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What It's Like to Crave Life While Having 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 never wanted to die, but I have had many days where I didn’t feel alive. It’s a dichotomy that plagues many people in this world who are going through a war behind their eyes. In my life, I have had so many days where I just wanted to go to sleep and live in my dreams, not in reality. The dreams were often more enjoyable and they were safe; life was often painful and draining.

A couple of years ago after I left work, I had a severe moment of anxiety that left a lasting memory — a reminder of how tormented I have been by fighting a mental illness. What should have been a 45 minute drive home took me four hours. I gave my anxiety the keys, so to speak, and barely made it 20 miles across town that night. I was miserable and simply wanted to arrive home and rest. I didn’t want to die, even though thoughts of suicide had crossed my mind on occasion. My soul craved life, not death. It was often in moments when my obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) became overwhelming that being alive felt more like torture, not a blessing.

Many of you may have had moments in your life where you felt as if life was too painful to keep going. I am convinced that deep down inside us is a craving for life, not death. We just don’t want the pain to continue and death seems to be the only option, even though that is a lie.

“I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.” — Agatha Christie

Was Agatha right, or is that just a catchy fluffed-up load of rubbish? Is it really possible to see life as a “grand thing” when sorrow, pain and heartache seem to follow us through each day like a shadow?

According to a study by the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention, 1,400,000 people attempted suicide in 2017, while 47,173 died in their attempts. So many people are hurting and feeling so alone that they see no other way out than to end it all. Maybe I’m simplistic, but I truly believe that no one wants to die. Everyone craves life but when life hurts like hell, it feels as if life has passed us by. The lie starts to speak to us saying, “Your life will be full of despair forever. You’ll never find a better future.” When we believe that lie, suicide emerges in our minds. It’s not that we want it as much as we just can’t stand the despair and the pain.

Similarly, not only does suicide plague the human race, so does the issue of self-harm.

A teenager once contacted me to talk about her struggle with self-harm. As she talked about the pain and the confusion in her life, my heart was breaking. Deep within her soul she was created for life, not self-destruction. Yet the lie of despair screamed so loudly in her head that she looked for some form of peace through self-inflicted pain. The truth is that you will never find peace through pain and self-harm. It’s a lie that is destroying so many young people (and adults), and debilitating futures full of beauty and wonder.

The human soul craves life, not death and self-harm. I’m convinced that no one wants to die, but that so few of us feel like we’re alive.

Many people are walking through life wishing that things would get better — that they would enjoy living, not just tolerate their own existence. In a world full of evil and heartache, it’s easier to embrace the lie that life has passed us by rather than believe the truth that we always have hope for a better tomorrow. Trust me, I get it. I’ve been in those places of deep darkness more than I ever imagined was possible, and it has left scars on my life that I will likely carry for many years to come. But at the end of the day, I can also tell you that healing is real, hope is real and life is worth living.

The past couple of years have been filled with moments of great success in my war against OCD, while also stumbling at times along the way. I’m far from perfect or “cured,” but I’m also far from the despairing man I once was years ago. Even though I am still fighting this battle, life is far better now than it was in my darkest days. I see beauty in life in some of the most simple things, whether it be a cup of coffee, writing, talking with a friend or reading a book. What was once mundane has now shown me beauty that I never noticed before.

Hope is a reminder and a voice that calls us to pursue life, not death. When we hope in a better tomorrow, we begin to see a better version of life that can be different from the pain we’re currently experiencing. Hope doesn’t leave us where we are, but it calls us to move into the future with expectation. No one is devoid of hope, but so many people need the reminder that their current suffering will not last forever.

Each one of us is given numerous opportunities to speak hope and life to the people we interact with daily, even if it’s as simple as a smile and a kind word to someone you meet. Hope is contagious. Very rarely have I been around someone who was filled with hope and a passion for life without being affected (or infected). We are all given the opportunity to be that hope giver to the people we interact with daily.

We all crave life. What many people don’t realize is that they have a hope and a future beyond the pain in which they’re currently residing. We are given the opportunity to love one another, including ourselves. We all need a voice of hope in our lives and we can be that voice of hope to another person.

Your soul craves life, not death. If you’re suffering and filled with despair, do not give in to the lie that death is the way out. Cling tightly to hope — hope that you have a better future and that life is still beautiful.

Originally published: May 10, 2019
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