Yep. It’s for surezies this time. No doubting it. I’m depressed. I’m not bi-polar, but I was riding high Thursday evening. Laughing, joking around, being my often-obnoxious self. I kind of felt a crash coming. I was too high. Too wired. This state could certainly not last. A few hours later, before bed on that night, boom. It came so quickly. I was almost amused by it’s arrival. I found myself pulled into a suicidal rabbit hole. Usually it takes a lot longer than this. I happened upon a video about a mother of five who became severely depressed after the birth of her last child. Despite help, she killed herself. They interviewed the husband and showed the six left behind going to her grave. A beautiful sunny day, the tombstone sparkling as the kids talked to their mom and placed flowers down. In an instant I knew… knew… that should have been me. That should be me. So quick from laughing and joking to being almost certain I should be dead.
That night I thought about Dignitas. Dignitas is a clinic in Switzerland that assists in suicides. Unlike most countries, it is legal in Switzerland to assist in a suicide. They give the person or their family the medical means and location to cease living. Families have reported they felt it was a lovely process given what was happening. Dignitas has very strict rules for who they accept. Mentally ill people who are suicidal because of it are not accepted. Still the thought was there. I made a mental note to look into it.
On Friday morning the first thing I did was google ‘Dignitas’. I was still in bed. I looked through the options. I heard that the process is extremely expensive, which makes sense. My mind drifted towards GoFundMe. Could I make enough money to go to Dignitas. I have two ongoing minor medical issues that may potentially lead to cancer. The chances with both are minimal. Maybe, just maybe, I will luck out and one of them one be cancer. I would imagine this sounds absurd to most, and possibly repulsive to those who are or have battled cancer. However if I had a ‘legitimate’ reason to kill myself it would not be as bad. Less stigma for my ex and the kids.
I saw my therapist that morning. He was obviously concerned. First we worked on me agreeing not to google or look at suicide clinics and events. I found it extremely difficult. I would not lie to him and pretend, so we worked through it and I found I could agree. Even though doing those things would not necessarily lead to suicide, they would keep the idea in the forefront, increase the likelihood of an attempt and therefore success. We worked through some things that were stressful. Stress itself usually doesn’t lead to suicidal thoughts, but if you’ve depression and things just keep piling on, that’s when it becomes dangerous. Currently my life is extremely stressful. Health issues, a child’s health issues, extreme financial issues, breakup of my marriage, unemployment. Day to day I am extremely anxious and fearful, but not suicidal. As I mentioned, these issues on top of depression are a recipe for disaster.
I kind of perked up a little after meeting with him. He’s kind of awesome. The feelings were still there, but I was willing to face them and fight them. That in and of itself, makes me stronger. Takes the edge off the pressure, makes me slightly less suicidal, lifts the fog a little. I got through the weekend. One foot in front of the other. On Wednesday I saw my psychiatrist. The week before (before Friday’s implosion) he was concerned enough to put me back on a weekly schedule with him, from a two-weekly one. Once again I had a mini-breakdown. I’d been holding it in. I really can only pour it out to my two healthcare professionals. My psychiatrist is quite formal, old-fashioned, but very forthright and compassionate when needed. He noted how exhausted I was. I think this was part of what was killing me. I hadn’t even noticed how bad I was until he said it. I slumped in my chair and the tears started. I was shattered. I needed a time out. One I would not get. He mentioned that he felt I might be heading towards a hospitalization. That panicked me even more. I can’t take a time out. As he said. Better that than a suicide attempt, or other risky behavior. He’s right. I told him I felt I could handle the pressure. That I could fight the feelings. Stand up to them. However looking back to the previous Friday, I did not want to fight them. I thought they were completely valid – the thought of killing myself. I can’t guarantee I can keep myself safe if I get to that point again.
It’s a few hours later now. I’m in a different coffee shop. I’m down. I was happy. Chillin’, hangin’ with my boy a couple of hours ago. I was fine – at the surface. And now? Now I’m feeling it all closing in. I’m looking for an escape. Any escape to put the blinders back on. Facebook, Tinder, texting. Not dealing with it. Dealing with it is hard. Painful. Anxiety inducing. I already feel that closing in. Again it comes to the kids. I am all they have. They have my husband, but they need us both.
I just looked at the label of my coffee. You know the stickers they sometimes put on the cups. Thankfully they did today. My Venti Americano was caffeinated. I’d drank about half. I was starting to feel shaky, but assumed it was anxiety. The caffeine feeds the anxiety – yay! Here’s where I really open up. Apparently I can talk openly about depression and suicide, but not my phobia. I strongly believe if society had a more accepting and open view of depression and suicidality, lives would be saved. People would not feel they could not talk about their problems. Depression by its nature shuts the sufferers off. Compounding that which is not only cruel, but dangerous. I do however believe some people are unreachable. Having said that, I believe I was in that category two years ago. Although things arent exactly rosey now, I am far from where I was then. My psychiatrist has since told me he believed at one point I would not make it. For severe cases like mine, what is the answer? I presume the answer is different for everyone. Psychiatry is often guess work. Tinkering with which and how much of various medications may work until some stability is reached. Throw on lots of therapy and keep an eye on both.
My current slip back is in its infancy. I have hope, and somewhat believe it will be short-lived. If not at least we three: me; my therapist; and my psyhiatrist have caught it early. I am not delusional enough to think it is impossible for me to sink so low again. Even on my current medication regime, things change.
It’s several days later and I’m still walking around, breathing, not a complete mess. In fact I’d say I’m back to my ‘normal’ baseline. My baseline is a little lower than most people walking around, but it is managable. It’s very hard to remember how strong those feelings were and how hopeless I felt just a year or two ago. This seems to be a common misconception of ‘normal’ people. Depression should last for days, weeks, months, and then the fog should lift, permanently or semi-permanently. I think most commonly it does. Cycling however happens to many other sufferers. When you’re at your baseline, go down into depression, cycle back up to baseline, etc. in quick intervals. A few bad days, a few good, a few okay, ad nauseam. This happens a lot with me. A few days down. Several days up. My doctor prescribed two mood stabilizers. They are typically used for bipolar disorder, where they help stop the swing between mania and depression. For me it’s to assist with my swings between my baseline and depression. It works. I still have the odd dip, but much less frequent than before.
I am on four psych meds: Effexor XR; Lithium; Lamotrigine; and Seroquel. Effexor XR is a run-of-the-mill depression drug. Lithium and Lamotrigine are both bipolar drugs. I was Seroquel mostly for sleep issues, like not being able to at all or on a good night getting 2-3 hours sleep. My doctors tried tons of other drugs more typically thought of as sleep aids. None worked. When I starting having hallucinations they put Seroquel on board. It’s not a sleep drug per se, but is frequently used as such. At one point my doctor explained all the uses (including those off label). It can help with depression, which it did a little. My doctor is painfully aware that I am on several drugs, in heavy doses. We have tried to pull back on the dosage of each one at various times. Each time, my depression crept back into the picture quickly. So for now I’ll stay on the hefty combination. He and other psychiatrists have tried many, many other drugs. The combination am I on now appears to be the right one.
My depression usually isn’t related to external stressors. That’s not quite true. When things are extremely stressful I am a small bit more likely to have bad days. My life is extremely stressful all of the time right now. My depression follows its own rules. I can be rather relaxed (given the circumstances) and my depression will raise its ugly head, and kick my ass. It likes to surprise me. Its little game. As if being in my life wasn’t enough, it toys with me too.
Today is not a bad day. I’m catching up on bills and ignored phone calls form the last month or two. I should be freaking out, but I’m not. I am anxious and scared, but they are not paralyzing. Sometimes that’s good enough. Today it is. Well I’ve to go get my kids. Deal with stress of another kind. I can only hope for a run of peaceful days. May yours be peaceful too.