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Why Life Without Suicidal Thoughts Terrifies Me

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The biggest lie depression ever told me was: My life will end in suicide, it’s just a matter of time.

And that lie became my truth, it became my identity, it was the root of so many other lies. It’s still a belief I very much struggle to let go of. For the last 10 years, I’ve believed that to be true. And I’ve lived my life like it was. I’ve never really cared about my future or thought about it. In my mind, I wouldn’t be alive for it anyway. I never set goals or had dreams; what was the point if I was going to die soon? Events I’d have to go to or things I’d have to do that I dreaded, I coped with by telling myself I wouldn’t be alive by the time they came around, so I didn’t have to worry.

In some ways, that protected me. There are times if I had one more thing I had to worry about, I would’ve been pushed over the edge. I know that belief thinks it’s keeping me safe. It’s a younger version of me, stuck inside my parent’s house, seeing suicide as the only escape, the only hope. It’s my inner child. No matter how far I’ve run, what I’ve self-medicated with, where I’ve looked for escape, that child has always stayed with me. And so has that belief.

But, my suicidal thoughts haven’t been as intense or frequent lately (and by that, I mean the last five or so days). To give some context, almost every day for the last 10 years I’ve lived with constant, severe suicidal thoughts. I’ve attempted suicide twice and come closer more times than I can count. I’ve spent most nights of my life just trying to convince myself to stay alive, telling myself there would be better days ahead and they were worth sticking around to see.

But now that these “better days” might be here, I’m more scared than ever. Depression is what I know. Suicidal thoughts are what I know. They’re reliable. I’ve always been able to count on them to be there. In many ways, I’ve let them become my identity. So, if they’re gone, who am I? Am I anyone? Is there anything else there? What if there isn’t?

And even scarier than that, if that’s true, I finally have to let go of this deep-seated belief my life will end in suicide, and that it’s just a matter of time. Letting go of that means I have to think about my future — it means I have to believe I have a future. It opens me up to more heartache and hurt. I think that’s always been the scariest part — the inevitable trials and hurt that come with the future. I’m not scared of hurting, I’ve been hurting most of my life, but I’m scared of not knowing what it is. It’s an unknown hurt. And the unknown terrifies me.

Which, to bring full circle, is why I’m so scared my suicidal thoughts are finally lessening. They’re what I know. And I know how backward that seems, why would anyone choose suicidal thoughts over freedom and joy? All I can say is the familiar is a powerful thing. I know I’ve been praying for relief and a break from this for years. And now that it might finally be here, it’s like I’m pushing it away.

I don’t want to build a prison for myself. I don’t want to put chains back on that have already been broken. I know this is Jesus answering prayers, calling me into freedom and light. But stepping into that potential is scary. But I also know, not stepping into that should scare me. I wasn’t created to waft through life, just waiting for it to end. I wasn’t made to run circles around suicidal thoughts until I died. I was made to live. And I think it may finally be time to give that a try.

Photo by Averie Woodard on Unsplash

Originally published: July 15, 2021
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