There are different types of suicidal depressions and one type is the passive suicidal depression. It’s the kind of suicidal depression where you want to die, you just don’t want to kill yourself. (As I’ve written about before, here: The Difference Between Being Suicidal and Wanting to Die.) Passive suicidal depression tends to take forms such as the very common one of not wanting to wake up in the morning.
Passive Depression/Suicidality: Wishing You Were Dead
Passive suicidal depressions tend to contain a lot of wishes.
- I wish I were dead.
- I wish I could sleep forever.
- I wish I wouldn’t wake up tomorrow morning.
- I wish a car would hit me in the street.
And so on and so forth. These are definitely suicidal thoughts to be taken very seriously, but they are passive rather than active such as:
- I’m going to walk into traffic.
- I’m going to write a suicide note.
- I’m going to hurt myself.
And so on. I would consider active suicidal depression to be very dangerous and in need of immediate medical attention. That said, passive suicidal depression isn’t peachy either and it also needs treatment.
The Horror of Living with Passive Suicidal Depression Long-Term
I know a lot about suicidal depression because I have spent years being suicidally depressed. This isn’t so much a problem for me now, but it has been for years at a time. And what I find is that active suicidal depression is a short-lived thing but passive suicidal depression can, as I said, last for years.
And this is seriously no fun. A typical manifestation of passive suicidal depression that would happen to me would be in the afternoon. It would be about 5:00 p.m. and I would desperately want to sleep. I wanted to sleep forever. I would, literally, count down the time until I would allow myself to go to bed. And when I laid there, waiting for the medications to put me to sleep (Beating Insomnia — How to Sleep Better), I would ferociously pray to any god that would listen to make it so I never woke up.
These thoughts are horrible to live it. It’s horrible to look forward to sleep just to escape pain (Escaping Bipolar Disorder). It’s horrible to have so much pain so that’s what you look forward to. It’s horrible to beg not to wake up.
And this horror isn’t just for a day, or a week, or for a month. It’s for months and maybe even years on end. At least it was for me. The medications did address my acute, active suicidality but it was very, very difficult to find anything that would help the passive depressed suicidal thoughts.
Why Passive Suicidal Depression Is Dangerous, Too
I would also like to add that while passive suicidal depression might seem only harmful to your psyche, this isn’t true. When you don’t care about your life — when you want to give it away — it very easily can happen.
For example, I tend to be very accident-prone (I’m More Accident-Prone When I’m Suicidal) with passive suicidal depression. I tend not to take the steps necessary to protect myself from the dangers of everyday life. So, I might cut or burn myself in the kitchen. I might cross the road without looking. And, of course, there many other things a person might do like decide to take a stroll through gang territory or not obey a police officer’s critical instructions. When taken to its conclusion, that last one is called “suicide by cop.” It’s a real thing people do.
And when we look at the danger of passive suicidal depression “only” to your psyche, that’s pretty dramatic too. Not seeing the infinite beauty and importance of your unique life can decimate your psyche and your soul. It’s like Chinese water torture. It starts out as a drip that you can stand and ignore, then it becomes annoying, then it becomes torturous and finally, life-threatening.
Dealing with Passive Suicidal Depression
Lithium is the one drug that has been shown to specifically have anti-suicidal properties. That’s real. If you’re struggling with any type of suicidal ideation, it’s definitely something you should look into.
That said, it’s not for everyone, of course. My feeling is that when you make the depression better, the suicidal feelings and thoughts are relieved as well. So this means it’s a matter of finding the right depression treatment for you. In my experience, with bipolar, this is usually a cocktail. It’s the minority of people with bipolar that are on one drug. If you are, you are unbelievably lucky. If I had to make a guess, I would say that an antipsychotic (shown to be effective in bipolar depression) plus a mood stabilizer would be a minimum. Some people will also need a cocktail involving antidepressants, but beware, antidepressants can be dangerous in bipolar disorder. And let’s not forget that therapy can give you valuable tools to use to deal with passive suicidal ideation – even if therapy can’t modify that ideation, per se.
The important thing to remember is that suicidality – no matter what type – is very important to take seriously and get treated. And treatment for this does work. I’m not saying it’s fast or easy, in my experience it’s not, but it’s worth it. Understanding and internalizing the beauty of your life goes a long way to making life – even with depression – considerably more livable.
If you’re experiencing passive suicidal depression, don’t give up. Talk to professionals about it. And don’t stop trying until it gets successfully treated. Because I know that it can be. And I know that your life is important, even if that’s something you don’t believe right now.