*Please note, this post contains talk of suicide.
On the outside, I look like one whole person, calmly sitting at my desk or standing in a line at the grocery store. Inside, there are two of me often bickering with one and other. Some would say there is an angel and a devil, others might point to Freud’s Id, Ego, and Superego. In the past, I have called the bad thought side “Rhonda” so I could say, “Go away Rhonda”. Now, I’m thinking of it more as my emotional side and my logical side.
The more I learn about mental illness, suicide, etc. the more logical my logical side is. Taking Lithium has also made my logical side louder, this is likely due to Lithiums mysterious anti-suicidal effects.
Below is an example of a conversation that goes on in my head when I’m not doing so great. “E” is my emotional side, “L” is my logical side.
E: I want to die. My moods are unpredictable, I’m not contributing anything to society, and I’m sick of feeling like this. No one would care anyway.
I: You know that isn’t true. Yes, your moods can seem unpredictable, but that’s part of the illness that you are working to treat. People would miss you. Think about how sad and lonely husband would be wandering around the house without you.
E: Overall he’d be better off. Besides, everyone dies eventually. Once I die, it won’t matter if I was good or bad because I won’t know. I’ll just cease to exist. It might make people sad, but they will eventually die too, and they won’t have that or any pain anymore either.
I: If someone tortured an animal, say, a cat, would you be upset that the cat suffered?
E: Of course, and I’d want to hurt whoever tortured the cat. There is no excuse for animal abuse…but it happens, which is another example of how bad the world is.
I: So even though the cat’s life is also temporary, you want it to live a happy life without pain?
I: Why do you think a cat is more important than you? You take care of cats, so really your life is valuable on its own as well as for the benefit of caring for animals.
E: But I’m not happy! Life is exhausting. It would be so easy to jump off A, or to buy B and use it to overdose. I could combine it with alcohol so I can experience drinking one more time before death.
I: But it would hurt others no matter how you did it. Also, what would your employer do without you? No one there knows exactly how to do your job. Besides, this is all assuming you actually die from your attempt, if you don’t than you could have serious debilitating injuries that would make your life that much harder.
E: I’m so tired of fighting.
I: Go do something good for yourself (or do something when you get home). Nap, go outside, cuddle with husband or cats. Give it more time.
E: [Angry silence]
This type of conversation happens over and over depending on how poorly I am doing. Parts of it change, but the same general theme is present. Emotions YELL while logic whispers and calms. My emotions are often angry with my logical side, and my logical side is always getting stronger.
In several of my hospitalizations, as well as with my personal therapist, I have learned about positive self talk. The above type of dialogue has likely grown from constant practice with positive self talk. I acknowledge that the bad thoughts are there, and challenge them. I don’t always leave happier than before, but I do stay alive.
When someone has a chronic mood related illness it is so important to build skills. Practice makes perfect, and while perfect may not mean flawless in this case, practicing coping skills is so important.
Suicide should not be taken lightly. As with everything in life that that you can control, you have control over suicide. Exercising control of that option and staying alive is the bravest, best, and kindest choice to make. There is help out there.
If you are feeling suicidal, please get help. Call a doctor, friend, family member, hotline, or 911 (or whatever the number is in your country).