Living (For Now) With My Suicidal Psychosis

Living (for now) with my suicidal psychosis, doing puzzles keeps “the imposter” distracted.

As we separate end pieces, find pieces with certain colors, and search for shapes for specific spots, the imposter isn’t showing me what it wants me to do to end my life. 

I’m coexisting with the imposter, as we figure out how to first keep it at bay, then hopefully get rid of it, or heal it, or whatever it needs to stop its obsession. 

It’s like I have a roommate with me in my head—my head a small apartment for one—with two, strong, organized, control-freak women squeezed in, trying to share the same tiny space.

When I say, “I’m living ‘for now’ with my suicidal psychosis,” that’s what I mean, that my new roommate won’t be with me the rest of my life. I’ll have the whole small apartment in which to roam, spread out, and do what I want again, someday.

I think the “for now” also means I’m trying to be present. This seems the best thing to do, to take one day at a time, as me and my roommate work to get along. To live for now.

A good friend wrote (paraphrased): If taking “one day at a time” becomes too hard, you can take one hour at a time or one minute at a time.

Bill and I are doing a lot of puzzles.

Living (For Now) With My Suicidal Psychosis

Everything is harder as the medication trial and error continues and we work toward the source (the “whys”) of what’s happening to me. 

Since I’ve been home (March 30 after a 2.5-week stay in a psychiatric ward), my brain doesn’t let me work more than an hour or so each day. 

It took over a week to write a difficult email I’ll be sending Monday, its words recycled for much of this and a future post.

I know this too will get better.

We think this hour or so each day is my mind’s way of saying, “Focus on getting better. But here. You can have this little bit of time each day to do a little bit of what you feel you need to do.” 

I still do that little bit of writing first-thing in the morning, during my peak, creative-juice time. Might as well get as much bang’s I can with the little buck.

Then it’s on to making breakfast, eating breakfast, doing a little yardwork, petting the dogs, petting the kitty, doing a little housework, making lunch, eating lunch, taking a nap, petting the dogs, petting the kitty, taking a walk, making dinner, eating dinner, doing some yoga, playing cribbage, petting the dogs, petting the kitty, watching a TV episode, and going to sleep (this is the plan, I don’t always do all of it)…

But, we always have a puzzle going on the table. As much as a visit or talk on the phone, these puzzles’ve been distracting for all of us—me, Bill, and our new roommate.

It might sound like another kind of non-stop life, but it’s not. We don’t just distract and figure out where the pieces go.

I have to stop every few hours—sit or stand and do nothing, stop moving as long as it takes, to see where the imposter is in my mind, how intense its thoughts and images are, all so I can monitor my safety and make reports to my “team,” who, with my two cents, collectively adjusts my meds accordingly.

As soon as I do nothing, my roommate’s right there with the thought, or the plan.

This said, sometimes I can be doing something and my roommate will push through. I’ll realize Bill must put that knife, or scissors away. Or, I’ll choose to eat my breakfast with a spoon rather than the fork. Or, she’ll make me look at the upper hinge on the closest open door.

Living (For Now) With My Suicidal Psychosis

I’ve been splitting my condensed writing time between what I feel are the priorities for now: 

writing/responding to emails (Bill does some of this too); 

writing/responding/processing my thoughts (for now for this blog, and for our Go Fund Me account); 

applying for grants (much of last Sunday’s post was recycled from an emergency grant narrative I wrote in the psychiatric ward—all with a short, blunt, I-can’t-hold-long-sharp-objects pencil, each word typed at home by Bill);

and trying to finish a first-draft of my solo-biennial book’s 9th chapter. 

It feels good when I write. And I’m grateful for this little bit of time my roommate’s giving me each day.

Living (For Now) With My Suicidal Psychosis

Last Sunday’s blog post was the scariest thing I’ve ever written, then shared, including my book about trauma

But it’s been important information to share. 

And, I suspect, from the amount of readership so far (1,500+ page views last week), plus the heart-felt sharing of readers’ personal experiences, responses, comments, and support, this information was important to receive.

Myself, I had no idea suicide could be something you don’t choose or decide to do.

Now I wonder if most people who’ve committed suicide couldn’t stop themselves. Did they have an imposter too?

For now, I hope to continue to write and share about this process on my blog. It’s been infinitely helpful to write this stuff out. 

And, like doing puzzles, writing and sharing distracts my own imposter from its own artist plan. Thank you so much for reading and sharing this.

If you have interest in making a donation: gofundme.com/living-and-medical-expenses-for-amy (there are also several drawings available as well as “Perpetual Yard Sale” items).
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24-hour): 1-800-273-8255

7 Comments

  1. Amy, not sure what to say, I don’t want to say the wrong things, don’t want to make this about me. I find in this world most of us don’t relate very well on the level many of us need. I’ve been to several of your art projects and I’ve admired them. I walked away not saying much, just thinking about what I’ve just seen. Your art appears to take a tremendous amount of planning, work and patience. You have an impressive intelligence. Even through this period you are focused and communicating.

    I used to live in Brunswick Maine for 13 years but my husband took a job back in Chicago. We lived here once before for 21 years. Going to Maine was to live near my two sisters. We lived there for 13 years and I am grateful for that. Facebook is a way to keep in touch with people that I couldn’t otherwise. Now (for 6 years) that we have returned I found it harder to find my world again. I’m older and slower at getting involved. I recently took out studio space for my oil painting.

    Your puzzle photos and your writing, your openness is refreshing. Being so honest and willing to share while you are going through all of this is admirable. I find what many of us need is a very real connection. You are providing that through your writings. Amazing really that you are connecting now this way. I’m hoping that you learn what can help you so it can be managed and you will feel well and secure. I enjoy reading what you write. Sally

  2. I’ve been a fan of your work from afar, you are that cool artist so lucky to live in Maine and be so energetic and talented. This deftly rendered view from the other side brings me up short, but in a good way. I’m a psychiatric nurse practitioner and have also worked in crisis, in the ER, in inpatient settings, etc, and I prescribe these meds and do some therapy and try hard to help people stabilize. But rarely do I get to hear from people in such a descriptive way how they are doing. As an artist you convey a depth of experience in both these recent blogs that is so helpful to others. Thank you for your words and photos and bravery. And best of luck with your recovery. Time, patience, and of course…pets to pet.

  3. Amy! Always refreshing! The moment by moment — I especially like and appreciate the “roommate” idea as it lends itself so well! Everyone can relate to that! Your description of the “simple life” — where eating, sleeping, petting and puzzles have their place — is calming and restorative, even to read about it! there is also something about the puzzles – and your photos — how we piece together our lives — we try to find the missing pieces, anchor the picture with corner ends. Thank you as always with giving us —- what? — an honest accounting of what it takes . . . .

  4. I’ll deliver a puzzle when you are ready for a new one! You are in my thoughts every day. And truly this is helping me process my own grief. I’m amazed you can write about this as it’s happening to you. Tons of love to you and Bill. Say the word when you’re ready for your new puzzle!
    Xxoo Laura

    1. Hi Laura, You are welcome anytime to deliver a puzzle; thank you so much! Just email me in the morning when something works for you to make sure I’m not at an appointment. Yes. That these posts could be helpful to others–as much as they’ve been helpful to me–is a big source of strength to actually click “post.”

  5. Amy, I have had debilitating bouts of anxiety, and recovering from these times has included much simple hands on activities, like your puzzle making. I rediscovered the quiet pleasure of playing solitaire, the handling of the cards so soothing. Organizing and ironing my fabric scraps. Knitting. Copying favorite verses slowly in longhand. And yes, spending good chunks of time sitting in a patch of sunlight petting my cats, or hanging out with my chickens. Something that helped me tremendously after a tough year of complicated grief and anxiety after my brother died in 2012 was to start a gratitude journal. Every night before bed I wrote down 10 things that I was grateful for. This was very healing. I found myself being more and more present in my waking hours, noticing the gifts of each day. Anyhow, thankyou for telling your truth. Mental illness still has much cultural shame attached to it. You do a great service for everyone with your courageous sharing. I hope that every day finds you with more and more of your skin back on! Thinking of you, Martha

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *