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How This Coping Strategy Helps Me Manage Suicidal Thoughts

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When I am in the midst of a downward spiral, it is not so easy to remember what is important sometimes. One strategy I use is to make playlists for each of my children. They are a work in progress over days and months and years.

When I hear a song that evokes a memory, I add it to their list. More often than not, the actual lyrics have nothing to do with the memory connected to it. Instead, it was whatever was happening at the time.

My son’s playlist includes everything from The Wiggles (“Hot Potato”) to Frank Sinatra (“New York, New York”). One reminds me of the live Wiggles concert we went to together at Roger’s Centre and the other of New Year’s Eve in front of the TV.

On my daughter’s playlist, Coleman Hell (“Fireproof”) recalls when the two of us hid from a torrential downpour in Ottawa, giggling at getting under cover just in time. Also included on her list is the song “Attention” by Charlie Puth. We always laugh and sing along to the misheard lyrics “You’ve been running ’round, running ’round, running ’round, throwing that ‘turtle on my name.”

I rarely listen to the playlists all the way through. In fact, I hardly even listen to the songs. Instead, I scroll down and review the memories, letting each one flourish inside me. If I do listen to one of the songs or hear it on the radio, I shut my eyes and float suspended in the moment, mindful of how the memory makes me feel: relaxed, content, complete.

When I am in crisis, does this strategy cancel my suicidal thoughts? Not really, but it does blunt the edge and oftentimes that is all I need.

Getty image by Alexander Shelegov

Originally published: February 15, 2021
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