Bipolar Disorder #Bipolar Disorder And Surviving Suicidal Ideation
I’m 48 years old and the best thing I can say is that I still look good naked. I have no man (or prospects), children, career, savings, assets, home of my own, dog or comfort in my plans for my future. But, I’m still here.
If you are reading this than you have been touched by Bi Polar Disorder (I or II) one way or another and you are looking for help. In full disclosure, I make no promises. I’m not a Doctor. In fact, even if I was, there would be no promises.
I am just another person suffering with Bi Polar Disorder. There’s nothing clinical or analytical about this text. This is a summary of how I approach the suicidal depression episodes I suffer through. My cousin thought it would be therapeutic if I wrote about my experience and shared my learning lessons. This is me hoping she’s right again (since she usually is).
My cousin is one of the six most amazing supporters I’m gifted with. She gives me encouragement, a birds-eye view and offers solutions based on common sense (which I have none of). She is my cheerleader and has always given me laughter and unconditional love.
During my manic episodes, my cousin has also been subjected to my incoherent rants of rage. I have repeatedly taken her for granted while she has thoughtfully listened to me aggressively race through my thoughts and feelings all along peppering our discourse with obscenities.
During these episodes I’m typically seeking clarity or validation for what I’m thinking and feeling. The episodes are countless since she’s known me all my life. During each, she has thoughtfully done her best to keep me from hurting myself and patiently waited out the storms all along praying for me.
Every bi polar sufferer needs someone like my cousin in his/her life. God blessed her with heart, soul, spectacular intelligence and good sense. She tops Peanut Butter as one of God’s top ten best gifts to me. Which means my love for her is infinity * infinity.
In the six years leading up to my formal diagnosis, like most bi polar patients, I was treated for depression without any medicinal or therapeutic treatment plan for my destructive manic episodes. So, I consider myself way behind on the learning curve.
I was 39 when a Doctor finally took the time to make a diagnosis. Half my life was over. I looked great naked. And, I had no man, kids, assets, savings, home of my own, and I was hanging on to a great, challenging, rewarding and highly stressful (average 60 hours per week) job by my toenails. I did have an awesome hiking companion in my dog, Cali. Clearly, not much has improved for me in ten years.
Within a year of the diagnosis, I found myself out on Disability following Doctor’s orders. I had what I call a mini-breakdown (not a clinical term to be found in the DSM) and was ordered to take time off immediately. Why do I call it a mini-breakdown? Well, my only real distinction from a full blown breakdown simply lies in the fact that I was not hospitalized/institutionalized. The episode was characterized by uncontrollable shaking and crying. I was also verbally and physically confrontational. Everything I said was described as, “convoluted”. Consequently, I lost another great job (corporate re-organization they said) in less than 2 years of employment.
My Psychiatrist at the time, Dr. G, is a jewel. If I ever make money again, I promise to pay her the $1,700 I owe her from ‘07. I credit her with the diagnosis and she saved my life on countless occasions with solid words of wisdom,
“Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”
Surviving an overwhelming sense of hopelessness with a strong plan to end things is hinged to these words. And, Dr. G’s treatment plan included the rare (but, necessary) blend of medicine management with behavior therapy. In truth, I could never re-pay Dr. G for her contribution to my mental health and survival.
An illustration of Dr. G’s enduring contribution
A few times a year, I find myself thinking, “I wish I could sleep forever.” I imagine I’d go directly to Heaven. At the pearly gates, I’m sure someone would say, “Welcome. Feel free to smoke as much as you like here. You won’t get cancer. Actually, do as much or as little of anything you like here. Nothing bad ever happens here.” I think anything else would clearly mean I have found myself in a whole new hell.
These times are severe episodes (Mood Scale = 1 enhanced by praying for a painless death). Recently, I described my pain in a text to four loved ones. It read something like,
“Being bi-polar is like fighting a war with an invisible demon. Today, I’m trying to think of just one reason not to drive into an 18 wheeler. I’m open to just one. I keep trying to remember Dr. G’s words, but, I’m so tired