The first time I considered suicide I was in 5th or 6th grade. My mother and I were screaming at each other at the top our lungs. She said she didn’t want me, and my dad didn’t want me either. She didn’t know what to do with such a horrific child. I grabbed a knife from the kitchen and told her I was going to kill myself. She told me to put it down, and we never spoke of the incident again.
Roughly 80% of those diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder have attempted suicide. 8-10% of those with BPD have died by suicide. Let those numbers sink in. The first time I read them, it was like being hit with a ton of bricks. The numbers ground me, and sometimes scare me. Suicide is a difficult topic. However, it is such a big part of BPD, and core part of my experience. I’d be doing this blog a disservice by not talking about it.
On Monday, September 17, 2018, I walked home from work and tried to kill myself. That weekend, I had felt myself slipping. On Sunday, I had a bunch of things I needed to do. Instead, I laid in bed all day. I pretended like I was just giving myself a break, as I had been working a lot. But really, I didn’t have the will to get out of bed. Monday morning rolled around and I went to work. By the end of the day, I was in a dissociative state. It was like watching myself go through the motions of the day. I went to the bathroom before I left the capitol building and ran into a colleague on my way out. As I was chatting with her, I remember thinking “how interesting that this will be the last person I will ever talk to.” I left the building. My boss texted me, I responded. I ran into the same person outside the building that I had in the bathroom. I chatted with her for another minute or so, and again acknowledged how interesting it was that she was the last person I’d ever converse with. Yes, this is how little regard I had for my own life. I then walked home and tried to kill myself.
I wasn’t sad, in fact I didn’t feel anything. I was numb, disconnected from myself, and thus dissociated. I want to drill home that for me, it is much more dangerous to be numb than to be sad. As I talked about in my dissociation post, numbness occurs when I am so overwhelmed with emotion that I can’t handle it, and I completely stop feeling. When society thinks of suicide, they think of really sad people who wear black and cry all the time. This isn’t the case at all. I was so disconnected from myself that I just watched it all happen. I didn’t feel like I had control over the situation.
The day I attempted suicide was not the day I felt the lowest. I’d mark my lowest point as spring semester of junior year of college. I’d go the library every night to study, look at my books for 15 minutes, and then go hide behind a bookcase for an hour and sob quietly. I spent so much time hiding behind book cases sobbing, and then trying to get work done, and then sobbing some more, that I never slept. This only worsened the situation, as I wound up in a feedback loop that I couldn’t escape. My grades dropped dramatically, and I was honestly a wreck. I felt a lot that semester, even if I didn’t know exactly what I was feeling. It was all just pouring out of me and I didn’t know what to do with it. But the day I attempted suicide, I felt nothing.
For me, suicide isn’t about wanting to die, it’s about not wanting to live. It’s thinking that the world would be a better place without me, or even worse, that no one will even notice when I’m gone. The thoughts creep in all the time. It’s thinking of an uncomfortable situation and realizing that if I would just die, I wouldn’t have to deal with it. My first day in the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), I met with a psychiatrist. At the beginning of our conversation, he explained to me how suicide harms loved ones. I figured that those who cared about me would eventually get over it. Knowing that my death would actually have an impact on people like by boyfriend Tyler hit me hard.
In the weeks after my attempt, I told a handful of people about what had happened. I know that everyone I’ve spoken with wants the best for me, but if I can give one word of advice, please stop saying that you’re sorry. How about something along the lines of “I’m glad you’re here,” or “I’m glad that you’re a part of my life.” I don’t want your pity. I do want to know that my existence matters.
Many think suicide is a permanent fix for a temporary problem. I find this concept insulting. With BPD, my emotions will always be all over the place. Maybe tomorrow I’ll feel a little better, but the next day I’ll be low or I’ll be numb. It’s not temporary. Labeling my pain as temporary minimizes it.
Lastly, if you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please seek professional help. I know first-hand how difficult it is, but it is worth it, I promise. And yes, you are worthy of receiving help. I wish it didn’t take an actual suicide attempt for me to get the help I need, but I am so glad I am getting this help. I can’t honestly say that I wake up every day and am glad to be alive, but I’m working on it. Maybe one day I’ll get there.
My mother used to tell me that those who have been through the most in life have the best sense of humor. The following is a link to a podcast about mental health. Episode #26 is about Amanda Rosenberg, a woman dealing with depression in San Francisco. I like this episode specifically because of Amanda’s sense of humor. Talking about mental health doesn’t always have to be sad. Sometimes humor is a great coping mechanism for tackling the tough issues.