Bipolar Depression and Suicide


It’s winter.

I knew you’d be knocking at my door soon.

Your familiar spirit–always unwelcomed–but persistent.


She asked me “What are you depressed about?”

I wanted to shout “About the serotonin depletion,

The change in weather that makes my synapses misfire,

My unrelenting neurochemistry is why!”


But, instead, I cite the job hunt.

An answer she can live with, but one I may not be able to.

I see the doctor next week.  

We’ll adjust the meds or doses.


I won’t go all black inside this time.

Won’t let it get that far.

I’ve learned that “a lil blue” turns to melancholy

Melancholy to depression

Depression to embracing an end to the internal pain and void.


It happens too damn fast.

Hope seeps out of my toes while I sleep.

I’m sleeping 15 hours a day.

Maybe the doctor can see me sooner?


Some warning signs of suicide include:


•Talking about suicide

•Always talking or thinking about death

•Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless

•Saying things like “It would be better if I wasn’t here” or “I want out”

•Worsening depression

•A sudden switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy

•Having a “death wish,” tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, like driving through red lights

•Losing interest in things one used to care about

•Visiting or calling people one cares about

•Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, changing a will

Call 911 if You:

•Think you cannot stop from harming yourself

•Hear voices

•Want to commit suicide

•You know someone who has mentioned wanting to commit suicide

“Manic-depression distorts moods and thoughts, incites dreadful behaviors, destroys the basis of rational thought, and too often erodes the desire and will to live. It is an illness that is biological in its origins, yet one that feels psychological in the experience of it, an illness that is unique in conferring advantage and pleasure, yet one that brings in its wake almost unendurable suffering and, not infrequently, suicide.” 

? Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

Another quote by Kay describes holding “death as close as dungarees.”  I read that quote in Manic Depressive Illness (Frederick K. Goodwin and Kay Redfield Jamison) when I was a junior in college.  I was, then, recently diagnosed and looking for answers in the comprehensive scientific text.  I had attempted suicide several times already—and would another half dozen times more.  Today, I have not had an attempt in almost a decade and, even thoughts/ideations have been few and far between.  What changed?

My mood swings have become no less or worse.  My medications have become consistent though.  I found an anti-psychotic/neuroleptic that works well.  My outlook has also changed, though many would say my station in life is the worst it has ever been by outside accounts.  I am still reeling from a very bad addiction to substances (which—during use—was the last time I idealized suicide).  Many of my relationships are lost.  Yet, as recently as yesterday, I got up, got dressed and “prettied up” with no destination except the computer to job hunt and the couch to read my literature.  

I guess the most concise way to explain the change is a paradigm shift.  I take my medicine every day.  I go to appointments.  I practice CBT/DBT regularly.  In short, I quit trying to struggle through recreating the wheel and did the little (albeit hard) things that doctors have told me to do for years.  I quit resisting therapy and doctors, despite not always agreeing or liking them.  I also quit self-medicating, that was step one, because without clarity of thought I am going nowhere fast.  Step two was taking my meds, noticing and noting the changes, talking to my therapists and doctors….talking and researching myself being paramount to my survival.  

Life would be easier with a job and a license and a car, but I don’t dwell on that when I’m well.  I have hope.  No voices berate me when I stay away from street drugs and on my psych meds. So, I said all that to say this:  

If you feel suicidal and depressed, chances are you have been here before.  Remember that you came out of it (“This too shall pass” my Mother always said…a mantra for me during depressions).  Though it feels hopeless and never ending, it is neither.  If you’re already suicidal, give yourself a break and ask, research and do what others recommend to you.  Focus on what gets you through the next hour or day.  Talk to your doctors, even if you have to write it.  Even if all you can write right now is “help.” Put the words to paper and give it to someone, anyone, EVERYONE!

1 (800) 273-8255 – National Suicide Prevention Lifeline


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