It takes an extraordinary effort not to act on intense suicidal feelings when they occur. Sort of like fighting a strong desire to sleep, except this is not just a sleepy state but one where you can’t help it at all. It’s like having to pull over to take a short nap just to stay safe on the road. When I start experiencing that sleepiness and realize that there is no way to pull over and I have to keep on driving, that’s when it resembles fighting the suicidal impulse.
Here it comes again: the pull, the force, the total invasion of intense suicidal feelings. It’s an obsession. I obsess about how I am going to take the car keys when everyone is sound asleep, and how I am going to drive into a wall. Then I obsess about how I am not a good driver and how it’s not going to work because I’ll just end up disfigured and injured from the accident. But I continue to go about my day, except the time dimension changes drastically. When I feel that extreme sleepiness I also experience time as passing painfully slowly. I have to push myself to get through the day, to take care of my kids, to respond, even to drive. But I know that soon I’ll have a nap and afterwards I’ll be normal, or that night is coming in a few hours. However, when I am that sleepy at least I can say out loud that “I am very sleepy, I can’t function normally” and there is a huge relief in just being able to say it. Even if only to myself.
It makes it bearable because it’s not a silent suffering anymore, once you name it. Not unlike other humans, I’m as inept at silent suffering as I am at devising ways to kill myself… Here, for me, the time is both painfully slow and awfully silent. It’s like moving through some thick cotton wool that I have to push aside just to take the next step. But I can’t share the feeling with anybody, and friends and family keep saying the usual phrases like “see you tomorrow” or “I’ll talk to you Monday” and it’s so agonizing to hear that. Agonizing because I am trying to make it to tomorrow, but at the same time I don’t really want to make it to tomorrow. Yes, the famous ambivalence of the suicidal person. And Monday is an eternity away when I am intensely suicidal.
People have the misconception that suicidal intent grows stronger and stronger and then at some point it reaches a “point of no return.” In my experience, there is definitely such a point but it happens surprisingly close to the actual suicide attempt. The ambivalence and the fighting of the impulse can go on for me for a very long time. Months, if the feelings are constant. Or if the feelings come and go, the obsession can come and go, together with the ambivalence.
And at any point during this ambivalence I am open to the “right” contact. Some contact is very painful and can make my intent worse, but some could make the pull, the invasion, less intense — it can halt me. No, it won’t stop my ambivalence, it won’t “change my mind” right away, but it could take the pressure off a little bit. It would make it easier to move through that cotton wool ball because I’ll be more “on this side” (the side of life).
While stuck in the cotton wool a person could still attend a psychotherapy session and a few hours later make a suicide attempt. I did.
Just because I didn’t really want to fall asleep, I just wanted to stop feeling sleepy, that’s all. I desperately wanted that “right” contact, and as much as I felt the therapist was useless to me I was willing to give her another chance. Moreover, when I was seriously contemplating taking the tons of psychotropic pills that I had in my house at the time, I picked up a phone call from an unknown number. Yes, I was alone in the house with the kids sleeping and I picked up a call from a total stranger… simply because any contact is potentially the “right” contact. And nothing is worse than silent suffering.
So, moving through the cotton wool, being inside the cotton wool ball of suicidal feelings… the thickness of it is about fighting the instinct, the force that keeps us alive. This fighting force is immensely strong, even when the suicidal feelings are unbearably intense. It’s the force that makes people turn away from bridge rails and roof ledges; it’s the pull that pulled me away once when looking down at the street from an open high-rise window.
Yes, it’s scary, it’s unnatural and it feels wrong to obsess about choosing to die, and so comes the ambivalence. And not because my kids need a mother and my husband will go crazy without me — this idea doesn’t work for me when I am intensely suicidal. I know others have written that being reminded of their loved ones has helped them, but for me it only works when the feelings are just starting to build up. Once I am inside that ball only “I” exist and so any reminder about my commitments is beside the point. It’s like trying to guilt me into staying alive when I am so desperate for relief from pain, there is no more space for “the Other.”
But the ambivalence is between the longing for relief from the pain of existence and the pull of life force that is inside. And the “point of no return” is when this life force doesn’t exist, doesn’t matter anymore, when pain is all there is. And so to end the pain is all there is.
Like when you can’t stay awake, you know you are falling asleep but can’t help it.
Talking about suicide being a “selfish act” is not just judgmental, it’s plain inaccurate. In that space, when I’m falling asleep, there is no morality and no choice — it’s a physiological act. Once you can’t keep yourself from acting on your suicidal feelings, once that pain of being here is stronger than the life force, then you are just following through with your plan. If your plan is solid chances are it will work, like with men who are familiar with the use of firearms. Many times it won’t work because it’s damn complicated to end your own life. There are logistical challenges, and we’re not programmed to do that.
So the talk about “selfishness” could only relate to fighting the impulse to fall asleep, the actual process of moving inside the cotton ball of suicidal feelings. If only people in that state could take the perspective of their loved ones… if only. But they don’t seem to be able to, most of the time; at least I can’t. And the idea that kids who are suicide survivors are so much more likely to attempt it themselves because they see it as a legitimate way to end suffering does not help me either, even though it’s a fact.
I wish I could say that being deeply religious helps — if anything, it’s counterproductive for me. Religious people often write how they always knew they would be killing their soul, their afterlife, and how it makes them have this visceral reaction to their suicidal feelings, and that stops them right away. I once read that going ahead with this “plan B” is like dropping by on God uninvited, and I laughed at that and really loved that saying. And so when a thought of suicide just crosses my mind I think of that quote and it helps.
But when I am already inside the cotton wool ball of intense suicidal feelings, sayings like that don’t work at all. At that stage, I just obsess about the fact that God is the only one who truly understands and truly knows how much I am suffering and how impossible it is for me to keep on going. About how he would never judge me, and never punish me for doing it because he knows for real, he truly understands how desperate I am. I start imagining what a relief it would be to come to God and be away from any demands placed on me. And most importantly, what a relief it would be to just be free of pain. And to be loved, simply loved as I am.
I know my husband loves me like crazy but it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because he doesn’t engage with me; he doesn’t want to understand me when I am inside that cotton ball. He is scared and he just wants me to get out, miraculously. And there is no miracle here; there is only one solution to getting me out of this cotton ball — to get my life force stronger than my pain. And I don’t know of a better way to do that than for others to get inside the cotton ball with me. Yes, to try to understand me “as is,” to understand how I feel about my pain and my suffering. And that desire to be “with me” is what feels like the most loving, most caring act ever. And if somebody is willing to talk with me and take my mental state seriously, that feels real, that empowers my life force, which keeps me “on this side.”
So, what feels like love when I am suicidal… is the same as what feels like being loved when I am living a regular day, struggling with being an immortal soul in a physical body. It might sound shockingly simple but it’s true. I need the same love that feels like love for us all, only it’s so much more intense, simply because it’s enormously exhausting to love somebody who is suicidal. Such a person is self-absorbed and self-centered since people in pain tend to think, feel and speak about their pain, so it’s one-sided. I need somebody who will push through that thick cotton wool ball with me until that moment when we can toss it away altogether. Someone who really tries to look at this world through the lens of my life, not theirs. And to do so they have to be so sincere, so intense, and so thoughtful. They can’t pretend that I matter to them as a unique person — that I matter, not just my absence. That it’s not about my function in this life, but about my soul, struggling to stay in this body, on this earth.
When I feel suicidal, that’s what’s in my mind’s eye — these feelings take my whole mental space and there is nothing else I would rather talk about. But I can’t. The common misconception is that people don’t talk about it because they don’t want to be stopped, but that’s not true. The reason I don’t talk about it is that I don’t want to be punished for my thoughts, for my feelings. I don’t want to be locked up, especially if I have had previous experience being locked up. But it goes deeper than that — it’s not just about being committed or being forced to take drugs I’d rather not take because of their detrimental effects on my body. It’s about being labeled as a “disorder with legs” as some would call it. It’s about my suffering being reduced to a psychiatric diagnosis. I desperately want somebody to see my identity and the narrative of my life behind my symptoms. And I definitely don’t want to be told I’m “calling attention to myself” or “can’t cope.” So it’s primarily about never being considered “trustworthy” again.
We have a term for this in English, the term “quitter”… we ostracize people who don’t want to persevere in the face of pain and adversity, and no wonder. It seems that preserving meaning in our lives does require significant measures of pain at times. So either I, the suicidal person, simply can’t go on, and then I am just sick, or I don’t want to, which signifies that I don’t share society’s commonly held belief in life being meaningful; don’t care to persevere with life’s struggles in order to maintain that meaning. Or else I am just too weak emotionally to persevere — a version of being sick, so back to the first explanation. It sounds like a computer algorithm, but from talking to many people I have come to believe that’s how people construct suicidal impulses in their minds. So what’s left is that if I am not sick, not ‘disabled’, then I am a rebel who doesn’t share the belief system of the “rest of us” who never seriously think of quitting “the whole thing.”
So if I can’t keep on living and persevering like the rest of society I am either “too bad” or “too sick” — in either case, I don’t belong among the rest of you. Not until I fix my “attitude.” And so I suffer in silence, so as not to be punished and “canceled” in society. Exactly because I am ambivalent, I still care about “this side” — I still do care to belong.
And while silently suffering I still know I “don’t really belong” because I’m experiencing such intense, uncommon feelings. Although the truth is we don’t know how actually uncommon these feelings are since there is a huge taboo about the subject… But think about it — what could make me feel more desperate than wanting to belong and knowing in my heart I just don’t?
What people don’t understand is that the more pain there is in one’s psyche, the less space is left there for any meaning. People do get it with regards to physical pain. Everyone who ever experienced severe physical pain, like migraines, knows that it takes over your whole being, that life becomes just all-consuming pain and nothing else. The same “all-consuming” quality goes for soul pain — it’s no different. When somebody is intensely depressed there is nothing besides the dark cloud of depression that presses them into the ground, which has been written about very eloquently in memoirs like Darkness Visible. So, there is no meaning — and therefore nothing to preserve, nothing to struggle for. The famous hopelessness of a suicidal person is about exactly the fact that this meaningless will never change. It doesn’t feel temporary when it’s happening to me. And once there is nothing to struggle for, suffering becomes pointless, and then there is no conflict between suffering and meaning, and so the thought of ending the suffering seems like the most natural conclusion.
So, a suicidal person wants relief from pain, obviously, but at that point there is no conflict, no meaning that makes life worth living. Only once there is less soul pain can meaning fill the freed-up space. And I feel less soul pain if somebody gets inside the cotton wool ball with me and is willing to share my pain. True understanding, true empathy is sharing. Practical help is also sharing. But most of all I need somebody to believe that I matter, that my life makes sense, that it has meaning. When I don’t believe myself that my life can be meaningful, I need somebody who does believe in it — who really believes in it. And so the only way to bring me “to this side” is to reduce pain in those three ways of sharing my life story — true understanding, practical help, and belief that my life has meaning. All three work first and foremost by breaking the isolation, which is why I call them “sharing.”
Once I feel more connected to people, even to only one person, I automatically feel more alive. The worst part of soul pain is being alone with your pain, simply because we are wired to feel connected. And once there is less pain I can find a way to connect more to people, even to reach out, risking rejection — this requires some life force. So it’s a circle where one reinforces the other. And once there is less pain, more connection and therefore, again, less pain, I can jump into life and find my place in it, and not feel so disconnected. Once there is this true, intense, sincere love, then my life force, the force that keeps me “on this side,” can take over and the suicidal feelings will abate or disappear. I don’t know of any other way. Well, there are psychotropic drugs. But they don’t work for everybody, and they can stop working even for someone for whom they had worked for years. For some, they can even make it worse.
Even a suicide watch in a hospital would not generally keep a person for more than a month. So instead of a physical 24/7 presence, you could do only one thing humanly possible to halt me from going down that path to attempt. And no, unlike a hospital suicide watch it’s not a guarantee, but the best thing you could do under the circumstances. It’s too big of a job for one person, although it often falls on one person’s shoulders. After all, if one of the main themes of suicidal feelings is isolation then it’s no wonder others are not interested in providing me with empathy. I need to trust somebody to be able to really share with them, and such trust only grows as a reaction to genuine interest. To be genuinely interested in somebody on the verge of falling from “this side” requires courage, and also requires risk-taking beyond belief. It’s scary to risk loving somebody who might be gone soon… Risking the tremendous anxiety of possible loss, possible abandonment.
No wonder that when I say that finally giving into suicide impulses is not “selfish” of me it goes against all that the suicide loss survivors experience. They feel angry, angry more so than anything else. They feel that because they were abandoned, in a sense, by their loved one. And if I were to suggest that suicide happens to people just like cancer or car accidents happen to people, that doesn’t quite sound right to many. We don’t like to assume the victims didn’t have any choice, that would be too deterministic — then loss survivors might blame themselves for not preventing the attempt. And some suicide loss survivors admit that it’s easier to be angry with the loved one who died by suicide than to accept any blame. Self-blame for the death of a loved one is obviously a terrible cross to bear. And so it’s easier to feel anger than grief. Grief means arriving at some closure, acceptance… And it’s hard to do with those themes that are as taboo of a subject as suicidality. Grief is a communal act, it can’t happen in silence.
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.
Many of us will often feel intense things.
I like your article because it does not promote psychotherapy, recovery, or healing
Joshua, thank you for saying this — yes, I try to promote “NOT outsourcing” Suicidal states amd people who suffer from them to mental health professionals or support groups or crisis lines or some “other”.
When people say “I’m afraid to make it worse” … what they are actually doing is making it worse by abandoning the person, leaving them alone with their soul pain, outsourcing the problem and the person….
Removed for moderation.
Yael, A very famous writer named Emile Cioran used to say that every day of his life he used to think about suicide. I had been thinking about it for 70 years!!
He used to say that thinking about suicide gave him relief and strength.
I congratulate you, I really liked your sweet writing and it moved me. Don’t stop writing.
I loved it and I think I understood the depth of your message.
Thank you for sharing your ongoing struggle of 70 years… Can’t even imagine how you’ve endured that… Hearing that another survivor felt moved and encourages me to keep writing means a world to me, honestly.
Hope you find the MIA community healing and supportive. Blessings to you!
I noticed that there is a translation error in my previous comment. I’m not 70 years old, my age is 55.
Google Translate didn’t write it right. I wanted to refer to the fact that Emil Cioran thought about suicide for 70 years.
I regret the error.
Thank you very much for the welcome. I am reading the comments of all of you. A big hug.
I think it is important to point out that there seem to be very distinct groups of people who “want to kill themselves”. For you, the desire to end your life seems to come from “outside of yourself”, you’re talking about a “total invasion of intense suicidal feelings”, where there’s “no morality and no choice”, it being a “physiological act”, feelings that you can’t keep yourself from acting on. You acknowledge that you need somebody who believes that your life is meaningful.
In contrast to this, there are people who, weighing pros against cons, come to the conclusion that suicide is the right choice for them. They can choose to continue living through their pain, but they may not want to. They are aware that it hurts others, but they point out that expecting a person to live for you, however great that person’s pain, is highly unethical. And they believe that suicide is a human right. Some of them legally fight for this right, or the right to assisted suicide.
Cases like yours provide psychiatry an excuse to pathologize all suicide, infringing on the rights of those who made a rational choice.
Thank you for sharing this Yael. I feel suicidal ideation is one of the most misunderstood experiences of the human mind, there are so many assumptions made by those who have not gone through it and so little inclusion of those who have. The voices of those with personal experience and important insight are overshadowed.
I remember one night I was online and seeking a support group for suicide survivors, I so badly wanted to speak with someone who understood what I was going through but all my internet searches for ‘suicide survivor groups’ only brought up… bereavement groups. I learned the term ‘suicide survivor’ didn’t mean somebody who survived suicidal ideation or even suicide attempts, it referred to someone who lost someone they loved to suicide. It was very depressing as these people did not understand me or what I was going through, in fact in their grief they often expressed anger or demeaning language towards the suicidal. Where were the groups for people like me? Where do I go for support? If I am not a suicide survivor, what am I?
I’ve called the crisis line once before just to talk about it, and in doing so I discovered that can trigger a series of horrible and dehumanizing events that are somehow supposed to save you from suicidal ideation but instead entrenches it deeper into your mind and deters you from using that service again. When people don’t ever call the line again, don’t ever return to a hospital, don’t seek help anymore… it’s called a successful intervention. What a world we live in.
I have tried to get help in the form of time off work to help me manage my suicidal ideation recently, especially since it was triggered directly by work related policies and protocols. I can NOT deal with the endless bureaucratic BS just to get the time and space I need to heal my mind/body/soul. Literally, EVERYTHING management has done …. in the name of “health and wellness”, has HARMED me further and caused a cascade of re-traumatization to my internal system.
It’s a complete and utter nightmare.
As Krishnamurti said:
“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
Beautiful comment. Phones are like the old smut cinemas that relieved the dehumanized desperate in a lonely masturbatory disconnection that only made them more lost.
Thanks for sharing your horrible experience with the crisis line — sadly I’ve heard this story from many….
And yes, tragically there are no groups that are run for Attempt Survivors as much as there is a huge need. The reason seems to be the same as why it’s so hard to find psychotherapists in private practice willing to take on Attempt Survivors as new patients. Hate to name the reason but it has to be named: professional liability. Those patients are objectively “high risk” and thus most professionals don’t want to take on the risk…
I know chaplains who’d be most honored to facilitate Attempt Survivors groups but can’t find a mental health colleague to partner with… it’s a shame.
Why do they need a “mental health partner?” They should just do it!
On one hand, I agree Steve! On the other hand I suspect it is because they know there will be legal consequences if they attempt to tackle this without approval from the mental health system. They would surely be blasted and attacked by those who argue that only doctors have the “medical training” needed to save the suicidal, and permitting anyone else to do so is simply “too risky” and will “certainly result in more suicides”. Heck, I expect such a support group would likely be held to a higher standard of accountability than drug companies and their marketers are in this regard.
Suicide is frequently presented to the public only as a health issue, not also a social and/or spiritual issue, and so professional health workers are still seen as the only saviors despite not truly being any more savior-like than any other person. This also ties back into what Yael has said about liability – the almighty dollar comes first.
I agree, that is exactly what happens, even to other health professionals. We’ve all been taught that “mental illness,” and suicide in particular, is very, very DANGEROUS and that anyone NOT a professional will no doubt mess it up, with the corrolary being of course that you’ll get sued if you don’t get it right. I remember a kid in residential treatment who would claim he was “suicidal” because he knew it meant a trip to the ER and he could get out of a day of school. The res staff were too afraid to handle it until they got approval from the psychiatrist to do a “planned ignore” and not automatically transport him every time he said the “s” word. It really is quite ridiculous – we are removing what is probably the BEST assistance a person thinking of ending his/her life can get – support from friends and loved ones – in favor of forced hospitalization and drugs that present no evidence of doing anything to reduce suicides, and may actually increase them. Who is insane, now?
Speaking of the “almighty dollar”..
MONEY HAS REPLACED HUMAN VALUES
“We are faced with a breakdown of general social order and human values that threatens stability [and survival] throughout the world. Existing knowledge cannot meet this challenge. Something much deeper is needed, a completely new approach. I am suggesting that the very means by which we try to solve our problems is the problem. The source of our problems is within the structure of thought itself.”
~ David Bohm (1981)
NOTHING will change fundamentally, until we fundamentally change the way we perceive and treat children. Until then, we will continue to see childhood adversity re-enacted upon EVERY aspect of society.
Furthermore, childhood adversity more often than not consists of imposing utterly INSANE societal standards of “normalcy” on children, to which they MUST conform, in order to survive, at a time when they are too young to understand and reject the madness being imposed on them.
The “masses” are essentially clueless and unaware of their own conditioning…
“The total neglect or trivialization of the childhood factor operative in the context of violence and the way it evolves in early infancy sometimes leads to explanations that are not only unconvincing and abortive but actively deflect attention away from the genuine roots of violence.”
~ Alice Miller
THE CHILDREN’S FIRE …
“What kind of a society is it, that does NOT place the Children’s Fire at the very centre of its institutions of power?
It’s an INSANE society!”
~ Tim “Mac” Macartney
Please Watch this Video presentation:
We need partners when we want to make political change. None of us can do that much alone.
But most of the population has been rendered inept by Pedagogy, Religion, and Psychotherapy.
I was not sharing my experience in this comment. I was being over archingly sociological and philosophical. While here, and before I stop, I must say that suicide used to be shunned and even criminalized. Rape is criminalized. Whilst there is a huge debate to be had over what society finds abhorent or not these days, I do think that when a community takes away its disdain for something, like drug addiction or alcohol dependency this becomes a message of normalizing of and even approval of doing things that avoid healing from tragedy. Which seems a greater tragedy. A hero used to mean a person with stoic gritty determination. A Blitz mentality. A never caving in to low mood. Whilst that plucky determination went too far, it seems to have swung too much in the direction of heroism being jabbing a heroin needle in the leg or tripping the light fantastic on the edge of a tall building.
Myths are powerful guides and old styles of hero need refreshed but what has become of our sense of what it means to be hero these days. Is a hero to you someone who survives being suicidal or someone who survives being suicidal by never entertaining a suicidal thought until really pressed? There is a subtle difference. I think the message the media gives out is one that endorses giving up. I am all for giving up. But there is a healthy way to collapse and an unhealthy way. A healthy way is to feel the sad feeling fully until the feeling runs dry. An unheathy way is to catastrophize having a sad feeling and want to annihilate that feeling by annihilating all feelings in a terminal act. Society seems to be merrily murdering people who have good reason to feel agonizongly sad within and it is doing so by endorsing suicidality as acceptable. How convenient of society to push that sad person over the cliff rather than pull them back from that edge and show them a new way of “being with sorrow”, until the sorrow weeps and clears.
The societal acceptance of suicidality has a lot to answer for. Society does not accept murder so why accept self murder. I do not think society should ever tell an individual what to do and that they cannot choose the “free choice” of suicide but I do not see the positive message in society handing that person the cyanide croissant. There is a balance in all things in life, and I feel society has lost it in various damning ways.
The very word “suicide” used to send a shiver of fear through a community in the nineteen forties. Nowadays it is a word you flutter at a door to door salesman selling cyanide carpet shampoo. It has become such a casual word that to not declare it marks a person as prudish. But by that measure there are no call handlers in suicide prevention hotlines who actually hear anymore the full impact of an individual’s desperate word. Instead it has become a nothingy word. A word that seems yeah yeah yeah so what? The word suicide has lost its power to shock because to want to die has become normalized, it is not even a badge of heroic courage anymore to jump. And it has been a long long time since it was more courageous to never quit life and never jump and never phone a hotline but pour a little lemonade and have a nap. Heroism is supposed to be painful. Survival is supposed to be painful. Not giving the oxygen of attention to fleeting suicidal thoughts is not supposed to be easy but this is all quite separate from allowing the feeling of deep misery and sadness to well up and flow and ebb away. People are being encouraged to die rather than encouraged to feel the FEELING of sadness behind that societally approved numb last act.
I am for the redressing of that imbalance by not valuing suicide but by valuing only the feelings behind it. When a monkey gnaws its tail in captivity you do not tell it you understand the tufts and scabs and sores and so just tell the monkey to gnaw itself to death. Self destructive behaviour is from illness. A society should want wellness, not mawkishly approve of self destruction.
If a caller wants to make any inroads into a bored call handlers routine phone answering regime they would be better swapping the tired word “suicide” for a new shocker of a word or phrase. One that makes the call handler pause in their stock croon. How about…
“I feel miserable but I want to go into a corner and eat my own leg”.
There ought to be new words for “I FEEL A LOT”.
And there ought to be a bit more of gentle soft societal disapproval of dealing with FEELING A LOT by feeling nothing but dead. Deadness is not heroism.
My pain is awful so you cannot minimise it without causing me pain. This has been the cry of the people. They need to make it to call for justice. However, if a nine year old is balancing on top of a tall building and saying that they cannot cope with FEELING FEELINGS and they catastrophize and panic about that overwhelm, to point of leaping….SOMEONE HAS TO MINIMIZE the suicide option whilst MAXIMIZING THE FEELINGS option. What the edge of suicide often is is the soul’s cry to be EMOTION FLOODED without it being a catastrophe. Hotlines have been making it ok to talk of suicide or numbness as if we ought not catastrophize this but hotlines have not the resources to hold the hands of miserable zoo captives gnawing their tails to blisters because there is NO WHERE to put their FEELINGS.
The real DEATH is death of the community who cannot HOLD ONE ANOTHERS FEELINGS.
But it is NOT THE FAULT of hotlines or underfunded care systems or parents. The mighty mess is not anyone’s fault. No one human causes the mess. The mess is the mess. People can bewail about it OR put energy into building something HEALTHIER and BETTER.
Dear Diaphanous Weeping,
Your comment about society not fighting for the lives of those who feel Suicidal is very true. Our society often doesn’t do what is hard, it does what’s easier. Helping desperate people to choose life and renew their souls is hard work, and our communities often don’t do that…
Thank you for naming this sad truth.
I tried to send an e-mail to [email protected], but got an error message saying “The email account that you tried to reach does not exist.”
This was my message…
Thank you so much for writing this piece. You have described very well what happens in my own suicidal mind… on and off ever since I was about 8 years old, when the pain of being torn apart between mother and grandmother became unbearable.
I have an 85 yo best friend who REALLY GETS ME. He has been a lifeline for almost 30 years… and we talk about death and dying regularly, since he feels his own death approaching. Both HIS parents ended their own lives.
I also knew someone who ended her life within two weeks of starting on Prozac. I am terrified of taking any psych meds.
I am in chronic suicidality since over 6 months ago, when my employer threatened “disciplinary action up to and including termination” for non-compliance with their covid experimental injections mandate policy. I can NOT comply with medical tyranny. I would much rather be dead.
Especially after my own grandmother survived both world wars in Germany, including having to flee her home from the Russian Red Army while pregnant with my mother… She did not go through all that for me to end up submitting to this tyranny.
Anyway, I don’t want to “dump” my whole life story on you… although a part of me most definitely does want to do exactly that….
Thank you again.
~ S. Nicoletta Rogers
“It is no measure of health to be well
adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
Thank you from the bottom of my heart ❤ for sharing your story. And for reaching out.
I’d be happy to hear more, sorry about the typo that crept into the email, here is the correct spelling:
Looking forward to hearing from you soon.
Sorry I do not believe feelings can be suicidal. Suicide is an complex action. You are misnaming a feeling.
Some feelings are hunger and tired and thirsty. There are possible actions to take if you feel hungry, tired or thirsty.
To say you or other people are feeling suicidal is a lie and a mistake that makes people think there is no way out.
If you listen carefully to professionals talk/write about suicide, they know this truth and say “if you are thinking suicidal” not feeling.
Suicide is by all means complex. It involves thoughts and feelings and tons of other aspects.
And so feeling Suicidal means feeling that you want to die asap. This FEELING makes you think of ways to kill yourself which might or might not result in actions, depending on a bunch of complex variables.
And to say that it’s not a FEELING is not just a mistake, it’s a tragic dismissal of lived experience of deep soul pain that causes millions (!) of people untold suffering.
Last but not least this piece is a blog and as such I’d appreciate readers refrain from words like “lie” with regards to descriptions of one’s own deeply personal experience.
You can not write your argument for “feeling suicidal” coherently . First there is a feeling which we both agree. Second is the action. If feeling hungry you can find/ make some food. If feeling thirsty you can find and drink some water. You can not feel the future action of “finding/making some food” you can not feel the future action of “finding/drinking some water” . There IS a step between a feeling and an action.
Suicide is an action, not a feeling.
I am very grateful you have not experienced suicidality as a feeling. If you never do, you likely have something to be unequivocally grateful for, for the rest of your life.
What i have come to learn in the last few years is that all sensations can have both physiological and psychological causes. Up until i was injured by TMS, i had dealt with extreme psychological depression and anxiety at different times in my life but was free of serious physiological harms to my brain and nervous system. After my TMS injury i experienced extreme physiological depression which can also be expressed as fatigue or CFS by some, however the sensation encompassed my nervous system so entirely that while i had plenty of physical energy i could not muster the emotional or mental energy to do anything at all for long periods, i could not understand things, everything in my nervous system has been retarded to such a level my functioning was ultra low, including my emotional functioning which also participated or coexisted with a complete lack of emotion and emotional depression. You see if our nervous system experiences a physiological change so do we emotionally, they are inextricably intertwined. The same happened with anxiety. I had extreme panic attacks and anxiety at the drop of a hat from external stimuli, it felt entirely different that my past episodes of situational anxiety. These were generated from over stimulation to my nervous system because it was so under powered and incapable of processing more than one thing at once. If i was exposed to loud noise and a bright light at the same time, my brain would physiologically precipitate a panic attack. I remember quite clearly sitting in a friends dinning room while kids ran around yelling and other conversations and stimuli were going in every direction around me, my brain exploded and i could feel the endorphins and other hormones coursing through my head and body while i just sat there and stared out into space, my entire body exploded into a symphony of panic which was excruciating but was tied to emotion or thought based causality in no way. i just sat and experienced it. This was common at the time. It is in this same was you can experience suicidality which to date is the single most visceral and horrid thing i have experienced in my lifetime.
Up until this year I had experienced a great deal of suicidal thoughts but never the feeling. Up till that point all my suicidality came as a result of feeling hopeless and dealing with an impossible feeling situation for year after year. There was always a situation or series of emotions that precipitated the thoughts. However that changed after my TMS injury developed and then changed itself. At the beginning of this year I changed my diet which i knew would involve going through a detox period that could provoke my brain injury further by adding toxicity to my brain and body, but i weighed the risk and proceeded in hopes my health would be much better in the long run. After a few week of the diet changes I was sitting in the quiet relaxing and I was suddenly completely overtaken with extreme feelings, the feelings were so extreme and the experience so visceral the only thing i experienced was suicidality, this was not a conscious thought about how and when or why i should end my life. It was a pure experience of feeling like my life should expire immediately, a feeling so inhuman and unpleasant the only way to describe it is suicidality, in my opinion it is the pure antithesis to existence. It is a feeling that is the complete polar, true opposite of joy and fulfillment – far beyond depression or anxiety. The only other way to describe it is internal akathisia. Are you familiar with Akathisia? I am willing to guess not, although I am genuinely interested in knowing – I had not experienced it myself until recently – I have discussed this exact phenomena with many people and everyone who has experienced akathisia, understood exactly what i was speaking of. You can also watch the youtube movie “Overpill” to get a good idea of what physical akathisia is, there are many other resources out there as well. In my experience, Internal akathisia is the same or similar manifestation without the external symptoms or expression.
I will gladly admit that before i experienced it for myself i was almost ask skeptical as you are now, but i will tell you that there is absolutely no way to comprehend this experience until you feel it for yourself. It does exist and as I understand it now, it does not exist in any natural way except through traumatic brain injury either pharmacologically or otherwise physiologically induced.
Yael – I am in incredible admiration of your bravery for writing this piece. You have described it so well, I really could not even offer any better description myself. I have experienced virtually every detail that you have described here as of late and it has completely changed my life – I had thought my initial TMS injury would be the hardest thing i ever had to deal with, and this is a cascading effect of it, but this is far harder to handle that the years of initial fallout.
My experience has been so overwhelming and difficult I have been deathly afraid to mention it or write about it, in fear that just any extra cognition about it would in some way manifest it again. incredibly close friends of mine have discussed it with me in my darkest moments and I found out they referred to it as The horror or the darkness, and most of us related it to the experience of internal akathisia. I am curious your thoughts on that.
Thank you for your bravery and bringing the light of truth to what are truly the deepest darkest corners of human existence. Reading this has strengthened me in some way, every person that understands – much like you have said – every person that truly understands help carry the burden. Pain shared is pain divided, Joy shared is Joy Multiplied.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your own experiences with suicidality, and for your kind words about my bravery.
Yes, I chose to post this piece exactly because only those who have the lived experience of those Suicidal states truly “get them” — and I wish we could all share in this hellish pain…
And as for akatisia yes, I’ve had some during my “mixed states” of bipolar episodes, and yes it’s an awfully hard thing to bear. I never thought of describing intense suicide feelings as “internal akatisia” but it is, in fact, an apt and powerful imagery. Thank you!
Thank you again for describing this horrible suicidal feeling as “internal akatisia” — as I just published a new story on MIA about my experience with ECTs it occured to me that these are the exact words to describe what was happening to me at that time (that essay) –WOW!
THANK YOU! Naming things is so powerful.
Absolutely, my pleasure of course.
I remember when I was experiencing it my mind was blown with this need to desperately try and understand what was happening to me. When I had figured it, I actually felt I did not have a right to confess to others I thought that I was experiencing Akathisia because many people think or say it only happens on psych meds or during withdrawal. I was very lucky that a good friend of mine saw what I was working with and confirmed for me that it had been established that Aka can come from head injuries and other severe CNS harms or injury. She then went further and identified specifics about my experience that shared commonalities that others regularly disclose in their experiences with Aka as well. It helped me solidify and better articulate what I was experiencing.
But the main take away with this experience and my others has been that when we share our experiences, think critically and compassionately we enable incredible discovery and relief for others. Just like when my friend helped confirm my thoughts about Aka. Then there is this synergistic effect where more people are talking and being honest and understanding, and we seem to figure out even more or uncover even more truth. The world is completely preoccupied with scientific discovery when our most powerful and effective tool is likely social discovery. This kind of discovery that takes place when we understand and share ideas which then leads them to take on a life of their own, by which has to be believed and accepted by everyone – that’s a pretty high standard of scrutiny(provided we avoid groupthink) far higher than a few doctors or PhD’s(who are just as likely to suffer the consequences of groupthink), in my view anyways.
I am rambling though but I am sure you take my meaning, I am very glad to hear you have written another! Looking forward to taking a look now.
I Love the coherence of your beautiful comments here.
The near future won’t want coherence. The numb present society wants to collapse like an avalanche until it begins to feel again. It is falling into a time of dis-integration…but it is occuring in order for humanity to begin again in the futher future. It will one day be a globe spanning peace accepting re-integration. A more holistic future…eventually.
It IS wrayinin.
Wonderful thoughts Diaphanous.
I often linger on what complete destruction would look like as a result of the unwise paths we have taken but I cannot fathom it in reality – I know there will always be remnants of whatever happens. I realize I do not struggle with projecting the outcome but rather the recovery from that outcome. I am glad able to hear about it from others, thank you.
I meant this comment for Mark P s 2.
My comments seems to switch about on the post it note memo board and added adjacent to comments I am not specifically replying to. Which makes me sound like I am changing my mind or am a dimwit. I guess its a drawback of the synchronicity of times of messages.
But Dear James Hall, I thank you for your lovely response all the same. I am familiar with akathesia from antipsychotic doses and similar states from withdrawal and know well the ghastly grotesque visceral sensation you mention. Withdrawal is the most horribe of sensations ever. It truly feels like a stampede of buffalo in the guts. If you could throw up you would. I believe it is all due to the visceral sensation of panic. Panic is caused by thinking worried thoughts; it is in ten stages; from mild sensation to severe.
But in withdrawal the cortisol is blasting at those stages and csusing the sensation of MOST severe panic EVER, in a bodily way that has bypassed thoughts or worries. The thoughts do not trigger that SEVERE SENSATION of instant frenzy and instant climbing the walls. You can see this in people coming out of anaesthesia, a bolting over the cliff of the gurney without any thought behind it. It is cortisol skooshing on the interior physical matter. Cortisol is not a thought. Cortisol is not an emotion like hatred or love or sadness. So I tend to call that akathesia or withdrawal seizure a visceral chemical “sensation” landing on the severe part of the inner panic-meter. You can call physical pain a feeling but in common language physical pain is a “sensation”.
I do think that a cortisol rush can make a person suicidal, but it is not from an emotion but a ghastly “sensation”.
So I believe that emotions or feelings actually stop a person commiting suicide. For a start the hormone flood from crying about having a cortisol sensation would bring the edge off the cortisol most of the time.
I do not think that akathesia occurs after quitting medication. I think it is a lot lot lot worse than akathesia as is felt on most medications. I think the withdrawal seizures are far more severe than akathesia and to fail to distinguish between these two awful sufferings does no good to the study of either.
The great news about the cortisol withdrawal seizures is that in most people, though not everyone, they only rumble on for a few intolerable months. Few can bear them so count yourself a hero for enduring the unendurable.
The bad news is that yes, those cortisol rushes can kill an elephant.