(image source: http://www.forastateofhappiness.com/tag/suicide-prevention/)
Its kind of a scary thing to say that I’ve has suicidal thoughts. More people can relate to other symptoms of depression like feeling sad, being tired all the time or not wanting to get out of bed. These are taboo but not as stigmatised as suicidal thoughts. Thinking about not existing anymore is not as relatable. It’s not as easy for people who haven’t had a mental illness to understand. (This can also be said for self-harm. You can read more about it HERE).
I’m wording it deliberately. Not wanting to exist anymore is the way I would put it. This is all from my experience and I can’t talk for everyone who has had suicidal thoughts. I don’t have an obsession with gore or dying. I just don’t to be alive any longer and the only way to achieve that is dying. If I could have just flicked a switched so I stop living and there was no trace of me ever having existed, I would have.
We need to tackle this widescale problem
The idea of suicidal thoughts might seem shocking to you but I am not alone. It’s hard to tell how many people have suicidal thoughts (or suicidal ideation) as it is also called. It’s a private thing that might be never shared. However, across the world 800,000 people die by suicide every year. Imagine just how many people have suicidal thoughts but don’t go through with it. It’s probably a huge number.
But why I am even talking about this? As I am writing this, it is suicide prevention month. I think a big part of how we prevent such a huge amount of people dying from suicide is to talk and end the stigma around it. If you have had suicidal thoughts, there is nothing to be ashamed about. You did nothing wrong. It’s not your fault that the processes in your brain told you that you couldn’t cope and the world was better off without you. You can’t be blamed for your mind lying to you. If people feel able to talk about suicidal thoughts before they turn to suicide attempts, I think it would make a difference, don’t you?
I am not ashamed to say there have been times when I have thought about ending my own life.
This is my story
There were two particular times in my life where I really thought about dying. They were two quite different situations. I have lived with depression for quite a long time now. I was diagnosed at sixteen but it probably started before that. I was at a time in my life where I really hated myself. I didn’t think I was worth anything. I was convinced pretty much everyone hated me. Most of all I thought my life would amount to nothing.
This wasn’t just exam pressure. For the first time, I had really thought about the future and I couldn’t see myself achieving anything at all. I don’t know why. There wasn’t a specific trigger. Unless you can call the degradation of the school system a trigger which is possible. There wasn’t anything to suggest that I would experience depression and it would get as severe as suicidal ideation. But it did. The more I lived with depression and the horrific thoughts that went through my mind, the more I didn’t want to live anymore. It was too painful. I hurt too much. I genuinely considered not existing anymore. I didn’t want to go on.
What stopped me? I was scared. I didn’t know how to do it. I didn’t want to fail and have to deal with the consequences. I didn’t want my parents to hurt. Thinking about the aftermath for my friends and family was really hard. Fortunately, I was able to get some psychological help in time but I find it easy to see how without intervention, the things that were holding me back could have been worn down.
Relapse after healing
After that, slowly and with a lot of effort, my mental health improved. My down days didn’t tend to involve suicidal thoughts. I was doing better. We can fast-forward to not long before my twentieth birthday. I was at university studying a course I loved. I was supposed to be having the time of my life. Instead I was thinking about whether to keep living or not.
As I have written about before, I was in an abusive relationship. That in itself destroyed my mental health. As well as feeling worthless and constantly stressed, I felt trapped. I couldn’t handle the situation I was in but I didn’t think I could get out. He had isolated me, manipulated me, made me do things I was ashamed of and I was terrified of him. Not feeling like I could get out of the terrible situation I was in; I believed my only option to end the pain was to end my life.
Fortunately, with the help of some wellbeing advisors at university and some incredible friends and family, I was able to get out alive. Once again what was holding me back was my friends and family. Through the awful relationship, I had already put them through a lot. But there was also a fear of my attempt not working and the reaction of my abusive partner.
This matters for everyone
Clearly anybody in any situation can experience suicidal ideation to different levels. Different things stop people from going through with it. Healing can come in all sorts of forms. Healing will be a lot easier for everyone if there wasn’t any stigma around admitting to suicidal thoughts. Shame doesn’t save anybody.
I hope I never experience suicidal thoughts again. They are horrible and the mental state that brings you to the point of considering ending your own life is really terrible. But I can’t say that I won’t. I don’t know what the future will bring. Mental illness is a legitimate and widespread issue. I just want to create a world where those who need it can reach out for help or warning signs can be spotted before it is too late.
I am living proof that you can have suicidal thoughts and survive them. What your mind tells you isn’t always the truth. I thought I couldn’t survive the future and I did. I thought I wasn’t able to leave my abusive relationship and I did. You can survive and succeed too, I promise you. Things might not change today or tomorrow but everything, absolutely everything, passes no matter how unbearable it is.
If you need some support or would like some more information, here are some useful links.