Your Bad Mood Is Not the Same as Being Suicidal
Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741
This isn’t something I talk about much, but sometimes I’m suicidal.
If there’s one rule about feeling suicidal I’ve learned, it’s that we don’t talk about feeling suicidal.
For as long as I can remember, there’s been a part of me that’s certain death, dying or killing myself are the answers to erasing the scary vulnerability I feel out in the world. I cautiously let out just enough of the negativity to stay “OK” in the form of self-harm, eating disorders, substance abuse and codependent relationships.
But I spent years and years blanketed under shame and misunderstanding about what was going on. It’s not an easy thing to explain and it’s not something I wish on anyone or want to burden others with. I’ve witnessed the subtle recoil from a trusted therapist when I softly shared these thoughts, watched the word “liability” cloud her understanding of my situation, quietly walked away as our relationship eventually deteriorated. I’ve heard friends call me “unstable” and “psychotic” after thinking they were safe people with whom to share parts of this story with. Important side note: suicidality and psychosis are not the same things.
You wouldn’t know this if you looked at me. I am a well-adjusted adult with a steady job, a dog to parent and an apartment that stays mostly clean and tidy.
And I’m lucky now because I’m finally starting to understand what’s happening. I’m blessed to have found a trusted therapist who works with me through the feelings and am slowly learning how to live through them without numbing them out.
I don’t fit the idea of a “suicidal person” that the media has given to us. I’m not in the hospital. I’m not heavily medicated. I work hard, I walk my dog, I do yoga and, sometimes, I have to fight back against voices in my brain that think I’d be better off dead. I don’t say these things to scare anyone or to disclose that I’m in crisis and need help. I say them so you know that a suicidal person may be standing in front of you, working next to you or reading your Facebook status updates along with the rest of the world.
And when you write on Facebook “Lol I want to die” about Trump’s latest tweetstorm or “Omg I ate so much pizza I should kill myself,” the part of me that thinks dying would be best seizes on the moment to remind me of its validity. It reminds me of all the times before this moment I’ve sat in my bed wanting to go to work but being afraid to walk past my bathroom because of the pills and razors lurking inside. It pulls me back to having to hold on to something on the train platform to keep my irrational brain from doing something drastic.
Suicidality isn’t just the hole at the end of a dark tunnel. It might be happening right now for people who are close to you.
I know you’re not thinking about this when you post your frustrated status or joke. I don’t think you mean to trigger my or others’ suicidal tendencies. I’m not blaming you for my suicidal thoughts and I’m not saying it’s your fault when I struggle with wanting to die. But I’m asking you for mindfulness around your language – because your words do matter and make an impact.
Using suicidal language casually not only triggers my suicidal thought patterns, it also minimizes the arduous work I’ve done to be honest with others and myself about my own suicidal thoughts. They aren’t a joke, and if I’m telling you about them, I don’t want you to see my thoughts like that. So please don’t make them a joke.
The first rule of having suicidal thoughts is that we don’t talk about them. But I am, and I’m hoping you’ll stop talking about suicide casually. I hope so for myself but also for someone else who might not be triggered in the future.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.
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