Treatment Resistant Depression - It’s Okay, I Don’t Know How to Talk About Suicide, Either
Did I really want to die? No. Did I really want to get some sleep? Yes. Was I willing to do anything to get out of the current head space that I was in? Yes. I hadn’t slept more than 2 or 3 hours in about 5-6 nights. For my bipolar, that is a cue to spiral down into the deepest depths of treatment resistant depression. What does that depression feel like? It feels like nothing, I am completely numb, completely disconnected from everything and everyone around me. The numbness is so prevalent that it literally leaves an excruciating pain in my heart. That lingering pain is the only actual cue that I have that I am still an actual human being.
A few short weeks ago I attempted to take my own life. Well, I intentionally took too many pills in a desperate need to end the pain and get some sleep but I knew I was playing Russian roulette. Nothing had happened that day. In fact, I was excited because I was supposed to hang out with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while that evening. I was driving home from out of town but had the rest of the day open. I do remember feeling depressed but nothing too far beyond the usual. I remember stoping at Starbucks before I got on the road and then, oddly enough, I don’t remember the actual day.
The next thing I remember was it being evening time and I was on my couch texting my case manager. She had been in a car accident and I was checking in to see if she was okay. I had learned earlier that day that my insurance rejected my request for coverage on a drug that I desperately needed. My case manager knew the situation and asked how I was handling it. I said, “Not very well,” and followed up with a flippant comment like nothing a handful of xyzzy can’t fix. Meanwhile I’m popping handfuls of pills in my mouth, completely pissed that I’m still not passed out asleep yet. She quickly texts back what do you mean? and then calls me. “How much did you take?” I tell her. “Eh, I’m sure I’ll be fine. I’m just trying to get some fucking sleep. I’ll sleep it off.” She’s weary and lets me know she’s going to call her supervisor. Shortly later her supervisor calls me. “How much did you take?” I tell her…generally. She says, “Are you lying down? Sit up right now. I have my friend here that is a nurse. If you fall asleep you will stop breathing. Sit up and do not fall asleep you won’t wake up. We’re going to find a way to get you to the hospital. I’m going to call you back in 5 minutes. Answer your phone.” I’m pretty sure I just said “fuck” about 8 different times and “I’m just trying to get some fucking sleep!” No dice. Hang up the phone. I have no idea what happens in the next 5 minutes but I get a call back. The director is coming to pick me up and take me to the hospital.
Be ready. Don’t fall asleep and keep your phone on. Okay. Hang up Phone. One minute late the phone rings, it’s the director. He says, “Guess who’s coming to pick you up!?” This guy. Basically the most genuine guy you could meet. I know he is offering his ray of light in the darkness of the situation. He was there within 10 minutes and he gave me a big hug and we got in the car. He half-smiled and shook his head as he gently placed a comforting hand on my knee. When you can feel things, I imagine this is what comforts feels like.
We get to the hospital and I get checked in as an overdose so I’m examined and attached to a whole bunch of monitors. I’m starting to lose consciousness now (um, finally!) and I drift off. I just remember waking up for a moment and seeing my dad and thinking, “Fuck, they know (they were out of town).” Then I passed out and woke to the Dr. mention a 72 hour hold to which I responded by sitting up and trying to pull the IV’s from my arms. My dad whispers, “Calm down. you’re only making it worse.” I fell back, defeated and passed out for another unknown amount of time. When I awoke, there’s been a shift change. I got lucky. The first Dr. was sold on the 72 hour hold, however, the second Dr. asked my parents and I if we felt comfortable going home if I stayed at their house. We all agreed yes. Their house was the better option than the hospital.
The three of us arrived back at their house exhausted at what I believe to be about 10 o’clock (but your guess is as good as mine). I went straight to bed. All I remember is waking up confused to a text message from my friend that said you went to the hospital!?!? How did she know that already? I replied, Yes. I later found out she followed it up with, you intentionally overdosed? And I followed it up with a brutally honest Yes. And promptly went back to sleep. I was asleep and blacked out all day Saturday and slept all day Sunday. I was exhausted Monday, but the reality of what just happened would take a few more days to hit. I expected people to be mad but everyone responded with comfort and concern. Friends were coming by after work to check on me and texting and calling. My parents were more than supportive and took the time to really listen and try to understand what it was I was going through. I couldn’t have asked for more.
The thing I struggled the most with was that when I woke up in the hospital my first reaction was that “AH! Phew! I’m so glad I’m alive!” It was a very somber, “Fuck, now I’m awake again.” An event had happened but nothing about me had actually changed. My depression didn’t care about the night’s events. I spoke to my therapist and my case manager about this and they both reassured me that it was okay and totally normal. It almost feels like an expectation to have some great life shift after something like this but the reality is that you still are who you are and, especially when you are battling treatment resistant depression, it’s going to take a hell of a lot more than one event to help get your mind healthy again. But what it did reinforce was how incredibly blessed I am to have the support system that I do and I know that without them I would not have made it this far.
My motivation for posting this is to hopefully help someone else who is struggling. I overdosed on Friday. The Tuesday before my Psychiatrist literally asked me, “Is there anything that you want me to know?” I said, “YES! I need help and I need help NOW!” His response was raising two of my medications which was probably the right thing to do, however, it would take at least two week for this to take effect. I have been overlooked a lot in my treatment because my depression does not present like everybody else. I will still get myself to my appointments even when my depression is at an 8. I will still follow protocol and do what I’m supposed to even when I”m at my worst because I’m always fighting to get better. That’s by no means to say that anyone else isn’t doing the same thing. I can just say personally that I have had multiple comments made about my ability to “push through” and it has really come to be at my detriment. So just because someone can crack a smile, it doesn’t mean their depression is any less severe than the next persons. Their depression may just present itself differently.