Surviving Bipolar is about my journey with bipolar suicidal thoughts.
TW: Bipolar Suicidal Thoughts
Sometimes the weight of depression or the incessant drum of internal voices becomes so unbearable that it feels pointless to keep going. What do you do when you feel you can’t go on? How do you handle bipolar suicidal thoughts?
First, know the right choice is always to keep living. Do whatever you have to in order to stay alive. Some find strength in no-suicide contracts. One helped me.
This is my story of a time the darkness pulled me so low I almost gave up.
I am not a mental health professional, but I know it’s essential to talk about mental illness and bipolar suicidal thoughts. Too many people suffer in silence, afraid of telling anyone about the scary thoughts inside. My goal is for this series to inspire conversations.
This post is dark discussing bipolar suicidal thoughts. If you are struggling with thoughts of self-harm or suicide, it might be better for you to stop reading here. Instead, you may enjoy the positive post, How To Succeed and Get Back on Your Feet: 15 Inspirational Quotes. Or you may enjoy reading my writer-origin story written as a fairytale.
Even if you feel like giving up, never forget things can get better. You can beat your darkest thoughts. Please seek the help you need or call a crisis hotline.
As you will see, I survived my worst time and now live a happy and productive life. You can do the same.
Crash and burn
In Part 6, I talked about the euphoria that lasted for months while taking Prozac. Being manic can feel great, at least in the beginning. Energy pulses through your body and you feel invincible. Nothing seems out of reach.
Mania always brings an evil friend, the negative side of the coin flip. The higher the high, the lower bipolar depression will hit you. Even if the depressive cycle is delayed, the extended mania will cause bipolar anger and irritability.
In true bipolar fashion, when I was slipping to my lowest point, I decided to self-medicate. My gut told me my meds were making me high, so all I needed was something to bring me down.
Alcohol seemed like the best bet. As it often is, turning to the bottle was a horrible mistake.
Alcohol, Bipolar Suicidal Thoughts, and Me
For many people, liquor helps them relax. As a young man, I dated a girl who always fell asleep after half a wine cooler. Do they even make those anymore?
However, alcohol’s effect on me is the exact opposite. The more I drink, the more stimulated I feel. With each sip, sleep becomes even less of a necessity.
Alcohol also tricked me into believing I felt better. Emboldened by the misbelief, I found ways to drink more and earlier every day. Drink after drink spun me faster into a painful death-spiral.
Inside, I felt like I was swimming across the ocean. I knew reaching the other side was impossible. The further I swam, the more I felt a darkness from below the surface pulling me under the waves. That blackness inspired me to write the poem, The End.
Before long, I lost all grasp of reality. Everything happening around me felt like a nightmare. Like the moments after you wake up from a vivid dream, I constantly struggled to distinguish the real world from what was in my head.
This is the end
At the worst point, I went two full weeks without sleeping. I wish I was exaggerating. My temples throbbed all the time, and my vision stayed blurred.
In time, alcohol stopped helping. Desperate for relief, I decided the only solution was a final one.
I gathered all the pills in the house, my Prozac, migraine meds, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and anything else in pill form. I dumped each bottle out on my kitchen table, marveling for a moment at the variety of colors and how it reflected the chaos in my brain. It’s safe to say I was quite drunk by then. As I stirred the piles of pills around the table, I couldn’t help but giggle. My end was close.
Looking at the clock on my microwave, I noticed it was still early evening. I don’t know why, but a voice inside told me death should come late at night. Bipolar suicidal thoughts are never logical. So I went to my bedroom, a fresh drink in hand, and called Margaret.
I had no plan for calling Margaret. I doubt I intended to say goodbye, but I don’t remember why I phoned her. Margaret heard something in my slurred words triggered her motherly warning signal. Frightened, she immediately went into action.
“I will carry you out”
The locked door to my mobile home flew open minutes later. Margaret’s husband, Patrick, burst in like a Texas tornado.
Much of what followed is a hazy blur produced by an unhealthy mind and too much alcohol. I remember yelling at Patrick to get out of my house. Patrick saw my pill covered kitchen table and refused to leave without me. Defiantly, I screamed at him with the cruelest words I could find. I was determined to finish my plan.
“I will carry you out if I have to, but either way, you are coming with me,” Patrick told me. That’s the one clear memory I have.
Patrick is a tall, muscular man. He spent his days hauling buckets of gravel, so picking up 116 pound me would have taken no effort. Patrick is an action taker, so I have no doubt he would have picked me up if needed. His insistence on taking me with him saved my life.
In the time it took Patrick to come to my trailer and coerce me into his car, Margaret had ushered her small children to Penelope’s house. A united couple, Margaret and Patrick wanted to help me without exposing their children to the horrible words spilling from my mouth.
The monster of bipolar suicidal thoughts comes out
Most of you reading this have never met me. You don’t know how I’m generally a kind, happy person with a smile on my face. I try hard to be polite and encouraging to everyone I meet. Bipolar suicidal thoughts changed everything.
That night, though, the absolute worst of me came out. There was no smile and no kind words. Margaret insisted it was time I get more intensive help. Angry at the idea, I blasted her with every word-weapon I had. I knew Margaret well, so I knew every button to push to cause her the most pain.
In a short time, I verbally slayed Margaret, a strong and independent woman, and reduced her to tears. To escape my wrath, she fled to her bedroom. Now, nearly 30 years later, I can still hear Margaret’s sobs as the worst of my verbal onslaught echoed in her ears. How Patrick had the restraint to keep from pummeling me to death, I will never know.
That turbulent night is one I will always regret. I will never forgive myself for what I said or how I hurt Patrick and Margaret. Fortunately, they were more forgiving than me.
“You don’t seem that bad”
Patrick held out for as much as he could stand. He knew a little about mental illness and alcohol abuse, so he tried to give me as much latitude as possible. Unable to console his crying wife, though, pushed him close to his breaking point.
“I would have hurt you,” he told me later. I would have deserved it.
Moments later, the three of us were in the emergency room. Margaret was still crying but doing her best to pull herself back together.
The doctor came in at one point. He was partners with the evil woman, Dr. Despicable, who prescribed the Prozac and then refused to listen when I told her it wasn’t working.
After a few minutes of conversation, the doctor told me, “You don’t seem that bad.”
A nurse came and pulled the doctor out of the room to help with another patient. Patrick and Margaret were exhausted, and I was ready to refresh my buzz, but the night was far from over.
Giving Up Hope to Bipolar Suicidal Thoughts
Those words, “You don’t seem that bad,” took away any hope I had of things improving with my bipolar suicidal thoughts. I started rummaging through the cabinets in the patient room where we were waiting. I was desperate to find anything to either drink or hurt myself in another way.
Whether it was Patrick or Margaret, I’m not sure, but shortly later, the doctor decided I needed inpatient care. I was angry, hurt, and humiliated, but the threat of a police escort kept me from acting out too much. I agreed to go along with the new plan.
Being in the hospital was unlike anything I expected. What you see depicted in movies and TV shows is nothing close to what inpatient care is really like. I share the events of the rest of that night in part 8. Click the link below to continue.
Until next time, keep fighting.