No Longer Slaves --Voices of Lee

Suicide

DEATH AND ME


NOTE: if you are suicidal, please seek help. read this article, look at these websites, http://www.metanoia.org/suicide/ Suicide.org, look at  the link in the side bar of this blog and there there are resources where you can find help. Do something, anything, to occupy yourself and get through the rough spots. but don’t do them alone.  Call one of the numbers at the link above for help.  Speak to a doctor, a therapist or a friend…People care and you need to get through the tough moments –because they ARE moments.  All you need to survive is the moment that you’re in. 

Don’t choose a permanent solution for a temporary problem!  Whatever the problem is, there is something somewhere that can help.  Focus your energy on finding that solution rather than on ending your life and existence.  And honestly? How do you know that what you will face if you succeed, will not be worse than what you are leaving here??*  There are people somewhere who care about you.  Seek them out and remember how they would feel if you were to succeed.  Be blessed and remember, GET HELP , don’t suffer alone when there are people who can help you…
And if you are currently suicidal, it is possible that you may find some of the thoughts expressed in this blog triggering…so do not read it if you are afraid that may be the case.  Remember these are my thoughts and feelings…and I have a mental illness and struggle with this just like you.  But you know what?  I first attempted suicide when I was 19…and I’m now 48!  I survived that attempt and others.  And you know what else?  It’s not all bad!!  The sun does come out.  There are good times…good years and decades even…but in reality…it still occasionally is a struggle.  And that’s what this blog post is about.


The battle with “the Beast” is not over…and will not be over til I’m in my grave.  I know this quite certainly.   (The Beast is my despair evidencing itself in intense moments of depression and a strong death wish that I battle).  Yet, to say that is not to admit defeat.   It is to acknowledge a fact.  The question is: what do we DO with the facts of our lives?

The fact is: I have schizophrenia (a disease in which close to 15% of its sufferers will end their lives by suicide!) and I also have Bipolar Disorder, a disease in which up to 50% of its sufferers will at some point attempt suicide (and that statistic is equaled by schizophrenia)…so we can assume that the outcome in terms of successes with BPD may be similar, however I suspect that the success rate among those who have schizophrenia may be  a bit higher, due to the blunting of all rational natural self-preservation impulses, complete lack of fear, and the lack of contact with reality that an actively psychotic person can have which would lead them to do more drastic and violent things to assure their success.  And I know this to be true…because I’ve made a number of suicide attempts…and those made under the influence of depression alone had a measure of ambivalence and unsureness about them and a half-hearted wish for someone to save me.  And the attempts (two of them) made while psychotic were impulsive in terms of being less planned , they were determined and fearless and it was only a miracle of God in both circumstances which saved me.

So I know that,because I have both diseases and have a history of acting on my suicidal impulses…and both illnesses are chronic illnesses (however the BPD is much more treatable than is the Sz)…it is likely, this struggle will go on.  And I have some idea of how my life will end…although God is sovereign, not my ideas.  So that remains to be seen.  People get upset with me when I talk about my own death.  Actually , I think it is healthy to do so. It is a pressing and perhaps imminent (due to health problems) part of my life. ** I’ve also been kissed by it so very many times…have had my life saved against huge odds by medical intervention so many times that I have no fear of it.  None.  And maybe for a person who struggles with Despair, that is not such a very good thing….

The one saving grace is my faith.  This is the one anchor that  I have and hold.  And as the old hymn says, “My anchor holds and grips the solid Rock.”  And I do grip that Rock…with sometimes more, sometimes less of a grip and sometimes less commitment.  But the difference is that the Rock –the hands of God –grips ME and I have a very strong knowledge (based on my last suicide attempt) that NOTHING I CAN DO would take me out of this life  before he is ready for me to leave it.  And in a sense that leaves me with a hopelessness of its own…I HAVE NO ESCAPE!!  But that knowledge does prevent me, at least in rational moments, from trying to hasten the moment when He calls me to His side.  Should I try now, I would only muck things up for myself  physically even worse than they already are, and I do NOT want that to happen.
So what is the p0int of this article.  I guess it is simply to say that for those with serious mental illnesses, the specter of suicide looms and will loom maybe forever.  And it is so important that we are invested in something. That we have a commitment to something bigger than ourselves to keep us going.  Something that will hold US when we can no longer hold on.  A person, a group, a family, a cause, a church , a faith, a pervading and strong interest in something or a hobby can be helpful.  And best of all , a faith in the One God who can truly help us.

*I am not implying here that “everyone who commits suicide goes to hell.”  This is a harsh, philosophy lacking in understanding of the mentally ill and a philosophy which lacks love. the question I posed is just one that we ALL must consider and deal with before facing death…
** I have numerous serious physical illnesses as well as the mental illness with which I suffer.  The “frequent kisses of death” refer mainly to near death situations from these illnesses

To Live or to Die?
I read a blog post of some lonely, sad young woman somewhere in this world...who was counting out her pills and planning her next move , early this morning in the wee hours. I commented to her urging her, of course to try to just get through the night without any rash action. Thought about my overt helplessness in the situation, but then began to pray for her. Not a position of powerlessness but one of power.

I pray she made it through the night.

Reading her post took me back to similar nights...nights when I could no longer tolerate my mental agony, and not only counted those death-capsules, but swallowed them....And the miracles God worked to save me...literally snatch me from the very grave's edge and bring me back. At the time, I was angry about that: furious. I remember they had to put restraints on my wrists as, even in my stupor, I struggled to pull the ventilator tubes from my mouth ....Determined to die. And so angry at being thwarted.

Things did not improve quickly after that.

It really took several years before I was not looking for any opportunity to exit this planet. But at the same time, I had this helpless sense, that no matter what I did, God would not allow it. That for some reason he had me here and I was "doomed" to stay and carry out that purpose.

Now, even all these years later, I'm not really sure what that purpose was specifically...It was probably a combination of lots of things he wanted me to do. And things he wanted me to become. I was not ready for heaven...and not qualified for hell. I was his child. And so I had to suffer through the hell of some years before I could get to the point where I could look back at that rescue with any kind of gratitude.

And things got better.

And then things got worse.

And now things are once more on the upswing.

Nothing in life is static. If you feel one way one moment and think it's not tolerable, wait five minutes, and it will change! Even things that are persistent like despair or deep depression...are ultimately temporary. The thing about depression though, is that, from the vantage point of being inside of it; it looks interminable. hopeless. But that is a lie of your emotions.

The other lie is that the only escape is death. THAT particular lie is, I believe, straight from the pit of hell. The enemy is a murderer and a destroyer. How best to accomplish that task but to convince us to take ourselves 'Out' for him? To make US to the dirty work. But later, when we come back out on the other side of that dark cloud...and look back with a shudder, we are amazed that we could have been so convinced to do such a foolish thing; To think that walking into that dark night would really IMPROVE things for us at all! It is only through LIFE that we have any hope of salvation...and here I am not really talking about God's salvation,...but salvation from death and despair.

I mean, really, how do you KNOW that after death there will be nothing?
I tried really hard to convince myself of this.
Wanted with all my heart to believe it.
But that is another of the Deceiver's handy dandy lies.

Now, years later, I've experienced and met up with the furies of hell. with spirits so malevolent that the thought of them too, brings shudders. I have no doubt that such a place exists...and our hell is NOT on this earth, as we conveniently try to believe.

I'm not trying to frighten or terrify anyone into staying alive...although if that works, so be it.
But it is something to be seriously weighed and SERIOUSLY considered. How do you KNOW what you'll be facing; where you'll be going should you choose that route? It's really a high stakes gamble...and not one you can change your mind about.

Why risk all of eternity because of the misery of a few minutes, hours or even years??
It's really craziness to do that. And the enemy is really good at obscuring Truth from our minds in times of distress. Better to admit, "OKay, I am not at my most rational right now...I should not make any eternal decisions in this moment. " and wait. Wait a day or a year....and think REALLY carefully.

Honestly, suicide does not make any kind of sense.
that from a person who's tried it more times than I care to admit.

But I'll bet my 18 year old daughter is glad that in those years before her birth, I did not succeed at my exit plans. For that reason alone my staying and sticking out these 20+ more years has been worth a few nights of misery....

Look at that agony as labor pains. Pains that will birth in new life ...and fresh starts ...and new hope. NO one would kill themselves because childbirth hurts. They are focused on the product of that pain..and that makes it so much more worth it.

Suicide and the Mentally Ill


As I think over the possible topics I might cover right now; there is one that I feel is demanding attention. It is one that I've personally dealt with both as a friend and as a participant...and one that is difficult to talk about, both personally and socially, as it touches on the deepest and rawest part of our lives and emotions. And this is, as you've guessed probably from the title of the blog; suicide and the mentally ill.

Now, I'd like to explain this title a bit. I believe honestly that in some degree, everyone who commits suicide is mentally ill. Suicide is not a response that is naturally built in to our makeup....It is something that completely thwarts and opposes the very strong survival instinct that we have as creatures, designed by God. And I think therefore that whether or not it had been apparent or active prior to "the act, " that the person who does this, is ill. Now in the case of people leaping from a burning Twin Tower, no; those people were merely exchanging a possibly lingering and worse death for a quicker one...But there, the situation was probably hopeless for them, and so their actions were probably logical or based on panicked impulse.

However, this post will not be about suicides that appeared seemingly out of the blue. This is about the risk of suicide among those who suffer with pre-diagnosed mental illnesses, especially those amongst people with bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia. I will not deal so much with suicides amongst those suffering from medical depression, because, almost every suicide can be classified as springing from that problem.

The following is a quote from the website: Schizophrenia.Com. -which btw is a great resource for info and support on and for those involved in some manner with this disease.

"Suicide is unfortunately one of the leading causes of death for people with schizophrenia - but it is highly preventable! Upwards of 40% of people that have schizophrenia will attempt suicide at least once. Males with schizophrenia attempt suicide at a much higher rate than females; approximately 60% of them will make at least one attempt. The result of these attempts is that between 10% and 15% of people with schizophrenia have historically committed suicide."

Here is the link on the article where this quote may be found: http://www.schizophrenia.com/suicide.html

There is one more quote from this same article which I would like to include here:
"Suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain." and then that article goes on to give a list of resources where people in this situation can go for the augmentation of their own, possibly scanty ones.

That article lists three specific "danger points" in the life of a person with schizophrenia when the threat of suicide is highest. And basically, as I read them it occurred to me that EVERY TIME is a dangerous time for a sz person except when they've had it for quite a long time and are well-adjusted and well-managed on medications which they find to be helpful and tolerable. And even then, especially for someone with sza (schizoaffective disorder which is a combination of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, a concurrent diagnosis); there is always a danger for a person to slide into that pit of hopelessness and despair that the chronically ill face as they realize the finality of their diagnosis and live year after year without ever being free from it.

I do not wish to make this article a cut and dried list of statistics but want to share from my heart and experience about this topic and am finding that what I want to say, far exceeds the normal length of a blog. Perhaps I will work on some articles and place them on a permanent page to be found at the top of the homepage. Keep an eye open for them coming soon.

But I would like to say, that if you are feeling suicidal at this time and you were maybe drawn to this article because of that; PLEASE go to where there is help. And there IS help, regardless of how you are feeling at this present time.

If your depression is based on a chemical problem, there are medications which can make an immense difference in how you are feeling, and will alleviate your suffering that this regard. If you don't have insurance and cannot afford these medicines, there are other avenues, such as state medical assistance; and the drug companies themselves will often, if approached by the patient or the patient's doctor or representative with a description of the need for their medicine, they will often offer free or greatly reduced in price medications. Obviously they cannot probably do this in every case or everyone would do this, but I personally know of several people who have gotten this type of assistance. And there are other resources, I'm sure, as well.

If your depression is based on problems like awful negative symptoms (which are things like tiredness, lack of energy and motivation; great difficulty in doing anything, including self care and the like, difficulty in taking pleasure in anything, poverty of thought or speech etc) which I often feel as as hard to live with than are the positive symptoms (hallucinations and delusions); then take heart. I struggled horribly with negative symptoms for quite a while, and finally got "sick and tired of being sick and tired" and studied up on various medicines, spoke to people in forums such as those offered to people who are diagnosed with sz on schizophrenia.com, and decided for myself which medicines I felt might possibly help me. Fortunately I have a doctor who was open to trying this with me and she gradually switched me over to these medicines. And thank God!! They worked! My negative symptoms are HUGELY improved. And I've been able to lose 60 pounds of the weight I'd gained from meds and so forth.

In other words, "Don't choose a permanent solution for a problem which may be temporary or correctable." Fight for yourself. You are worth fighting for...regardless of how you feel now. The things you are feeling about yourself are things which your ILLNESS is telling you. I know you HATE that illness....so why listen to it?? Why take its advice??
In the side bar of my blog are some resources you should look into. And there are more listed in the article I linked above.
Blessings.

 When a Friend Commits Suicide


When I was in college, in my Sophomore year (which would have been my Senior year were it not for the fact that I'd had to drop out of college for two years with the onset of severe mental illness.  (see my story in the Pages entitled Who I've Been and Who I Am. for more on this).  The onset of this illness was profound, and included a massive depression which was so painful and intolerable to me that I could only see one way out: Death.  And I ended up attempting suicide in my Freshman year and when I survived, had to leave school and spent the majority of the successive next two years in the hospital.  While in one of these hospitals, I met a young woman, who, I was delighted to discover, attended the same small Catholic private women's college in Westchester County NY as I did.  And we became fast friends.  When S. was discharged from the hospital where we met, we temporarily lost contact with each other.  However, two years later when I returned to school, I was ecstatic to discover that S. was also there that year...she, in her Senior year.

We spent a lot of time together.  It was a  difficult time for me, struggling with horrible symptoms, taking medications which didn't really help my symptoms and which made me tired and sick....I had a really hard time focusing on the reason I was there.  Rather, my life outside the school was really more important to me.  Down the street from the school lived a younger girl, whom I'd also met at that same hospital in the year prior....  The three of us spent a good amount of time together.  S. struggled mainly with depression as far as I could see.  She also struggled with the urge to hurt herself, as I did too.

One night there came a knock on my dorm door.  It was S.  She sprawled on the bed next to mine (which was empty...I had the room to myself).  And she began to talk.  Quietly.  In an expressionless voice with an expressionless face, she said calmly, "Cynthia, I've decided that I'm going to kill myself., I have been saving my antidepressants up and now I have enough."

Now, as I look back on this event....I know just how sick I was at the time, because I listened to her dispassionately.  I accepted what she said as a logical solution to her anguish...because, after all, was I not myself, daily weighing the option of death as a real possibility?  Yet I knew enough to know that   IT WAS MY JOB to try to talk her out of it.  But as I sat there, I couldn't think of one, single argument for life.  I did say, "What about going back to the hospital?"  She shook her head and explained that the hospital hadn't helped and that without insurance as she currently was, she would be forced to enter the awful County Hospital nearby.  I'd been a patient there myself.  Recently.  And it was a place I wouldn't send my worst enemy, let alone a friend.  So.  Because I'd divorced myself then from the Love and Hope that God offers us, I didn't have a clue what to say to her.  So we sat in silence.

Now I wonder what was going on in S.'s mind.  Was she appalled by my lack of protest??  Did that further harden her resolve and her belief that no one cared or was there for her??  Or did she really really want to die and felt maybe comforted by my acceptance of the idea with such equanimity?  Did she choose to tell ME of all people because she knew I wouldn't blow the whistle?  Or did she choose me because I, of all the people she knew, cared most about her and could maybe save her??

Well those secrets went with S to the grave.  Because the next day, as some friends and I sat in my room, we heard many many sirens going to the dorm next door. We assumed it was a fire drill and remained unpreturbed....However , moments later someone pounded on my door and screamed , "Cynthia, come quick!  It's S.!"

That moment is burned into my memory forever.  All the air was sucked from my lungs and the realization of the wrong that I had done, began to hit me between the eyes.  I jumped from my bed and ran down to the dorm across the street.  There was a female police officer shooing curious onlookers away from the entrance to the building.  I grabbed her wrist and screamed, "It's S.  My friend.  I know what she took..Is it too late??"  And the woman grasped both of my wrists and led me into the building where I was interviewed by detectives and officers.  As I told them what I knew, they finally admitted to me, It was too late.  S. was dead.

The officers and detectives all looked at me in dismayed disbelief as I confessed to knowing and not doing anything.  The shook their heads in disgust at such a horror.

I was sent to the Nurse's house where she was to keep guard over me for that night until they decided what to do with me.  There was no sleep that night.  The nurse fed me cup after cup of tea which I drank woodenly.  I was numbed by horror and disbelief.  No tears fell.  I was in too much shock and plunging too deeply into psychosis to respond with any normalcy.

The  next day, miraculously, I talked my way out of further incarceration and agreed to leave the premises of the school for the next period of several weeks, while I came to terms with this event that seems too terrible even now to come to terms with or to believe.  I threw some clothes into my car and took off on a stint of despair, traveling from one place to another, from friend to friend and often sleeping in my car, driving aimlessly from place to place...seeking a peace which never came.

Upon my return to the school, as the Sisters interviewed me, they discovered that I was not in better shape but worse, and shanghaied me for an interview, ironically, at the very County Hospital where I'd hoped to keep S. from going.  And, not surprisingly, I was admitted, to my very loud screams of protest.

Why do I tell this story now?

Because I've discovered the truth of a statement made to me by S.'s psychiatrist who paid a visit to me in the hospital, (to my great dismay).  He told me, "Where there is life, there is Hope.  When life ends, Hope too, ends."

I am an example of the truth of this statement.  Despite many fervent attempts to end this life., my life has continued.  And down that long path of many years, I caught a glimpse of the Hope that that Doctor was talking about...And I'm living proof that NO ONE  is beyond help.

So if you or someone you know is thinking of ending this life.  Consider that statement.  How do you know that down the road, you  may not receive, help, healing and love?  It does happen.  I swear.