Depression and suicidal thoughts

I have had quite a difficult week since last weekend, a week during which my depression has taken centre stage and I have gone further and further downhill, until Thursday, when I hit rock bottom and luckily I had a therapy session with my previous psychologist (my new psychologist who is an expert in trauma and sexual abuse unfortunately tested positive for COVID on Monday - something that caused me to crash brutally straight away. Luckily I quickly got an appointment with my previous psychologist).

Already on Saturday I was pretty miserable. Above all I connected with the emptiness in my life, the lack of meaning. On the same day I wrote to some friends "If I knew a way to kill myself that doesn't hurt, I would do it" and "I don't want to anymore. I can't anymore", and these were not jokes. I felt that way, and what stopped me from killing myself was mainly the lack of courage to face the pain.

Even in one of my favourite cafés, the Viajero Sedentario, they noticed my rather awful mood this day, and one of the owners offered to stay with me for the afternoon. In the end, a friend of mine came in the afternoon, and stayed the night as well to accompany me.

But the next day I was still pretty miserable, with depression and no will to continue living. Although I spoke to a friend on the phone, I was still in a very low mood all day. That day I made the decision to share my suicide prevention safety plan with some friends. On the same day I also wrote something about my depression - about the emptiness and the attraction of the ultimate emptiness - death.

These days I used the trick of promising one or two friends not to hurt myself on the same day, although I doubt that this alone would have sustained me for the whole week, as I gradually went further and further down.

Sunday night into Monday I had a work-related nightmare, and woke up shortly after midnight with my mind caught between work (the nightmare), depression and sexual abuse. I went back to sleep at the end, and had another rather strange dream - and normally I hardly ever remember my dreams.

On Monday my new psychologist informed me that she had tested positive for COVID, and that all sessions for the week were cancelled. Suddenly I felt a brutal fear in my stomach, and fortunately, reasonably quickly I made the decision to call my old psychologist, as I found myself unable to sustain myself for a whole week without professional support. It was a very wise decision, as I saw over the next few days. The fear stayed until the afternoon, and only gradually went away.

This very afternoon I had my review of my sick leave at the health centre. It was not my usual doctor, but another doctor, and she hardly asked me any questions. I told her about my sleep problems, and she prescribed me Zolpidem, a quite powerful hypnotic. She told me that it is not addictive, but the pharmacy told me that it is. After reading the package leaflet, which mentioned among other things that it should not be taken as a single treatment for depression or anxiety due to depression, and that nightmares and agitation were frequent side effects, I decided that I would not take it under any circumstances.

On Tuesday, in a healthy moment, I wrote to a friend: "I don't even want these sleeping pills in my house. I am 100% sure that I will not take them, and I don't want 30 such powerful pills at home when I sometimes have thoughts of suicide". That same day I returned them to the pharmacy - fortunately.

According to one source, "As low as 70 mg can create dangerous complications within the body. Venturing into recreational-use numbers, doses of 400–600 mg, will lead to an overdose". The doctor prescribed 30 units at 5mg, i.e. a total of 150mg. According to the same source, "Experts place a lethal [Zolpidem] amount at approximately 2,000 mg. Again, disastrous outcomes will occur far before this number is reached." It seems irresponsible to me to prescribe me these pills in these quantities when she could see from my medical information that I had asked for a referral to Mental Health for suicidal thoughts...

I then decided to stick to some natural pills and use CBD oil. I also started researching CBD oil as a treatment for PTSD, which seems to have good results with no side effects. What I read has again steered me away from a potential willingness to take antidepressants or other psychopharmaceuticals for post-traumatic stress: "Currently pharmacotherapy, while extensive because of the variety of medications used, has not demonstrated significant efficacy". This same day, Tuesday, we had our olla común in the afternoon, and at least I managed to cook and go to the olla, despite the depression.

But later in the evening I had another brutal crash. I wrote to a friend: "I think it was a good decision to return the sleeping pills. I'm in a brutal crash, thinking "why did I take them back? It would be easy to take the 30 pills...". And it's true that it's much easier to take 30 pills than to slit my wrists with a knife.

I don't think there's any danger now. Don't be scared. I'm not going to hurt myself tonight, I promise. I'm going to try to sleep."

It took me a long time to find sleep, but in the end I slept for about five hours uninterrupted. But I woke up again with a weird dream. And I realised what the dreams have in common, with the exception of the work-related nightmare, is that I either feel despair, or I feel like I don't really matter to anyone, or humiliation. The subject of my depression.

On Wednesday afternoon I went downhill again, and in the end I decided to spend the night at a friend's house - my safe place according to my safety plan. It was a good decision, although it didn't help me to get back on my feet either. The next day, Thursday, I was still terrible. I wrote to a friend: "I'm pretty awful today. Sometimes I have to cry because I lack the courage to put an end to all this...".

I had a therapy session this afternoon, and I don't know how, but I managed to hold myself together and not hurt myself until the therapy session. It was a very intense session of 90 minutes.

We worked on my supports in one way, and in another way on a major source of my depression, the lack of something that gives meaning to my life (or, the lack of a strong and ambitious social movement for climate justice). We managed to reconnect me emotionally with my support as well. And I became aware of my anger with the movement, or what remains of it after two years of pandemic.

This very afternoon we had an assembly of my beloved queer group at my house, which also felt quite good. I felt supported (the round of feelings at the beginning went on for an hour, and I had to cry during my turn), but equally important was, I think, that we decided on an activity, and that we didn't just stop at ideas and intentions. I went out with a colleague from the collective for a beer afterwards, which also felt good.

I started to recover a bit, both with the therapy session and the assembly. On Friday I had more energy, although I was still physically very tired, and today, on Saturday, I am somewhat better. At the same time, when the depression is less strong I connect more with the trauma, with the issue of sexual abuse, and sometimes I don't know which is better or worse. But at least I stopped feeling suicidal or on the verge of being suicidal, and this is probably better.

I realised in this process something important: when depression takes hold I lose my emotional connection with my friends, my supports. I know in my head that they are there, but in these moments I don't feel it, and I feel lonely and abandoned, and with this begin the thoughts of suicide. I think it is important, and maybe it helps me next time when I crash down: I could try to be more proactive and contact some of my friends, or call them, to feel loved and supported again. The hard part is going to be that being proactive and depression don't necessarily go well together... In this sense maybe this is an appeal to my friends to notice when maybe I don't ask for help, but maybe I need it more than at other times. I need to feel you. I know with the head you are there, but when I'm in the hole that is not enough.