Aethelread is much posessed by death

I’ve been thinking a lot about death lately.  Amongst us cheery depressives that’s not actually all that unusual (wouldn’t you just love to wind up sitting next to me on a long flight…?).  I don’t mean that I’ve been actively thinking about killing myself, just that I’ve been thinking about death and dying.

What seems to get called ‘active suicidal ideation’ (i.e., actually making plans to kill yourself, if I’ve understood the phrase right) is fairly uncommon for me.  I do have periods of it, and I’ve never told anyone in the real world about them – I think I have a right to kill myself if I want to, and I want to keep my options open.

In the past I’ve worked out what kind of over-the-counter pills would be best to go for, how many I’d need for an overdose, how many chemists I’d need to go to in order to get hold of enough, and what would be the best route between them.  In fact, I did a dry run once, walking past each shop in turn, but (un?)luckily I was too anxious to go in and actually buy anything.

To most people, making such detailed plans probably sounds either ridiculous or horrendous, but for me it’s actually a way of coping.  I’ve mentioned before that there are much easier ways I could kill myself – since I live several storeys off the ground, all I’d really need to do is open a window and jump out.  Having detailed plans for another method means that I feel like I have an option, and that (so far, anyway) has been enough to stop the desperation building to such a point that I end up doing something immediately terminal.

But, as I said, that kind of thinking is fairly unusual for me.  What’s much more common is that I wish I was dead.  I’d actually have to say that this is my usual state of mind.  That doesn’t mean I spend every waking minute thinking “Why aren’t I dead yet?”, but it’s still a more-or-less constant part of my mental setup.  It comes and goes, of course, and it varies in intensity, but it’s like a kind of background hum that’s always with me, or at least has been for the last few years.

In his documentary on bipolar disorder, Stephen Fry asked all of his interviewees whether, if there was a magic button they could press to be instantly cured of their disease, they would choose to press it.  I don’t really have an opinion on that (I don’t have manic depression).  But I do know that if there was a magic button that would guarantee an instant and painless death I’d press it in a second.

I don’t spend all that much time plunged in acute despair, but large parts of my life have been spent in a state of constant melancholy.  I remember what it’s like to feel happy, but I can’t remember the last time I actually felt happy.  In fact, it seems like it’s been ages since I felt anything at all – I’d almost welcome acute despair.  There are times when I wish I had a serious physical illness.  That way I could refuse treatment and just lie quietly down and die.  If you haven’t ever experienced it for yourself, it’s probably quite hard to understand how debilitating a life lived in the absence of pleasure can be, or how much it can make you wish you were dead.

Last night I spent several hours standing by my open window looking out over the streetlights down below me, and listening to the sounds of the occasional car as it went past.  It was cold standing there, and lonely, but I didn’t feel like jumping.  I did lean out to look at the ground, and I wondered what it would feel like to fall through the air, like I often do.  But all I did was stand there, looking out, with the feeling that my thoughts were arriving more and more slowly.  Of course, in the end I shut the window and lay down on the bed staring up at the ceiling.  Eventually I fell asleep.

I’m worried that I’m starting to spiral down again, and I haven’t even got back on an even keel after the last one.  I am trying to tell myself that this is probably just a bump in the road, that my process of recovery will start up again in a few days time.  But I’ve only just started to feel better (I’ve only just found the energy to start this blog after the months of reading everyone else’s) and I’m not sure I can bear to have that taken away from me again so soon.

Sorry, I think this post is a bit of a mess.  Normally I’d try to rewrite it and put it into a neat shape, and bring it to some kind of conclusion, but I don’t seem to be able to do that at the moment.  Still and all, given the title at the head of this one, I guess it’s kind of appropriate that it should just –




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8 Responses to Aethelread is much posessed by death

  1. rich says:

    Hi! I’ve spent the last few weeks watching out for your posts here, after seeing your link at mentalnurse (another place I lurk). I’ve actually genuinely found your stuff to be interesting and well written. Though you could post more frequently (3-4 times/day) around late evening and late afternoon would suit me best, and perhaps provide cartoons or something. ;-)

    Love, Rich

  2. rich says:

    Hello again!
    I think I’ll post in little bits and pieces to get your replies up!

    I’ve had similar experiences to you, except with a little more training and volunteering, and a little less “worker of the week”. After Uni, I spent the next 13 years stop-go-stop-go. The anxiety I have managed to cope with over the years. CBT helped, but I needed the right therapist/ psychology bod, and years of practice.

    What annoys me most is that it seems difficult for most people to really understand that you can “recover” from, say, extreme anxiety or crushing shit-in-the-bed depression, get back on track a bit, then it can slide up on you again. They sometimes expect you to “fight it”, when you’ve been doing exactly that for so long already.

    Love, Rich.

  3. rich, your stalker says:

    Just another go…

    I think you described it well when you said “how debilitating a life lived in the absence of pleasure can be, or how much it can make you wish you were dead.”

    I’m basically in the same boat, and have spent 2 days desperately stopping myself from “ending it”.

    I don’t feel there’s anyone really on my side in all this, including myself! Perhaps I can be on your side for a bit?

    If you can’t face doing a regular blog entry, why not reply to me …?

  4. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Wow, 3 replies – i’ll start thinking i’m popular in a minute….

    Not sure about the cartoons – think that might violate my rule on not expressing myself by means of the creative arts…. oh, and of course the other problem is that I can’t draw to save my life.

    Anyway, i’m pleased you’ve enjoyed my posts, and i hope things get better for you (and anyone else in the same boat) soon.

  5. Mandy says:

    Hi Aethelread

    I have come to you via mentalnurse too. Interesting that people with MH problems (doing the politically correct thing here rather than my usual self flagulation that gets mixed responses) seem to be accessing each others’ blogs via a psychiatric professional site. Is that irony? And no I am not looking for punters for my site. I am actually trying to branch out a bit.

    This term ‘suicidal ideation’. Is it me or does it sound like it is sensationalising what is actually a rather pants place to be? Ideation conjures up fantasy and idealisation rather than people who either would want to kill themselves, think of ways of doing such and other thoughts that go with not just hacking life/continual bleak mental states (understatement). I think it is most probably just me but I get suicidal thoughts…actually more on the lines of quick oblivion rather than plotting the out. So maybe I don’t ideate so much as have states of desperation…and panic. But I could just be talking waffle because such states are too dark to really articulate that well..for me.

    Anyway, I watched the Stephen Fry programmes and the manic who said if they could press the button and get rid of the illness they wouldn’t. Or that it would be a really tough call. I do understand that because I have times where I feel motivated and creative and full of zest…although as the years pass they seem to get less. And I thought would I press that button? You know, right now I would. But tomorrow, or maybe even later today, I am likely to change my mind. Such is the nature of the manic beast.

    And this manic beast tends to go off on tangents and totally lose the plot so hope some of this makes sense.

  6. Zoe says:

    Hi Aethelread, if you think you are poorly read just pop along to my ‘private, just me and the cat, blog’. Your blog is a good read and I found it via a link at ‘Pole to Polar’. Will try and follow you (and envy you your readers!) Take care!

  7. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Ooh, more comments, how exciting…

    Zoe – your blog ( looks really interesting – i’ll add it to my blogroll, if that’s ok. I’m really amazed by the number of hits i’ve been getting. I think I owe most of them to Zarathustra @ MentalNurse (although a few are starting to arrive via search engines), but it’s nice to see everyone how ever they got here.

    Mandy – You’re right, it is a bit odd that we seem to have mostly met up with each other via a site for professionals. Er…hang on a minute…group of people with MH problems…meeting facillitated by a mental nurse…we all talk about our problems – it’s group therapy, isn’t it!

    As for ‘ideation’, well, i don’t really see what’s wrong with the good old-fashioned word ‘thoughts’. It’s almost as though somebody somewhere has invented a new technical term just for the hell of it…..

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