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watercolor
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Hi everyone. I am new to these forums. Well…I joined a while back but didn’t participate very much. To be honest, I find that discussing things doesn’t usually help me very much. It is for that reason in part that I have never responded well to psychotherapy. Anyway, I feel kind of bad that I am posting this call for advice, given how little I have contributed, but I am feeling kind of desperate, and I maybe I can use any help that I can get. I am not writing with any specific question but rather just hoping that someone out there can say something that can be helpful. I'm just desperate I guess. I know this is a lengthy post, but I would appreciate your patience if you read it and took it seriously.

Like I said, I have never responded well to psychotherapy and have even become more and more suspicious of it over the years. I know it works well for others, but it never has for me. I’ve seen psychiatrists since I was a teenager (I’m in my mid-twenties) with varying degrees of effectiveness there, but nothing of great help. I’ve even done ECTs, and though they helped some, the effects did not last very long with me. It’s kind of hard to assign a simple diagnosis to me. The last time I was in the hospital (I’ve been hospitalized numerous times) they did some testing and I think diagnosed me with a few things, but it was unclear. If I HAD to label it, I think I would describe it as something on the bipolar spectrum, mostly depression but with periods of hypomania though I may have recently flirted with full-blown mania I’m not sure, with also pretty bad generalized anxiety disorder. Some personality disorder traits have been thrown in like borderline and maybe something else (schizoid or schizotypal, I don’t remember). Anyway, it’s definitely complicated, but the important thing is that it has robbed me of my ability to function very well. I don’t mean to brag, but I’m very smart. I somehow managed to graduate with a bachelors with highest honors in a very challenging field. However, since them, I dropped out of graduate school after a brief period, lost a job because of these problems, and am now afraid of having to withdraw from part-time classes that I have been enrolled in. I don’t have friends I can hang out with. I live with my parents, who are loving but kind overbearing at times.

I wish I were dead. Thoughts of suicide is something I have struggled with for years. I have attempted before. I think I am not dead because: 1. I feel guilty about hurting my family 2. Suicide is tricky, especially when you are under the watch of your parents as I am and don’t have a car, money, anyplace to go, etc. I have thought about taking their keys and their car and driving someplace, buying a bunch of Tylenol, renting a hotel room, and hoping that enough time would pass for no one to find me. But it’s complicated because of the guilt and the fear I would be discovered and that things would then become worse.

I don’t know what to do. I feel like I am losing my mind. I am terrified of killing myself and hurting my family, yet I am terrified of living too. Anyway, I guess that’s enough for now. This post has gotten very long. Thanks for reading.

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Watercolor,

What stood our for me, as I read your post, is how much you apologize for yourself. First, your post is not too long. In fact, many members write very long posts when they feel awful, and we accept it and read with great interest. Second, you are not alone in being in the background and not actively participating. Nothing wrong with that, either. Many members go between being active, falling back into quiet, and being active again. And, it is not bragging to tell us you are smart. That's a good thing and no one thinks you are bragging. In fact, it must be frustrating for you to be smart but held back by these emotional problems.

Please know, this is not psychotherapy. We are here for you and all the community members, to give support, encouragement, advice when asked, and lots of empathy, because all of us have been through similar kinds of things and still are. So, please know that you are fully welcome to be here and your post is fully welcome. Everyone in the world needs support and advice and everyone needs to feel they belong.

I always tell people that they are not a diagnosis. So, you are not a "borderline," or a "bipolar," you are a person, a human being.

As a human being, what is happening that makes you think you may want to withdraw from your classes. Please understand, I am not implying you should not and you may need to at this time, but, what is going on for you that may make that necessary?

You know that suicide is not a solution. Obviously, you must feel terrible right now, to be thinking that way. Can you speak to your psychiatrist, adjust medication?

Just to repeat the question, why are you feeling so terrible right now? Are your parents adding to your stress, something else?

By the way, dialectical behavior therapy is very helpful with these kinds of problems and it is not based on talking and talking. Instead, its based on how to relax and reduce stress and bad feelings. Its called, DBT. What do you think?

Allan

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Hi Allan,

Thanks so much for responding to my post.

You’re right, I guess I do apologize a lot for myself. I guess I have a tendency to feel guilty and worry about things. Yes you are right, it is EXTREMELY frustrating for me that I am and have proven my intelligence but have been consistently held back because of these problems. For example, I was valedictorian/national merit scholar/etc. of my high school (all of which was not only intelligence but a lot of hard work) and now I feel I am underachieving compared to others in top of my class who are in school to be doctors, lawyers, who are engineers, etc. I feel I can’t help but feel bitter.

As for withdrawing from classes, it’s not so much that I’d want to withdraw but that I’d have to withdraw (or fail them if I couldn’t obtain a medical excuse). The semester is almost over, and as painful as it’s been—I sometimes come to tears from anxiety or sadness, crying discretely as possible in the classroom and today I had to deliver a presentation and starting sobbing after a minute I was into it though the teacher was very nice about it—if I could manage to finish the work I guess I would like to finish the semester though I may not enroll in another semester. Still, at this point I’m kind of unsure of my ability to finish the work demanded of finals period because I’m having a hard time keeping it together.

I spoke to my psychiatrist today and told him basically of my fears. I mean, I didn’t exactly tell him the extent to which I had been thinking, even trying to plan things (albeit without much success at this point so maybe that would not have mattered), but I did tell him that I wanted to die, but that’s nothing new for me. He did adjust my medication, but the thing is though, I’ve been on so may different combinations of medications for over a decade now with little real relief. I think the most relief I experienced were from the ECTs, but the relief didn’t last very long.

As for DBT, I was enrolled in a group very, very recently. It did not follow Linehan exactly because it was not as long and intensive, but it was based on the same principles. I tried it for a while as diligently as I could but eventually found the group was actually creating more stress for me. This mind sound harsh, but I became frustrated and bored with listening to the other group members. I rarely said much. I know therapy does wonders for some people, but it just never has for me. Anyway, the group was just too miserable for me (I even cried once there to out of frustration one day), so I didn’t complete the group. For this kind of thing and past experiences with therapy I won’t go into now (well, I’ll just mention one instance of being abruptly abandoned by one therapist) I tend not to respond well to therapy and am even sometimes suspicious of it in my case (though like I said, I understand it works well for many other people).

As for the question of why I’m feeling so terrible right now, this sense of despondency is not that new for me, and there is no real concrete reason. I guess I’m tired of my extreme negative emotions that I feel have so little control over, and I can’t imagine a future for myself in which I can be happy or even just okay. Maybe what prompted me to write was also because I am thinking a little more about suicide than normal, and this generates conflicting feelings (desire for death versus hurting my family and possible consequences of a failed attempt).

Thanks again, Allan, for responding to my post. :)

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Watercolor,

Its too bad about the DBT group but it is very possible and most likely that the problem was the group and its leader or therapist, rather than you. In fact, you may very well have been sensing wrong about the group. Would you say that you are an intuitive or perceptive person? I'd bet you are.

Would your psychiatrist write you a medical not so that you can withdraw from classes with no penalty or finish them when you feel better? I don't know if that is possible, just asking if that might help.

I understand why you would feel bitter about school because you are smart and achieving. I want to assure you of something:

I have known, and, known of, people with mental illness who were, when they were able to and ready, go on with school and become successful. In fact one of them, a woman, was a psychiatrist (she probably passed away by now) and had schizophrenia, with hallucinations and all the symptoms. Anyway, when she was able, she returned to school, got her medical degree and became a psychoanalyst who wrote several books. She was a real inspiration.

I'm telling you this to remind you that its important never to give up hope and that, regardless of diagnoses, you are smart and will be able to do it.

What do you think about thiss?

Allan

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Hello again,

I guess I would consider myself perceptive in some ways. In other ways, I feel quite lost and confused. I often have the sensation that I am wandering through some dream…

As for the schooling issue, I haven’t talked to my psychiatrist or the school about that yet. I would imagine that the problem might be with the school. I guess for the time being I’m going to do my best to finish the last couple weeks of the semester. I debilitated at times but I do have kind of bursts of time in which I am able to work better than others, and I just need to take advantage of that I guess. I’m not absolutely convinced that I’ll be able to finish though I might, but at least I’ll have given it my all. Of course, if the stress becomes absolutely unbearable, I will change my course of action. Another issue is, you see, is that this period of distress is not so much a period at all: it’s just kind of my default state, and if I were to hypothetically be able to finish classes later, later is likely to not be much different than the present.

As for your comment about people who are able to succeed in spite of mental illness, I have mixed feelings. I have occasionally heard comments like that, especially lately. I appreciate the efforts from people who may be trying to console me, for one thing, and in a way I guess it is inspiring to know it is possible for someone to overcome their illness and do great things. “Yes,” I might think to myself, “maybe, maybe I could be one of those people someday, somehow.” However, in the end I see at as more of a possibility rather than a probability. For every success story like that I I’ve heard of lots of sadder stories. Human beings are just not entitled to happiness (I’m not saying you’re saying that, just making my point.) When it comes down to it, it just seems that the day-to-day emotional torment is….well, the hope that I might be a kind of success story after all this seems too slim and maybe not even enough of a consolation to make up for what seems like the hell I’m going through.

I realize that I may sound like I’m being difficult or willfully pessimistic. I don’t mean to be. That’s just how I see it, and I’m being honest. I do appreciate your advice though, especially the part about people being able to overcome their illnesses. Even if I don’t really believe it could apply to me, I know the advice is coming from a good place. I guess if I do decide to live my life (even it’s only out of guilt for my parents) maybe I’ll keep the kind of success story you have related to me in mind.

Thanks,

watercolor

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Hi Watercolor..just trying to catch up, Im sorry you are going through a difficult time, but I am also glad you have comeback here..its been a while.

Do what you can to take care of yourself..I think what Allan was saying is that don't let diagnosis define who you are...it's something you have but its not what you are...When I confide in people about bipolor, I always say I "have" bipolor, not that I "am" bipolor...after all people don't go around and say I "am" cancer...does this make sense. I am sure it is difficult to focus on school right now...You have to find and search what will help you balance out. It took me quite sometime so this is going to require patience and work with pdoc. Who knows what the future will hold..get through the present first.

Shannon

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It was a holiday this weekend...Normally this is a time when I would feel extremely lonely and cut off from everyone...All friends busy with family etc....Just when I thought it was going to be yet one of those holidays....a friend stood by me through the weekend..., I am truly blessed to have someone like this in my life...I wasn't alone...

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Hi Shannon. I agree for the most part about what you say about not letting your illness define you. I've heard people describe themselves, as you hinted, simply in terms of their diagnoses, perhaps even rattling off their psychiatric medications to go with it, and I find this kind of off-putting. However, I have to say that because my illness or whatever has dominated my life in so many ways, it seems hard to distinguish an identity that is separate from it. While I don't necessarily go around saying, "I am bipolar, generalized anxiety, and probably have a personality disorder. I take lithium, risperdal, and sometimes benzodiazapines..." it is definitely, as you Shannon picked up, more in terms of how I tend to define myself now. It wasn't always this way. Before, identified myself more by healthier things, like my accomplishments for example. It's just that my problems have gotten in the way of everything, I seem to have lost that, and all seem to be left with is this destructive set of emotions and thoughts.

I'm really scared now. I don't want to go into all the details because I am afraid to. Yesterday, I seriously considered dying and had a kind of plan. I had even taken some steps though ended up stopping myself--in part because of intense guilt (though I try to justify it that I'm hurting my family by living, too, though in my heart I know I would probably hurt them more by dying) and in part of because of fear of the physical aftermath of a possible failure. I'm feeling a little better today, but I'm still absolutely terrified. This is a chronic thing for me. I honestly just do not want to live. If it weren't for my feelings of obligation for my family, I would not live. And even with my family, I am extremely tempted to do this if I had a better way. I wish I could tell myself that this is not an option, but I can't get it out of my head. I wish I could get help for this death wish I have, but I've been in therapy for so long, and even though I've tried, it doesn't seem to work for me.

Even in my dreams, I've sometimes dreamt about dying or killing myself. Once, I dreamt I was in a building that was falling--this was soon after an anniversary of 9/11, and I had seen some photographs on the internet. Everyone was panicking, scrambling to leave the building and save their lives. Me, however, I hesitated. I think I decided not to leave the building. I decided I would either jump out of a window high enough to ensure my death or let the building topple over me.

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Of course having a disorder like bipolor does effect who we are.....Over the years however...I have begun a kind of acceptance if you will...yes I still struggle, yes I to just want to give up the fight and just rest indiffenately...but on the other side of that....even though I don't let bipolor define me...it is a part of me....it who I am...but even though there are many of us that have this disorder..we are still different. I don't know if I am making sense..but I think I am trying to say..hang In there..there is life beyond the struggle..I know, I have found peace within myself...even though I do still sink into that very dark place at times..but with being at peace with myself..I can slowly climb my way out. Just Hang on Watercolor...hang on with us here...we will hold your hand while you climb your way out.......

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I'm glad that you've found a measure of peace in your life that you feel you can accept. :D I guess I'm just not there. I would say, "I guess I'm just not there YET" but I kind of hesitate. I just don't feel sure of that at all. :( I guess that's why I'm so scared and seriously considering such destructive actions. I don't believe people all have it in them to be okay or at peace. Some people have eye deformities, and therefore they cannot see. Others have no legs, and therefore they cannot walk. Some people, I can't help but feel, are lacking in some other fundamental way that prevents them from being at peace. I am afraid I might be one of those people. I know, I know...if I feel that way, why even bother with a forum like this? I don't have an answer except that I guess I'm very lonely and very desperate and looking for any remote possibility of any help I can find.

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I like your screen name. Do you enjoy painting?

Maybe it isn't that you are lacking in finding a way to peace, but that you have simply not discovered the path to it just yet. One way to find it is to keep trying and looking. What do you think would bring you feelings of self-acceptance and inner serenity? I'm sorry that you've been feeling sad.

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Thanks, IrmaJean. No, I don't paint. The inspiration for the name is from a poem by Anne Sexton called "For My Lover, Returning to His Wife." I first read the poem when I was 19, and I really identified with it because I had done an "independent study" with a professor who was married (at his house while his wife was away). The affair lasted for over a year, and the ending was bitter. It was a bad decision on my part, and I know it was wrong of me to do. (I was just so crazy about him, not that that is a good excuse.) Anyway, the last lines of the poem are the woman telling her lover that while his wife is a strong "monument"..."As for me, I am a watercolor. / I wash off." I think I identified with that line even before I read it. Even now, I feel I can be washed away at any minute. And that my world itself is in watercolor as everything feels so vague and impressionistic. I wrote a poem about this that actually inspired by a watercolor painting drawn by another man I was with a few years later.

Thank you for the comforting words. I hope it's possible to find peace. I really don't know, to answer your question, how or where to find it.

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