This is about my battle and experience with Depression, anxiety and suicide. The difference between feeling suicidal and being suicidal.
Has he tried CBT.
As far back as I can remember, I have always been a moody person, which don't get me wrong, I have had some laughs along the way, but generally, without any thought about it, I was brooding.
It was in my mid Twenties when I had my first real bout of depression, creeping up on me slowly, gradually robbing me of my identity and who I was. I had just left my first employment, for which I spent far to long in, but it was comfortable and all I knew. My new role as a training consultant wasn't that new to me but was a new employer, different way of working and all new people. The depression started as a thief to my confidence which had always served me well, making me question everything I did, to the point of over thinking everything. Getting out of my car to meet clients and work mates became harder and harder, until the point that getting out the car was an impossibility for me.
Anxiety and negative thoughts quickly engulfed me that even leaving the house was an extreme impossibility for me. Noises, bangs, footsteps, voices became a sharp tortures feeling, freezing me, overwhelming me and scaring me more than any horror film has or could ever invoke upon me.
Till then I was doing well, owning my own house, career doing well, great friends and amazing family, no reason at all to break down as I did. But break down I did. Their was a few times I wanted to be able to end it all, find the bravery to pop the tablets, find the strength to cut my wrists, each time would end in me crying, thinking what a coward for not finishing it.
Throughout that time, I never told anyone, not friends and not family, why, the shame of it. “I was ashamed,” so goes hand in hand in my head that they would think the same, which is what someone in my position automatically tells them is the correct response. The other thing is that I have always been VERY good at hiding it. Even up to the day before my suicide attempt, no one even thought I was feeling down. Jovial fun to be around, helpful and caring, all words I have heard associated to me, but for the last 30 years, I have never felt any of those things. When describing my life lately, I have always thought of it as grey, in a bubble which surrounds me, never to get my head high enough to see the colour in the world. Yes moments where I laugh, I'm happy, but its as a whole I never did get it. Some times were better than others, the light grey eras, often very dark. My black periods, like a black whole sucking in all my energy, goodness and happiness, no energy at all to even muster a smile. I'd hide away, finding excuses to miss meeting up with people because it was just too hard to do. But still, no one guessed.
Ruminating is another curse that any one with depression will identify with, a physically and mentally tireing thing that keeps you a awake at night, overthinking till you get a headache and only ending when you reach the worse catastrophic outcome from your thoughts. Like now, “Its snowing. I might be late for work.” would be normal thought for someone, with depression it becomes, “Its snowing, Ill be late, the boss will be angry, They will sack me, I'll lose my house, ill be on the street and probably die in some cold wet gutter.”
It seems over the top, but thoughts can easily lead you to even the most extremes and make you believe that this is the most obvious reasoning with no basis of fact at all, so much so that you don’t finish the task, event or job just in case. Second guessing peoples thoughts are always seen in the most extremes so preparing for the worst. As you have already thought of the worst scenario, you lose all energy or confidence to face it so you hide away from it, unable to face it, which of course escalates and becomes a greater problem than it needed to be so you run away even further from it and the grey world you live in becomes darker and darker. Other areas of your life begin to get involved and your life becomes a juggling act, each part of the life becoming a juggling ball which gets bigger and heavier, more and more, ruminating, panicking, becoming more anxious and depressed until you cant juggle any more and the blackness swallows you up.
All hope seems lost, you cant see the way to a better ending and suicide which plays in the distance, gets nearer and nearer till it presents itself like a friend, giving you that opportunity for it all to end, to take away the pain, the anxiety that is twisting you from inside, relieving you of that depression that engulfs and suffocates. For me the feeling of suicide was like the light from a lighthouse only a black light not white. As the black light would come round to me in the dark and engulf me, all feeling of hopelessness, terror and pain would disappear, leaving me in mind of serenity, calm but totally numb. The thought of taking my life becomes so easy, so natural so comforting to do. At first the feeling would be brief, like the light had moved, waiting for it to come back round. I would long for that feeling, days a week till I had the plan to do it, the tools at the ready so when it lit me I could take my life and it would be all over.
Their is no other way to say this but when I took the tablets, God the feeling was so amazing. I was calm for the first time, I felt light, content, happy, warm, knowing it would all be over soon.
People always say, " But what about the people you leave behind." Up to that point you have probably put all those people first, but at that point, you cant live in the misery and pain any longer, you think yes they'll be upset, but they will carry on with their lives, they'll think of me from time to time, but I cant live just to keep someone else from crying. "Things do get better." 50 years of life taught me that this life I was given does not get better, it gets worse, I live it, I'm programmed to think that because I'm always right.
During these black periods, all sense of positivity abandon you and whatever people say to be positive and help, either goes over your head because you don't believe it, or anger and frustrate as you just know they don't know what its like. Depression is an illness not an emotion and the most simple of tasks and feelings have either left you or died.
Internally, it messes with your internal chemistry, the parts that control your energy and strength. It takes greater effort to complete the simplest of tasks. The darker your depression the more your energy goes until you cant even get out of bed. Concentration disappears so even reading a book or a passage becomes impossible. You can read the words but your so busy ruminating that you cant comprehend what you've just read.
Confidence is robbed because your so negative of yourself and your ability, so you think worse of yourself that chips away further of your positivity and your abilities, creating this ever ending circle of self loathing that becomes worse and worse with each spiral. The tiredness the sleeplessness the headaches, lack of energy, becoming worse with each waking day until finally the darkness consumes you. Its when that guiding light goes out, is when you know the only way out is to end it.
To put it in a nutshell. To ask me a question about this period, think of the worst possible answer, to the point your uncomfortable, upset by the thought to it and that will be my answer.
But I was lucky. Suicide didn't work for me. I could write pages and pages about how bad my intervention in the early days failed me. The problems, the lies, lack of true empathy. But they kept me alive and now my family truly knows how bad it became and they weren't about to let go without a fight.
I had changed or rather I started to change. At first I was a shell of my former self and still am in many areas. I had no interest of seeing five minutes in front of me, not a care to what was going on around me. When my mum died I was dead to the feeling of what had happened. I knew I should be upset, I loved my mother, but it was as if I couldn't care it had happened. A bring it on attitude seem to descend upon me as I didn't care of the consequence. It was as if a reset button had been pressed and I was taken back to factory setting. It took awhile to figure things out and only recently, a year on from the suicide, have I finally started to find myself and choose the path I want to travel down. With the support of my family and care support I now trust and have helped me see the positives of my past, present and future, I am able to colour in those grey areas.
I don't know if Ill be travelling on cloud nine from now on, but I do for now see a purpose to waking up every day and getting out of bed. Its a little thing but for the first time in since I don't know when, I was able to stand in the open countryside and take in the surroundings, to be able to smile and physically say, this is what its about. I don't know what that thing is, maybe just that moment in time that I am able to lift my head from the greyness and experience the colour I long for.
This was written just over a two years ago and my health has deteriorated since then, both in my physical and mental health.
It is at this point as to why I really wanted to write this down, both for myself to get my head around what depression really means, the difference between being severely depressed with suicidal thoughts and actually being suicidal and question if even amongst the mental health professions if the experts actually know the full extent on how to treat and deal someone with these differences. hence the title " Has he tried CBT".
Using myself to define the difference between extremely depressed and suicidal is:-Being extremely depressed has all the known characteristics, the low to no energy, not wanting to get out of bed to see out the day.Loosing interest in life, the hobbies you love becoming mere tasks you don't want to undertake because your not interested and haven't the energy to participate. A noise that can paralyse you and fear you with dread, like a door closing, post through the door, voices from people passing by or the heating system turning on. The anxiety, panic, headache, nausea, sweats, the tears, all that last a good half hour before your pulse rate subsides and you cant feel your heart trying to thump its way out of your chest.The anxiety of leaving the house because of what you might face. innocent incidents that you think may occur being so blown out of proportion that you would never leave the house again.The simplest tasks you need to perform but seem like Herculean tasks to carry out. simple what ifs' becoming the stuff of Hellish nightmares because you've ruminated so much over it you've taken the scenario to its utmost most unbelievable possibility so that you don't do it just incase. Ruminating over every little thing all day long, taking every little insignificant thought to the extreme so that you are just so tired, creating your own headache, nausea, pain, fear, loathing. ultimately it gets the better of you and you just want it to end and of course the only way you see it is to take your own life.
But with depression you fight it. you want help, you want to take the medication they try you on, you want attend the referral because you don't want to feel like this, you want to live. but once you cross that line into being suicidal, well that becomes a whole different thing.
I spent at my worse, my lowest ninety nine percent of the time, extremely depressed, but one percent of me would at some point in the day find myself suicidal. finding the majority of the time wondering if I would survive the day but not having the courage to go through it. During this period of suicidal thought, I could do it. Their is a segment in a horror film (Hellraiser 2) where in hell their is a lighthouse in the centre, but instead of white light, its a dark, black light that when it comes around to you, all the worst feeling of hell consumes you, all the worst thoughts you can imagine becomes intensified the pain you feel being worse than you can comprehend, but at the same time numb to it all. That is what the 1% feels like, the thought of wanting to die but knowing, its going to hurt, its going to be final, becomes unimaginable and so that window allows you to take your own life and end it all so easily and with no regret. But for a few weeks, that short window was fleeting, the movement to fetching the instrument in which you were going to end your life with, was enough to snap me out of it, just enough for me to think what am I doing, but realisation that if I plan it better and ready for it tomorrow and that feeling overcomes me, I'll be ready and able to end all this suffering so easily..... And that's what I did.
On the day I took my own life. I had it planned. I had saved my unused medication and recent prescriptions for months and sat in bed waiting for that moment to come around. I knew that being inactive was when the suicide came over me so had the medication ready to swallow in a few large gulps. Even though in the wait I couldn't do it, I knew the feeling would smother me and the action of taking my life would be easy. And that feeling did arrive and like a robot with no feelings its action, was able to take the whole lot with no problem, no regret and no fear. In fact the feeling was something I hadn't experienced in such a long time which amounted something like happiness, relief and calmness. No worry of pain, or knowing I couldn't return from this returned to me, just the anticipation that it was all over.
But it wasn't over, the plan didn't work. Not only did it not work, I didn't even get a headache or stomachache. So what occurred during that window of opportunity that allows me so easily to change from not being able to end my life to so easily and calmly end my life with no regret or fear. I ended up in hospital and then spent months in a mental health hospital. Its from here I could write a book of all the problems I faced from here on till now, but I wont as that's not the reason I'm writing this. Its about the problems relating to the complexity of severe depression, the complexity of what it does to a person, in the physically, mentally and environment. I think I have it sussed for myself anyway.
The more depressed I become the less of a person I feel and I've decided to put that down to my chemical make up, or rather the lack of it. I have started to think that the reason I become more depressed, the less what they call neurotransmitters I produce. I have looked these up and the main ones are :-
:Dopamine which is a feel good chemical, it plays a role in processing, a role in your memory,regulation in hunger and heart beat, movement, complex thinking, pain processing sleep and dreaming. It plays other parts but these processes I have highlighted as these are the ones I have serious problems with the more I become depressed.
: Norepinephrine which works along side Adrenaline to give us the fight or flight. Norepinephrine release is lowest during sleep, rises during wakefulness, and reaches much higher levels during situations of stress or danger. In the brain, norepinephrine increases arousal and alertness, promotes vigilance, enhances formation and retrieval of memory, and focuses attention; it also increases restlessness and anxiety. In the rest of the body, norepinephrine increases heart rate and blood pressure, triggers the release of glucose from energy stores, increases blood flow to skeletal muscle, reduces blood flow to the gastrointestinal system, and inhibits voiding of the bladder and gastrointestinal motility.
: Serotonin which amongst other things, looks after your moods, sleep,sexual function and regulating anxiety.
I have discovered papers and journals that relate to chemistry of depression and this is the main causes to depression and this confirms my own theories about my depression that it is my chemistry which is the main reason for my problems, not my environment or situations. Yet for so long, everyone has tried to help me by curing my environmental issues. Yes I am on medication but not the right ones for me which I have been on for the last five years. Why do I not think they work, well because I got so low on them that I took my own life. But still no one has addressed this issue but instead adviced " Has He Tried CBT?"
The causes of my depression has never been a tangible reason to why I am depressed, yes a factor and what probably starts it off, but its the fact my body doesn't work properly or react in the same as others do. When I am ill even as simple as a cold, my mind as well as my body suffers. They way I think of it is that it shuts off the making process of these neurotransmitters instead of compensating or regulating. Being inactive is one of the big no no's for me, less than a few days of not walking and I can really feel unhappy.
My worst fear though now is events which trigger this switch off of chemicals. Just the other day I had the most ridiculous phone call which by the end of it, I was not only angry but Clinically suicidal, I could so easily have done myself in if that black light I mentioned had engulfed me during this time. Fortunately I didn't but what of the next time. I question this as I have not known any treatment that tackles this problem or in deed probably how can anyone. But why I keep telling all these so called experts, Its my medication we need to get right first before anything else, to have a strong safe grounding to move forward from. Yes they agree but Can't because of time or budget restraints, but "Have you tried CBT in the meantime?"
In conclusion to all this I have three categories. Living in a grey space where I don't feel the overwhelming of joy or love but I am safe, where I function and smile or laugh at life.The depression that starts from mild to severe depression, which includes feeling and wanting to end my life.Suicidal which at this point, at least for me is the end to which help is too late and do not want to be helped.why? for me its a small step from feeling the utmost worse of anything life can be. Mentally, physically wanting to plan my suicide and waiting for the moment I can do it, but still accepting help, to being suicidal which is all the above, but the chemistry needed to continue has all gone leaving my brain void of memory or feeling of pain, no morality of what damage this leaves for everyone who loves me. No perception of what this final act means for me in terms of no return.
Its a bit like asking a Robot or computer to turn itself off, which it would do with no problem or thought. Pump it full of these chemicals and they would be aware and revolt, refusing to terminate themselves. My mind still at the point of where it still worked which contains all the hate, misery and pain in which I want to die , but the lack of chemicals devoid the conscious human element and I become that robot that can now so easily and with welcome, end my life.
So to all you out their who want to help me and people you know like me, here are a few tips of things not to say to us when we are feeling suicidal.
“ Things can only get better from here.” If you read my blurb above, you will know that this is not the lowest point. You may want to worry and try to get some help as quickly as possible if they or myself show signs of crisis, as next step is taking of ones life.“ Just try to be happy and you will feel happy.” I had this one and believe me it does not work. Depression really does not work like that.
“Think about the people you leave behind.” you do think about those you leave behind but once you have crossed into suicidal mode, all sense of feelings and morality leaves your brain. Those who jump in front of a train or a bus with no thought or sign of doing it, are in that dark light which turns you in to that robot, disconnected to the feelings of those around you, with only the ability to self terminate.
And of course “ We can not help at the moment. But have you tried CBT.”
© 2022 Richard Laverick