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On the Days I Feel Like I Don’t Deserve to Live

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 741741.

I’m not always convinced I deserve to live.

Deserve is an important word here, and I want to explore it. For myself and for anyone who might be able to relate.

For me, this is the tone my passive suicidal thoughts take — not that I want to die, but that I deserve to die. Not that there’s something wrong with the world, but that there’s something wrong with me. Not that I have no support, but that I’m not enough for the people who support me.

It makes me want to fold into myself and disappear. It makes me imagine my body melting into the floor. It makes me fantasize about car accidents and plane crashes. I was traveling yesterday, and struggling with these thoughts pretty badly.

As I’m trying to observe my thoughts and not sink too deep, I’m also trying to remember what might have started this. I’m infamously bad at identifying emotions and catching my triggers, but there must be something that flips this switch.

Maybe it’s because I feel like I’m letting everyone down.

Sometimes “I don’t deserve to live” means I feel guilty people care about me, and I’m convinced I’m not holding up my end of the bargain. Every unanswered text and email physically hurts me. I just know I’m not doing enough for the people I love. I’m a bad sister, bad partner, bad daughter and bad friend. I’m not doing enough, and ironically this makes me isolate. People don’t deserve to be burdened by me. It will only disappoint them more.

Maybe it’s because I’ve made a mistake.

Sometimes “I don’t deserve to live” means I’m holding myself to impossible standards and feel like if I can’t meet them, I might as well die. The grace I give to others does not apply to myself because I should know better, I should be better.

Maybe it’s because I’m ashamed of my needs.

I haven’t been taking good care of myself this week. Sometimes, the heaviness of this feeling simply comes down to this. “I don’t deserve to live” sometimes means I don’t want to face that I have needs. I don’t want to slow down or admit I need a break. I hate the humanness of burnout, of being tired. I can’t cut myself slack, and so my brain convinces me I’ve already failed. It’s the cliché kind of self-hate that exists alongside self-inflation. I think I’m worthless, and yet have such high expectations for myself. I know I’m better than this, and at the same time wonder, “Who the fuck do I think I am?”

That’s why everything feels so extreme. “I’m mad at myself” turns into “I want to kill myself.” “I’m disappointed” turns into “I deserve to die.” There isn’t a lot of wiggle room in this brain of mine. Everyday disappointments and stressors are amplified, and at the slightest sign of weakness, my mind convinces itself it needs to self-destruct.

If you can relate to this, there are a few things I want you to know. Because although I might question my own existence, I don’t have a single doubt about yours. I woke up feeling a bit better today, and here are some things I know to be true:

I know you deserve to live because you are here. 

I know you deserve to live because you are doing the best you can.

I know you deserve to live because your messiness is what makes you human, and no (good) person in your life expects perfection but you.

I know you deserve to live because it’s better to be imperfect and alive, hurt and still breathing. This feeling will pass as it always does, and each moment you get through proves the part of you that wants to live is stronger than the bully in you that thinks you should die. You don’t have to earn your right to be here. All you can do is live the best way you can. If the messages you’ve internalized makes you feel like it’s better to die than be imperfect, please know the messages are wrong. You are not wrong. What you were taught about worth and productively — the guilt that lives inside of you — that’s what’s wrong. That’s what needs to die.

You can get through moments like this. You can build yourself back up. You do deserve to live, because your imperfect existence is so important, despite we sometimes think. Despite the pressure we put on ourselves.

Let’s help each other believe it.

Photo by Artur Nasyrov on Unsplash