Warning: This post is about depression and suicide ideation.
I knew early on in my illness that it could last a long time — years, maybe decades. I hoped it wouldn’t, of course, but as I often do, I feared the worst. So, when faced with the daunting thought of being indefinitely sick, I made a deal with myself: If I didn’t get better in five years, I would commit suicide.
That was seven years ago.
And while I haven’t gotten better — my health has actually gotten worse since the onset, much worse — the circumstances and, more importantly, my mindset has improved. For that I’m glad because had these things not improved, well, I wouldn’t be writing this post, and subsequently, I wouldn’t have accomplished and experienced some of my proudest moments.
Looking back on the pact I made with myself, it seems instinctual. Although I don’t remember my exact thought process at the time, it must have felt like something I just had to do — a delegation to myself fueled by survival instinct. I was trying to control a situation I had no control over. Or rather, I was trying to trick myself into thinking I had some control when I actually had none. I think, when you really break it down, that’s what suicide is — a last-ditch attempt to control a miserable situation.
I’ve always kind of had an odd fascination with suicide ideation. I would compare it to Alfred Hitchcock’s obsession with murder — he loved to explore the idea of it, but he never actually killed anyone.
This is to say that I have thought a lot about suicide, both in relation to myself and other people. And if I’m being honest, I have also tried to kill myself. A few times. I would be surprised if anyone as sick as me, or in a similarly dire situation, has not at least gotten their feet wet with suicide ideation. But, as I’ve found out, sometimes it takes pressing the knife to your skin to make you realize you don’t want to cut yourself.
The truth is, I didn’t think much, if at all, about suicide before getting sick. And I don’t say this to negate the suffering or serious conditions of people with depression unrelated to illness, but many of my flirtations with suicide were rooted in the unlucky circumstances of my life. In this way, illness has allowed me to explore a topic that many people shy away from. Some people even have an intense visceral reaction to it (they stopped reading this post after the first paragraph). But, like the general idea of death, I think it’s important to talk about suicide, especially for people who are seriously considering it or have been affected by it.
The first time I had suicide ideation was a year or two after getting ME/CFS. I had just seen one of the top doctors for the disease and he put me on some harsh medications, which I believe contributed to my suicidal thoughts. I remember standing in line for the register at the grocery store after listlessly grabbing a few items. By the time I got to the register I was exhausted and in excruciating pain, but my mind was over it — over shopping, over life, over everything. When I finally got home I said something to my mom that revealed the dangerous thoughts I was having and she kept me afloat until I stopped taking the meds and the depression eventually lifted.
The irony of that experience was that during my next appointment, the doctor told my mom not to worry because the people who actually commit suicide never tell anyone before they do it. So, in his distorted mind, because I let my mom know how dangerous my thoughts were, I couldn’t have been serious about killing myself. For the record, this ignorant logic couldn’t be more wrong. There are countless people who have committed suicide after reaching out to people and talking about their plans.
There were times immediately after that when I had casual thoughts of suicide, but never took action. It wasn’t until two years later that I had another run in with suicide. This was the closest I’ve come to taking my own life. And for good reason. I had been bedridden for a year at that point. That was a year of barely surviving, of having to communicate through hand signals, of surviving on liquefied meals, of urinating and defecating in the same place I slept. It was a year of sheer survival and no, I mean absolutely NO, enjoyment. No conversations with friends. No dates with pretty women. No watching baseball games. No birthday dinner or Christmas gathering.
It was during this time that I so desperately wanted my life to end. And for awhile it seemed like I may actually die from MECFS. But when I didn’t, when it became clear that I wasn’t going to die, but my life would still be taken from me, I decided to seriously consider suicide. Not because I didn’t want to live or I hated life, I just didn’t want to live my shitty life. I imagine this is the case for many people who think about suicide and those who actually commit the act.
Too Sick to Die
My situation was unique in that I physically couldn’t kill myself. At least not initially.
I was too sick to hold a pen, so I didn’t have the physical strength to do it. I couldn’t overdose on medication because I couldn’t open the pill bottles, which were kept in the kitchen while I was stuck in my bed. Any method that involved getting out of bed was a nonstarter and there were no sharp objects around, so my options were very limited.
One plausible idea I had was to use the landyard on my call button to tie around my neck, but I found I couldn’t get it tight enough. My final option, and perhaps the most plausible one, involved tricking someone into helping or at least giving me the items I needed to do it. I wasn’t keen on this, for obvious reasons, but I was really desperate and struggling to live through the pain and misery of being unable to speak, eat, or enjoy anything life had to offer. Not to mention, my support system of family and friends was wavering.
So one day, I had someone set me up for a bowel movement — a lengthy process that involved a plastic garbage bag. But instead of using the plastic bag for its intended purpose, I tried to wrap it around my head. But, like all of my other attempts at suicide, my plan was foiled by my body’s weakened state, or perhaps I was just bad at trying to kill myself, or maybe deep down I just didn’t want to do it. Nevertheless I kept trying.
At first, my arms weren’t flexible enough and I was unable to lift my head off the pillow in order to get the bag in place. But I finally got the bag around my head, though I hurt myself in the process. Then, for whatever reason, I couldn’t sealed the bag– I was still breathing oxygen. And though I’m no expert, I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to die from asphyxiation if you’re still breathing oxygen.
I remember being relieved, though, because yes, I really wanted to be put out of my misery, but I also really wanted a peaceful death. I had this serene image of several friends and family gathered around my bed all saying goodbye and comforting me as I left my earthly body. But I was alone. There were no friends or family around to hold my hand or rub my head as I drifted off into the abyss. And besides, I didn’t want the last thing I smelled to be plastic or the last thing I felt to be extreme pain from hurting myself while getting the bag in place. So I was glad it didn’t work out.
The experience, in many ways, made me realize that if I was ever going to commit suicide I would: (1.) need help from someone and (2.) have to do it in the most humane and painless way possible. As I soon found out, no family member or friend was going to help me kill myself, no matter how sick I was; it just wasn’t going to happen. I mean, I couldn’t even get my friends to visit me because they weren’t emotionally equipped to handle seeing me so sick; there was no way in Hell they were going to be able to cope with helping or even just watching me die. And while I had hoped I could use California’s new assisted suicide law to have a peaceful death, MECFS did not qualify me to do so. So, in other words, it became clear that the whole suicide thing wasn’t meant to be.
Suicide Ideation: Wanting to Die
In college, a friend suggested I watch “The Bridge”. She said it was about the Golden Gate Bridge. Great, I love the Golden Gate Bridge, I thought. I drove across it almost every weekend in college. So one night, before bed, I turned on the movie and quickly discovered that, sure enough, it was about the Golden Gate Bridge … and more predominantly, the people who commit suicide by jumping from it. My friend forgot to mention that.
The most memorable part of the film is the guy who jumps off of the bridge at the end. The cameras, stationed on land, followed the guy for a long time, maybe hours, and showed him pacing up and down the bridge. He was middle aged and dressed in all black with dark shoulder-length hair. If you’ve ever been on the Golden Gate Bridge, you know it’s long. It takes awhile to get from one side to the other, even by car. But this guy just kept going up and down it, almost stomping his feet. He was obviously brooding about something. Then, climatically, he stopped, gripped the bridge’s railing and hoisted himself up so he was sitting atop the red metal beam. There he was — sitting with his back to the water, then he stood up, spread his arms out wide and fell backwards toward the Bay.
I have thought about this guy a lot over the last several years, especially when I’ve had suicide ideation. I thought about how graceful he looked falling towards the water. I wonder if, in his mind, it was an epic and triumphant moment. It certainly looked that way. It looked like he was in a lot of pain and that was his chance to escape. It seemed like if he was going to kill himself there was no way he was going to half-ass it. No, he was going to stand on the edge of darkness and do a fucking swan dive off it. But there was a fear about him — he seemed to dread his death — and he had a vulnerability that came across to the viewer, even while watching from a far-off camera angle. He chose not to face the water when he jumped. That stood out to me. He did this theatrical leap off the world’s most famous bridge, but he still chose not to look his death in the eyes. Maybe he couldn’t. I certainly couldn’t. I could never be that decisive — most days I can’t even decide what color shirt to wear, so killing myself is out of the question.
Wanting to Live
The guy on the bridge may have spent hours pacing, stewing on the decision, but when he made up his mind, he owned it. And while I’m sure he had a good reason, it’s hard not to think about what the future could have held for him.
For instance, another man in the film jumped off the bridge and survived. Can you imagine that? Wow! He said his first thought after he jumped over the bridge’s railing was that he wanted to live. I related to that feeling. Every time I have tried to kill myself, or even thought about it, I have always concluded that I still want to live. Despite my diminished quality of life and the unfortunate prognosis of my illness, the thought of not being able to experience as much as I can, bad moments included, is less appealing than diving into an unknown abyss — death.
While the level of misery it takes to have suicide ideation is relative to each person, the choice is universally absolute. When I think about this I always think about that first time I thought of killing myself — I was miserable, no question, but my quality of life was better than it is now, and much better than it was two years ago. I was still walking around back then, driving myself around, even working part time. Now I’m stuck in a room 24/7. But my outlook has changed. I’m not hesitant to get help anymore, both when my spirits are low and when I can’t physically do something. I used to insist on doing everything on my own, but my body eventually gave out. Now I realize that my illness is not as miserable when I have help, and the assistance I get actually allows me to heal and then use the energy I have saved to do things that improve my state of mind. Before I was using all of my energy to do dishes and laundry and buy groceries, then I’d crash without much enjoyment to show for it. Now I’m physically unable to do those things, which may actually be a good thing (for now), because I’d definitely do them if I could and it would probably make me sicker. Having help allows me to do things like write on this blog and I’m grateful for that.
Not to mention, if I had been successful in killing myself I never would have written essays for the LA Times and Washington Post. I never would have been featured in two major documentaries about MECFS and I never would have finished my memoir, which will hopefully be published some day soon.
The Leading Cause of Death for People with MECFS
So, before we part, I want to talk directly to people with MECFS — or any other illness, physical or mental — who are struggling with thoughts of suicide. While people do die from MECFS, suicide is the leading cause of death for the disease (I suspect such is true for all non-terminal illnesses). There have been many patients with MECFS who have taken their own lives and I always feel conflicted about it. I know how hard it is to live with the disease — many people do so for decades — and to make such a tough, permanent decision. So, if you find yourself in a similar place, dealing with suicide ideation, I’m not going to tell you to call a hotline or reach out for help (although please don’t hesitate to do those things). But I am going to tell you to let time pass. That is the one thing that helped me. I found comfort in having that option. I often thought: I’m so miserable I have to kill myself NOW. But you don’t have to do it now, and if you acknowledge that and let time pass, you may realize that you never have to do it. Things may get better, or they may not, but either way you may find that living is worth the misery. That was my conclusion. Life sucks, yes, but it can be pretty spectacular, and when it is, the misery is worth it.
A few things before you go:
1. Thank you for reading! If you’re having dark thoughts, please ask for help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
2. I am fundraising to pay my medical bills so if you’d like to help out by buying a shirt or hoodie I would be very grateful!
3. If you would like to donate to support this blog I would be equally grateful!
50 thoughts on “The S-Word”
I lost a very sweet friend to suicide. Before I was ill I had been able to emotionally support her, but after, I didn’t have it in me. She emailed me shortly before she passed and it was clear to me she was done living. I tried to reply, to save her, but it didn’t work. So that whole saying of those that do don’t say anything, well I can tell you it’s not true. You’ve provided great advice, because feelings always, always change. I’ll close by relaying something a dear therapist friend told me. For those who have made up their minds, there’s no stopping them, there’s nothing you can do or say to change it. They find peacefulness in their decision.
So all I’m going to say is this…I’m a mom of a 21 year old son. Please, please don’t break your mom’s heart like that. Totally overstepped my bounds by saying that but so be it. 💙
Thanks for sharing that! My family was definitely a big part of my considerations at the time, but it broke my heart to think of leaving them but I know they would have forgiven me. They, more than anyone, knew how sick I was.
Well, I have had severe ME/CFS for 20 years now, 95% bedridden the entire time but I must say, not as bad as I have just read from Jamison! Anyway, I will not bore you with my details or waste your time when my story is similar to many others but, in the beginning, I think I was simply too sick, confused and disappointed that it occupied most of my thoughts. I have literally lived in a bed with varying degrees of suffering. Now, 20 years later, some of my symptoms are somewhat better but the relentless and ever present crippling fatigue is not. I struggle more today with the emotional side of this horribly cruel and unforgiving disease more than at any other time even. If my suffering had not improved, even slightly, I may not be alive today, it was that bad. But, now, time, so much fucking time, to lay in bed, day after day, minute by minute, with so much time and nothing to really do but think! I actually can’t do anything that requires my focus without taking 2 X 30 mgs of Adderall, even to hold my head up to watch television. So, thinking it is! I no longer think so much about how ME/CFS robbed and stole my entire wonderful life that I had created, at age 35, or the fact that isolation and loneliness is all I have known for so long and that I was never able to fall in love, get married and have a family, robbed of the experience of being a father! My God! No, I can only think about how and when, Oh Lord, when will I reach the end of my tether and do what is constantly on my mind? I an not presently in any danger of harming myself and I hope that will last for some time yet but it is something that is never far from my mind. I have now pretty much lost all hope of ever regaining my life, not as I once knew it, but simply ever experiencing the joys of life, ever again. The thing is, I feel that at some point, somewhere down the road and in time, inevitably, I am still going to have to one day be faced with such a decision that I tear up as I write this. And, Oh my, how permanent a decision if there ever was one to make. I most definitely do not want to die, I just do not want to live, no, exist, another 20 years from my bed. I have just now discovered Jamison, I simply quit doing any research or reading up on ME/CFS for so many years out of frustration and the opinions of the medical community at the time, so I am rather excited in reading more of his personal struggles and in hopes that it will help me with mine.
Hi. I totally get your frustration with the research and such. It seems like every other week I’m getting my hopes up about some new development. Probably not good to do that but sometimes we have to grab at straws. Hang in there. Try to find joy where and when you can. I’ll be trying to do the same. Thanks for reading!
Thank you, Jamison! I was very much like you in my previous life, I played football and baseball all through school, rode quarter horses in rodeo competition, grew up hunting all game, but quit that years ago and started hunting game with my Nikon camera and various zoom lens, but my true and most beloved passion was being an avid weightlifter for 39 years! I loved how one could change, tone and improve your body through a dedicated program and diet. I wasn’t interested in being an actual body builder or competing in the sport, although I did admire their dedication. I was most interested in having a healthy body and mind from regular exercise, sleep and a proper diet. It is very hard to describe though, how good a very strenuous and demanding 2 hour workout to exhaustion would make me feel! Like you, right up until I just could no longer do it, I had to go to the gym at least 4-5 days a week, with 2 hour workouts and I would personally feel guilty, if I didn’t. But, It really wasn’t to the point of being an unhealthy obsession, I just loved it so and more than anything else except for my other passion and career, buying and selling historic properties, using a corporation and an LLC , that I had founded. I was actually doing much better than I had even dreamed about. I loved making goals and planning my life out in detail, writing it down and reviewing it frequently and life was good! Well, from here on, you already know my story from my previous post but I suffered in silence for years and really had no idea that there were so many others out there that even had or could even possibly have a clue about what it has been like. Well, I am finally glad that I decided to join some facebook groups that have helped me with my current struggles and I gained more and more strength everytime I would read the stories of others that were suffering the same as me. This has lead me on down the path that brought me to you! I can’t tell you just how much you have already helped me and much more than you will ever know. I found you, someone with the same likes and passions as me, suffering with the same stupid illness as me, but it was at a time, very much unlike ever before because I had already given up hope and probably would have already punched my ticket out of here except for one very powerful reason. I just could not even considered it seriously, right now anyway, because I could never bring myself to cause my mother so much additional pain and suffering on top of her already grieving from the death of my very close sister last year. She died from a sudden massive heart attack while scuba diving in Key West, Florida and it has absolutely devastated my mom. So, I hope delaying this sense of urgency will give me ample time to find myself again, and I am very happy to still be able to start looking too. Anyway, Jamison, there is no need for a long reply or response because I have also found that I feel much, much better after I have written it all out like this and in this manner. I am still a very intensely private person and have never even told any of my old friends or family, including my mom, just how bad that I am hurting at times and don’t plan too. I thank you for having the courage to open and bare your heart and soul, for all the world to see, including me, about such private and intimate feelings and that many refuse to even talk about. When I saw that you could do it, it gave me the courage to share my struggles with others that understand and to even admit it to my very own self. Thank you again and from the deepest depths of my heart. You just may have saved my life!
Hi Raden. Wow that’s quite the life you’ve lived. I love photography as well. I miss it. Thank you for reading and for your kind words!
I would love to keep in touch too!
Hi Jamison, I hope this finds you doing very well and I can only imagine the number of emails that you receive and how it would literally be impossible for you to respond in length to each one. Just seeing that you have taken the time to read them is more than enough for me and I will continue to follow you, especially during moments that seem intolerable, because your advice and words of wisdom come directly from your personal experience and struggles. Yes, my friend, you will never know, just how much, you have already helped, so many.
As always, I read your blog with interest and certainly commiserate with your situation. I am one of those ME/CFS patients that have tried to commit suicide….6 years ago, and nearly was successful. Suffice to say that I took over 80 pills (Xanax, Ativan, pain killers. etc.) and all that happened was that I was in the hospital in a coma for 2 days. What the heck???
My husband found me, called the ambulance and the ER said it was too late to pump my stomach. Now, you’d think that 80 pills would stop the breathing of a 130 lb. woman, yet it didn’t.
I’d just completed a 7 day hospital evaluation with a team of doctors in Houston who had no CLUE what was wrong with me, despite me insisting I had ME/CFS. I’d been poked, prodded, grueling tests…..I’d been discharged, felt SO despondent, came home and 2 days later my elderly Golden Retriever, Elsa died in my arms in the middle of the night. Couple that with being on withdrawal from a combo of Lunesta (for sleep) and Lyrica (for pain), well…I was not thinking clearly and all I could see in my future was more pain, nausea and debilitating symptoms.
In the 16 years I’ve had ME/CFS, like many seriously affected patients, I’ve longed for death, planned for death in a multitude of scenarios; hanging myself from the bannister, taking more pills but this time doing it in such a way in my large bathtub that I would pitch forward and drow, being able to somehow drive down to the Brazos River and jump off the bridge…turning on the car engine in the garage. But, after the episode 6 years ago, I’ve never actively planned for it again. I realize that if you don’t allow yourself to ‘go there’ and think about it….just forcing my brain to go ‘elsewhere’, it doesn’t get beyond just hoping that one might die in one’s sleep.
To be honest, I have several guns, but a relative tried to kill herself with a gun and ended up only damaging her skull when she kind-of ‘missed’ the actual target of her head.
And then there’s my husband.. I don’t want him to be ‘that guy’, the ‘one whose wife offed herself’. It doesn’t seem fair since he’s stuck by me for 16 years.
That being said, I think it’s ironic. They give animals a way out, humanely and calmly, by giving them a shot to make them sleep, then the actual meds to euthanize them.
And then there’s the spiritual aspect. I’m a committed Christian and I do believe that suicide isn’t God’s ‘best solution’ for problems but I do believe that at times we come to the absolute end of our human endurance. I don’t believe He PUTS sickness on us but that because we’ve been given total free will, that sickness is just the consequence and result of being on planet earth. So I don’t blame Him. There are millions of religious people that are sick or have a disease. My Bible says that if we accept Christ as our savior we are forgiven our sins; past present and future and I have to believe that there is an afterlife Not that it’s an ‘out’ but I believe I would be forgiven if I just came to the absolute end of my endurance. But that is for each person to decide. Even when I tried to off myself, right before I just prayed to God that He would understand my suffering and forgive me. So….I have to wonder….since 80 pills didn’t stop my breathing? It wasn’t my time.
Hi! Wow that’s a crazy story. I’m glad you’re still here, and like mine, your plan didn’t work!
Thank you for this post.
Thank YOU for reading it!
I think it’s important that we talk about our suicidal ideations and attempts (I include myself in the number who have experienced this), because we are not alone. The shame is in hiding this truth from other people who really need to know they aren’t the only ones to experience that depth of despair.
Thank you for your courage and honesty.
I totally agree. Thanks Sharon!!
Our family has seen suicide on both sides, and I have seen the devastation it leaves behind. I don’t know if that would be enough for you to know, but I’m glad you’re still here.
I don’t know if there’s a suicide ‘type,’ but I’m chicken about increasing my own pain, and I don’t even like to let my brain turn off to go to sleep each night, so I’ve never considered it seriously. I have pain enough – what if I survived, but had done even more damage, and had to live with that?
You think about things, and then you make decisions. I don’t know what I would decide if I had your extreme case of ME/CFS. I couldn’t do that to my children, not while I can actually still do a tiny bit of writing. And be here for them.
You have value to the world. For now, and until they fix us, that has to be enough, I hope.
Thanks Alicia! I think it’s a good thing to be chicken in this case. I’m with you.
Just began reading your story after coming across it through links after watching Unrest on Netflix. I too struggle with ME/CFS, Auto-Immune Hashimotos, Fibromyalgia (which I am not sure I believe in anymore) Adrenal Dysfunction, Gut Candida and also Lyme. I’ve been treated for Borrelia 7 yrs ago, and more recently Babesia, with rotating regimen of antibiotics. Blood labs show diminished value but it never really is gone. Many days I still am in bed, lately my strength and neuropathy have been worse.
Today I see a PT for Aqua therapy because I am lost as to how to regain flexibility or strength to walk, shower, dress, all the normal things that everyone takes for granted.
I drive 6 hrs to Atlanta to see my doctor because even though I searched and found 5 physicians in Savannah prior to moving here, either they won’t take me on as a patient, or they can’t read the simplest of labs, the one who came highly recommended, I waited 6 months to see with high hopes (my bad) wanted to drug me with the same drugs I was highly suicidal on 10 yrs ago when an internist in Virginia decided he would wean me on and off SSRI drugs until one worked. After several visits to the ER and incredibly reckless behavior that could have killed me, I chose to stay away from those drugs altogether. Though those thoughts are still in my head, I deal with them day to day and distract myself enough with little things I can find hope in. I saw an Integrative Doc in Virginia when living there, they are far and few between. Here my closest choice of a true Integrative center that I can trust is a 2 day journey as I cannot drive 12 hrs in one day. She listens and has helped determine the root causes of my issues. I plan on also going to COEM to see if they have an option that may help.
Anyway, I look forward to reading more of your blog and wish you a good day. Thanks for sharing your story.
Hi. I live in Atl… Might be nice to chat (elsewhere) about such drs. (facebook.com/dsavannah)
Hi Jackie! Wow that sounds like a nightmare. Antibiotics are harsh for Lyme. I’ve been avoiding them because my doctor says I’m not well enough. I too had a bad reaction to antidepressants. I know they help some but I’m not a fan. I hope you find a good doctor soon. We have a few here in California. Thanks for reading!
I’m glad you’re still here, my friend.
Thank you for writing this post. I know it probably took a lot of effort, and I appreciate the guts it took to share so openly about a topic that is so taboo–but is also so necessary to talk about. I’ve lost a lot of dear friends to suicide. My first brush with it was when I was 23. A coworker and friend shot himself in the head in front of a group of girls on their way to school. I was basically the only one who knew about his depression, and we were similar people–so I had a lot of grief and guilt related to it. He never knew how important he was, but his death saved my life probably. I was on a similar path, and his death really pushed me to change my life to be a more vulnerable human. Years later, I’ve lost more people–including a friend who had struggled for a long time and was making a documentary about depression. She never finished, and part of me wants to finish it for her.
I’ve also struggled with depression, on and off, throughout the years. That kind of goes with PTSD, though I lean more towards anxiety. I’ve always been able to crawl out of deep depression, though it does show up from time to time. I’ve often wondered why I have that resilience and others do not. Sometimes, I think the coping mechanisms that come with PTSD actually have saved me. However, 2017 was a pretty rotten year–and I danced with depression quite a bit. I thought, several times, about my ability to keep living. I’ve had a lot of issues this month, too. The majority of the reason I’m still here is because I have cats to take care of, and I’m probably a chicken. I could never hurt myself–unless you count all the emotional ways one is capable of hurting themselves. My boyfriend, now, has hurt himself and takes medication for his severe depression. His level of depression seems far worse than mine, but it’s a spectrum. We are all capable of anything in low moments.
Just wanted to say–you’re not alone. It’s sometimes a very hard road. I’ve learned–as you said–that just waiting it out sometimes changes my mindset. A lot of times, it’s a thought that just needs to be acknowledged. It’s usually grief, I’ve found, and talking about it–sitting with someone through it–changes it. I don’t think anyone truly wants to die. They just want the pain to stop. I’ve also found finding something to hold on to can get you through anything. If you feel like you matter, you can endure almost anything.
Hope your days get better soon.
Thanks Alma! You’re the sweetest. And definitely right. Depression and ptsd seem to go with each other. I feel like depression goes with lots of other things — anger, trauma, etc.
I love it how people’s comments on your site are so lengthy. It just shows how connected they are to you. It really is a beautiful thing. I think.
That was a great post. When I started reading it, I thought (not to sound calloused, but…): “How would you even be able to kill yourself with your illness?” I remember your other posts, and how weak you were, etc. So I was very satisfied when you actually explained your attempts and failures. You don’t see so much detail in other suicidal posts.
I’m happy to hear your outlook has changed and that you are still here, impacting so many lives.
I love that too! I definitely feel honored. And a bit remorseful that I can’t write lengthy comments in response. But I hope everyone knows that I at least read the comments and they mean so much to me. Thank you for reading the post too!
I’m glad you were able to talk about it. From the comments, you are definitely not the only one! For me, I’m glad you are still with us and still writing.
My son has expressed interest in suicide, I hate hearing it from him and cannot imagine how your mom must feel although I know she would know that it is because you are in pain and unhappy. 🤗
Hi! It’s such a personal thing, when anyone else gets involved, especially loved ones, it’s really hard. I hope your son finds his way through it. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!
Thanks for writing about this so openly and honestly. I think having chronic pain and any disability forces you to confront your own mortality and self worth on a regular basis. I lost my brother to suicide last year and it was so difficult and painful for my family. Your insight about it being a last ditch effort to have control over your life is really accurate. Talking about it openly is so important.
Oh Mara, I’m so sorry about your brother. That is beyond anything anyone should have to bear. I’m glad you found this post helpful though!
Thank you for this. Your honesty is captivating and this topic is so important. I’m so glad you’re still here, friend.
“…let time pass.”
Thanks Em! You’re the best!
I was adopted when I was 5. My first and last name were changed at the time and I eas moved to another state. Prior to the adoption, I suffered multiple forms of abuse. I was also bullied by both school and neighborhood peers my entire childhood until 13. By the time I was 7 my adopted mother came to hold me in contempt and freely showed me that was the case until I was kicked out of the home and placed in a residential program where I lived until I was 17. At 17 I went out in the world to make my own way.
What is the point of this story? Only one. As long as I can remember I have lived in pain. At times it hurt so bad it felt phyisical, but it is always there. I’m in my mid 50s, and have been through many different therapies from childhood through adulthood. The first I can recall the feeling of being loved, was when I was 42. I had often wondered and had even asked whether someone can actually feel love given them by another. Does that meaning, feeling, intention of being loved transmit in some way that the recipient actually experiences it in some palpable way. The first time I had my closest experience to that was from my first pet, a cat I had rescued. He was on my desk in front of me. He rolled onto his back, and looking me in the eye, put his paw on my cheek. I really felt loved, or maybe, I just felt I mattered. I meant something to him. A raroty nowadays, I cried hard in that moment when I recognized what I was experiencing and what happened.
My first suicide attempt was at age 32. The failure was followed by another attempt that would have succeeded had I not been discovered by some friends. For the next 5 or 6 years, I struggled with the suicidal thoughts on a daily basis and throughout the entire day. My last attempt, 7 years after my first, also failed, but was a close call resulting in 3 rounds of dialysis over 2 weeks in the hospital. All of these attempts were only ever driven by one thing, one thought, one motivating need. I just wanted the pain in me to stop. That’s all. I just wanted the pain that had been with me as long as I could remember to go away.
As odd as this may seem, I also managed to earn my PhD over this same 7 year span.
Over the years since, the suicidal thoughts slowly began to lessen in frequency and intensity until first I went a day without having them. Then, days strung together, turned into months, and eventually years. I still have the thoughts return on occasion, and sometimes they are more pronounced than others, or last for a little longer period of time, but I they are very rarely strong enough to result in any serious consideration.
I wish I had better answers or a better understanding of what changed. I think over my life, my pain and hurt transformed into a kind of numbed emotional death. Other than work I spend my life living alone. I know I have made my life small, but it is the only way I feel safe. I feel in danger and exposed in personal interactions outside of designated roles such as those provided by work. I have always been a sensitive and caring person, who used to feel things intensely. Today, I am still caring, but unwilling to open myself to the potential cruelty of others. I have experienced my full share of it, and seen more than my share. I keep myself safe, I enjoy my work and feel it is of value to others, and I find humor in the world where I can.
I don’t feel at risk of suicide anymore. I just wish I could have experienced more safety and joy in my life. This is not an uplifting story, I know. It is my story though, and sometimes you just have to accept some things that aren’t how you wish they were. I am settled with myself now. I have made my peace with who I am.
Hi! Wow that’s an intense experience. But I’m so glad you’re in a better place now. Stay strong!
So many thoughts crowding my head … so I’ll just say thank you for writing about this.
Like MB, I just wish the pain to stop. Because sometimes it’s unbearable. And my symptoms are getting worse… Which terrifies me.
I’m glad you’ve been able to hang on. I am doing my best to do the same.
Thanks! I hope your symptoms lessen soon!
You openness is refreshing. I do talk to people about suicidal thinking that I experience, but many don’t really understand what I refer to as ‘the noise’ or ‘dark thinking’. I have experienced them since my early teens. I have planned it out in my mind many a time, but I have never taken action on the thoughts, I have always managed to decide that things ‘will to get better’, enabling me to hold on Although now at age 48 that gets ‘thin’. I actually find it harder to reason the thoughts away now I am older – but I do EXACTLY what you said, which is just wait, and let the thoughts happen in my head, but I don’t engage, I let them run like credits of a film, until they pass. For me they tend to after a few days.
Mine are due to complex PTSD – and I relate to a great deal that MB said, and understand their feelings, although my PTSD is not ‘as bad’, I didn’t suffer in the same way, I remained with my mother, she was just toxic in many ways. I am now married (15 years) and I do have two children, and those reasons also keep me alive. But I, like MB, also know I have the strength of mind not to follow through and I don’t know why I am able to do that when other can’t. I have never considered myself as depressed or in a depression (though I relate to a great deal of it) and have never needed medication to bring myself out of it. I don’t know if my refusal to label myself this way has been part of what has saved me. After an emotional breakdown in 2008 I sought help knowing that I needed to and knowing it would benefit me after having been in therapy in my early 20s – and 6 years of therapy has certainly helped me change my mindset. And I have also accepted that I will always be ‘a work in progress’ and constantly working on myself, and I have embraced that.
I have a particular hatred of suicide being termed as a selfish act. It angers me and frustrates me no end. I feel people that don’t experience those feelings or thoughts just can’t seem to rationalise them any other way. And I think people like to say that those that commit suicide never tell anyone, because they use that to sooth themselves, telling themselves ‘well they never told anyone so how could we have helped’ – although I do know a couple of people that really didn’t tell anyone before they took their lives. I just think there is no one ‘type’ of person who experiences these thoughts.
I also feel frustrated for people who are seriously (or terminally) ill and don’t have an option of euthanasia. I recently made the decision to put my cat to sleep because she was so ill. I could have attempted to find ways to keep her alive, but really I felt that would have been selfish on my part. That her quality of life wasn’t okay anymore. And I wrestled with guilt for a week or so after, but I know she is in a better place and pain free. I think as a civilisation/species we look at things from a skewed perspective. But all we can do is try our best in our own little corner and be open to listening and helping others when we can.
I am grateful for your openness, particularly in helping others gain better understanding of what you are personally going through and how suicidal thinking works in your mind. The only way we can grow as people is by listening. Thank you.
Hi Miranda! I’m glad you wait it out like me. I find the panic eventually subsides and I can bear being trapped in this body again. Thank you so much for reading!
I am a sufferer of MFCFS, Fibromyalgia, lupus and associated ailments of these illnesses. In my darkest hours, I have understood why people reach for the razor blade then upped the duloxatine to treat depression-although too afraid to tell anyone about the realness of the suicidal thoughts. In starting my own blog and twitter account recently, I have found this a good way to reach out from the couch-today too unwell to go to work -had a day off yesterday-spaced out on the computer too-what is all this about?! I hope to keep in touch, thank you. -Annie at FreeMeFibro.wordpress.com
Hi Annie! Thank you for reading and commenting. I would love to keep in touch. Love your page too.
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Just clicked on the link in Emotional Autoimmunity Facebook Page to read this insightful, realistic, yet encouraging blog post. My story, although different, had similar elements of decision points ending with “wait.” It’s the hopeful waiting that has gotten me through each time. It was easy to relate to your experience. Thank you.
Hi! Thanks for reading the post and finding my blog. I’m glad you can relate, although I wish you or anyone else didn’t have to suffer.
I feel for you man, I have been there too. I appreciate how open you are about everything and how you don’t try to sugarcoat it. Luckily, I am one of the few who can still work part time with this, but I definitely have down times where I can barely get out of bed. It sucks.
Have you tried Turmeric? I recently added it to my daily supplements and I am noticing a big difference cognitively.
I just now found this blog and I am thoroughly enjoying the content, sending good vibes your way brotha!
Thanks man, I appreciate your kind words! I drink a kombucha with turmeric. It’s the greatest thing ever. I don’t if it helps my symptoms though.
Reblogged this on Dark Side Of The Spoonie and commented:
Incredible article about the things very sick people think about on a regular basis. Exceptional, please read.
Hey, thanks for the love!
Anytime! I LOVE your site. I was just thinking to myself that I wish I saw more men writing about chronic illness and then I stumbled across your site. I also found your candor about the “S-Word” extremely refreshing. Thank you for posting such a great article!
That’s very sweet! Thank you! I wonder that myself. I think it’s a mix of guys not wanting to talk about it and also women being disproportionately afflicted by chronic illnesses.
I absolutely agree, so it’s encouraging to see someone filling that role. Men need a space where they feel confident to share, even if quietly, the ways that chronic illness/pain affect them. I was so encouraged to see your site, keep up the great work, you’re providing a much needed space!
As someone who has often considered suicide, I can empathize with you. And your solution is wise, give time time. Nothing has to happen in that moment. Thank you for sharing.
Jamison.. you are educating me on survival. I have never read such real and impassioned discussions of suicide. as in your article and all of the insightful responses. After a long life in which I have seen four people close to my life commit suicide I believe suicide is much more common in American society than we are given to understand.
My father committed suicide when I was twelve years old in the middle of the depression. My best friend from the orphan home I was sent to after his death committed suicide at the age of 70. One of our best friends, a talented woman of about 70 closed the garage door and turned the car on and died. A neighbor and friend of ours in an apartment we have hung herself in the buildings garage nest to her husbands car. All of these are representative of the wide range of dysfunction in our supposedly exceptional country.
It also points out to me the incredible courage those of you with a terrible disease have to fight that problem and continue to use you mind to survive.