I'm Having Suicidal Thoughts Less Often Now
Thursday, June 14 2018 Elizabeth Caudy
I'm having suicidal thoughts less often now. Even though I’ve written more than a couple of articles about feeling suicidal with schizoaffective disorder, lately, I’m happy to say, I have gotten beyond feeling that way. I’m not exactly sure what is making things better—for a long time, it was so pervasive. But I'm having suicidal thoughts less often, and I have some insights that I would like to share with you as to why I haven’t been feeling this painful schizoaffective symptom.
2 Reasons I'm Having Suicidal Thoughts Less Often Now
1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Is Helping with My Schizoaffective Suicidal Ideation
One reason I'm having suicidal thoughts less often is that a little over six months ago, I started seeing a cognitive behavioral therapist. This kind of therapy works on changing the way you think about your life as a strategy for improving your life. It’s really helped my schizoaffective depression—for all sorts of reasons. It’s empowering. The homework my therapist gives me makes me feel that I’m being proactive about treating my schizoaffective depression. Also, I’m working on my treatment seven days a week instead of just going into a session once a week. Since I’m doing the homework exercises myself, I’m also less dependent on my therapist. I don’t mean to dump on traditional talk therapy—it works wonders for some people. But cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) seems better for me.
An example of the kind of homework my therapist gives me is this: I keep a log of daily activities I do that take bravery, no matter how small the actions might seem. For example, I could write about the fact that I took a shower. Keeping these worksheets and going back to them really makes me feel good about myself and most likely is a reason I'm having suicidal thoughts less often.
Again, I’m not saying that CBT would work for everyone. I’m just saying it works for me. You have to go on your own path of seeing what works best for you.
2. I'm Having Suicidal Thoughts Less Often Because I Haven't Changed Medications Like Usual
There’s also a very strong possibility that not making psychiatric medication changes—as often as I used to do in summer—is lessening suicidal thoughts caused by schizoaffective disorder. A lot of this is luck—I simply haven’t needed a medication change. But a lot of it is also being careful. I used to confer with my doctor about changing my medication a lot because of weight gain caused by the antipsychotic that works best for me, for example. Some people do find an antipsychotic that works for them and doesn’t have the side effect of weight gain. I never did. But I’m sticking with what I know works and trying to keep active and healthy even if I am overweight.
The reason I think not changing my medication around as much could be helping with suicidal thoughts is simply that I’m giving my brain a break. At one point in my life I was going through so many medication changes I think my poor brain couldn’t keep up. This caused a lot of schizoaffective anxiety, which, along with depression, is another big cause of suicidal thoughts for me.
Of course, I would undergo a medication change if I really needed it. But the CBT is making real, substantive changes in my schizoaffective depression, anxiety, and suicidality, so I’m going to stay on the cocktail I’m on. Not dealing with schizoaffective suicidal ideation is a huge advance. I don’t want to mess that up.
Note: I wrote this before the recent tragic suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. I know their deaths triggered a lot of people. It is my desire that this article brings people hope. If you are feeling suicidal or feeling like hurting yourself, know that you are not alone and please click here for hotlines and resources. There are people who want to help you. I'm feeling suicidal much less now, and it can happen that way for you, too.