Note: Trigger warning. If you’re in the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. It’s taboo to be talking about suicide, first of all. Even among depression patients, people (even those among psychiatric patients) cover it up with vanilla statements as “I did a bad thing,” or “I tried to take away my own life.” It’s not too kosher to say that you tried to kill yourself outright to acquaintances or close friends, as if the thought was contagious or offensive.
This is not to say that it is not a serious matter, or should be taken lightly or presented to strangers in a straightforward way. But we need to talk about it so that people who need the help can reach out easily and get it. Most people going through suicide ideation need your help so that they don’t choose the permanent solution to a temporary problem.
For me it came during a time of severe psychological anguish. I am not a scientist, but I know that something went wrong in my brain due to pent up stress and traumas causing some kind of a serotonin imbalance, and my brain deemed it reasonable for me that dying was the easiest way out of this mess. To the outside onlooker, I looked like a successful 24 year old with a high paying job which I was having some trouble with. I’m usually a problem solver and a logical thinker. I’m also good at doing things I don’t like to do, if I’m responsible for something or someone. The thought of suicide was an alien thing, alien from the rest of my thoughts that loved and cared for my parents, my friends and those who were close to me. This alien voice that I found to be mine told me that I had no future, and that everyone was out to get me, that I didn’t deserve to live, or deserve the things I was given. The voice told me that I was dumb and I didn’t belong in the world. This voice was coming from me, but I would have never wanted to say that to a good friend, never mind myself. But at the time it was impossible to not hear what it wanted to say because it was so loud.
Look, it’s not supposed to make sense. People with these thoughts (like me at the time) have thoughts they can’t control because they’re sick. They need help. We need help.
What stopped me from going through the plan (which I won’t describe, because that probably won’t help anyone) was when I wrote down my will. For my family and my close friends. Apologizing and saying that this was the best for everyone. My logical brain read what I wrote (I was checking for errors) and said, “huh?” That stopped what I was doing that night.
But that was just the first time when I had suicidal thoughts. I’ve fought through several now, too many to count. It’s a lot easier to fight them when you’re on the correct medication and a good support system, I found.
Now, fast forward a few more months- months and months of inpatient hospitalizations, medication trial and error, and therapy, and lots of DBT training, I infrequently have thoughts like the above that leads to thoughts of suicide. But even today, I’m recovering, and as a safety net, I have a suicide prevention number saved on my phone in my favorites. They say that the likelihood of those thoughts recurring is higher for someone who has tried, so you never know.
Everyone has their demons. And this one is mine- it’s impulsive, and somewhat random, and not something I wished for. But I’m getting a better handle on it because I look for warning signs. I track my mood daily using an app (eMoods, if you’re interested) to see how my depression, anxiety, irritability, elevated feeling, and moods are doing, and I can easily see if I’m falling in my depression cycle. Moods below 3 are alarming, and must be address to my therapist, or my support system. Nowadays, I don’t let it get there. Days when my depression is high, I scale back on the things I’m doing that day, if I can. I also track how much I sleep, which is correlated with my depression and anxiety, and I never ever forget my meds. It’s frightening to realize after you’ve gone through a failed suicide attempt, that you do have the ability to commit something so terrible, something that will ruin lives, and that it is not impossible. It’s not an easy thought to live with, but you learn to manage.