My story with suicidal ideation goes back 35 years, to when I was 9 years old. To say that I’ve been living with these thoughts for a while now, would be a bit of an understatement, given that I’m now almost 44. I’ve grown accustomed to them and while they’re troublesome at times, they are as natural to me as thinking about the weather.
As a teen, I wrote endless stories and poems about leaving the world as a way to cope with the pain I was feeling. I lived in a small farming town and kept my thoughts hidden from the world, as so many do. I recall one kindly English teacher once asking if I was ok after reading a journal assignment I had submitted, but being the chameleon I was, I reassured her that it was just a creative imagination that brought forth such vivid stories.
My twenties saw a reprieve in my thoughts, simply because I became a mother to two children in quick succession and caring for them consumed me. I knew there was no way that I could leave them alone and vulnerable. The relationship with their father however was chaotic and abusive, and my mental health was deteriorating.
At age 32, I suffered a major psychotic break that required the first of many hospitalizations. The suicidal ideation returned with a be a vengeance, and I was ill-equipped to deal with the urges and intensity. In the midst of a severe emotional breakdown, alone and isolated in my small town, recently separated, I attempted.
Despite this serious attempt, I received little psychiatric care due to my rural location. I made the decision to relocate to Edmonton for better services for myself and my children. I was able to attend programs at the Grey Nuns Hospital and felt on the path to stabilization and recovery. But even during this time, the thoughts never went away. I always had them as a back up plan – an escape route and these comforted me in some way. It made me feel like I was still in control some how. Like, if things got too bad, I could decide when to say enough was enough.
You didn’t dare voice these things to the professionals, or God forbid your family or even friends. They’d look at you like you had three heads. I knew that it wasn’t “normal” to have these thoughts, but it was MY normal, and I struggled to accept that my normal was ok.
After a particularly stressful time, I again attempted in 2010. That was my last attempt. I went on to take DBT and more intensive therapy that have helped me gain a better mastery of my emotions, and impulsivity. But the thoughts remain.
Always there. Making a plan. Revising it. I plan my funeral like others plan their weddings. I’m not morbid or messed up. My brain thinks differently. And that’s ok. I’m not ashamed of that. And talking about it might help others know that they’re not alone. That its OK to think and talk about suicidial ideation. Because talking about it will make it less shameful.
Maybe I’m not OK, and that’s OK.