Browsing through the blouses at a nearby consignment store I overhear the owner holler to an employee, “Grab up all the Kate Spade purses!” The employee responds, “What? What for?” The owner laughs, “She just off’d herself, they’re going to be worth a ton!”
It took everything I had to walk by her on my immediate exit out, without saying what I really wanted too. Diagnosed bipolar for the last 18 years, I have attempted suicide three times. I’ve thought about it a thousand times.
I’ve heard everything from, “How can you be so selfish?” to, “Get a grip, stop feeling sorry for yourself.” I’ve dealt with, “Aren’t you on your meds?” to, “Stop attention seeking.” I’ve fought the battle with mind over matter, prayer, medications, therapy, meditation and yet even then, even then, the thoughts still seep in thick as devil’s play. Some weeks, when I’m cycling (mania causes a myriad of feelings and behaviors such as anxiety, depression, and hyper mania), I will even hide the pills and knives myself. However, if I’m triggered by an outside force and it hits with the force of a tornado, it’s all I can do to hold on for dear life and pray I make it out.
I’m going to tell you the mind of a suicidal bipolar. In those wrecked seconds of time when that singular thought occurs, “I cannot do this anymore,” there is another voice. It says, “They’ll hurt, but at least they won’t have to suffer because of me anymore.” Many see suicide as selfish, but in fact, often times it is the mere thought of putting our loved one’s through yet another episode, another bout of depression, another mania (over-spending, gambling, drinking, drugs, sex, panic, neediness, etc.) that drives us to actually think that it’s the right thing to do. Okay, I know, you’re thinking, that’s totally ass backwards. Yes. It is. Such is the bipolar thought process.
More times than not it is the voice, “You’re worthless. You cause damage,” that cracks open old wounds and before we can even think to get a bandage, we are bleeding all over the place. For bipolar brains, the ability to process healthy coping skills is stunted in many ways, and the electricity coursing and rushing through our bodies isn’t to rationalize our thoughts, but to save ourselves and our loved ones as fast as possible.
Here’s the truth … I live the most blessed, abundant, undeserved life of anyone I know. I am married to an Angel on earth whose love is unconditional and I am spoiled, treated, and fully and completely supported by this man. I have incredible grown children who have endured 20 years of mania with me, our relationships aren’t completely unscathed but we love one another. I have two beautiful grand babies who love to bake and read stories in my lap and I have a job I get to go to Monday through Friday that I’ve been able to keep now for 6 months. I have outstanding friends who never hesitate to show up on my doorstep at 9:00 at night when I’m lonely, or invite me over when I’m down to cheer me up, and I have parents and siblings who never hesitate to call me on the phone just to say they care. I live an authentically special life.
I still have episodes that cause suicidal thoughts. You see, bipolar mania doesn’t care if you’re rich, poor, fat, skinny, loved, unloved, black or white or red … it is a mental illness that causes irrationality and poor judgement and the inability to process, at a normal pace, healthy coping mechanisms. We look at Kate Spade, Robin Williams, and so many other individuals in the lime light who seem to have had it all … bipolar does not judge.
Please, please, if you have someone in your life who has this illness, read up on it and get to know what they are dealing with. Some of my best supporters know that even as irrational and awful and strange it is that I deal with suicidal thoughts, I still deal with it.
It is not a selfish attempt to garner attention. It is a mental illness. And it’s real. To all of you who have loved one’s that have bipolar disorder, please know … they love you. How they feel about you and what you mean to them often has nothing to do with their suicidal tendencies.
For more information on bipolar disorder visit the National Institute of Mental Health