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How I Cope With Suicidal Thoughts in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

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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.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has a huge impact on my life. Most notably, it causes flashbacks and nightmares that disrupt my days and nights. Another less spoken about symptom of my PTSD is suicidal thoughts. I have chronic suicidal ideation that doesn’t go away. I have learned to cope with these thoughts by taking the next right action and use the opportunity to “talk back” at them.

• What is PTSD?

Being alone in my suicidal ideation is the worst possible situation. Though it tends to create a sense of isolation inside of me, speaking up and being honest is beneficial. When I feel connected, I am much less likely to act on these thoughts. They are just that: thoughts. I can choose whether I act upon them. I am responsible for my second thought and my first action, but I cannot control what pops into my mind.

I reach out to friends, though I am unlikely to tell them the entire truth of what is going on inside my head. Rather, I tell them enough so that they know I am struggling and need someone to be with. My PTSD likes to isolate me, so taking the action of surrounding myself with people who love me is critical. I’ll often get the thought, “They are better off without you,” which is a lie my head is telling me. I am a worthy, lovable human being who didn’t deserve what happened to me. What happened to me does define how I react to my surroundings, but it does not totally define me at my core.

Suicidal thoughts plague my mind, especially in the evenings. It is then that I must do the next right thing and try to rest. While I know I’ll likely awaken from nightmares, I also know I cannot function well on minimal sleep. I must try and make the best of a bad situation.

“Talking back” to my suicidal ideation is very helpful. It gives me a sense of personal power in a moment when I would otherwise feel beaten down and broken. I can say, “I am strong, I am peaceful, and I am worthy of living” over and over again in my head. I’ll even write it down so I have something to jolt my memory when I’m in the very dark place.

I often use the “one day at a time” method with my suicidal thoughts. Today, I will keep myself alive. I can deal with tomorrow when tomorrow comes. I can reach out to professionals, keep my friends and family involved, and even bring myself to the emergency room if it’s warranted. I have the capacity to keep myself alive, and I’m the only one with the agency to take care of myself in these ways.

Though my thoughts tell me one thing, I can’t get attached to them. I may feel an emotional connection to the suicidal ideation, but I am not my thoughts. I am independent of the words that flow through my mind. I am a strong person who deserves the best this world has to offer, and taking my life is not an option today.

Photo by Gregory Pappas on Unsplash

Originally published: August 1, 2018
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