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When You Feel Guilty After a Suicide Attempt

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.

A recent conversation with my husband:

Husband: “So me and the kids are leaving at six. How’s your mood?”

Me: “I’m OK.”

Husband: “Are you sure? I don’t want to come home to an ambulance.”

My stomach drops. I am immediately debilitated by guilt. He and the kids did come home to an ambulance two and a half years ago, after a friend discovered through texting that I wasn’t acting right and was in a bad place. She sent an ambulance and saved my life by interrupting a suicide attempt.

I was in a mixed episode — manic and depressed at the same time. It was a dangerous place for me and I made an impulsive decision based on a delusion I had that the only way my family would be OK was without me.

Thanks to a psychiatrist who helped me get my meds right and a therapist who helped me learn my warning signs and some good coping skills, I have a clear head now and understand the gravity of what I put my family through. Eight days in hospitals and many difficult conversations in marital therapy have healed some of the wounds in myself and in the marriage. But my husband’s lingering doubts and fears creep in during moments when he has to leave me alone.  For that, I feel pangs of sadness and guilt.

How do I deal with this? I have to be vigilant and honest about my mental health and where my bipolar disorder sits at any given time. I have to share this with my husband so he has peace of mind and can rest a little easier knowing he isn’t in the dark.

I also have to forgive myself and hold onto gratitude for the fact that things worked out OK that day. I could have died but I didn’t. I am so grateful I’ve been able to watch my kids grow and thrive in our family… a family that thankfully wasn’t devastated by a mother’s suicide.

I’m glad my husband shares his fears. At times I feel he is getting a “dig” in, but other times I remember this is a real fear for him that he needs to share.

For those of you suicide attempt survivors out there: take it one day at a time and remember to forgive yourself.  Most people aren’t in their right minds when they make an attempt… because of an illness that clouds your sense of reality and affects your judgment.

Use your supports, know yourself and fight on.

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 reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

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Getty Images photo via Zinkevych