Living With a History of Suicide Attempts


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I’ve survived 4 suicide attempts. I deeply regret the discomfort I brought on my family members and pals. In the moment, I was disappointed I didn’t succeed, but today I have a various point of view. I kept my initial try in 1984, when I was 23, a secret from the therapist I was seeing at the time. After the second try in 1990, I took the F train from Queens into Manhattan to the psychiatric day system I was attending. Another patient noticed I was acting strangely and told a single of the therapists. I confessed and was transported to the emergency space exactly where the medical doctors pumped my stomach.

Someone referred to as my mother. She and my father showed up at the emergency space. They stood at the finish of my stretcher, shoulder-to-shoulder, pretty much touching, but not very. They hadn’t been in the identical space considering that they divorced for the duration of my senior year of college. My mother had a married boyfriend and my father, who drank till I was 13, had turn out to be a recluse, retreating into the dark cave of depression. My father’s countenance was expressionless my mother was holding back tears.

Following this try, I was diagnosed with borderline character disorder (BPD). I’d currently acquired the diagnoses of important depression and anorexia. In this acute psychiatric unit on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the psychiatrists told my parents my prognosis was poor and not to hope for considerably. They have been devastated. Several years ahead of I’d been a productive Consumer Promotion Development Manager at a single of the biggest packaged goods corporations in the globe. How they reconciled their memory of that young lady with this disheveled girl, gouges operating the length of her arms, I’m not confident.

Neither I nor my parents had ever heard of borderline character disorder and I felt as even though I had no location to turn. My childhood pals have been acquiring married and getting babies and I’d been deposited in a locked mental hospital higher above Lexington Avenue. The strategy was to transfer me to a prestigious psychiatric hospital about 30 minutes north of New York City as quickly as a bed became accessible. This certain hospital housed a extended-term unit committed to patients diagnosed with BPD. The unit specialized in applying a new therapy referred to as Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), which focused on getting in the present and consisted of 4 modules: Mindfulness, Emotion Regulation, Interpersonal Effectiveness, and Distress Tolerance.

I waited six interminable weeks for a bed and when I arrived, I felt I’d lastly identified a neighborhood of ladies like me: Women who’d reduce themselves. Women who’d attempted to kill themselves. I was no longer a freak for the reason that we all understood this was the only way we knew how to communicate our discomfort. I stayed for 10 months undergoing intensive DBT, till my insurance coverage refused to spend for more time. I was terrified to leave. The chief psychiatrist believed I was nonetheless a danger to myself and arranged for a transfer to Creedmoor, a state hospital in Queens, N.Y.

My mother stepped in: “No child of mine is going to a state hospital,” she declared. A compromise was reached and in 1991, I was discharged to a 24/7 supervised residence and a BPD day system, also using intensive DBT. The insurance coverage agreed to spend for this. I stayed at the day system for 18 months and at the halfway residence for 3 years.

The third try came in 2004, two years right after my mother’s death. I was seeing Caryn, a therapist in private practice who had been my therapist at the day system. Floundering in therapy and in my life, I was flopping about like a fish stranded on the deck of a boat. I missed my mother terribly. To have had her ripped from me 3 months right after her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer left me feeling as even though I’d crumple with the work of every single step. I was mired in grief and depression for months, then years, till I lastly had the power to act on my suicidal thoughts.

In 2005 I entered into transference-focused psychotherapy (TFP) with a new psychiatrist, Dr. Lev. TFP is a psychodynamic therapy created to treat BPD. When I entered TFP, I signed a contract stating, amongst other items, “If I try to kill myself, Dr. Lev will do everything she can to save me, then end the treatment.”

© afspnational

Source: © afspnational

My fourth try occurred in 2014, following my father’s death the prior year. I wasn’t grieving I was imploding, complete of rage and resentment. I was under no circumstances excellent sufficient for him, continuously longing to hear some kind of praise. Now that he was gone, I’d under no circumstances hear these words escape his pursed lips. I seethed that he dared to die, leaving me to query if he was ever proud of me.

I spent two days in the healthcare hospital to stabilize my very important indicators, then I was transferred to a psychiatric hospital. I was terrified Dr. Lev would refuse to take me back. We’d been working collectively for nine years. At the finish of my week-extended keep, I received word she agreed to meet with me to go over the possibility of continuing our work collectively.

It was in that meeting that I expressed anger for the initial time. Anger was not an emotion that was permitted in my childhood household ruled by Johnnie Walker Red. I’d grown up pushing fury down. In that session, I raged at Dr. Lev, at my mother, at my father, and at myself. After nine years with Dr. Lev, right after decades in therapy, I started to heal.

Suicide is not a selfish act, nor is it an act of cowardice. Most people today who try suicide do not want to die we extended for our emotional discomfort to finish. The depth of our suffering is unfathomable to these who have not seasoned it. I have various comorbid healthcare circumstances and I try to educate every single of my physicians that no illness, no process is as painful as enduring an intractable depression.

I terminated with Dr. Lev two years later, at the finish of 2016. Today, I’m working complete-time as a psychiatric social worker. I’m also a freelance writer and blogger, specializing in the subject of mental overall health and recovery. I under no circumstances married or had kids, but my brother and I are close and I have an active social life with excellent pals.

I stay vigilant with regards to my mental overall health. There are no guarantees. Dr. Lev continues to handle my medicines. I’ve accepted that I’ll be on antidepressants for the rest of my life. I have no wish to glimpse life off psychotropic medication as the threat is also good. Some people today say they really feel like zombies on the SSRIs. I know for particular if I do not take them, I’ll rapidly plunge into a suicidal depression.

I do not ordinarily volunteer my history of suicide attempts, but I do not conceal it if I’m asked. I’m not ashamed I attempted to kill myself. I attempt to use my lived knowledge to fight the stigma against mental illness that persists in this nation. My close pals know about my history and that element of trust has drawn us closer. Many of them endure from depression as nicely even though they haven’t seasoned the despair of suicidal ideation.

My largest regret is that my mother didn’t live to see me as an emotionally wholesome adult. I was nonetheless so ill when she passed away. One factor I discovered in therapy was that she was a human getting with flaws and anguish of her personal. Mom, I’m sorry I brought on you so considerably discomfort — and thank you.

If you or an individual you appreciate is contemplating suicide, seek aid instantly. For aid 24/7 dial 988 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, or attain out to the Crisis Text Line by texting Speak to 741741. To uncover a therapist close to you, check out the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.

© Andrea Rosenhaft

Source: © Andrea Rosenhaft



Originally published in www.psychologytoday.com

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