Bad Idea

March 5, 2007 at 4:10 am 9 comments

Step on a crack break your mother’s heart
Red light green light black
Suicide e-mail do not delete
Plug it back in the jack
Start to be what they want you to be
And you see yourself as they see you
    —Eels, The Medication Is Wearing Off

Bah. My thoughts are shifting as I try to write this post so I can’t seem to finish a version without ending up in self-contradiction. It started off as a post talking about some suicidal thoughts I’ve had recently, then shifted around to something else as I wrote it.

Over the last few days, I’ve been feeling closer to suicide than I have for a while. Once again, the feelings are pretty much completely unaccompanied by any distress or emotional pain. I’ve got as far as planning a date and method. I’ve written the note in my head a few times. All through going to a gig on Saturday, going out for Sunday lunch with friends and appearing happy, witty and in good sorts, I’ve had an underlying certainty that I will be dead at some future date.

I hate being so rational about this. If I was crying and shaking and grabbing my razor-blades, then I’d have a problem that could be sorted out. Call a suicide helpline and get talked down. Turn up at casualty and be patronised by a psychiatrist until I lose the will to die. But there’s no point doing either, because there’s nothing to treat. I’m not delusional. I’m not in a psychotic state. A tranquiliser would just make me fall asleep and I’d wake up feeling the same way. An hour session with a counseller isn’t going to cut it.

After a decade of suicidal ideation it’s hard to get worked up about the fact I want to die.

And while thinking about this, the thought crossed my mind about what would happen if I went ahead and failed. As I said, I’m thinking rationally about things. Considering the consequences is part of that.

I’ve used my self-harm in a bid to get treated before. It’s not something I’m very proud of and it didn’t work very well. Back in December, I slashed my arm up and walked to the hospital. They put steristrips on it and told me to see my GP. The mental health crisis team refused to see me. At the time I was a little distressed. It wasn’t pre-meditated, but even that act was fairly rational. I needed help right then. The one thing I could think of doing to get that help was to present at casualty with obvious symptoms. And if the NHS had been in working condition and the hospital had been following their own fucking guidelines, it would have worked. (I didn’t find out until afterwards, but NICE guidelines suggest that anyone turning up at hospital with self-injury should be fully assessed at that point. I wasn’t assessed properly for another three weeks.)

When I was a teenager, I considered using suicide as a cry for help. My actual failed suicide attempts and the lack of response from my parents convinced me this wasn’t a great idea.

So, getting back to the point, what would be the consequences if I failed?

Look at the situation I’m in now. The way things are supposed to work is: You decide you have a problem. You seek out medical help. You get treated. Need for suicidal behaviour is averted.

But the way things have worked for me so far seems more like: You seek out medical help. You get half-hearted responses from everyone you see. You get told you’ll be referred for things real soon that actually take months. (Seven weeks since a psychiatrist told me they would refer me for therapy. Three weeks since the second psychiatrist repeated the same thing. Not heard anything at all yet.) You get prescribed one anti-depressant, which doesn’t work, then your psychiatrist tells you you’re not really seriously depressed and refuses to prescribe anything else. You tell your GP you’re not comfortable with this and doubt the therapy you’ve been referred for is appropriate for you and your GP tells you to think positively. Oh, and the other thing the psychiatrist promised hasn’t happened yet either.

I’ll be calling them about this tomorrow.

And despite the delays and dull anger that the current situation is causing, I still hold on to the possibility that treatment might work to some extent. I can only justify suicide, in terms of the pain it will cause others, if I’ve tried the alternative first. The fact that I’m not getting the alternative I’ve hoped for is the real problem at the moment.

So suicide is not necessary unless I don’t get treated like someone who actually needs treatment. But I don’t see any way of getting anything other than apathetic responses from people who don’t seem to get that, yes, I am fucking ill. But if I tried to kill myself and failed, what then?

If I failed in committing suicide, it seems at least moderately possible that the medical professionals might actually get their act together. Maybe not totally, but not the complete waste-of-time it seems to have been so far. It seems reasonable to wonder whether a believable, failed suicide attempt would engender a less apathetic attitude on behalf of the medical professionals. If the system was working they way it should, then I wouldn’t have the opportunity to think like this. But there’s certainly space to wonder if I might not be right. And given the amount of research I’ve done over the years, I’m fairly confident I could manage to pull off a suicide attempt without succeeding. There’d be a certain amount of risk.

But this is a terrible way to think. It almost makes me feel guilty to consider it, and I don’t get guilty easily. It’s manipulative. It plays right into the borderline diagnosis that I have doubts about. But if there’s no way for me to get the right treatment without behaving like a scheming, manipulative bastard, then it’s a fairly rational consideration.

Saying, “help me” hasn’t worked. Screaming it might.

I’m not going to go into the ways I would go about this. In considering this I’ve come up with two different plans. But I don’t want random people coming along and thinking this is a good idea. It’s a fucking terrible idea. But right now, I don’t have many ideas left.


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Weekend News Only Hearing Negatives

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. edelweiss  |  March 5, 2007 at 8:33 am

    Go and find your own counsellor, if you are fed up with waiting. You won’t necessarily have to pay. Besides, since it seems you have the money to go to a pop concert, you must have the money to pay a counsellor. Don’t wait around for other people to save you, go and save yourself. Don’t know where to find a counsellor? – try here Someone will probably see you within a couple of days, and then schedule more regular sessions. It doesn’t have to be about a current relationship. And avoid labels – what use are they, except to make you feel worse? You need to get to the root of the problem, not just deal with the symptoms, and a counsellor can hold your hand while you do that. You will feel so much better afterwards.

  • 2. experimental chimp  |  March 5, 2007 at 9:26 am

    edelweiss: I have a couple of options if I want counselling. My workplace operates an employee assistance scheme, which gives access to up to five sessions of counselling, and my GP surgery also offers counselling, although I assume there’s something of a wait there. To go privately would cost more than the gig I went to per session and I couldn’t really afford the gig, so private counselling isn’t an option.

    I want several things from the medical establishment. A diagnosis (two preferably, one for the mood problems and one for the sleep problems), realistic exploration of medication with respect to the mood problems and treatment for the sleep problems. The sleep problems probably aren’t curable, but they may be manageable.

    I don’t particularly want therapy, as I don’t believe it’s something that will help me. I think my problems are based in difficulties my brain has with regulating emotion and sleep, not negative or harmful ways of thinking. Apart from the emotional problems, my life has been cast way off course by dealing with sleep deprivation most of my life. In spite of this, I’ve managed to have relationships, maintain friendships, get a degree and hold down jobs. I’ve coped with these problems, and dealt with the more serious problems I had when I was a teenager. I don’t see that chatting about my problems or doing cognitive behavioural therapy homework will change the central things that have effectively destroyed my life.

    But since my psychiatrist has referred me for it, I’ll do it. If it helps, then it helps, and if not, it’s useful evidence. But waiting for treatments that have been promised, while receiving no support from anyone and being effectively written off by the psychiatrist (I don’t have another appointment, I have an open referral, which means it’s up to me to make the next appointment after the therapy, if it doesn’t help) isn’t at all what I want.

  • 3. edelweiss  |  March 5, 2007 at 9:28 am

    Actually, just read that others have already suggested this, and apparently you sleep too much to be able to be awake to go and see someone … How pathetic does that sound? I liked the advice from the virtual doctor, but you batted every suggestion back. Ever read about the Games People Play (looks like the Virtual Doctor has :)) ? Also I read about the problems with your father … ever read either of these? The Father Factor and Father Hunger. I’d recommend both of them in that order. But I guess you sleep too much to find the time to buy books either …

    Sounds to me as if you are setting everyone up to fail, including the medical profession, just so that you can write in your suicide note “I tried everything and you all let me down”, just so it won’t be your fault. Don’t let yourself down. Find a counsellor now. Probably someone who will go deeper than the Human Givens approach. Like Relate.

  • 4. experimental chimp  |  March 5, 2007 at 10:26 am

    Edelweiss – I’m not quite that bad. I can make appointments usually. Especially when I’m free to manipulate my sleep pattern (it’s often a case of staying awake until after the appointment whatever time I get up). What I can’t do is have regular appointments for things like (as the Virtual Doctor suggested) martial arts. I’d quite like to do martial arts, and looked into what clubs are available when I first moved here, but I wasn’t able to go as I started work and was dealing with sleep deprivation constantly.

    I can go and buy books, too. I’ve read The Games People Play. I don’t think I’m playing games.

    I’m not setting up everyone to fail. The Virtual Doctor is a random person off the internet who, if he is qualified, is breaching medical ethics in providing medical advice to a stranger he’s never met. Also, I didn’t reject his advice. I suggested that my problems aren’t noticeably influenced by diet/smoking/caffeine use, but agreed that it sounded like a good idea. I explained why his suggestion of martial arts is impractical to me at the moment, which it is, but I’d love to take it up again when the sleep thing’s sorted out.

    I also have a distrust for people who claim that psychiatry is Wrong and they have The Answer.

    I don’t know if the medical profession can help me. They don’t seem to be particularly effective in doing so at the moment. I’m hoping they will be. If I’m not getting the treatment I need, and my problems aren’t recognised as serious enough for them to care about, then I have a right to be angry about that. I know what I want from the psychiatrist and my GP. I’ve expressed this fairly clearly. And I’m not getting it. They’re fairly reasonable expectations. I’m prepared to try therapy, even though I have my doubts about it.

    I’m in a horrible situation at the moment. Because of my sleep disorder and other problems I have been for most of my life. What I want is for this situation to stop. There’s only one way I can do that on my own, but it’s a solution that hurts other people. I’m willing to do it if I have no other options, but I’d much prefer the solution where I’m able to go on living and I don’t hurt anyone. It’s not a matter of blaming others, it’s my being able to justify hurting them.

    I’m honestly sorry if these opinions disturb you and I’m thankful for your concern, even if we disagree about what kind of treatment would help me. If these responses seem long, it’s because you’re asking good questions that I need to answer for myself as much as anyone else.

  • 5. Jennifer Forbes  |  March 5, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    I am not familiar with the UK mental health system. But it’s probably not all too different from Canada’s – which needs lots of improvement. I’ve likely experienced some of what your are going through. But, only you know what it’s like to walk in YOUR own shoes.

    The only advice I can give – if you’d like to hear it – is to have hope. It is really tough to live through the hell that you are experiencing. But, hope is an option when it seems like all else is not working.

    I hope that you will find hope deep within yourself. It’s not easy. But, if you search long and hard enough there will be some there.

    My thoughts are with you.


  • 6. northcountrygirl  |  March 5, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    sometimes the ACT of strategizing the suicide is therapeutic in and of itself. i think about killing myself every day. but i always end up thinking i’ll mess it up and end up being quadriplegic or paraplegic or in a long-term coma. i think MOSTLY though about how it would devastate my family. i had a sister who committed suicide and a sister who died of cancer. and my mother passed away from cancer a few years ago. to put my family through that additional pain, to me, ultimately, feels very selfish.

    but nonetheless, i can’t run away from the suicidal thoughts. no amount of medication has helped, no amount of therapy. ultimately, i feel guilty simply about being alive … and afraid of being happy. and yes, i do want to be taken care of, medicated, therapized, wrapped up in a blanket and held.

  • 7. ian  |  March 5, 2007 at 6:15 pm

    Hi EC, i’m sorry things are this bad for you (i wont say ‘at the moment’, because that is just patronizing)

    i try to seperate any suicidal ideations from the other issues in my life…
    the way i figure it, suicide is a personal choice that i can make whenever, whethr things are working out or not. So if i decide to go down that route i want it to be for its own sake?? not letting some life factor ’cause it?

    the other issues… i want to try and manage; paranoia, not being able to relate to ppl how i want to, not being able to handle other people, the memories, even things like housing and money. Those things i would like to tackle, mostly because they all seem contingent things?

    if i ever did decide the other route, i don’t want it to be said of me ‘he did it because….(he had a bad sandwich) (lack of money)(etc etc)…

    take care,

  • 8. Tom Dandy  |  March 6, 2007 at 3:47 am

    If I ever did it, I wouldn’t care.

    but I’m selfish.

    -Tom Dandy

  • 9. remember  |  March 11, 2007 at 10:56 pm

    It’s funny. Funny perculiar not funny haha, but I’ve actually thought about the exact same thing quite reacently.
    I’m in the fish like grip of the nhs mental health system myself. I’m blatently bipolar, with all the nasty side symptoms going with it, have seen 2 GP’s and have had 4 weeks psycotherapy over the past 6 months. Again, funny perculiar that it’s done absolutely nothing for my rollercoaster like switches from suicidally depressed to delusionally euphoric.
    I think in the back of my mind it’s one step before suicide, (it’s creepy how casually I’ve come to think about death) so if the NHS doesn’t hurry it’s ass up it’ll have a lot to answer for I guess.

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Hi, I'm James. I'm a 26 year old guy from England with bipolar disorder (currently well controlled). I also have a circadian rhythm sleep disorder (not so well controlled). This blog has charted my journey from mental illness, through diagnosis and, recently, into recovery. It's not always easy, but then, what is?


Self-righteous note about smoking

As of 12th September 2008 it has been forty five weeks since I quit smoking. So in another seven weeks it'll have been a whole year.

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