Things have been very difficult lately and I am hesitate to write truthfully about how low I have been; but I started this blog to be an honest look at recovery and this is a part of the journey that often stays secret and scary. So I decided to air it out, and in the process, undermine some of it’s grip. I’m resisting the urge to laundry list all the hard things I am going through because I know to do so is just an attempt on my part to justify why I got so despondent; and that is not the point of this essay. I want to share what I did to turn around suicidal ideation and/or at least get help for it and not suffer alone.
I have had major upheavals (leaks and major mold remediation) in my home, and was evacuated for over a month. Actually. I still have at least another week of hotel stays and then return home to construction and no modern amenities for a spell. I knew that these physical hardships would take a toll on me emotionally but I was unprepared for exactly how traumatizing it would be. My stress management skills could not cope. Adding to this home destruction is the fact that I live with many belongings of my parents – many of which are triggers for me. Having people destroy and handle them caused me great distress. I also faced needing to get rid of many of them due to mold or damage and that was so upsetting to say the least.
Simultaneously, I am going through some health issues that are recurring and worrisome. One has to do with side effects to my psychiatric medication and this makes medication compliance hard for me. Because of the side effects , I weaned myself down off an anti depressant . I was between a rock and a hard place as the side effect pain I was experiencing was almost debilitating and I could not handle it, along with all the moving I needed to be doing to ready the house for destruction/construction. I also started experiencing bad using urges (I am in substance abuse recovery). I started de-compensating and then began with the worry and fear of various life issues that are usually always simmering on my back burner. They reared their heads full force and I became paralyzed to know what fire to put out first. Dread about my future creeped in and I began self destructive habits and thinking. I’m amazed I lasted a month like this before full-on suicidal ideation began rearing it’s head.
I finally recognized I was in an emergency and needed to tell someone that I was suicidal (up to then, I was just saying I was beyond stressed). My suicidal ideation was not based on the inconvenience of what was going on with my home, etc. But rather these things whittled down my ability to think correctly. What my suicidal ideation WAS about was isolation, fear, dread, and hopelessness about a future without friends and loved ones. I just started thinking that, in the long run, life was more a hassle to be endured, than something worth the work of living. I was hopeless about my future.
And here I get to the point of the essay. There is a recommended process to handling stress and crisis and I am proof that it can work. A few days ago, I started making calls to my therapist and my psychiatrist to let them know that I was not well and that I needed to see them asap. I did not mention suicide but I was proactive in asking for help. Yes, I am medicated more now and I welcome the sleep and lack of shaking ( I get trembly with stress). Yes, I am going to spend more money by seeing them more in the near future but I feel better discussing this scary threat in the open. And yes, I will charge the expense to get out of this house for another hotel stint while the worst of construction is underway (It was exacerbating my asthma as well as just being physically and emotionally unwieldy to stay on the premises). These three steps alone greatly reduced the dread level I was carrying around 24/7.
Last week, when I was having using urges I called my therapist and talked it through. He suggested I go to a 12 step meeting and share and I did. I pleasantly basked in all the praise I got from others at the meeting. In 12 step circles, we prescribe a set of actions to take when you are thinking of a relapse. One is to connect with others in recovery. Two is to use the tools of recovery such as meetings and literature. Three is to share and ask for help. I did those and I got help and did not use.
Similarly, I did the same with my mental health crisis and got some help through this dark period. Yesterday I spoke with an acquaintance that is also going through suicidal feelings. I sat across from her and so wanted to tell her that she would not always be in the midst of the turmoil she was experiencing now. I wanted to tell her I needed her to get though and be an example to me that it can be done. I wanted to tell her how important she is to the world as a survivor and that her pain gives her a unique perspective to help others (which I know she wants to do). I decided to listen to my own advice.