When I was younger, I used to say to people that I’d probably die by forty. I know I’m at high risk of suicide because of my bipolar type 2 diagnosis which I received when I was 18 years old at university. I also told people that I would never have children – I don’t want to pass on my mental health issues to them. Maybe this is still true, although my healthy, medicated mind hopes not. Just to be clear with you all, I’m not suicidal just now and this isn’t a cry for help. Also, some of you may find the below triggering, especially if you lost someone to suicide.
When I was with my wife, I never once felt suicidal. She was my world. I, as part and parcel of my bipolar, had depressive episodes which she never understood – that was until she final admitted she was depressed too. When I had my one and only hypomanic episode during our relationship, our relationship broke down (read more here). She didn’t understand that my hypomania, just as much as depression, was part and parcel of my illness and I didn’t realise her reaction was tied up in hers. Mental illness really wrecks relationships and lives. She and I are the fucking fit poster girls. Once poster girls for gay marriage, now just the faces of tragedy.
Wife threatened suicide when we broke up. I didn’t believe her and I never really thought it would happen, although I did have this niggling feeling several times over the years that she’d jump off the roof. She never did. Instead, the first time she tried to kill herself, she really truly put her mind to it and hung herself in our bedroom. She was a meticulous woman – she never did things by halves. Bitch. See? There’s the anger. I wrote a longer post about the anger here.
It’s common for people to threaten suicide during a break up. The threat is used as a manipulative tool, to scare someone to re-engage in the relationship. It was the fact that this threat is so common that led me to think that wife wouldn’t possibly follow through. She loved me far too much to die. Add to this the fact that it’s ME who is statistically more likely to kill herself – I thought things would be ok. Wife and I reconciled the day before she died. A team again. Happy again, or at least with the potential to be. But I was wrong. I should be the one to die by suicide – not her. But that’s tragically not how it worked out.
I came home to find all the lights switched off, the door double locked… and wife grey. If she was in the slightest bit alive, the last thing she heard was me screaming hysterically. Words cannot describe the hysteria. When I think about it now, my body can’t remember the severity of the volume, the pain, the panic, the adrenalin, the out of body experience. That’s a good thing because the memories of how she looked, realising I couldn’t lift her weight, running to the kitchen in my heels to grab knives to cut her down, screaming aloud to Jesus for a miracle and the gurgling inside her as I hopelessly tried CPR are enough for me to process. I wish I could forget but I know I never will. The mind is a magical part of the body that nobody understands. My memories will fade and become less detailed but because I have been traumatised, my brain chemistry has literally changed. Only time will tell if this, coupled with my bipolar, leads to a similar death for me. I hope not, but I say that with a healthy mind right now. I keep praying.
What few people realise is that my wife was depressed and ticked a shit load of the other boxes for susceptibility to suicide: gay, not accepted by family, abused, narcissistic, diagnosed with a chronic illness with a survival rate worse than most cancers, a high flyer who hated her circumstances. I didn’t realise it either – she lied. Suicidal ideation is a mishmash of feelings. You don’t have to be completely deluded and off your fucking rocker, dangerous psychopath style with demons talking to you to take your own life. You don’t need to have a label of a particularly serious mental illness like schizophrenia or bipolar. Depression can do it. Depression – bog standard treatable depression – can still kill.
Would it have made a difference if we’d all realised wife’s vulnerability? The answer to that doesn’t matter anymore. She’s dead and nothing will bring her back. I’m not going to dwell on the “I wish” and “if only” statements. I focus on the now and the fact that I am living, breathing, writing, thinking, embracing the good in my life again.
So what happens when you combine a lesbian bipolar widow with a wife who kills herself? You get me, Eerily Cheerily – the woman who should have killed herself already but, by some holy miracle, hasn’t. What I write may be eerie and uncomfortable for you at times, but I can be bizarrely optimistic, happy, open to joy, and cheery. That’s where the name came from.