Once someone has been seriously suicidal (or been close to someone who has suicided), ending life becomes more of a real option. You’ve already faced the prospect of death and decided several times that your misery in life outweighed whatever fear you had of death. The fear of the unknown of death is an inhibitor to suicide for most people. It’s not there in the same way for you. (The same thing happens for some people when they survive a life-threatening illness or accident. Death just isn’t so scary any more.) There is a kind of peace that comes with that but it also puts you at more risk.
With all you’ve been through, it’s not too surprising that you’ve developed a sleep disorder but it certainly isn’t helping things. Sleep deprivation makes people feel fragile and vulnerable. My guess is that it takes all the strength and concentration you’ve got to hold it together all day at work. Of course you fall apart on your way home. It also makes sense to me that you can’t read for pleasure. By the time you’ve taken care of your patients and your kids, you’ve about used up your ability to focus for the day.
That you even entertain going back to a husband who demonstrates signs of being a habitual abuser worries me greatly. Although this is common among wives who’ve been on the emotional roller coaster of an abusive marriage, it does suggests that you still have some important work to do in therapy.
You said you have been hospitalized. You didn’t mention whether you have had follow-up care. Continuing in therapy can help you work through your feelings of anxiety, guilt, and pain and will help you regain your self-esteem and confidence. You would probably also benefit from attending a support group for abused women or using one of the chatroom support communities.
Please give yourself lots of credit. You’ve managed a job, kids, and your own inner turmoil for a long time. You’ve done it in spite of little sleep and lots of worries. You have a core of strength that maybe you didn’t know you have but you’re getting worn out. Regular, professional help will give you the added support you need until you replenish yourself. Write me in a month or two and let me know how it’s going.
I wish you well.
This article has been updated from the original version, which was originally published here on July 2, 2008.