Living with bipolar suicidal thoughts…

Hi, It’s hard for me to write blogs when I’m so suicidal.  I wrote a few days ago about a bad experience with Zoloft that put me into a severe downswing.

I just had a conversation with my coauthor Dr. John Preston and he said, “Julie, you always keep the fighting attitude alive. You keep moving even when it’s hard to keep moving.”

And then we asked the question- What’s the alternative!

I don’t want to kill myself, but my brain doesn’t get the message sometimes. I was crying in bed last night with the thoughts, “Is this all there is to my life? Will I always be this sick? Does anyone care about me? Am I going to die from this illness? Will I be alone forever? Does my work have a purpose? Why am I on this earth?  I am left out of everything. My life is so small.”

If you have ever been suicidal- you probably have! – this is the common language of bipolar suicidal thoughts. They never change- but my god they feel so real it’s hard to fight them. But as John said- you just have to keep a fighting attitude. So that is what I do. I’ve had these suicidal episodes since age 19- I’m 45 now. I don’t get used to them because they SUCK, but I do keep fighting the desire to give in to them.

Last night was hard. The voices, thoughts and images spit out by a bipolar brain are like the world’s most compelling movie. But that’s all they are- FICTION.

I’ve managed to get my voice of reality in there- This is an illness Julie. You had trouble with the Zoloft Julie. You’ve been through this a million times before and it always ends. You are going to be fine. Keep going with your life so that all will be in place when you get better. Don’t do anything stupid when you feel like this. Remind yourself all day that this is NOT the real you.  You never think these things when you’re well. And just keep on creating a life you can love so that it’s there to help you through these suicidal episodes.

So, that is what I’m doing today. The stuff is there in the background of my head- I feel it lurking, but I won’t ever give into it. It’s an illness. I bet I will be fine in the next few days. I just have to be easy on myself so that I can get better.

Hey, I’m working today- seeing friends- doing my email- getting on with life. It’s proof you can feel like dying and not listen to it- because it’s not real.


15 comments to Living with bipolar suicidal thoughts…

  • Helen

    i understand your mind whirling. my own would not stop a second, going over everything negative like a movie, imagining every worse thing, and worse than that round and round and round till you can choke it out of yourself. i took a seroquel and tried to go to bed. it helped some. at lease i got some sleep. helen

  • I’ve been with you in the dumps more times than I care to remember. I’ve been on all the antidepressants and now I’m on Pristiq. It is fairly new and works like a charm. It pulled me up in four days and there are no side effects. It is so hard to keep fighting when the depression hits. I’ve been feeling pretty good now for over a year. Would love if you checked my site: bipolaroni Take care.

    Hi Rita,

    That is GREAT news about the Pristiq. We have to just keep trying new stuff. Julie

  • I’m with you. I think we’ve all been there once or five million times. Don’t give up and don’t give in. As my husband and I always say :This too shall pass”.

    I’ve given up before. The hospital stay is not worth it.

  • Danielle

    I have had suicidal thoughts alot, but by the grace of god i made it thru and i have been close to carrying out those thoughts but i am glad i am still here. BP is such a horrible mental illness it skews reality and i hate it.

  • Melissa

    Hey Julie!
    I’m so glad your pushing through this awful time. You and your work mean a great deal to me. I wait each day to see if you’ve posted something to the blog – it feels like a lifeline sometimes. I have been having a difficult patch with my marriage and there have been times that those “dark thoughts” as I call them have swirled through my mind. I am combatting them with better self-care. For me that has been an exercise regimen more extreme than any I’ve ever done. I have been working out in various ways 6 days a week for 45-60 minutes a day. I have been going with other people so I have some accountability and support. I’ve found that not only do I feel more capable and in control but that my sexual thoughts which plague me constantlly have been decreased in intensity as well as frequency. Thanks so much for being the you that you are. Ever since I first heard you speak I have felt as though I’m not alone in this battle with Bipolar Disorder.

    Hi Melissa,
    thanks for your kind words. It was awful- and knowing that others are helped by my experiences makes it a bit easier! I am SO glad that the sexual thoughts are lessening. That can be a real burden- and scary too- Many people say exericise helps them stay stable. I also agree that the people we have around us determines our stability! Julie

  • kat

    And, now I’m scared. This down keeps on keepin on and more and more I cannot see the point of my living. Diagnosed 12 years ago and many meds later I’m not confined to my bed but I’m just awake more to alienate myself from everyone and experience longer and more excruciating bouts of pain. I understand that fighting attitude and I keep trying to rise above it and then I get weary and then I can’t fight my way out of a paper bag. I’ve lost all credibility with family, friends and co-workers. I don’t want to be around someone like me I have not stopped crying for weeks. I cry while I’m walking, I cry at thru water aerobics Now, I’m just holding on until I can experience , at best, a grey day.

    Hi Kat,

    I went through a month long suicidal episode this summer- it was a reaction to a medication. I remember driving down the street crying and crying- but I KNEW that it was bipolar disorder. I have been suicidal off and on for all of my adult life. It’s the same thing as being manic- it’s part of the illness. If you can remember this- it helps a lot. Here are some tips for dealing with the suicidal thougths while you get help.

    1. Suicidal thoughts follow a pattern- everyone who is suicidal thinks in the same way. The topic changes depending on your personal experiences- but the nature of the thoughts never changes. Everything is awful- everything is dark – there is no hope and nothing will ever get better. Notice that this is black and white thinking- it’s literally impossible that nothing will ever get better. As you say- even a gray day is better than the suicidal days.

    2. Say this to yourself- this is an illness- this is not the real me- this is not my life. I am not my thoughts. Things can and will get better.

    3.Check your meds- many medications can cause suicidal thoughts- check to see if your meds are too low- people with bipolar disorder have to be very careful if they take antidepressants as they can cause mania and or suicidal thoughts. My suicidal episode this summer was from Zoloft. I knew I shouldn’t try it! I know you have tried medications for years- but there is always hope.

    4. I know this is a scary topic- but talk with your doctor about ECT. It can be a miraculous treatment for serious depression. I have friends who say it changed their lives. There is a lot of information on the web that is anti ECT- but it’s important to remember that the web often has more negative information than positive stories. All of the doctors I talk to and work closely with approve of ECT. I almost had it myself, but the lamictal got me out of the severe depression.

    5. It’s easy for others to say not to give up- but you’re hearing this from me- suicidal since 19- constant depression until I created my treatment plan and then almost constant depression. Like you said- why would anyone want to be around us when we are so sick and crying all of the time! Don’t give up- this literally has nothing to do with you- if you’re crying all of the time- that’s a huge sign that it’s bipolar.

    If you do all of the above- I promise you that a gray day will happen and then you can find the energy to take new steps to end this suicidal episode.


  • Kingsley

    I am bipolar type 2 and I can associate with your feelings. holding a work conversation and all the while thinking of ending life… “go home at the end of today plan it, leave a note (thanks for the memory have a great life! or something),… maybe and end it. others will feel sad for a while but time heals all wounds they say. I’ve lost loved ones it hurts but you live with it until it becomes a distant memory.
    it’s suffocating being in a crowded room full of friends and family and feeling isolated alone with my thoughts and displaying the face they all want to see. “how are you with your bipolar treatment?” they’ll ask. “good” with a smile I’ll reply. All the time not planing more than a couple of days away because there maybe a time I’m just not strong enough to resist.
    “I’m here to talk to when ever you need it” is the common words spoken to me by doctors, friends or family. hollow words … spend some time in my head and heart then we’ll talk … could they be strong enough to make it through the day…. would they smile… or would it just break their hearts and leave them crying for release… I don’t know.
    it’s a bad day…. get through it … disassociate yourself … it’s a chemical imbalance you don’t feel this way…. have I missed any meds? no… it’s just a bad day soon the meds will work again and I’ll be emotionally gray …. castrated into a backseat driver shackled into normality… is it to make me feel better or to make everyone else feel better.

    I’m 38 suicidal since 13 attempted more times than I care to count. all I can do is make it through the hour then the next then today and the day after keep fighting the overbearing bad wolf of my mind. lock the cage for another day.

    all other sufferers I wish you well in your battle as I continue mine


  • Mark I

    I was recently diagnosed bipolar/manic depressive or whatever label they choose to give me these days,it was a relief in some ways because at least it gave me some sort of identity instead of just having loony thoughts!!!
    I do fantasise about death a lot, have a lot of thoughts about not being bothered to carry on but with five kids and a wife one supposes I should carry on for their sake even if sometimes my other side tells me whats the point!!!
    What I cannot understand is that I know I should feel that I am fortunate,living in a great country, having material comforts, having opportunities a loving family and a good support system but they mean absolutely nothing to me.
    Is it abnormal or us to not care really if we live or die? It seems to upset those around me if I tell them the truth about how I feel, so I tend not to tell them. Funny though really, they ask me for my thoughts and if I give them they do not like them…so I do not tell them truth anymore as it upsets and unsettles them too much,,,,…makes me feel like a freak in a way,,,..

    I gave the wife a choice as she keeps saying I need to change my paradigm, a life of being with someone like me…or starting a new life with a stable man, no judgment, and my full support. She chose me, but I still think she is a loony to stay with an emotional quandary such as I to be honest….

    As the old saying goes “there’s naught as queer as folk”….meaning I suppose me or those who choose to put up with me and my illness!!!

  • robin

    i have been thinking about suicide alot lately, i dont think i will do it, but i think of ways i could. sometimes it encompasses my life. i am having a depressive episode, i thought i was on top of the world a few weeks ago, i had a lot of energy and did very well at work, then all of a sudden im depressed and thining about ways to commit suicide. i want to leave and go far away. i go days with out sleep most of the time, then i have nights that i will sleep 2 to 3 hours. but i still can function the next day. im on some new bipolar meds and im giving them time to work.. ill wait a few more days, then im calling my dr. im scared to tell him about my thougts cause i have a son and i dont want to risk the dr sending me to a hospital.

  • I have been diagnosed with Bipolar Type 1 for about 7 years. I have struggled with depression and OCD since about 14. I’m 44 and cycle about every 2 months even though I have tried every medication regimen possible. Now I am on Lamictal, which seems to have the fewest side effects and works most of the time. Right now I am in a downward spiral; my thought are obsessive, I’m borderline suicidal and having nightmares. I hope this lifts soon. I’m a high acheiver and got my nursing degree (RN), but I lost my license, because I got very depressed on the unit one day. Although I told the nurse manager I was not feeling well and to please have someone watch my patients; she turned me in to the State Board of Nursing. I have never forgiven myself for this; this was right before I was diagnosed and on medications. The world is so unforgiving to people with mental illness! Right now, I am back in school, trying to become a pharmacist, but my stress level is through the roof and I am not sure I should be doing this? The stress of school, financial problems and marriage problems are probably what is making me cycle? I do not know what to do. My goal is to get off of SSD, and make something of myself again. I feel stuck and I want out, what should I do?

  • Kate

    I have just been diagnosed with Bipolar 1.

    When I was manic I demolished my once very strong support system.

    Is this normal?

  • Beth

    It was good reading this. I’m a 20 yr old girl with bipolar II.

    My downswings are frightening, i barely have a support system here and it’s the worst feeling of my life, i feel terrible about even bringing it up to someone. All they do is see me struggle through this, and i don’t feel like it’s fair to anyone, they deserve a life with out my pain involved. I’m scared about getting married someday, i have the guy of my dreams and he just thinks its all in my head, so do my parents and peers. The only other girl that has similar problems as me in my class of 16 in cosmetology is a 23 with drug issues and she’s a compulsive liar. So the girls don’t want anything to do with it and they ignore me, i would too if i were them. where is there a place i can just feel at peace and live in the moment? i want a life of understanding this and becoming stronger with my experiences but i always fall back. i can’t even think about getting a job.. it makes me sick. I honestly don’t have anyone to relate to, i am so alone with my thoughts, someone in my class brought up Demi lovato and how she was suicidal. they were telling each other how her songs are so emotional and they love her for being brave about her harassment..

    I was in the same situation, i was harassed by 5 counties of schools at leasts, everyone knew my name and no one knew the truth. years and years later i got diagnosed with bipolar II, i understand what most of my life was about after i was educated. i wasn’t a psycho as i thought.

    Anyways, i bring up that she had bipolar II. they knew i had that same thing as well but they all look at me (EVERYTIME) like i’m lying through my teeth or i just get ignored. i absolutely hate my life. i don’t feel like i can talk or want to talk to anyone about my problems.

    I feel like i do it to inform them that i do struggle and they should maybe watch what they say (abusing the term bipolar) they are somewhat egocentric to my belief, or even the fact they might…. have jealousy issues….. this sound so dumb… i’m sorry to bring this up, but i had someone confess this to me awhile back and i notice it everyday since then. I was gifted with my mother’s beauty. i’m soft hearted and a complete nerd and very nice, i never in my life have gone for someones throat or ever been a bitch just to be a bitch, i cant even stand up for myself and that’s the worst part cause i’m afraid of girls tearing me apart. Most of the girls in my hair school glare at me, it makes my disorder so much worse SO MUCH WORSE! i’m always getting sized up with someones eyes, i’m not a threat, go ahead and the be alpha i just want to live another day and be happy for once with my surroundings and where i feel like i belong!

    Do i have to deal with something like this my whole life? I’m serious i want to be invisible sometimes. I just want to feel like i’m safe. like i do matter. I wish someone just understood these feelings and episodes and i have a very strong sense of peoples personalities and compassion cause thats the only way or protecting.. well. me.

    I feel like the people around me would deny most of my suicidal signs or even provoke it.
    I’m ready to shave off my 17 inches of hair, and walk in to school, go home for easter break and show them that i’m not afraid of their opinions anymore if they don’t don’t care about me. i need to stand up for myself. i beat myself down every day. why would i let them too?

    (sigh) there you have it,
    Any thoughts?

    I know that was a lot to read, but i’m hopeless on what i tell myself everyday.

  • Jamie

    Hello, I am also bipolar but was diagnosed as a manic depressive back in the day. I assume it’s bipolar now. My first thoughts like this started in the 3rd or 4th grade. I don’t remember which I can just remember when it all started and just seem to get worse. The first time I really became aware of them over just being depressed was sitting in class one day at a big round table, we were doing some type of art project and all the other kids were laughing and having fun and I just remember thinking: what is wrong with them? Don’t they understand it’s pointless. Why do they want to even live? IT didn’t take me long to realize I was the person that was different and messed up. At least my mom noticed the signs and took me to get help but I quit going because the psychiatrist kept wanting to focus on abandonment issues and my dad which I still believe had nothing to do with anything. I could care less then and can care less now.

    I don’t take anything anymore, I just keep telling myself that this isn’t who I really am, it’s just an imbalance but it’s hard at time. Sometimes I get so tired of these thoughts that the idea of suicide seems so nice just so I can get just a second or two of peace and quite away from them but I realize that peace is for the living and is a physical thing. I will not get that relief if I am dead plus I’ve been staying very positive which has done wonders for me. Sorry if I’m rambling a lot, mind is going a billion miles per hour and I don’t sleep well. I don’t think I’ve had a dream in over ten years now. I doubt I even hit R.E.M. sleep anymore lol.

    Anyway I just wanted to tell you to hang in there. Don’t listen to those voices and thoughts no matter how loud they get and no matter how insistent they are. Suicide is what happens when pain exceeds pleasure plus coping resources. Get you an arsenal of coping resources and go to war. It’s a wonder I made it before I had any. I don’t deal with pain very well either so I consider myself lucky. I latch on to anything and everything that will help me and I’m no longer afraid to ask for help which is key. If things get too bad reach out to someone, anyone. Take care and good luck with your demons. Keep fighting them and I’ll keep fighting mine.

    BTW the sooner you learn not to even care about what others think the more free you’ll become. Don’t measure yourself by other people’s standards. Do not care what they think, just be you. Your true friends will love you for who you are and everyone else can be ignored.

    . “how are you with your bipolar treatment?” I love that part. Like there’s a magical pill or wand that will make it all better. Sorry, been there done that. On the other hand I HATE people who use bipolar. I worked with someone who was diagnosed with it and was faking it so bad. They would use it as an excuse to get off of work and go have fun with their friends. They would literally say oh well when my bipolar kicks in I need to get my sleep. Lmao, love it how those who have no clue try and describe it. Sure it kicks in, it goes from worse to hell, or from hell to OMGI’mSOFREAKINGHAPPY but it’s not a light swtich. Sorry but I’ve known this person long enough to know they’re not manic in any sense of the word. Just lazy.

  • sarah

    Im finding it really tough to go on living.i feel i cant take much more.

    • Sarah. It’s normal to be suicidal when you are depressed. I have been suicidal off and on all of my adult life, including last summer. You can remind yourself that feeling suicidal is a symptom that we all have. YOU ARE NORMAL. Now, get help. Find that inner self that gave you the ability to write this blog. YOU ARE STRONG. Talk back to your symptoms.

      You can say to yourself, “I am suicidal because I have an illness. I do not listen to my illness. I wrote Julie’s blog and now I’m going to get help. I am going to do anything I can to get help.”

      If it keeps talking to you- tell it to shut up and that you are the boss and you are not going to kill yourself because of an illness.

      Then take one more step: Use one of these services below. I have been where you are. I know what this bottomless pit of hell feels like- and I manage it regularly. You can too. We are not suicidal from our own selves- we are suicidal because our brains are not working.

      I also recommend Gabe Howard on Facebook. He is a great help.

      You can do this.

      National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
      Call 1-800-273-8255
      Available 24 hours everyday

      This is the online chat:

      It’s an illness, not you. Julie

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