World Suicide Prevention Day

Suicide prevention is an essential topic for me because I am a survivor of suicide. My last attempt in 2010 changed my life, and it almost ended. I count myself lucky, and I mourn those that have not been so lucky. I want to share on this day a chapter from my memoir about suicide. I hope you hear the words and understand what they mean to me to share my story. If you want to purchase my memoir, you can here.

Chapter Four: The Bipolar Writer’s Take on Suicide

SUICIDE. I HAVE MY OWN PERSONAL thoughts on this subject. This is just a part of what I will talk about on the subject of suicide over the course of this memoir, but these first thoughts are very important. 

In the darkest places of my mind, I still remember how it felt when suicide was consuming my every thought. I must go to that place again, but this time it’s only to understand and give you an idea of how suicidal thoughts were a constant in my life for the first 3 years of my diagnosis. 

I believe that we are put here on this earth for a reason. Many of us are put on this earth to help others deal with problems like suicidal thoughts that lead to suicide attempts. I like to think this is one of those times—and I am that person. I want to share my thoughts on suicide from my own experience. You may not like every word that I say here in this chapter. Writing about suicide is never easy, and any human being who has experienced suicidal thoughts knows that once you are past these thoughts, it is not fun to discuss. There is always a chance at relapsing back into suicidal thoughts, so I write this in hopes that I continue to know that suicide is not the answer and you can get past these thoughts as well.

I have so much to say about suicide. I have had the unfortunate pleasure of going down the road of attempting suicide 3 times in my life, and survived to tell my story. That doesn’t count the suicidal thoughts that have waged war in my head since I was a teenager. I am one of the lucky ones in a way because I am a survivor. There are so many of my fellow mental illness sufferers that have taken their life for good. These people will always be in my thoughts because I wish I could save every person that is suicidal. I had to get to a good place in my own life first, but I hope if you are reading this you understand the necessity of such a chapter.

I am afraid and excited at the same time to write about the subject of suicide. For most of my life exploring my thoughts about suicide limited to expressing that I am against suicide. To anyone reading this chapter it took me a while before being able to figure out myself in this mental illness life. I have tried 3 unsuccessful times to take my life. It feels so strange to say I have survived, but it’s true.

The topic of suicide rarely comes up in my real life, and never in this way. It comes in part, because of the stigma of mental illness and from people not wanting to talk about suicide. It took one person asking to write my thoughts about suicide that gave me the strength to write about this subject in this chapter. So here I go.

It has taken me many years to be in the right place with my diagnosis so that talking about suicide is something that I can now do. My last suicide attempt was in 2010. Since that time, I have always advocate against suicide.

To be in a place where suicide is the only option isn’t as fresh in my mind in the sense that I think about suicide anymore, but it is the worst feeling I have ever felt in my life. I remember it well. You never forget the depths of the darkness that is suicidal thoughts. The places that my mind went to when my depression was at its darkest was Hell, and it felt like there was no escape. I wanted to be anywhere but in my own body.

My experiences with suicide attempts were the result of many weeks of very little sleep. The constant racing of my thoughts would consume my every second. I spent so many minutes convincing myself that I was not good enough to live in the same world as everyone else. I went inward into myself, disappearing from the real world. My appetite would disappear, and I would go days without talking to anyone. I spent hours and days in bed lost in endless darkness. It was consuming to a point where I needed to escape this life.

Nothing was real to me in the weeks leading up to my first suicide attempt. My girlfriend at the time always had to worry about my mental health moment to moment. Weeks before my first attempt, I had said goodbye to the world on social media. My family found me before I could take it to the level of suicide but the darkness was still there in my mind. I found myself convincing everyone in my family that things in my life were okay. I said, “I am fine” so much that I almost believed it to be true. I told everyone I was on the mend. It was a lie. 

I don’t know why I wanted to convince the people who loved me that I was okay. It may have been a selfish need to make myself feel better about what I was planning, and yes it was very selfish. I failed to think or care about anyone but myself. It took 3 suicides for me to come to grips with that reality. My suicide attempts hurt the people that loved me; it shows how selfish I was being.

Being who I am, I did research on suicide methods. I saw the real statistics on suicides, and I didn’t care if I became another statistic on a website. The tools were there to let someone know that I was suicidal. Calling the suicide helpline should have been the first thing I did, but I didn’t want help. I wanted not to exist. I found the only means to take my life that was accessible to me, an overdose. It wasn’t a great solution, but at the time it felt right, even if it felt wrong after.

Over the weekend and the days leading up to my first suicide attempt, I didn’t sleep. I was fighting a war inside my head, and the battles were endless. I always remember my first suicide because the event happened during Thanksgiving week—it happened on a Tuesday and I was in the psych ward that night. I remember feeling angry at the doctors that would not release me after I told them I was no longer suicidal. Looking back, it was another lie. I still wanted my life to end. It makes me sad that this was the first time in my life I would miss Thanksgiving with my family.

My first suicide attempt failed because wanting not to be a part of this world was my cry for help. That is why I decided to tell the world that I planned to end my life, again I had talked about suicide only a few weeks earlier on social media. Deep down I wanted my family to stop me, which is what happened. The people that love me found me in time. It took me years to come to this conclusion. At the time, I was so mad at the world that I survived because all I could see was my will not to live.

It’s a weird feeling when you finally take that leap to commit suicide (for lack of a better word). At that moment the world became surreal for me. Everything in my mind became clear, and I felt for the first time that I was at peace. It wasn’t real peace of course, and it was only a temporary feeling. One that ended when I thought my life did.

I remember some of what happened next. Being rushed to the hospital. The doctors and nurses were forcing a black charcoal substance down my throat. The faint conversations about me trying to commit suicide. The doctors and nurses knew something was wrong with what I did, even if I didn’t believe it. Then, many hours later, a nurse and a security guard were pushing me down a long hallway to the psych ward.

That was the first time I was so deep into depression that I turned to suicide. Within a month, I tried again with the same result, a stint in the psych ward. I chose to write about the first and second suicide attempts together for two reasons. The first reason is looking back deep-down I didn’t want to die in those first two attempts. I can say that with confidence. The second suicide attempt was a month after my first suicide one so it meshes in my mind. I don’t remember much from the time in between the two attempts and why I tried to kill myself so quickly after the first time. I mention this because it is different than the last time I tried to commit suicide. It would be about two and a half years before I would be so deep into depression again that suicide became my only solution. I really held on so tight that I could survive, but my depression never got better during this time period.

In 2010, I again wanted to end my life, and the need to not be a part of this world was consuming. It had been two and half years since my last attempt, and my life had only gotten worse. I was amid the most extended depression cycle of my life that started in 2006. I could not find my place in the world. I barely existed, only leaving my house a handful of times in those first 3 years.

When I was alone, my thoughts were dark. I imagined walking out of my house and down the street to walk into traffic on the highway. These thoughts were occurring almost daily as I continued my struggle with depression. I thought about hanging myself from the huge oak tree next to my house. I thought about slicing my wrists and bleeding out on my bed, which was the couch in my parents’ living room. I thought about the many ways I could remove myself from existence and it became an obsession. I would read articles about people that committed suicide. I was on the edge of suicide all the time. Just waiting for the time where it became too much and the only way to finally find peace was to make a bad decision.

Outside my immediate family, most of the people in my life gave up on me by 2010. If I am honest, only my mother still had faith in me at that time that I could one day be in recovery. Most of my family came to realize that if I wanted to commit suicide, there was not much anyone could do to stop me. I don’t blame people for giving up on me or for feeling helpless. I was the worst version of myself during these years.

I remember one day I was especially suicidal and some of my family came to visit my parents. I was alone in the dark with my thoughts when my aunt came into my room to check in on me. My aunt is the sweetest lady in the world, but I was in a dangerous place in my mind. I picked a verbal fight with her. I resented when she called the cops after I told her if she didn’t leave me alone I would kill myself. Suicide became this horrible weapon that I could wield against people who only wanted to help me. My aunt forgave me for it, but I often remember this and feel sorry for the altercation.

It was much of the same behaviors as the last time I tried to commit suicide, but it was also different. The most glaring difference was that for the first time in my life, I wanted to die. There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted it to happen and that it would happen. Since day one of my diagnosis with Bipolar-1, I didn’t believe that I would make it out of my twenties. There was something wrong with me and I had not yet faced the problem. At that moment in 2010, it was becoming clear that my life was going to end.

I planned everything this time. For weeks, I hoarded my Seroquel so that I could take such an intense amount that it would kill me. At this point in my life, I was no longer in charge of holding onto my medicine only to take it in front of my parents. I found ways to pretend to take my medication. I told no one of my plans. I stopped all my online activity. I disconnected from life. I was lucky that my friend couldn’t get ahold me and had my parents checked in on me. It most likely saved my life.

I don’t remember anything after taking my medication that night. Years later, my mom told me it was the scariest suicide attempt that she had to live through. It was with reluctance that she explained what happened. I was in a coma for 3 days I remember waking from it and thinking, ‘What the Hell, why is there a catheter in me?’ The doctors had no idea if I would live or die with one of my doctors thinking I would die. One thing they were sure of, that my family got to me with little time to spare.

I spent a week in the hospital after I came out of the coma. My doctors released me into the care of my parents. About 2 days after my release I collapsed on the dining room table and had a seizure. It was taken in an ambulance that took me to the hospital where I had 3 more seizures over the next twenty-four hours. I was the scariest thing that I have ever lived through in this life. It is hard to believe I survived it all because I thought I was dying. My doctors thought it was a late reaction to the overdose. They were never actually sure, and never gave me a definite answer of why I had the seizures. I was on anti-seizure medication for 2 years and luckily, I have never had another seizure since that time. It was these 2 hospitalizations that changed my life and finally made me open to fixing my problems.

Why tell this story? For one, a request came through that I share my thoughts about suicide on my blog. It was a great idea. I thought after writing that blog post that the subject deserved a chapter in my memoir. But how could I tell someone reading this that suicide is not the answer if I don’t share my own experience? So, I decided that I would share my story and then my thoughts. Here are my thoughts.

Suicide is dark, and it feels endless. If you decide to go down that route, there is a good chance that you won’t live past that decision. I am lucky in some ways because I am here, but it’s sad that I let myself get to that point. My story should be a cautionary tale. If you survive suicide, you have no choice but to live with it, and it is better never to feel that way at all. No matter how my life has changed for the better over the years, my family will always be wondering if they could have stopped me. 

Even though over 7 years have passed, it will always be in the back of my family’s minds that it could happen again. That I could go down the road of suicide if things get that bad again in my life. My family will always be looking at me and wondering ‘when is the next time I will try to take my life.’ I deserve it, but it is a feeling that I wish would go away. I will live with this in every relationship in my life because even when getting better, suicide is always an option once you have tried it. I will never own a gun because the temptation will always be there somewhere in my mind. I have not gone down to that place for a long time. I may never go down that route again, but it is always something that could happen again.

If you feel like there is nothing left to live for, I will tell you there is—your family, your friends, and because it will not always be this bad. Life. It is worth living. Things are bad now, sure. But even when life is at the absolute worst, it will get better. Yes, something very wrong is happening in your life. If you feel suicidal at this moment, that is okay. You can survive this darkness. You can change the way you comprehend these depressive thoughts.

Suicide is never the answer. There are people in this world that are living with diseases that could take their life at any moment. They have no control, but you do when it comes to suicide. You can control your situation no matter what suicide tells you. Trust me when I say the voice that tells you suicide is okay is dead wrong. I listened to that voice before and was lucky to survive it. 

I tell anyone who feels suicidal to seek help. Call the Suicide Hotline. Call a friend. Text me or find me on my blog where I list my personal number. Find a way to fight. I have my writing, reading, and music. I watch sports, and when I am down, I binge watch shows that make me happy. Please, learn from my experiences. Believe me when I say, if I could go back, I would choose to get help instead of suicide.

If you know someone who is talking about suicide, please remember this important fact that many people tell their intentions of suicide. Listen to the people around you, especially those you love. If someone is joking about suicide or threatens to commit suicide takes the words at face value. I have joked about suicide before to people and they just laughed it off, but deep down I wanted someone to stop me. Just to know I exist. Call the authorities on that person if they do not want help. It is better to be safe than to lose some to suicide. The person you love will forgive you, and if they don’t, it is still the right thing to call the authorities because they say committing suicide is the only answer because saving their life is what they need to start the healing process.

The greatest advice I can give those who are suffering from depression is this—if depression is leading you to suicidal thoughts, the first step is to understand that there is something wrong in your life. You have a mental illness. 

It is okay to admit this to yourself and to the people around you. The second part might be trickier so only when you are ready. On this path to recovery and understanding of my diagnosis, it took me a long time to understand. The first time saying “I am Bipolar, it is a part of me, but it doesn’t define me,” was the first time believing that I could fight this disease. 

Consider that in your life you have a mental illness, and that’s okay. There is nothing wrong with having a mental illness. After that, it becomes clearer that suicide is never the answer. Depression was and always will be a dangerous thing in my life. I made the decision to change my outlook for the better when I decided suicide is not the answer in my life. I started to fight for recovery, and it became the difference. I am able to write about suicide and share my experiences.

My life will always have elements of chaos. Every day I deal with depression and anxiety at some level, and often it hits the extreme levels of being Bipolar. I still fight every day. I am lucky enough to wake up each day alive. It gives me solace. I want to be active because death was never my friend. You never know when it will be your last day so decide to live. 

Live as much as you can even if you’re depressed. I take days off from life too, because sometimes everyone need a mental health day. Never give into suicide and the dark thoughts that occupancy it. The darkness will be there sometimes, but it will not last forever. I once thought I could never live outside my depression, and yet I am living proof that you can.

My highest aspiration in life is to teach people about suicide. The pain that suicide brings to your life and those around you is not worth it. My experiences are a part of me. I wouldn’t wish them on anyone. I can’t stress the importance of getting help so I will repeat it. If you feel suicidal, get help; it is not worth it to give up hope.

Together we can prevent suicide. I want to end the stigma that comes along with this part of mental illness. I want people to learn from my mistakes. I know it is idealistic to think this way. I would rather believe it is possible to end suicide than to see any more of my people die because of suicide.

Always Keep Fighting

James

You can visit the author site of James Edgar Skye here.

Purchase The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir here.

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Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

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11 Replies to “World Suicide Prevention Day”

  1. James,
    Thank you for this honest and touching post. I am one of those people who freeze when the subject of suicide survival comes up. I never know what to say and I’m afraid to say the wrong thing. You give me hope that education is possible and suicide prevention will work. Congratulations on being here to acknowledge this day and other survivors.
    You are a gift!
    Colleen

    Liked by 4 people

    1. It is great to acknowledge and I get your trepidation when suicide survivors talk about their experiences. Education is possible and there resources out there that can help you recognize and also talk to those that are suicidal. I will be talking about one of those resources very soon. I am glad to be here.

      Liked by 4 people

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