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What Pulled Me Out of the Downward Spiral of Suicidal Thoughts

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When I heard about National Suicide Prevention Week, I knew I wanted to emphasize and attempt to bring awareness to this cause through my posts. I made some rather grand plans for what I would write about each day: the time my roommate Jenny spoke words of encouragement after I had been through a most severe bout with suicidal ideations, words that continue to give me strength in hard times; the plan I have in place that I always use to get help and support whenever my brain goes to those extremes and I cannot reel it back in on my own; the people who have helped me over the years in unexpected ways; the warning signs to look out for in yourself and others. I even dug out a poem I wrote in middle school the very first time I faced this battleground that I considered sharing.

I was ready to write it all. I started by journaling about my past, going back in time and trying to console the little girl I was when all this started. (When it comes down to it, I think I’ve been trying to save that little girl ever since she fell and no one was able to catch her.) By the next day, I had spiraled down, out of control, to the depths I was trying to raise awareness about preventing.

So I went through with my support plan that I always use. I told my husband. I called the emergency line for my psychiatrist, who called me back within the hour. I explained my symptoms, and we came up with a plan to get me stable again and when to call her again if the plan wasn’t working. I took two days off work. I slept. I rested. I spent time in nature, going on a hike with my husband and talking about meaningful (but safe) things. I didn’t go anywhere or do anything alone for a few days, until I knew I was out of the danger zone. I listened to uplifting music and avoided revisiting my past. I did not write a single post for National Suicide Prevention Week.

I was up early one morning that week, watching the sun rise and writing some thoughts down, when something dawned on me. At the bottom of the heartbreak of this trip into my past, I came to a very important realization: I cannot save the little girl who went through that trauma so many years ago. I cannot take away her pain, and I cannot go back in time to walk with her through that lonely time. I cannot reverse what has happened, no matter what I do.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t care for her today. She still lives in me, that little girl with the broken heart and lonely determination to rise above it all — she’s still here. She lives on within me. And I can take care of her now. I can love her right here, right now, by giving her the things that bring her joy. Taking her on hikes, creating artwork, writing and doing all the things she loves so much. I can feed her well, and listen to her when she says I’m asking too much of her, whether it’s when I’m overworking myself or not spending enough time with people who fill my bucket. I can love her now the way she didn’t feel loved back then; I can give her now what she wished for then.

This has been a challenging week for unexpected reasons. I wasn’t even going to write this, but a trusted source told me this would be a worthy investment, so here we are. I hope this post is meaningful to those who read it. I hope it helps those who need to hear it. We cannot erase the pain of our past, but we can transcend it by the love we offer ourselves now. I may never fully heal. I may always hurt when I think of 11-year-old me. But I can love that little girl into the future, and give her the happily ever after she so hoped would one day embrace her.

I hope for the same for whoever reads this — may you find ways to love yourself, and give yourself the happily ever after you’ve dreamed of finding.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

Originally published: September 21, 2020
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