When I decided to do it, I was down on my knees, crying like I’ve never cried before or since in life, begging for a sign that I could live. I loved my life once, I never had it all, but I always had enough. I had great hopes for the future, I wanted to live to see it, but the pain of living had become so unbearable that I didn’t think I could take another breath without my chest exploding from pain… I was going to kill myself to end this suffering.
Clearly I didn’t do it. What saved me was my cat’s innocent eyes. They came to me as a reminder of my promises. I had to live.
Suicide is not something people like to talk about freely. Religions condemn it, society considers it a weakness, a mistake, a tragedy. Tragedy it is, mistake it may be, but having been so close to the edge and having walked back, I can tell you it’s not a weakness. Weakness is what stopped me from doing it- I was overcome with it when I saw my little Milo.
Talking to people about these thoughts is the last thing I wanted to do. I knew exactly what everyone was going to say. But they couldn’t understand just exactly what it was that I was going through. When you’re that close to the edge, others can only take you back few steps temporarily, until you start inching closer again. What you need is to turn your back towards the precipice and start walking in the other direction, towards healing. But how can you do so when you can’t even see clearly?
Before I proceed, if you’re in need of help urgently, please call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255, or someone close to you. This post is based on my personal experience and does not offer professional or medical advice. It simply shares ways to avoid suicidal thoughts that helped me during my struggle, it is not qualified counseling.
If you’re finding yourself struggling with such thoughts, first of all, speak to someone you trust. All of the steps from my previous two posts on depression are still valid (Depression 101, Depression 201). But sometimes depression can sneak up on you like it did on me. I was mildly depressed until I lost my job. But once that happened, it was like the rug was pulled from under me and I couldn’t find my balance. I kept spiraling down until I was too close to hitting the bottom. I went from mildly depressed to this final stage within days. I only crossed the second stage during my recovery.
So how to avoid these thoughts? And not just avoid them once but toss them away for good. Try these two things:
Step 1: Give yourself a reason and keep it in front of you at all times
Your family, your friends, your pets, your garden… It could be anything. In the moments when you do think clearly, make a list of these ‘reasons’ and keep them close. Put pictures around the house if you can’t physically have them. My cats are my reason and my biggest responsibility, and they’re always around. I know no matter how bad things get, I will endure anything to keep them safe. I promised to give them a healthy, happy life and I will never break that promise. Promise yourself you will not abandon anyone or anything that depends on you and loves you.
Step 2: Remember that your death will be in vain
Harsh as it may sound, it’s true. Most often suicidal thoughts stem from events brought on my external triggers. You were hurt, mistreated, abused, it’s what someone else did. Or you incurred huge losses, lost a job, lost someone dear, these are things you couldn’t control. First of all, your death will not undo anything, it will only add more grief to the lives of those left behind. Secondly, even if the perpetrator that caused you the suffering felt remorse, you wouldn’t know it. You won’t be there to watch him/her apologize. So what’s the point then? Sure, your suffering might end, but it will end eventually if you live too- nothing lasts forever. At least in the latter case you have a possibility of great things happening.
Take that chance. Survive this crisis and live. Turn all the hurt that you’ve got inside into something meaningful. Start volunteering, share your story, or write like I’m doing. In the coming weeks I will write about all the wonderful things that have happened to me since my recovery. Although depression is a morbid topic to pick for the first series of my revamped blog, it is the most fitting considering this is truly where my journey began. It only gets better from here on, I promise 🙂