Is it possible to be happy while being horribly suicidal?
Today while waiting for the bus, I was listening to my music. It wasn’t the normal playlist I usually listen to but I was playing all my songs in my music file. A few songs came on that I really love and I caught myself singing along and just feeling happy. It got me wondering what the hell was going on because the past few weeks I have been so suicidal. Hell, last Friday was my death date that I didn’t go through with and yet I still feel the urge to end my life. Yet here I was, singing along to the music like I didn’t have a care in the world.
I know people feel relieved once they make the decision to end their life. It’s like a burden is no longer on their shoulders. That the tasks that were impossible are now possible because things are going to end soon for them. I know this because I have felt it. I have gone through it. Yet somehow, some way, I have managed to survive the death dates and the horrible suicidal thoughts that have plagued me since I was young. My therapist calls me the exception to the rule. I some times call myself a coward for not going through with my plans. After all, I always keep my promises to other people but I never have been able to keep a promise to myself, and that include ending my life at some future date.
I wonder if I have finally lost my mind because I was happy this afternoon. How is it possible to feel joy and happiness after a suicidal episode? It didn’t last too long. Just for a few songs and then I started thinking about writing this blog because I think it’s important to talk about. Suicide claims over 40,000 lives each year in the US alone. Today happens to be “World Mental Health Day”. So I find it even more fitting to talk about suicide.
I’m not going to talk about statistics and data that I could bore you with about suicide. I have just my experience and knowledge that I have learned since studying about this epidemic the past 8 years. When I am not suicidal, I try to learn as much as I can about the treatments for it because it might help me through another episode. There is a lot of research out there. The top ones are CAMS, CBT, and DBT. I have given DBT a try and didn’t like it. That was more than 17 years ago and it has evolved just like CAMS has evolved over the last 25 years.
CAMS (Collaborating and Assessment of Managing Suicide) was developed by Dr. David Jobes and is by far, in my opinion, the best way to manage suicidal episodes. It is comprehensive, easy to administer and score, has a treatment plan, and doesn’t involve more paperwork than regular clinical administrative stuff. That is what I love about this tool. In it you use the forms called the Suicide Status Form to assess suicidal plans and also develop treatment strategies with the client instead of for the client. It’s a collaborative approach because everyone’s suicidal episode is not the same. What causes me to feel suicidal is not going to be the same for the next person.
Brief Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been shown to help those with suicidal thoughts and attempts. It can be used in conjunction with CAMS after assessment has been made. It’s important because this therapy helps with the cognition of suicide better than any other treatment. See the work of Craig Bryan for more information about this.
Despite my happiness lasting for a few moments in time today, I still feel a little content, which is better than I have felt the last few months. I don’t know why this has changed and I hope it’s not the bipolar in me shifting to mania. I always get worried when I am not depressed because it is what I am so used to. But I will take it. Tomorrow maybe totally different than today. Hell, tonight might be totally different than what I feel right now. But I don’t feel like taking my life today, and I think that is a good thing.