When Suicidal Thoughts Turn Into an Actual Plan
I have written before that I struggle with suicidal ideation. But there have been times it has crossed over into more — when the passive thoughts of I could just die, and that would be all right started turning into angry thoughts, and developed into planning.
It usually starts when I’m actively in suicidal ideation, and then something happens, whether it be a fight with someone, bad news, or just going through an experience nobody should have to go through. Bam. I’m there. My thoughts are racing, and I can’t slow them down. My breathing gets shorter. I’m manic, and I’ll laugh it off in the moment, and then I’m depressed and I want to sleep forever, and suddenly I’m in a mixed state. Usually I’m this way for a few weeks; that’s when I start planning. I think about the bridge I live nearby and the pills that would put me to eternal sleep. I write suicide letters, crumple them up, and start again. I’m reckless.
One of three things happen. 1. It passes, and I go back into ideation, and I can manage. Usually this happens when I haven’t caused much damage and can still pick up the pieces. 2. I check myself into the hospital or start a hospital program that’s intensive so I can be OK again. 3. I attempt to kill myself.
I have tried to kill myself five times in my 22 years.
When I decided to kill myself, the thoughts stopped. They all raced to the same finish line, an answer. Death. I felt at peace with this at these times. It was the only answer that had made sense in years. I was OK with my self-inflicted fate.
When I attempted to overdose, here’s what happened.
There was almost a poetic justice to the actions I was about to take. I felt like everyone would stop hurting around me. I felt like I could almost save my name by taking this way out. Maybe people wouldn’t think of me as the person I saw: the monster, the pathetic girl nobody could love. So for a brief moment, I felt OK. But that feeling didn’t stay. Seconds, minutes, hours passed. I wasn’t at peace. I was full of regret. Tears started streaming down my face. All I could think is what have I done? I didn’t think of memories I loved; I thought about the people who loved me. I thought about the pain I would cause them to go through with this. I thought about who would find me and how much more hurt I would cause by them stumbling across my body. I thought about the things I could do differently, the words I would never be able to say. I would fight off sleep as best I could. And then the next morning, I would wake up. I was alive.
Usually, I’d wake up alone in my empty apartment. And there’s just something about those mornings that chill me to my core. I had never felt so alone in my entire life. I remember walking around the next days, silent. The streets didn’t seem real, nothing felt real. I wasn’t able to bring myself to speak or call anyone. I ignored my phone. I cancelled plans. I just kind of hid. I wouldn’t tell anyone what happened. I kept it to myself, my dark little secrets. And it just devastated me. Nothing had changed since the attempt. I didn’t know if I was a failure or lucky to be alive.
It’s now been over three years since my last suicide attempt. In this time, I’ve gained a little clarity. See, I have a family now, a husband and child. I have responsibilities. And yes, now I have something to live for more than ever, I am achieving and reaching my dreams. But that doesn’t exempt me from suicide attempts. Just because my life is going better than it has been before doesn’t meant I don’t get suicidal. It doesn’t mean I won’t get into a bad place again. It doesn’t change the fact I have a mental illness. People always say after a suicide attempt that someone was so loved, and had so much to live for. And while that may be true, it doesn’t change the fact that they were struggling with mental illness, like myself, and are still prone to these thoughts, plans, and actions.
But I’ve also learned something else. I am lucky to be alive; I’ve watched too many mental warriors lose their battle, and my heart goes out to the fallen and their families. I’m lucky to have survived. I am a survivor for this reason. There is a reason I’m still here, or at least that’s what I tell myself. I think the reason is to change the world on how we view mental health and get people the help they need. I want people to know anyone can be hit with tragedy or mental illness. And suicide is something that happens with both. It may not be a good kind of normal to feel this way, but it is normal for a lot of us, as awful as that is.
But it’s preventable. It is treatable. And there are mental health professionals who can help. You aren’t a lost cause. Your life is worth fighting for. You are worth something, no matter what you tell yourself, no matter what awful people say. You are worth living. Please, keep fighting for your lives and for your mental health. I promise, I will be doing the same.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
Image via Thinkstock.