Flawed… Or Perfectly Formed?

Some years back a psychiatrist made what I consider some unwise comments on my life.  They have stayed with me since.  Words that were hard to shake off.  To him, I was apparently flawed.  In my mind, I’ve been actively fighting that ‘flawed’ label, in order to hang onto hope of life regardless of flaw.

Who knows why psychiatrists say some of the things they do?  It’s not a job I would want, but I am aware of how much power they can hold.  Sometimes for the good, but sometimes not at all helpful.

Bubble

Before I go into that, meet my friend, Bubble.  Bubble (I have warned you before of how I personalise inanimate objects) is the rubber duck that lives on the side of my bath tub (every bath tub needs one!).  Sometimes Bubble takes a swim…  but she struggles.  It’s not easy for her to swim like other rubber ducks, but she manages.

Bubble looks perfectly formed but actually is fundamentally flawed in her ability to swim successfully.  In order to be able to squeak, like a rubber duck, she has a small hole in her underside.  That hole unfortunately lets water in, which tips her balance.  More often than not, she ends up swimming on her side.  She still floats perfectly, but her swimming is a little unusual for a duck.

If she can do it, then why can’t I?

Actually it’s exactly what I do.  It’s just perhaps slightly different from the mainstream, thanks to my psychiatrist’s ‘horoscope’ prediction on my life.

I battled for many years with what is referred to as ‘chronic suicidal ideation’.  In other words, I wanted to kill myself and was largely focussed on attempting to achieve this, or at least being overwhelmed by the constant desire to end my life.  Some people say that those who struggle with this don’t actually want to die.  Maybe that’s true for some, maybe some just want to ‘end the pain’.  But for me I was fiercely determined in my wish to end my life.  I won’t get into that argument here though.

After many years of being completely overwhelmed by the thoughts, plans, deeds and recovery from those deeds, I eventually got to the stage where I came out of that chronic need to die.  I put that down to a lot of hard work, some good medication and a very good psychotherapist.  It wasn’t luck.  It wasn’t passing out of a phase.  It was very hard work.

But sometime after I got to, what I hoped would be the end of that part of the journey, my psychiatrist, told me that because I had struggled with chronic suicidal ideation for so long, that I always would be flawed by this.

He went on to explain that whenever something negative happened in my life, I would always look to suicide as a means of solving it.  It would be like an automatic reflex.  Perhaps a different reflex than most people have, but one he was convinced would always be there.  I wasn’t strong enough at the time to be able to debate it, but his words had a lasting impact.

Since then every time something negative in my life has happened, I have feared that I would fall back into that frame of mind I knew so well of ‘I want to die‘ and ‘I need to die‘.  I was terrified, because I have known how easily one thing leads to the other, and how easily the suicidal mind convinces us of what it wants to.

And actually I admit that sometimes in the strangest of situations I have found my brain seemingly automatically jumps to that very conclusion.  For example, I get a puncture in my car.  My immediate reaction is “I should kill myself“.  I have to fight back, and fight very hard.

What I don’t know is whether that reflex is because of the seed the psychiatrist planted in my mind.  Perhaps I need to do more reading on the subject.  Perhaps too, I should just refuse to let it be.

In spite of getting through some very difficult events in my life over the past few years, it hasn’t been without this fear in my head.  “Gee, thanks Mr (or should I say Dr) Psychiatrist.  You put that there.”  Perhaps the biggest battle to fight this fear came when my Dad died in 2011.  He had been my reason for living.  Now he was gone I knew I had two choices.  Fall into the trap forecast by the Psychiatrist, or fight back and prove him wrong.  I did exactly that, thankfully.  Yes, the automatic reaction to destroy myself popped its head up (it almost always does), but I could fight it.  I did fight it, but perhaps no one knows how much of a battle of wills (the suicidal will and the healthy will) that was for me.

A few weeks ago, I wrote in No Tears about becoming depressed again, but this time without the tears.  What was really happening was that I was fighting like hell to stop myself from crying.  I was too scared.  I felt that if I started to cry, there would be no stopping.  But perhaps worst of all, I was scared of where my thoughts my head.  If the Psychiatrist was right, then my tears would leap to suicidal thoughts.  I simply couldn’t take that risk.  It was better to fight back the tears, and I have got good at it.  I simply couldn’t take the risk.  I didn’t want to have to face what seemed to have become an automatic reflex.

The last couple of weeks has been difficult, and this week, the tears have flowed in spite of my determination not to let them.

I hate crying.  It’s messy and uncomfortable.  I’m not talking about a few tears on a perfectly made up face on the movies, but bawling.  Not only are there tears, but a snotty and blocked  nose…   so it’s not actually easy to breathe… oh, and if you cry long enough you end up with a headache and painfully blocked sinuses.  And all this is supposed to be healing and helpful?

Well I did it anyway.  By this stage there was almost no option on the tears.  Again that automatic reflex kicked in… but I turned it around.  You could say that before my mind had a chance, I chose life.

I am actually okay, and will be okay.  Sadness and grief doesn’t have to automatically lead to suicide, even in a flawed mind. I actually have a choice.

This morning I read by chance an excellent post about fighting suicidal thoughts and the guilt that can paralyse you.  It was  Do You Blame Yourself for Thinking of Suicide? | Speaking of Suicide

I felt guilty that I  seemingly fall back automatically into the suicidal thoughts trap.  I felt guilty for ever wanting to talk about it (partly because I was told by doctors that I couldn’t expect to be able to talk about it).  Suicide is a difficult subject, but I believe that if we don’t talk about it, then it becomes a much greater and dangerous monster than it needs to be.

My Psychiatrist (he’s not my Psychiatrist anymore) told me this is something that would plague my life always.  I can’t tell you on what basis he predicted this, but it does seem that in some ways he was right.

I am determined though, that I don’t have to go with the automatic.  I can intercept, and choose life.  This reflex doesn’t have to plague my life if I actively choose to be the one in control.  Even when sad, or bad things happen I know that I can choose to respond differently than the doctor predicted.  I guess maybe he thought I would be dead by now.  He didn’t actually say that, but it was where I thought he was heading at the time.

Maybe I am flawed.  But like Bubble, I can still swim, even if differently than most.  Swimming sideways, is still swimming in my mind.  As long as I am floating and moving, I am swimming.

“I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being.” 

— Hafiz

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21 thoughts on “Flawed… Or Perfectly Formed?

  1. Psychiatrists who try to double as prognosticators do us no good. The best psychiatrists I’ve found are laser-focused on medication management — finding the right cocktail for optimum functioning. They allow me to work through life management issues with supportive counseling.

    I pray things get better for you.

  2. You’re not flawed, Cate!! I’m going to try to put a YouTube video in here. It’s just to listen ’cause I couldn’t find a good one with photos or a live one. If this doesn’t work, just go to YouTube and search for Nicole C. Mullen “Baby Girl.”

    1. Thanks for sharing that with me, Kathy. I like it. I tend to look at myself as being flawed, but perfectly flawed. I’m not putting myself down but recognising that I have some weaknesses, which are ok. I hope that makes sense.

  3. John Richardson

    Hang in there kid! I wish I could give you some advice that would help. The only thing that I can think of is that you should start smoking cigars. God Bless!

  4. It’s not the Psychiatrist’s prediction that puts you there. I’ve never had a doc tell me what your’s told you, but I understand 100% what you’re talking about; I’ve lived with it for as long as I can remember. When my brother took his life I had to fight that urge EVERY day for well over a year. Anything could trigger those feelings. My mind still goes sideways sometimes, but I’ve learned ways to cope and .. I don’t want to say “trick”, my mind – but ways to fight it. I still get panic attacks thinking about either of my kids dying – I don’t know if I could cope my way out of that one …. but it’s hope that we have to hold on to. Where we still have life, we have hope. – Sorry if this is disjointed; I’m between meds, and clarity isn’t my best feature these days. Just want you to know you aren’t alone. You can survive, like a lot of us, and it can be rewarding – you are exactly who you need to be – and who you are is OK.
    …. as for those cigars; tried that just the other week on a lark (looking for ways to self- medicate while I wait for meds to get through customs. Had to laugh when I read that comment.) – the smell gets caught in your sinuses for about 3 days, so unless you can put up with that, maybe try something a little more yummy, and less stinky.
    We’re here for you.

    1. LOL. Actually it is the smell of the cigars that completely puts me off John’s suggestion.

      Thanks so much for what you have shared. It means a lot to me in many different ways and it’s always nice to know that I’m not the only one. I think you’re right about hanging onto hope. It’s really all we can do in those times, and it works.

      Don’t worry at all about being disjointed. You made perfect sense! Thanks. 🙂

  5. Hi Cate… I always relate to your posts, even the personalisation of objects! I also suffered from chronic suicide ideation. Reading this post has made me realise that this hasn’t been my thinking for about a year. I put my change of mood purely down to medication (mood-stabiliser, Quetiapine). I think the extreme mood fluctuations, as part of BPD, is what regularly took me to the brink of death.

    I think your Psychiatrist was very wrong. Even if he did believe that, it certainly isn’t something you would say to a vulnerable person. I completely understand how this would stay with you for life. It is almost as if he took away your last hope – that things might get better.

    Until recently, I had not cried for years. There was always a fear that, if I start, my entire life might just fall apart

    Maybe we are all flawed, it’s just many people don’t have enough insight to realise it

    1. Sure enough, I found your comment in my spam. It is so encouraging for me to read that suicide ideation hasn’t been in your thoughts. I’m so pleased for you because it is like being stuck down a well with a very large weight around your neck. But also it gives me hope that one day my mind won’t just go there automatically. I agree that my Psychiatrist was wrong in what he said. It makes me angry to think of other vulnerable people having that said to them. It’s so hard to escape any thinking when someone says “you will always…”

  6. Oh, the power of words. They contain life or death. I’m so sorry he planted that lying seed. You’ve done well to uproot it. It’s not the truth. After battling an eating disorder for almost 20 years, I’ve been completely healed for 7 years now. Counselors thought I’d always struggle. But that’s not be case at all.

    I was also told that my eating disorder was a sin and it blocked me from God. It buried me for many, many years. I came to realize nothing was further from the truth.

    I’m so glad you challenged the lie. Hugs and strength to you as you continue in your healing. I’m so inspired.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing that Lori. It reminds me there is hope. I also got that particular “sermon” many times over about my mental illness being a sin blocking me from God. Thankfully I saw through it and moved on but it is such a dangerous lie that gets repeated far too often.

      1. Yes. There’s always hope…

        I’m glad you’re using your voice to dispel the lies. You’re helping set others free.

        Blessings and healing to you.

  7. Pingback: The Dark Side of the Moon: Suicide In my Own Mind | Cassie Warren Uncensored

  8. Pingback: Remembering Who I Am | Infinite Sadness... or hope?

  9. Nothing is definite in life , when bad things happen we are made to understand that life is unpredictable , then the same with good stuff too….. I mean life always shocks those who generalize it …… so he shudn’t have passed sweeping statements . My experience has taught me that if we can build up our body’s stamina , by strength training , we can also bulid up our mental strength – meditation , mind-body exercises, journalling, faith in god………so many things and the only person you can weigh against is yourself ……. the gr8est achievement is whether we are at peace and stronger than yesterday/last year, we can’t allow a flawed society to judge us. Thanx for ur posts cate.

  10. Pingback: There Will Be No Sorrow | Infinite Sadness... or hope?

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