You do reach the edge more often than you think with depression. One of the main questions a doctor or therapist will ask you is “Are you having suicidal thoughts?” And the answer is occasionally but it’s more that you consider your mortality and that of those around you.
You wonder if you’d be better off not alive rather than about killing yourself. That’s a different place to be as it is not about doing away with yourself but trying to decide is life worth living. The best way for me to keep myself in check is to look at my wife and kids and remind myself how lucky I am. Thoughts about my parents and sister and her family are also important in being positive. But I completely understand why those without someone very close and important may decide they are only going to find peace in death. I’d hate to find myself on that place.
The other morbid recurring thoughts are that those around you are constantly in danger of shuffling off this mortal coil. Yesterday Jill and the kids were still out when I got home from work. Straight away the clock becomes an enemy and until their feet cross the threshold you wonder if they will make it home at all. Seeing it written down it does appear ridiculous, but then I am going through a really tough low patch just now.
Why am I really struggling? A long story for another time, but at the moment I’m driving round picking up occupational therapy apparatus from houses where people have recently died. Faced with so many bereaved husbands and wives, empty sheltered housing flats and care home rooms, I’m being constantly reminded of my and everyone else’s mortality. Until I can get another job or win the lottery, those bills won’t be paid any other way. Needs must.
Since I started taking sedatives last May, I have slept much better but the downside is that the periods of mania are hugely reduced and I’m living more with the periods of depression. I miss the highs; they were a great release of tension and expression. Do I speak to my psychiatric therapist and reduce the lithium levels to give me it back, or increase the antidepressants and change who I am even further?
I have just finished reading “An Unquiet Mind” by Kay Redfield Jamison which I would thoroughly recommend you read if living with bipolar disorder or know someone who is. So much of what I have written in this blog appears in the book and it makes you feel that this mindfuck of an existence is not a solitary thing – hundreds and thousands live with the giant mood swings too.
Part of me wonders if I’d be better coming off all the meds and then just introducing things back into the mix gradually. You do find yourself wondering what the bloody point is with all these tablets when I’m still desperately miserable. The treat was functioning at mania point where ideas and fun and unpredictability lived, but I haven’t really had a manic episode in over a year. I know it’s not “healthy” to have those extremes but if I’m going to live with it I might as well get the benefits as well as the downsides – literally.
While I’m not anywhere near taking my own life, my preoccupation with mortality is one I’m stuck with until this black cloud lifts from me.