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What I Realized After Being Hit With Suicidal Thoughts After Finals

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This past December, I hit a rough patch. I entered into a terrifying depressive episode, full of thoughts and feelings I couldn’t handle. Life with mental illness necessitates these moments on occasion, but there are still things I can do to try to prevent big collapses into depression. I had not been taking care of myself, and I fell apart.

What was remarkable about this particular depressive episode was its timing in my life. It was exactly one day after finals ended, my first day of winter break, when — out of nowhere — I was hit with severe suicidal thoughts. I had no idea where these thoughts came from. After all, finals had just ended, so I should have felt relief and joy. Instead, I was in a very dark place. It was confusing.

But here’s what I’ve learned. Throughout the entire fall semester, I was pushing down my feelings. I thought I was doing alright because I refused to acknowledge any negative emotions. I was going through my day, keeping busy with the structure of school and homework, ignoring the fact that, like any normal person, I had emotions.

Suppressing your emotions works for a short time, but eventually your body cannot handle it anymore. Eventually these feelings begin to come out sideways. Eventually you can no longer push the feelings down because there’s nowhere for them to go.

So when finals ended and I went on winter break, I was suddenly hit with all of the feelings I had been trying to suppress. When I no longer had school to keep me busy, my emotions bubbled to the surface, and I didn’t have the tools necessary to deal with them. Without structure, I could no longer mask the fact that I was depressed.

When I was able to recognize my habit of pushing my emotions to the side, I was able to begin to learn how to feel and express my emotions in a healthy way. It was only in facing my negative, painful emotions that I was able to begin to feel better. And now I’m really feeling better, not just pretending to.

Life is all about feeling your emotions. While masking them can work for a time, it won’t work forever. Eventually, suppressing emotions causes more harm than good. So live into your emotions. Allow yourself to feel. Don’t push them to the wayside. When you truly live into your emotions, that is where you can find a place of real healing.

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 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Thinkstock photo via AntonioGuillem

Originally published: March 13, 2017
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