Content Notice: This story contains references to Suicide.
Call me Frank. Some years ago, I tried to take my own life. Fortunately, my suicide attempt was not successful. That year was 2012.
Years of denial, shame, financial pressures, job loss, and impulsivity associated with my bipolar disorder had brought me to this low point.
Silence ruled the day. Kinda like the 1950’s when folks whispered “the ‘C’ word” instead of saying “cancer’ aloud as if somehow the power of the spoken word would spread the disease. Bipolar Disorder runs in my family. From a young age, I observed it and later began experiencing symptoms that I knew on some level were depression and mania but fought to hide them. I watched my grandmother who had what was then referred to as Manic-Depression, and my father who had it to a lesser extent. I spent my adolescence worrying that a similar fate was in store for me.
Denial became my friend. I only recently heard the term “smiling depression”—that was me! I was living my life in the shadows for fear of the negative consequences that might await me if others knew my terrible secret. I was like that person in the drug commercial hiding their face behind a paper plate with a smiley face drawn on it. The happiness of others was more important than my own pain.
The shame and stigma kept me suffering in silence. Suicidal ideation was a regular part of my life from my 20’s through my 40’s. My predilection for finding myself entangled in toxic relationships only served to destabilize my moods which often sent me into spiraling depressions or hypomanic episodes. This ongoing cycle of unpredictable moods, dysfunctional family & romantic relationships, along with the suicidal thoughts led to not one, not two, but three separate attempts to escape my emotional pain by suicide.