Talking Openly About Suicide

I hadn’t meant to leave it this long, but life got in the way, in a very real fashion.

Two weeks ago my life was turned upside down; a decision was made about me which affects my entire future. It was made by someone who doesn’t know me and without meeting with me or even letting me know that this decision was being made –.

I don’t feel quite ready to write about the details just yet, because I am still trying to process it. Also, it is excruciatingly painful to think about, hurtful far beyond anything I have ever experienced before. If this decision were to stand.. well, it is truly major, life-changing, stuff, and has hit me straight in the heart.

The past two years I’ve been on a very specific path, and now someone has taken an enormous, big, black boulder and placed it on what was already a twisting, winding and steeply uphill path, completely blocking my way forward. And, sadly, this is not a stumbling block that I can simply scale or find an alternative way around – I am completely and utterly dependent on the person who placed it there to remove it.

Therapy has been challenging since my last post. The honeymoon is definitely over. For both A. and for me. But in a strange way, that is probably for the better. Although this has required me to be braver than I have ever been in my therapy before, has pushed me to open up more than I ever have, in spite of the very real fears I have regarding what that will do to A., it hasn’t been without benefits; two weeks ago, after three and a half years of seeing A., I cried for the first time in session. It wasn’t a massive cathartic kind of outpouring of raw emotion, but it was real and naked.

In today’s session I made myself be brave again, forced myself to talk about something that is incredibly hard to talk about, something which isn’t easy to broach in an open and honest way.
The last two weeks, ever since that boulder cut off my way forward, I have been carrying a piece of paper in my journal, which I have been wanting to give to A. but haven’t quite had the courage to do it, because of what the implications of handing her that piece of paper are.

For whatever reason, when I first began seeing A. she never asked to have my personal details – you know – address, next of kin, contact info for my GP – the usual stuff. She has had my email and mobile number, because I’ve emailed and texted her a few times, but no more than that.

Since this boulder was dropped in my way things have been, well, pretty dire. It wouldn’t be unfair to say that my life has been hanging in the balance. And although I am trying to challenge this decision that has been made, it has also forced me to consider the possibility that it may not be changed, no matter how many valid reasons there are for that to be done. And, everyone who is close to me, who knows what this is all about, also realise that if that were to happen – if that decision were to stand – well, it would amount to having the one thing that has always meant more to me than anything else being taken away from me. It would mean taking all hope from me.

And without hope, I can’t live. I don’t think anyone can.

I have talked to A. about this in session; that if hope is taken from me, I can’t go on, and I think that she, too, can see that this is a very very serious situation. I have told her that if what is about to happen were to happen, I would come to session and I would say goodbye – and it really would be goodbye. I have talked about ending my life before, and it’s never been done lightly, but I think this time, it is almost tangibly different, and I think it is obvious both to myself and to A. that there is a very real risk that this time, it could really happen. And, I think that the thought of that scares her, that it really scares her. I think it scares her nearly as much as it scares me.

So, today, when I finally gave her that piece of paper, a piece of paper which doesn’t look like much to the world; some contact details written on the back of a random re-used calligraphy practise sheet, it was a key moment in our work together. I explained to her how I had wanted to give her this piece of paper in the last two weeks, but that it has just felt too hard, because, of what went along with it; the reality that if I were to go missing – as many friends and loved ones as I have, and as often as I talk to them – my sessions with A. are really the only things which are regular enough to trigger a definite knowledge that something was amiss. The way I put it to A. was that, were I to not show up for a session – having not missed a single session in three and a half years – and, were I to not get back to her, should she ring to find out where I was, there would probably be good cause for concern; just reason to suspect that I have taken drastic action to end my life, that this time I probably won’t be coming back.

A. went quieter than she ever has when I was saying this. I mean, she doesn’t talk a huge amount generally, but this silence felt completely different, felt like she was holding her breath, unsure of what to do with this. Frozen. Not uncaring or distant, but in a paralysed kind of way. All the colour completely drained from her face. And it really frightened me, because I’ve never experienced A. reacting in that way to anything I’ve said in all these years.

I can understand it; as I’ve said many times before, therapist or not, she is only a person like everyone else, and having worked with me for as long as she has – as closely as she has – of course it would be extremely frightening to hear me, in so many words, put her in a position where she would be responsible for raising the alarm that I may have killed myself, to make the decision to send police round to my place.

I know that having a client kill themself is every therapist’s worse nightmare, and yet, the nature of their chosen profession means that they necessarily have to find a way to stay with a suicidal client, in the hope that they will never have to deal with an actual suicide.

I truly regret having to put A. in this position; it was not an easy thing to do – I care about her, deeply – of course I do – and I worry immensely about what it may do to her, were she to have to actually do what I am asking of her.

But I had to have that conversation with her. There was no way around it.

I did make it very clear that I am not going to kill myself today or tomorrow or even at all, unless I know that all possible avenues of having this decision, which has brought me to this very sharp edge, have been exhausted. That I would not do it without knowing that all hope has been truly extinguished.

I’m not sure that made A. feel any better, but, maybe, at least for a little while, she can rest more easily.

Maybe I can, too?

xx

Rough, Rougher, The Roughest

Another week gone by. On the whole it’s been a good week. Training, work, therapy and.. well.. those other things I do. Seems like a winning concept to me.

Had a rough session on Friday, though. Possibly the roughest one yet. Especially in contrast to the one I had on Tuesday, which was essentially me faffing about completely random things. [A. pointed out that they weren’t necessarily irrelevant things, but, honestly – to some degree they were].

On to the Friday session. I could feel it the second I walked through the door. It hit me straight off. In fact I struggled to say anything at all at the beginning of session. It happens sometimes. My mind goes blank. But this time the silence wasn’t down to a mental blankness. I could feel something very heavily in my head, and an almost physical gag over my mouth, stopping me from speaking.

Eventually, I did manage to speak. At first about something trivial: I had forgot to put my ring on, the one my parents gave me years and years ago, and which I go through periods of wearing. So, not wearing it, I felt naked. Felt like something was missing. Like there was nothing to hide behind. I often fiddle with that ring in session. A nervous habit. But it works.

And then I launched into the Real Stuff. Which lead on to even more Real Stuff, and ended with me actually talking about The Abuse. Something I haven’t really ever done, apart from during the court hearing years and years ago, and that – as I pointed out to A. later in the session – is very different, because it’s essentially presenting facts, it’s not really talking about anything. [Which is probably why, at the time, I was able to do it – I was just completely emotionlessly describing situations of abuse, without even properly reflecting on what I was talking about, or even that it was me I was talking about.]

So, yes, this was different. It was rough. Seriously rough. But, amazingly, somehow I did manage to talk about some things. Not through the use of pictures [as I did in that session months ago, talking about flashbacks], but through actual words. There were times when I stumbled, and other times when I felt like I was going to be sick, but somehow I still did talk about some of the things that happened. The extent of it. Even managed to talk a little about the feelings attached to talking about it.

At the end of it I felt completely emotionally exhausted, and, glancing over at A. I could see that she seemed to be in a similar place, which, in a way, was strangely reassuring. Felt like a real connection. Some sort of meeting.

Left feeling a combination of lightheadedness and nausea. Headed straight for the nearest shop to get chocolate. After-therapy comfort-eating. [Not that I actually ate it – I still have it here now].

Since FriSat is Special Day for me, I put all of the worries about the consequences of this session out of my head for the time being. But now that Special Day is over, well, those worries are re-emerging. I’ve got this fear lurking once again; Will A. be able to cope with this? What if I pushed too hard? What if I’ve broken her?

Please, hold your “It’s her job, she’ll find a way”s [and any variations on that theme]. The point here is not really how reasonable or not this reaction to sharing difficult stuff is. I can see as well as the next person that this is a reaction based on experience of how other people in my life have felt unable to cope with hearing my story. I know this. And I also know that A. is not them. But that doesn’t stop me from feeling this way. That doesn’t stop the What ifs. What if it turns out that this actually is too much? What if she really can’t cope?

Reality-based or not, this is how I feel. And so it is valid.

Hm. I really need to work on this whole I-know-how-people-will-respond-and-judge-thing. Yeah, yeah, I know.

But that’s a whole nother session.
Or ten.

Be well.

xx