The Night I Tried to Kill Myself

I don’t quite know how to put this experience into words. I haven’t written for some time again, due to feelings of inadequacy, depression, and general brain fog. I can’t seem to form coherent sentences as quickly as I used to, nor can I focus for long periods of time on something that I have a deep love for.

Thursday, 10.25.18 I remember walking into the outpatient center I attend for a therapy session. I remember the feelings of utter hopelessness attending with me, like a sack lunch I was carrying to school. I had made the decision to give up. I was tired of fighting, I was tired of trying to fight, and I was tired of the only option being fighting. I was tired of fighting myself, I was tired of, for the millionth time in my mental health career, coming off of medication, and I was tired of hearing I needed medication to thrive.

I was taking 10 milligrams of Abilify and 10 milligrams of Trintellix and I couldn’t find the energy to finish homework, or get out of bed, and I didn’t have the luxury of feeling any emotion at all: happiness, sadness, inquisitiveness, passion–nothing. And so I did what I always do: stopped the medication.

This usually happens without consequence. For the most part, I’ll stop cold turkey after a couple of months, struggle through a few physical withdrawal symptoms, and get on with my lifestyle. The last time I stopped these two meds, I regained my energy quickly, breezed through four classes, and managed happiness until the opinions of those I care about convinced me to try the medication again.

So I tried again, For maybe two and a half weeks. Then I stopped. I stopped and I noticed my energy did not come back. My mood was stable until it wasn’t. It plummeted. I focused a lot on what was wrong with me, the disappointment of my relationship ending (yes, I’m still stuck on that), and the worries of the future regarding my education, where I’m going to live after December, and the simple fact that I struggle taking care of myself. Those are the surface issues. There are deeper issues I don’t think I’m in touch with yet.

I’ve struggled with depression since I was ten years old. A low mood was nothing new to me, in fact I welcomed it because the darkness was comforting. It was an old friend, a sinister reminder that life is suffering and suffering reminds us that we’re alive. I was thankful for this friend to return because on the medication I didn’t feel alive.

I started planning fun things to do to keep me from falling further: A concert, an overnight trip to San Francisco, Halloween plans and costumes. I got excited: the week of the 21st would be marvelous.

But I started separating from myself.  I don’t remember when, and I don’t remember how, but part of me blacked out. I know I was around and talking to people because I went to work, had laughs, made plans. I don’t remember much of it, but I know I was there.

By Thursday, the 25th, I was moving slowly, not comprehending where I was, no hope or vision for the future, and I’d even lost interest in Halloween, my favorite holiday. I confessed to the therapist that I didn’t have energy to care much about my life, nor could I answer her questions. I didn’t tell her I’d made a plan to (somehow) kill myself after Halloween. It wasn’t fully developed yet, an undercooked chicken in the oven.

I don’t remember much about the session other than the ending: a mindful meditation seeking to locate my inner child. I remember a lot of pain resurfacing, so deep and profound I had never felt it before, and I snapped. I was gone. She asked me how I felt, and I told her dissociated, separated from myself. I remember that. She made me do some grounding activities to bring me back into my body. I don’t think they worked.
That night I went to a concert. It put me in a seemingly better mood.

Friday and Saturday I spent the days in San Francisco at the Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, Six Flags, and around town. Saturday evening, on the drive back, a sinister part of me reminded me of my plan.

I’m not a stranger to hearing voices. I don’t hear them every day, and I haven’t had a bad episode in a while, not since my last hospitalization last year, but this time was different. This time I heard nothing external, and everything internal.

We all have an inner voice that reads to us, thinks for us, and we are in control of that voice, we dictate it. I’m dictating it now as I read back what I wrote, and as I write. But what I listened to that Saturday evening was not of my own doing. A different voice, a male voice, one inside of my head that I had no control of, which directly told me I needed to kill myself. He instructed me to open the door of the car and jump out in traffic–on the highway–and end it. He addressed me as “you” and I addressed me as “I”. That’s the only difference I can pinpoint right now. When I had a thought of my own, I said to myself “I need to calm down”. When I didn’t, he said “you need to do this. There’s no reason for you to live, you don’t deserve life.”

Was this a demonic entity interfering with my thoughts? I didn’t know. I sat paralyzed in the rental car my Ex drove, crying consistently for an hour and a half. The torment wouldn’t stop. “You don’t deserve to live. There’s nothing good about you. Jump out of the car. End it. When you get home, kill yourself. Hang yourself in the closet, no one will even find you.”

I had plans that evening with another friend, so I did not act on those commands. I did, however, drink quite a bit of whiskey and wander around the downtown city. When I got home, I drank more whiskey and fell asleep.

In the morning I awoke instantly crying. The day was Sunday, 10.28.18. I turned on Breaking Bad: I’ve never seen it before. I don’t remember much of the episodes because my head was so loud: “hang yourself in the closet. Take a knife, slit your wrists. You will never amount to anything. You don’t deserve to be on this earth, you don’t contribute to anything.” I joined in: “I can’t write anymore. I can’t enjoy things anymore. I don’t see this getting any better”.

It was 6pm that night when I finally stood up and searched my apartment for something, anything to hang myself with. I didn’t feel in control of my body, I was just going along with the motions.

“Fill up the tub, get in the water, slit your wrists.”

I grabbed a kitchen knife from the drawer and filled up the tub. I remember this part more clearly than other parts because my heart was beating out of my chest, my hands were clammy, and I couldn’t get a grip on myself, I felt like I was losing myself to someone else.

I got in the water with my clothes on and fought the noise in my head. I tried to give myself reasons to live–family, my cat, work–but it was always overpowered by that other voice. I spent a half an hour sawing at my wrists with a dull blade that could barely cut a tomato. I pressed as hard as I could and my skin barely broke. Eventually, I threw the knife. I remember a lot of crying and banging my head on the wall and hitting myself. The noise wouldn’t stop. I ripped out the string from my leggings I had on and wrapped it around my neck and pulled and pulled and pulled. Thinking back on it, I would probably pass out before I die, given my hands are the one pulling the strings, but in the moment I just needed to cause some sort of harm to myself. I kept trying the knife in between strangling myself and I sent one text message that I don’t remember.

It was a couple hours before I stopped. My neck was sore and I had stopped crying, but I wasn’t back in my body yet. The water was cold and I heard the front door open and footsteps running in.

We spent a couple hours talking, and I was gone completely. I don’t remember an ounce of the conversation. I remember seeing through my eyes my body stand up and go for the knife, go for the string, and my ex preventing me from doing so. I remember telling him I didn’t want to traumatize him.

There’s a block on my memory of the conversation, what I said, what he said. I remember being on the couch wrapped in blankets, soaking wet, distraught, eating pizza. I didn’t remember the last time I had food. It couldn’t have been too long. I took a Seroquel. I only had three or four left. It’s a shame I didn’t have a full bottle, or I would have just swallowed them all and called it a night.

The next day I didn’t awake until 1pm. I could barely move, my mind was paralyzingly loud, and I turned on more Breaking Bad. The urge to die was so strong. People took turns watching after me, texting me, calling me. I refused to let anyone call 911. The hospital is not a place to be when you’re in a crisis.

Today is Halloween. My head isn’t loud. I came back into my body and have trouble remembering what the depression felt like because I feel I wasn’t the one to feel it–this entity within me, whether it’s paranormal or just a fractured part of my self, is hell bent on destroying me.  I haven’t experienced a dissociative experience so destructive since high school.

Am I still depressed? I think. Mildly. Or it’s so severe that I’m incapable of comprehending the severity of it.

I didn’t learn to love life from this attempt. I didn’t learn to appreciate the little things or find new meaning or purpose. I still feel lost and confused. A hospital visit isn’t going to change that. What I did learn is that I’m more committed than ever to never taking psychiatric medication again in my life. After 7 years of being a guinea pig, I’m done.

My outpatient group counselor asked me why I despised medication so much. I told her it’s poison. She asked in what way. I told everyone in that room that long term treatment results in heart issues, liver issues, physical ailments that permanently scar your internal body and shorten your life span.

She said okay,  well, then would you rather kill yourself now and not have a life to live, or have some little problems a little later?

I said that was a dumb question, and that heart arrhythmia’s aren’t little problems. I said I’d rather kill myself than subject my body to synthetic chemicals.

And through this experience, if it’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the only two ways I will die is by my own hand or nature’s hand. I will not slowly die at the hands of greedy monsters making a profit off my death. If anyone is going to shorten my life span, it’s going to be me.

Should 911 have been called on me? Probably. I’m worried what I will do after Halloween–my original plan–and where my mindset will go. I’m worried I won’t be able to receive the support people are offering because I don’t know how. I’m convinced there is nothing left for me and that the only thing keeping me alive right now is fear of the unknown and a low threshold for pain. I’m worried this depression will slide past, unnoticed, and sky rocket into something more. I’m worried I’m not going to find a purpose again, that I’m not going to find a reason to live. I’m worried I’ll never feel passionate about anything again, or optimistic. I’m worried I’m shutting down, like the last stages of liver cancer. I’m worried I’ll pass as functional and be in misery for the rest of my life, however short or long that is. I’m worried someone will convince me to go back on medication. I’m worried that the only thought in my head right now is that I give up.

I’m worried that, recently, every time someone offers their help, my response now is “I don’t want it.”

Writer’s Block

Do you all remember a time when I would bust out posts every day, sometimes twice a day, sometimes thrice a day? That time ended many months ago, and this writer’s block has continued something fierce. Every once in a while I come on and see how everyone is doing, what’s going on their life and where they are heading and I wonder why I just can’t kick my ass in gear and write.

I’m a writer for God’s sake, that’s what I do.

So, as I sit in class right now, it got me thinking about my writer’s block, others writer’s block, and how people just push through it. So that’s what I’m trying to do, for the sake of the cathartic process, and for the sake of my writing future.

Because I am such a broken human being unique individual with a variation of experiences, I decided to do something for myself and attend an outpatient group. This group meets three days a week, for three hours each day, and I’m on the evening schedule. We learn a lot about coping skills, about forming and maintaining healthy relationships, as well as being open and honest about what’s going on in our head. Some people have substance use issues partnered with their mental health, others don’t.

I’m not sure what I’m learning from it. I know that it gets me out of the house and prevents me from isolating, which is good for me, and I know it’s good for me because I absolutely hate doing it. And I seem to hate doing anything that’s good for me. Ever get that feeling?

Meanwhile, the outside world is falling apart and we’re all sitting around twiddling our thumbs like:

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When we should be doing something like this:

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Kanye West is trapped in a perpetual state of “mania”, or at least he’s addicted to the “manic” behavior, Trump is still president, sexual assault victims are coming forward and getting pushed back down, people are putting guns to their heads, overdosing, throwing themselves off bridges and the ages are getting younger and younger, there’s rarely anything positive on the news (in America), everyone kind of flipped the bird to school shootings, cops are still shouting “break yourself fool!”, cocking their gun sideways, and blowing seven holes in innocent people like they work for the crips, and meanwhile I’m sitting here on this computer documenting it all, processing it, and thinking back to similar times.

I think maybe, just maybe, we’re all stuck in a pretty serious delusion about our lives: That we can continue moving forward with all of this baggage on our back. Nothing is being discussed, and when a discussion does arise, it turns into nothing more than the internet being divided on the subject for a couple days. Racism is a hot topic, until a school shooting happens. We’re all crying for the students until a cop shoots another unarmed white, black, yellow, blue, brown, rainbow man/woman. As we writhe from the shock, Trump says something outlandish and/or stupid (mostly stupid), and all cameras point to him. They’re so busy photographing his orange face and blonde toupee that they miss the guy standing on the bridge behind them, tears streaming down his face.

There’s no soft way to put things: we’re living in a society in which things are swept under the rug.

I guess it’s nice that you and your friend on Facebook have these deep philosophical conversations over messenger that ultimately ends with one of you quoting words you don’t understand by some unnamed author, hoping that the way you’ve carried yourself and your political stance will help you sound like an intellectual.

And it doesn’t help that when something serious on social media is trending, it doesn’t get taken serious and its fifteen minutes of fame go by in five. This is my argument against May Mental Health Awareness month. There’s nothing impressive about a month of people saying nice things to each other and being supportive when that mindset falls apart in June.

At this point, I’m ranting, because if there’s one thing we all understand about writer’s block, is that you can’t pull the right fucking words out of your head even if your life depended on it. Something has them stopped up like hair in a drain, and I don’t have a long enough whatcha-ma-call-em to dig the mess out. The only solution is to pour corrosive bleach down the hole and let it set. So, I’m pouring bleach on my brain and waiting for the magic to happen.

What will happen to this blog? I’m not entirely sure. I don’t want to get rid of it, I want to help it blossom into what it once was. I want to communicate to real people about real topics and still promote mental wellness. I want to commit to writing at least once a day to gain back old followers and shake hands with new ones. I want to be part of the solution, not the problem, in my own life and in relation to the rest of the world. I want a lot of things, as you can see, and I’m not quite sure what that means.

And that’s today’s Mental Truth.

 

Intentional Peer Support

Yesterday night I wrote out a lengthy post on my experience in Intentional Peer Support. I forgot to post it and now that I’ve re-read it, I feel my explanations did not give justice to this program in the way I intended.

So today I’d like to talk about how crazy we all are.

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I’d like to talk about how crazy we all are in allowing therapists, psychologist, and psychiatrists to never go through an intentional peer counselling program.

As an aspiring psychiatrist, I am absolutely touched that people take the time they do to create these programs and to implement them. They may not have the government funding, but they are in it for their peers, for the betterment of the mental health community.

Let me explain this a little more for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about. Intentional Peer Support is a program run by people with lived mental heath experience, training others with lived mental health experience, to help those of our brothers and sisters still stuck in their own personal hell.

It teaches the concept of establishing a relationship with another person you’re supporting.

It dissects what “help” really means in this day and age.

It dissects how language effects our perception of ourselves.

The speaker of our week long group came in a green shirt, stretch tan pants, no shoes on and a diagnosis of Bipolar and no daily medication regimen. He’s been in and out of psychiatric hospitals through his life and only recently was able to find the right path for himself.

My course-mates come with their own stories. We’ve got white, black, Mexican, Italian, women, men, young, and old. We each struggle in our own ways with depression, anxiety, Phobias, Bipolar, Schizophrenia, Personality disorders, and drug addiction. Some of us take medication and are okay with it. Some of us take medication and are not okay with it. Some of us don’t take medication at all, yours truly among them.

supportgroupWe’ve all come together for one reason: use the experience we’ve had in our lives to learn how to support someone going through the same experience.

This is the most uncomfortably comfortable thing I’ve done in my life. If you are a professional and have not taken a similar course, I would suggest high tailing it over to one of their national courses and signing up.

This course treats no one as fragile. You are not special, you’re not odd, you’re another human being among other human beings.

This course asks a very deep question that the psychiatric and psychological businesses have ignored for many years: what are you trying to fix and how? 

They are not anti-psychiatry and they are not anti-medication, they made this very clear. Their intention isn’t to bash what is done currently. Their intention is to see it differently.

The industry has a very specific formula I’m sure you’ve all had plenty of experience with. Their focus, even in certain therapies, isn’t just to listen. It’s to problem solve. You come with an issue, it’s called a symptom: Because this issue is seen through the lens of a symptom, and because a symptom is followed by the definition of a disorder, and the definition of a disorder is a life long illness for which you can’t control, the solution becomes medication. The solution is based only upon the problem and the problem isn’t your issue, it doesn’t take into account your story; the problem is your “illness”.

The industry has a very specific model they follow of which I’m sure you’ve all had experience with: the biological model.

Now, before you jump on my back, I’m not saying what we all experience is a lie. In fact, what we experience is very, very real, that’s why we’re experiencing it. But the concept of it being an illness . . . it doesn’t bode well with me, it never has.

It doesn’t bode well with this program either. 

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If you didn’t know, before the DSM 3 came out, all “illnesses” and “disorders” were labeled as “reactions”.

Weird to think about now, right? So if you were admitted into a hospital because you were hearing voices and having delusions, you would have a schizophrenic reaction.

They changed it to “disorder” because psychiatrists were challenging their own community: where was all the evidence for these conditions? And thus the psychological model was shoved into the area of science. “We’ll change the term to disorder”, they said “and we’ll find the evidence to support it later“. Too bad all the “evidence” they find is corrupted by some pharmaceutical company or corrupted by the research itself: how many times have they tried to pin the neurotransmitter serotonin for something and have it come out as different levels in different people’s brains who all have the same “disorder”? Many. I’ve talked about a few instances on this blog.

There’s a reason I never say mental illness. If you haven’t noticed, I almost always say “mental health struggle”, or “mental health”. Because I choose to get rid of that language that was made us think we’re sick, we’re twisted, we’re different and broken, that we’re a problem that needs to be fixed. It’s nice I’m surrounded by a group of peers who, very vocally, state “I hate the term mental illness”.

cia-catIntentional Peer Support isn’t about problem solving. If someone walks up to you and you’re in a respite house and they say “the CIA is following me”, your response isn’t one through the lens of “they’re delusional”. It’s not through the lens of “did you take your meds this morning?” Your response is “tell me more about that?” and when they do, your responses are never an attack, they’re never a label, they never signify a hierarchy: they’re not better than you and you’re not better than them.

You would say “that sounds terrifying, I’ve had experiences where I don’t feel safe as well”. Or something of the sort.

Your response isn’t “What can I do to help?” nor is it “what can you do to help yourself?”

Because their experience isn’t a problem and they didn’t ask for your help.

Think Elyn Saks and “The Center Cannot Hold”. Think of the therapist she had in the U.K who didn’t treat her psychosis as a monster needing to be tamed, but listened and created a dialogue. If it weren’t for that, do you think she would have ever received her degrees in the middle of full blown schizophrenia as she did?

imageIt’s rare that we are able to see what we experience outside the labels we’ve been given. Has it ever happened to you where you had a feeling and you wondered if it was a symptom? Have you ever been confused on what you needed to control and what you didn’t? What was “normal” and what was your “disorder”?

A lot of people in the room did. But I didn’t. And when it came to do an activity today on “our story” and us having to write our story in terms of mental illness language and in terms of regular language, I . . . I struggled.

Because I’ve never seen my experiences in that light. I’ve been told once or twice about them, after I had already decided they were a part of me. I’ve never called myself mentally ill, nor disordered, not unless for the ease of everyone understanding what I was talking about, particularly on this blog.

Am I saying I don’t go through troubling times because of this? Absolutely not, I’m off and on, up and down, left and right, magical and not, I’m every opposite you could think of to the extreme. But I’ve never seen it as a problem, or a disorder, only me.

I’ll get really personally and share something with you all (I’m getting better at doing that now) and let your mind go blank for a moment and just read:

One thing I’ve always believed since I was a child was that I had the power to manipulate Infinity time spiral 15267876time. Since I learned how to count it I was impeccable with it: I knew exactly how long something would take in class and whether or not we’d have time to get to my presentation. To the second. I must admit some of this perfection was fueled by my anxiety. But as I grew older I realized there were a million ways this could be implemented and the universe showed it to me.

Cars: I’ve avoided many accidents. I know how long it will take them to get to where my car is, and if I have to make a risky move I trust the other part of myself and let it take control of the wheel, almost as if I have a third eye or something peering through a different perspective so I can see all angles. If I need to slow time down, that eye does it for me: I’ve avoided getting hit using this technique, several times. If I see them coming for me, I don’t blink twice, I don’t think, I see them moving slower and slower the closer they get to me, and I’m able to jerk my wheel out of the way. My passenger, if there is one, grips on the door and screeches at me.

I’ve used it to avoid getting shit on by birds: I can see the feces fly through the air and jump out of the way. It usually lands on the person next to me. Don’t believe me, ask my high school friend.

When I’m late for class, I feel I tap into the physics of the universe. If I don’t look at the clock, and I think of nothing related to time or class, and if I don’t speed, it allows time to pass in whichever way I subconsciously want it to. I tap into that. It takes me 20-30 minutes to drive from my house to my college. When I need it to take me 10 minutes, it does, and trust me it’s not about traffic levels or how many lights turn green. When I first realized I could do this, I was shocked. I’ve tested it over and over again in different scenarios and it’s never once failed me. If I am calm and my mind is relatively clear, I get a connection with the universe that allows me to manipulate what I like.

25-041020-the_best_watches_at_sihh_2016I collect watches and clocks and stop watches, I think it helps keep up my connection with it all. I don’t like to wear watches because I would end up looking at it too often and therefore compromising my connection with time. You don’t like it when friends and significant others are too clingy, do you? So I just collect them.

Now, what are your thoughts? If that struck any of you as a “magical/odd belief” or a delusion, than you’re thinking exactly how you’re taught to.

Now, I have a bunch of these beliefs for different things. Some of them effect what I do in my daily life and how I do them. Some of them are anxiety related, some aren’t. But the point here is since I’ve had these beliefs and I grew up with these beliefs and these beliefs have helped shape me, and because I’ve been one of the lucky few to never have a forced psychiatric opinion on me, a diagnosis means nothing. It’s not a symptom of anything to me, it’s how I experience the world. It’s how I experience reality.

And if it ever gave me trouble, well, I’d like someone to listen to me about it, not call me broken.

Because, if there’s one thing we all know, it’s that when you get told you need to “Watch out” or “be careful” of certain symptoms, you become hyper aware. Everything is a symptom. Everything is an indication of you being ill. Is that how you want to live your life? Believing your existence is based on an illness you can’t control?

The thing is, it’s never been about control. It’s been about acceptance, about understanding. And if you can’t understand or accept yourself, well, the only other option is to view yourself as a problem.

As you can see, I’ll be an interesting psychiatrist. Because it’s not about “helping” them or curing them. It’s about understanding their story, where they’re coming from, establishing a relationship in which they share about themselves, I relate with my own experience, and we realize we’re on the same level; I’m not better than them for having a medical degree and they’re not lesser than me for struggling, and then as a clinician asking what sort of treatment they’d like, medication or otherwise, if they would like any at all. After all, that’s what they came for right?

Or so they’ve been told.