You are here

SOS: Saving Your Sinking Ship

Imagine you’re sailing on a ship full speed ahead to your next destination with naught a care in the world. All of a sudden, the ship springs a leak. It’s a small leak, so you patch it and continue to sail on. You don’t go much further before that small leak turns into a bunch of random leaks all over the ship. You don’t have enough materials or energy to keep fighting all the small leaks that are now throughout the ship. Do you let yourself sink when you could just SOS another ship to help patch the holes? Do you give up because you think the other ships are too far away or too busy or don’t care? Do you decide “I’m going to die anyway,” and light the ship on fire? No, you don’t do any of these things. You request assistance from any ship available in the vicinity. This is very similar to life with a mental illness. You know that you are in danger, but you don’t want to bother anyone or think that no one cares. You might as well give up. This is the furthest thing from the truth.

The hard thing about a mental illness is that it tends to make you think the absolute worst in every situation. It takes a huge amount of strength to fight the negative, dark places within. This past month, I have been drowning in those negative thoughts because of a barrage of unexpected stress and worries. It even got to a point where I almost drowned in the negativity. I let it engulf me and I was almost past the point of no return. Again, for the third time in my life, I seriously contemplated the end of my life. For people with mental illness, suicidal thoughts do not just come at times of stress but flit through the mind at almost any time of the day, sometimes even daily. The way to combat this, in my opinion, is to have purpose or a reason for living. That way, those suicidal thoughts that flutter through our mind do not grasp hold and linger to the point that we feel we need to act.

At times when those thoughts do hold on and become more concrete than we would like them to be, our support system is crucial. It’s also vital to give off the SOS signal so that your support system can help you. If I didn’t have that right amount of people who showed that they cared in the past few weeks, I probably would have given up.

In my mind and body, I was weary. Struggling with a mental illness is extremely difficult, but add in tough situations and unexpected misfortunes all at the same time, and it’s near impossible to survive. Usually, I shut everyone out in situations like these, and I hate asking for help, but I knew I was in danger of reaching the point of no return. I had so much to live for, and I am glad that I asked for assistance. I would hate to think what would happen if I continued to try to handle everything on my own. I know that some of you may be weary or absolutely exhausted from fighting this illness day in and day out. I understand. I’ve been there every day since I was diagnosed. Don’t be afraid to reach out. There are people who care about you enough to help you through this tough time. Let them be your strength when you feel you can fight no longer. Rest in their strength and love, then get back up and continue the fight and continue sailing your ship to your destination. You will make it! Ironically, September is Suicide Prevention Awareness month. Our story is not over, it is just beginning!

To read more from Lynn, see the rest of her posts for IBPF here, or check out her personal blog


I'm an older adult with bipolar and I felt myself slipping into the throws of depression today knowing I might not come back. This post was the passing ship that came to my rescue. Thank you.

This makes me so very happy! There is always hope!

My cats are my constant, no matter that there have been many throughout the years. People would understand, eventually, but for my cats, who could explain where Momma went? Why did she leave us?

It's a small, silly thing, really, to hang my hope of survival on small, furred creatures, but it's all I've got. And it's worked so far.

Do not underestimate the companionship of your kitties! It's a huge, major, proven therapeutic (for anyone in any situation) companionship that literally enhances one's well being. Just the act of petting an animal increases all sorts of feel good chemicals/hormones, most notably oxytocin, that reduces the amount of stress, anxiety, ect. Plus, they're great listeners, don't judge you, and never talk back (unless it's mealtime/treat time/cuddle time or potty time depending the pet)
Living arrangements for the past few years have forced petlessness upon me for the first time in my life, and I honestly can say w/o a doubt that I have suffered tremendously as a result, big time. In a few weeks I will be in the position of living where I can have pets again (yay).

This can also be a useful tool for grounding yourself again. This is no silly little thing, because there have been times my dog would know where my head space was, give me a nudge and a look... like "I know what you're thinking, don't you dare, I get it, let's sit over here and take a time out together! "

What if you reach out for help and no one helps you? Then what?

Ali, please, now not later research hotlines and support groups. Save a couple of numbers in your contacts on your phone and assign them to speed dial or anywhere you can access them very quickly w/o having to search for them. They will support and guide you through. There are always options and people ready to support you, even though you may have wished for someone else's support. The people who've not been receptive when you've reached out in the past, may not have known what to do. Luckily we have various resources and ways to reach out to those who do. Please do this for yourself, me, and anyone else who's reading this!

Thank you so much for sharing your struggles. It means a lot to read that it's okay to ask for help. Your analogy clicked, and then I asked for help today. Didn't get the support I was seeking from that person, and that's okay. Probably wasn't the best time for them either. So, yay me! I asked, I did it. Thanks, Bye.

You are so welcome! I write to help others and it makes me so very happy when I am able to help someone. If you don't find the support you're looking for, keep looking. You will find someone who will be able to support you in the way you need.

I am 71, bipolar II, hypomanic. My husband is divorcing me due to an bipolar incident which occurred when I was stressed out by his cardiac operation. Within a couple of months, I will have lost all my belongings, my house, my therapist, my medical insurance, even my clothing. I have no living relatives and no friends who can/will help me. I have asked for help from everyone I know, to no avail. There is no public housing available. I will have a shopping cart and be on the street . . .and hungry. I have $824.00 per month Social Security to live on. I have suicidal thoughts every day and will eventually give in to them, because just staying alive in an alley way or shelter won't be enough. The TRUTH is that you can ask for help and for some of us no help is available.

I am so sorry to hear that. I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to read this when you posted. There are shelters or programs that you can look into. There is always hope.

Add new comment

PLEASE POST COMMENTS ONLY. If you are in need of an IBPF resource, please contact Aubrey @ If you are in crisis, please call 1-800-784-2433.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.