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33 Habits of People Who Deal With Chronic 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.

When you live with suicidal thoughts, the monologue inside your head might sound like this: “I just want the pain to stop.” “People will be better off without you.” “You shouldn’t exist anymore.” 

When you’re living with chronic suicidal thoughts, that monologue rarely stops.

This persistence can make it exhausting and painful to get through one day, one hour or even just one moment. And in those moments, sometimes we need little reminders or coping strategies to help us keep going.

That is why we asked people in our Mighty mental health community who live with suicidal thoughts to share a “habit” they’ve developed that’s helped them keep living. While it can be hard to make those thoughts completely disappear, learning to manage them is so important — because you’re important, and in case no one’s told you this today: we’re so glad you’re here.

Here is what our community told us:

  1. “I ‘self-procrastinate.’ Basically, I tell myself to ‘wait for this moment to happen,’ or ‘wait for that event, then you can do it.’ But I keep adding more things to wait for. It could be anything from a family reunion to something as simple as a new season of my favorite show. It’s kept me alive for this long, so I keep doing it.” — Shayna K.
  2. “I have an app on my phone where for each day I go without attempting or self-harming, I get to mark it green; if I did, I have to mark it red. Seeing the number of days in green go up is addicting and it makes me feel proud. I am now at 246 days. This is the only way that I’ve ever been able to stay clean!” — Megan D.
  3. “I put a timer on for 20 minutes and pull out one of my Harry Potter books. I started reading them when Harry Potter came out when I was 10. I was already chronically suicidal at that age. The magical world helps me get lost. After my timer goes off in 20 minutes, I have distracted myself enough to at least use another coping skill — or keep reading.” — Olivia L.
  4. “I sleep them off. I know this probably isn’t the healthiest to do, but when it gets bad I know that if I sleep them off they’ll be gone by the time I wake up. It’s a way for me to escape.” — Caelynn C.
  5. “I go driving late at night because it’s enough to satiate the thoughts without me dying.” — Kristen M.
  6. “I spend time with my dog and if I can’t be with her, I look at her pictures on my phone. I know that even if none of the humans in my life would miss me, she would.” — Lauren M.
  7. “‘Thank you, Mind’ has been a life saver for me. When my intrusive, self-destructive/suicidal thoughts happen, simply saying ‘Thank you, Mind’ or ‘Aight cool, thanks brain’ can help me ride through the thought. By simply acknowledging it I take control in a way. I don’t feed into it, I don’t engage. Acknowledge and dismiss. Mindfulness itself as a tool helps too.” — Kelsey E.
  8. “I started to swim 5 km to 10 km a day, six days a week with the goal of swimming 30 km across the ocean to the mainland to raise money for mental health in B.C. ‘We’re not here to save the world, we’re here to save ourselves and in the process saving the world.’ Joseph Campbell” — Matt G.
  9. “I keep handwritten notes and screenshots of texts from friends reminding me that they love me and care about me. I will read those in the dark times to combat the lies my brain is telling me.” — Lieryn B.
  10. “I plan things. I also have to have a job I love (I would feel bad leaving them high and dry). But I plan lots of vacations. Not all at the same time, some I have three years down the road, but it keeps me going having something to look forward to.” — Erica K.
  11. “If I find myself having an intrusive suicidal thought, I say ‘Stop!‘ (sometimes I yell it out loud and sometimes I say it in my head). Then, I count to 10 while taking deep breaths. Finally, I make a list of things I am living for. For example: my daughter, my fiancé, my parents and siblings, my dog that gives me unconditional love every second of every day. The list goes on and on until I feel the intrusive thoughts leaving my mind, and instead my mind is filled with positive thoughts.” — Christina M.
  12. “Doing one thing I enjoy a day. Maybe it’s video games that take my mind off of something, feeding a stray cat or taking a walk around the block.” — Jessica H.
  13. “I keep buying yarn and tatting thread because I can’t go as long as I have craft projects to finish.” — Cheryl B.
  14. “I take a maker pen and draw lines or random things on my arms to distract me.” — Fiona H.
  15. “I always recite to myself these thoughts: ‘I remember time doesn’t stop for anyone. It keeps going. If I don’t keep living, no one’s going to live for me or the life I want. Only I can. And nothing stays the same. Even six months makes all the difference. Hang on. Even if it’s rock bottom, because it only goes up from here.’” — Taylor B.
  16. “Singing helps me when I’m down, even if you’re terrible at first and couldn’t carry a tune if it were in a bucket with a lid, sing. And on the days I can barely function and get out of bed, I find a comfy spot anywhere in the house besides the bed and lay or sit there meditating and reflecting. I reflect on anything that pops into my mind as thoroughly as possible, usually a long series of me wondering why things in the world are the way they are, why people are the way they are, what all the possible factors are that have led to today being the way it is. I end up dissecting anything and everything in my brain from the physical, emotional, mental to the spiritual and metaphysical.” — Ivan E.
  17. “I hold my dog close, shut my eyes, listen to her heartbeat until I have a gripe on myself. I know she loves and needs me. That helps balance me out. She’s my lifeline.” — Tammy R.
  18. “I write the thoughts down when they get really strong and loud. Somehow if I can picture them out of my mind they shut up inside my mind.” — Ana A.
  19. “I like to schedule events, like a play date with my niece and nephew or lunch with a friend, or a call with my sister. It gives me something to look forward to, and reminds me that there are people who need me just like I need them.” — Candice G.
  20. “Playing guitar or piano has always helped me through overcoming my suicidal thoughts. I end up writing how I feel. Add chords that match my mood and play. Then it turns my mood from being suicidal to being calm. I’ve used this method most times and if I feel it doesn’t work — which has only happened once — I go to trumpet. But no matter what music helps me” — Keelie A.
  21. “Keep your hands and mind busy with work. That being work work, or school work. If these are busy, you tend to concentrate on what’s in front of you rather than what’s going on around you or in your mind. Bathing daily is also helpful. It shuts the mind off and changes your body temperature which I find helps the body to relax. Especially if you light some scented candles and play your favorite music.” — Megan C.
  22. “I sing the song ‘Here Comes a Thought‘ from Steven Universe to myself under my breath, over and over and over and over again until I feel safe. I also do a lot of rocking. I rock a lot in general now, but at night and early morning is when I get most suicidal. When the bad thoughts come, I curl up as small as I can and rock myself like a baby until the thoughts become a soft murmur in my head.” — Nicole L.
  23. “When suicidal thoughts pop in my mind, I will either try to take a nap or I’ll take a walk. I live in a small town with some trails nearby and lots of trees. I walk through to try and connect with nature and put my thoughts of things on a better path. It also keeps me away from anything I could hurt myself with.” — Katharine P.
  24. “I write myself notes when I am OK to remind myself that when the darker times come, it will get better and that I have been through a lot and have survived. I also include things I am thankful for: sunshine, waves, chocolate, etc. Somehow, seeing my words telling me to ‘hang in’ helps” — Martha F.
  25. “One very meaningful thing I always turn to is music. Sometimes I play music according to how I feel in that moment (sometimes with a ton of sobbing), and then will uplift with other tracks to help center myself after. I constantly re-list who I matter to and why leaving would hurt them so bad. When that isn’t enough, I’ll call one of my best friends and vent until it makes sense why staying alive is beneficial. Now that I have taken counseling, it helps me further compartmentalize my thoughts from my depression and anxiety.” — Lauren R.
  26. “It’s a trick I learned from a TV show. You can hold on to almost everything for 10 minutes, so I divide my day into 10 minute slices, and repeat this mantra ‘You did it for 10 minutes, you can do it for 10 more minutes, you will do it for 10 more minutes’. By shortening my goals, I’m less scared, and it usually calms me down quite fast.” — Sandra A.
  27. “I go to Pinterest and type in the search tumblr funny. Within a short while I am laughing. I can still feel the beast pushing against my wall, but as long as I am laughing I can hold back that wall.” — Christa G.
  28. “I make ‘gratitude’ posts online, even when I’m struggling to think of anything to be grateful for or positive about. If I don’t have anything else, my first post is always ‘you folks’ to remind my friends that I am grateful for them, and then I open up the post to anyone who has something to add. By the end of it, whether I started with a list of things or not, I feel a bit lighter, more positive and connected to my friends.” — Hilary H.
  29. “I take a moment every day, and especially in times of extreme lows, to go outside and look up! Something about watching the clouds roll by or gazing into the night sky with twinkling stars makes my mind reset for a bit. It’s my mini pause button on life!” — Roxy R.
  30. “When I’m struggling to distract myself and I’m feeling suicidal or the urge to self harm I don’t move. I literally stay where I am (making sure it’s a safe space) and don’t allow myself to move at all. I figure if I can’t move, I can’t hurt myself.” — Natalie L.
  31. “I talk to my husband. I try to be honest about everything that’s running through my mind, and he can normally talk me down. I also cuddle with my cat or dog, whoever is closest and available. And maybe take a nap, because I get so tired when suicidal thoughts start coming.” — Lillie S.
  32. “Mindfulness — understanding at that moment of chaos. I dunk my head in cold water. It snap me out. I understand my voices tell me to do stuff, but I look at photos. And realize if I go, who is going to make my friends smile and help my daughter. Sometimes I use a rubber band on my wrist so I feel pain but no harm.” — Daniel C.
  33. “I paint. I sit with my thoughts and I paint them out. When I’m done I destroy the paintings and it feels like I’m destroying those thoughts.” — Brelyn M.

Unsplash image via Callie Gibson

Originally published: July 3, 2018
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