What It's Like to Reflect on Past Seasons of Suicidality
If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.
I was suicidal for a period of six months three years ago. It was due to traumatic experiences coming to the forefront of my memory, specifically saving my mother from suicide when I was just a child. Trauma was all around me, in my family, in the people I talked to on a daily basis, in the stories I read and in the work I was doing. Eventually, all of that trauma caught up with me and my mental health suffered immensely.
It was having a suicidal person contact me and getting them help, only for them to refuse it in the end, that triggered those hidden memories to seep back into the front of my mind. I would disassociate during the middle of my day, brought back to the moment my parent nearly ended her life if I hadn’t stepped in to stop her. This triggered six agonizing and grueling months of intrusive thoughts of all things to do with suicide. It got to the point I could not even handle hearing the word “suicide” without spiraling emotionally.
It was a very scary and lonely time. I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know it was post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) making a bigger entrance into my life and that I wasn’t actually suicidal, but rather, experiencing emotional flashbacks. I did not realize at first it was traumatic memories coming unlocked, those blocked memories that can appear out of nowhere, but are often triggered by a stressful time or crisis. That was true for me. Months of depleting myself and one crisis after another sent me spiraling, not to mention all the ways I wasn’t taking care of my physical health.
I had to step back from my daily responsibilities to make myself and especially my mental health a priority. I turned down triggering conversations, went to nature, grounded myself in the present, left the dark alleyways of trauma and abuse behind for days at a time to focus on the future. It was difficult, traversing triggers countless times a day, and coming back from it emotionally and mentally, even physically. With time, it got easier and then I noticed with self-care, working on my physical health and getting more sleep (I was sleep deprived often during that time), I found my mental health drastically changed, and for the better.
I’m a completely different person three years later. For one, I’m in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), have worked on my health all around and have stepped out of the darkness of trauma and into the light of recovery. Now, a suicidal thought comes in passing and only triggered with a severe crisis. To be honest, I have only had the thought of, “I don’t want to be here” maybe once in three years since those very difficult six months of my life. And, say if it did return, if a period so dark and difficult like those six months showed up again, I have a plan in place with my support system and therapist.
It’s difficult for me to say I’m thankful for those dreary days, difficult nights and terrifying moments, but I have found it has helped me understand those who battle with suicidal ideation more on a deeper level. I have more understanding, compassion and overall knowledge on this subject now, and knowledge is wealth.
That difficult time was also a way of my brain and body telling me I needed to take care of myself, and that has been a lesson I have carried with me ever since. It was not lost on me I had put everything and everyone first pending that tough time. I was depressed leading up to that, surrounded by traumatic details and soul shattering realizations. I was bouncing from one crisis to another, and ones not made of my making. I was simply along for the ride, begging it to end. It ended when I took control over what I could control: Eating healthier, getting more sleep, focusing on self-care and so much more.
I’m so thankful to be living a life I want to be alive for. Even on the hard days, even when I hear people say, “How do you live with all of that?” I know down deep in my heart of hearts the beautiful days that were ahead of me three years ago were so worth it. I can’t wait for the next three years, the next three after that and even more to come. I was meant to be here and so are you.
Getty image by Anna Ismagilova