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When I Didn’t Want to Kill Myself but Bipolar Kept Telling Me to Die

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Editor's Note

If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, visit this resource.

I was going through my Facebook memories yesterday morning and saw that, two years ago, I was having unwanted passive suicidal thoughts. I remember that day quite vividly. I was happy with my life but battling to maintain stability. I was fighting off a bipolar disorder mixed episode and adjusting to a new dosage of my medication. My dosage was lowered and I was struggling. Every time my medications get a dosage tweak, my bipolar goes haywire. I can recognize the signs of mania and depression, and I can feel when an episode is starting, but I don’t know how to stop them. It’s like the roller coaster in my head has gone out of control and I’m strapped in, going along for the ride. My borderline personality disorder (BPD) acts up too but it’s not as disruptive as my bipolar. I’m straying off topic here; sorry about that…

At the time, I was up and down multiple times in a day. I was hyper and feeling on top of the world one minute, then losing my cool over minuscule things like spilling sink water on myself. I was trying to maintain a level headedness. I was using my dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skills. Everything I said or did was to the extreme though and it was frustrating. I had been struggling for a while with intrusive suicidal thoughts, and as my medication dosage lowered, the thoughts became more frequent. It was like my brain was trying to kill me. I didn’t want to have these thoughts, I didn’t want to die; I wanted to live. I was happy with my life and my family, but this little voice in my head kept whispering horrible thoughts to me and I couldn’t shut it up. I beat myself up a lot in my head for even having the thoughts cross my mind. Why would I want to kill myself when I was happy?

On that day a few years ago, I was being plagued by that damned little voice in my head which was telling me to kill myself. I was cutting a bagel for my son to have for breakfast and I hear instructions to kill myself in my head. I started crying, continuing to cut the bagel and proceeding to toast it for my son. At the time, I was over a year clean from self-harm and quite proud of that. I didn’t want to hurt myself, especially not when my children were present. I became angry with myself for having that thought, and grew quiet. My children noticed and asked me what was wrong. I insisted it was nothing for them to worry about, and served them breakfast. I tried to distract myself with housework but everywhere I went, that annoying little voice whispered a different way for me to die. Determined to stay positive and maintain composure, I sent my children off to school and I began cleaning my kitchen, but it became so bad that I phoned my husband at work, scared and crying, looking for advice. He suggested I have a self-care day and do things that made me feel good. So, I went to the store to buy some snacks and came home. I ran myself a bubble bath and even though the little voice told me to kill myself, I forced myself to relax.

All that day, I focused on doing things that made me happy. I stayed close to my kids and played games with them. I played World of Warcraft while they had quiet time, I ate sushi, melon salad, drank hot chocolate and listened to upbeat music. I was determined to outsmart my own brain. I was determined to survive. I phoned my psychiatrist’s office and spoke to a nurse about my unwanted suicidal thoughts. She was very nice and supportive. I managed to get a telehealth appointment (it’s like Skype but for medical appointments) for the next day. My psychiatrist bumped my medication to a higher dosage and almost immediately after starting the new dosage, my intrusive suicidal thoughts disappeared.

I stayed at that dosage for over a year, and during that time I didn’t have any more intrusive suicidal thoughts. I’m on different medications now, as I had to make some changes to treat my postpartum depression and anxiety. I still haven’t had any suicidal thoughts, and I am extremely grateful for that. There was a time in my life when I was actively suicidal; I am a survivor of two attempts. That was in my teens. My children and husband give me a reason to wake up each and every day, I want to live. Now, I have a tattoo on my forearm — a semicolon tattoo with the words “This Too Shall Pass” underneath. It is my permanent reminder that no matter how bad things get, they won’t last forever.

It’s utterly terrifying to experience passive suicidal ideation in the form of intrusive thoughts. The feeling when you can’t trust your own brain, which controls your whole body, is a feeling I don’t wish on anyone. When you’re having thoughts of suicide and you don’t want them, don’t listen to them. Fight for your life. I’m extremely thankful I ignored that little voice. I’m grateful I have a supportive husband. I love the life and family I have, and consider myself very lucky. I get to wake up next to the love of my life every morning, and we have three wonderful children together. The fact I was passively suicidal at a time in my life when I was happy is downright scary. I didn’t want to die, yet my brain kept telling me to kill myself.

I’m speaking out about my experience with this for suicide awareness and prevention. I am not in danger; I am relatively stable and of sound mind. I am in the throes of a depressive episode but I’m aware of it and managing it to the best of my ability. I understand that speaking out about being suicidal may cause people to judge me, and for those who know me to look at me differently, and I am alright with that. I am not doing this for attention, I am doing this because it may help someone else. Please, if you have thoughts of suicide, tell someone. Don’t bottle it up inside, don’t be ashamed and don’t face it alone. Your mind is playing tricks on you. You matter. Your life matters. You are loved and you are important. Don’t make permanent decisions based on fleeting thoughts and temporary feelings. Please. To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world. Your existence on this planet makes a difference whether you see it or not.

Image via contributor.

Originally published: October 7, 2019
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