When Your Brain Automatically Jumps to Suicide as the 'Answer'
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.
What goes through your mind when something bad happens? You probably take some time to think about the event, the argument, whatever it was, right? Then you move on with your life, and if I was to take a guess, I’d probably say within a few hours, you’ve forgotten all about it.
That’s if your brain works in the way it “should.”
My brain doesn’t work like that.
Following an argument, I can invariably be found crying hysterically. If you could hear my internal narrative, you’d hear me telling myself why it’s not worth killing myself over the angry words exchanged. That no, I can’t leave a note asking someone else to take over my website for me so the damage of my death is minimized.
You see, my brain has a nasty habit of overriding logic. Where your brain huffs and moves on, my brain says there’s no way to move on. That this argument is the final straw, that I’m trapped in this endless circle of arguments, of losing friends, of always having to answer to somebody other than myself.
Logic says this isn’t the case. Logic says that yes, these arguments are a frequent occurrence, however, life extends far beyond this. Life consists of more than just angry words exchanged under the stresses and pressures that come with being a human being in this world. Life consists of travel, of connection, of carving out a space for myself in this world rather than letting somebody carve away at me so that I’ll fit nicely into whichever box is most convenient for them.
My illogical brain has become so as a result of seven years battling anxiety and depression at varying degrees of severity along the way. During this time, I’ve developed trust issues, which play a massive part in my brain’s tendency to jump straight to suicide as an answer to an unfavorable situation.
One of my regular internal narratives is that I constantly attract untrustworthy people and that this will never change. I’ll never find somebody who I can trust, and when I do make the decision to trust someone, they’ll go on to show me why I was wrong to do so.
I have a very dramatic brain.
Over the course of several therapy sessions, my therapist and I have established for me, trust is an all-or-nothing deal. I either don’t trust you at all and won’t open up to you in the slightest, or I jump in with both feet and bare the entirety of my soul to you, scars and all.
I’m working on changing that.
So with this in mind, upon learning that the relationship I’d been in was built upon a foundation of lies, my mind quickly spiraled. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I found myself in a hotel room in the early hours of the morning, self-harming for the first time in nearly three years. I would go on to pack my bags as if to return home, while in actuality, my intention was to take my life.
I was saved by a text from a co-worker. When I saw the notification flash onto my phone screen, I fell to my knees and sobbed. To kill myself in the hotel room paid for by a mental health charity I was doing some work with that week would be cruel. It would be selfish. I collected my bags and eventually got on my flight home.
Most people would probably have spent a few weeks in front of the TV, gossiping with mates and having a cry into a tub of ice cream. But instead of this, my brain jumped straight to suicide.
It’s a battle I’ve been making an effort to fight for over three years now, and for three years, I’ve been winning. It hasn’t been easy. I still have those days when my mind jumps straight to suicide. At the moment, those days come roughly once a week. They’re intense and they’re exhausting.
In addition to being utterly terrifying for me, it makes me reluctant to enter into debates. Debates have a habit of turning into conflict, and nobody wants to be the person who says “Please go easy, your words could actually kill me.” Perhaps I should start doing that, maybe it would make people think twice before picking a fight with someone whose situation they don’t know anything, or at least think twice before throwing personal insults around.
My fear is rather than encouraging people to take care when walking on the carpets of another person’s mind, it would encourage people to fight a little harder, and add that extra touch of vitriol to their words. The world is full of malicious people who can push further when they learn of the vulnerabilities of others. Indeed, that’s been my experience with a lot of people to date, and is the source of my complex relationship with trust.
And so my plea to you is to be careful when making your case to someone else. Be it politics or attitude, be gentle, be kind, conduct yourself with dignity and tact. Refrain from descending into mudslinging, hold off on personal jibes, bite your tongue before producing unfounded allegations.
Taking care when speaking your mind may actually save someone the pain of having to fight with their own mind. In recent months, my life has become a game of trying to outrun the voices that tell me I’m not good enough. These voices tell me for all I’m running, I’m not getting anywhere, and never will. No matter how hard or how fast my feet hit the ground or my fingers hit the keyboard, I struggle to stay ahead of those voices. Please don’t cheer them on. Please don’t feed the gremlins. They bite. Hard.
Finally, if your brain is as illogical as mine is sometimes, keep fighting it. We have to believe that one day, we may just outrun those voices, and the gremlins might just go to sleep.
What harm can hope do?
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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Unsplash photo via Ben Warren.