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The Feeling of Having to Hide My Struggle With Suicidal Thoughts

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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.

I’ve had many years of treatment for my mental illness diagnoses. I’ve had individual therapy, group counseling, PHP, IOP and residential treatment. I have spent time on psychiatric units of hospitals and been on a 51/50 hold. After all this treatment, after all that I have done, people can’t believe my struggle or understand where its coming from. The exterior masks the true struggle I feel. I hold multiple graduate degrees, I am a graduate from a top 10 university, I have numerous awards and accolades, I am employed and navigating and managing life. This contradicts with what I feel on the inside as this is all a mask. I put on a shield and elect to show the world a side of me they want to see: successful, put together, accomplished and ambitious.

What nobody sees though, is the hurt and battle with passive suicidality. What people don’t see are the scars from relapsing from self-harm. I feel like an immense failure when I relapse or struggle with my passive suicidal thoughts because I’m supposed to have it all – on paper, at least. People around me can tell me I am worthy, that I matter, that what I am doing has value and meaning. And at the end of the day, I still feel defeated.

I feel worthless. I truly believe that if I died, nobody would notice. When you give it 110 percent all the time, at everything you do, when you do extra day in, day out to support your students and when you never take a day off to breathe for yourself and always put your team first, it takes a toll on you when you’re told to put in more effort despite all that you do. It leaves you to question yourself and your efforts. Am I enough, ever?

When you try and try and it still feels like what you do is not enough, nothing you have ever done feels like it matters. With everything that I have going for me on paper, I sometimes feel I am not allowed to experience suicidal thoughts. I feel that because of everything I have going, I cannot be struggling anymore in life. I hold in my true thoughts and feelings because I feel like I cannot have these thoughts. I cannot struggle because I have it all. When I try to open up, I get told to suck it up. I am told that I am just tired, that because I haven’t rested then I am getting sad.

I feel that because I have a full time job, also hold two part time jobs, am a full time graduate student, and can manage the day to day happenings that come with being an adult, I cannot and should not experience suicidal thoughts. When others around me are going through something difficult, because I have had all this treatment and look OK on the outside, I feel immense and intense shame for experiencing the thoughts I have. I hold it in. I don’t let others know I am struggling.

There is a constant battle for me, between being honest with those I trust about how I am truly doing versus pretending that everything is OK and putting on a fake smile. Do I have to have permission to feel what I am feeling? Does having treatment equate to being healed? I guess I never know when or who I can share my true feelings with and that leaves me questioning if I even am allowed to struggle at all.

Getty image by kaipong

Originally published: March 14, 2022
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