Tag Archives: Suicidal Ideation

Celebrating Myself #PreemieBlessings14

November, in the United Stats, is prematurity awareness month. In honor of preemies and prematurity awarness month, Michelle over at Preemie Blessings has started a challenge. Her first challenge is to answer on one of your social media networks who you are celebrating during prematurity awareness month. Now most preemie bloggers are parents so will mention their children. I’m not a parent, but a preemie myself, and I am just going to be bold and celebrate my very own self!

November is a tough month for me usually. It means adjusting to the end of daylight saving time, the start of colder weather and, well, fall and winter blues. November 2 also marks the anniversary of my first suicide note in 2001 and my suicidal crisis in 2007 which led to my psychiatric institutionalization. I know what it is like to feel like I no longer want to live, but I also know what it is like to feel like a surviovr, and to celebrate it!

I was born at somewhere between 25 and 26 weeks gestation in June of 1986. During my three months in neonatal care, I endured various complications. From one of them, retinopathy of prematurity, I’ve been legally blind all my life and am now totally blind. The others are a mystery in some ways. I had a possible brain bleed, but it wasn’t suspected until hydrocephalus was diagnosed in November. You know, they didn’t do CT-scans or MRIs routinely back then. I also had a lung infection when I was still in the NICU and RSV when I’d been home a few months, but not sure whether I had the A’s and B’s (apnea and bradycardia) that so many preemie parents worry about.

I once read this inaugural speech by a professor of neonatology or something, who said that lung problems, retinopathy of prematurity and brain bleeds are the three conditions that predict poor outcome in preemies. I don’t know whether this professor drew the connection, but I did draw one between poor outcome and “quality of life” and further worried that babies with all three conditions, like myself, should not be allowed to survive.

I still struggle with the thought that I shouldn’t have survived and with suicidal ideation at times. Life is tough sometimes, especially now that I’m worrying about the upcoming cuts to care that will take effect in 2015. I worry that I’ll be left to my own resources, like I was in 2007, and that I will fall into a crisis again. This worry has almost led to a mini-crisis already.

But let’s move on to the positive. I celebrate myself and my life, after all. Here are some things that make my life worth living.


  • Being married to my wonderful husband.

  • The support from people on social networking sites.

  • Being able to read Preemie Blessings and so many other lovely blogs.

  • The Internet in general.

  • Being able to express myself in writing.

  • My creativity and the help I get at day activities to express it.

  • My faith.


Today, I can say I’m glad to be alive. I say this with a bit of a knot in my throat, but I say it nonetheless.

Advertisements

Suicidal People Need Support, Not Judgment

Through my feed reader, I follow a fair amount of mental health blogs. I don’t follow any of the mainstream media and I don’t watch or read the news frequently. I did hear of Robin Williams’ suicide through the mianstream news, but anything more in depth has come to me through blogs.

I see a lot of discussiono n suicide and its reasons. “Reason” is really the wrong word, as Bill Brenner of The OCD Diaries points out that suicide isn’t a rational act. Brenner writes about the differences between long-term depression leading to suicide and a “spur of the moment” suicide when someone kills themself after a disaster, such as the 1929 economic meltdown..

I myself have experienced a mixture of the two when I’ve been suicidal. In 2007, I had the worst suicidal ideation I’ve ever had three months into living independently. My crisis appears like a “spur of the moment” crisis, and in a way, it was. I wasn’t diagnosable with depression at the time, or ever for that matter. I was labeled with adjustment disorder for lack of a better diagnosis.

This is probably too what the people killing themselves in 1929, that Brenner refers to, could’ve been diagnosed with. Adjustment disorder refers to a maladaptive response to an identifiable stressor, where the response (depressive mood, anxiety, disturbance of conduct, etc.) is grossly out of proportion to the stressor and/or causes significant distress or impairment in functioning. The condition can only be diagnosed if other mental health conditions, such as clinical depression, have been ruled out, but it is a mental disorder nonetheless.

Another condition which can come with apparent “spur of the moment” suicide is my current diagnosis, borderline personality disorder. Unlike adjustment disorder, this is considered a severe and usually lifelong mental illness, yet people with this condition who attempt suicide, especially if they don’t succeed, are even more often seen as selfish or manipulative. People with BPD are seen as attempting suicide over the tiniest thing, yet their suffering is severe and chronic, like the suffering of people diagnosed with clinical depression.

In none of the above cases, suicide is a rational act. People with BPD are overwhelemd by intense emotional turmoil. People with adjustment disorder cannot see a life beyond the stressor affecting them at the time. People with clinical depression, the ones who are given the most sympathy when suicidal, are, of course, overcome with depression and hopelessness. These are different emotions and thought processes overcoming different people, but the bottom line remains the same: suicide is not a rational act.

I remember during my suicidal crisis in 2007 being told that I was selfish. In a way, I was, but not out of malice. I was unable to think of other people due to being consumed with intense emotion. Being told I was selfish only worsened my depressed mood.

Remember, people who are suicidal, are in pain. They need support, not judgment. They don’t choose to burden you with the consequences of their death – and yes, I was actually told that. Guilt trips, if they do anything, make the suicidality worse. What someone needs in an urgently suicidal state, is to be kept safe and to be loved. They may understand your point of view once they’ve climbed out of the depths of their suffering. If a person is at the stage of comtemplating suicide, supportive talking can help. If they’re acutely suicidal, all you can do is call emergency services and make sure they’re kept safe and sit by them until they hopefully get out of this state. It’s as sad as that.

BPD Criteria and Me

Yesterday, I came across someone going through the BPD criteria and describing how he met them. I thought I would do the same, so here goes. My diagnosis was based on DSM-IV-TR criiteria because the Netherlands has not yet implemented DSM5. You need to meet at least five criteria out of nine. I meet at least six and most likely two more.

  1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Well, I have a huge fear of abandonment, but my attempts at coping with it tend to lead to actually being abandoned. I often can predict when someone is going to abandon me, but am not sure whether this is a self-fulfilling prophecy, good empathy, or magical thinking.
  2. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation. This is the one criterion I mostly don’t recognize. Oh well, I do on occasion push my husband away by saying I don’t love him anymore. In this sense, I am the stereotypical “I hate you, don’t leave me” type. My husband says his presumption about borderlines is that people fight tooth and nail then five minutes later are cuddling.. I don’t do that.
  3. Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self. This is definitely me. As I pointed out in a previous post, I have no sense of self at all beyond the labels I carry, and in fact am just learning to use my own labels rather than those stuck on me. I tend to have my identity depend on how others see me.
  4. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (eg. spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating). Binge eating an running off into dangerous situations for me (ie. going for walks without watching for traffic). This is not suicidal behavior. Spending when in a hyperactive mood.
  5. Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior. Well, I self-harm and often make suicidal threats. when talking on the phone with my sister about my new BPD diagnosis, she said that mild self-injury like I do does not really count and that I make suicidal threats for attention. Well, I disagree with the “for attention” bit but really it doesn’t matter.
  6. Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days). This is so true for me. I have rapidly shifting moods from irritable to anxious to hyper etc. My sister got talking of manic depression, but then moods have to last for a couple of days to weeks. Mine don’t. I return to “normal” (ie. slightly depressed and irritable) or another mood episode within a day or so.
  7. Chronic feelings of emptiness. I’m not really sure about this one as I have good reason to feel empty, ie. no job or extensive day activities. Then again, the feeling of emptiness can come for no reason and go with another perseveration or impulsive action.
  8. Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (eg. frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights). I don’t physically fight but I do have recurrent temper outbursts. For me, I’m not too sure whether they’re meltdowns or outbursts, but I do have them in situations other than when overloaded too.
  9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms. Well, duh. I have both actually. I get terribly paranoid when under stress and obviously have dissociative symptoms, ie. feelings of not being myself, chronic depersonalization and derealization, occasional amnesia.

I have been trying to find DSM5 criteria, but can’t. I know a new model for diagnosising personality disorders has been proposed, which bases the diagnosis on a combination of impairments in personality functioning and personality traits, but this model is used for research purposes only.