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8 Quotes I Revisit When I'm Having Suicidal Thoughts

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Let’s talk about something more deadly than sharks, snakes, cars and lightning. Let’s talk about something that is seen by some as cowardly, selfish, a sin or simply incomprehensible.

Surviving and fighting on is brave, but I would never call suicide selfish or cowardly. Rather, the intrusive thoughts of suicide can create a cloudy barrier that causes the person affected by it to forget a lot of external things. It’s easy to convince yourself you are a burden when you are not. It is easy to think the world will be better off without you when it will miss you dearly. It is easy to think that this will be the only feeling you will ever feel for the rest of your existence, when that is not true.

I am currently dealing with suicidal thoughts. They are vicious bastards. At the moment my depression is too bad to see the light.

I have to remind myself that the last time I had extremely intrusive suicidal thoughts, a few years ago, and held on, I have had so many wonderful experiences, made some amazing friends and made some treasured memories. And on a more simple level, I have also enjoyed yummy food, funny TV shows, cool movies, nice moments and good hugs. Of course, I since then I have had some pretty rubbish and extremely lonely and heartbreaking times too (I swear, I am not being melodramatic!), but it was worth holding on for the good times.

To get myself grounded, I revisit some of my favorite quotes about suicide:

(Out of context, that was a morbid sentence, but bear with me. These are the ones that resonate with me.)

1. “People often turn to suicide because they are seeking relief from pain. Remember that relief is a feeling. And you have to be alive to feel it. You will not feel the relief you so desperately seek if you are dead.” — resource from Aston University

2. “You can’t predict when new options might appear. It’s impossible to know what might happen if you just wait two more days. If you act on your thoughts now you’ll never find out what could have been.” — How to Cope With Suicidal Thoughts, WikiHow

3. “You’re cared for. It may feel out of reach now but you will be OK. The world can’t stand to lose you. You matter and you’re here for a reason. You can make it through whatever it is you’re in.” — Reddit user AlexeiVostrikov 

4. “You are loved, more than you have allowed yourself to believe. You are disappointed in yourself far more than you have disappointed anyone else. You have lost sight of what makes you magical and interesting in other people’s eyes. Work really hard to believe this, faking it until you make it. You are never alone, never, never, never. There will be good people who will help you do this.” — Reddit user Odd_Bodkin

5. “Depression is smaller than you. Always, it is smaller than you, even when it feels vast. It operates within you, you do not operate within it. It may be a dark cloud passing across the sky but – if that is the metaphor – you are the sky. You were there before it. And the cloud can’t exist without the sky, but the sky can exist without the cloud.” — Matt Haig, author of “Reasons to Stay Live.”

6. “You will one day experience joy that matches this pain. You will cry euphoric tears at the Beach Boys, you will stare down at a baby’s face as she lies asleep in your lap, you will make great friends, you will eat delicious foods you haven’t tried yet, you will be able to look at a view from a high place and not assess the likelihood of dying from falling. There are books you haven’t read yet that will enrich you, films you will watch while eating extra-large buckets of popcorn, and you will dance and laugh and have sex and go for runs by the river and have late-night conversations and laugh until it hurts. Life is waiting for you. You might be stuck here for a while, but the world isn’t going anywhere. Hang on in there if you can. Life is always worth it.” — Matt Haig, author of “Reasons to Stay Live.”

7. “I think life always provides reasons to not die, if we listen hard enough. Those reasons can stem from the past — the people who raised us, maybe, or friends or lovers — or from the future — the possibilities we would be switching off.” — Matt Haig, author of “Reasons to Stay Live.”

8. “Feeling suicidal is the worst you are ever going to feel. This is it. This is rock bottom. Things cannot possibly get any worse than feeling alone, depressed and suicidal. The only way things will go from here is up.” — my friend, Meg L.

Please don’t just become a memory. Be a comment on Reddit that makes me laugh. Be a video that goes viral that I can thumbs up. Be a stock photo with blinding white teeth for advertisements. Be a new person to meet at a party. Be someone’s best friend when online gaming. Be the baker of an average birthday cake. Be a tired customer at a supermarket.

You can be grumpy and tired and sad and stinky and in pain, as long as you are alive.

Call that helpline. Post on that forum. Tell that loved one. Get professional help. Stay strong, even when you feel weak. Stay safe, even when you want to hurt yourself. Hold on to what could be. You are unique and you are literally irreplaceable.

Follow this journey on Encyclopedia of Recovery.

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, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Stockbyte

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13 reasons why

Why I Wish I Didn't Watch '13 Reasons Why'

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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.

I recently finished watching “13 Reasons Why” on Netflix, and part of me wishes I didn’t watch it at all. Not because it’s a bad show, but because it hit just a little too close to home. The show provides a glimpse into the life and ultimate suicide of Hannah Baker, a fictional American teenager struggling to navigate high school amidst the rampant sexism and bullying that unfortunately shapes much of her experience. As the show unfolds, the audience, alongside Hannah’s friends, family and peers, learn the reasons Hannah ultimately decided to end her life. I finished “13 Reasons Why” in record time, and although I found the show to be beautifully made and undeniably impactful, it became clear I was not the show’s intended audience.

The message of “13 Reasons Why” is not one hope, optimism or reassurance, but of tragedy, grief and the urgent need for action. I think there’s plenty to be learned from the fictional but poignant story of Hannah Baker — especially for men and anyone unacquainted with the emotional and mental damage inflicted by casual misogyny and rape culture. However, for me, as a woman who has long battled depression and suicidal ideation, the show’s well-intentioned message about mental illness, bullying and sexism was not shocking but rather reaffirming of the dangerous ideals that have often left me feeling hopeless and alone. When I finished the show, I found myself drowning once again in toxic, dangerous thoughts.

“13 Reasons Why” is a beautiful and raw representation of what is unfortunately familiar for far too many young women. The exceptionally realistic portrayals of sexual assault and rape, the resulting ostracization of the survivor rather than the perpetrator and the lack of justice are uncomfortable, but notably accurate representations of reality for some survivors. I can think of many men who could learn from the discomfort and pain presented in “13 Reasons Why.” However, the series is riddled with triggering content, and for someone already struggling with depression, it can be a painful reminder of the heartache and loss.

Though “13 Reasons Why” centers specifically on the experience of teenagers, its content is likely familiar to women who have lived through similar trauma — and to anyone who struggles with depression, social anxiety or another mental disorder. It’s been years since I graduated high school, but I clearly remember the sexual harassment, the hurtful comments and rumors and the boys who grabbed me and laughed it off while I was punished for reacting. Truthfully, a lot of these things don’t disappear after high school. Oftentimes the whispers just migrate from the cafeteria to the bar and from hallways to social media. It’s much easier to avoid petty drama and “bullies” as an adult, but misogyny doesn’t go away, and when you live with mental illness, regardless of age, these comments and behaviors can cause significant damage.

Hannah’s mental health is never seriously discussed in “13 Reasons Why” – which is particularly shocking for a show revolving around teen suicide – but there are hints at her depression as perceived by her peers and family, including her abrupt haircut, social isolation and loss of interest in old hobbies and activities. For much of my life, I’ve lived with major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and my recent diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD) helped me make sense of the long held fear of abandonment that continues to haunt my relationships. Hannah’s sensitivity to perceived abandonment, rejection and isolation – eventually leading her to take her own life – felt incredibly relevant to my own life. I may not be a teenager anymore, but living with BPD causes me to struggle with overwhelming feelings of emptiness and shame, emotional instability, suicidal ideation and unstable relationships — all themes throughout “13 Reasons Why,” causing me to feel triggered by nearly the entire series.

For someone struggling with symptoms of BPD, the show can come across as proof that perhaps relationships are not worth the risk after all. Like many shows, “13 Reasons Why” is problematic in a number of ways. I feel certain there are plenty of women, survivors and therapists who oppose the show’s approach to suicide awareness and rape culture. It contains, for instance, a troubling lack of resources for depressed or suicidal viewers. Hannah may have believed hope was lost, but the show failed to emphasize even if it doesn’t seem like it, there are always options and there is always hope.

Additionally, I found there to be an alarming lack of trigger warnings considering the content. For these reasons, “13 Reasons Why” could cause more harm than good amongst the very audience for whom it intends to advocate. “13 Reasons Why” isn’t particularly hopeful or optimistic about the future, and it’s clear the series was not made for someone like me.

However, I don’t believe that was the point. “13 Reasons Why” highlights the impacts of social pressures on girls’ self-esteem and mental health, and it forces the audience to come face-to-face with what is, for many people, reality. In that way, this show is incredibly important. It provides commentary on issues often swept under the rug and leaves the audience feeling bad, perhaps even driven to make a change. In my opinion, quality art is not necessarily optimistic or comfortable – and “13 Reasons Why” is certainly uncomfortable. Creating a series that adequately and realistically addresses mental health, suicide and sexual assault is undeniably tricky territory.

As a woman and a suicide attempt survivor who still struggles with mental health, I didn’t find “13 Reasons Why” to be unrealistic. Rather, I found it to be such a dark but accurate portrayal of familiar experiences that it triggered emotional responses I didn’t expect. The overall message surrounding the need for change surrounding mental health, rape culture and everyday misogyny is powerful but dismal. Mr. Porter was correct when he said you can’t love someone back to life, but suicide and mental illness are much more complicated than the show lets on. Everybody can, however, play their part to cultivate empathy and fight back against the stigma of mental illness so that everyone – regardless of age, gender or background – is able to receive the treatment they need.

Watching “13 Reasons Why” can be painful, but it’s precisely the emotional intensity and realistic portrayal of traumatic events that makes the show worth the watch for those who aren’t so close to the subject matter. It’s certainly no easy feat to construct a series that comprehensively addresses the intersection of mental health, sexism and youth culture, and that simultaneously entertains and educates its audience. “13 Reasons Why” succeeds in telling a realistic story in a way that encourages the audience to play their part and challenge the beliefs, institutions and norms by learning the signs of depression, recognizing the impact of social pressures and holding oneself accountable for mistakes regardless of intention. At the very least, the series serves as a reminder that it’s impossible to know what another person is going through and that there is always room for more compassion.

Despite its powerful message, “13 Reasons Why” isn’t for everyone. The show is, in the end, a reminder that suicide is preventable — but it requires attention and treatment. In order to make a change to the way we as a society approach issues such as mental health and sexual assault, ongoing dialogue and willingness to take action are essential. If you’re struggling with depression or feelings of worthlessness or if you’re easily triggered by themes of sexual assault or suicide, reconsider watching “13 Reasons Why” and remember there is always hope — even when everything and everyone seems to be saying otherwise.

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.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Photo via “13 Reasons Why” Facebook page.

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Selena Gomez and '13 Reasons Why' Cast Members Get Semicolon Tattoos

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Selena Gomez and two cast members of “13 Reasons Why,” Tommy Dorfman and Alisha Boe, got matching tattoos this weekend, paying homage to the mental health community. Gomez, an executive producer of the new hit Netflix series, got a semicolon tattoo on her wrist, along with Dorfman and Boe.

The trio posted their respective tattoos on Sunday, with Gomez thanking fans for watching and talking about “the message of our show.”

Sharing his tattoo on Instagram, Dorfman shared the mission of Project Semicolon, which the groups’ tattoos are modeled after, as well as his own personal experience living with mental illness:

The ; symbol stands for an end of one thought and a beginning of another. Instead of a period, authors use the semicolon to continue a sentence. For us, it means a beginning of another chapter in life, in lieu of ending your life. I struggled with addiction and depression issues through high school and early college. I reached out and asked for help. At the time, I thought my life was over, I thought I’d never live past the age of 21. Today I’m grateful to be alive, in this new chapter of life in recovery, standing with my colleagues and friends, making art that helps other people.

Today was a magical day. Another day to be grateful to be alive. Alisha, Selena, and I went together to get ; tattoos. The ; symbol stands for an end of one thought and a beginning of another. Instead of a period, authors use the semicolon to continue a sentence. For us, it means a beginning of another chapter in life, in lieu of ending your life. I struggled with addiction and depression issues through high school and early college. I reached out and asked for help. At the time, I thought my life was over, I thought I’d never live past the age of 21. Today I’m grateful to be alive, in this new chapter of life in recovery, standing with my colleagues and friends, making art that helps other people. If you’re struggling, if you feel suicidal, I urge you to click the link in my bio. Ask for help. Start a new chapter with the support of others. ????⛅️????☀️and RIP Amy Bleul, who started the semicolon movement.

A post shared by TOMMY DORFMAN (@tommy.dorfman) on

Boe and Dorfman’s Instagram photos also paid tribute to Amy Bleuel, the founder of Project Semicolon, who died by suicide last month.

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, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

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What I Learned From Spending Christmas on a Psychiatric Unit

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Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

So for the last six weeks of 2016 — including Christmas day — I was an inpatient in a secure psychiatric unit. Not where I’d planned to be. In November, I was initially sectioned and discharged two weeks later, but was readmitted the same day as an informal patient after a suicide attempt.

Now this is the only experience I have had of being detained on an acute mental health ward, so my experience is very limited. I would describe the ward as a mixed sex, clinical version of a low security prison. Two locked doors separated me from freedom and in the first weeks admission, on both occasions, I was granted no leave.

You may think, as I did, that seeing as they used legal powers to remove my liberty, they would use my time on the unit to explore all manner of treatment options to get me better, or at least in a place where I was not acutely suicidal. But no, I’m afraid to say, treatment only meant medication in this facility.

The reality and dare I say it, my hopes, from being on a psychiatric unit were reduced to knowing I was in a place that had been specifically designed to be “suicide proof.” Curtain rails and hooks were magnetic so with any pressure they would fall. No wires or cables were allowed, so to charge my phone I had to be escorted into a locked room where they were kept. Any sharp objects were kept in personal lockers. Anything that could be made into a ligature was confiscated. And so on…

To have a bath or a shower you would have to request the room be unlocked and nurses would check in periodically. There were three levels of observation. Level one: Once per hour, Level two: Once every 15 minutes, Level three: one to one supervision. This was 24 hours and was particularly annoying when I was trying to sleep and my room light would get switched on every 15 minutes just to check I was there.

Did it help?

Well I’d say for the first two weeks I was completely “offline,” not thinking straight and putting a lot of thought and planning into killing myself. So how did I get discharged, you ask? Well it was very easy for me to passively surrender myself to the system, nodding along with professionals and not making any unprompted disclosures of suicidality. Of course, when I was readmitted the same day, professionals took somewhat of a different stance and no longer took me at face value. After my attempt however, I came back “online,” was thinking logically and although was not pleased, I no longer wanted to end my life. I stayed on the ward for another four weeks, continuing to be void of suicidal thoughts and then was safely discharged home.

What difference did it make?

Being sectioned did stop me from trying to take my life at an earlier date, though due to a negligent discharge, all it did was simply delay it. Christmas is quite a triggering period of time for me, so my second admission kept me in a safe environment when I could have possibly dipped. This gave my friends a little more peace of mind over the festive period.

What have I learned about myself?

I learned a lot about my triggers, not because of any treatment, just because of the situations that arose on the ward. The biggest being control. Nothing better than a secure unit to bring out your issues around being controlled. Sometimes it was the behavior of other patients that were triggering. It all worked towards a greater understanding of myself. I learned I am so blessed to have so many amazing and wonderful friends who travelled across the country, sent support packages, wrote letters, rang for updates and made sure I heard the message “you are so loved.” I do believe I would not have gotten through the ordeal without them. Last but not least, I learned God is not done with me yet, and this is what I need to remember.

This post originally appeared on Trevor’s blog.

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.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via monkeybusinessimages.

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7 Things I Wish ER Doctors Knew About My Suicide Attempt

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Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

Similar to many people who have been to the emergency room for a suicide attempt, there are many things in my experience that could have gone better. Whether that is linked to the way I was treated by medical staff, their reactions to mental illness or my treatment and care in itself, there are many things I wish medical professionals in the ER knew about us and our conditions.

Here are some examples of what I would personally want them to know:

1) I did not attempt to die for attention. This was not a cry for help, and nor was it an act of attention seeking. Your attention is the last thing I want in this difficult and painful situation.

2) I do not want your pity, so please don’t give me any. I am not the sorry result of the mistakes society has made; please don’t treat me like so.

3) My mental illness is just like any other illness. However, it is not contagious, nor will it kill you to simply be kind.

4) I am not a feral dog. So please don’t treat me like I am “crazy” or like I am a lost cause.

5) Some words or stimuli may affect me more than your average, “normal” patient. Please take this into consideration and be sensitive to this.

6) Most mentally ill people are not dangerous or unpredictable, contrarily to what people often think. We are just in an incredible amount of mental or emotional pain.

7) I am someone. I am human. Please treat me as such — a minimum amount of respect towards me is always appreciated, even if you do not understand me or my illness.

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, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via KaraGrubis.

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How My Father's Suicide Forced Me to Acknowledge My Own Mental Illness

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I was a fatherless daughter.

When I was 2, my father died. It was not an “accident.” It was not old age. He died by suicide.

Every year, Father’s Day cruelly mocked me. My relationships with men were cautionary tales. I was in a spiral.

Self-harm, a teenage eating disorder, attempted suicide and depression were gaslighted to a degree in which I was convinced I was a moody teenager looking for attention. Barely surpassing legal drinking age, my life was in such disarray I gut-wrenchingly decided to place a son for adoption to give him his best shot.

I still was not convinced my father’s suicide had any effect on me.

Blur of my early 20s passed and I got married, had another son and lived that picket fence life I saw on TGIF growing up. Then, one day, I crashed. I had a breakdown. Forced to admit I needed help, I sought a psychiatrist. My doctor asked me questions off of a clipboard, made a few check marks and asked me what brought me in. He soon zeroed in on my father. My father coped with an unnamed mental illness with alcohol until one day he needed the pain to end. There, 26 years after the fact, I broke down in a stranger’s office, angry and abandoned. My doctor diagnosed me with rapid cycling bipolar disorder with generalized anxiety disorder. My quirks, my moodiness and my struggles had a name. In that moment, I knew I had to survive for my little boy. I struggle every. single. day. But, I take my meds and I journal and blog and do whatever the hell I need to in order to be my best self in that day.

I cannot say I never got anything from my father. I find myself talking to him, asking if he’s proud of me.

My heart breaks for the little girl who cried herself to sleep, convinced that she had somehow made her daddy leave her. Logic and grief cannot exist together. My life has since changed. I came out to my family, my ex-husband is a wonderful friend and we co-parent beautifully. I forgive my father. I now understand that though we both have mental illnesses, he nor I are “weak.” Mental illness carries a deadly stigma. He paid the price. In his own way, he saved my life. I advocate for suicide prevention and equal medical care for mental health. We can change the outcome so that my past does not have to be anyone’s 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, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Christopher Robbins

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