The Mighty Logo

Lady Gaga Has a Metaphor for Suicidal Ideation You Might Need to Hear

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

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.

Suicidal thoughts can be incredibly burdensome. Sometimes they’re fleeting. Other times they stay front and center in your mind. While these thoughts may be part of your reality, people who don’t have them might struggle to understand what it’s like. Lady Gaga has one metaphor for suicidal thoughts that may help.

Gaga accepted the Global Changemakers Award with her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, at the Children Mending Hearts’ Empathy Rocks fundraiser on Sunday. In her acceptance speech, Gaga said, “Suicidal ideation feels like a spell, and we have to have empathy. Be kind and help each other break the spell and live and thrive.”

A spell can be defined as “any dominating or irresistible influence.” Like in fairy tales, spells can cause people to act a certain way or mess with their emotions.

With Gaga’s metaphor in mind, we asked our mental health community how they’d describe suicidal ideation to those who don’t understand.

Here’s what the community had to say: 

  1. “It’s like feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders. Any hope of a better future can’t be seen, everything becomes dull and meaningless. Life becomes a chore that you don’t want to participate in.” — Jakob M.
  2. “It’s like … breathing with a plastic bag over your head as you try to make sense of what you’re feeling.” — Reba E.
  3. “It’s like drowning. Except you know how to swim. The current is just too strong to stay afloat anymore. That current is your emotions. What strength you have left is your ability to swim.” — Miranda W.
  4. “Think of the way other people long for the beach, or they long for a rainy day and a good book. They yearn for things that bring them comfort, time away from stress, even when they can’t necessarily set everything aside to make it happen immediately. It’s the same way, for me, with suicide.” — Kristy H.
  5. “It’s like all thoughts are consumed into a black hole and the one dominating thought is that the suffering can only end if you die. When you feel like life won’t get better, it’s hard to try and think differently”. — Andrea G.
  6. “It’s like the voice in my head that usually tells me things like ‘drink more water’ or ‘go outside,’ the one that generally tells me to take care of myself, is telling me to do the opposite.” — Sam T.
  7. “It’s like constantly being on ‘high alert’ and looking for an escape route from a monster, only the monster is inside you. Everything becomes a tool to analyze, every place becomes a place to explore with your eyes, only the problem is that you are looking at everything as a way to stop the thoughts the consume and overwhelm you and race through your brain.” — Megan G.
  8. “It’s like a freight train full of all your thoughts, conflicts, anger, fear, blasting through your head and you can’t get away from it but you just need to make it stop … also feeling so misunderstood and defeated that you just reject even just existing.” — Stephanie S.
  9. “It’s like holding a water bottle straight in front of you for months and just wanting to put it down. It’s exhausting.” — Alison S.
  10. “Everything is flat and boring and you’re disgusted with the world around you. The smallest thing can set you off, and everything is a reason why you shouldn’t be here anymore.” — Jessica C.

It isn’t easy living with suicidal thoughts, no matter how routine they may be for you. When life feels like too much, know there are others who are living their lives despite what their thoughts are telling them. And when others in your life can’t understand, know that there are others who can. You put in the effort every day to live with these thoughts, and despite the thoughts, you’re still here. That’s something to be proud of.

Photo via Creative Commons/mikehogan2

Originally published: June 13, 2018
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home