It’s happened to me so many times that it’s almost normal. It’s been part of my life since I was in my teens. I used to plan my suicide in detail. I have preferred methods of dying for winter and summer used to update a suicide note depending on how many animals I had at the time. None of this is normal behaviour but it isn’t unusual in my life. That is why, when I stood on a pontoon near the Balmoral yesterday and thought “How easy it would be to slip into the water now. I’d leave my phone & camera on the side so they’d know who I was”, I was calm enough to turn around away from the danger and back into safety.
I sat in MShed and as hordes of children shouted and ran around I sent texts to a few people. They were quite calm and matter of fact informing them of the suicidal ideation I was experiencing. One rang and, once they were satisfied I was going to be able to cope, told me of their day. An odd response you may think but one of the things I cling on to the most is that if my friends and the people who support me are out there having lives then my life is out there waiting for me to rejoin it.
Another person, a friend who is a GP, began to send texts asking for details. Were the feelings fleeting or all encompassing? Was I at home? Practical advice followed – “It WILL pass if you can only get to a place of safety etc (like you’re doing) – I think it will be ok. Think of it as a dangerous rock face – move carefully; move one limb at a time (metaphorically); look ahead but also take things one step at a time; look after the basics – feed, water, sleep, “safety”, comfort etc. Stand outside the situation – if you can, as calmly as poss – and think which of these elements are missing now (you’re away from home? Often destabilising); identify what’s missing and carefully replace in the safety of your home. Stay in touch….” (sic)
Neither of them panicked or told me off for being morbid. They accepted fully that the way I was feeling was just that – a feeling. I went home, got into my pyjamas, switched off my social networks and began to edit the photos I’d been taking over the past week.
I know where this began. It’s a delayed reaction to a very stressful series of events and I can do nothing about those events. I have to find a way of moving on as difficult as it may be. I mustn’t give myself a hard time over my inability to clean the flat. If I’m looking after myself and the animals then tidy doesn’t have to be a big consideration – food and rest for all of us come first.
Suicidal thoughts aren’t a runaway train that inevitably lead to a suicide attempt. I’ve been having suicidal thoughts since I was 15 and made only one attempt. I look at them as a coping mechanism; a morbid method that my mind uses to remind me that ending my life is an option which gives me a reminder that moving forward is my preferred option.
On Monday I will talk to my GP and we will plan my recovery. This means, if I’m thought to be ill enough, taking away things that can harm me including sharp knives and even, possibly, my medication. It’s hard work visiting a doctor daily for medication and monitoring but my moods have the potential to change with ferocity and speed and I don’t always see the warning signs.
Feeling like this is almost a comfort. It’s permission to let go of the mundane and stop the pretence of coping: I have the luxury of looking after me and letting everything else go. I have registered Lasting Power of Attorney so my bills will get paid and I will have help in making decisions about how to get better. This is just another episode in a life full of bipolar episodes, it’s not the end of my world.