When You Live With a Mental Illness, It's OK to Send Out an SOS

Imagine you’re sailing on a ship full speed ahead to your next destination with not a care in the world. All of a sudden, the ship springs a leak. It’s a small leak. So you patch it and continue to sail on. You don’t go much further before that small leak turns into a bunch of random leaks all over the ship. You don’t have enough materials or energy to keep fighting all the small leaks that are now throughout the ship.

Do you let yourself sink when you could just SOS another ship to help patch the holes? Do you give up because you think the other ships are too far away, too busy or don’t care? Do you decide, “I’m going to die anyway,” and light the ship on fire?

No, you don’t do any of these things. You request assistance from any ship available in the vicinity. This is similar to life with a mental illness. You know you are in danger, but you don’t want to bother anyone or think no one cares. You might as well give up. This is the furthest thing from the truth.

The hard thing about a mental illness is it tends to make you think the absolute worst in every situation. It takes a huge amount of strength to fight the negative, dark places within. This past month, I have been drowning in those negative thoughts because of a barrage of unexpected stress and worries. It even got to a point where I almost drowned in the negativity. I let it engulf me, and I was almost past the point of no return.

Again, for the third time in my life, I seriously contemplated the end of my life. For some people with mental illness, suicidal thoughts do not just come at times of stress but flit through the mind at almost any time of the day, sometimes even daily. The way to combat this, in my opinion, is to have purpose or a reason for living. That way, those suicidal thoughts that flutter through our mind do not grasp hold and linger to the point where we feel we need to act.

At times, when those thoughts do hold on and become more concrete than we would like them to be, our support system is crucial. It’s also vital to give off the SOS signal so your support system can help you. If I didn’t have the right amount of people who showed they cared in the past few weeks, then I probably would have given up.

In my mind and body, I was weary. Struggling with a mental illness is extremely difficult. Add in tough situations and unexpected misfortunes all at the same time, and it’s near impossible to survive. Usually, I shut everyone out in situations like these, and I hate asking for help. However, I knew I was in danger of reaching the point of no return.

I had so much to live for, and I am glad I asked for assistance. I would hate to think what would happen if I continued to try to handle everything on my own. I know some of you may be weary or absolutely exhausted from fighting this illness day in and day out. I understand. I’ve been there every day since I was diagnosed.

Don’t be afraid to reach out. There are people who care about you enough to help you through this tough time. Let them be your strength when you feel you can fight no longer. Rest in their strength and love. Then, get back up and continue the fight and continue sailing your ship to your destination. You will make it! Ironically, September is Suicide Prevention Awareness month. Our story is not over. It is just beginning!

Image via Thinkstock.

This post originally appeared on International Bipolar Foundation.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

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