“Everytime I make my mother cry
an angel falls from Heaven.”
Marilyn Manson, ‘Cryptorchild,’
“AntiChrist Superstar” (1996)
“Youth are among the highest risk populations for suicide. In Canada, suicide accounts for 24 percent of all deaths among 15 to 24 year olds and 16 percent among 16 to 44 year olds. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Canadians between the ages of 10 and 24.”
The Canadian Mental Health Association
“You better watch where you’re going,
You might end up here.”
Jones, “Phil The Alien”
It’s amazing to me how fragile we still are even after a few years of therapy and medications. I’ve been talking to my doctor for almost three years now, and taking three medications for pretty much the same amount of time and I still feel like killing myself.
When I was in my early twenties I was barely surviving, and had been doing so for a long, long time. I was looking ahead in terms of weeks not years, as in “how am I going to survive until next week?” I was twenty-something and looking into my future I could not see any chance for change, so I promised myself that if I was in the same position in my future as I was at that moment there would be no point at all in continuing to live. The end.
So this is what I wrote two and a half years ago when I was 34 when, again, I was on welfare and trying to survive from one week to the next:
“In my early twenties I was unemployed, barely surviving on welfare. That was my financial situation. I was also unmedicated, I was also still trying to deal with what my life had been… fatherless, without direction, I was trying to deal with being a failure who couldn’t try. I could see no way out, no way to better myself. Everyday was a struggle with family and friends. When I turned thirty I had somehow managed, unmedicated, to become successful, so I kept going. I’m now 34 and it is becoming more and more apparent that those two or three years of success were a blip, an anomaly, because I’m back to where I was when I made the suicide pact with myself.
“When I was thirty I looked back on the past decade and saw seven years of absolute failure and three years of absolute success. Now I look back and see another four years of failure, four years of near absolute depression. Imagine yourself being forty, looking back to twenty and only seeing three good years. That’s what I see projected six years from now. I am medicated, that’s the difference, but the medication doesn’t preclude suicide. The medication treats the symptoms, not the cause. Just because the cancer is in remission doesn’t mean it won’t kill.
“I cannot go on much longer knowing this is how my life will continue. I don’t see a way out of the trap I’m in. I am hungry, and I cannot feed myself. There have been so many moments where I have chosen not to commit suicide, so many more where the suicidal moment passed before I could complete the act. There are times, recently and medicated, where I consider those moments lost opportunities. When I was twenty I knew, knew, I would die before I turned thirty. There was no doubt. I know, right now, that I will never see forty. I know, right now, that I will not see 35. I know, right now, that I do not want to see 35. I know, right now, that it will be the medication I take to treat the symptoms which will be the method.”
When I was 24 I applied for the radio broadcasting program at the local college and ended up in the journalism program by mistake. And despite having my girlfriend of three years break up with me, getting kicked out of my apartment, spraining my ankle and getting the flu all in the same week, I thought school was enough to keep moving forward. So I did. And, despite getting kicked out and having to repeat a full semester for being too depressed to show up for class, I completed the program. During my final semester I was interning at a monthly technology newspaper in Ottawa for $60/week. After graduation in 1997 they picked me up full time for $12,000/year. Eighteen months later I was in Toronto doing pretty much the same thing for $28k. Eighteen months later I was working in Public Relations for $50,000. So by the time I was 30 I had become who I thought I needed to be so I wouldn’t think killing myself was an option anymore.
But I was wrong, of course. I couldn’t sustain the momentum. I sucked at Public Relations. Huge. And one evening, at a crappy party, I met the owner of a medium-sized publishing house in Toronto and we talked, mostly because there was nothing else to do. And a few days later I received an email, and a few weeks of negotiations later I had a book deal. So I quit my Public Relations job and started the research phase on a book mostly about my life and the lives of my parents and the Maoist Training Camp they and their friends operated during the 70’s. I tracked down and interviewed my father (whom I had only seen for two hours since I was eight), and five of the main members who had spent my first eight years messing with my head in ways only Maoists can. And my mother. Which was really not fun.
And they all talked to me. They all bared their souls. They all spoke for the first time, and used words out loud that they had only used inside their heads. They all spoke quite openly about the damage they had done to each other, they all spoke about the Criticism Sessions, the sexual affairs, the emotional abuse, the fear, the constant police surveillance, the harassment from cops and civilians alike, the guns, the training, the people from other countries coming in as “guest speakers”, the planning for Revolution. They ran bookstores, a shelter for abused women, clothing banks, a convenience store, they published a national magazine, they printed other magazines. They all, each and every single one of them, commented that it was a “miracle” that my brother and I “grew up normal.” And I smiled and thanked them all. Even my father, who had started searching for ways of how he could abandon me while convincing everyone that he was a martyr for doing so before I was out of the womb.
“Thanks for doing this. No, that’s all right, I’ll pay for the Cokes. Tell me all about your traumatic childhood while I hold back my bile. No… I won’t hurt beat you into a paste.”
And, somehow, I kept moving forward. But it was too much. Twelve months of interviewing the people who had spent ten years of their lives trying to kill each other while pretending their revolution was about something beyond their own martyrdom. Everyone wants to be a Revolutionary when they think they’ll be the face on the T-Shirt. I spent two or three weeks in Stratford with my brother trying to write the book. I finished 40,000 words before I collapsed. Eighteen months later I was living near my mother and on welfare. That’s when I wrote my Second Pact, that thing above.
But, somehow, I kept moving forward. I couldn’t speak to people, I couldn’t move (except my hands, which shook like I had palsy) and I could barely think without wishing I were dead. I was trying to move through Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I was starting treatment for my Manic Depression for the first time. But there was something to do, something that offered a way out of my situation if I could just concentrate and finish the fucking thing. The Book was what I would use to bring me back to the land of the living. And it worked. By this summer I had edited what I had wrote in Stratford and had added another 12k to 15k more words. Everything was coming together. All of my Original Demons were being worked out, my disease was being taken care of and I could see an honest to God way out… back into a life. I could finally start thinking of all the friends I had abandoned when I was in my Coma… I started thinking about reconnecting, working, playing again.
And then, this past September, I got a new computer. My old one was ancient, it was a P2 with a 4G harddrive that I had been using for about a year. The P2 replaced the 486 I had been using to write on since college. My mother and grandfather pitched in and here was this new computer. So one night, about a week after I received it, I started transferring files from old to new and erased my book. All gone, including whatever backups there were.
For the first six weeks my heart hurt. There was a very real constant physical pressure on my heart, and it was hard to breathe. Not only when I thought about what I had done, but all the time. It was a strange, strange time. My doctor was extremely worried about me. He was the only person I told for the first month. I could barely comprehend what I had done, I didn’t think anyone could really understand what had happened and I didn’t want to have to explain it to them. I could actually feel my depression breaking through the medication. I knew that I was in a lot of trouble, depression wise, but I couldn’t do anything about it. The book was gone, everything I was planning was gone, all of the insanity I had put myself through with the interviews was meaningless, all of my personal shit I had worked through was gone.
So I started a blog on Yahoo!. And, after a few weeks of dicking around, when I figured out what I wanted my blog to do, I found WordPress. And here we are. Facing down another Suicide Pact with myself, trying to figure out some way of moving forward. My doctor is impressed that I was able to find a way to move past my suicidal thoughts. He has read this blog and we’ve discussed some of the stuff I’ve written. This blog is supposed to be my way of not killing myself. I’m trying to write around my book so I can eventually get back to writing the book. I still have the work I did at my brothers. I still have the interview transcripts. But the idea of having to go back and do it all over again… . I know I have to give myself some time to recover, some time to gain some clarity on what has happened. I know that and that’s what I’m trying to do. It’s just strange, sometimes, when that suicide-wave hits like it did today. It’s just very hard to admit how fragile I really am sometimes.
What a powerful piece. Keep writing. You’re good at it for a start. And you sound like you have the insight to see that it’s the disease that’s making you feel so fucked up just now. You know this.
Hang in there. You’re making an impact on people. Me for one.
Sending you big hugs
if you kill yourself, can i have your new computer?
I keep telling you Trax, you don’t exist. You’re a figment of your cats imagination and cats can’t use computers… maybe if they had a stick. Besides, you couldn’t handle the enormity of my harddrive.
yeah!!!!! you’re back
T., if you’re looking for something to do (while I’m eating General Tao’s wonderful chicken dish), download “Phil The Alien” directed by Rob Stefaniuk, starring Graham Greene, Sean Cullen, Nicole deBoer and Joe Flaherty as “The Beaver”. You’ll laugh until your lower intestine ruptures… after that, not so much. The pain will be pretty intense, but the memories of Phil will last until you blow your head off because, again, the pain will be that intense.
Funniest movie I’ve seen in years.
Wow, and all this time i thought i was the only cynical t1 bipolar person in the world who thought about suicide everyday.Glad to see i’m not alone.great site!
i have nothing to say
Nice peice and thanks for stopping by on my blog it’s appreciated believe me… I’m on 350 mg seroquil a day right now, taken over several times of the day… body just not use to it. The reason for the update on the post was because that was the first time I’ve been able to write about an issue I was experiencing like that in the first hand. I wanted to record it so I could remember.
Try using a tape recorder… that’s a little old school, maybe if your cellphone has a memo function. Just keep it by your bed or in your pocket and narrate your feelings into it. I find writing in my pocket-notebook focuses my thoughts and gives me an opportunity to edit myself, but if you’re trying to get the immediate first hand account of your feelings maybe a recorder would help.
If you don’t mind answering, are you being treated for Manic Depression or Schizophrenia?
Whichever it is, if you’re just getting onto Seroquel definitely take notes and record how you’re feeling, and if you don’t like it or if the side effects are not worth the benefit, talk to your doctor about modifying the dose or changing the pills… but give the Seroquel a chance first. From what I’ve been told a dose in that range basically means you’ll feel like you’re wrapped in a blanket.
So rare that i can’t tear away. You are stunningly beautiful and knock my socks off. Man, could your focus/effectiveness/tenacity/compassion be mass marketed? Anyway, it’s just the Crap, right? Nothing more to say.
Thanks. If by “mass marketed” you mean “hit NBC sitcom” I’d be willing to hand over a 10% finders fee if you can make it happen.
You described your heart hurting. It is one of the worst parts for me. I can almost recreate it, just thinking about it. Like all of who you are is closing in on the organ, smothering it, creating this increasing pressure. Interesting to know someone else experiences it. I cannot count how many times I have said, “my heart hurts, physically hurts”.
Suicide pact – that sucks too. Unfortunately, it looks like it is just part of MD’s grab bag of bonus prizes. I think about it every day. Every day, manic or depressed, it’s there. But after 10+ years I don’t act on it anymore. Let’s hope things stay that way.
You have to give it time. This only gets better with space between you off the pills and you on the pills… If you continue to fight the clarity will come. I still think about suicide, but recently (until I erased The Book) those thoughts go like this: “Hey… I went all day without thinking about killing myself.” This is a lot better than: “Hey, I’m awake… why don’t I kill myself?”
im gonna die hahahahaha
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I happened upon your blog by accident. I was using GOOGLE to see if there is an interaction between lithium and grapefruit. The sixth item on the list was your blog entry entitled “There’s No Art in Manic Depression”. I read it and then this blog entry.
Your words bring to life my experience with MD in a way that I have never known. It’s almost as though you live in my head.
Regardless of the reason why you do what you do, thank you for helping me to feel not so alone in my daily struggle. I can now say, “Finally, someone who gets it!”
Hi Rob… and thanks very much, I’m glad you found something here. A few years ago, without really realizing it, I was looking for the same kind of connection. There are several blogs and websites in the sidebar of my blog where I found some understanding of the disease, and of how it has effected my life… so, help yourself to them. They’re free.
According to the American Journal of Nursing, grapefruit can mess with many time released medications by increasing the rate at which the meds are absorbed through the stomach lining.
Grapefruit, or grapefruit juice and lithium should have no interactions… there’s actually an agent that slows how some meds are absorbed into the bloodstream that gets messed up by the grapefruit.
Your medications are your main problem. Homicidal/suicidal thoughts are a common side effect along with other significant side effects. Its a misnomer to call these side effects because for many people these are pimary effects. A few years ago the UK govt. advised the crazy GPs to stop giving antidepressants to 5 year olds. This was later updated to 18 year olds and now the advice is not to give them to under 25s. What is the pathological difference between a 25 yr old and a 45 yr old or 65 yr old?? Therapeutically they were proven to work no better than placebo ( a fact that was concealed by the pharmaceutical companies and revealed by Prof. Irving Kirsch) . My wife and a colleague are trying to educate the medical profession and the public about the dangers and we have prepared a number of videos on youtube. If you type in crispy336 you will find them. Read them and see what you make of them . It might give you an insight into what has been blighting your life. You obviously have writing skills and your experiences could help others. If you decide to come off medication please take great care and use the info. supplied.
Hi Chris, I’d dearly love to hear your explanation as to why — for the fourteen years before I started taking the medications — I spent most of my days and nights living inside suicidal fantasies and being unable to function. This post, for example, was written almost exclusively about experiences I had before getting into a treatment plan which included medications, as well as one extreme incident I experienced towards the beginning of my treatment which left me suicidal for two months.
Maybe you can also explain to me how — about six years after starting a treatment plan which includes medications — I haven’t had a suicidal episode in years… after, again, being suicidal for roughly fourteen years without the pills and psychiatric support.
Basically, Chris, I think your main problem is you’re an idiot who has picked up a few cool sounding words from a few blogs and websites with agendas and you’ve cut and pasted them here. You, your wife and colleague have found a technology in YouTube which allows you to have a forum for your uneducated, uninformed and irresponsible thoughts, and I encourage everyone and anyone to see your videos as examples of the bullshit that’s on the web regarding the ignorance surrounding mental illness.
Feel free, Chris, to check these out… they each have an actual education, and educated ideas, about the stuff you’re parroting:
Thanks for the comment.