The Virus in Our Minds

The sickness in our minds is a much higher mortality rate than any virus.

I cannot imagine the hells people are trapped in. Isolated with a mind that wants you dead. He’s not the first, and before this thing is over, I worry how high this number will climb

How can you break a pattern when your life is now the pattern?
Get up. I wish I was dead. Eat breakfast? Why? I wish I was dead. Sit. I wish I was dead. All day. Every day until suicide is the only answer. The pain is so great that the end becomes the only solution.
And nobody knows the reality. Things could have escalated before he could get a handle. His brain could have just gotten the foothold it needed to sentence him to death.

What if his mind convinced him his death would save his family?

The uncomfortable reality of suicide is that it’s the opposite of selfish. Most take their lives thinking they’re relieving the burden of the ones they love. That painful “truth” is borne until the lie that everyone would be better off without me is believed.

We don’t know the final thoughts before the end.
We only know pain.
He only knew pain.
His mind won, and everyone else lost.

Your mind can tell you everyone will be better off without you.
Your mind can convince you this is your fault.
Corona virus? A pandemic? How could anyone think….?

I don’t know, but I was convinced I broke the weather and the storms and mudslides were my fault as I was trying to strangle myself with my hoodie strings in the mental hospital bathroom. I was convinced if I killed myself, the kids would be okay. And that’s after I said “take me to the hospital”, had someone to take me to the overloaded hospital with not enough beds. I was able to work and take care of my kids while psychotic until I knew I’d kill myself if I didn’t go somewhere. I may not have totally seemed okay, but I didn’t want anyone to know I wasn’t okay. I was embarrassed. How do you explain that you are convinced everyone is trying to kill you? That the people on your blog are writing threatening messages and they’re going to kill you? That the radio told me to kill myself? That my phone was telling me to kill my self? I couldn’t until I was a little better. All I could say was “please take me to the hospital. I’m not okay.” I’d call evan on the pay phone at the hospital to see if the weather calmed down – whispering because “the phone was tapped”. It took almost hitting a telephone pole at 60mph, hearing demons on Q102 making fun of me, and a woman’s face melting before I said “can you take me to the hospital” after weeks of being convinced this was true. It was easy to get so sick because I was alone a lot, and I was convinced it was all my fault anyway. If I just hid it, I’d be okay. Then it was, if I just killed myself, everyone would be okay and this will be over.

There is no logic in disease. There is pain, confusion, and suffering. There are voices in our heads that will tell us life is better if we are dead. It isn’t just bipolar or just depression, although both carry high risks (10-20%) of suicide. Suicidal ideation, intrusive suicidal thoughts, suicidality, and suicide are all parts of most mental illnesses – ADHD, OCD, anxiety, you name it…and a side effect of most antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotics: suicide.

I don’t know his story, but I know suicide is the end stage of many diseases. Mental illness is a virus of your mind. It infects your happiness. It replicates depression, anger, confusion, blame. It mutates and replicates your worst memories and plays it on a loop.

The mind becomes a maze. Isolation is the easiest way to get lost in it. It’s why we isolate when we’re not okay. It’s so much easier to listen to our minds than attempt to reconcile the cognitive dissonance illness creates. “These people are so nice to me and I don’t know what I will do when they figure out how much of a piece of shit I am” plays in every interaction…isolation is easier. But how can anyone know if you’re not okay if you’re hiding? And how can you know you’re not okay if you believe you’re the problem? How can anyone know you’re isolating if you’re told to isolate?

Mania and depression have psychosis as potential destinations. If people who need routine…if people who need medicine…help from others…isolation can be a death sentence.

Check on your people. “I’m fine” is so easy to fake. Listen to their voice. Listen to their logic. Listen to your intuition. “Somethings not right. They don’t seem okay” are purely subjective assessments, found solely in your intuition, and could help dig someone out of their own grave.

People struggling with suicidality express regret over their lives. They excessively blame themselves for things beyond their control. They take excessive responsibility for things beyond their control.

Many people who are suicidal will not express being suicidal. Many who are planning a suicide will not express the plan, hope, wish, or desire. The ones who do express suicidal ideation know they need help.

The ones who don’t believe this is how they get the help. Many seem happier before they kill themselves. Why? How best to placate a brain telling you to kill yourself than to listen?

In isolation, the mind can play vicious and successful games. In isolation, it’s easy to forgo the things that keep stability. Routine. Exercise. Journaling. Meditation.

For most people with mental illness: life is a series of meticulously placed dominos. We gather them. We place them. We try to make our lines straight, we try to keep the spacing perfect. We do this knowing anything could knock them down. Praying and hoping this time is the last time. Then, it falls. And we watch in horror as it falls. We watch the days, months, years, progress, smiles, compliments, and life we cobble together topple. We watch in horror as our storms devour the people we love and the collateral damage is always the ones we care for most. So many times I’ve watched the eyes of my collateral damage – hating myself. Blaming myself. Wishing I could just “do it” and save these poor people from me.

Some choose to start rebuilding. Some don’t see the point. Because in all of those fallen dominos, it’s so easy to forget how we built them in the first place.

One small thing – Any small thing – can make the dominos of our lives topple. A pandemic? Forced isolation? Worldwide shut down where normal, routine, and the only constants have become fear uncertainty and death? That’s a lot of people with a lot of messy dominos right now, and all of us are experiencing varying degrees of mental illness.

If your life was a house of cards built in a wind tunnel that occasionally caught fire: is suicide really that outside the logical conclusion? Is it selfish? The people who can help are the ones who understand and do not judge. You don’t have to have mental illness to understand mental illness. You just need to know that there are people whose minds are their own worst enemy. That silence is a death sentence because all they can listen to is themselves. You just need to know that there are people suffering immeasurably behind their smiles and they might just need to know they’re not crazy.

Check on your people. There are many who aren’t okay. The old adage works best in the world of mental illness: idle hands do the devils work.

Except the hands and the devil are our own mind.

 

 

If anyone is reading this, and it resonates: please know you are not alone.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

 

 

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