How an Insight From My Therapist Changed How I Thought About My Suicidal Ideation
My therapist recently asked me when I first experienced suicidal ideation, and my answer astonished her. Why? Because I told her I couldn’t remember a time when I didn’t experience suicidal ideation.
As our discussion continued, we came to a somewhat startling conclusion: I’ve spent so much of my life with the hum of suicidality in my ear that it’s a comfortable, automatic response to almost every emotion I feel.
Basically, my mind has created a funnel labeled “suicide.” As my neurons fire and I begin feeling an emotion, I toss it directly into the funnel. I don’t stop to label the emotion, nor do I consider what I could do instead of jumping to suicidal ideation. In other words, my body associates any emotional response to a horrible thing, and its only solution to feeling an emotion is to die.
While this may not be why everyone with BPD struggles with frequent suicidal urges, it’s definitely a great insight into why I wrestle with them so often.
But if I’ve trained my brain to respond to any emotion by jumping straight to death, how do I make these automatic suicidal thoughts stop?
I’m not completely there yet, but I think the first step will be spending lots of time in a mindful headspace where I can check in with myself and (hopefully) label my emotions. By labeling my emotions, I can not only add a step to the system in place, but I can also create a moment to truly stop and utilize my emotion regulation skills from dialectical behavior therapy before my brain simply starts down that funnel of suicidal ideation.
Then, once I can better identify my emotions, I can start creating new pathways in my brain for each emotion I feel. Instead of lumping everything into one output, I can build numerous shoots and trails to follow. Hopefully, that will not only help lower the intensity of my suicidal thoughts, but actually reduce their frequency as well.
Although I don’t know if I’ll ever live a life where suicidal thoughts never cross my mind, I do hope this new insight will ultimately allow me to reduce the number of times I consider suicide as an escape.
If, like me, you constantly wrestle with suicidal ideation, I encourage you to truly stop and think about why you encounter those thoughts so frequently. Perhaps that tiny bit of insight will ultimately lead you to answers, and eventually a way to reframe your thoughts. We all deserve a life full of experiences. That includes me, and most of all, it includes you, too.
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