What’s It Like to Be Suicidal? This Is My Experience, and How I Got Through It

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How we see the world shapes who we choose to be — and sharing compelling experiences can frame the way we treat each other, for the better. This is a powerful perspective.

At times, I’ve struggled with suicidal thoughts, even on a weekly basis.

Sometimes I’m able to ignore them. I might be driving to meet a friend for brunch and briefly think about driving my car off the road. The thought might catch me off-guard, but it quickly passes through my mind and I go about my day.

But other times, these thoughts stick around. It’s like a huge weight is dropped onto me, and I’m struggling to get out from underneath it. I suddenly get an intense urge and desire to end it all, and the thoughts can start to overwhelm me.

In those moments, I’m convinced I’ll do anything to get out from under that weight, even if it means ending my life. It’s like there’s a glitch in my brain that’s triggered and my mind goes haywire.

Even if that glitch is actually temporary, it can feel like it will last forever
With time, though, I’ve become more aware of these thoughts and found ways to manage when things get tough. It’s taken a lot of practice, but simply being aware of the lies my brain tells me when I’m suicidal helps to combat them.

If this last year has taught me anything, it’s that no matter what depression tells you, there’s always hope.
Here are four ways my suicidal ideation shows up, and how I’ve learned to cope.

1. When it feels impossible to focus on anything other than my pain, I look for a distraction
When I’m suicidal, I struggle to listen to reason — I only care about relief. My emotional pain is intense and overwhelming, so much so that it’s hard to concentrate or think about anything else.

If I find that I can’t focus, I sometimes turn to my favorite TV shows, like “Friends” or “Seinfeld.” They bring me a sense of comfort and familiarity that I need in those times, and it can be a great distraction when reality gets to be too much. I know all of the episodes by heart, so I’ll usually lay there and listen to the dialogue.

It can help me pull back from my suicidal thoughts and refocus on getting through another day (or just another hour).

Sometimes all we can do is wait for the thoughts to pass and then regroup. Watching a favorite show is a great way to pass the time and keep ourselves safe.
2. When I’m convinced that everyone would be better off without me, I challenge those thoughts
My loved ones would never want me to die by suicide, but when I’m in crisis, it’s hard for me to think clearly.

There’s a voice in my head that tells me how much better off my parents would be if they didn’t need to support me financially, or if my friends didn’t have to take care of me when I’m at my worst. No one would have to answer the late-night calls and texts or come over when I’m in the midst of a breakdown — isn’t that better for everyone?

But the reality is, I’m the only one that thinks that.

My family wouldn’t recover if I died, and my loved ones know that being there for someone when things get tough is a part of life. They would rather answer those late-night calls than lose me forever, even if I struggle to believe that in the moment.

When I’m in this headspace, it usually helps to spend some time with Petey, my rescue dog. He’s my best friend and has been there through it all this past year. On most mornings, he’s the reason I get out of bed.

I know he needs me to stick around and take care of him. Since he was already abandoned once, I could never leave him. Sometimes that thought alone is enough to keep me hanging on.

Challenge your thoughts about loved ones being better off without you by not only thinking through the reality, but spending time with loved ones — pets included.
3. When I struggle to see my other options, I reach out to my therapist — or I go to sleep
Being suicidal is, in some ways, a form of total emotional exhaustion. I’m tired of having to force myself out of bed each morning, having to take all of these medications that don’t seem to be working, and crying constantly.

Struggling with your mental health day in and day out is very tiring, and when I’ve reached my limit, it can feel as though I’m just too broken — that I need a way out.

It helps to check in with my therapist, though, and be reminded of all of the progress I’ve made so far.
Instead of focusing on the step backward, I can refocus on the two steps forward I took just before that — and how other forms of treatment I haven’t tried yet can help me get back on my feet again.

On the nights when the ideations are most intense and it’s too late to check in with my therapist, I take a couple of Trazadone, which are antidepressants that can be prescribed as a sleep aid (Melatonin or Benadryl can also be used as sleep aids, and purchased over-the-counter).

I only take them when I feel unsafe and don’t want to make any impulsive decisions, and it helps to ensure that I make it through the night. In my experience, those impulsive decisions would’ve been the wrong choice, and I almost always wake up the next morning feeling a little better.

4. When I feel completely and utterly alone, I push myself to reach out
When I’m dealing with suicidal ideations, it can feel like no one understands what I’m going through, but I also don’t know how to articulate it or ask for help.

It’s hard enough to try and explain to someone why you feel the desire to die, and sometimes, even opening up just leads to feeling misunderstood.

Even if it can feel awkward or scary at first, it’s important to reach out in these moments and keep yourself safe
If I’m feeling suicidal, I know the worst thing I can do is try to go it alone. It took me a long time to work up the courage to call someone when I was feeling this way, but I’m glad I did. Calling my mom and best friends has saved my life multiple times, even if in the moment I wasn’t convinced it would.

Sometimes you have to ignore the part of your brain that tells you it isn’t worth it, and pick up the phone anyway
Now when I’m feeling suicidal, I call a friend I trust or my parents.
If I don’t feel like talking, just having someone on the other side of the phone can still be comforting. It reminds me that I’m not alone, and that I (and the choices that I make) matter to someone.

If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a friend, text the crisis hotline by texting HOME to 741741. I’ve done this a few times, and it’s nice to just get my mind off things by texting with a compassionate person.

When you’re in a depressed state, you’re not in a position to make permanent decisions, especially when there’s no one there to offer perspective. After all, depression doesn’t just affect our moods — it can affect our thoughts, too.

Suicidal ideation can be extremely scary, but you’re never alone and you’re never without options.

If you’ve run out of coping tools and you have a plan and an intent, please call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. There’s absolutely no shame in that, and you deserve to be supported and safe.

If this last year has taught me anything, it’s that no matter what depression tells you, there’s always hope. No matter how painful it can be, I always find that I’m stronger than I think I am.

And chances are pretty good that if you’ve made it this far, you are, too.

Sibling Suicide Survivors: The ‘Forgotten Mourners’

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“So how many brothers and sisters do you have?”

I used to dread that question. I still do, if I’m honest, but it’s a quick dull thud of emotion compared to the raging, blood-draining torrent it used to evoke in me.

The answer is always the same: one sister. But whispering in the background are the ghosts of the other two answers that come to mind (and the reasons why I can’t give them).

“One sister, one brother.” Nope, can’t go there—not technically true, even though that’s how I feel. Besides, what do I say when the inevitable next questions come: How old are they? What do they do?”

“One sister—and I used to have a brother, but he died when I was 21.” Sure, if I want to make that person really uncomfortable I can go there. I might even get to watch them visibly squirm if they ask how he died.

As even this small exchange shows, it’s a lonely experience being a siblingbereaved by suicide.

In the aftermath of my brother’s death, I waded through screeds of information on suicide, compulsively searching for I-don’t-quite-know-what. Answers? Confirmation? Connection? Where were the siblings? Where were the others like me?

When I began to research sibling suicide myself, many years later, I realised just how little has been written about us. Just ten academic studies have ever been dedicated exclusively to the experience of sibling suicide (and one is my own).

Here’s what has been found so far about the experience of living through a sibling’s suicide:

1. It’s confusing, painful and hard—with more challenges than ‘normal’bereavement.

Sibling suicide survivors have been found to experience a range of distressing and challenging phenomena. This may include:

  • A marked sense of guilt and responsibility around the death.
  • Intense anger, stemming from a deep sense of rejection and abandonment.
  • Feelings of shame and worthlessness
  • Overwhelming anxiety and fear.

It’s also common for survivors to feel relief, if the death marks the end of a long period of worry and uncertainty. This tends to fuel further guilt, creating an ongoing cycle of emotional disturbance.

As can be expected given this litany of psychological challenges, sibling suicide survivors are at particular risk of developing complicated grief reactions, depression and post-traumatic stress symptoms. They’re also at an increased risk of taking their own lives.

2. Siblings suffer intensely—and they also tend to suffer invisibly.

In a family bereaved by suicide, each person becomes too preoccupied with their own pain to offer meaningful support to the others. Under these circumstances the surviving siblings “often find themselves not only neglected, but expected to put their needs aside in order to spare their parents further distress” (Rakic, 1992, p. 2).

Many grieving siblings try to appear “emotionally together” or even cheerful around their parents, despite their own intense pain. They usually experience a desperate desire to make their parents happy again, and the message to “be strong for your Mum and Dad” tends to be given by others implicitly, explicitly, and often. The siblings’ demeanour is then perceived as evidence that the surviving children have not been badly affected by the loss, making them even less likely to receive care and validation.

In addition, the presence of anger towards the dead sibling—let alone its expression—is usually viewed as highly inappropriate and unacceptable, even in families that can speak relatively freely about emotions.

3. There’s usually no space to talk within the family—and nowhere to talk outside of it either.

The sense of isolation siblings experience is exacerbated to varying degrees by the social stigma around suicide, which makes discussing the death with people outside the family very challenging. It’s still common for people who end their lives to be disparaged as “selfish” and “cowardly.” Research has also shown that suicidally bereaved families receive less community support compared to families that lose a member to “natural” causes, and may be avoided and/or blamed for the death.

Many siblings described being extremely hurt by the actions of those they hoped would support them following the suicide. Some friends abandoned them altogether, while others silenced them with platitudes, told them they “shouldn’t feel like that,” or acted as though the death had never happened. Some siblings spoke of friendships ending due to impatience that the siblings “still weren’t over it,” while others said they deliberately withdrew from their friends. After what they had been through, they found themselves experiencing their peers as immature, unempathetic and/or focused on trivial concerns.

Even when friends are available and supportive, siblings may feel pressure to swallow their hurt to avoid awkwardness. They may also stigmatise themselves negatively due to guilt, and self-isolate out of shame.

4. The loss can cast a very long shadow, affecting the siblings’ sense of security in the future, in relationships, and in life itself.

A sibling’s suicide can severely damage any sense of trust in the stability of meaningful relationships. If your brother or sister—one of your absolute constants in life—can leave like this, anything feels possible and very little feels secure. Research shows that:

  • Numerous siblings became preoccupied with the fear of losing other loved ones to death or being abandoned by them.
  • Many worried that the tragedy of the suicide would be repeated in their own future families. Two academics noted a deep sense of ‘maternal inadequacy’ amongst some of the female siblings, who avoided having the children they longed for out of fear and conflicted feelings related to the loss.
  • Some older siblings felt they had relived the loss in their romantic relationships—entering unsatisfying or painful pairings which ultimately resulted in their being abandoned or let down again.

5. Many siblings eventually create meaningful, purposeful lives out of this emotional nightmare—with a greater sense of perspective and empathy.

During research interviews, many sibling suicide survivors spoke of experiencing a profound shift in perspective over time. Many became involved in suicide prevention activities and some chose to become counsellors or therapists, dedicating their lives to helping others survive their emotional struggles. They spoke of valuing the increased compassion and empathy their life experiences had given them, even though they had suffered profoundly.

This has been my own experience, though nobody could have told me at the time without getting their head bitten off. It makes writing about sibling suicide bereavement a tough ask, knowing that while you are in the experience—angry, guilty, isolated, broken-hearted or just broken depending on the day—it’s so hard to take in even the tiniest sliver of hope that things could ever be better.

But in time, they will. Take it from someone who never, ever believed it when it was said to me.

 

At work the other day, a sickening howl came out of an office near mine. It was guttural. Primal. Unfortunately familiar. A few years ago, it was me making that sound at work and I had made it many times before. It is the howl of those left behind after a suicide. It is a […]

via Silent Screams – Suicide Facts and Help — Queen Bee Living

If You’re Having Suicidal Thoughts, Please Read This

See ThoughtCatalog Article Here
By Nikki Zarrella

I’ve now known, and I mean genuinely knew in person, spoke with, or was friends with, four people who have committed suicide. Attending those funerals, seeing all of the people who truly loved and cared for that person… How could they leave all of these people behind? I thought to myself. Even though, deep down, I knew how. Because I’ve been on both ends of this. I know how you can contemplate it, I know how the thought can cross your mind when you feel like you’ve been pushed so far, you’ve been hurt so much, suffered for so long. I have mourned for those individuals who have committed suicide, but I have also had dark moments when those thoughts have seeped into my mind too.

But why? Many people may wonder. Why would the thought of taking your own life ever cross your mind? Well, there are a million reasons why. And it could include anything from life trauma, to chemical imbalances in the brain, to overpowering stress, anxiety, or depression, or just trying to live in a world where you constantly feel like you don’t belong or like you’re always being knocked down. Or sometimes. We just don’t know why we feel the way we do, and we may never know.

In this life, people can be viciously cruel and extremely selfish. Even sometimes the people we love most can hurt us more than anything, or can let us down over and over again. People will hurt others without thinking about the repercussions of their actions, or even stopping to reflect on how they may have impacted another person in a negative, toxic way. Or sometimes, the pain is not caused by anyone else at all. Sometimes, we just feel alone. Like no one could ever possibly imagine or understand what’s going on inside our heads because we don’t even understand it. We feel crazy, dissociated from the world like a lost soul wandering deserted streets.

Suicide does not discriminate. Look at some of the most famous role models, the individuals who were idolized by millions of people, but it still wasn’t enough to keep them here. It wasn’t enough to fight off the demons or suppress the harmful thoughts. Kurt CobainChris CornellChester Bennington…the list goes on. I recently went to a Disturbed concert where lead singer David Draiman took the time to talk to us about suicide awareness and the “demons all of us are fighting,” each and every day. He told us that we must all be advocates not only for ourselves, but for those who are struggling mentally.

“Intervene. Be an advocate. Don’t wait until you’re at their funerals standing in front of their casket”

David urged. Friends, family, whomever that person is who is coming to you, reaching out to you at their darkest hour, be an advocate for them. Help them. In any way you possibly can. Suicide is never ever the answer, it is not a solution, eliminate it as an option. It is something that is permanent. There is no going back, no rewinding time. It is something that inflicts pain upon those who love you…even if you don’t always feel their love, it’s there. I promise. And you leaving this world will only hurt them, more than a thousand knives through the heart, more than you could ever imagine. You would leave a void in their lives that could never be filled. You will be gone, and you will be leaving them behind to hurt, to mourn, and to try and live an impossibly normal life afterwards.

The world we live in right now is all kinds of messed up. Men are taught to be strong, women are often seen as fragile, but everyone has demons, burdens to carry, weight on their shoulders. Everyone feels pain. We just all handle those demons and burdens in different ways. Distorted self-image, body shaming, bullying, traumatic events, the internal and external scars many of us carry with us…it is not an easy time to be navigating through this crazy world. But no matter what, you always have to remember that you are not alone. You have the power to change your life for the better. Regardless of how shitty other people can be or how heavy that weight on your shoulders may feel at times, the power is within you and the choices you make to change things, get the help you need and deserve, and to make a life for yourself.

It won’t be easy, and there will be days when it’s overwhelmingly difficult. There will be days much darker than others, but that means there will be brighter days too. I still have days where I feel like I’m drowning. Like every time I come up for air it is only to be knocked down again by a crashing wave. But in that darkness, in that web of anxiety, fear, and pain I often find myself tangled in, I remind myself of the people who love me. I remind myself of the years I have not yet lived. The places I want to travel to. The parts of the world I have not seen. My future filled with mystery, excitement, hopes, and dreams. The endless possibilities of where I could go, who I could meet, who I could become, what I could accomplish.

Life is a long and winding road, but you must stay strong. Don’t ever give up on yourself. There are millions of people out there who are struggling, who fight every single day to put on a brave face, even when deep down inside they feel broken, like they’re falling apart and are unable to keep picking up the pieces. But they keep on fighting because it’s worth it. Life is worth it. It will bring joyous moments, unforgettable memories…often at times when you least expect it. It is worth it to be here for the people you love, and who love you more than you know. You just need to hold on for the ride and stick around to witness all that will come, all that’s in store for you.

But in the meantime, go to therapy – any kind, don’t stop looking until you find one that works for you. There are endless amounts of options out there today. There are so many ways to find guidance, support, and someone who will truly listen and want to help you. Talk about your feelings, find a support group, look into appropriate medicines if you need to, confide in friends and family, begin a healthy hobby, adopt a pet, join a club, listen to music that soothes your soul, start traveling the world, focus on yourself. Do whatever it takes. Just don’t leave this earth. Do not shatter someone else’s world by leaving your own behind. Someone out there needs you, someone out there loves you. Live your life and stay alive to see your future come to fruition. And remember, there’s always a reason to keep on fighting for your life. Just don’t ever give up on yourself. Keep fighting. Keep staying strong. And keep living.