Hello, here’s a thing I sort of just needed to push out of my fingers and onto a computer screen. I’ve not been able to articulate myself this clearly on this particular topic before, so I thought I’d seize the chance while I had it. Fair warning, I’m about to talk quite a bit about suicide.
In short, this week has been really hard. On paper, it’s been fine - I’ve had a really productive time at work, I’ve spent time with my fiancée and I made a pretty OK curry the other night. The bit that made it hard is that I’ve been feeling truly, profoundly depressed for most of the time.
I had a sudden depressive flare up on Monday that carried on throughout Tuesday and well into Wednesday. I’m feeling alright-ish now (Thursday 14 April 2016), truth be told, but I’m still in the process of calming down after feeling perfectly wretched for several days. I get these periods of low mood every so often and ordinarily they pass without getting too intense. This time round though I’ve been struggling a lot with suicidal ideation, which is an easy way of saying it’s been hard to keep the thought of killing myself out of my head.
I should make it clear at this point that there is no chance of that happening. These thoughts aren’t welcome, nor are they convincing in any real sense. What they are, though, is loud. Kind of like trying to have a conversation in a loud bar, they’ve been filling in the spaces around everything else in my brain. And, like an obnoxiously drunk person in a loud bar, they’ve been keen to butt in at every opportunity. They’ve been brought on by little pieces of work related stress. They flooded my brain because I messed up finely dicing an onion for dinner. They’ve left me feeling reluctant to call up specific memories from the past twenty seven years of my life in case I hit an embarrassing memory and want to wipe myself out.
These thoughts are hard, but not necessarily because of the violence inherent in them. I’m not feeling sorry for myself, nor do I fancy making an appeal for sympathy. Rather, these thoughts are hard in the easy way my brain accepts them. They aren’t consciously registered in the same way as another person trying to stick idea in your head. My brain doesn’t react to these thoughts with the same sense of acknowledgement; it doesn’t stop to weigh up whether these ideas are good or not. My suicidal thoughts aren’t events in that sense - they slip in casually under the radar and are met with the exact same weightless regard as any other idle thought. ‘I’ll need to pick up milk soon.’ ‘I quite fancy reading a book later.’ ‘I should kill myself.’ My brain quietly accepts these thoughts as unquestionably true. They feel natural and perfectly sensible, despite the disastrous implications.
I like to think that I know my own depression quite well and that I’m pretty well equipped to deal with this sort of thing. Thankfully, I’m able to separate out invasive thoughts like these from rational thoughts that I actually ought to give my time and consideration to. The end result is that the days have blurred into a long and unfunny absurdist sketch.
On one hand I’ll be sat thinking about how I definitely ought to kill myself and all of the signals in my brain will be telling me that yes, that’s a solid idea and definitely makes sense. On the other, I’m able to tell myself no, that’s an awful idea, because I’ll be feeling differently in a day or a week or whatever. I know that to be true (I’m already on the mend now), but it doesn’t really change the emotional weight of the thing in the moment. It’s like being told, while starving, that lunch won’t be ready for another hour. I know relief is coming, but it doesn’t make the here and now any less tedious.
The most annoying thing about all this, the limiting and frustrating thing about it, is not that I’m thinking about killing myself, it’s that I’m not thinking much of anything right now. Poking around in my own head feels like asking for trouble - like someone’s strewn bits of broken glass about the place and I’m never quite sure of my footing.
I’ve been reading a lot to keep myself distracted and, as ever, throwing myself headlong into work has been a real help. I’ve also been sizing the thing up in a (thankfully) detached sort of way, contemplating the absurdity of saying ‘yeah I’ve had a really productive week, but I’ve also been thinking about killing myself’.
The suicidal thoughts I’ve had this week have been upsetting in a strange, preposterous way - I’m upset with the inner workings of my own brain not because they’re pushing the idea of taking my own life, I know that’s not going to happen, but because my brain is working so determinedly against itself. More than anything, it’s given me the inkling that I’m probably a really irritating person to get into an argument with.
If you think you or someone you know may be suffering, please don’t carry on in silence. There are a number of organisations who can help on our Where To Turn pages. If you need help with some distraction techniques, we also have a wealth of options in our Man Kit.
We're delighted that Johnny chose to share his thoughts with us, even if he's not overly keen to share them with himself. Do you recognise the feelings Johnny talks about? What do you do suppress them? Let us know in the comments below.