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One month ago, I attempted suicide. Even as I type the words, they look unreal to me. One month ago, I looked at my life and decided there was no reason to continue. Today, I can look at my life and list reasons to continue and revel in each breath – my daughters, my grandsons, the beauty outside my window, the chance that things will be better tomorrow. The list goes on. In many ways, the circumstances I face haven’t changed. The difference lies in my brain chemistry and the way I relate to the world around me.

I have bipolar disorder. In these days of people lightly tossing around that term to describe a multitude of behaviors (I’ve actually heard it used as an adjective, “Why is she so bipolar about everything?”), I have what my new therapist terms a PMI (persistent mental illness). For descriptive purposes, I prefer the old term, manic depression. In my case, it’s particularly apt. Although I sometimes experience euphoric highs, my manic spells are usually riddled with depression. My doctor would say I have mixed episodes. I would say I live through hell whenever they hit. I become a frenzy of impulses, all of them bad. Money flows through my hands without attention to bills and expenses. Suicidal thoughts haunt me from dawn to dusk; nightmares lead me to believe they haunt my sleep as well. Nothing feels good for long if at all. The only overriding frame of mind is that I should die, I deserve to die, everyone in my life would be better off if I wasn’t around, and I most certainly would be better off not living. It’s like being caught in a trap. Each thought feeds the next, and they only ever move me in one direction.

My suicide attempt was the third to land me in a hospital at the brink of death. I suppose three times in twenty years is better than three times in quick succession, but despite knowing my disorder drove me to that space, I still feel shame. It’s a terrible thing to throw away your life for no reason. With the help of some gifted professionals, I try to remind myself that there are too states of being for me – well me and sick me. Well me would never consider suicide as an option. Sick me considers little else. This time, the blow is worse than in the past. I have been regularly taking my medication for years. It’s painful to realize even a positive change in my behavior isn’t always enough. According to my new doctor, my old meds were at such low dosages as to have no effect. I’m trying not to hold my previous doctor responsible for the situation. I had a couple of years without any major episodes. Maybe they thought the low dosages were working. Maybe they did for a while and stopped. All I know is that I have new meds that are doing the job for the time being.

The fallout of this episode will be with me for a long time. In the lead up to my attempt, I mismanaged my funds to the point that I will soon have to move. I’m not quite sure where or how, but as in the past, something will come up. The first hospital bills have come, but you won’t hear me complaining about them. The underlying truth in those slips of paper is that my life was saved by dedicated medical staff. Luckily for me, I have insurance that brought the financial cost to me down considerably.

What insurance is this? Medicare. Did I mention that I’m unable to work due to my illness and the associated conditions that I’m working on in therapy? If you’re wondering how I survive, the answer is simple. Social Security Disability. The apartment that I’ll soon have to leave? Government subsidized housing. Other programs I’ve utilized in the past when necessary include food stamps (SNAP as it’s now called) and Medicaid. And let me tell you, I am grateful for every single one of them. I may not live a life that people at higher incomes would understand or desire, but I am able to survive. You see, I have no family to speak of beyond my children. One of them is a teenager still living at home who is grateful to still have her mother (we’re working with her counselor at a community mental health center to help her understand the situation, in case you’re wondering). The other two are adults with families and financial struggles of their own. They cannot afford to support me, a thing for which both have expressed frustration. They would, but between student loans and a host of other bills, they simply don’t have the means. They are worried about the short-term future for their sister and me, but they know, as I do, that life has a way of working out when you least expect it.

The reason I am posting this is to underline one more time that, yes, elections do have consequences. For me and so many others like me, the difference between life and death can be as simple as protecting and promoting social programs. The Romneys of the world may not understand how much I would like to never have the problems I face again and how much I wish I could think clearly at all times, but I feel confident that progressives can and do make that distinction. Not everyone has family members that can or will help them. Not everyone understands that a mental illness isn’t due to demon possession (thanks, Mom) or some sort of willful behavior.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I will be thankful for every remaining moment I have. What I can tell you from a medicated perspective is that the mentally ill don’t want pity. We want the chance at more balanced, productive lives. As part of my therapy once things are more settled, I hope to go back to school. My tentative plan is to get a degree in social work. In a few years, my last child will leave home for college. Part of me yearns for something meaningful in my life that isn’t related to being Mom. Having received help from so many good people, I want a more concrete way to give back. I hope it doesn’t sound too sappy to say I’ve been inspired in part by the president’s background as a community organizer and by the general ethos of the Democratic Party and a good portion of the posters on this site. If I could some day support myself while helping others, it would balance the time I’ve spent in hell. Maybe some day I can sit down with someone else and say the words that more than one person has said to me lately. I know this is a hard time for you, but I promise, it gets better.

Originally posted to Raine Hawking on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 06:43 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Very good diary, thank you (23+ / 0-)

    I wish it were more widely understood that the brain is a chemical engine and that an imbalance of chemicals there can kill you as surely as can diabetes, an imbalance in the endocrine system.  

    Being a moralist society, we're given to regarding mental illness as a character flaw.  If you're depressed, get off your pity pot, go look at a sunset, get with Jesus.  It isn't understood that the brain is lacking the ingredients it needs to even remember what a bearable life was like, never mind having the ingredients for imagining that a living hell can end in any way but death.  

    Mixed episodes must be a particularly harsh living hell, hour by hour.  I appreciate your writing about it - and about the patchwork of coping strategies you've assembled to get through it.  

    "Injustice wears ever the same harsh face wherever it shows itself." - Ralph Ellison

    by KateCrashes on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 07:16:21 PM PST

    •  Thanks for commenting (18+ / 0-)

      I wish it was, too, but it seems people who haven't experienced it find it very difficult to imagine how it would feel to have their minds turn against them.

      Thank you so much for putting that moralist bent into words. I've heard it all and more. I've also been told that if I just had more willpower or something that I'd be fine. I've pretty much given up trying to explain to anyone who approaches me with that attitude.

      Coping strategies can draw strange reactions as well. Since my hospitalization, I've taken up coloring as a way to relieve stress. When I mentioned it to a friend, she acted as if it was ridiculous for an adult to use coloring pencils and a picture to relax. I just passed it off, but it reminded me one more time of how outside a lot of apparent social norms my illness can take me.

      •  If you friend only spent more time (16+ / 0-)

        hanging around on Pinterest, she might have different take on coloring as a grown-up activity:

        Pinterest: adult coloring pages

        As you can see, there's a very very long sample of coloring pages for adults - most of them floral, geometric, or mandala-like designs. I even saw one of our president! Many of these have free downloads, so you might find some new designs for your relaxation and enjoyment.

        The point is, lots of people over 21 enjoy the art of coloring, as a hobby or chance to unwind, or as a useful coping practice like yours. That your friend was so judgmental about this says far more about her than anything else (as I'm sure you've heard before.)

        Thank you for this insightful diary. Glad you're still with you. Sending virtual {{{hugs}}} your way.

        Handmade holiday gifts from Jan4insight on Zibbet. Get 10%off everytime with coupon code KOSSACK.

        by jan4insight on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 08:48:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah.... (12+ / 0-)

        I like to build & paint models.


        Coloring is nutin... LOL... I painted a 3 headed Alien.

        FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

        by Roger Fox on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 08:49:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Art is where the mind is at its finest (12+ / 0-)

        Stop by WAYWO here on Sunday evenings.  The What Are You Working On? diaries draw supportive, unpretentious creatives together.  The sanity of coloring will be taken for granted there.  (And if your friend happens to google "adult coloring," she'll find it's quite a thriving market. :::grinz:::)

        "Injustice wears ever the same harsh face wherever it shows itself." - Ralph Ellison

        by KateCrashes on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 09:12:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It certainly is (10+ / 0-)

          Oh, another fantastic resource. I have a tendency to withdraw from people. Anything that gives me a reason to interact is a definite plus, and a creative group is all the better.

          •  yes, please join the creative class! (6+ / 0-)

            I learned early in life, when I started to crochet as a boyfriend left me to embark on a career as a heroin addict, that making something beautiful and colorful helps the brain to rebalance itself from stress. I have an Irish wool blanket in pineapple design that I made while watching the news in the week after 9/11. I have quilts I made while waiting to adopt our son. Whatever you do, make it beautiful! WAYWO is a friendly crowd, and you might find even more crafts to try.
            I have a friend who has struggled as you, with mixed episodes, all her life, so understand it as well as I can. Take good and gentle care of yourself! Don't leave us yet, we will all dance on Inauguration Day!

            George W. Bush: the worst Republican president SO FAR.

            by Chun Yang on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 06:27:26 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm so excited to see what everyone is up to! (5+ / 0-)

              I've always used writing to cope, but I'm coming to appreciate how much visual beauty lends balance. My daughter and I are going to make some t-shirts with puffy paint (she is a well of great ideas), and I'm excited just planning the design for mine. I'd love to see pictures of your blankets or quilts. I've informed the kid that we need to be more crafty for two reasons. One, I think it will help me overall, and two, it gives us something to do together that's fun.

              My thanks and good wishes to your and to your friend. I will, and you do the same. Yes! I am proud to have voted for our president twice and can't wait to see him reaffirmed in office. And of course, I want to see what lovely outfit the first lady will have at the Inaugural Ball. She's so classy. I adore them and their beautiful girls.

      •  I'm running into some of that (14+ / 0-)

        moralist bent at its absolute worst: people explicitly equating mental illness with a character flaw.

        I'm in recovery from depression, and it was my encounter with stigma that led me to choose my current career path: I am now a law student planning to devote my entire career to representing people with mental illness. But now that I'm in my final year of law school, I'm finding that I may have to be my own first client when I graduate. I'm currently applying for a public interest fellowship in a state where I may not be allowed to take the bar exam without first suing the state bar for an injunction.

        In all states, anyone applying for admission to the bar, in addition to passing the bar exam, must submit a moral character questionnaire, answers to which are given under penalty of perjury. Mental illness has very explicitly been seen as a strong negative factor in deciding on someone's moral character -- historically, in many states, worse than felony convictions.

        Until the passage of the ADA, virtually all states asked extensive questions about mental illness, and having been diagnosed with or treated for a mental illness tended to be an immediate disqualifier. After the ADA passed, many states were forced by courts to narrowly tailor those questions to identify only conditions with a strong likelihood of impairing the ability to practice law. (This tends to mean severe episodes within a relatively short time prior to the application.) But there are quite a few states, about a third of all states, that persist in asking overly intrusive questions. For the most part, these are simply the states that haven't been sued yet.

        I'm in the application process for a fellowship that would require me to work in one of these states. I have to disclose whether I take medication for any psychiatric illness, and if so, to sign a HIPAA release for each and every psychiatrist I have ever seen in my life. If I end up getting the job, I intend to refuse to give the state bar those HIPAA releases, which is why I will most likely have to get an injunction forcing the state bar to remove the question.

        Even convicted felons don't have to jump through so many hoops to prove that they have been rehabilitated enough for admission to the bar. I don't think there's any clearer indication of how much of American society still views mental illness. With the words "moral character" at the top of the questionnaire, it's spelled out right there in black and white.

        •  Thank you for sharing (9+ / 0-)

          It absolutely appalls me that people who suffer from mental illness are put through such stringent requirements to prove rehabilitation. While I realize the plural of anecdote isn't data, my experience and those of others who've shared with me is that most of us who suffer and have to take medications in the long term want nothing more than to get on with our lives and be as productive as possible. It's incredibly difficult to do that when you're forced to answer questions about the process with the clear implication of being excluded if you don't give the "right" answers.

          I hope your battle with the state bar goes well and with as few complications as possible. In my opinion, popular media does us no favors with its consistent portrayal of people with mental illnesses (bipolar and schizophrenia in particular) as clear and present dangers to everyone around them.

        •  that horrifies me (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Raine Hawking, KateCrashes, DrPlacebo

          my best wishes to you with the bar application, and thank you for choosing to do this work.

        •  So the geniuses discriminate against those who (6+ / 0-)

          SEEK treatment, thereby making it less likely that people will get treatment.  Yeah, time to change that Dr. P!

          "Injustice wears ever the same harsh face wherever it shows itself." - Ralph Ellison

          by KateCrashes on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 03:59:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  My position is that (4+ / 0-)

            it's absolutely illegal under the ADA. Every federal court that has looked at a similar question agrees with me. It's probably a matter of inertia, I think: no one bothers to change until they actually get sued.

            But the frustrating thing is that the ADA still has to be enforced case by case, which I think shows that people don't see anything wrong with what they're doing. In some ways the situation is worse than desegregation was in the 1960s, even if there isn't the violent backlash that the civil rights movement faced. Opponents of desegregation challenged the validity of the Civil Rights Act, and until they lost at the Supreme Court they could at least plausibly claim that the law was not clear. For the most part, they fell in line very quickly when the Supreme Court spoke. Now, no one is challenging the validity of the ADA, which is widely accepted as the law of the land. Many institutions are simply ignoring it and assuming that people won't sue, even while they accept that the law is perfectly clear. There is a lot more willful violation of law going on today.

      •  Regarding your friend - (4+ / 0-)

        much of the way people regard activities like that is purely based on social norms. It's hard for me to imagine that there are people who actually relax by watching t.v. or, of all things, shopping.

        After I was released from the hospital, I decided to buy an electronic keyboard. That's slightly more acceptable than coloring, but I still have people laughing and saying, "Don't quit your day job." I think that I'm bad at it is actually why it works for relaxation. I have no ambitions when I play. It's one of the few things that I do entirely for my own pleasure.

    •  Or the engine can break or be missing parts. (10+ / 0-)

      There's nothing wrong with the chemicals in my brain. It's just that one small part of the brain is unresponsive to them, with the odd but often inconvenient result that I'm incapable of feeling gratification at personal accomplishments (the technical name is Reward Deficiency Syndrome, RDS). You'd be surprised at how much of the impulse to get things done depends on feeling good that they do get done. And it's very tricky to explain to others that although I may carry out tasks for other reasons (intellectual curiosity, duty, friendship), I have little interest in doing them for myself, and won't be able to respond to thanks or praise with anything more than superficial acknowledgement. The feeling that I've done something praiseworthy simply isn't there. Neither are an odd assortment of other feelings, such as anything that might be described as religious sentiment, which I find simply incomprehensible, or for that matter any sense of awe or wonder at anything. I find the night sky, for instance, both beautiful and fascinating, but my feelings toward it are curiosity and no more. I can't even imagine what people are thinking when they say it's awe-inspiring or something to wonder at. For me, it's just there.

      "They smash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn)

      by sagesource on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 12:48:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you for sharing (7+ / 0-)

        I think it's key for people to approach one another with as much compassion as possible and try to understand that some people are simply wired in different ways. The ones who do the most damage are the ones who insist we must be just like them or we're faulty. I run into this with my mother (who displays all of the hallmarks of bipolar disorder but refuses to seek treatment of any kind). If I do something damaging in the midst of a manic episode, she insists I am acting out or demon possessed -- anything but ill and in need of care.

        I'd never heard of RDS. Thank you for explaining it and how it affects you. The more we know, the more we learn to accept and appreciate the differences in others, hopefully.

      •  Wow! You have just described me to a "t." (5+ / 0-)

        My family has always wondered aloud why I don't take more pride in my accomplishments. My response is, "What accomplishments." They think I have low self-esteem, but really it's just like a blank there. I know what other people think are my accomplishments because they've told me, but I genuinely don't feel anything about them. I don't feel bad about them either.

        Could this lead to dramatic underachievement? I've actually gone to psychiatrists and psychologists specifically to get to the bottom of why I seem to have all the raw requirements for achievement but am unable to actually perform. No one has ever mentioned this syndrome to me before.

        Currently, I'm diagnosed with anxiety and depression.

    •  And it's not just Jesus - (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Raine Hawking, wasatch, KateCrashes

      I didn't grow up in a religious environment, but I've been hounded with a different type of misunderstanding. I can't begin to tell you the number of people who seem to be damned certain that all my troubles stem from not doing yoga, or people who think that exercise and diet will cure me.

      In an attempt to improve my mood, I increased my level of exercise because it seemed to be the conventional wisdom. I was already exercising about an hour and a half a day when one psychiatrist I went to told me to exercise to help my mood. Really, it's almost like being slapped in the face.

      All those people who believe so devoutly in the importance of a meritocracy really make me feel worthless. Achievement for them is a sign of character. Sometimes I think I'd prefer the people who believe in Jesus. At least Jesus is supposed to love everybody.

      FWIW - I'm an atheist, so I'm not saying that because I'm advocating for religion.

      •  as you've discovered (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Raine Hawking, KateCrashes

        sometimes you have to shop around a bit to find the right fit in both therapists and medications. Sad but true. Takes some patience. (In a crisis, however, one should go to the ER, and work out those details later).

        One way to do that is to get a few recommendations, then set up a few appointments with different people, telling them up front that you are meeting with a few different therapists to find the one that suits you best. Of course, this is an expensive way to do it, and it's possible you won't discern which one clicks for you in just one visit, but if the alternative is trying different therapists in a drawn-out succession, it can save time, money, and sanity. I don't know, maybe it takes working with someone for awhile before you know whether it's working for you.

        Not that the "right" therapist will always make you feel good, as therapy can be painful and challenging at times. What you're looking for is the person that you feel you can trust, basically, don't know how to describe it better.

        I tried the above trial method, visiting a few different therapists and choosing one of them 20 years ago. Since then, I've occasionally made changes in the doctors I see for meds, sometimes because the doc is retiring, moving, or dropping private patients. sometimes for my own reasons. For counseling, I see a psychologist. Saw one for 6 years or so, took a break from counseling for a good while, then decided that I had reached a point where I needed some additional help. Though my old counselor knew me and my issues and history very well, I took a shot at seeing someone new, which has worked out pretty well. Having heard a few horror stories of unprofessional or otherwise ineffective counselors, I've been pretty fortunate in my choices.

        Good luck.

        •  Absolutely. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wasatch, KateCrashes

          My current therapist is the first one I've ever felt comfortable enough to continue with. He was highly recommended by my daughter's therapist, and my trust in her judgment has been justified. My new med doc challenges me, but in a way that helps me reevaluate long held beliefs about myself and the way I see the world. While I'm often initially frustrated, when his words have time to sink in, they open new perspectives. All of the people mentioned display a characteristic that I prize in other people -- compassion. I've had therapists and doctors in the past who were the stuff of nightmares (one tried to date me while I was still recovering from a hospitalization and not even through my divorce).

          Short version: If it's uncomfortable or not working out, don't be afraid to shop around.

      •  I know what you mean (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KateCrashes, wasatch

        I'm an atheist and not concerned about the religious side of the coin, but the feeling that I haven't accomplished enough with my life remains no matter how often I'm told that bringing up three children as a single mother with a persistent mental illness is quite an accomplishment indeed. I always feel I am supposed to have done more with my life by now.

  •  An amazing baring of the soul (11+ / 0-)

    I've dealt with depression, and 3 years ago turned a major corner, it gets better :~ )

    FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

    by Roger Fox on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 07:42:39 PM PST

  •  Great diary and comments (8+ / 0-)

    this website really has its moments.

    This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson, written by Dorothy Fields

    by Karl Rover on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 09:44:59 PM PST

  •  Thank you for this (7+ / 0-)

    Telling your story in this way makes your situation more relatable for those with no direct experience of the challenges of mental illness, and gives hope to those who do.

    It's wonderful that you're considering your options, including going back to school. One thing you might consider as part of this process is to do some peer counseling, if you don't already. Organizations like NAMI (or even a case manager or therapist you work with) may be able to put you in touch with programs that can use volunteer or paid peer counselors or advocates.

    It's hugely helpful to have someone involved in the process who has direct, personal experience with the challenges faced by those with mental illness; you know things that the most highly trained clinical professional cannot. The same principle applies to hiring those with a background of addiction---currently in recovery---and those with a history of exposure to domestic violence or sexual assault to work as a peer mentor/counselor/advocate for those currently battling addiction or dealing with trauma exposure.

    More programs are using this model to deliver services and such work provides a great foundation for future clinical work you may undertake as a social work student (it may even count as clinical hours for various certifications outside of the degree track, which can be a good stepping stone).

    Best of luck to you...and add me to the no doubt long list of people who are glad you are back from the brink.

    "When did it fall apart? Sometime in the '80s / When the great and the good gave way to the greedy and the mean." - Billy Bragg

    by Vacationland on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 03:05:47 AM PST

    •  Thanks for commenting (7+ / 0-)

      I have never done any peer counseling, but it sounds like a wonderful way to give back. I'm going to talk to my therapist and group counselor about it, and thank you for NAMI as another resource. I've found many times that people with no direct experience of the disorder can't quite make certain connections no matter how hard they try while those of us who live with it can instantly understand where we're coming from.

      One of the things I love about this community is the amount of help and knowledge available if you only show an interest. Your comment proves how valuable it can be once again. Thank you for the suggestions and good wishes.

      •  I know about peer stuff through my work... (7+ / 0-)

        ...which involves evaluating social service, public health, justice and corrections agencies and programs. But I have direct experience with major depression, so I kind of know the difference, too. :-)

        In my area, we have a fairly comprehensive array of services (in part because it's the largest metro area in my state, and thus a magnet for those living in more rural places statewide). Among these organizations is one called Amistad, which is specifically focused on peer support and recovery. Perhaps your area has something similar?

        "When did it fall apart? Sometime in the '80s / When the great and the good gave way to the greedy and the mean." - Billy Bragg

        by Vacationland on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 03:26:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Same boat, same crew (13+ / 0-)

    I don't have insurance, and turn 64 in January. One more year till medicare, but unless things have changed with the Affordable Care Act, mental health always gets the short shrift on coverage. One trip to the hospital and we would lose our house. The house I could stand to lose. Not the meds I pay cash for to deal with ptsd. I was suicidal when I went off them temporarily back in March. Back on 'em now. So great big hugs and tender mercies Raine. Hold on tight to your talent for writing. It has elicited fine and compassionate comments. There are so many knowledgable people on kos. It's a genuine community.

    Tell me a story of deep delight. - Robert Penn Warren

    by bisleybum on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 03:25:20 AM PST

    •  Our disorders rock the boat too often, I know (8+ / 0-)

      I am so sorry you don't have insurance. I remember years ago when I was on my ex-husband's insurance how I raged because mental illness had a different (higher) set of co-pays and deductibles than physical illness. I was lucky that Medicaid and then Medicare were available to me after the divorce. I am so sorry you went through that in March. I also suffer from ptsd (there's another diary entirely in that), which adds to the chaos when I'm having a mixed episode. So glad you were able to get back on your meds. Big hugs back to you, bisleybum. Oh, thank you so much! I love writing, but I never think of it as a talent as much as a lifesaver when I need to vent. The comments leave me almost tearful with joy for the compassion the people in this community show every day. I love this place.

    •  The Wellstone-Domenici Mental Health Parity Act (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Raine Hawking, KateCrashes

      (which was finally passed after Wellstone died) was supposed to fix this. But my experience is that there are still some limits to it. This is something I've been meaning to research, and you might want to take a look at it.

  •  Great diary!! (9+ / 0-)

    I hope you don't mind, but I added the Kosability tag. I feel this diary needs to reach a larger audience.  Through the holidays I hope this diary reaches the people who feel they are without hope.

    Don't lead--I'll wonder off bored. Don't follow--I'll get you lost. Just walk beside me... & help me cause trouble.

    by khloemi on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 04:54:08 AM PST

  •  Beautifully rendered. Thanks for (4+ / 0-)

    writing this, Raine. Anything that expands my understanding of what it is like being inside the head of a person dealing with this illness is important to me. My ex has this so I lived with it for 24 years, also he is an alcoholic. For years his suicidal behavior/wishes were part of daily life, before he was diagnosed.

    I have had major depression a few years back myself, so when you said this it really connected with me:

    .... it would balance the time I’ve spent in hell
    I wish you did not have this illness and all the pain, but I am so glad you survived! The new medication will hopefully give you many, many years of a good life.

    Your insights are helpful, and your explanation of how government programs keep you going was well done. Keep writing because you write very very well.

    Hope you have a very good Thanksgiving!

    "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

    by Gorette on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 07:33:05 AM PST

    •  Thank you for thinking so (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rosebuddear, wasatch, KateCrashes, Gorette

      I know it isn't easy to live with someone who has suicidal ideation on a regular basis, and it definitely isn't easy living with depression. I'm glad you overcame your depression.

      Thank you for your good wishes. I am very optimistic about the new medication. It's something I've never taken and so far seems to have a very positive effect.

      Thanks again for thinking I write well. :)

      I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving, too!

  •  please PLEASE Raine (7+ / 0-)

    don't give in to that impulse the next time it hits. And I know it will.

    I know it's REALLY HARD. My beloved boyfriend Patrick of two years had bipolar disorder which he refused to get treated for. He told me (and I do kinda sympathize with this point of view, actually) "if they put me on drugs, I won't be ME, anymore".

    He committed suicide in February of this year. Hung himself in his Mom's basement. I have been devastated ever since. Most days I can NOT think about it. hard. But last night, I just couldn't stand it. I brought up his picture on my browser, taken at his sister's wedding in summer of 2011.

    I looked into those beautiful beautiful eyes, and thought about the torture that was going on behind them - he told me about his suicidal thoughts, and I tried my best to tell him that he was wrong about people not missing him - and that he WASN'T a loser or whatever else he thought - and failed miserably. He also had the thing with not being able to handle money and everything else that is typical of BP disorder - and I, having no experience with that, feel like I screwed up bigtime trying to help him with it. Not that I didn't get it (I did) but that I couldn't imagine what was in his mind.

    The thing that is hardest is that I know he was physically afraid of certain things. For instance, he was afraid of large dogs, and would run away from even a friendly large dog. I used to laugh at him for that, and tease him as he would tease me about my fears of flying, freeway driving and spiders. Haha. This sounds dumb now, but he was very compassionate about my fears and phobias and I tried very hard to be compassionate about his.

    The thing that haunts me is, did he change his mind when it was too late? I am told that hanging yourself causes you to black out and is painless in dying. But who knows?

    I have texts from the day he did it, all cheery and hi honey I love you, and I hope you have a fun day at Como Park. Just exactly not what you would expect of a guy who was going to go home from work and kill himself that night.

    I was wondering last night what made me think about him after so long a time, and then I saw your diary this morning. I think I'm here to tell you that you DO matter to people,  and they would be devastated if you were gone.

    Much love to you and yours and all on this thread. Happy Thanksgiving. And take care of yourself, all.

    Love, Rose

    Old Mamasan would certainly be glad to know that Ronnie's gotten past it. I'll tell her the next time I see her. Stephen King, Hearts in Atlantis

    by Rosebuddear on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 07:52:00 AM PST

    •  I wish I knew the right words (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rosebuddear, wasatch, Wee Mama

      To make you feel better. What I can tell you is that I've done the same thing, been cheery and never given away what I had in mind. I don't think you should in any way blame yourself. I went through a period of refusing meds for the same reason. At the end of the day, you can't force someone to stay in treatment or continue meds.

      I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for the words of encouragement, and I hope you will be able to come to a place where you'll understand that it wasn't your fault. You didn't fail him by telling him the things you did. His disorder overrode his will to live, and while it's a tragedy that I wish hadn't happened, you are in no way to blame for it.

      Much love back to you and yours. Happy Thanksgiving and take care, Rose.

    •  (((Rose))) (4+ / 0-)

      I, too, had a boyfriend with a severe case of manic depression (that was the term he told me) who refused to take his medication. He said that it made him less creative. He tried a lot of alternative things like meditation and exercise that I don't believe actually worked.

      Fortunately, he's still alive, but last I heard he was living in his car.

    •  I'm so sorry Rosebuddear (3+ / 0-)

      This doesn't lessen the pain, but sometimes there is nothing more that you can do. I've buried a few friends of suicide and/or drug/alcohol relapses, and it hurts, but we loved them as well as we could, and found that sometimes it's just not enough against such powerful foes. My wish for you is that eventually you can remember him and smile for the memory of what you loved in him rather than just feeling pain.

      I have struggled with depression most of my life, had suicidal thoughts for years, and 25 years ago, I finally had a period of acting on those thoughts and very nearly succeeded. In my case, there was nothing anyone could have done to stop me, and believe me, people tried, as it was obvious that I was on a downward spiral.

      That does NOT mean that people shouldn't try to help. Sometimes an intervention really does save a life, and we must ALWAYS try to do so. I just know that it doesn't always work, particularly in cases where the person is refusing to accept that help. I was one of those cases, and was extremely lucky to come out the other side.

      I am so sorry for your loss. I know it will take you some time to work through it, and I am sorry for that too. You may always carry it, but hopefully, the burden will lighten with time.

      Raine, thank you for sharing your experience. I am so glad that you survived, and that you have found medication that works. Your hopeful tone makes my heart sing. I'm glad you're still with us. I also appreciate how you tied it into the things we are fighting for. You are one of the many human faces of the issue that are the reason why we fight for these things.

      Your opening paragraph really struck me. When I first got successful antidepressant treatment, I could tell when the meds kicked in (generally takes a few weeks), and that's it exactly. Nothing was different, but everything had changed.

      I sometimes compare it to movie Dorothy's first sight of Oz. I had been depressed for so long that I had no conception of what "better" was, no concept of an alternative, what it would look like, how it would feel, or even that an alternative existed. Recovering was like Dorothy seeing Oz. How could you imagine technicolor if all you'd ever known was black and white?

      My best wishes for you and your family in the coming years.

      •  Thank you so much for all of your comments (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rosebuddear, wasatch, KateCrashes

        They've very insightful and reading them has given me a boost today as well. I love your Dorothy and Oz comparison. My new meds are the first to have had that effect for me, which is one reason I have no problem taking them despite the nasty aftertaste they leave. Insert laughter here.

  •  it is people (6+ / 0-)

    like yourself that I voted for Obama.  I personally can't stand Obama (the bankers should be in jail and banking system nationalized, not bailed out at the detriment of the nation's currency and long-term viability) but Romney was like a mini-gw bush playing the 'compassionate conservative' campaign act but as soon as he gets in office turns into a monster of lies (already proved), war, national embarassment,  pain, suffering, corruption and avarice pretending to be 'the American way'.

    "History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance." -James Madison

    by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 08:25:17 AM PST

  •  Thanks for writing this. (6+ / 0-)

    I disappeared from this site for a couple of months in late spring/early summer after I spent a couple of days in a psychiatric ward. I checked myself in because I had been having suicidal thoughts but still had enough sense to know that they were really unhealthy. I'd already been to a couple of therapists during the preceeding year and I couldn't seem to convince anyone that my problems were serious. Going to the emergency room was one of the smartest things I ever did.

    I wanted to write a diary about my experiences, but I was afraid that if I admitted to have been in a psychiatric facility people here would dismiss just about every I said from there on out.

    My biggest problem is basically anxiety attacks. They don't happen very frequently and I don't normally appear to be an anxious person, but when they happen they can be very dramatic. The episodes are very painful to experience and I would be very happy if nothing like that ever happened again. You're very right that people view them as willfull when they are not. I guess I've had them since I was a child, though they were much less dramatic back then. My mother definitely acted as if they were willfull. She would yell at me and punish me for acting like a "baby."

    The diagnosis of depression is new and I'm still trying to learn how to cope with it. I'm pretty sure that I haven't always been depressed. Sometimes I wonder if it's really menopause approaching. I'm a little bit better in that I'm no longer thinking of suicide, but I'm still not the person I was just two years ago.

    The anxiety is more immediately painful than the depression, but I think the depression is more debilitating long term. I've accomplished next to nothing during the past two years or so. I had gone back to graduate school and I lost all motivation. I feel like I'm moving through taffy. I still do things, but they take forever. Whereas I used to do the laundry and clean the house on a Saturday morning, it now takes me all day to do one load of laundry and I can't for the life of me account for why. One therapist asked what I do all day. Usually, I've done something, just not enough to account for all the waking hours. Where are the missing hours? I don't know.

  •  on this thanksgiving day (3+ / 0-)

    I am so happy to know all you loving and caring people.

    That's what I'm thankful for.

    Love, Rose

    Old Mamasan would certainly be glad to know that Ronnie's gotten past it. I'll tell her the next time I see her. Stephen King, Hearts in Atlantis

    by Rosebuddear on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 09:39:07 AM PST

  •  gotta go now (4+ / 0-)

    gonna eat turkey day dinner at a local restaurant. Which I intend to secretly tip heavily to the servers for working on Thanksgiving Day. Mom (in her eighties) just didn't want to deal with cooking anymore and nobody wants to come to our trailer for Thanksgiving, cause we just can't handle the crowd to sit down. :)

    I hope you all have a lovely Thanksgiving.

    Like I said to Raine and others DONT DO IT.

    Call me first. Message me Kos messenger.

    Don't any of you dare. I will come back and haunt you first.

    I mean it. :):):)

    Old Mamasan would certainly be glad to know that Ronnie's gotten past it. I'll tell her the next time I see her. Stephen King, Hearts in Atlantis

    by Rosebuddear on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 10:02:22 AM PST

  •  Thanks for the post card (4+ / 0-)

    Your story is moving.

    I have been suffering from major depression for about 4 years now.  I quit my job as a corporate attorney nearly 3 years ago due to severe anxiety attacks and depression.  At about the same time, my wife and I adopted a baby boy from China so I have been a stay at home dad since.

    The episodes of depression tore me up inside for the longest time which led to a near constant feeling of personal guilt and shame.  I have not seriously considered suicide but I can absolutely understand how someone who is suffering greatly could contemplate that option.

    The medication prescribed for my condition (Effexor) has lifted my mood a bit I can see now that it will never be a "cure".  Instead, I have recently taken to a daily meditation practice which has given me some insight to how the mind works.  Mediation has been as valuable to me as the anti-depressants, maybe more.

    I hope that you continue to discover the light in your life and recognize the darkness as the imposter it is.  

    •  Thank you for sharing your story (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The feelings of personal guilt and shame make it so much worse. My recent hospital stay involved a lot of time with the nursing staff assuring me that they understood the difference between sick and well and that the guilt wasn't necessary. I still feel it, but I keep reminding myself that having the problem isn't my fault.

      I'm glad medication and meditation are helping you. My meds are helping quite a bit, and my therapist and I have discussed priorities in treatment and the beginnings of a new set of coping strategies.

    •  meds don't fix everything (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Raine Hawking

      My own experience is that meds get me to a baseline where I can function, and the rest of it is up to me. I have bad habits that are easy to fall into. Years of depression left me with a lot of damaged thinking and poor coping strategies, which take some work to overcome, and to maintain the healthier thinking and behavior.

      Your willingness to try other things that work for you is good.

      I believe that anti-depressants should never be prescribed without including at least some time with counseling. For serious depression, meds alone are not enough, certainly not for me.

      I have to do a number of things to keep myself healthy, and it takes some practice and attentiveness to backsliding.
      Find what works for you, and keep at it.

      Thanks for mentioning meditation. When I meditate, my day goes better, but I have backslid on doing it regularly. Really basic things like nutrition, exercise, and good sleep habits also help. Sleep apnea can depress energy quite a bit, and effective treatment makes a difference in energy and mood.

      I'm very familiar with the guilt and shame, and you have to resist it. It is absolutely useless to your healing, it's a lie, and it makes everything harder. Acknowledge it's futility and let it go. This is not your fault. Try thinking of something to replace those thoughts with when they come. I have had to "re-wire" a lot of unproductive thought patterns.

      Apparently, depression and anxiety together is not uncommon. It was strongly recommended to me to add anti-anxiety meds to the mix. It didn't work for me, but I know it has worked for others.

      Continue to embrace the light.

  •  Brave diary... Good diary (4+ / 0-)

    thank you for your courage.  I am familiar with bipolar as my 23 year old who is juvenile diabetic suffers from it.
    Thank you for not giving up.

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 02:32:14 PM PST

  •  All good wishes to you. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rosebuddear, Raine Hawking, wasatch

    I'm thankful for your diary, and that you're still around to write it. Wishing you a year that exceeds your expectations!

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 05:21:34 PM PST

  •  I'm thankful that you're still here with us (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Raine Hawking, wasatch
  •  Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your (0+ / 0-)

    very personal story with us.  Mental health issues are a neglected area of public discourse and attention, and that needs to change.  So much can be done to help people that is just not being done, and that is a shame on this country.  Best wishes in your continuing pursuit of a better and happier life.

    "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy -7.8., -6.6

    by helpImdrowning on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 01:39:51 PM PST

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