Surviving the Holidays After a Suicide Attempt
It has been a little less than a year since my suicide attempt. I spent the holidays last year at a residential treatment facility in Chicago for my mood disorder. I had been struggling awhile in and out of the hospital for depression, and eventually I couldn’t handle it any longer and decided life wasn’t for me. However, I believe a power greater than myself had different plans for me, and I am still here.
While this past year might have been the hardest of my life, it has made me strong, and I know I will be given the strength to get through the holidays even though it can be scary.
There will be a few things I will be remembering during the holidays as a person with a mental illness that I wanted to share with anyone who might be feeling a bit anxious:
1. Be honest with those who love and care about you. For me this is hard. I put on a front and sometimes pretend I am OK when in reality I’m not. I am going to do everything I can to be honest with my family, support group, and treatment team. If I’m feeling overwhelmed I will tell someone I need to take a break.
2. Keep all appointments with your treatment team. This means going to all my therapy appointments and to my group once a week. Even if I have had a long day at work and want to skip, I can’t. These are the people who understand and remind me we are all in this together.
3. Reach out. If I start feeling severely depressed or triggered I need to let someone know right away. There is no need for me to try and get through it by myself.
4. Take medications as prescribed. I notice that the longer I am in recovery, the harder it has been for me to want to take my meds. I have experienced a lot of negative side effects, but right now they are also saving my life. I have to remind myself this whenever I think I don’t need them or I will be fine without them.
5. Sleep. For me this means trying to sleep at least eight hours a night. If I get off schedule on my sleep, my mood really suffers. I also have trouble concentrating and doing anything productive.
While these are things I have to be doing on a daily basis for my recovery, I needed to be reminded during the holidays to be doing them.
I have done a lot, and I mean a lot, of therapy over the past few years, and so I know I have a lot of tools to get through the holidays and transitions that will also be happening in my life soon.
So I hope we can all remember that we are never alone and we are brave enough to face the days that lie ahead, one moment at a time.
“And know when you stumble you’re never alone.”
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Thinkstock photo by Logan M Rini