The Time I Tried to Kill Myself and Failed (Obviously): A Realistic Discussion of Suicide

The Time I Tried to Kill Myself and Failed (Obviously): A Realistic Discussion of Suicide

Content warning: suicide, suicidal ideation, and even discussion of an attempt 

The way we experience the world is nothing more than the sum of our brain chemicals–and at any given moment, these chemicals could go awry, affecting how we perceive the world. Through zero fault of our own, a jarring shift in our perspective of the world upends our current sense of safety and security. According to NAMI, 1 in 5 adults are afflicted with a mental illness of some kind. 3.9% of the adult population in the year of 2015 reported experiencing suicidal thoughts. While it’s not mentioned what percentage of those are the result of mental illness and what percentage are the result of situational, I’m going to concentrate on those who experience thoughts due to mental illness because I still do not think it is as understood as it should be. Any time I see neurotypicals speak of suicide as a result of losing a loved one to it, it’s generally in the context of a vague situation–and frankly, I don’t want proselytizing about the beauty of life from someone who has never been paralyzed by plans bulleting through your mind. Or even from someone who wanted to kill themselves because of a divorce or some other situational event. They’re not the same. I would know, as I almost went through a divorce last year. I was able to talk my way out of those feelings, but I can’t do it when I’m suicidal because of my bipolar.


My first real attempt occurred during a bipolar mixed episode, where I was both manic and depressed at the same time. I was feeling intense despair at the loss of my hypomania the day before and also intense despair in general, especially because I could not understand what was happening to me. At the time, I didn’t see an end to it. Despite all the self-awareness in the world (I have been told numerous times in various hospitalizations I am unusually self-aware), that was not enough to act as a shield against my brain pummeling me with suicidal thoughts. It was not enough to keep my glands from secreting suicidal hormones. The feeling was quite terrifying, and in that moment I was planning what to do.

What would be the most painless way for me to go?

No painless ways exist. I researched it years prior. I think there is one painless way, but it would have required ordering some strange things off Amazon.

So I decided to drink myself to death. I was already familiar with vomiting from drinking too much, so it couldn’t have been much worse than that. That was from three drinks with 40% alcohol. Keep in mind, I don’t drink that often, so I don’t have any resistance built up in me.

Now if I recall, my choice of poison was a vodka that was 50% alcohol. I ended up drinking like five mixed drinks with more than a shot’s worth in each one. I also had a lesser percentage after the five, just to finish up an older bottle. I really thought that would do me in considering my low tolerance. At the very least, I thought I’d throw up. A few months prior, I took like three shots of fireball back to back and was laid out by the toilet, so surely 50% alcohol was going to do something to me.

So I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And all I got was drunk; I also had to go to the bathroom quite often.

Other than that, I didn’t vomit or even feel nauseated.

Turns out mania makes you more tolerant to alcohol, meaning you have to drink more to get drunk. It’s likely due to the increased metabolism, which made me drop twenty pounds without trying over the 6 month time period I was rapid cycling (let’s be honest, I really only wanted to drop 5 lbs.).

Anyway, did I mention I was alone during this whole trying-to-die affair? Well I was, at least until my husband came home and I admitted what I tried to do–either that or I half-lied. I don’t remember. What I do remember is staying in bed and him checking up on me. I also remember thinking about how ambivalent I was that I didn’t succeed. I might have been somewhat disappointed. It’s not like I was any less suicidal and had become filled with a renewed sense of thankfulness for the overabundance of dopamine that kept the alcohol from doing me in.

That’s not how bipolar disorder works. That’s not how any mental illness works.

I hate empty platitudes directed toward the mentally ill who are either suicidal or have attempted suicide before. 

In all my time of being suicidal, it has never helped to know people love me. I know that, but I am not some thing that exists for the enjoyment of others, to have my joyless existence (when I’m ill) feasted upon until I’m a husk who cannot enjoy life because she has no energy from being so exhausted living for other people. To all of the neurotypicals out there, you might think you’re being helpful by insinuating that if we cannot live for ourselves, we should live for others, but you’re not. Living for others is exhausting. Your brain will just not let you see the good in life, which is why medication exists in the first place. When you’re mentally ill, suicidal feelings are also not a choice, a flotation device you choose to grab on to when life simply becomes too much. I didn’t just think, ‘Gee, suicide sounds great right about now to put an end to this bipolar nonsense.’ The feelings hit my head like a wrecking ball the morning I woke up feeling overwhelmingly confused about where my head was.

So am I in favor of suicidal people being able to euthanize themselves then? Absolutely not! When you are suicidal, you are not in your correct frame of mind. None of your thoughts are rational. That’s why it’s important for suicidal people to never be left alone because that’s all you can do is keep a suicidal person safe. Like depressive peaks, suicidal thoughts aren’t forever, even if they feel like they are.

You can be depressed every single day of your life and never experience a single suicidal feeling. It takes a particular toxic chemical mixture to elicit suicidal thoughts, and once that mixture has either settled down or the right chemical has been added or removed, the thoughts do just go away in a snap. Thoughts of self-harm are much the same way. Why do I want to hurt myself? I don’t know. Mental illness in itself is not rational.

It has also never helped to know that I have a future. Yeah, okay, I know that, but I don’t care in the moment because I feel freaking miserable. There is nothing in the world that can outweigh the misery of mental illness. And please spare me the sentiment that I just need to keep getting up every day and keep trying. What do you think I have been doing? While a lot of people don’t like the label, I am high functioning, but it doesn’t make my illness any less severe. In fact, it arguably makes it more severe because I’ll be pushing myself to do things I shouldn’t be doing. I won’t take mental health days, even when I know I should.

Inevitably, all that pushing lands me in the hospital sooner or later.

I simply won’t mentally care for myself because my perfectionist streak makes it somehow seem a sin that I stay in bed all day, only getting up to use the restroom.

Also, keep trying? As we speak, even though I’m currently at baseline, I have been rapid cycling some time  since near the end of last year, probably the middle of fall or something. I thought it was my period, but to my displeasure, my pdoc revealed it wasn’t. Now I’ll be back on the med merry go round again.

Neurotypicals with their empty platitudes will never understand what that’s like, to think you have found your golden ratio, only to be battered with the realization it’s not enough AND it’s also causing health issues. I mean, I started out on a med that made me crazy manic, and then got put on another med that made me hypomanic, but went unnoticed until I crashed into depression three months later, and then got put on a med that gave me awful panic attacks, and finally switched to a new doc who put me on Lamictal, which worked for three years before stopping for good.

That’s the thing. I depend solely on medication to keep me balanced. Bipolar disorder is not one that can go without. There are those who try to manage without using meds, but they still have plenty of episodes. And those who claim they’ve stopped meds and haven’t had problems since? They were either misdiagnosed, are lying, or eventually slip into a depressive or manic episode.

My rapid cycling likely isn’t as severe this go around because I do have Lithium and Depakote racing through me. But here’s the thing: They can’t be increased. Lithium has most likely given me hypothyroidism while I apparently have Depakote toxicity or something. My skin is dry, I have dandruff, my hair looks like Hagrid when unstyled, I’m pretty sure my cycle has either been disturbed or has stopped altogether, I have gained weight that kind of makes me hate my body (for my comfort, I always have to make a point of saying I’m not overweight), and I might have some digestive problems. Who knows?

I am not bitter about the hand I was dealt, despite sounding it. I am a realist who despises inspirational quotes, financial advisors, and life coaches–especially all of the aforementioned who have published trite books. They never consider that life is sometimes so horrifically abysmal and impossible that no amount of “advice” is going to fix the nightmare that is your life because sometimes no matter how hard you try, how hard you fight, life is unkind at the best of times and an absolute Karen at the worst. But keep in mind I said sometimes. So telling me my life is in my hands, solely to do what I please with, is unhelpful.

Mental illness robs you of any control you have over your life. Medication gives it back, but certain mental illnesses will need a rotating cast of it.

Today I still look at my attempt and feel absolutely disconnected from it. I don’t mourn my decision. I don’t revel in the outcome, grateful I didn’t die. I don’t chastise myself for doing something so foolish, promising that I’ll never do it again. Truth be told, I am terrified that any future attempts will be future successes. Or future attempts will land me in the hospital. Not all psychiatric units treat you kindly once you’ve attempted. One patient was put in handcuffs, and not the soft kind, when she was walked from the ER to the unit. She was by no means a criminal.

Bipolar disorder has a high suicide attempt rate, more than 50%. Its successes are also high when compared to other mental illnesses, like clinical depression. If any of you knew Steve Cash of his Talking Kitty Cat channel, he had bipolar disorder and unfortunately succumbed to it. I won’t say he died of suicide because if he didn’t have bipolar disorder from the start, he wouldn’t have had suicidal thoughts. So bipolar disorder killed him. Bipolar disorder might kill me. Apparently my life expectancy is shorter thanks to it, for whatever reasons.

By the way, I do believe life is mostly beautiful in spite of how tumultuous my 20s have been. Here’s to my 30s!


Suicide is Not Freedom

Suicide is Not Freedom

hotlinesI’ve written about suicide plenty of times before; however, there is no such thing as writing too much about suicide, especially because it is a topic that constantly needs attention–along with mental illness.

Robin Williams’ death was absolutely tragic to me. Like me, he suffered with bipolar disorder, which has a 20% suicide rate. He also suffered with substance abuse and was more likely on the depressive spectrum of bipolar disorder. It was like the death of Ned Vizzini all over again. Why was it this way? Robin Williams was one of my favorite actors because of the humor and humanity he brought into all of his acting roles. He may have been an actor–a mere actor, some would say–but clearly his death has hurt thousands of people. For days after his death, my social media was flooded with people upset and shocked. I have never seen such mass sadness over the death of a celebrity before. I didn’t see it with Michael Jackson, and I have certainly never seen it with any other celebrity. I didn’t even see it with Ned Vizzini, even though I was mourning his death.

Suicide, I think, is the most tragic way to die. When people attempt or commit suicide, they’re experiencing intense feelings that they cannot help. If there is no one to intervene, to talk to the person about his/her suicidal feelings, more likely than not that person is going to attempt and/or commit suicide. And this is the thing about suicide people do not understand: Mental illness can be fatal. I’ve seen plenty of articles mention that it is not the suicide that kills you. It is the mental illness itself, and this is something I strongly believe in. Suicidal ideation is often a symptom of a mental illness. I’ve suffered with suicidal ideation. If it weren’t for the strong support group that I have, I most likely would have made an attempt. I’ve thought about attempting plenty of times, too, whenever I came across something so unbearable during a depressive episode that made me think things were never going to get better.

When you’re suicidal, you’re delusional. Imagine being on Ambien. A dangerous side effect from Ambien is that you can do stuff while asleep on this drug. For example, there have been stories of people who have driven while on this drug. I also had one man tell me he made some sandwiches while he was on this drug.

Suicide is like being on Ambien. You have no idea what you’re doing. You’re not thinking through things logically. It is IMPOSSIBLE to think logically while you are suicidal. Feeling suicidal is not a decision or a choice. Committing suicide is not a decision or a choice. You’re basically intoxicated on your own mental illness, and as we all know, people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol can’t exactly make reasonable choices. This is the same thing with suicide.

This is what suicide is not:

  • Cowardly
  • Brave
  • Selfish
  • Romantic
  • Liberation
  • Stupid

I want to touch upon the liberation part. There is a meme going around the internet as a tribute to Robin Williams. It is a picture of Genie from Aladdin. It says, ‘Genie, you’re free.’ While well-meaning, it is a dangerous message to send to people who struggle with mental illness and struggle with suicidal ideation as a symptom of that mental illness. Suicide is not freedom. Suicide is tragic. The idea that suicide is somehow liberation romanticizes suicide AND mental illness, neither of which need this. I am also tired of people saying that Robin Williams is in a better place. HERE ON EARTH needs to be that better place, and that starts with removing the stigma surrounding suicide and mental illness.

Too many people are afraid to talk about their suicidal feelings because many out there think it is stupid and selfish–and this is what they often tell people who are suicidal. This, in fact, makes the suicidal feelings worse because telling suicidal people this does not make them feel any better or get rid of their suicidal feelings. People also need to stop saying that if such and such person had just gotten help the suicide would not have happened.


It took me an entire year to find a medication that would give me long-term stabilization for my bipolar disorder. I was also seeing a therapist. During that year, I cut, I temporarily retreated to alcohol as a way to get rid of my feelings until it soon began to make me feel worse (this is something I have NEVER told people), and I idealized suicide…a lot. Bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness with lifelong medication adjustments. Even when I found that stabilization, I’ve still had to have my medications adjusted. I had to go up a little bit on Seroquel to get me out of a hypomanic episode I was going through for two weeks. I had to start taking a second Klonopin to help with my irritability and anxiety, as my body became immune to the current dosage.

I am not naive enough to believe I will never suffer from some sort of bipolar episode ever again.

People always say it gets better. Well, when you have a lifelong mental illness, it does…then it doesn’t. Chronic mental illness doesn’t get better; it only gets treated. It’s like Hazel having to use Phalanxifor to keep her stage IV thyroid cancer from exploding out of control. Her cancer didn’t go away. It didn’t get better. It’s only being treated to prevent the tumors from growing. Granted Hazel probably has a higher probability of dying much sooner than someone with a mental illness–or maybe not–but the point is that you feel better, but your mental illness is not gone. It’s still with you, waiting to act up again if your current dosage stops working or your medication stops working period. This is when you are most vulnerable to suicidal thoughts is during that period where you have to have your dosage bumped or have to go through the merry-go-round of finding another medication that will give you long-term stability.

When I was hospitalized a second time, I met a woman who had been hospitalized eight times because her medications would stop working. During that time, she either had a severe episode (bipolar type I) that warranted hospitalization, or she attempted suicide. I met another who suffered with severe depression and had attempted suicide multiple times in spite of being on medication. Sometimes people get off their medications once they feel better, as they mistakenly believe their illnesses have been cured. And then sometimes medications make you feel worse before they make you feel better.

There are a myriad of factors surrounding suicide that don’t always involve this person not seeking help.

Mental illness is not something you can get over. Mental illness does not discriminate, no matter your lot in life. Mental illness is a cancer of the mind. Suicide does not discriminate, either. Last, suicide is no one’s fault.

Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention

I’ve been meaning to do this post for several days, but I kept doing it and re-doing it because my mind has been so foggy. Now that my mind is more clear, I want to present some tips to you on suicide prevention and what you should do if you discover someone who has suicidal thoughts WITH a plan in mind. I wish I could write this post on the warning signs of someone who is suicidal, but, contrary to popular belief, a lot of suicidal people do not present warning signs.

A lot of these pointers are from personal experience, because I’ve been in two situations where I have had to take action in order to prevent a suicide.

  1. Talk to the person. Once you know the person is entertaining suicidal thoughts, get to the root at why the person is doing this. Is there something stressful going on in his/her life? Does he/she struggle with an undiagnosed mental illness or a mental illness not being treated with medication? Or is he/she not taking the meds prescribed? These are important to know, because these answers can help you talk the person into a more rational mindset. Remember, those entertaining suicidal thoughts are not in a rational mindset. These answers are also important to know because you have it in you to be that silver lining for the person you are trying to save.
  2. Remain calm. One of the worst things you can do is lose your composure when you’re trying to be there for someone who is suicidal. This person does not need those types of reactions–sobbing, for instance–because he or she is already feeling bad enough and needs more comfort than you do.
  3. Do not judge. This ties in with remaining calm. Don’t judge the person’s feelings. Don’t judge the reasons why he/she is feeling suicidal. Do not tell the person that he or she is being selfish.
  4. Put safeguards in place. Talking to a person is a great way of insuring this person is safe, but what are you supposed to do when you’re no longer talking? At this point, you can’t trust this person isn’t going to follow through with his/her suicidal thoughts. You can be one safe guard by going over to this person’s house and remaining there until you are absolutely certain this person is stable. If you can’t do that, contact family or friends and alert them of the situation so that way they can handle it. When I was talking to a suicidal friend, one safe guard I put in place was putting campus security’s emergency number into my phone. I also contacted the dean of students to alert her of his suicidal thoughts. I also told him to meet me somewhere on an appointed day, as he already told me he wasn’t going to do anything for another week, because he wanted to see if things could be improved during that week. Calling 911, to me, should be a last resort for those cases where you know that person is in immediate danger. I didn’t believe my friend was in any immediate danger. But this is a judgment call, a critical one. You can also take the person to the emergency room, if need be.
  5. Call a crisis hotline or encourage this person to contact one. Sometimes you might have no clue what to say or do because knowing someone is suicidal can be distressing. So you can call a crisis hotline in order to receive advice about what you should do. You might even be able to have the crisis hotline call the person dealing with suicidal thoughts.
  6. What if this person is hours away from you? This is a very difficult case, but I was able to save someone’s life who did live hours from me. It took me four hours to be able to do so. I had no clue where he lived, but I had to keep talking to him. I was also talking to an online crisis chatline, trying to figure out what steps I should take. I already had his number, and I even informed him he should call a crisis chatline, but he wouldn’t. So I input his number into Google and brought up the number for his parole officer. Dead end. The crisis chatline person basically instructed that I needed to somehow pull his address from him. Luckily, he brought up a friend he was having issues with. I offered to call this friend to set things straight. So I did and asked for his address. She gave it to me. I can’t remember why she couldn’t do anything, but I took charge from there. Now that I had his address, I had to figure out how to call 911 from there. Luckily the crisis chatline volunteer took over from there, and the situation was resolved. But what should you do in a case where you can’t get this person’s address? This is a difficult situation, because not even I have an answer. A suicidal person is suicidal for a reason, and you need to get right down to the reasons in order to know what to do from there. Sometimes you can’t do anything but talk.
  7. Don’t dismiss suicidal threats. This isn’t just from people you know, but from people you don’t know, too. If you’re online and find someone who is suicidal, don’t ignore that person. There is little you can do to ensure his/her safety, but sometimes reaching out alone can help that person live another day. You can talk to this person and present this number: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) (the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline). You are not responsible, but if you know there is something you can do, you have a moral obligation to implement actions that can help. If you find out this anonymous person has friends on his/her social network, message them, too.

These are all that I can think of right now, but if you have some pointers, too, leave those in the comments for anyone who hasn’t a clue on what to do when confronting someone who is suicidal.

The Devastation Mental Illness Brings: Good-Bye, Ned Vizzini

The Devastation Mental Illness Brings: Good-Bye, Ned Vizzini

In case all of you haven’t heard the news, YA author, Ned Vizzini, died a few days ago. He committed suicide, but I won’t go into the details because you can simply click the link over his name.

His most notable book is It’s Kind of a Funny Story, which was made into a feature-length film, and a novel that I hold very close to my heart. I do consider Ned Vizzini somewhat of a celebrity, if authors are even allowed to be called such. But a celebrity’s death has never affected me so deeply as his. I was sad when beloved children’s book author Diana Wynne Jones died, because I loved her books, but she was also in the prime of her life, and was able to spend a good bit of her life living her dream as an author of beloved children’s books. She lived what was hopefully a fulfilling life, leaving this incredible magic behind that I hope people of all ages will enjoy.

I saw a Tweet that said ‘So sad about Ned Vizzini. His family is in my prayers.’ My heart immediately jumped to my throat because I knew exactly what happened, because it always seems to happen to artists who suffer with mental illness. Always. I frantically typed his name into Google, and there it was, my fear confirmed: Ned Vizzini died at the age of 32. I immediately burst into tears, the kind of tears where it’s hard to breathe, and I have never, ever experienced such grief from a celebrity’s death before. Ever. I only briefly talked to Ned Vizzini on Twitter before, and a Tweeter and I even made a little hastag for him called Fanzini (which, by the way, is totally spelled wrong). He was even on board with it, as you can see in the picture below.

Screenshot (16)

It wasn’t this brief chat on Twitter that did me in. Not at all.

Before I was hospitalized at Summit Ridge for self-harm and suicidal ideation, I read It’s Kind of a Funny Story in order to have a better grasp of what it was like to be a young, depressed person being admitted into a mental hospital for the first time. I was terrified, as well as severely depressed, and I finished the entire book while waiting for the ambulance that would take me to Summit Ridge, which is a few hours from where I live. There were no beds available in my area.

The story comforted me in ways that no one who has ever been hospitalized with mental illness can ever understand. The fact that it was semi-autobiographical, 85% of the book being based off Ned’s experiences, made it all the more precious to me. It was especially the last paragraph in the book that was so uplifting for me (it’s long, just warning):

“Run. Eat. Drink. Eat more. Don’t throw up. Instead, take a piss. Then take a crap. Wipe your butt. Make a phone call. Open a door. Ride your bike. Ride in a car. Ride in a subway. Talk. Talk to people. Read. Read maps. Make maps. Make art. Talk about your art. Sell your art. Take a test. Get into a school. Celebrate. Have a party. Write a thank-you note to someone. Hug your mom. Kiss your dad. Kiss your little sister. Make out with Noelle. Make out with her more. Touch her. Hold her hand. Take her out somewhere. Meet her friends. Run down a street with her. Take her on a picnic. Eat with her. See a movie with her. See a movie with Aaron. Heck, see a movie with Nia, once you’re cool with her. Get cool with more people. Drink coffee in little coffee-drinking places. Tell people your story. Volunteer. Go back to Six North. Walk in as a volunteer and say hi to everyone who waited on you as a patient. Help people. Help people like Bobby. Get people books and music that they want when they’re in there. Help people like Muqtada. Show them how to draw. Draw more. Try drawing a landscape. Try drawing a person. Try drawing a naked person. Try drawing Noelle naked. Travel. Fly. Swim. Meet. Love. Dance. Win. Smile. Laugh. Hold. Walk. Skip. Okay, it’s gay, whatever, skip. Ski. Sled. Play basketball. Jog. Run. Run. Run. Run home. Run home and enjoy. Enjoy. Take these verbs and enjoy them. They’re yours, Craig. You deserve them because you chose them. You could have left them all behind but you chose to stay here. So now live for real, Craig. Live. Live. Live. Live.”
This last paragraph was a piece of hope for me. Not only had Craig been able to accept his situation and move on from it, but it was also directly from Ned himself–Ned, who suffered from chronic depression; Ned, who wrote that book and others to inspire young people struggling with these things; Ned, who was a mental illness advocate; Ned, who was older than me and survived and seemed to be doing well and seemed like he would always do well and fight through the depressive moments and live and live and live to give hope to people like me. I even once told him on Twitter that his story helped me when I was being admitted into a mental hospital, and he told me that he was glad it did.
It would have been different if Ned had died in a car accident. I would have thought it tragic, I might have even cried a little bit, but, no, he took his own life, after all that hope and light and love he gave through his books alone. Suicide, to me, is the most tragic thing in the world, more tragic than war or famine or any other terrible non-suicide-related thing. Suicide is standing at the edge of the universe and realizing that the universe isn’t going to keep expanding for you anymore the way that it should. Suicide is saying that there is nothing left, that there is no more hope, no more light, no more love. Suicide is also saying that none of that matters. Some individuals may feel suicidal after a break-up, a divorce, or some other earth-shattering thing. But for people like me, suicide is a diagnosis, a reality we struggle with in conjunction with our mental illnesses. Suicide, AKA suicidal ideation, is a symptom of a mental illness. In my case, It’s Bipolar Type I.
I couldn’t believe how hard I was crying. I cried over my grandpa’s death, but not as hard as Ned’s. I cried over my former boss’s death, but not as hard as Ned’s. I cried over my dog’s death, but not as hard as Ned’s. And I knew why I was crying, too: because I know what it feels like to be at the edge of the universe where you can see no more stars.
I’m sensitive to suicide. I cry whenever I hear that someone ended his/her own life. I cry when I hear songs implying suicide. I cried when I wrote a scene in All Shattered Ones about my main character committing suicide (it’s not a spoiler).
Ultimately, I cried for a somewhat selfish reason. This is something I have never, ever admitted to anyone, not even my therapist, but I’m finally coming out with it because I want you all to understand what was behind those tears I was crying when I found out about Ned’s death. Bipolar disorder is forever. It’s not going away. It claims lives every year, in higher numbers than many other mental illnesses because of the devastating highs and lows. I was on Remeron first, and it gave me back who I was. But then it made me severely manic, hospitalizing me again. Then I was put on Trileptal, which did nothing for my depression, but did put a stop to the mania. It took almost half a year before I got put on Abilify, and then I thought the darkness had finally ended, that it was gone for good, so long as I kept taking this little miracle pill. But then it stopped. For good. Upping the dose did nothing, and I was back in that darkness again, suicidal ideation once again taking residence in my mind. Not every person with a mental illness struggles with suicidal feelings. For many, the thought never crosses their minds. But for others like me, who see mental illness as an intolerable thing to live with, it does…and it did every day.
Then I was put on Lamictal. It didn’t work right away. I believe it took about two months for it to finally start working, and now I am back to being stable–but now I can no longer believe that that stability will remain. Oh, certainly I hope it’ll just take a rise in dosage to help, but what’s going to happen to me in those in-between moments, those moments when I am temporarily depressed, when I am seeing the endless chasm of no return, when I see that there is no way to go up?
This is the thing I most fear more than anything else: I fear that ultimately my life will end by my own hand. Do I want it to? No. But sometimes I feel like it’s not a choice. And I have never told anyone this.
It sounds illogical, irrational, maybe even a little silly. After all, how can someone such as me who seems to have it all, who has endured depression before, who has a tight, loving support system, fall prey to such a terrible thing? That’s what everyone thinks…until it’s them. That’s what I thought about Ned Vizzini, that’s what people think about so many artists who took their own lives. One of my favorite singers, Emilie Autumn, attempted to take her own life. Thank goodness she failed. But I’m also afraid that one day she’ll try again…and succeed. I haven’t attempted yet, but I’m scared that one day I will–and one day, that attempt may succeed.
So, ultimately, that’s where the tears stemmed from. If Ned Vizzini, someone who lived his life to help others, to inspire others to fight their own battles, ends his own life, who’s to say that I won’t one day? Of course I don’t know what the future holds, but for someone like me, I HAVE to take it one day at a time. I can no longer look at the future anymore and see a world full of promise and hope that I’m going to be at this stage of life doing this thing and loving this thing and being this thing. I can’t do that, because I have to accept that bipolar disorder limits things. People with chronic mental illnesses have low stress thresholds. Even with proper medication, we can still fall prey to depression if even a little bit of stress is applied. I have to be on anti-anxiety meds for crying out loud, even though I am stable depression-wise. Otherwise, I tend to get panicky when I have a full day.  
And there is nothing I can do about that. So I sometimes irrationally await the day when my dosage of Lamictal stops helping me. And then I wonder ‘what is going to happen to me then? How am I going to feel? Just how severe will it be? Will I be tired of the constant tug-of-war battle and just think it’s better to quit on this life?’ My therapist tells me I’m so brave and strong, but Ned Vizzini seemed like he was, too.
A Review of Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia

A Review of Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia

deathOne awesome thing about being a blogger is receiving free books, especially books that are awesome reads. I received this book in particular from Running Press Kids and managed to read it in a few hours. It was as good as John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and left a tight-hearted feeling in me because it touched me on so many levels that I feltl abused by this paperback.

Frenchie Garcia harbored a secret crush on Andy Cooper, who committed suicide in Frenchie’s senior year of high school. She was the last to see him before he took his own life. Unable to come to grips with his death, she grieves deeply and is often mistaken as morose and moody. To deal with her grief, she seeks comfort at the grave of Emily Dickinson–not the poet, but simply Emily Dickinson, her imaginary friend. She soon decides the only way to come to terms with Andy’s death is to re-trace her steps and relive the night she was with Andy to find out why he chose to be with her and no one else. 

Suicide has always been a subject that immediately taps into my empathy because I know all too well what it feels like to be on the brink of wanting to end one’s own life. Sanchez is incredibly sensitive with the topic and knows how to weave a story that makes readers connect with both Andy and Frenchie. I especially connected with Andy because I kept wondering throughout the entire book what made him decide to end his own life. However, the answer isn’t in the pages because it ultimately doesn’t matter why he chose to. There are hints that he was depressed, but like most depressed people, Andy didn’t show that he was.

Frenchie is a very dark character. She’s generally dour, doesn’t like to get out much, but she’s also grieving and is simply acting as any grieving teen would. But it’s easy to connect with her if one has experienced grief before. It’s painful and saps the best of you, leaving you with the worst of yourself. Frenchie’s grief is very personal because no one but her knows that she is grieving. When her friends try to get Frenchie out of her shell, they often don’t realize they are worsening matters because they don’t see the grief she is experiencing.

The pacing of the book is even and steady, and the book takes place in three parts. The first part is simply the beginning of the book, with Frenchie living her life and not touching too much upon Andy Cooper until the second part, where Frenchie decides to relive her moments with Andy Cooper; instead of Andy, she relives them with a boy named Colin, someone she met at a club who seems to be interested in the dark aspects of her. The third part of the book is where Frenchie begins to accept that Andy is no longer alive.

What I find most appealing about this book is how Sanchez kept it from turning into the classic romantic tragedy–which there is nothing wrong with, but it’s a book about grief. Since Frenchie chose to take Colin along for the ride of trying to relive her moments with Andy, I worried the focus would be pulled away from her and Andy and would be put on her and Colin. But Sanchez does no such thing. She keeps the focus on Frenchie and Andy to really convey her grief and give readers a small glimpse into Andy’s psyche to help them understand why he may have ended his life. There is a subtle hint at the end that Frenchie may want something more with Colin, but Sanchez manages to keep the focus away from that in order to keep the book heavily centered on grief. She is honest and open and does not water the subject down. Fans of John Green will definitely appreciate this book.

Overall, I grant this book a 5/5 because it takes such sensitive topics as grief and suicide and effectively portrays them realistically without dumbing either subject down. It also doesn’t focus on the why of Andy’s suicide so much as it simply focuses on Frenchie’s desire to know why he chose to spend his last night with her. I appreciated this aspect of the book because it doesn’t matter why a person commits suicide. It simply matters that the person did commit suicide and what we as human beings can do to help those suffering in silence who desperately need help.

Contemporary Fantasy and Updates

Contemporary Fantasy and Updates

So things have been going slow on the When Stars Die end because my contract manager is having some major tech issues and pretty much only has her smart phone to rely on. And as we know, smart phones aren’t always smart. But I spoke with Raymond Vogel, founder of AEC, and we’re hoping for a September release and I should be getting back to When Stars Die some time next week after he’s looked through it. (And I also can’t wait to see what my contract manager has done.) It’s coming at a great time too because I should be finished with my contemporary fantasy this week. Then I can let it cook next week while working on When Stars Die, then I’ll probably be able to get back to work on it the week after with line edits.

The mental illness questionnaire I posted on here and Tumblr has yielded some positive results, and I cannot wait to get to line edits. I also have three potential titles for the novel: From Children’s Hour, When Heaven Was Blue, and Good and Ill. More titles might be surfacing as I do the line edits and read more poetry by some of Gene’s favorite authors.

I also had three different people help me with the blurb, which is no longer two sentences. I am horrible with blurbs. If it weren’t for Nazarea Andrews, I wouldn’t even have the blurb for When Stars Die. So here’s the new summary for my contemporary fantasy:

Life is difficult enough for fifteen-year-old Gene White when sudden, disturbing hallucinations of a man in a gold suit threaten to drive him mad. The trauma drives him to suicide, but an equally mysterious puppeteer intervenes and saves him.

The news he brings is hardly reassuring.

The puppeteer offers him protection from the man in the gold suit, who is very real and even more dangerous. Gene is wary but finds himself desperate for any assistance he can get as his tormentor relentlessly attacks his already-battered mind, sending him into a continuously downward spiral of hopelessness.

I want to thank Mariah Wilson, Jake Bonsignore, and Kieran M. for helping me with the blurb.


Mental Illness Questionnaire, Critique, and Line Edits

Mental Illness Questionnaire, Critique, and Line Edits

*Note: Anyone who contributes will be going in the acknowledgements of this book.

I am nearing the end of His Vanity and very much want to rally my Stars on board to help me with the line edits of this thing once I get around to them. I don’t have an official blurb for the novel, but here’s one I threw together: Gene White is a suicidal teen rescued by a puppeteer and doll maker who wants to protect him from a man in a gold suit. But this proves difficult when this man in a gold suit torments Gene’s own mind in an attempt to make him his. Feel free to critique the blurb. It is something I just threw together but would love comments on. I did mention in one post what I wanted to accomplish with this novel, so I’ll list those again.

  1. To get across that mental illness is serious and real and should be treated as any other illness.
  2. Mental illness is chronic. For many, it’s forever, and sometimes medication and therapy aren’t enough, especially if the illnesses are resisting medication.
  3. Illnesses that aren’t being effectively treated are pretty much terminal. Especially those who suffer from suicidal ideation, mental illness can be a cancer of the mind.
  4. Some pain doesn’t get better, or it gets better, but only for a short amount of time. But that doesn’t mean one should just quit fighting.
  5. Let’s be honest: Mental Illness sucks. It really sucks. There is nothing heroic or beautiful about being mentally ill and being able to live IN SPITE of it. You’re simply living with a sucky illness that can make your mind turn on you at any moment. And then you’re left helpless, and even if you do overcome it, you’ve sustained some trauma just from your own mind betraying you.
  6. It doesn’t matter why someone is mentally ill. What matters is that they are ill at all and need help, whatever help can be given.

If there is anything profound you’d like to mention about mental illness, particularly suicide or depression, feel free to add to the above list because I would like to make HIS VANITY a contemporary fantasy with literary elements that says something about the universal human condition of coping with pain and why we fear pain so much. Okay, now that I’ve listed what I’d like to accomplish with the book, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. In list form, again.

  1. Some of Gene’s idols, ironically, include people who have ended their lives by suicide. He doesn’t idolize their suicide but idolizes them for what they did in life. They include Van Gogh, Virginia Woolf, Edgar Allen Poe, and Sylvia Plath. Would you be interested in Gene including some of their quotes at pertinent points in the book, quotes that relate to suicide or mental illness in some form?
  2. Just how much do you want Gene to delve into depression and suicide? In my current draft, he delves into the nitty gritty of it and is as real as a teen can be about it. A note: I don’t want to sugar coat these intense topics.
  3. Gene develops a crush on a girl who looks his age but is in fact a few decades older than him. Obviously no relationship is going to develop between them but Gene holds on to the crush because it feels good to him. Do you want it to stay just a cute little crush, or do you want me to really delve into Gene’s sexuality to show that in spite of his depression, he is still capable of feeling and feeling deeply? He doesn’t want to deny himself any good feeling he can latch on to because he doesn’t experience good feelings that often.
  4. Claude is the puppeteer and doll maker who rescued Gene. He is about tough love–mostly getting Gene to do what he should be doing, like taking care of himself. However, Claude does have some natural fatherly feelings toward Gene. Claude has his own POV chapters. How deep would you like me to delve into these fatherly feelings?
  5. Why do you think life is valuable?
  6. If you had to live the rest of your life in pain (serious pain), what reasons would you have to keep going?
  7. I want the title to be literary in nature. John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars came from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Knowing what you know about Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, and Edgar Allen Poe (especially Poe) and applying the universal human condition of pain, throw some title ideas out there for me.

I would appreciate all answers in the comments below!

Stolentime, a Dark Fantasy Young Adult Novel

Stolentime, a Dark Fantasy Young Adult Novel

This is the title of the novel I will be getting back to next week. I’ve finally started revisions for Stolentime and have chapter one done! I’m hoping to get to chapter two today and the plan is to revise a chapter a day, possibly two, if I can manage. But I’m excited because, as I’ve said thousands of times before, I strongly prefer revisions over drafting any day. So here is a tiny snippet from the beginning of chapter one just to give you guys a taste of the atmosphere for this book:

Some nights I imagine a shadowy man standing by my bed with a knife drawn. This man, a faceless thing, will creep around me as I stare at him. In my mind, I tell him to kill me. Do it. Tear me apart. But he never does. He slips away into the shadows and disappears.

But tonight, my fractured mind makes him real.


There you go, just a little bit of what I’m working on!

So do you guys prefer drafting or revising? And why?


13 Reasons Why Book Giveaway!

13 Reasons Why Book Giveaway!

Let’s get some more in this drawing!

Congratulatoins to lindalitebeing for winning The Looking Glass Wars giveaway! Now this week I will be giving away 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Here is a little blurb on the wonders of this book:

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate and crush – who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and learns the truth about himself-a truth he never wanted to face.

The rules are the same with this book. You must be following me…

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Are There Not-Crazy People in Psychiatric Wards?

Are There Not-Crazy People in Psychiatric Wards?

tumblr_mnhv0nCdxl1qicr8oo1_500Yesterday I was going through my site stats and stumbled across something I find both funny and sad: “has people been admitted to psych wards who weren’t crazy.” I’m flattered such a question brought the user to my blog, but I’m also saddened that psych wards are synonymous with

I’m not sure what crazy is. I mean, I think crazy is doing stupid stuff when you have your wits about you, like getting smashed drunk when you know you have no one to take you home, not getting smashed drunk when you’re so manic you don’t care. But had you seen me in the emergency room the first time I went to a psychiatric unit, you would have never thought there was anything crazy about me.

I was suicidal, but incredibly aware that I was, and I was voluntary.

My second psych stay, I was manic, and so you would have thought I was high on something, but I was still incredibly aware, still able to articulate my feelings to you, and was able to take control of the insane amounts of energy pouring from me. So it’s not like I was bouncing off the walls, harassing the doctors, and letting my lack of inhibitions take control.

You feel like you’re crazy when your mental breakdown culminates in a psychiatric stay, but you’re not. Most of the people you meet are people you’d find on the streets, sitting in coffee shops reading books, taking their kids out shopping, going on vacations–your average, everyday person. The “crazy” people aren’t in psychiatric units. They’re generally in state-run institutions where being drugged up is the only way to keep them docile. But even then some aren’t crazy–just very, very sick.

I didn’t meet a single crazy person in my stay. Just sick people who might have done crazy things to land them in the hospital. But they themselves were not crazy. They’re the most self-aware people I’ve ever met, most compassionate, kind-hearted people who really understand the human condition, so every person who goes to a psych unit generally isn’t crazy.

The majority of people who land in psychiatric units are often depressed. They either attempt suicide or are afraid they’re going to attempt suicide. Sometimes they’re admitted voluntarily, and sometimes involuntarily. Maybe the involuntary ones will put up a fight, but you generally don’t meet dangerous people in psychiatric wards. Dangerous people are generally put elsewhere.

So, to answer the above question, just about every person admitted to a psych ward is not crazy. Just sick.