What I Want My Workplace to Know About Living With Chronic Suicidal Thoughts
I’m sitting at my desk at work and my mind is wandering. I’m thinking about the conversation I had with my boss about how I am not cut out for graduate school. I’m thinking about the $175 I spent that I don’t have on clothes I doubt I’ll wear because I’m too self-conscious to wear them. I’m thinking about the fact that I wore a short black dress and patent leather ankle boot heels to work today and how uncomfortable it makes me. I’m listening to the Adele radio station on IHeartRadio and wondering what’s the point anymore?
When you are chronically suicidal, it is incredibly hard to speak up about how you are really feeling. It’s taken three years of intensive treatment — residential, PHP, IOP, outpatient groups, numerous therapists, 10 plus medication changes — to find a therapist I am comfortable naming my suicidality to. I battle my thoughts constantly, and with these thoughts come feelings of unworthiness, insecurities, hopelessness, uselessness, the list goes on and on. While mental illness is not an excuse, it is something that is affecting me in every aspect of my life.
Here’s what I wish I could tell the world I work in, if it were with lack of fear, judgment and received unconditionally:
1. I am trying my best. I promise. Some days are better than others. Sometimes just getting out of bed to walk the dog is the best I can muster. I will fall asleep for hours on the couch, and not get up except to try to stick to my meal plan and walk the dog again. Other days I am able to make it to work, wear something respectable and accomplish a few experiments and have some intellectual conversations. However, know I am trying. I may be in a brain fog half the day, but showing up sometimes is half the battle. And for that, I hope you can understand and forgive me.
2. I make mistakes and I’m not perfect. You don’t need to remind me I am making mistakes. I’m already hard on myself and not being perfect tears me apart inside. I am my hardest critic and I don’t need to hear it from the outside, especially from someone I would expect to be supportive of my endeavors. I hurt and am my own worst critic constantly, so please just understand and try not to humiliate me more than I do already myself?
3. I’m dying of heat exhaustion in my sweatshirt and jeans. And it’s getting to me, making me tired, exhausted and emotionally drained. Why? Because it takes extra effort to make sure you don’t show your scars from self-harm at work and when you have to walk to work in the more than 90 degree heat in a sweatshirt and jeans, and you can’t take off the sweatshirt for some relief, your mind becomes distracted from what you should be doing.
4. My mind is often, more often than not, thinking about how I can take my own life using the resources I have at hand. It’s not something I like to admit, yet it’s a part of me and I can’t keep denying it. I don’t have a plan, but I do have daydreams. I spend the better part of my day thinking about ways I could put myself out of the pain and suffering I feel in my life. Yet, I can’t admit this and I feel trapped, and the only way I can escape is by burying myself in some readings or taking a walk around the building and browsing social media to take my mind off of things. I can’t admit anything because I feel judged.
5. I live with profound mental illness, yet I am a functioning member of society who has responsibilities and a job. I’m also a student. I can do it, it just might take me a little longer. And if that’s not suitable for you, then I don’t know what I can say. I try hard, I am trying hard and if that’s not enough, then I am not enough for you and this isn’t worth my time.
Please know I am trying, as I’ve said many times here, and I am trying sincerely with all my heart. I battle my chronic suicidality. I battle my anorexia. I battle my post-traumatic stress disorder and triggers. I battle my urges and self-destructive thoughts daily, moment to moment, constantly. I don’t want to battle the rest of the world too.
So for now, please keep this in mind when you speak to me, and as I struggle to make my battle speakable and known.
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 “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.
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Thinkstock photo via Adkasai