5 Reasons I'm Still Here After Experiencing Suicidal Thoughts
I started writing this story about Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. I have so much I could say about suicidal ideation, attempted suicide, suicidal thoughts and so on. But when you’re suicidal, all thoughts of anything worth living for go out the window, so to reel off a list of reasons you shouldn’t feel suicidal would be ineffectual.
If it was as easy as being grateful for what you have, nobody would ever feel as though they can’t go on. The depths of despair wouldn’t exist. Because we all have things to be thankful for, however small.
There’s a lot of awareness going on this month. Awareness in itself isn’t enough, we have to be aware of how important it is to keep talking. To keep donating to charities and volunteering, and most importantly to keep listening. To believe people when they tell us how they feel. Whatever the complaint, whether it be physical or mental.
Staying alive is hard sometimes. It takes effort, it takes a fight you might not feel like you’re strong enough for. It’s not a fight everyone does win. But every day you wake up alive is not just about being a time to be grateful, it’s also a time to celebrate your success. You made it through your worst days, and you’re still here. Preventing suicide also means preventing your own, so take care of you.
Below I’ve written a few things that have helped me when I’ve been suicidal, especially my most recent episode which was only July this year. I didn’t attempt suicide during this episode, but I definitely felt like I wanted to die. I’ve had a battle with suicidal thoughts for nearly 20 years. I’ve had desperate times and I’ve attempted suicide a few times too. However I’m still here and there are a few reasons why:
1. Being listened to
There are so many theories about how people who say they’re suicidal do so for attention. I believe sometimes that is indeed the case, but not because they’re attention seekers in the traditional, negative sense, but because they need support. They need your attention. Their mental health needs attention, and they need somebody to listen to them.
It can be very difficult hearing someone say they don’t want to be here anymore, but sometimes just listening and hearing them can be the difference between them feeling completely alone in this world with their thoughts, and feeling as though they have someone who cares.
It can be hard if you’re not going through it, to know what to say to someone who’s suicidal. You may not want to say the wrong thing and you may feel frustrated at not knowing how to help. Try not to say things like “it’s not that bad” or “you need to….”
Instead say things like “I’m here” and “I care about you.” Sometimes just knowing we have someone there for us can bring us back from the edge.
There’s still so much stigma around medication for your mental health, even though almost 20% of the UK population are on antidepressants. There’s an undertone, assuming it’s negative to need medication to function mentally, as opposed to it being perfectly fine if you need them to function physically.
If you are feeling suicidal it’s likely you have hit crisis point, you probably haven’t felt any worse than at the time you’re considering ending your own life. In order to get through this time, to stay alive, you may need to turn to medication. This is perfectly OK and it’s important to know if you need medication to get through your worst days you are surviving, and that is a win however it comes about.
4. Knowing it’s OK to feel this way
Whatever the catalyst was to make you feel suicidal, whether it was a specific event, an accumulation of trauma or a chemical imbalance, you are allowed to feel it. You’re allowed to be depressed and it doesn’t make you a coward or a bad person. It doesn’t make you negative. It’s never a choice to feel this way. Of course it would be easier if we never felt this way, if we were always graced with the ability to pull ourselves back from the proverbial edge. It would be a blessing to never sink into the depths of despair. But if that’s where you are, it’s OK. How you come back, moving forward, one day at a time, is what counts now. You can do this.
Some people say getting up and out is paramount to recovery for your mental health and usually I would be inclined to agree, but sometimes you need to give your brain a rest. It’s likely if you’re having suicidal thoughts you’ve been having trouble sleeping at night, maybe finding it easier during the day. Do whatever works. Shutting off and getting some much needed sleep is exactly what you need. That saying “sleep on it” sounds so trivial and of course I don’t recommend offering that advice to someone who is suicidal, but the sentiment can be valuable. Even during your worst days, things can look better after a good night’s sleep. It’s your brain’s only chance to get some rest.
These may seem pretty obvious and you might be thinking FFS, if it was that easy we wouldn’t ever feel this way! I agree, but hear me out…. I in no way discredit depression and suicide or claim to have all the answers, but as a survivor myself the above things have genuinely helped me at my lowest.
Just putting one foot in front of the other is an achievement, every day that you wake up is a fuck you to the suicidal thoughts you had yesterday. Even if you don’t want to be here, you made it through another day despite these thoughts plaguing you. You are loved, even on your worst days. You are not defined by your worst decisions, or your past mistakes. You’re also not defined by how you feel when you’re depressed or unwell. Sometimes having someone listen to you in your time of need can make a difference. It might only be a slight difference, but it can be a huge step in the right direction.
Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash