I saw on facebook that this week is national suicide awareness week. I’m sure this will mean more exposure for the organization I volunteer for which will be good. It seems like we’re really making it, so that we’re getting more and more new volunteers every month so that we can help more people.
To quickly share my story. I was never suicidal despite my severe depression and anxiety. Suicide never entered my mind probably nbecause I spent years listening to my mom in her drunk rages or whenever the mood took her threaten to kill herself. I don’t think she made any actual conscious attempts, there were times she drank and took meds at the same time and I call those unconscious attempts. But hearing about it so often from the age of 12 really turned me off to the idea. I didn’t want to lose my mom but when she got going it did bother me as I got older particularly when I read more about the problem, how a crisis happens ETC that my dad just ignored it and never took action.
On an ordinary novembger day in 2013 I became extremely suicidal. Very suddenly and very clearly. It was my breakdown, when something snapped in my brain. It was a long time coming. My self-harming and other mind tricks (a lot of talking myself out of my feelings) werenb’t winning against the mountain of buried emotions. But I didn’t actually become suicidal until I had a seizure caused by welbutrin. I think that hit the right chemicals or whatever in just the right way.
Anyway I was peaceful and sure of myself. Though I’ve never cut to bleed (or really bled when cutting/ scratching) I was sure that if I slashed my wrists I’d automatically black out bleed to death and that would be it. Learned later from a tough love paramedic that this wouldn’t have happened or if it had would have meant horrific physical health problems once I was hopefully (to him) brought back to life.
But at the time it seemed perfect. I’d had it with my life I felt like a burden to my family, as a special needs child I thought I’d taken up more of my share of the spotlight and that I should just disappear. I was tired of dealing with the effects of trauma from a family I didn’t ask to be born in. I was just tired of everything and it seemed the most rational thing in the world.
Well glass shattering is louder than you think. People down the hall can hear it if you’re a nurse in an assistive living facility where I was living. And of course that was that.
I never thought I’d really understand what it’s like to want to be dead so badly you just hope you’ll die in your sleep tonight and are very disappointed when you wake up in the morning. And no one understands the pain of just getting through the day. I didn’t until it was me. Me at the hospital in a rage that I never even got the chance to try. When all I’d talk about when I came here was just wanting to be dead and why wouldn’t anyone just leave me alone already. That I c didn’t care one bit either way what was going on around me.
Before this I would say all the right things in online forums and things. Ya know oh I’m sorry you feel this way. Don’t think like that. You have a good life (even though I knew nothing about their life) ETC ETC. After my own ordeal, I know in my heart that is not the approach.
If you’re suicidal the last thing you want to hear is that you shouldn’t think/ feel that way. You’ve gotten to this horrible place likely due to the amount of times people have said that before this moment piled on your head. You’ve never been so sure of anything in your life.
Hearing others who likely have never been there preaching about how suicide is selfish only makes things worse. For many they feel like they’re literally doing the best thing possible for their loved ones, by lettinggg go so they won’t have to deal with whatever issues everyone is envolved in that are so hard.
My best ally in recovery, well two, one was a therapist who was totally ok with me talking about how I was feeling. He said one of my reasons I had myt breakdown, a huge one was that no one ever told me it was ok to feel how I felt including wanting to be dead. This was very shocking that he just said that. It took months and months but eventually he became a safe person I could share anything with.
The other was my new best friend who’d been through similar things and so understood at the deepest level possible what was happening.
I believe that if you’ve been in that place where dying truly feels like the best thing to do, even if you come back from it and are doing good it leaves it’s mark. You’re never the same. In a good way, you have a deeper appreciation for life and the struggle it can be to just get through each day, in a bad way because it’s there in the back of your mind now. When it wasn’t before. At least for me. If I could think those thoughts really feel this way once it’s not some shut off forbidden thing that’s out of the realm of possibility. So I can’t say I’ll never get there again.
All this to say there needs to be a whole lot more understanding, not like intellectually trying to understand. But sitting with someone in silence just letting them talk or not talk just being ok with them however they are because at least when you’re just sitting together they’re not hurting themselves at that moment. And it’s ok for them to be furiously angry. If you call for help on someone’s behalf or physically have to watch a loved one at home they’ll be so mad. But at least they’re alive.
If you are suicidal the last thing you want to do is call a crisis line. Every helpline has different practices on when they’ll call the polece or if in fact they will. But there are so many different ones. And many just allow you to talk. And there are ones where you can text or e-mail. The Samaritans in the UK allows anyone to e-mail them and they answer.
So there are a lot of options. And lastly if you overhear someone talking about killing themselves tell someone.
I hope my story can show others how hard it is when you’re really that sure killing yourself is right. And the kinds of things that helped get me on track again. And how complex the issues really are for everyone involved