Saturday, 16 February 2013

I don't want to kill myself

A couple of weeks before starting Depressed Academics, I started an entirely private blog just for myself about my depression.  These are some posts collated from that.

December 28, 2012: I don't want to kill myself

I thought I should get the good news out of the way in my headline. I don't want to kill myself. But on the other hand, I think to myself "I want to kill myself" several times every day.   Sometimes I say it out loud, though almost always when I'm alone, or think I'm alone at least.

It happens after I have some negative thought.  Most commonly it's something from the past where I think I did something wrong, even if that's with hindsight.   It might happen several times in a row.   I could be happy enough and suddenly a thought comes which makes me negative and makes me think "I want to kill myself."

I know I should be able to get out of this, and I wish I could think of this great SMBC comic.   If I can successfully do that it reminds me I shouldn't let my brain do this to me.

But for now, I'll be reassured that I don't really want to kill myself.

December 28, 2012: I like SMBC!

Since writing my first and last post, I have been trying to get back into the habit of thinking of that comic when I feel something bad in my mind.

So I've been trying to stop myself saying "I want to kill myself" and replace it with "I like SMBC!" or if I don't catch it in time, saying "I like SMBC!" after "... myself".

It's been kind of working today, but I don't know if I can keep it up.

January 4, 2013: Not Been Too Bad

Since my last posts the SMBC thing has been more or less working.

I spent a day or two pretty much saying "I want to kill myself. ... no I love SMBC" or even "I want to .... love SMBC".   Over and over again, many times a day.

Since then it's slowed down, which is great.  That means that I don't tell myself I want to kill myself nearly so much.  When I do I usually catch it and am not replacing it with SMBC, but just that I don't.

And I've been a lot more cheerful.   Probably at about 1 or even sometimes 0.   On a pointer where 0 equals normality, to be described in a later post.


  1. You seem to have found a nice method to associate a less painful emotional response to such memories.

    I've also been suggested to focus on the memory itself for a while, which, seems to me, achieves a similar result by dilution.

  2. Interesting. Intuitively I think I might find that focussing approach negative, because usually they are not memories I want to focus on. But equally, many treatments are highly counterintuitive, so I could be wrong.

    While I didn't say this in the post, many of these negative thoughts are of almost incredible triviality. Very commonly something I said literally 30 years ago which was maybe slightly out of place, and for which I have no evidence that it annoyed anybody! And I find myself saying "I want to kill myself" as a result.

    Another point is: this is clearly a habit which I get into - and fortunately sometimes can get out of. The SMBC thing seems to help get out of it. Obviously the focussing on the memory idea might help with that too.

  3. For me it's similar to what Ian describes here — it's not anything post-traumatic, but much more likely to be biochemical in base; my moods very seldom are rooted in anything concrete, and any attempt to (by looking at correlations) find a causative chain makes the triggers so painfully trivial that the triviality of my hangups in itself causes distress.

  4. Yes it's a bit embarrassing to say to a therapist when they ask what kind of things trigger misery to say "well I might remember that once about 35 years ago I didn't knock on the door of the teacher's room and had to go out and knock before coming in again."

  5. Ian: You're embarrassed about remembering one time you then felt mortified about… my typical thing is “Susanne said ‘I love you’ in a tone I was able to convince myself might mean she might not mean it…” or variations of that… :-)

    we've found “overinterpretation” to be a useful description of when I get into this — I'll start picking up on minute cues, and imbuing them with ridiculous amounts of meaningfulness. And one of my current cognitive hacks is to recognize when I seem to be ascribing subtlety or intrigue to Susanne and to remind myself that she doesn't do subtlety even to begin with, and if she had been inclined, she knows I do this and won't try to communicate subtly with me. Anything that requires mind-reading or subtle body language is fabricated by my brain.

  6. I'm in the same boat with regard to the trivial but painful memories, but what I meant by focusing is a striving towards a calm and understanding recollection of the event and its context.

    I've found it helpful when I managed to get that far, but of course I wouldn't know how correct an approach it is past that.

    Oh, by the way, posts like these helped me over the embarassment:

  7. I've had similar thoughts for many years now. Lately, when I get to the 'when can I just roll over and die' stage I try to sing an old song in my head, called 'Lemon tree'. The words sound like an analogy of the 'want to die' situation to me: 'Lemon tree, very pretty, and the lemon flower is sweet; but the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.' It's also occurred to me that the act of singing (whether aloud or in my head) might also be beneficial. I dunno!


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