Welcome back friends,
After entertaining the idea of not keeping this domain a few weeks ago, I’m still here. Hopefully with something a little helpful.
September is Suicide Awareness Month, which is an area that hits close to my heart. It’s also a topic that a lot of people are scared of, so they tiptoe around it instead of discussing it with love and compassion. Or they just don’t know a lot about it. With that being said, this is a trigger warning and this is a post that will discuss suicide ideation/attempts (not in detail), but in a way to shed some understanding and knowledge on the topic … and to hopefully spark hope in anyone who is struggling. I don’t think one post is enough to conceptualize everything I think I should say about the topic, but it’s something and I really hope it’s helpful for someone.
One time I had a therapist that explained in depth, with resources, how common it is as a human to think about suicide at least one in a lifetime. That doesn’t mean it’s not serious or the people who struggle with it are any less. It does mean that we shouldn’t demonize it and make people who struggle with it feel any less or weak. Rather we all should have empathy, compassion, and conversations on how to combat these feelings and thoughts. Majority of my knowledge on this topic comes from my own personal journey with my mental health and struggles with suicide ideation and attempts throughout my life. Which again, I am trying to share in a way that is helpful for others to understand more about the topic and other to not feel alone – not in a self-pity or destructive way. So, be a kind human.
A brief backstory: If the past 3 years of therapy and inner work have taught me anything, it’s that suicide ideation was something I started entertaining as a child in response to trauma. I had never learned a better coping mechanism to deal with my strong emotions and pain, due to a lot of reasons that I don’t fee like I have to go into for most to understand. The older I got the more severe these ideas got when my life would go side ways, until the ideas and thoughts turned into attempts. Eventually attempts would get more serious every time, until I would end up in the hospital. It’s almost like I was so lost and just tired of feeling such strong emotions that leaving was a constant option in my brain. As an adult, it was because of these attempts that I found out I was struggling with Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder, which statistically increases the risk of suicide attempts and quite frankly helps explains why my brain would make that jump and decision sometimes.
For some reason, I am still here. It wasn’t easy and some days are still really hard. But I am still learning and trying…. and little by little I keep finding a little more joy in it all. For once I don’t fear that that’s going to be an option for me or something I entertain when my emotions and moods and life gets hard. I tried what I felt like was everything to be okay. So many different medications, different therapies, different therapists, self-help books and documentaries, endless amounts of research, journaling, ac!d, tracking my moods, blogging, traveling the world (which kept me alive so many times), moving, quitting new jobs, quitting school, so much more. And It almost feels like it would be wrong to not mention that yoga has helped me the most and I sincerely mean that, but I wouldn’t have made it this far without trying any of these things. It’s like I had to just keep throwing myself into everything that promised to help until it did help or lead me to something that would help more.
At some point I started using “It doesn’t hurt to keep trying, it can’t get any worse” as a very low bar mantra, which I’m not sure if that motto is for everyone, but things have gotten a lot better than I could have ever expected them to since then. Which is almost scary because I don’t want to lose all this contentment and often times excitement I have for life now, but I don’t think I will because somewhere along the way I picked up a lot more love and purpose in my heart for this life, which is something I truly never thought would be possible for me. I thought I was too damaged for too long to ever be okay or helpful or truly enjoy life. I thought I was bad because of labels put on me and things that happened to me. None of that was ever true and I am so grateful I know that now and every time I slip up and forget, I am quickly reminded that none of the bs is true and it’s just bs. Recognizing these negative ideas and my mental illness as something separate from me that I have to deal with is easier for me to deal with than thinking it’s me that’s the problem.
A big thing I have learned form these experiences, is that majority of our society strongly judges people who struggle with wanting to end their life – no matter what the judgment is; it can be pity, annoyance, thinking that they are weak or selfish, thinking they don’t have a reason to be suicidal, or thinking they just want attention (which maybe they do, but that alone is a deep rooted issue that has a lot of pain and deserves treatment and non-judgment). I know these judgments come from ones own personal garbage that they need to deal with it, but it feels like everyones responsibility in recognizing that these aren’t healthy ideas for our society in fostering healing. In addition to these judgments, there is also a big stigma that people like to place on someone who is suicidal. There’s a lot of different stigmas too. The idea that someone is only suicidal in one way is also a really big issue. For example – the warning signs to watch for in suicide that many health organizations put out to help prevent suicide – These are big warning signs and so incredibly important and I am in no-way trying to de-value or un-validate these signs. They are real and sometimes knowing these signs can save lives. However, these aren’t the only signs someone is suicidal and we, as a society, cannot hold that as the only “criteria” that someone is or isn’t struggling with suicidal ideation and attempts. For instance, as someone who struggles with BPD, I’ve had my mood flip so fast for the worst, that I thought it would never end or it was just so scary and intense that I just didn’t want to be here. The hurt and pain and struggle is still there, the risk is still there, but the flip to being okay switches back faster than someone who, let’s say, is struggling with solely depression. It needs different care because it’s a different path to the same problem. I hope that makes sense. My point is, not everyone struggles with the same issues in the same way and nobody has a right to tell anyone else their struggle is less than or that they are less deserving of care because it doesn’t meant what they think is deserving of healing and care.
On a more hopeful note: I’m here to tell you that it is worth it to keep trying…. I know what it’s like to struggle with not wanting to be here. I know what it’s like to have so much hurt and so little hope that you don’t see the point in to keep going. I know what it’s like to believe you’re an crappy human because a stigma tells you so. I know what it’s like to have mood swings that seem so impossible to control that you don’t see the point or even know how to help yourself. I know what it’s like to feel completely alone and like you have no one on your side. To feel so misunderstood. I know what it’s like to be without hope and feel helpless. I know how exhausting and sometimes embarrassing it feels to be in and out of the hospital because of your mental health. To be disappointed, to feel the hurt you’ve cause people you love. I know what it’s like to want to give up.
But I also want to say: I know what it feels like to want to be here and to feel impactful. I know what it’s like to feel proud that I kept going. I know what it’s like to have hope and feel joy. I know what it’s like to see hope in others who kept going and feel that connection and gratitude that I wasn’t alone. I know what it’s like to feel the strength I have because I know myself and know I am not awful because of a stereotype. I know what it’s like to develop skills that help control my moods and life not be boring because of it. I know what it’s like to have my friends be proud of me instead of worrying if I am going to be alive in two months or not. I know what it’s like to let go of shame and feel the strength that all that exhaustion brought. I know what it’s like to have years of pain slowly start flip around to something so much more positive and creative. I know what it feels like to keep going even when I thought I couldn’t, and It has been worth every step.
I know I sound cheesy to someone who is struggling. I know you’re rolling your eyes and saying “you just don’t understand my situation” or you’re saying “I can’t because I’ve ruined so much for myself” or you’re saying “but…__insert excuse here___”. I know some of you are probably thinking “Oh I am fine right now”, but you know deep down you have to learn how to control your emotions because stability only last for a few days for you. I know. I know because I have put up the same fight because sometimes our illness and toxic thoughts almost become comforts to us, because they are familiar and become habitual patterns at some point. But there is so much more comfort in the unfamiliar. The small steps can still get you really far if you keep taking them, even when you backtrack. You can. You will. You’re not alone even though you feel it. It’s worth it. You’re worth it. Keep trying. Life doesn’t have to be that hard forever, I promise.
For those who aren’t currently struggling. Be kind. Be compassionate. Be patient. Don’t judge or hold stigma over someone who tells you or that you see struggling. Know that we’re all trying the best that we know how.
I’m glad I am here and the moments that I am laughing so hard with my friends that I am almost crying are a constant reminder that I am glad I kept trying and influence me to keep trying. I am glad I’m alive and thriving (yes for me this is thriving).