Thoughts vs Ideation


Theodore just couldn't take it anymore.

One of my former students — I’ll call him Collin — married a woman for love who was marrying for money. The results have been predictable. They have a beautiful house, two beautiful cars, two beautiful children (only one of which is Collin’s, but that’s another story) and plenty of maxed out credit cards. Collin has stress related angina, carries nitro tablets, works a minimum of 50 hours a week, and is one missed paycheck away from bankruptcy and divorce. I told him to take the bankruptcy and divorce. He laughed, but I wasn’t kidding.

Did I mention he JUST turned 30?

Anyway, he’s been referred to a psychiatrist for evaluation because of some symptoms he’s been having, probably stress related, but the ER docs wanted to be sure. So his psychiatrist gave him a book of forms to fill out including various surveys and asking him questions about his various symptoms. Now I always liked Collin and he worked hard for me, but in plain simple matter of fact language, he wasn’t the brightest crayon in the box — and that’s the box of 8, not the new monster box of over 100. So he went to a mutual friend’s house to get some help. This proved to be a case of the blind leading the blind, so they ended up calling me. At the time, the sticking question was “have you ever had suicidal thoughts or suicidal ideation?” They didn’t know the difference so I explained it thusly,

Suicidal thoughts means you’ve just found out you aren’t getting a contract next year and you’ve got a wife at home and bills to pay. On the drive home, the thought crosses your mind that if you managed to have an “accident” before your group life insurance lapsed, your wife could pay everything off and live quite comfortably on her salary alone. BUT, by the time you reach your exit, the though has passed and you’re thinking about the grass you need to cut and about dusting off the old resume and getting set for the job hunt. That’s a brief suicidal thought.

Suicidal ideation, however, is when it’s been a year since you lost your job and even though you’ve managed to keep your head about water with unemployment checks and cashing in your state retirement, you have had exactly zero luck in finding a job and the outlook is grim. You have no prospects and hope is dwindling, so you start slipping into a little more serious depression. Then you remember that big oak tree that sits about ten feet from the road in the curve over on State 101 just inside the Woodruff town limits. You are aware that everyone knows you have several friends and acquaintances in Woodruff, including a step-uncle who lives about half a mile from said tree. You are also aware that you are well known for falling asleep at the wheel. Also, you know how to disable the airbags on your vehicle and it’s a widely reported fact that you detest seatbelts. You remember that once you timed out everything and figured you could easily be doing 60 mph when you hit that curve and if you “dozed off” and straightened out said curve, you would smack the tree at 60 mph and, with disabled airbags and no seatbelt, be ejected through your windshield and perish of massive blunt force trauma to your cranium. At that point, even though your primary insurance has lapsed, the obvious “accident” would enable the small life insurance policy your mother still has on you to pay off and that would be just enough for the simple pine casket funeral you always planned and you’d no longer be a drain on family resources.

“So,” Collin asked me, “thoughts means the idea just occurs to your and passes, but ideation means you actually have a solid plan?” I told him that was it exactly! They kept me on the line a little while longer with a few other questions then hung up.

Man, I hope that boy gets some help. He’s a good boy. He’s just in over his head right now and his wife is about as useful as a screen door on a submarine.

So, y’all say a prayer for him, keep your feet clean, and remember who loves you! 🙂

One response »

  1. I’ve been in those spots. Lots. Been down so far it looked like up. The wheel turns and it gets better, mostly. You all have my prayers and wishes for bettter times. Take care feet.

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