Pain is a very powerful motivator, physical and mental. When it's extremely bad, you'll do anything to stop it. I have suffered mental anguish, but I've never been actively suicidal. So when I try and imagine what that might be like, I think of the time I was in the worst pain ever in my life, when I was in labour.
With my daughter, because she was induced, the pain was sudden and unendurable, so I had strong drugs to stop the pain. With my son, it was slow and bearable, at least at first. As the waves of pain became more intense, I started to get agitated, even though I'd prepared for it. The pain got to a peak and I thought it was never going to end. It did, but because each one got stronger and the pain increased, I was more terrified as each one came.
I try and imagine what it would be like to experience that rolling peak as a mental pain, as a negative voice that drip-fed fear and loathing, building and falling, infecting so much of my life until I'd do anything to shut it up. Or imagine if it was a sudden unbearable pain as with my daughter, that shrieked through the brain and overwhelmed me.
How long would I have been able to survive if I didn't get the right drugs, medical help or ongoing support? If I'd been alone, the feeling would have been magnified. As it was, I had two midwives, my friend and a husband to help me through it, with doctors on hand if things went pear-shaped.
Being alone in your head with dark, depressive thoughts whizzing round is such a hideous place to be, so I think that the more we find common language to coax these into the light, could help on a personal and societal level.
For carers, it can frankly be terrifying when someone you know and love says they feel suicidal or does something extreme like hold a knife to their throat, because that's the only way they know to express their pain. However, looking at it objectively, it is actually a positive thing that the person is confiding in you. The more we can talk about it, the less frightening it is and I think the easier it is to find strategies to deal with it – or am I being completely naïve?
It would be great to get your feedback on this. I don't expect or want people to feel they have to share stuff here; it's an open forum and the last thing I want to do is make Moodscopers feel vulnerable. Perhaps this blog can be the start of a conversation with those whom you feel safe: family, friend, carer or medic, although of course if you want to comment here, that's fine too.
Lastly, remember that awesome things can come out of extreme pain. In labour, after my friend told me to shut up and breathe, I learnt how to surf the waves of pain and eventually my son was born. Meanwhile, in terms of mental pain, look at how Jon Cousins gave birth to Moodscope. Isn't this seven-year old doing well?
A View From the Far Side