For those just tuning in, I’m suicidal…every day. I am told I have extreme suicidal ideation. That means I think about being dead a lot. So, if you happen to run into me, give me a high five because I kicked ass today. Why? You ran into me. Do you realize everything that had to happen, or not happen, for that to happen?
Did that make you uncomfortable? It isn’t pleasant to think about, is it? It is not a topic for polite conversation. I hate that. I hate it because it continues the shame and disregard for mental illness. It is an illness.
I happen to also have a degenerative disease. The bones in my wrists are fused and immobile. My fingers and feet are deformed. It affects my heart, lungs, and eyes, and I live in perpetual pain. Also not pleasant to discuss, right? Know what? I prefer it to the depression. Our human tolerance for physical pain is astounding. We can endure a lot if we have to. Consider…I prefer crippling and deformity over mental illness. Try coping daily with your mind betraying you.
Tonight a friend posted a cryptic message on FB. I know he also struggles with depression and suicidal ideation so I messaged him. It turns out he was going through a very shitty event, but it was not the one I feared. He thanked me, but he could have just as easily been annoyed. I don’t care. I can’t tell you how pissed I was each time someone intervened to keep me from killing myself (three tries.) Simply, I would not be here typing if they had not.
We tend to broadcast our descent and intentions. Pay attention. Take action. Err on the side of caution. There are infinite subtle clues in the build up. Nobody can decipher all of these. I tried to kill myself fewer than 24 hours after a therapist told me I was making excellent progress. I am not a psychologist. I’m a patient. But here are some of the more obvious clues I’ve exhibited:
* Talking, or posting, about suicide. It may be just an effort for attention, but anyone who uses that to get attention still needs help.
*A substantial change in behavior and thoughts. This may be anger or lethargy or even manic joy. If someone with a history of depression suddenly and significantly changes their mood, that is important.
*Radio silence. Haven’t heard from your friend or loved one with depression? Take action.
*Reminiscing. If your friend with depression wants to talk about the good old days, ask why and how they’re feeling.
Watch for the bat signal and do something when you see it. You may misread the clues, but what if you’re right?