Life After Suicidality: 8 Things I Wish I Knew at My Lowest Point
Dear Younger Self,
Things are so tough right now. I’m sorry you’re struggling so much and that you are so desperate to escape the pain that you want to end your life. Before you do that, let me tell you some things your future self will come to learn:
1. You are so much more than your diagnoses. Don’t let them define you or limit you. You are full of potential, and life will offer you many opportunities to learn, grow and develop a life that feels worth sticking around for. I understand that in the depths of your struggle, your life has become very small and feels meaningless, but you can grow it again and shape it into something meaningful.
2. You are loved beyond measure by many people. Your impact stretches further than you could ever imagine. It may feel like those around you could go on without you and they wouldn’t even miss you. The truth is, your loss would shatter them. You matter a lot more than you think you do, in this moment. So hang on for your loved ones, when you can’t hang on for yourself.
3. There are people who genuinely want to help you. You feel very ambivalent about allowing them to help, and that’s perfectly understandable. Try to give them a chance. You are dealing with some really hard stuff, more than anyone should have to bear on their own. Try seeing how it is to let others carry parts of this heavy stuff for you, and see how that can unburden you and make the intolerable more tolerable.
4. You are not alone in this. Other people have felt the way you do now and made it through in one piece. It is possible, even if it feels impossible in this moment. Don’t feel ashamed for struggling. Suicide may not be something we talk about openly, but in your healing process you will come to find that a whole lot of people have struggled with suicide, be it their own thoughts or actions, or those of a loved one.
5. You might only see one way out. The reality, though, is you don’t need a way out. You need a way through. Even if everything feels out of control, you still have choice and control in your life. You still have options. Even if in this moment those options are as small as deciding what shirt you’ll wear today or when you’ll go to bed tonight, seize those moments of control amidst the bigger, messier things in life that might not be in your control.
6. There is life after pain. Things will shift. Sometimes that shift will seem painfully slow, but stick through it and give yourself a chance to write another chapter in your life, rather than writing the conclusion now. You will have people and experiences that are so worth sticking around for. You will fall in love. You will recover from anorexia. You will face your trauma and find healing from it. You will find meaningful work and carve out a place for yourself in the world where you feel like you belong. You will meet others who deal with similar struggles and find understanding and connection and a way out of the shame you feel now. Your pain now will ultimately help others get through their pain later.
7. Most importantly, know this feeling won’t last. This feeling can’t kill you, but what you do with it can. Ride it out. Take deep breaths. Distract yourself. Focus on getting through just the next five minutes and then the next five minutes after that. Don’t look too far ahead or too far back. Just stay in this present moment, as that is all you have to deal with.
8. I promise you, there’s still hope for you yet, even if you can’t conceive that now. Let other people hold this hope for you until you can hold it yourself.
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