Monday, November 24, 2014

Suicidal Ideation

I've worked on myself a lot in the last two years. And I've realized some things that weren't clear to me before about the nature of depression, and suicidal ideation in particular. 
I thought I might take a moment to write about one thing in particular that I wish I had realized earlier in life. 

Suicide seems to have four stages. Ideation, planning, action and attempt.
These might spread out over years or all take place in an afternoon. And the final two stages are what usually cause alarm. I'm not talking about alarm among friends or family. I mean alarm in the person who is suicidal. 
Reaching those stages might finally push them to get help.

But I think people need to realize that the first two stages should be treated as well. They can come to seem like they are inevitable, or unremarkable, and not something worth bringing up to anyone.
I know I drifted between them for decades and never considered that this was something I could change.

Suicidal ideation is thinking about suicide all the time. Planning is thinking specifically about your own suicide and how you might go about it.

Personally, I would always have an opposing voice, one that would object on terms of logic or emotion, directly or indirectly disrupting my planning. It would be too tired to go to the pharmacy this week, maybe next week. It wouldn't want to do that to elderly loved ones, maybe after they passed away. In very real ways this voice was my savior. But it also contributed to purgatory. 

It led to a kind of ongoing misery where I was never quite well, but never quite sick enough to justify treatment. Since that voice was always there, I considered myself safe. Since actual death wasn't a danger then it seemed foolish to complain about a few silly thoughts. 

And I've got to confess that I never did get treatment for those 'silly' thoughts alone. It took a huge burden of stress, a breakdown and a sharp movement in the direction of the third stage to get me to a counselor and to get me on anti-depressants.

But I wish I had realized that stage one and two weren't inevitable. They weren't something I just have to learn to weather. They were a bad habit and one that I could overcome. I deserved better than to dwell constantly on my own negation. 

There are probably a lot of other people out there who still think that way. They think because they never are never driven to the point where they must seek help, that they don't need help. They believe that containing those malevolent thoughts so that they won't harm others is the best that can be achieved. It's not. 

Please seek help. If you can't afford a counselor, then seek it with friends and family. If they won't take you seriously, then call a hotline, or try to find guidance at the library.

All of these stages are symptoms. None of them should be dismissed.

You deserve to live a healthy life. Fight for yourself.   

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