Therapy day tomorrow. I wouldn’t say I’m looking forward to it, as facing up to the demons in your mind are always uncomfortable to say the least, but it no longer holds any fears. I’ve accepted I’m mentally ill, have been for a long, long time, and that Lesley is here to put a stop to that.
One of things I’m about to do in preparation for our session, as almost any patient will have done (and mentioned throughout my therapy logs) are the ‘scores on the doors’ questions to gauge your levels of depression, stress and anxiety.
A question on the form has put me in a bit of a quandary. It’s asking that have I in the past fortnight had thoughts I’d be better off dead or hurting myself in any way. I have done once. The columns, however, only have no, several days, most days or every day.
Not to worry, how that turns out will be part of therapy. The issue, we all know, is having suicidal or self harming thoughts in the first place. How the hell does life get to the stage where death is the favoured option?
I can’t be sure about anything prior to leaving school but I do know that soon after starting work, I was made to feel so useless, so ugly, so frightened, that suicide was blessed relief. I’d stand at a subway platform and think how quick and easy it would be to jump and end it all.
Another time was a lot more puzzling. I’d left my long term partner a few years ago and over the upset, was in a steady, well paid job, seeing plenty of friends, and dating when I wanted to.
As I began wandering home one afternoon I saw a bus heading towards me. The next instant a voice in my head said “I wish I was under that.” Clearly something subconscious was eating away at me. What facade I was trying to hide I consciously never knew. Even now, it’s still a bit confusing to think about it.
These were just a couple of highlighted occasions, at either end of the scale, showing that suicidal thoughts can strike at any time, for any reason, which may not even be readily apparent to you. It’s a hell of a tough life knowing your mind can treat you like this at any moment. An absolute nightmare.
What really doesn’t help is the myths spouted occasionally in everyday conversation if either a high profile or close to home suicide is in the news. I’ve heard these things said:
“They’re just being selfish.” So easy to say from the benefit of a non-suicidal mind. In fact it’s the opposite. A person in that state of mind believes, as I have done on numerous occasions, that their death will be worth more to those around them than their life. Twisted logic it may be, but that is a pretty selfless act, giving your life believing it makes others better.
“Suicide is the cowards’ way out.” Again, said by people who have no experience or knowledge of suicidal tendencies. If, like me, you are atheist, that is the final act you will ever do until the end of time itself. Giving up everything, every beautiful sunrise, every moment of hope, of laughter. Forever. Hardly a cowardly characteristic.
“It’s the easy option.” Another well worn phrase. If you’re scratching at your skin, with a banging headache, and vomiting, guess what? You’re ill. If you can’t get out of bed, in tears, believing that you can’t go on and better off dead, guess what? You’re ill. Dealing with physical symptoms is often simple. But mental illness, hidden from the outside world, suffering in silence, tormented to the point of taking your life? Just how ‘easy’ is that?
“Cheer up.” This often ends in the person saying that suffering one of those physical symptoms that are often simple to deal with. But painful nonetheless.
Believe me, that theme from M*A*S*H is so so wrong. Suicide is painful beyond reason. It’s not something to be dismissed either. For me, though, it’s not that I want my life to end. It’s just that at certain times, the pain seems so unrelenting, so unbearable, it’s the best route to take.
It isn’t, of course, and I’ve been extremely fortunate to either have a small shred of reasoning in my mind that there’s another way, or I’ve had people around to stop me taking that step. The plans, though, as well as the thoughts, have been there, on plenty of occasions.
I’m not sure where I’m heading with this. It’s just something I wanted to get off my chest. If any of it strikes a chord with you, and you want to, get in touch. The four things you can guarantee from me is not hearing those damn phrases above.
I know where I’m heading now though. To supper. And then, tomorrow, to therapy. If you’re reading this, Lesley, we may have some issues to cover.
And don’t forget the magnolia plant.