Saturday Blog 27: Struggle with Suicide and Bereavement of Others
I will never again go to the Square on a Saturday! I got stranded there because there were no buses to take me home. I waited two hours and Twitter was no help in finding out why or the public transportation system for that matter. I had gotten a text saying severe delays due to traffic but not that there would be no service to the Square. I was so pissed. I hadn’t eaten anything but a bag of chips so was starving when I came home. I was lucky my sister was home and could pick me up. Then I got a migraine that just made things worse. So I am writing this blog a little later than usual because of the migraine.
I watched this video about “Life after Suicide”. It really made me think about the people I would be leaving behind and the affect it would have on my “kids”. It also made me feel grateful that I can talk about my suicidal feelings with my therapist and psychiatrist, openly and honestly. I think that if I kept those feelings to myself, I would probably act on it. It helps to hear my therapist say that she would be devastated if I went through with my thoughts. I don’t know how my psych would feel. Probably the same as I have known her for over twenty years. The thing is, I don’t want to live. I had made a decision with myself when I was young to take my life so I wouldn’t be old. Here it is twenty plus years later and I still struggle with suicide. It’s like it gets bashed around, deeply thought about, planned, and just never happens. I haven’t made a suicide attempt since I was eighteen and then I spent two and half months in a psych unit at the local hospital. I had met a psychiatric resident who believed in me and we worked together for three years. It was the most stable relationship I ever had with a professional, aside from my current therapist. I was still in and out of psych hospitals. When I was first hospitalized, I was damned if I was going to end up like the people around me. I was in a lot of psychological pain that I wanted it to end. Even though that pain has subsided somewhat, I still think about suicide. I now suffer chronic physical pain and it keeps the thoughts swirling around in my head.
In the video, the woman who talks throughout it says that you need to talk about suicide. In London, they have a place called the Maytree where suicidal people can stay for up to five days to deal with their crises. It is run by none other than a suicide attempt survivor. I have no idea if a place like that exists in the US. I know in my town, there is something called a residential place that is similar to what they were talking about. It was so long ago, I forget the criteria for going there. I know you had to be a part of the Department of Mental Health system to go to it. I was so ill then. I didn’t stay at the place. It was run down and dirty looking, nothing like the Maytree. But it was an alternative to the hospital. I don’t know if they exist anymore with budget cuts to the mental health system. They closed so many psych units in the last twenty years. Even the world famous McLean Hospital isn’t what it used to be.
Also in the video, there is a segment with Dr. Rory O’Connor (person that I got the video from) that talks about entrapment and how a suicidal person often feels trapped and feels the need to escape. This is often true. I feel trapped because of the guilt I would place on others by my death. I die and others feel hurt. In the meantime, I am left to deal with my own suffering that no one else can feel. How is that fair? And don’t dare tell me life is unfair. I know that already, I live with it every single day. I pissed and crapped my pants today and didn’t know it so don’t bother telling me that life is unfair. Another misery that I have to deal with and don’t want to. Dealing with the physical pain is one thing; it’s quite another to deal with your bodily functions not working right.
Throughout the video, I thought about my friends David and Melinda, who lost their significant others by suicide. David lost his fiancé almost six months ago. His fiancé was my friend Chris. I had felt guilty about his death because I am so involved with suicide prevention and yet I never reached out to Chris. I never knew the demons he was facing. He was always a stand up guy and looking at him, you never knew he was depressed. He hid it well. We will never know what made him take his life. David has been open about his grief on FB and it has been one of the reasons why I am still here. The grief he feels is so palpable it hurts to watch him go through it. Chris was the first friend of mine to die by suicide. I have had other friends die, but not like this. It is a unique death that no one can understand or make sense out of.
More Rants on Suicide
Have I mentioned how much I love Twitter? It brings me on the front lines of any suicide articles. I recently have two rants that I will discuss that I have read today concerning suicide and suicide prevention.
The first is a Washington Post article about a guy that wrote an email detailing his suicide, to multiple journalists. All he wanted was acknowledgement and validation of his work that he published in the 70s. What did these journalists do? NOTHING. Until it was too late. The author of the article asked “what was she supposed to do”? Answer: TALK TO THE PERSON! This guy waited several hours for a response before he jumped to his death. He was obviously waiting, desperately, for some kind of response to acknowledge his statements. And when he didn’t, he died. He died a needless death because these journalists didn’t take him seriously. The author states she got the email late, and he was in Japan, she was in the states, so went to sleep! Then when she woke up hours later, she decided to pursue the matter. In those precious hours, she could have responded with something, anything. All she had to do was hit reply. A one liner was, in my mind, all that was needed. It angers me that this guy was obviously in distress and was blatantly ignored. I hope this journalist learned her lesson. That suicide intentions of any kind are not to be ignored.
The second piece was about how psychiatrists deal with suicide. In the article, the author found it difficult to find someone to talk to about this. It was not talked about. Also in the article, it mentions her friend, who happened to be hospitalized for severe depression because she kept attempting suicide. Her friend had a therapist, that after she attempted, hung her out to dry. She didn’t want to treat her anymore. So now her friend is without outpatient care. She has not been able to find a therapist to deal with her suicidality. Because once you mention the “S” word, no one wants to deal with you. I have found this out myself. When my therapist permanently located to her current office 30 miles away from and my car broke down, permanently, I tried to find a therapist within a 5 mile radius of my house. I talked to 10 different therapists. ALL referred me to another therapist once they inquired about my suicidality. Because I had and was currently suicidal, they didn’t want anything to do with me. Then when I was able to find someone in my hometown, he was sweating bullets whenever I brought up my suicidality. How was I supposed to talk to him when it was obvious he was scared of losing me? I said fuck that and went back to my current therapist. We have phone conversations and I see her whenever I can borrow my sister’s car.
This article cited sources from the AAS and Dr. Paul Quinnett, two of my favorite sources. I commented on the article because it was dear to me. I know first hand the stigma around mental health professionals when a patient dies by suicide. I have read countless articles about it. It is a very difficult topic. And once a patient dies by suicide, it scars the practitioner for life. I have had many discussions with my therapist about what would she do if I died. She couldn’t fathom it, nor talk about it. I once brought her an article about what to do if I should die. She rejected it. And this is from someone who welcomes everything I bring her and hoards what I give her. I wanted her to know there were resources out there to help. She wanted no part of it. And this article highlighted that. Most professionals that lose a patient to suicide are alone, but they don’t need to be. As survivor resources that the AAS provides become more widely known, therapists are being helped by their peers and healing can occur.
About being a Suicide Attempt Survivor
A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about how it was shameful to me being called a suicide attempt survivor. Though it wasn’t hurtful, it was more embarrassing. I think it was because there is great shame in dealing with suicide as everyone has an opinion, good or bad, on the topic.
Those feelings have changed since I published my book and the American Association of Suicidology approved a new division on suicide attempt survivors. I feel like I don’t have to hang my head in shame anymore, that I can be free to express my suicidality and not be shunned. I always felt that if someone knew about my suicidality, they would not be receptive to me or be judgmental. That may still be the case with some people, but at least I feel welcomed with an organization that helped me deal with my suicidality and try to overcome it. It wasn’t easy. It was a long road. I still feel suicidal at times. Even though I had a huge accomplishment this week with the publication of my book, I still felt like offing myself. I just felt like my job was done but really it is only beginning. I need to spread the word about my experiences and that there is treatment available if you just look for it. The training of clinicians in suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention needs to happen and what better way than through the experience of an attempt survivor or a person with lived experience. I hope that one day, clinicians are not threatened by the word suicide and are eager to help those that are feeling like taking their life.
In my book, I talk about two frameworks that have helped me in my recovery. They are CAMS (Collaborating, Assessment, and Managing of Suicide) and the Aeschi Model. These frameworks take away the therapist as expert and put the client/patient in charge of their treatment. Through an empathic and non-judgmental ear, his story is told and the learning of what makes that person suicidal is learned. It is completely individualized as no two suicidal people are suicidal for the same reason. You cannot lump suicidal people together and hope that one treatment works. It must be individualized. Just like not all medication work for all people, dealing with suicide can be a trial and error situation. But it takes willingness on the part of the clinician to make this so. Clinicians cannot always count on the hospital being the cure all for suicidal thinking. It must be dealt with in an outpatient setting as more and more hospital beds are becoming scarce.
Today has been a wash. I didn’t go to sleep until in the wee hours of the morning so I decided to take something stronger than Ativan for sleep. The medication has me so hungover that I have been sleeping on and off today.
I got really excited today. It took only a few hours for Amazon to post my book on their site. I am excited because I am ranked 66,188 on their best seller’s list! I am sure that will change but right now I am happy. My Kindle is in the 200Ks but will drop. For some reason after I dropped the price, the ranking went up. But oh well. I sold another copy today.
I am a stats geek. I love numbers. But I won’t know what my sales are until the end of the month! I am so saddened by this. There is no point checking my sales report constantly because unless they use createspace to purchase my book, I have no idea who is buying my book. But a different seller is posting my book for more than the listed price as “new’. I don’t think I will get any royalties from them, but if they buy through Amazon, I am golden. So far that is the only other place selling my book.
I had therapy today and told her that I was suicidal. I wasn’t active in that I would do something, more like I wish I wasn’t alive. I know I should be jumping for joy with the release of my book but I just don’t feel it. My friends and family have been supportive with the book and all, but I just don’t think I am good enough. I have been fretting over the book’s format, which is why it was taking me so long to release my book. It has been the small things that have been creeping in my doubts. Then we talked about her getting my book and I told her it will be easier for me to send it to her or give it to her in person than her trying to order it. She is not computer savvy. Course I didn’t help matters by sending her two wrong links. I got a little dyslexic. The numbers for the link were right, just in the wrong order (www.createspace.com/4546715). I kept putting in 4546517, which doesn’t exist. I hope she picks the right text and orders my book. She is dying to have it. I told her she could have one of my proofs but she nixed that idea. I don’t know what I am going to do with two proofs. The only difference is that one will have a copyright page and be formatted correctly, somewhat.
Now that I am DONE with everything, I don’t know what to do with myself. I have been tweeting like crazy and keeping up with the AAS conference. They are live tweeting there panels. It is really interesting and you get to feel like you are there. But I am still wondering what I am going to do. I was planning on working on my second book but I am so done with trying to format things that I just can even fathom doing the work for that, now that I know what goes into it. I will wait for the summer to start working on my stories collection.
It really sucks that I have to wait 60 days to get paid from either Kindle or Amazon. And that is from April sales! But I guess it is good in a way. I just have to remember not to spend too much of my earnings for tax purposes. The first thing I am going to do with my check is go to the Capital Grille and get a filet mignon. That will be my reward. I also plan on going out with a few friends and celebrate. I wish they still had the wootstock Farking Wheaton. I loved that stout. But I am interested in getting an IPA to try. I am not a beer person at all but Wil Wheaton is and been learning about beer through him.
In case you missed my previous blog post about the AAS (American Association of Suicidology), they have formed a new division called Suicide Attempt Survivors (SAS) and People Lived Experiences. I am so happy to be a member and a contributor to their SAS blog. I couldn’t sleep last night because I was so excited. It was the last initiative from the former president of the AAS. She was instrumental in creating the blog and had me be a part of it. I will be having another blog post sometime this month. I can’t wait for it to come out. I will reblog it on my site when it is out.