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What a ‘Typical’ Day Looks Like With Chronic Suicidal Thoughts

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Editor's Note

If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, visit this resource.

It’s 8 a.m. and I wake up, often wishing I didn’t. “Why couldn’t I have just passed peacefully in my sleep?” I ask myself. But with a long sigh, I know I have to face the day eventually. Many times, I don’t have it in me to brush my teeth, so I take my medicine, go downstairs and make my morning coffee. I bring it back up and crawl into bed once again. I don’t want to deal with today. What’s the point?

I’ll do my morning prayers, and sometimes watch a sermon online, trying to motivate myself for the day. By 9 a.m. I open my laptop for work. It’s hard to change out of the clothes I slept in, and most times, I don’t. Sometimes I’ll brush my hair, but I’ve gotten into the habit of keeping my camera off during meetings, so why should I? Sometimes I can’t even walk the 2 feet from my bed to my desk, and I’ll just curl up under the covers with my computer.

I respond to emails, do the work I need to and sit in meetings. I beat myself up for not being able to talk more articulately, and as soon as I hang up, I often find myself in tears or having a panic attack. My thoughts start to spiral. Why am I like this? How have I not gotten fired yet? I have the least experience and knowledge of anyone at this company; haven’t they realized they hired me by mistake? I’m worthless. I don’t belong here. I don’t belong anywhere. I wish I could leave, I just don’t want to feel this pain anymore.

I might take a nap, trying to block the day out. Other times, in an attempt to feel a little better, I’ll wander downstairs throughout the day where my roommates are working virtually, too. I’ll lie on the couch, maybe make something to eat. I distract myself with TikToks and mindless scrolling through social media, scared of being alone with my thoughts. I try to force myself to run a few miles, partly because I know I need to get outside, but partly because the voices of my eating disorder tend to get loud at this point in the day. As I run through the city, I imagine what would happen if I got hit by a car out of nowhere. The thought passes, and I push myself to keep going.

If I make it for a run, I’ll shower. Washing my hair is too much work. I’ll put on pajamas, even if it’s only 4 p.m., and wonder what I should do for the next 8 hours. I try to spend the evenings downstairs as opposed to isolated in my room. Maybe I’ll make dinner and watch something with my roommates. Maybe I’ll try to pull out my guitar or keyboard and hope music can lift my spirits. Eventually, I head to bed, even though I know I won’t be asleep for hours. I take my medicine, but don’t have it in me to brush my teeth.

As I turn off my lights, it hits. This is when it’s the worst. The darkness of the night consumes me. My thoughts go haywire. I have urges to self-harm. I feel like a burden and don’t want to reach out to anyone. Some nights, I spend hours crying; on others, I lie numb, unable to feel anything. I don’t want to wake up in the morning, not to just do this all over again. I tell myself that while I can deal with suicidal thoughts to some extent forever, I can’t keep going at this extent. It’s too dark, it’s too painful and it’s too much.

That’s what a day with chronic suicidal thoughts can look like for me. And I’ve done it over, and over, and over — for years. While my brain often convinces me I’m weak, when I really sit down and look at how much I put into just staying alive — it blows my mind. This might not make sense to people who haven’t been there. What did I actually accomplish with my day? Mediocre hygiene, not getting fired and exercising a little. It doesn’t seem very impressive. But I eventually got out of bed. I took a shower, which I don’t always do. I took my medicine. I didn’t self-harm, despite having urges to. While work was stressful, I completed what needed to be done. I socialized a bit, even if it was just with my roommates. I made it through the day. Despite my brain screaming at me that the world would be better without me, I chose to stay. I chose to hope. I chose to hold onto the slightest possibility that maybe my life won’t always be like this. Maybe one day I’ll look forward to tomorrow.

If you can relate at all, I want you to know you’re not alone. I know how isolating it can be to constantly deal with suicidal thoughts day-in, day-out. I know how draining it is, even though it’s not a struggle people can see. But you’re doing it. You’re still here, you still have air in your lungs and that is not by accident. You have a purpose. If you’re not dead, you’re not done. So, while I know these things are heavy, and even though we may not be able to see the “better days ahead,” we’ll keep choosing to believe they exist. We’ll keep showing up. And one day, I think we’ll be glad we did.

Photo by Yohann LIBOT on Unsplash

Originally published: August 27, 2020
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