We Need to Talk About Suicide

I still think about suicide. Maybe not often but it does come up from time to time–mostly when I’m feeling overwhelmed. I think about what it would take to complete it in one go….then I think about who and what I would miss and who might miss me.

Before my two most recent hospitalizations, I was hospitalized once as a teenager. I honestly don’t remember the circumstances that clearly–I think my mom and I may have had a fight. Let me be clear, our fights were not her asking me to do something and me not wanting to do it, it was more like,”Mom, why won’t you listen to me? Please don’t leave when I’m sad.”

I didn’t realize for a long time that my mom’s behavior was abusive. She used me in a way no child should be and I suffered most of my life, believing the reason for my sadness and struggles was some inherent flaw in me. When I got into an abusive relationship a few years ago, I never thought it would happen to me. I never considered that my life up to that point had probably primed me for that type of relationship. Still, the pain was like nothing I had ever experienced and it was unbearable.

I contemplated suicide throughout my relationship. I attempted suicide too for which I was later punished by my abuser. During my relationship, I became very isolated and my world got smaller and smaller. I attempted to leave multiple times but always returned. So few doors seemed to be open to me–the thought of suicide was my only constant. It was always there if I needed it, not looming like the Grim Reaper or some terrifying bottomless chasm but like an open door, a friend even.

You see, my life had become a terrifying bottomless chasm. I suffered from PTSD because of my partner’s actions and it was followed by more abuse. Suicide beckoned me at times, almost like a rescuer,“C’mon, let’s get the hell out of here!” She held the door open for me, waiting, watching.

Sometimes I would just stand at the door and hold her hand, sobbing and frightened, my tormentor behind me, so angry. My world was shattered and chaotic. I wanted peace….just not the forever kind.

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I bring this up because although I’ve felt utterly alone at times, I know that I am not. I know there are others who’ve stood at the threshold, some who’ve passed over it and returned. And I know it is a lonely place. We are often afraid to talk about suicidal thoughts and attempts–afraid of burdening others, afraid of being misunderstood, afraid we will be committed, afraid of being shamed or abandoned. These fears are very real, many of them based on people’s actual responses to us speaking up.

I want to tell people who feel/have felt suicidal or made attempts,”You have nothing to be ashamed of. You are not crazy or weak. Suicide is not an ‘easy way out,’ it’s anything but easy. There’s nothing wrong with you, there’s most likely something wrong with your life and you sense that. You’re not selfish, you’re probably far from it. Also, we were not meant to go through this life alone and if your burden is too heavy to bear by yourself, it’s healthy and acceptable to reach out and get some help carrying it.”

I’ve got some advice, which I rarely give because I don’t like to think I know what’s best for anybody else but this feels important:

Accept yourself, question everything else.

It may sound simplistic but it’s not. Self-acceptance is a long, hard road for many of us and having the courage to speak about our pain is a MAMMOTH step in the right direction. In the meantime, start to question the beliefs that cause you pain, beliefs like: “You’re responsible for stopping/preventing people from abusing you,” and, “happiness is the most desirable thing and it’s attainable if you just apply yourself,” and,”depression and mental illness are signs of weakness/something wrong with you.” There’s a preponderance of beliefs like this and they tend to relieve people of any responsibility for each other which is just inhuman. We affect each other greatly and have the capacity to help and to harm one another.

Our lives are made up of many interactions with many different people and there’s no reason you need to do the hard parts by yourself. Talk to someone. Please don’t stay silent. You have nothing to be ashamed of. If people make you feel crappy when you speak up, they’re the ones who should be ashamed for being so callous and ignorant.  There are others, people who will listen and people who can help.

You’re not alone.

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