This piece carries a heavy trigger warning. Please be careful.
My suicide attempt story is like many other suicide attempt stories, I’d imagine. It beings with an unrelenting mental illness (bipolar disorder), goes on to include painful events outside of my control and ends in an attempt on my life. But I like to think of my suicide attempt story as a story of survival – even when my own brain was trying to kill me.
Have you ever attempted suicide because of a mental illness? Have you ever gone to the emergency room (ER) because of a suicide attempt related to a mental illness? If you have, then you probably know, the mentally ill who attempt suicide are second-class patients in the ER. Doctors seem to, distinctly, not like people who attempt suicide. The same goes with people who self-harm. These people are second-class patients as well. But why are the mentally ill who attempt suicide second-class patients?
Do you have bipolar depression and feel like you need a vacation? Well, I have sad news for you, vacations can make bipolar worse, not better. Don’t get me wrong, they don’t have to, and if you’re in a good place in your bipolar right now, you might just have a great time, but if you are really sick with bipolar, that vacation you want might make your bipolar depression worse.
Yup, Truehope is threatening to sue me, Natasha Tracy, mental health writer with regards to slander and defamation of their company and product, EMPowerplus. All this because of six articles written over a year-and-a-half ago (when I tried their product).
If you search the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, you will see that anger is not a symptom of bipolar disorder. If you search the International Classification of Diseases manual (maintained by the World Health Organization) you will see that anger is not a symptom of bipolar disorder. It doesn’t appear to be recognized, or even proposed, that a symptom of bipolar disorder is anger.
The trouble with this seems to be that many people do experience anger, irritation and aggression as symptoms of their bipolar disorder. I am one of those people.
As I wrote about on HealthyPlace this week, right now, I’m recovering from a depression after a hypomania. It’s been 11 days and I haven’t returned to my (admittedly, rather sucky) baseline. My point in that piece was that the depression after a hypomania is so much worse than an average depression. My point here, though, is that the time it takes to recover from a depression after a hypomania never passes quickly enough and I tend to beat myself up about it.
I’ve often pondered whether bipolar is caused by nature or nurture and even researchers constantly examine the age-old question. The data largely shows that it’s often a mixture of both. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was 16. My psychiatrist added anger control problems and psychotic features to my diagnosis at age 17. I love to ponder what part of my bipolar is nature, what’s nurture and what’s me?
One of the least helpful things you can say to someone who self-harms is, “well, just stop cutting.” Believe me, for most people who cut, if it were that easy, they would have done it already. People struggle with ending self-harm not because they don’t want to but because they use self-harm as a coping skill and you can’t just take away someone’s only or best coping skill. They won’t know what else to do without it. So saying, “just stop cutting” to a self-harmer is like saying, “just stop crying” or “just stop talking to your friends” or “just stop drinking” – if that’s the coping skill the person uses to deal with pain, telling them to “just stop it” doesn’t work.
The pros and cons of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) are actually quite numerous but in this post I will try to, unbiasedly, lay out the basic pros and cons for anyone considering ECT as a treatment. I am likely uniquely qualified to do this as I am very educated about ECT (Yes, I still have that book in the works. Did I mention I’m really busy?) and I’ve also had ECT. This does not mean it’s right for everyone, however. Do consider the pros and cons of electroconvulsive therapy carefully before you make your own mind up with the help of a doctor.
[Note: I am running a survey on real patients’ experiences with, and perspectives on, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). If you’ve had ECT and want your voice heard, please take the survey here. More detailed information on the ECT survey can be found here.]
First-generation antipsychotics (typical antipsychotics, neuroleptics) have been around since the 1950s, but how safe are first-generation antipsychotics like haloperidol? One doctor, Henry A. Nasrallah, MD, suggests that haloperidol and its likenesses should be retired as first generation antipsychotics are not safe for the brain (he and the literature contend). Are first-generation antipsychotics like haloperidol safe or possibly neurotoxic?
Is there really a question as to when to give in and let someone commit suicide? According to some commenters and a recent email I received, there sure is.
This morning, I received an email saying that I was “promoting torture” by telling people not to commit suicide. According to the emailer:
I’m not clear on why this blog makes people feel that ending one’s suffering is not an option…and in fact is a wrong thing to do….?
Don’t we all have choices? If we’ve done all we can and life is absolute hell, then why convince people to continue to live such lives?!
So the question is, is there really a time when you should give in and just let someone commit suicide?
This weeks is mental health week in Canada – not mental illness week. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, “We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health. Mental health is more than the absence of mental illness. It’s a state of well-being.”
This is true. We all do have mental health. And mental health is important. But what we need in society is mental illness week not mental health week.