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Tue, Jan. 5th, 2016, 01:16 am
Depression Suicide Checklist

I've walked beside a number of people contemplating suicide, and I'm pretty good at offering both hope and solace, but I've not taken to same hard logical look at my own life, because I've got a pretty good idea of what the outcome is going to be. For future posterity, here's my checklist criteria:

How old are you? Depression and other mood disorders hit hard around the time the hormones are up, and some people can grow out of them. I don't recommend the final recourse for anyone under 25 unless they are already suffering from some fatal illness. In which case they get the right to decide.

Are you sober? Emotions are chemicals, and the so-called negative emotions can be caused by chemicals. I believe a person needs to be sober of mind-altering substances for at least 30 days before one can make a sound decision of this magnitude.

Is this a lifelong chronic illness, or did this begin because of a singular event? For people who didn't start off depressed, I have good news! The chances that this depression is a permanent condition are slim. That doesn't mean it sucks any less, because without assistance the feeling could last as long as two years. Average seems to be four to six months or so, but people vary greatly in resilience and circumstance. You should probably still reach for outside intervention if you can; hopefully someone sees your struggle and lends a hand when you can't ask for one. The more bouts of depression you suffer from in your lifetime, the worse your prognosis. A few unlucky souls carry this dread malady 24/7, forever. I urge those who have ever suffered from a singular bout of depression to both understand the depth of this darkness and also to please not confuse the two with unrealistic expectations. A person with a chronic lifelong illness is not going to feel better when you tell them they will feel fine in the future.

Have you started anything new, including new antidepressants, or a new and what should be an exciting chapter of your life? Things that we think "shouldn't" cause pangs of ill feeling often do, like having a baby, a new and better job, buying a house, or an awesome new relationship. They resurface old inadequacies. Why? Because life is a spiral. Counseling, a change in meds, or simply talking with a trusted friend might help. Either way, give yourself six months to adjust to the change. That's about how long studies show it takes most humans to adapt to new situations.

Finally, how many things have you tried? Dealing with depression, like any illness, takes a lot of hard work. I didn't promise it would be easy, only that not being depressed is worth the effort. At minimum try a couple of different counselors in a couple of different styles, one of each of the classes of medication (which takes two months to adjust), gratitude meditation (the one most proven to work for this condition), and the "3 Good Things" daily journal exercise, where you write down in a log three good things that happened to you each day (you have to do it for at least thirty days).

If you have alternative reasons for wanting to end it all, such as other illnesses or toxic relationships, have you worked with those? These may also be deciding factors to consider, especially if your condition is excessively painful or fatal. For those with pain conditions who are now on the highest doses, consider ibogaine treatment, which can reset your tolerance to pain meds and set up back up on the ladder. It's expensive and illegal in many places, but desperate times....

Once you've gone through the checklist, then it's simply up to you. I can't say I offer up much hope past all of these things, and yet some people still want to live, while others don't. Don't forget that old adage of, "you can always kill yourself tomorrow, but you can't bring yourself back to life if you kill yourself today." Either way, my blessings to all of you.

As for myself, I think lack of sobriety is the only thing keeping me around. That and the fact that my life is an unholy mess. I think that once I get everything straight, and get myself totally sober, rather than feeling relieved I'm going to realize I'm still insanely depressed. Still, I'm determined to do both of those things. And then I'm going to take a hard look. Because my doctor has told me I'm completely out of drug options. I've tried all the therapy a million times. I can recount about six months to maybe a year of my life total WHEN I WASN'T DEPRESSED every single day to at least some degree, and that's an awfully long time. I'm in pain, I have no real function in society anymore since I can no longer work, and I barely leave the house. Illness has robbed me of everything. And I'm so very, very tired. I regret nothing, but I think it may be time to close the door and let the wheel turn. We'll see.

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