Trigger Warning: Some of the themes relating to suicide in this article may be triggering

When I started writing these blogs for Bipolar UK it didn’t cross my mind that I would go anywhere near the topic of suicide. It’s too delicate a subject I thought. I haven't spoken about this for a long time. Now I feel the need to write about it. In the process of looking back I thought it was something I had dealt with a long time ago. I hadn’t. I hope this will be my final catharsis.

In my darkest moments

Bipolar disorder is a rollercoaster ride of extreme highs and lows. When I'm at my worst I feel like I'm being dragged down into a black hole. In my darkest moments, when I crash completely, that is when the whole box of tricks goes flying out the window. It scares the hell out of me. I've been there before. I know my default position. I don’t want to live.

I was seventeen and had already been diagnosed with manic depression (now more appropriately named bipolar). My life was a living hell. Intolerable. It didn’t matter how often I was told I would get well I just didn’t believe it. I was convinced it was forever. I needed a way out and there was only one that my original mind could think of. Had I had any faith in anything at all I was being told I am almost certain what happened next would never have happened. But depressed ears are deaf to anything remotely positive. The suicidal thoughts that invaded my mind are not exactly known for their patience.

What I did could have been fatal had I not been found by someone. That someone was my brother. I have wished to this day it was an experience I had never put him through. Did I know he was coming home?  Consciously I think not, but maybe somewhere in my subconscious. That’s another matter. I was rushed  to hospital in an ambulance.  A horrendous experience in itself. Was it a cry for help from an emotionally beat up kid who felt he couldn’t face life anymore?  In retrospect I think it was. Did I mean it at that split second in time it took to make the decision? Undoubtedly I did. However, as determined as I thought I was, it seems I wasn’t determined enough. Cries for help can sometimes go horribly wrong though.

Demons that take over

I know on a very intimate basis the feelings that drove me to those extremes. Even now when I'm enveloped in depression I can still hear the voices telling me I am completely worthless and I agree. Demons that take over my soul pretending to be my friends in order to gain entrance just to make me feel worse. All of those negative feelings queuing up behind me baying in unison that my life is not worth living. For a near fatal moment I believe them. Depression can be a very lonely house to live in.

I can see now what a terrible waste of a life it would have been. I have indeed experienced some terrible episodes of mania that rendered me out of control. Some periods of deep depression that were so torturous I thought the end of the world had arrived. But they have been in the minority. In the main I've sustained a trajectory that has allowed me to function in a normal way. In spite of my mood swings, or maybe because of them, I have become a very successful songwriter. I've had an exciting, very productive and rewarding life. The bipolar episodes are what they are. Extremely difficult, at times almost impossible to endure. But nothing is impossible. The disorder is part of me. I have learned to live with bipolar and it has certainly learned to live with me. It has made me who I am. I'm OK with that.

Having so nearly taken my life I often think of the people who have. No one will ever know what potential they left unfulfilled. What they might have achieved. What drove them to it. Whatever it was it turned out to be the saddest and most heartbreaking of endings. There are always so many unanswered questions.

In my case no one saw it coming. Not even me! It wasn’t planned. It was spontaneous despair. I shudder when I think I could have done that to my family and friends. Would they ever have recovered? Would they ever have forgiven me? I have a great deal of compassion for the families and friends who are left behind wondering what they did wrong. How they could have missed the signs. Maybe there were no signs. There often are not. People who are fully intent on taking their own lives are usually the masters of disguise.

At the time I heard people say I was selfish. A word often used to refer to suicide. Back then it made me very angry, it still does and it always will. The illness didn’t allow me to think of anyone else. It would have been too big a diversion. I was locked inside a bubble with only myself for company and only one way to go. My depression is blind to any reality. The dos and don’ts of survival completely disappear. Everyone completely disappears. An act of this nature needs total single-mindedness. There is no easy route out of hell.

Talk about it

More recently however I did discover an alternative route that works for me. It’s called ‘talk about it’. Not just to anyone but to those I trust implicitly. I went into therapy and group therapy. I had reached the point when I understood I had to tell someone how and what I was feeling. I couldn’t carry the burden on my own any longer. Now I don’t have to.

After all these years I can  finally trust myself not to tear apart the hearts of the ones I love the most in this world. My desire to end my life long gone. My anger has dissipated, my bitterness has lost its bite, my sense of abandonment largely a thing of the past. I find I value myself a great deal more than I used to. Things can and do change for the better.

Everyday I thank whoever is up there I survived. It really would have been a waste of a bloody life.

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If you or anyone you know have been affected by the issues raised in this post, you can access help and support via our crisis help page