EXTRA! SO VERY EXTRA!

Sifting through Suicidal Thoughts

In and other uncomfortable topics, Depression and Mental Health, Encouragement, Uncategorized on April 3, 2014 at 3:20 am

First, I have to say that suicidal ideation is not a laughing matter. If you are having suicidal thoughts, please be kind to yourself and do not pressure yourself to do anything suddenly. You do, however, need to seek professional assistance. I am not a doctor or medical professional (they won’t even let me play one on TV). If you are in a crisis situation, you should go to a safe space and call 911. There are trained professionals available to talk at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

What I say below is not the result of science, and it is not an organized therapy plan. What I say below is simply a collection of anecdotes and thoughts.

I have experienced suicidal thoughts several times in my life. The sad thing is that people rarely talk about suicidal ideation, and focus instead on the aftermath of suicide itself: the loss, the sadness, the grief. Talking about suicidal thoughts is a particularly stripping, bleaching, burning, vulnerable experience. I know that former and potential future supervisors might read this; former students and parents of students; family members; friends. All of those people might read this.

But, some of those people are likely experiencing suicidal thoughts right now and have no idea where to turn or what to do. Thankfully, I have lived through all of my bouts with suicidal thoughts–and I anticipate being able to make it through any future bouts.

1. When I am in that PLACE, I feel lost and disoriented.

I always remind myself that I have been in this PLACE before. That’s what it is: an emotional and mental location. Just like any other location, I took a path to get to that PLACE and, maybe, retracing my steps will take me away from that location.

Can you go back the way you came? Can you look at each emotional road marker that got you there and realize that the opposite could be equally true? If you can do that, maybe you get away from that PLACE.

2. Often, I get to that PLACE because I am involved in a tough life problem and I cannot see a way to solve that problem. The more I cannot see a way to solve the problem, the large the problem seems, and the harder it seems to solve. Then, I begin to think that if I cannot solve this problem, my life and myself will be a disappointment.

And, the sad thing is that there are some people in the world who will focus on your failures, your weaknesses, and your disappointing moments more than your triumphs, your strengths, and your everyday average glories. Those people are assholes. For some reason, seeing you alive and striving for peace and balance really pisses them off.

Your life is not a scale in which you must outweigh each failure with two triumphs. I have no empirical proof, but life just does not work that way.

3. Sometimes, I get to that PLACE because the criticisms of others have soaked into me and become a constant inner banter of negative talk.

I find it odd that I never play the positive words of others on loop in my brain. I have to remind myself of the positive words that others have spoken to me. Perhaps that is because critical people are more likely to talk (far too much). Perhaps that is because I am wired to best remember negativity. A more likely answer is that I am giving space and power to people who do not deserve either in my life.

Begin to exercise power in your life by resolving to live tomorrow with the purpose of pushing those people into a menial and small place in your life.

4. While I am in that PLACE, I feel silenced and ostracized.

I have to remind myself that there are people who will truly listen and empathize.

When I was in law school, I was a part of an amazing therapy group. Obviously, group therapy means that everyone comes with the expectation of having to listen and empathize and share and feel. But, these people showed me that there are people who want to help and listen and feel and share. But, I have to make the effort to share and be open.

I urge you to reach out. Your hurts are just as serious and critical as knife wounds. Hearing another voice or seeing another face may help you to contextualize what you are feeling. You may not, through one conversation or meeting or call, find a solution to what is hurting you. But, you may recover a spark of hope that can get you through the next minute; the next hour; the next 2 hours; and, on until tomorrow.

Remember, there are assholes out in the world. Please don’t be swayed by the thoughtless words of some jerk. Keep pushing until you find a safe person to talk to. You are not alone. Maybe I have not been exactly where you are, but I have been somewhere similar.

5. I often get to that PLACE because my mind is racing and attempting to tackle the challenges of other days, weeks, and months.

Take it moment by moment. You don’t need to solve the entire problem right now. Focus on solving the next minute right now. This may sound discouraging, but each minute presents its own small challenge(s) that you can overcome.

When I am in that PLACE, looking ahead to the future is not usually helpful because of how powerless I feel and how unlikely a bright future seems.

6. Try to be powerful–even in small ways. Dialing that hotline number is a way to be powerful. Making a doctor’s appointment is a way to be powerful. Being insistent about getting help is a way to be powerful. Getting up to go sit at Starbuck’s so you can be around other people is a way to be powerful.

I made it, and I am in no way remarkable. You can make it, too. Your life is worth living. Please leave that PLACE.

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