The Desperation of Mental Illness and Depression

→ May 16, 2012 - 44 Comments

The Desperation of Mental Illness and Depression

I woke up one morning in 1994 crushed with depression. The first thing I thought of that morning was how much I wanted to kill myself, and if I couldn’t do that, then how much I wanted to hurt myself. I kept cutting implements and bandages near my bed just in case the feelings were too much to bear.

Of course, this was like every morning of my 16-year-old life. I was depressed, but I didn’t know it. I only knew that I wanted to die. I needed to die. I needed it like most people needed breath. And I knew that no one understood.

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What to Do if You Start to Feel Suicidal

→ May 10, 2012 - 48 Comments

What to Do if You Start to Feel Suicidal

If you feel that you may hurt yourself or someone else please get help now. People want to help you. You are not alone.

Often people with bipolar disorder, depression and other mental illnesses feel suicidal. And people often feel suicidal knowing that they aren’t, actually, going to commit suicide. And while the knowledge that you likely aren’t going to commit suicide might be comforting to some, it sure doesn’t make feeling suicidal any more fun.

Starting to Feel Suicidal

And starting to feel suicidal can begin with little things like feeling crushing depression, unstoppable loneliness or indeed feeling nothing at all. People have different cycles that lead to feeling suicidal. Regardless though, when you start to feel like you want off the planet, there are some things you can do.

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Top 10 Bipolar Burble Posts of 2011

→ January 2, 2012 - 6 Comments

Best Bipolar Burble ArticlesLast year was a great one here at the Bipolar Burble and saw a dramatic rise in audience numbers, so welcome readers, new and old. This means that debates were fast and sometimes fierce here on the Burble, and mostly, that’s OK with me. Although it did require the invocation of commenting rules, it also meant that more people had their say on mental illness topics.

So, without further ago, here is the top 10 list of articles people read in 2011:

  1. Worst Things to Say to a Person with a Mental Illness – number one with a bullet two years running is this piece which is a continuation of a piece I wrote on Breaking Bipolar. Everyone, it seems, wants to know what not to say to a person with a mental illness.
  2. Bipolar Disorder Type I: Mania and Delusions of Grandeur – this piece was written at the behest of a reader and includes readers’ experiences of delusions of grandeur during bipolar manic episodes.  This is a topic not widely deal with elsewhere.
  3. Doctors Should Treat the Mentally Ill Without Consent – this highly commented-on and contentious article outlines why I think it’s reasonable to treat the mentally ill without consent in some situations. In spite of all the controversy, I still consider this position reasonable.
  4. Self-Diagnosing Hypomania – I had no idea this article would be so popular, but people are looking for this information. This piece is about how to see hypomania coming or to know once it’s already here.
  5. Suicide Self-Assessment Scale – How Suicidal Are You? – again, I didn’t realize how many people were looking for this information. However, this article is designed to point out warning signs and track one’s own suicidal feelings. It can be hard to tell how severe suicidal feelings are and this scale is designed to help.
  6. How to Get Off Antidepressants Effexor/Pristiq (Venlafaxine/Desvenlafaxine) – this is an update to an article I had written a couple of years earlier and is a huge source of Google hits. I hate to make blanket statements about antidepressants, but it really seems like venlafaxine and desvenlafaxine (Effexor and Prisiq) are bitches to get all for almost everyone.
  7. Depression, Bipolar – Feeling Along with a Mental Illness – this is a feeling that I, and I think everyone with a mental illness, has had. This piece addresses the idea that those with a mental illness are “alone” or are “freaks.”
  8. Psychiatric Myths Dispelled by Doctor – Fighting Antipsychiatry – this is one of the most controversial posts here on the Burble due to the seeming war between those who consider themselves antipsychiatry and those who don’t. This piece earned the most comments, with almost 100 pieces of feedback on this article.
  9. Depression and Lack of Want, Desire – unfortunately, may people with depression experience anhedonia – the innability to feel pleasure. This tends to lead to a lack of want for anything. It’s a devastating condition that I have battled for years.
  10. Bipolar Terminology – The Difference Between Bipolar 1 and 2 – finally, at the number 10 spot we have a piece I wrote not long ago about the difference between bipolar I and bipolar II. This answers one of the basic questions people ask about bipolar disorder every day.

As I’ve said, I consider 2011 to have been a break-out year for the Bipolar Burble and I thank you all for being a part of it.

And don’t forget, if you have questions or if there are subjects you would like addressed here at the Burble, you are welcome to contact me anytime or leave a comment. I am at your service.

Mental Health and Suicide – Information Round-Up

→ August 3, 2011 - 6 Comments

As loyal readers know over the last couple of weeks I have written quite a few pieces both on the Burble and on Breaking Bipolar on suicide after a person I consider a friend attempted suicide. Luckily he is still with us, and I think the writings on the topic will help others who have been through a suicide attempt and the loved ones of those who have attempted suicide.

Something Good From a Suicide Attempt?

I don’t want to say something “good” came out of my friend’s suicide attempt because I think that diminishes his personal experience. But maybe others have been helped. And that is thanks to him. Thanks to his honesty and bravery in speaking about his suicide attempt. I’m honored to know him.

So here are articles for:

  • Those who have attempted suicide
  • Those who love someone who has attempted suicide
  • How to prevent a suicide attempt

What to do After a Suicide Attempt

To Those Who Have Attempted Suicide

I know many people have attempted suicide and they feel ashamed and alone. Often those who have attempted suicide are treated like lepers by those who love them.

Well, not by me.

Please read my words to you:

To the Loved Ones of Those Who Have Attempted Suicide

You’re not in an easy position, and I know it. Please read:

Preventing a Suicide Attempt

And, of course, the best of all results would be to avoid a suicide attempt in the first place. If I could give that gift to everyone, I would. Please read these articles:

Get Help for Suicidal Thoughts Now

If you feel you may hurt yourself (or anyone else) please get help now. You are not alone. We are with you. We have survived. You will find a way through.

Warning Signs You Need to Know – How to Predict a Suicide Attempt (2/2)

→ July 20, 2011 - 36 Comments

Warning Signs You Need to Know – How to Predict a Suicide Attempt (2/2)

In part one I discussed the details of a study about 100 people who attempted suicide in Florida. Part two outlines the predictive factors for suicide attempts identified in this study and how we can use this information to predict who will attempt suicide.

And perhaps more importantly, how you can prevent a suicide attempt in a loved one.

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Suicide Warning Signs You Need to Know – Who Attempts Suicide? (1/2)

→ July 18, 2011 - 14 Comments

Suicide Warning Signs You Need to Know – Who Attempts Suicide? (1/2)

Some of us in the mental health field have heard the suicide warning signs so often it’s practically tattooed on the back of our skull: suicide note, suicide plan persistent thoughts of suicide, previous suicide attempt and so on.

But if you think you know the warning signs for a suicide attempt you’re probably wrong, at least according to a study out of Florida. For example, fewer than 1-in-10 people leave suicide notes and fewer than one-third of people have persistent thoughts of suicide before their suicide attempt.

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No Hospitalization after a Suicide Attempt?

→ July 13, 2011 - 167 Comments

No Hospitalization after a Suicide Attempt?

As I mentioned, a friend of mine attempted suicide last Friday. His life was saved by his friends, the police and hospital staff. I’m grateful his suicide attempt was not successful.

But one of the oddest things about this scenario is after the suicide attempt he was not hospitalized. The hospital stabilized and released him. Just like that. No psychiatric hold. No psychiatric treatment. Nothing.

What the hell is up with that?

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To The Mentally Ill Who Attempt Suicide

→ July 10, 2011 - 50 Comments

It is a depressing reality most people with a serious mental illness will attempt suicide at some time. Yes, more than half will attempt suicide. That’s a very large number. More women will attempt suicide but more men will commit suicide. Women will overdose while men will use firearms. More than half of these people will not leave suicide notes.

We are lucky most suicide attempts fail. Most people who attempt suicide will be rescued by others.

A Suicide Attempt

Last Friday night a man I met online tried to kill himself. He posted his suicide note online. Thankfully, some friends of his called 9-1-1, the police entered his apartment and took him to the hospital.

I am very grateful he is still alive.

The Shame of Attempting Suicide

After a suicide attempt, many people are thankful they didn’t succeed. Most people who attempt suicide later realize the moment they attempted suicide was a particularly brutal part of the fight against their mental illness and death is not truly what they want. They end up feeling ashamed of their suicide attempt.

Suicide Attempt isn't ShamefulPlease Don’t Feel Ashamed of a Symptom of Your Illness

I understand the shame that goes with doing something you later regret. I understand the shame of realizing you did something because of your mental illness. I understand the shame of acknowledging you admitted defeat at the hands of pain and depression.

But a suicide attempt is not shameful.

A suicide attempt is a symptom of an illness. It is no more shameful than sneezing from a cold. Attempting suicide is brutal and hard and painful on you and those around you. No one wants to see you die, see you gone. But the fact for one moment you gave in to the pain isn’t shameful, it’s human.

Those who do not know the pain may not understand. But sometimes you hit a wall. A wall of pain. And sometimes that wall tries to kill you.

You Are Not Who People Say You Are

Some people try to hurt you because you have attempted suicide. Some people try to use this symptom as evidence you are, in some way, “bad.”

But you are not bad. You are sick. Anyone that would use an illness to hurt another person is an abuser. Anyone that would try to use a suicide attempt as a weapon does not deserve a second thought. Or a first one for that matter. You are better than that. They are not worthy of you.

Humans Make Mistakes

Every one of us has done things we later regret. Some of us (most of us) have been complete assholes at one time or another. Humans are selfish, crass, hurtful, awful people sometimes. We’re like that. We’re wildly imperfect beings.

But these mistakes make us human. Recognition of frailties is a strength. It’s only after realizing what we don’t like in ourselves that we can change it.

A Suicide Attempt Isn’t the End of the World

Yes, a suicide attempt is horrible; a suicide attempt may run roughshod over your life; a suicide attempt may hurt those around you. A suicide attempt is painful but it isn’t the end of your world.

Attempting suicide puts you in the company of many of your fellow crazies. If you look to the left and to the right of you, you will see thousands of people just like you. Who made the same choice. Who now live to tell the tale.

A suicide attempt is horrible, but it is part of mental illness and not the end of the world.

Save Yourself Now

If you feel unsafe, don’t wait, contact someone right now. Here is information on how to get help. Let these people help you. You need to fight your mental illness.

I am extremely grateful my friend is still here. The people in your life want you to be here too.


Know that there is zero latitude when commenting on this post. I will not tolerate negative, hurtful or sarcastic comments.

Why Should I Continue to Fight the Pain of Depression for Another 40 Years?

→ March 3, 2011 - 170 Comments

A commenter, Jessica, left a comment yesterday that so succinctly expresses what so many of us feel about depression, bipolar and mental illness, and continue to feel. The following is her comment and my response.

“when I just feel so sick and tired of fighting for what seems like nothing…what seems like a never ending battle…what seems like someone hitting me over the head with a two-by-four every two minutes, telling me it will never stop until the day I die, and then they explaining to me why I should continue to fight to live for another 40 years.”

Yes. I know.

Fighting the Pain of Depression

We fight to the death for millimeters when we really need a mile. I know.

Fighting Suicide and Bipolar DisorderWhy should I continue to fight the pain of depression for another 40 years?

I have asked myself this question a thousand times. Why should I continue to fight the pain of depression?

I have pondered it. I have written about it. I have talked about it it. Believe me, I understand this question. Depression, suicide and I go way back.

I have no answer, no answer at all, but I can tell you this:

  • If, 12 years ago I had killed myself, I never would have experienced a skydive
  • If, 8 years ago I had killed myself, I would have never discovered I could write
  • If, 5 years ago I had killed myself, I never would have flown with the eagles in Venezuela
  • If, 2 years ago I had killed myself, I would never have helped all the people I have today

While sometimes I refuse to admit it, my work, my words, my effort matters.

Fighting Depression Matters

See, life is funny that way. You eke out a millimeter when you really need a mile, but sometimes that millimeter matters. To you. To others.

I despise being hit over the head with a 2 X 4 while downing pills, sticking to ridiculously strict schedules, seeing doctors and fighting to the death. Oh yes. I hate it.

And don’t get me wrong, I frequently want to give up. I frequently want to surrender to depression. I frequently want to end this fucking fight.

But all I can say is: your fight matters. Your millimeter matters.

Your comment here matters. To me. To others. That millimeter that you fought against depression for, mattered.

I do not know how to win the fight, but I do know, that for no reason I understand, the fight matters. It just does.

Suicide Self-Assessment Scale – How Suicidal Are You?

→ January 16, 2011 - 535 Comments

Suicide Self-Assessment Scale – How Suicidal Are You?

Just how suicidal are you? OK, admittedly, it’s probably not the best idea to fixate on this question, especially if you are depression or suicidal, but in point of fact “being suicidal” doesn’t mean just one thing. Being suicidal exists on a scale. But how does one quantify how suicidal you are?

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People Who Attempt Suicide Don’t Want To Die

→ May 7, 2010 - 276 Comments

There are frequent reports that of the people who survive suicide attempts, they realized sometime after the pills, or the gun, or the jump, they didn’t want to die. This is obvious. No one wants to die. People who attempt suicide don’t want to die.  They want to be out of pain.

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Caffeine and Mental Illness and Caffeine Disorders

→ February 21, 2010 - 13 Comments

Caffeine and Mental Illness and Caffeine Disorders

Caffeine is the world’s most popular psychoactive substance. So many of us love it a la Starbucks, Tim Hortons or just out or our home coffee machine. Me, I love coffee and I’m a fan of caffeine too. Coffee’s the nectar of the gods and nothing will convince me otherwise.

It seems though, caffeine can actually hurt you. I know, I never thought my beloved coffee could harm me, but I suppose anything that you abuse, will abuse you back. So, here is everything you ever needed to know about caffeine, caffeine disorders and caffeine and mental illness but were afraid to ask.

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