This is a letter to me for when I’m suicidal. I’m hoping you’ll also take it as a letter to you when you are suicidal. I hope it helps us both.
Dear Suicidal Friend,
This sucks. Okay, it doesn’t just suck. It’s horrendous. It’s horrific. It’s soul-sucking. It’s suicidality at its finest. It’s lonely, and the pain is unbearable. I know what that feels like. I have been there many times before. I know how impossible just one more moment in the muck and mire feels. I have written about suicide over and over and over, and yet it doesn’t stop me from feeling suicidal again. It doesn’t stop me from wanting to kill myself. No amount of knowledge takes away the suffering.
Reasons Why You’re Suicidal
There may be very good reasons why you are suicidal today. You may have lost something. You may have lost someone. You may have experienced something traumatic. I get it. Almost anything can kick off a depression, and depression can kick off suicidality. None of this is your fault.
Then again, there may be no reason at all to be suicidal. You may have woken up one day, and the urge to die may have simply overtaken you. While there are many reasons a person might be suicidal, brain dysfunction — or what feels like no reason at all — is one of them. None of that is your fault.
Suicide Lying About the World Being Better Off Without You
You may feel the world would be better off without you. It’s common for people to feel so bad about themselves that they think everyone else would simply be better without them. But the thing is, this isn’t true. This is a lie that the suicidality is telling you. This is your brain hating you. This is an illness hating you. This is made-up self-hatred. This isn’t real. People in your life want you here. I want you here. You have a unique spark to ad to this world. The world would never be better off without that spark. If people in your life knew of your pain and could openly talk to you about it, they would tell you that they would prefer doing anything to speaking at your funeral.
What to Do When You’re Suicidal
I often talk about goals, milestones, and breaking things down into manageable chunks, and then celebrating the completion of every little thing along the way. I know that right now, that feels impossible. I know that any goal at all feels too hard. I know feeding yourself, showering, and cleaning your home are out of the question. This is okay. I only want you to do two things. I only want you to keep breathing and take one other step.
I understand that continuing to breathe sounds like a recipe for pain, but there’s more. I also want you to make a plan to change your pain. That’s right; I said change your pain. I can’t promise less pain no matter what, but change is something, regardless. When agony is consistent and neverending, even the possibility of change brings hope.
You can change your pain by:
- Calling a helpline
- Calling your doctor or therapist for an emergency appointment
- Calling a loved one and telling them what’s happening and that you need help
- Going to a hospital to get inpatient help
- Using PRN medications to dull to pain or even sleep through some of it (Note: This should only be done with a doctor’s supervision and likely isn’t a good choice for those with a history of addiction.)
- Finding a way to get some of those feelings out of you, such as by exercising or creating art
The old saying from Alcoholics Anonymous really is true: “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.”
You must do something different to change your pain. And if that doesn’t work, then do something different again. Keep doing something different until something moves, even a little.
In the end, severe suicidality may only be beatable with medical treatment. It may only really get under control with a change in medication or with the addition of medication. I know that. But that can take time, and you have to keep breathing until that happens. You have to. You have to. Because while I know it doesn’t feel like it right now, your voice, your perspective, your uniqueness matter. There is no other you on the planet.
I’ve written about why you should fight depression and suicidality for the next 40 years here. Read that again. Remind yourself why life is worth the fight. Remind yourself that life hasn’t only existed in this pain. Remind yourself that there was a time before this pain, and there will be a time after it too. While this pain feels like it will be there forever, really, it won’t. That is just another lie.
When You Beat Suicidality
And I am here to tell you that you have a beautiful soul. You have a beautiful mind. You are a beautiful you. I am holding onto those facts for you because I know you might not believe them right now. But you will. You will understand these things again. I promise you.
And in the end, death is not the answer. Death is not what you really want. What you really want is an end to the excruciating suffering. I understand that, and I want that for you too. That’s why you have to work on changing the pain. Changing the pain is the first step in beating suicidality. And I know you can do that. You have done it before. You will do it again. Now.
I love you. Stay.
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