Life in a Bind – BPD and me

Borderline Personality Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and my therapy journey. Listed in Top Ten Resources for BPD in 2016 by goodtherapy.org. I write for welldoing.org under the name Clara Bridges.

Sitting to feel safe

12 Comments

*TRIGGER WARNING – SUICIDAL IDEATION*

I’ve sat pretty motionless for the past hour and a half, because if I don’t move, even if I’m not doing something to actively try and distract from these thoughts, at least I’m not doing anything to act on them either.

I can still move my fingertips on the keyboard, as I’m doing now. Twenty minutes ago I typed in the Samaritans’ email address in an open window in my Gmail account, but I haven’t typed anything else in it yet. I got distracted by opening up a private browser window and looking up more information on a particular way to die. As with most ways to die, there appeared to be numerous downsides. And then I came across this:

https://www.victoriahealth.com/editorial/suicide

It is an incredibly poignant article by the late Sally Brampton, who tragically took her own life a few months ago. It is moving, funny, and brutally honest.

I wish I had a suicidal soulmate, like Sally did. Yet somehow I can’t bear the thought of ‘inflicting’ my suicidal ideation on friends, even on those who might on some level be able to relate to how I’m feeling. I don’t want to burden anyone with my thoughts, or cause them to feel as though they are somehow responsible for my safety. I don’t want to talk to anyone; but at the same my inner critic is busy invalidating me and telling me I have no right to share this with anyone. It tells me I have no right to take my feelings seriously; that if they were serious I would have made an attempt on my life already. That if they were serious then my ‘mood states’ would last longer, rather than often being intense but fairly fleeting. I know my inner critic is a liar. I believe my inner critic.

In her article, Sally wrote that when you are in the midst of depression, “the senseless makes sense”. I don’t know whether or not it’s a consequence of neuroplasticity, but I can certainly attest to the fact that over time and given prolonged suicidal ideation, the concept of suicide acquires its own twisted type of logic. I recognise that it is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, and I recognise the devastation it can leave in its wake. But it’s still as if the phrase ‘suicide is logical’ has been rewired into a tautology in my brain. Most of the time I can hold it alongside the concept ‘suicide is not a good solution’. But sometimes I really struggle with that. Like tonight.

I felt such a strange mixture of shock, sadness and relief, when I read how in her darkest times, Sally began to imagine dying together with her daughter, who also suffered from depression; lying side by side, holding hands, and drifting off into an endless sleep. A couple of years ago in one of my own lowest patches, I half-jokingly half-seriously suggested to a close childhood friend of mine who also suffers from depression, that we usher in our next decade together in a similar fashion; holding hands while drifting off into a place of no pain. She called me ‘sick’ and hasn’t spoken to me since. I told another good friend what had happened and she discouraged me from writing about it, saying it wasn’t really one of my better moments. It wasn’t, and I was ashamed of it. But I think I’d always been hoping that behind the ‘sick suggestion’, my friend would be able to see the fact that I loved her, and if there was anyone I wanted to share the terror and intimacy of death with, it was her. She didn’t see it – she didn’t see the strange sort of logic that suicidal ideation sometimes constructs. Thank you Sally for helping me feel a little less ashamed of the fact that sometimes the senseless makes sense to me.

And yet I’m lucky, very lucky. Lucky because I’m able to root myself to the spot and somehow convince myself to ride it out while letting my fingers do the job of trying to bring me back into safety. Lucky because at this juncture in time, this moment is a moment; intense and almost unbearable, but likely to pass relatively quickly. I am not in the midst of a prolonged period of depression; and even when I am, unlike Sally’s months and years of hell, my worst periods tend to last three or four weeks at a time.

It’s been almost two and a half hours now, of sitting in one spot, waiting to feel safer. I feel a bit safer. Maybe safe enough to risk moving. My inner critic berates me for wasting hours doing nothing. Previously, not making an attempt on my life was evidence of a lack of seriousness; now it’s evidence of a lack of productivity. Another bizarre sort of logic.

At the end of her article, Sally wrote: “So, and I say this with all my heart, hold onto hope, because if we keep it grasped tight, then summer will surely come”. I’d be lying if I said I was trying to hope for summer. Right now I’d like to be able to hope for a crisp, sunny, sparkling day in winter. Right now, that will be more than enough.

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12 thoughts on “Sitting to feel safe

  1. LIAB,
    I am so glad that you wrote this! I think this kind of suicidal ideation (which I struggled with at one time, especially when recovering the memories of wanting to die as a child) isn’t so much about wanting to die, as it is finding a way out of unbearable pain. Of course there’s a logic to it, it looks like a way out. And anything looks better than being in that kind of pain. You were NOT sitting and doing nothing, you were fighting for your life. I am glad you did so, as your death would be a loss to so many. It’s very hard to see when you’re barely holding on, but it won’t always feel like this. It’s been a long time since I’ve had more than a fleeting thought of wanting to die (and those have been on really stressful, bad days).

    And you deserve to speak about these feelings. You are not a bad person for having them, nor are they going to hurt someone to hear them. I used to work on a Crisis Line (local but similar to Samaritans) and I want you to know that I was a volunteer and WANTED to be there. I may not have known the person on the other end of the line all that well, but I truly did care. I would much much rather be sharing their pain, then have them end their lives. Talking about these feelings and being heard and understood is the best way to not act on them. So brava for reaching out here and saying how you feel. There is at least a part of you fighting to live or you would not have written. Try to hang onto that part. Go ahead and contact Samaritan’s, it’s what they are there for. You need to know you’re not alone. You’re not alone. I am so sorry that you are in so much pain that it is enough to overcome your wish to live. I know that level of pain exists and hope you can find the strength to continue walking through it. Is there anyone you could call to come and just be with you? Are you able to contact your T? Use any resources you can. I know it can be so hard to reach out, but think about being on the other end. Wouldn’t you want your friend to contact you? Hold on.

    AG

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much AG xxxx I am safe and will be okay, I’m lucky to be able to write and sit my way through something, and for that to help get over the worst of it. I’ve never been that close to contacting the Samaritans before, and it’s encouraging to hear your experience of working on a crisis line. I would definitely feel more comfortable reaching out in that way, than to a close friend. For me a big difficulty is getting over the invalidating voice enough to actually allow myself to reach out. Even now I have constant thoughts telling me I’m a ‘drama queen’, would never have made an attempt, and how can it be real if the worst bit lasts a few hours, so what is all the fuss about? Getting past that is one of the hardest battles…I even feel guilty for ‘eliciting’ your response, which part of me knows is ridiculous, but I’m so used to attributing negative motives to everything I do….thank you again for your support xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      • I so totally get that feeling of ‘faking it’ etc….I often feel suicidal or of harming myself but just can’t reach out… it feels as if it’s all fake, not real etc. My therapist tells me I can call her but I can never seem to say it out loud. As if then it is not real…but my written word is always full of anguish. And as soon as someone gives me support I play it down….I get you LIAB…. you speak my language!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you so much, we clearly speak each other’s language! I know what you mean about playing it down when someone gives you support….take care and I hope you’re doing okay this holiday season….

        Like

  2. I don’t think what you suggested is remotely “sick”, and I feel like your friend imposed her own views of death and morality on you in saying it, which wasn’t fair. It’s also completely valid to feel the way you do, and reaching out to people is not shameful in any way. I can relate to having experienced many of the feelings you describe here, including the feeling bad if people respond supportively, as if I have somehow ‘elicited’ the response as you say. I’m glad you’re keeping safe (but with the caveat that, although I wholeheartedly want you to be safe, I couldn’t, and wouldn’t, resent you in any way for acting differently). Much love. ❤ xxx

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve totally been there an glad you have a way to keep safe. Shame and secrecy fuel suicidal ideation…so talk, talk, talk!!!

    I’ve contacted a crisis text line before they were amazingly helpful. Even in moments like these praiyuse yourself. for staying safe, for being aware, and you helped so many by sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Glad to hear there is still bounce in you. We are better for your presence.

    Liked by 2 people

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