16 Things Parents Who've Struggled With Suicidal Thoughts Wish Others Understood
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.
Parenting is hard. Not only because we are responsible for raising decent human beings, but also because there are so many voices coming at us from every direction. There is a reason why some people feel “guilty” about their parenting. “Am I doing enough?” “Am I messing up my kids?”
Sometimes family and close friends share with us what they think we should be doing, or what we are not doing, or how we should be doing it better. What we see on Facebook and other social media makes us feel like we can’t really do this parenting thing as well as other people do. Can we ever get it right?
For parents struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts, these feelings of “guilt” or not being “good enough” can feel exponentially worse — what kind of parent wants to leave their children? But in reality, we know that struggling with suicidal thoughts as a parent is much more complicated than that — and parents should be able to talk about those dark, scary thoughts without shame.
We reached out to parents in our Mighty community and asked them, “If you are a parent who has struggled with suicidal thoughts, what’s one thing you wish others understood?”
These were some of their responses:
1. “I got the question, ‘Aren’t your kids enough for you to stay?’ Of course they are. I love them more than anything in this world, but that still doesn’t stop the suffering I have deep inside my soul.” — Shanna H.
2. “My kids are the only thing that saved me, and I wouldn’t change that for the world. But being a parent with suicidal thoughts also makes you feel tremendous guilt and anxiety for having those thoughts in the first place. This continuously fuels the darkness and depression you are already trapped in.” — Angela B.
3. “I wish people would understand what they sound like when they remind me how selfish it is to be suicidal, especially as a parent. I’m not selfish, I’m ill and I’m tired and I’m inside a sadness that most people will never understand. I wish I could explain the feeling of being so different and disconnected and how I don’t relate to any other person. I always feel like such a reject and I wish others could understand living under a weight that you can’t get rid of.” — Mark C.
4. “I wish people would see it is not that I want to harm myself or hurt those I love. It is the fact the pain is so unreal inside, so bleak and all consuming, that you can’t see anything but [suicide] as a way out. It is not being selfish or a coward, it is being tired of the pain. I wish people would see that and know the battle before they say anything.” — Alanna J.
5. “Sometimes it’s not about wanting to die, it’s about not wanting to exist. It can be overwhelming being responsible for all these little people, being the person everyone needs something from when you’re struggling just to take care of yourself. Doesn’t mean I neglect them or love them any less.” — Mandi D.
6. “I just wish people, especially families, gained an understanding of the illness we are all living with.” — Gerard C.
7. “I feel completely stuck. I would never actually take my own life because the thought of someone telling my youngest, ‘Mommy is dead,’ is gut-wrenching and horrifying. But my depression continues to generate the suicidal ideation. So I’m stuck. No option is feasible. Except just going back to bed.” — Amy S.
8. “That it’s the opposite of selfish and uncaring. It’s wanting to end your own pain and the pain you feel you inflict on everyone else.” — Christina F.
9. “I feel more worthless when I can’t do everything right as a mom, and feel like my children would be better off without me.” — Jessica S.
10. “Depression isn’t rational. In my darkest moments, it told me that my existence hurt them more than my being gone would. It told me I would be doing better by them if they had to live with someone else who could give them more. It told me I didn’t deserve them, that I was failing them. People want to tell a suicidal parent to think of their kids… but a lot of times, that’s exactly what they’re doing. It’s hard to drown out Depression’s voice, because it’s always with you. More people need to realize that, and do more than just passively say, ‘Think of your kids.'” — Kimmee M.
11. “A parent can get overwhelmed with their children. Those parents struggling with depression can get overwhelmed easier. It’s not your fault and it is not the children’s fault. A strong support system is needed. When you feel overwhelmed, have a significant other, grandparent, even a great family friend step in while you collect yourself. Suicidal thoughts are not because of the kids. It is the illness, because that darkness on your shoulder has always been there and will continue to be. Parenting is not easy for anyone! So don’t compare yourselves to other parents.” — Ally M.
12. “Just because you are having a good day, doesn’t mean you have recovered.” — Mark D.
13. “My daughter isn’t the reason I want to end my life when I have fleeting suicidal thoughts. I don’t think about it because she throws tantrums or anything toddler related. I feel as though she’s too good for me. She deserves a healthy mommy, a ‘sane’ mommy. I feel as though my sister and brother in law would be best for her. Then I remember that no one can replace me. She needs me.” — Alyssa H.
14. “My kids and also my partner help me from suicidal thoughts because all I have to do is think, “Where would they be without me?’ Also [too many] people would be affected by my death.” — Psy J.
15. “It’s not my fault; the pain, the fear, the internal debate is like living in a personal hell. No one would choose these feelings, this isn’t a plea for attention but a fear of survival. So much pain and anguish every minute of every day.” — Emma O.
16. “I wish people could understand that just because you’re depressed/suicidal doesn’t mean you are a bad parent. So many women are afraid to speak out about their postpartum depression because people literally think you are a horrible parent. I have a 3-month-old and struggled with severe prenatal depression that made me wind up in the hospital, and still have postpartum depression. My baby is clean, fed, always snuggled and taken care of. My depression doesn’t mean I don’t love my child, nor does it mean that I can’t be a good parent.” — Emily A.
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.
Photo by Dawid Sobolewski on Unsplash