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Suicidal Ideation During Mania from Schizoaffective Disorder

September 19, 2019 Elizabeth Caudy

Trigger warning: This post contains a frank discussion of suicide as it pertains to suicidal ideation during mania.

It was the summer of 2006. I had just completed my master’s degree in photography from Columbia College Chicago. My schizoaffective mania was taking over—yet, I felt very suicidal because of mania from schizoaffective disorder. It all came to a head on a trip to Door County with my parents and my younger brother.

Suicidal Ideation During Mania

You may find it strange that I felt suicidal while in the throes of schizoaffective mania as those are usually thoughts of as periods of hyper euphoria. I don’t tend to have the kind of mania in which I feel incredibly happy. My mania has a lot more to do with anxiety and irritability. I hope this explains why I felt schizoaffective suicidal ideation while manic ("What Is a Manic Episode? What Do Manic Episodes Feel Like?").

Also, I was feeling more suicidal ideation than acute suicidality. Suicidal ideation means I was thinking about suicide a lot but I didn’t have a plan to actually do anything to hurt myself.

It was a very difficult summer for me because I had been in school my whole life—I had gone from high school and college straight through to graduate school—and I didn’t know what I was going to do next. I hadn’t met my husband yet.

So this trip to Door County occurred during a very difficult time for me. It didn’t help that all of us—me, one of my brothers, and our parents—were packed into a hotel suite, even though it had three bedrooms. It also didn’t help that I wasn’t allowed to smoke in my hotel room. (I ended up smoking in the room anyway.)

Schizoaffective Disorder and a Suicide Note During Mania

One night while we were there, I wrote a suicide note around midnight and read it to my family. My mom said to take my medication and to page my psychiatrist. My psychiatrist said I should go to bed; my history suggested I wouldn’t follow through on my note. But I couldn’t go to bed because my sleep cycle was reversed.

Earlier that night, I had called a good friend and told her I was going to die by suicide. She started crying. Then, at around six the following morning, I called other friends telling them the same thing. One of my friends called the front desk of the hotel where we were staying and the desk associate called our room.

As I said, I didn’t have a plan for my suicide. I was feeling very frenetic and had been sending everyone in my contacts list cryptic emails all summer. Even though it was “just” suicidal ideation, and even though my behavior could have been seen as “just” a cry for help, my parents and psychiatrist were right to take it seriously. Ten percent of people with schizoaffective disorder die by suicide. I was enrolled in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) shortly after. That and a medication change calmed me down.

The main point I want to make here is that all threats of suicide, no matter how silly or theatrical they may seem, should be taken seriously. It could save—or at least improve—a life. It certainly has improved mine.

Have you ever experienced suicidal ideation during mania? What was that like for you? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

If you feel that you may hurt yourself or someone else, call 9-1-1 immediately.

For more information on suicide, see our suicide information, resources and support section. For additional mental health help, please see our mental health hotline numbers and referral information section.

APA Reference
Caudy, E. (2019, September 19). Suicidal Ideation During Mania from Schizoaffective Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, October 16 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/creativeschizophrenia/2019/9/suicidal-ideation-during-mania-from-schizoaffective-disorder



Author: Elizabeth Caudy

Elizabeth Caudy was born in 1979 to a writer and a photographer. She has been writing since she was five years old. She has a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA in photography from Columbia College Chicago. She lives outside Chicago with her husband, Tom. Find Elizabeth on Google+ and on her personal blog.

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