Here is my third essay, of seven, about my experiences with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts, as well as tools, resources, and inspirations. I hope they help, and that you know you are not alone. Suicide is preVENTable, so let’s vent together. Talk it out!
My Experience: Since I’ve already covered both depression and anxiety, this post is going to be about suicide and suicidal thoughts. As is often the case, suicide runs in my family. My great-grandfather committed suicide by hanging. My uncle shot himself. Another close family member, whose anonymity I will respect, has attempted suicide more than once. The first time I ever thought about suicide, I was 12. The last time I thought about suicide was about 8 weeks ago. I’ve never gone beyond the thoughts, but they have been scary enough, and obsessive enough, that I have taken them seriously. These thoughts are not always present. Looking back at when I was young, I think that I didn’t have the words or the maturity to express my feelings. I didn’t want to die, I just wanted my pain to end and I couldn’t think of any other way. I don’t remember having those same thoughts again until I was nearly 30. My mother had had a stroke, and I was both supporting her financially and as her caretaker. I didn’t have a lot of support. I was working two jobs. I wasn’t eating healthy, wasn’t sleeping well, and I was overwhelmed. I began to feel as I did when I was young. I just wanted it to end. I began to fantasize about my-then boyfriend’s (now husband) shotgun. I also thought about hanging myself in the backyard. After some time, I told my-then boyfriend about my feelings and thoughts, and asked him to get rid of the gun. I didn’t think I would do it, but I wanted to stop fantasizing about the possibility. I also told my brother and my best friend, just to keep it from being a dark secret for me. It still took me some time to start therapy again, but all of those things helped me. At one time, I started taking medication for my anxiety and depression and I went off of the meds twice. If, on a scale of 1 to 20, with one being my lowest emotionally, my depression pre-medication brought me down to an 8, going off of the meds took me down to a 2 or 3. It was very scary, and made me understand the importance of working with a doctor to go off of meds. Both times eventually brought on suicidal thoughts that frightened me enough that I had to ask my husband to help me make sure I took them. Let me be clear. I do not believe that I will ever take my life. I want to live, for so many reasons. However, there is a little voice inside my head that whispers about it and sometimes a whisper can be more frightening than a scream. So I remain vigilant against the voice.
My Tools: While speaking with a friend, who whose husband had recently died by suicide, about my experiences, she asked if I had a crisis plan. I had never heard of one. She gave me a quick explanation, and I looked into it further. I created a plan that helped me immensely when I had suicidal thoughts about 8 weeks ago, and I wrote about that experience. You can find a template for creating your own plan here.
How To Give Support: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline created a great toolkit that I highly recommend.
Resources: Take 5 To Save Lives is an amazing website, and I’m grateful for the information it has.
Share It Forward: Many people attempt suicide and are lucky enough to survive and share their stories with us. This is Silja Björk Björnsdóttir, and her words on the taboo of depression are so moving to me.