Finding A Reason To Live When You're Feeling Suicidal

Finding A Reason To Live When You're Feeling Suicidal

What is my purpose?

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Content warning: Depression and suicidal thoughts

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

The other day, I had an excruciating day. I'm not going to give the details as to why since it's personal matters, but nonetheless, my depression was horrific that day. Honestly, I was so depressed that it was making me anxious... to the point that I began having a panic attack mixed with a bad depressive episode. When I felt it coming on, I went and hid in my room, locking the door. Right when I locked the door, my thoughts began to dive to unfathomable depths. The following thoughts and variations of them crossed my mind as I sat on my bed with tears streaming down my face:

"You know... the pain would end if I just ended my life."

"It's not like anyone would care if I died any way."

With each thought, I felt me sinking into a mental quicksand. The true me, not the depressed me, was hidden deep among the dark storm cloud formed by my depression, and I could hear her fighting, Every suicidal thought that arose, I felt the true me screaming at me, telling me that it wasn't true, none of it was true. I felt true me trying to make it out of the storm clouds with a flashlight, but this all being said, I felt depressed me fighting back as well. Two versions of me were at war, and I was frozen on my bed with fear that the depressed me was going to win,

You see, depressed me made quite a bold move. If you've ever seen the movie It, there is this one scene where Pennywise manipulates a projector to attack all of the kids (photo below for reference).

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The projector starts whirring through images at an alarming rate, making the pictures seem like a video (and eventually revealing Pennywise). Depressed me started doing this, but with all the different ways that I could commit suicide (I don't want to list what came to mind as I do not want to possibly give someone a method for their suicide). This was the first time that something like this has happened to such an extreme, and it genuinely terrified me. I want to live, more than you could possibly believe, but it's hard when you have a brain that is hard-wired to tell you otherwise.

Right after this terrifying slideshow brought to you by my depression, true me found its way out of the depression's storm cloud. True me had me lift my right index and middle finger to my pulse residing between my jaw and my neck. I felt the bum bum, bum bum, bum bum of my heartbeat, and said aloud to myself:

"Katherine Lucy, feel that heartbeat. Feel its rhythm, feel how it fills you with life. This, this right here is your purpose. As long as this heart is beating, you have a purpose here on this earth. Let each beat remind you that you are loved and you are wanted. We are not leaving this earth until God takes us from it, okay? So we're gonna keep fighting because we are not done yet."

This was the first time that I have used this coping mechanism to fight suicidal thoughts, and I was surprised at how effective it was. I actually picked it up from a show on Netflix called Girls Incarcerated, which is about teenage girls in prison (I've been fascinated by shows about what life is like in prison recently... couldn't tell you why). I think it's so effective, at least for me, because my heartbeat is tangible. It's not solely someone telling me that I have a purpose on this earth, but it's me. It's me telling myself that I am here for a reason. I can't escape the feeling of my heartbeat like I can escape the words coming from someone else's mouth.

Now, I'm no medical professional or psychologist, but I am a normal person with a terrifying mental illness. And for my fellow people suffering from this terror, I really suggest trying this out:

1. Find your pulse

2. Let yourself feel that heartbeat for about one or two minutes.

3. Say the following, out loud, to yourself: "You feel that? That heartbeat is your purpose. As long as this heart is beating, you have a purpose here in this world. Each beat tells me that I am loved and that I am wanted, despite what my depression may tell me."

4. Repeat one-three times, or as many times as needed.

Keep fighting, fighter. You're not done yet.

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

From an outside perspective, suicidal thoughts are rarely looked into deeper than the surface level. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is that people live in between those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead.

You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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Teen Suicide Rates Have Surged After ‘13 Reasons Why’ — Proof We Need To Stop Glorifying Suicide NOW

As someone who has struggled with mental illness and suicidal thoughts/tendencies, I fear what would have happened to me had I seen so much media validating suicide.

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When it comes to mental health, and specifically the issue of suicide, it is important to be able to have a conversation about it in order to break the stigma. But, there is a huge difference between glorifying and educating, and, as a society, we're doing it ALL WRONG.

Education and conversation are necessary, glorification and promotion are not.

The main example of misrepresenting suicide in pop culture currently is "13 Reasons Why." The show, which is based on a book by Jay Asher with the same title, focuses on Hannah Baker, a teen who commits suicide and leaves 13 recordings explaining why she killed herself.

According to a recent study following the release this Netflix original series, in the nine months after the show aired, there were 195 more deaths by suicide in 10 to 17-year-olds than what was expected from seasonal patterns alone. This is not a coincidence.

Combining the fact that teenagers and pre-teens are young and impressionable with the fragility of mental illness, it should be obvious that introducing suicidal behavior in such an intimate and visible way will affect those who are seeing it. From a young age and into adulthood, people tend to mimic the behaviors of those around them and those that they constantly see. Watching shows or movies that have a constant theme of suicide, in turn, can lead to an increase of suicidal behavior.

Further explaining this idea, director of the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research at Nationwide Children's Hospital Jeff Bridge said that contagion (the increasing spread/increase of suicide) can be "fostered by stories that sensationalize or promote simplistic explanations of suicidal behavior, glorify or romanticize the decedent, present suicide as a means of accomplishing a goal, or offer potential prescriptions of how-to die by suicide."

This simply means that the rising rate of suicide can be in part due to the way suicide is presented in the media because the media shows suicide as a goal to be achieved or a statement to be made, and oftentimes these media outlets even offer ways for suicide to successfully be committed.

The main issue that arises from "13 Reasons Why" and media like it is the fact that they portray mental illness as something you cannot recover from.

Media only shows two real options: suffering from extreme and severe 'symptoms' for the rest of your life or ending this by committing suicide.

This type of portrayal seemingly validates the type of behavior that we should be trying to move away from because, realistically, recovery is possible when you explore the many treatment options that are available.

Treatment options can include therapy, medicine, hospitalization, support groups, mentorships, and more. In order to accurately portray mental health in the media, the sole-solution of suicide needs to be abandoned and the realistic recovery options should be emphasized and practiced.

Another common misrepresentation is that therapy and psychiatric hospitals/care cause more harm than they do good. Commonly shown as dark and isolated, if shown at all, this portrayal pushes those who are struggling with mental health away from seeking out treatment with the fear of 'being locked up.'

The science and education behind mental disorders have advanced so much recently that we need to stop the 18th-century idea of "insane asylums" and look at treatment facilities realistically. While it is historically accurate that mental illness was seen as demonic and evil, these thoughts have long been proved otherwise, so the treatment options should be modernized as well.

As someone who has struggled with mental illness and suicidal thoughts/tendencies, I see the urgency of this issue and the need for it to be addressed sooner rather than later.

Thinking about when I was at the deepest point in my struggles, I fear what would have happened to me had I seen so much media validating suicide.

When suicide is presented as the only effective option and recovery seems like an impossible task, this forces those who are struggling to see suicide as a positive escape from the horrors of their reality. This allows for the rationalization that suicide is an acceptable answer even though it is never the solution.

This type of glorification is detrimental not only to those who suffer from mental illness, but it also affects general viewers. Media companies are monetizing on the misrepresentation of mental illness and are miscommunicating the realities of mental illness in order to create addicting television.

However, what must be realized is that the value of human life and overcoming mental health issues is more important than the value of a good movie to watch or show to binge-watch.

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, and if we want to have healthy conversations surrounding mental illness, we need to stop making mental illness look like something that is beautifully tragic and stop making suicide look like something so glorified.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

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