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16 Ways to Battle Trauma Triggers and Suicidal Thoughts

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 can almost guarantee you know someone with depression or a similar mental illness. or that you are that someone.

The topic of today’s blog is battling suicidal desires and idealizations.

This is a very sensitive subject to some who are still struggling with their own suicidal thoughts or someone who is struggling with the thoughts a person close to them is experiencing.

I am here to share my ways of getting through times when you feel like you need a way out the most. Now, I am sorry if that comes off harsh to some of you, but the way people with depression feel is: they need relief. Not from you, not from their problems, but from the constant torture they feel within their minds and bodies. Trauma survivors oftentimes hold reminders of their trauma in their body called “triggers.” Many times, in my experience, my suicidal desires came when the pressures of a trigger were too much for me to bear. I needed relief from the memory.

When battling my triggers and battling my own idealizations, I studied many different techniques that could keep me from self-harming. Some of my favorites include:

1. Snapping a rubber band against the skin in the place of self-harm or scarring.

This technique is used in therapy because many trauma survivors enter into a grey state or a state of numbness. They choose not to feel at all, but they harm their skin in order to relieve the sensory overloads within their brains from day-to-day life. In short, in order to feel anything at all.

2. Using a piece of ice to keep yourself grounded to the present moment.

Hold a piece of ice in your hand so that you can feel the sensation of it burning your skin. This causes you to realize your present state in a new way. You focus on the ice, and the pain, and you will begin to forget your problems. Not forever, of course, but in a moment of severe need when you cannot stop a spiraling meltdown.

3. Taking a walk in the woods or sitting near a tree.

I cannot express enough how important this one was to my healing. I needed it — literally. Now, I know what you’re thinking — “Oh great, she’s one of those tree huggers…” — but this one truly helped me regain control over myself when I felt like everything was spiraling out of control. By walking in the woods, you are experiencing nature in all its splendor. You don’t have to fix it, change it or rearrange it. It is perfect just how God made it. When you are feeling like death is the only option, trees can teach you that life is abundant, and that God created each life with a purpose.

4. Support each other.

Did you know that some trees in the forest support others when they are wounded or sick by sending nutrients through the soil and root systems to the nearby plant?

It’s true. And that is why I am here to tell you that not all of us are going to be the hurting ones. Some of us will be the supporters and the healers of those around us. But that requires us to sacrifice some of the nutrients we intended for ourselves to help others. (It can also be healing to us to help others, despite the sacrifice.) With that said, when there are no sick trees, the forest thrives. The forest by design is a perfect working system. Each component motivated to uplift the entire system.

6. Take time for some introspection.

Ask yourself questions about your problems and make conscious efforts to make them better without your ego getting the better half of your decision. When I speak of the ego, if you don’t know what I mean, or you think you might have an idea but want to learn more, I suggest that you check out Eckhart Tolle’s book, “A New Earth: Awakening Your Life’s Purpose.”

7. Take time for self-care.

Spend some time in solitude. Find the peace within the ramble of your thoughts. Look for them — they are like breadcrumbs, but they are there for you to find. They will lead you away from the negativity you are feeling within your heart and mind.

“You are never alone in any feeling you feel. Every feeling you have ever felt, someone else has already felt it long before you.” — my father.

8. Read helpful books.

This is a great reminder to me to always look to others. Despite our differences, we can all learn a thing or two from one another. Even if it is minuscule. There is bound to be a book out there, or a blog out there that can shed some light into what you are feeling.

9. Journaling.

We all know journaling can be therapeutic, but it can also be very freeing — something about getting all of your feelings out of your head by speaking them out loud with a therapist or by scribbling into a ratty notebook.

10. Write a book or short story.

Getting yourself out of your own world and escaping into a fantasy can be therapeutic in helping a person feel less triggered. They may imagine a world of serenity, and omit anything that reminds them of the real world.

11. Write poetry or lyrics.

Some of the best songs come from people who are hurting. Why? Because their lyrics and music are full of feeling, of energy, of vibrations. And we can feel those buzzing at us through a simple melody. Write down what you’re feeling. It could become a blog someday, or a really great best-selling book. You never know.

12. Meditation.

Spending time to let your mind clear out and just listen to silence will bring you a lot of comfort. You will be able to have more control over your rampant mind when it arises, and also it gives you a moment to reboot before the next chapter.

13. Prayer.

That’s right, I said it. Pray. If you aren’t religious, pray to your inner being to be awakened by the forces of nature that be. Ask for balance.

14. Get a dog.

Dogs are a great reminder that we are worthy to be loved. No matter how we might view ourselves, our dogs will never see us that way. Dogs are great for healing communicators in your brain. The basis level of brain function it takes to connect with an animal is much less than it is when connecting with a human, for instance. It’s easier to love, and be loved.

15. Yoga.

Some of you may have never tried yoga because of the stigmas that you can’t be flexible. Well, I am here to tell you that you have no reason to be afraid. I wasn’t able to even touch my toes when I started. And after a year of brief stretches every night before bed, I had less pain, throbbing and became a lot more flexible. I am 26, and I am now able to put my feet behind my head and I can almost do the splits! Yoga is great at calming your spirit, mind and your muscles at once. I dare you to give it a go!

16. Color or draw.

Many people find that, during their deepest episodes, they can make the most beautiful art. If I am in a severe need to release, I can sit and draw for upwards of six hours straight without a break. I just get so focused on the pad and pencil in my hand and nothing can stop me — not even waving food in my face. And that says a lot because I love food!

From one trauma survivor to another, you can do this. Life seems hard, and I know the pressure in your head can be painful, but please hold on. Keep fighting toward that life you hope you’ll have someday. Because, if you try hard enough, you might just hope your way right into the life you’ve always dreamed of. Never give up hope; someone out there needs you.

If you are worried about your own mental well being or the well being of someone else, I urge you to please seek help. There are many resources available, even to low income families. Please do not let your financial status keep you from healing yourself back to harmony!

Always remember that it is never OK to act on your thoughts of suicide. Never. Call a suicide prevention number now if you need to.

Extensive suicide prevention hotline numbers, categorized by country or state, can be found on the Suicide Prevention Hotlines index page here.

Suicide is never the answer.

Getting help is the answer.

If you do not feel comfortable calling the hotline, I also have a support group on Facebook.



Photo by John Mark Arnold on Unsplash