She flew through the air with the greatest of ease

;Yesterday was not good, last night was worse, today is a new day. I’m grateful for a husband that loves me unconditionally and refuses to give up on me; as well as a psychiatrist that listens.

For the first time in about 20 years, I am detoxing off of all my pscyh meds with medical supervision (do not try this at home, kids). This time I will not be hospitalized, but I have written instructions from my doctor, and people that love and care about me. It has gotten to the point of feeling like I’ve been having a variety of meds constantly thrown at me as merely a stop-gap. Nothing works any longer, diagnoses change on a ridiculously frequent basis, and I’ve had enough. No, I am not ready to check out of life, I am ready to start from scratch…again. I have made promises in writing to people I know will hold me to them, and I have made a promise publicly through because I said I would. I’m covered, I keep my promises.

It’s a scary prospect, being without psych meds, like performing on the trapeze without a net; but the timing is as close to perfect as it can get. Life is good, there are no underlying personal problems to mask my brain problems like there have been in the past. Hopefully in January 2016 (how appropriate) my psych and I will be able to come up with a new treatment plan (I’ll be seeing him before then, to check in, but I don’t want to make any decisions until after the holidays). I’m sure it will involve more trial and error, but until mental health diagnostics becomes an exact science, that’s the way it’s going to have to be.

In addition to my husband and my psychiatrist, I am also grateful for the love and support I receive on a daily basis from friends (both IRL and out in the ether) and family. Please don’t worry…I will land on my feet, I always do, right?

…and because…Bob loves him some Ashley

Suicide is a beginning, not an end

walking awayFor many that have been left behind, suicide is the beginning of self-recrimination. It is the beginning of self-doubt and self-blame, the beginning of anger and feeling shame at being angry. Suicide is the beginning of a profound grief with never-to-be-answered questions. I know this because when I first met my husband and told him I have bipolar disorder, he said “My best friend had that.” His use of the past tense and the small hitch in his voice told me everything I needed to know.

The end of despair was what I thought suicide would be. Less than a year ago, my planning began. For months I planned every detail, refining and perfecting until it seemed the “best” way for all concerned. Thoughts of my beautiful grandchildren, my daughters, my husband, my family, and my friends had no room to flourish in the inky darkness that had consumed my brain. My body was filled with real pain, centering in actual heartache. I just wanted a lifetime of fighting this pain and despair to end.

And then I was in the woods, barefoot, shivering, doubled over with that unbearable pain, and my husband’s arms wrapped around me. All he said was “I love you,” no matter how many times I begged him to let me go. He helped me back to the house, holding me up when my knees would start to buckle. He gently washed the mud off of my feet, lay down next to me in bed, not letting go until my sobs faded into sleep.

In the years that we’ve been together, I’ve often wondered if falling in love with me was a second beginning for him. Was it a beginning of fear and worry? All the times he says “When I look back, I should have known;” “I should have been there;” “I should have stopped him;” I wonder if he applies those things to me. Does he try to end his past grief by finding a way to avoid another beginning of his pain? Over the past few months he’s returned my medications and the blades I use for slashing bread. To me, that shows a beginning to a hopeful end.

Will it ever fade away?

Bipolar Disorder has been a major part of my entire life, but the last three months have been the worst I can remember in about 17 years. Suicidal ideations have floated through my head off and on more times than I can count, but I was always able to pull out of them. I can remember twice there were spur of the moment intercepted attempts, but nothing like this. This time was the first time I actually had a plan, and now because I went over and over the details, perfecting them every night while I couldn’t sleep, and all day while I couldn’t get out of bed, it feels like its ingrained into my brain. I wonder if it will ever go away or if it will make it easier the next time? I’m OK now, I got through it, I’m not sure how. I had things to do before I left, there were some things I didn’t want to leave undone. And before you ask, no… I will not tell you my plan. Nobody knows what it is, and nobody will. I’ve told my therapist and my psychiatrist that it existed, but even they don’t know the details.

I don’t care what any professional says, there is no hotline, friend, or platitude that can take it away. When it comes to that point, that’s it, it can’t be stopped. No amount of “think of the good things in life, think of the people that will miss you or be devastated” will help. It just doesn’t work that way. The years of seemingly never ending pain, had finally reached an unbearable point. I think the only people that should write University classes for psychs-to-be about suicide should be the people who’ve been there…and somehow survived. Because nothing I’ve read or heard prepared me for the “already-dead” feeling that encompassed me. I wish I could find something I just read, so I could quote it correctly and give credit to the writer, but it had to do with calling the person who committed suicide “selfish.” The write said it’s not selfish, it’s simply an act of desperation. The person isn’t even thinking of themselves, mostly just the pain. Make it go away…now. The people left behind? It’s not their fault, it was not something done to them, there was nothing that could have stopped it. I don’t remember having feelings that fit into the dictionary definition of selfish (see below*), it was just there…in my head…seeming to be in total control of any other thought that tried to get in. I knew how it would affect others, I was well aware of how the well-being of my loved ones would be trashed. I just felt I had no other choice. All other options had been exhausted.

* “Selfish.” Merriam-Webster.com

Full Definition of SELFISH

1:  concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself :  seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others

2:  arising from concern with one’s own welfare or advantage in disregard of others <a selfish act>

I am not trying to make the point that it is inevitable, that when one thinks of suicide there’s nothing that can be done. It doesn’t have to be hopeless, there are many things that work for many people. Untold lives have been saved by a kind word, a hand reached out in friendship, a call to a hotline. I just want people to know, to face the fact of mental illness (which is difficult for so many who don’t live with it); sometimes reality sucks, sometimes there’s no happy ending. 

This post was going to be about something else, something uplifting and positive, but it seems to have written itself.

Death

Do other people think about death quite often? Is it only the mentally ill that think of it as an escape, an end to a seemingly never-ending ordeal? I can’t remember how often it entered my mind before I was married to Satan, but I do remember thinking of it several times in my teens and early 20s.

Yesterday, there was one of those silly quizzes that said it could tell you how old you would live to be, and my answer was 91. I can’t imagine, it seems totally implausible to me. I was 40 when I escaped with my daughters to the safety of another state. I was married for about 13 years, and I’d say most of that time it never occurred to me that I would live to see my daughters grow up. Death was imminent either by my own hand (to end the suffering-before I knew what was happening with my daughters), or by his. A few months before I finally had the courage to leave, it was the voice of my child looking for me that caused me to step back from the curb of a busy street with an oncoming semi-truck. Four weeks detoxing off of eight different psych meds and intensive psychological testing finally convinced me it wasn’t all my fault…it was safe to leave.

Years later, I sat in the bleachers at my eldest daughter’s graduation, tears streaming down my face, never having expected to live that long.

And then shortly after that, she was married to a very kind and loving husband. They now have three awesome boys, and she’s about to graduate from ASU. Once again, I never imagined I’d see any of this. But here I am, still kicking at close to 57 with a happily-ever-after life. Unfortunately, the specter of death still hovers in my head.

There have been only two times in the last couple years when nothing could pull me out of suicidal ideations. Then about a month ago, I had a plan (I’m not going to go into detail). Every night, over and over, I hashed it out, worked out the details until I knew exactly how I’d pull it off. Every psych professional knows, once you have a plan, that’s it…good luck. That’s the evil of depression, it doesn’t care how good your life is, once it gets your claws into your brain, there’s no common sense. No amount of cute kitten pics, thinking of your grandkids, or walking in nature can remove those thoughts. Reading every uplifting or positive saying is pointless; hugs, kisses, well-meaning platitudes from friends are all useless. It’s scary, very scary. The only thing that kept me from going through with it was knowing how it would affect Greg, since he’d been through it before.

Thankfully a med change has helped some, but now instead of thinking of my imminent death, I think of writing my will, who gets what, and how much to whom (not that there is much).

Death is always niggling at the back of my brain, I can’t get it to go away. Maybe it’s because it’s always seemed close to happening, maybe it’s because I have a mental illness, maybe it’s because the hopelessness will never really go away.

Is it just me?