More women than men attempt suicide, but more men
succeed because we use more lethal means.
Something I read from Health Canada.
“…Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery /
None but ourselves can free our minds.”
“Redemption Song” Bob Marley & The Wailers, 1980 ‘Uprising’.
People with Manic Depression are forever searching for a reason for our depression, and when we can’t find one we create one. There are no reasons needed for a Manic Depressive to be depressed. We have a disease which spontaneously creates our depressions. So how do you find meaning when there’s no meaning? You start by reassigning your memories.
When I tried to fall to sleep when I was Unmedicated I was never sure if I had a million memories swirling through my head at a thousand miles an hour, or four memories spinning at a million miles per hour. Most nights I could actually see the thoughts as though they were coloured tracers, as though I were looking at drunk fireflies or CNN during the first Gulf War.
A good sleep period for me during the 18-years I was unmedicated was four or five hours with no convoluted dreams or nightmares. Now I take a pill at night, 100mg of Seroquel, and I can sleep for an entire, uninterrupted eight hours.
Falling to sleep without the medication I mentally beat myself up with memories of past girlfriends, of events which occurred in early grade-school, of situations at work. These memories were embarrassing, they made me wince, and occasionally I even had to strike my head to make them stop. But they wouldn’t, sometimes they would even pop-up while I was awake. They made me want to apologize to those who, in my memories, I thought I’d done serious harm to. But if you, as I have on occasion, bring up one of these memories with someone who was involved, with someone you believe you’ve harmed in some way, their recollection is almost entirely different. They’ll tell you, as they have me, that those events were near meaningless or completely forgotten. And then when you examine them yourself you realize that the pain you’ve currently associated with the memory far exceeds the reality of the memory.
Now, how many memories do we actually have? How many are actually stored away? Are these events given importance simply because they are remembered, and replayed over and over again? Is this simply another trick played on us by our disease? In our minds, every night, each of these memories are played like interactive movies. Some you can change, maybe give them new endings or middles to lessen the punch, but mostly they just play front to back, beginning to end. I no longer believe that it is the memories themselves which are the direct cause of the pain, I now believe that we are feeling real and current pain and we are finding memories which could explain the pain. Simply: I believe that the disease causes us pain, and in an attempt to explain that pain we find painful memories.
This one used to haunt me at least once a week for eighteen years:
In grade three or four B. Flarnlord (not his real name or initial) brought a soccer ball to school. His ball, so he chose the teams. I wasn’t on one. Later on I jumped him and pinned him to the ground until some other kids pulled me off him. This is one of the memories the disease haunts me with. A simple schoolyard fight between two kids, twenty-five years ago. I feel a normal amount of remorse about this event as I type it out now, but just a few months ago, on a night I ran out of Seroquel, it was this memory which had me locked in a horrible fantasy for over an hour. Replaying it over and over again. Seeing the event from his side: a kid with a horrible last name for a child brings a new soccer ball to school in a bid to make him, not popular, but at least not mockable for a few days, but he gets beaten on at lunchtime. B. got embarrassed, he got humiliated and worse, he was back to being Lord of The Flarns.*
So if I don’t take my pills The Disease makes me feel shame, and I get to relive B.’s pain. But it’s completely out of proportion. There really is no “pain” from the B. event twenty-five years ago, but the disease forces me to search for an event to associate the pain caused by the disease. It could have been anything, but my mind chose B. and that fucking soccer ball.
Simply: The disease causes me to feel emotional pain; my brain doesn’t understand said pain is illusionary, so; my brain searches out a comparable event to beat me with, but; I take pills to control my Disease and therefore dampen the illusionary pain, so; my brain leaves me alone, and finally; I am left in peace and can begin to clearly understand that the events in question were actually dealt with long ago.
I apologize if I just explained that four times over… it’s because I’ve never really put this into words before.
One more time: The Disease hits me with a feeling — shame, powerful shame: 85/100. So my brain finds a shameful moment to explain this feeling, even if that memory ranks only: 30/100. But that Found Memory is now assigned the ranking of the New Pain. So B. should only be a 30 but, in my Disease Induced Fantasy, B. is now ramped right up to an 85 and suddenly I’m a heartless bastard all the way back to Grade Fucking Three who has caused so much pain to so many people that I should just get it over with and load the shotgun. Suddenly this disease has me convinced it’s rational to pump a bullet into my head by convincing me I’m a Complete Unforgiveable Fuck over something from twenty-five years ago that never really happened.
This disease is so insidious that even when we do have rational memories with real emotions, they’re drug up later by the disease and corrupted so It can use them to beat us mercilessly with them. Did you accidentally piss off your mother twenty years ago? Thought it wasn’t really that bad that you left her waiting? Well, SURPRISE, here it is again, only this time it’s presented through a full Motley Crue Stack of Marshall Manic Depressive Amplifiers. And, SURPRISE, that one little event was really what made her stop loving you. Even if she hasn’t, even if she’s right there in the room with you telling you how much she cares for you, even if she is right there begging you not to leave, even if she’s right there begging you to take your fucking pills.
We get depressed. We get hyper. No news there. But Manic Depression is really about every emotion and our complete lack of control over those emotions. So. How can we be in control when we have a disease which spontaneously creates our depressions and hyperactivity? Take your pills. And there’s a very good reason why this disease isn’t called “Joy Depression” or “Happy Depression”. It’s because being Manic isn’t about Joy or Happiness. It’s about being completely out of control. It’s about not being able to stop doing… everything. Manic is to Joy as Obsessive Compulsion is to turning off the light. So take the fucking pills and make your memories yours again.
[*…it actually was a little more brutal than that. I choked him until three larger kids pulled me off him. Damn it. The image still bothers me, but it’s not something I want to die over anymore.]