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Posts Tagged ‘suicide’

Today is very special. It’s our anniversary. My husband and I have been married for 44 years. He stuck by my side through the best and worst of times. He’s a gem.

During the worst of times, when my bipolar was out of control, I didn’t feel I deserved him. I felt I was ruining his life. I wished I could die so he’d be rid of me and wouldn’t have to put up with my roller coaster moods anymore. During the worst depressions I would often think of ending my life. I figured that he would hurt for a while but then he’d realize that he was free from living through my hell with me. I tried to shield him from my moods but he could read me.

There were four occasions where I actually planned how to commit suicide and was ready to go through with it. I had promised my husband, that should that day come, I would tell him. I kept my word on each occurrence and he took me to the hospital for help. The last time was the charm—the doctor in that hospital put me on a combination of meds that nearly eliminated the cycling moods. The hypomanias have been eliminated completely. The depressions are now very few and shallow. They are pretty easy to control and keep from escalating. It’s been two years now and I’m still doing very well.

My husband fought this battle right beside me. He never gave up even when I wanted to. Communication was the key in our getting through it. He kept me talking and sharing what I was feeling and going through even when I didn’t want to but wanted to shut down. Those talks gave me the strength to dig deeper for tools to overcome and push through.

I know there are a lot of people out there with bipolar who feel alone, unlovable and that you will never know what it feels like to be well again. That is the greatest lie this disorder can tell us. It is the depression talking. It’s also the frustration talking. If you have a family member or close friend who you can talk to, share what you experience with him or her but initially do it when you are in a semi-controlled state if you can. You’ll be less emotional and make more sense. Our loved ones can’t help us if they don’t understand. The only way they can get a sense of what bipolar or depression is like is if we share and give them the information so they can learn. Direct them to websites that educate about bipolar. Let him or her come to an appointment with your psychiatrist for therapist so s/he can ask questions and learn. We need all the help we can get otherwise it’s a long and lonely journey.

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I’ve heard of physician-assisted suicide also called euthanasia. In the U.S. the procedure is reserved for those people who are terminally ill as well as in a great deal of pain. It is legal in Vermont, Washington (state), and Oregon. It is allowable in Montana only by a court ruling. In the U.S. the procedure is reserved for those who are terminally ill as well as in a great deal of pain. It has come to my attention that overseas the procedure has been taken to another level.

In the Netherlands and Belgium, doctors are also allowed to assist with suicide for people with non-terminal cases of severe distress including psychological cases. Some of the people approved for doctor-assisted suicide suffered from manic depression (bipolar), anorexia, autism, chronic fatigue syndrome, partial paralysis and Alzheimer’s. This list is just a sampling of how far a reach this now approved procedure has.

I find this very disturbing because severe distress and psychological issues can change for the better over time. I have been in that terrible pit of depression. It was so deep and mentally an emotionally painful it tore at my soul. I wanted to die because I didn’t think I could endure it anymore. At that point I could no longer see any light or hope. I couldn’t believe it would ever be over. I felt it would never end.   Many people with severe depression experience this in addition to any other unique ways their minds torture them. But whether we believe it or not, it is a temporary state and there is always hope that our doctors will find the right drug(s) to alleviate or even rid us of the depressions in the future. After 6 years my doctor finally found a combination that works for me and life is good again.

It is my fear that in the not so far off future the laws in many U.S. states will relax and follow the lead set by the Netherlands and Belgium. People who are afraid of trying to commit suicide themselves for whatever reason will find a doctor to do it for them without any chance of failure. What kind of world are we living in where we can just dispose of people who have a chance of living well? Euthanasia for the terminally ill frightens me but this new twist alarms me.

Had I killed myself, I would have missed being well again. I’d have missed out on a future with my husband and our family. I wouldn’t hear my grandsons laugh again. I’d miss all the beautiful sunrises and sunsets. I am grateful to be alive with a promising future ahead of me. I have found joy after severe bipolar depression.

I pray you hold on. There is definitely hope.

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There is a great debate, and yes, even shouting, about the issue of medications vs. no medications for treating mental illnesses. And I am addressing bipolar in particular since that is what I am most familiar with.

I have an acquaintance who has tried the no medications s route by using the holistic methods touted by many and yet she is still suffering.   Early in my treatment, I convinced my doctor that I wanted to go med free because I had reached a point of stability and I was afraid of these powerful drugs and what they can do to our bodies over time. Of course, the rapid cycles started again in spite of having great coping skills and I went back to my psychiatrist for help. The drugs are what had helped slowed my cycles down enough to cope well, and those particular drugs never quite worked the same as before I had stopped them. I had messed up with my meds.

That led to an interesting conversation with my psychiatrist and a great revelation to me.  It was one that I had difficulty accepting.  My argument was the meds cause weight gain, increase the risk of diabetes, cardiac problems and a host of other problems besides the side effects associated with them.  I told him that I’ve already begun to have problems, pre-diabetes for one, and would most likely die younger never reaching truly old age.

My psychiatrist’s response was that I was suffering without my meds.  My cycles sped back up to ultra rapid cycling making coping and life difficult.  There is a high risk of suicide with my deepest depressions; it’s in my gene pool which is a great concern.  He stated that it’s a matter of choice as to whether I want a better quality of life or life with suffering, both of which have an impact not just on me, but on my family too—one positive and one negative. He led me to the conclusion that sometimes we have to give up quantity for quality, and quality is a better choice in this case.

I chose quality and haven’t looked back.  I’ll do all I can to live as healthy a life as possible and I’ll enjoy my family and friends while relieving them of any worry about my overall well being.  Life has been far better for all of us this way.

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Well, here we are, fairly settled into our home.  Much of the painting and decorating is done and it finally feels like it is truly ours.  There’s a peace here now, finally.

A few weeks after we arrived here, there was little peace.  Then, on March 2oth, I had an appointment with a new psychiatrist (Pdoc).  I gave him all my records from my Pdoc in NY.  He reviewed them, interviewed me and told me flat out that I don’t have cyclothymia or major depression.  I have Bipolar Disorder coupled with anxiety.   I was blown away but everything he said made sense.  To prove it to me, he had me keep a chart of my daily mood swings following the directions on the chart’s scale.  What a revelation!   I didn’t realize how unstable my moods were.  My poor husband is a saint for loving me this way.

Until now, I have been very embarrassed about this whole Bipolar diagnosis.  It’s a mental illness.  Moods can swing from very high (manic) where one’s judgement can be impaired, all the way down to extremely deep depression where one may become a danger to him/herself.  I’ve been on both sides of the normal line, but the side I’ve experienced the most is the downside.  The worst was the deep depression.  Thank God it’s only been a few times.

I was angry about the diagnosis because I had always been more than capable and fiercely independent.  I could run rings around coworkers in every job I had.  This is not lofty Bipolar thinking on my part–I have job evaluations to prove it.   But about a year before our move, something started happening that was sapping my strength, my memory, and my ability to work at the intensity and pace that I was accustomed to.

This demon finally had a name and is incurable and I was mad as h***!  The Pdoc did say we would work together to get it under control–that was hopeful.  The downside was that it has gone untreated in me for about 40 yrs and had just recently gone totally out of control–multiple full cycles in 1 day.  Because of how intense my cycles were, he said there is a good chance we may never get it under full control but he and I would work as a team to do the best we could.  At least he was honest.  He has kept his promise and we’re making progress–SLOW, but it’s progress.

My mood crashed on Oct. 1 this year.  I mean bottomed out so that I didn’t want to stick around anymore.  Hubby & I knew I needed help badly.  Pdoc told him to take me to the hospital.

It was the strangest experience I ever had.  I always had visions that a psych hospital was a scary place and full of weird, strange people, thanks to old TV movies and even some not so old movies.  The folks there were, for the most part, caring.  They made sure no one was cold & got you a cotton blanket if you were.  One poor fellow would start to nod out over his dinner plate.  Any one of us would catch him and wake him up before he drowned in his soup or potatoes.  Yes, all of them had mental issues, most less severe so you’d never know if you worked with them.

So what’s the point of this.  I spent 1 week with  these folks and I have to say it is the best thing that ever happened to me.  I am one of them and we are just like anyone else, just people looking to get our medical issues under control so we can go on with our daily lives.  One of us could be your neighbor and you would never know it.

I discovered that I’m still a whole person, I just have a condition called Bipolar Disorder.  I’m not ashamed of it anymore.  I  can talk about it now.  I am healing, slowly, but it’s happening.  Now I want to get on and serve others.

Did I mention NAMI?  It’s the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.  They have chapters all over the country.  My chapter has support meetings for people with mental illness as well as support meetings for family members.  What a blessing this NAMI group has been for me and also my hubby.  We’ve learned a lot there.  I’m hoping that perhaps I’d be allowed to serve there.

Time will tell where God will put me.

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Rev. Shane L. Bishop

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