Safety Plans and Reality Checks

Every now and then something happens and all I can think is that this can’t be how my life is playing out.

Today is one of those times.  I just met with Sara (therapist).  We discussed how it might not be a bad idea to create a safety plan for me.  In other words, a plan that I can put into action when I don’t feel safe.  Or , more bluntly, a plan I can use when I feel I’m at risk of offing myself.

It’s actually my idea…I brought it up first.  This last time a few weeks ago scared the shit out of me.

I’m contingency plan girl.  When I taught I had lesson plan A, but then also plan B through E in case something changed.  In my job now, where I’m planning events and relying on any number of people to pull it off, I’ve got at least 3 other plans in my head to cover my ass if someone doesn’t show or a meteor hits or something.

I always have back up plans.  It keeps my anxiety in check when faced with potentially stressful situations. If I don’t have a back up plan, I do my best to know what will happen and what choices I will have to make.

So a few weeks ago, after I came out of a Very Dark Place, I freaked out.  What happened?  What do I do if that happens again?  Who do I call?  What happens when I call? I needed answers.

Cue the need for a plan. Sara and I talked about who I would call, what I would want them to do, and at what point it would be necessary for me to go to the hospital. She ran down what would happen if I went to the ER.  She got as far as “You go to check in and you would tell them you have Bipolar Disorder with Psychotic features and…..”

At that point my mind started reeling. This is not my life.  I don’t care how much I talk about it or write about it, hearing someone else say my diagnosis sends chills up my spine. Every Time.  Hearing someone else talk about suicide in the context of my life….it makes the reality of my situation that much harsher.

All of these things.  The bipolar, the psychosis, suicide…those things have always existed in my mind and for the longest time I kept them there.  Even though it has so often felt like my own mind was attacking me, for the last 15 years I did not let it out.  I internalized the mood swings and everything else, perhaps not as well as I thought, but definitely well enough for no one to recognize it for what it was.

I do not look like I have these problems.  I do not act like I have these problems.  My success does not reflect these problems. And yet I have these problems.

By the time I was able to manage my mini freak out and pay attention to what Sara was saying again, she was running through what would happen when they would take me back to evaluate me.

She said that if we can work the medicine out, I may never be in that position. That I might never have to deal with worrying that I would take my own life again. But we don’t know.

This is the reality check no one wants. I don’t want to die, but apparently sometimes my mind thinks otherwise.  This is why, when people make ignorant comments about suicide, I want to scream.This is why, when people start telling me I should get out more and “why don’t you just go have a couple drinks and be spontaneous” I kinda want to punch them.

This is not a choice. This illness is something that I cannot always control. I need to have my structure and routines and back up plans so I can live without having to use my safety net.



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2 Responses to Safety Plans and Reality Checks

  1. Having a safety plan is a really good idea. :-/ I hate, hate, hate that you need it, but if it makes you feel any better, I have one too. Also, I’ve used it. Because sometimes my brain wants to kill me. Don’t ask me why. Oddly, I’m pretty sure you get it.

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