What I'm Asking From You As Someone Who's Experienced Suicidal Thoughts
I’ve never talked about suicide before. It’s not easy to come to terms with and it’s not easy to open up about — especially since there’s a huge stigma surrounding not only death but mental health in general. No one wants to talk about it, and I believe this is part of the reason so many lives are lost to suicide each year.
While I’ve never attempted suicide and have always had a healthy appreciation of life, when I started experiencing depression (which had started a few years ago) all that changed. Suddenly, life was no longer enjoyable. It was hard to even get out of bed and get dressed. For a long time I was often angry, and most of the time the anger was irrational and unfathomable. When confronted with the knowledge I might be suffering from depression, I tried to laugh it off and deny it.
Last year, the depression finally caught up with me. Between two jobs where the service I provide is often thankless, I was at the end of my patience and couldn’t see what was so great about living. I felt like a rubber band that had been stretched so often and so much I’d lost my elasticity. I started developing what psychologists refer to as “passive suicidal thoughts,” where instead of actively seeking out death or planning suicide attempts, I wanted to die or just disappear. After all, I believed, no one would care if I did.
Near the end of 2014, as I went to work daily, I often choked back tears, working hard to pass as “normal.” In fact, no one noticed anything was wrong except my husband. When he was finally able to convince me to go seek professional help, I was reluctant. I didn’t see any benefit to talking to a complete stranger. But my husband is persistent, and he convinced me to go. I went just so that he could stop asking me if I’d made an appointment yet. But when I was diagnosed with mild anxiety and moderate depression, I was relieved. Now I could say for certain I wasn’t imagining my problems.
Since starting therapy in April, my suicidal thoughts have decreased drastically. It’s been 17 sessions and I can say for certain I’ve seen improvement in my mental well-being. Though I still struggle with suicidal thoughts, I’m thankful I’m taking the steps toward recovery.
We, people who experience depression, can be good at hiding our woes because we don’t want to burden others. But I don’t want your pity. Instead, I want this: I want you to reach out to someone you think might be suffering in silence. I want you to educate yourself to the signs of suicide. I want you to say, “Hey, are you OK? Can we talk about it?”
As for me, I’ll keep going. I can’t promise I won’t think about killing myself, but I can promise I’ll do whatever it takes to keep going. And don’t worry about me. My therapist is keeping an eye on my mental health and has assured me he’s there for me. But not everyone has that luxury. If you can, go out there and be that person for someone.
If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.