempt