On Suffering and Suicidal Ideation

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On Suffering

Yesterday, I mentioned that my Primary Physician used the word, “suffering” to refer to my depression.  She actually used it several times to describe my experience of being depressed.  I kind of chafed when she said it….It’s not a word I would have chosen to use and I have since thought about why.

One of the first things I do when I am not sure I like how a word is being used is to make sure that I know exactly what the word means.  Sometimes, what I think a word means, or the nuances of how we use it, are not actually the same as the literal definition.  So, I looked up “suffering.” Merriam Webster defines suffering as “pain that is caused by injury, illness, loss, etc. : physical, mental, or emotional pain.”  So, I guess indeed I have suffering.  However, when used to describe me, it still makes me chafe.

To me, “suffering” is a passive word and that’s why I don’t like it.  I feel like “suffering” is something that is happening to me, that I allow to happen to me, and does not actually reflect the fact that I am fighting tooth-and-nail to not be in emotional pain all the time. I think I associate “suffering” with being a victim and I refuse to be a victim of my depression.*  Clearly, my understanding of the word is not the same as the literal meaning of the word…But having thought about how I interpret it, it makes sense why the term made me chafe.

*And let me digress I moment here.  When I started therapy up again in Februaray, it wasn’t just because I was miserable and depressed and on the edge of not functioning…I am used to all that!  But one day, I was thinking about how awful I felt and I realized that my thought pattern had shifted…I realized that I was letting my depression define me vs. me still being me, just depressed.  That was the first time I ever felt that way and I knew immediately that I needed to do something about it.  If I let my depression define me, then I was going to be a lost cause.  That’s why I had to start up therapy again.

Suicidal Ideation

First of all, I have to say that after writing and reading my blog yesterday, it occurs to me what a terribly bad idea it was to have a stockpile of pills on hand…..Talk about an invitation to disaster!  I think I need to really try to be aware of making my environment as safe as possible at all times.  A bottle of pills in the back of the cupboard is pretty benign when I am having good days, but is a real danger when I am mired in the depths of hopelessness.  But like I said yesterday, I don’t have a stockpile right now and I think I will refrain from starting a new one.

I hate that I have suicidal thoughts.  I didn’t realize how strongly my depression would influence me and my desire to live…Though, it isn’t so much about living or dying.  Suicide to me would be about stopping the pain.  When my depression gets bad (and it doesn’t even have to be too awful) I just am in constant emotional pain…It is with me every second of every day and I I cannot get away from it.  The intensity varies, but on days that it is really bad, it almost feels like I am in physical pain because of it.  I can sometimes distract myself from the pain, but as soon as the distraction is over, the pain is right there…It just never stops. Never. Stops.

When I am in that space of intense emotional pain, I just wish I was dead…I feel like I am dying inside anyway…so what would the difference be?  It’s not that I want to be dead…I just want the pain to stop.  And if I think of living another 40 years fighting and constantly losing the emotional pain battle…Well, that makes me even more discouraged.  I hate feeling that way.

Now, since I am having some better mood days the past couple of days, I can say that I don’t always feel that bad and that yes, the intensity of pain does abate and become more of background noise than screaming-in-my-face noise.  But…I lose perspective when my mood drops.  Usually, though, I am able to remind myself to just wait it out.  Oh…and now that I have the Art Therapist, I also have  someone I can reach out to (I just have to remember to do it.)  And dh has said he wants me to reach out to him too.  It’s just hard when I am in-the-moment to call on my supports.

There is a second part to my suicidal ideation that is a bit more disturbing to me….And that is that I frequently have intrusive thoughts about suicide. Specifically, I have an intrusive thought that is the same every time it comes, I don’t ask for it, I don’t want it, but it just pops into my head. The words are, “You should just kill yourself.”  That thought doesn’t always come with the painful part of depression or the despondent lows, it can come to me pretty much at any time.  That’s what’s disturbing about it.  It can be so out of context in terms of what I am experiencing at the time that it doesn’t fit at all, but still, the thought intrudes, “You should just kill yourself.”  I don’t think that it is a thought that I would ever act on, but I find it pretty damaging in a different way…It hurts my psyche.

So, why haven’t I killed myself?  Dh and ds.  My life might be ruined because of my depression, but I don’t need to drag other people down with me.  I am aware that the impact of my killing myself would be devestating and life-long on the two people I love most in the world.  It wouldn’t be worth it.  Plus…I am stubborn.  I can endure and I can even suffer because just maybe I can beat my depression.  If I can’t let it define me, then I can’t let it win.

4 thoughts on “On Suffering and Suicidal Ideation

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience with depression. I can relate so much to the ‘suicidal thoughts’ like you, and how much they can affect your outlook on pushing through… I also didnt want those around me to suffer, so always tried to push through the suicidal ideation with the hope I would have better days..Its great you have an art therapist..I want to become an art therapist and will be starting art therapy myself next year, whilst studying.. I wish you many many better days ahead. ❤

  2. I absolutely love this mandala. The blue is so … so rich. love that the dragon fly is not centered in the middle. what color/paints do you work with?

    • Thanks! It is one of my favorites…And I made it my avatar picture too! This one is with Sharpie markers for the colors. The metallic silver is a Faber-Castell PITT artist pen. I had tried regular markers (water based) but they were too smeary and I didn’t like what happened when I layered with them. The Sharpies are better and are pretty much my go-to item for coloring the mandalas. However, when I want to have a real range of color or really blended color, I use colored pencils. Most of my early mandalas are colored pencil…but I really like the vibrancy of the Sharpies.

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