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Survivor Day 2016

November 19 is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day.  It's a day when people affected by suicide loss get together and share stories, share hope, share memories and coping strategies, and generally look to each other for understanding and support. You can find out more about it at https://afsp.org/find-support/ive-lost-someone/survivor-day/ .

I choose to spend this day each year raising awareness about suicide, and  I do this by sharing my mother's story (http://sweetmusic-27.livejournal.com/105130.html) and by sharing facts about suicide itself.  In the past, I've written about my mother's suicide, I've written tipsheets for talking to friends who are suicidal, I've written about uncomfortable truths and busting myths and dispelling taboos.  But I've never written about my experience as someone with suicidal ideation.  I've been afraid to do so, partly because I'm not looking for sympathy or advice, and partly because it's scary to share your mental health status with the world.

I first experienced severe suicidal ideation at eighteen, when I went away to college to get a nursing degree.  Before then, I'd fought stress by sinking into my studies and music.  When I was in college, it was my studies that were making me miserable, and I had no time for music.  I was beginning to realize that maybe a nursing degree wasn't for me, and I sank into depression.  I slept a lot, and I cried a lot.  I was looking down the wide, central staircase of my dorm building when it occurred to me that most people wouldn't look at that staircase and long for relief, and think of jumping.  It was one of the realizations that got me to look into counseling.

Eventually, my college therapist suggested medication.  I fought the idea.  I thought I should just be able to shake it off on my own.  "And should diabetics just 'get over it' and make their own insulin?" she asked.  I went home and did some internet searches.  One search led me to a list of things to avoid saying to people with depression.  Things like 'shake it off,' and 'just get over it,' and 'go outside, you'll feel better.'  I saw how many of those messages I had internalized, and when I came back for my next appointment, I agreed to a prescription of an anti-depressant, and I tried that for about a month and a half.  It didn't work for me, but my sister took me aside and suggested I try a different one, which worked for her, and perhaps our genetics would mean that I saw a similar effect.  I tried it.  It helped.

Over the last ten years, my suicidal ideation has fallen into three categories: barely-noticeable, sudden but mild, and moderate.

Barely-noticeable suicidal thoughts are like a news ticker streaming by at the bottom of a screen.  I know it's there, but it's easy to ignore.  These are thoughts that come up when I see a sharp object, look out a window of a tall building, or drive a car.  I unwillingly visualize cutting myself with that object, jumping out the window, or crashing the car.  These thoughts happen to me every day.

Sudden but mild suicidal thoughts happen at odd times, but the example I usually use is when I'm at the grocery store late at night.  Nobody else is around, I'm almost done with my shopping, and I remember I need ham.  I walk by the refrigerator case and there are twenty different options for ham, and I'm tired, and I thought I was almost done, and there's no reason for there to be this many different kinds of ham in the world.  "There's no reason for anything.  Why am I here?  I shouldn't be here.  I should just go."  Then I close my eyes, stick out my hand, and pick up the first kind of ham I touch, and get out of there.  The thought passes.

Moderate suicidal thoughts happen rarely.  It's only when I'm having a low period, where I'm depressed for a couple of days to a week.  I don't want to do anything, or I do, but I can't muster up the energy.  I don't feel loved, I don't feel important, suicide pops up as an obvious choice, I push the thought aside, and keep fighting.  Fighting is boring and difficult and I hate it.  The judging specter in the back of my mind thinks it's ridiculous that I'm even trying.  After a few days, the fog clears and I don't feel that way anymore.

Since I don't have severe suicidal ideation anymore, I thought that this was the best I could do.  I've been in a really good place otherwise - I have a good sense of humor, a career that drives me, a great support network, health insurance, and an understanding psychiatrist.  I'm very, very lucky.  But some months ago, I sat down with my psychiatrist and we talked about my low periods.  She said, "I know you feel like you're in a good place.  But I think we can do better.  I'd like you to think about adding a medication to the one you're already taking."

It took three months of side effects and zeroing in on the correct dose, but now my suicidal ideation is just... gone.  I don't have moderate thoughts, I don't have mild thoughts, I don't have barely-noticeable thoughts.  It's a little weird that they're gone, to be honest.  It's possible that they'll come back, or that I'll still have low periods where they reoccur, but when they do, I'll be ready.  I've been fighting them most of my life.

Every person's story is different; every person's suicidal ideation is different.  But that's how it is for me, and I'm willing to step up and talk about it.  Every time you share this post or other information on suicide, you help to fight the stigma, break the taboo, and dispel the myths. Feel free to link back to this. Feel free to comment here with other links and resources and stories. Feel free to talk to me about suicide. Feel free to comment anonymously on this post (trolling and hate speech will be deleted).

Date: 2005-08-17 08:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tylik.livejournal.com
So do you know where your money goes?

Date: 2005-08-17 08:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] loree.livejournal.com
Yeah. The problem is, by the time I finally get the income stabilized and start paying off more than I run up, some expense comes along that I can't avoid - car repair, replacing worn-out work clothing, yet another damn injury...

Outside of current debt payments, my biggest non-joint expenses are books and food, and I don't buy that many books. Granted, I do eat out more often than I should, but not all that much.

Date: 2005-08-17 09:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] animimi.livejournal.com
my biggest non-joint expenses
Sorry. I just read that wrong at first and got a chuckle out of it. ;-)

Good luck with the money situation. I hear ya loud and clear.

Date: 2005-08-17 10:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tylik.livejournal.com
Eating out was a big one for me. I did some major trimming post MS (and while I was on medical leave) but then I never have had much consumer debt, so my monthly expenses were pretty low to begin with. The whole necessary expenses one is still one I debate from time to time, because on the one hand putting off maintenance on one's car is often stupid... but on the other hand, there is a lot of stuff that I need in some kind of long term sense that I don't necessarily need to buy now. When I was really broke on medical leave, I ended up putting everything off that I could... and learned a lot about what I absolutely had to have and what I could get by without. Some of those lessons have carried over well.

Another one that really helped me was decoupling some of the joint expenses. Craig likes to spend money more than I do, and there was always a certain amount of tension over what things we were going to buy together. We also had a system of taking turns paying for eating out that meant that we'd eat out more than I wanted to, and I would pay for half regardless. Which was dumb, but it works much better now.

Date: 2005-08-17 08:48 pm (UTC)
eeyorerin: (absorbed penguin)
From: [personal profile] eeyorerin
If you go for option #4, see if he or she has a brother who is equally rich for me.

Date: 2005-08-17 08:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tithonium.livejournal.com
or polygamist.

Date: 2005-08-17 09:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hollyqueen.livejournal.com
5. Sell Marty.

Date: 2005-08-17 09:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] loree.livejournal.com
Yeah, but what am I gonna do with a buck seventy-five? ;)

Date: 2005-08-17 09:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hollyqueen.livejournal.com
Vegas? Buy a lotto ticket?

Date: 2005-08-17 11:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] drakemonger.livejournal.com
We were on our way to putting a bit of money away every month and becoming somewhat financially stable.

Then our computer got messed up. Well, not a life-threatening deal, but R's main way of keeping in contact with people, so we fixed it.

Then our car broke down. After three tows and two repair shops, it was fixed.

Then Elisabeth was born 8 weeks early.

Then our toilet decided to spring a leak.

Ther'es always something. I thought I had figured out the trick of budgetting for there to always be something, but then I got hit with several somethings in a row. YOu have my empathy.

Date: 2005-08-18 02:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] geekdaddy.livejournal.com
I've been gainfully re-employed for 3.5 years now, and we're just starting to make a dent in our debt. Don't be too hard on yourself. Figure out what little steps you can take now, and sooner or later, you'll be able to take bigger ones.

I agree with the grownup part sucking in alot of ways. But remember that grownups get to have sex and drink without getting grounded. Provided we don't do either of them to excess in public.

Date: 2005-08-18 05:42 am (UTC)

Date: 2005-08-18 05:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hotpoint.livejournal.com
Let me know if you decide on 4. ;)

Date: 2005-08-18 02:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] loree.livejournal.com
Heh. But the commute would be a bitch.

Date: 2005-08-21 04:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] randomdreams.livejournal.com
#6 -- move to Oklahoma, where you can live on ... a buck seventy-five.

owait you might not like that option.

I'd do the fence replacement. I have some neat ideas about a gorgeous, artistic fence done with non-straight boards on a tablesaw...

Date: 2005-08-21 05:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] loree.livejournal.com
That sounds lovely, but I am officially pissed off at wooden fencing. Between the evergreen sap devouring the back fence, and the pissants at the bus stop tagging the front fence, I'm now exploring the possibilities of 6ft vinyl privacy fence.

If I can find it in a color other than white or off-white (either of which would show the pine sap in about five-and-a-half minutes), it's a strong possibility. The price tag, on the other hand.... Ouch.

Date: 2005-08-23 04:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] poetry-lady.livejournal.com
There are some that are brownish (vinyl fences), and when you think about the maintenance work and supplies, the price does become worth it. And a big chunk of the fence expenses is the labor, so it does pay to shop around until you get one you like.

(My vinyl fence that is currently under construction is white, but I figure a hose and some bleach in a power washer will take care of most anything.)

Date: 2005-08-23 02:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] loree.livejournal.com
If you don't mind me asking, how much did you pay, and what type of fence did you get?

Date: 2005-08-23 05:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] poetry-lady.livejournal.com
I got a white vinyl, 6-foot high privacy fence, with two gates. About 220 feet long. Cost me $8500, which included the demolition and removal of the old fence. I used Artistic Fence, but they only have white vinyl. The place that had colored vinyl was another $1000.

Date: 2005-08-23 05:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] loree.livejournal.com
Hmm, that's not too bad. Some of the prices I'm finding are... Well, a lot more. Do you get kickbacks for referrals?


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