I’d like to welcome Elaina today for the continuation of Suicide Prevention Week. I want to thank her for being so open and brave in sharing her experiences with bipolar disorder, suicidal thoughts and an attempt. I hope her words let others know they are not alone and there is hope around the bend.
Also today I’m guest posting over at Elaina’s blog about my experiences for this week of suicide awarness. You can find it at ElainaJ.com
Trigger Warning: Suicide Attempt.
It was the day of the vice-presidential debate so my new roommate and I watched it with tumblers of wine in our hands after work, after a couple of cigarettes with the cute neighbors across the way. Following the debate I took my second glass of red downstairs to the apartment’s pool. I dipped my toes in the water and called my cousin back in Oklahoma. I remember feeling wildly happy, talking fast, laughing loud, making grand plans for our futures.
Sometime after that call ended I went back up to my room and it was then that I decided to die. I took every last Xanax I had and wrote a suicide note, my final goodbye.
I don’t remember what it said.
Then I lay down on my new mattress on the floor and closed my eyes.
Here’s what I don’t remember – my roommate coming into the kitchen around midnight to find me unconscious lying on the floor. Or the ambulance ride. Or my stomach being pumped. Or a tube being threaded down my throat and into my lung to help me breath, to keep me alive.
After leaving the intensive care unit, I spent 5 days in a psych ward – my first, but not my last, experience living with the mentally ill. In the coming weeks I would be diagnosed as bipolar I. This new diagnosis joined the other band of misfits – obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety disorder, and post traumatic stress disorder. But it also explained a lot and led to finding the right cocktail of medications, lots of therapy and support groups, and numerous doctors to help treat me.
My new doctor following my release from the psych ward explained to me “psychotic breaks” – a time when you lose touch with reality. These psychotic breaks can be brought on by stress and I was under a lot of it – everything was new to me – my city, my job, my roommate, the very air I breathed was different. There was also a talk of a “mixed episode” in which you have depressed feelings with all the energy of mania behind them giving you the power to act on your thoughts and feelings. Then there was the fact that I was on an antidepressant without any mood stabilizers, a hazardous thing for someone with bipolar disorder. I think it was a little bit of everything. I think it was all just too much.
Here we are nearly 5 years later and although I cannot tell you why I thought October 2nd was my day to die, I can tell you that it wasn’t. So many things have happened since then, good things, like falling in love, like writing a memoir, like sitting here at this laptop and being able to write that I lived. I’m lucky.
As I’ve mentioned I have bipolar disorder so I have been suicidal more times than I would like to think about, but what keeps me going is knowing that tomorrow I will wake up and maybe I will feel a little bit better and if not tomorrow, maybe the next day, or the next. And it always gets better. Slowly, sometimes imperceptibly, but it does. Soon you’re counting days of “better,” then weeks, and now, years.
So have hope. Tomorrow can always be a better day. Something amazing could be just around the corner, but you have to hang in there to find out.
If you or someone you know is depressed or suicidal, there is help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255. Someone will be there to listen.