Today (9/10/16) is World Suicide Prevention Day. On Facebook, I’ve been posting every day to raise awareness for suicide prevention week (9/5-9/11). Suicide is a topic that weighs heavily on my heart.
When I was a junior in high school, a friend of mine died by suicide. She overdosed on pills after finding out that her boyfriend was breaking up with (or cheating on her…those were the rumors anyway). I had seen her earlier that day at school. We spoke briefly in the hallway and to be honest, not a damn thing seemed out of the norm. She seemed totally fine. I had no idea that roughly 10 hours later she would kill herself.
I’ve written about this some before, but in an effort to raise awareness, I will write about it again. I was in the 4th grade the first time I journaled about wanting to kill myself. I still have the journal. When we talk about suicide, we don’t usually think of elementary school kids wanting to kill themselves. I am not the exception though; there are other kids who think about killing themselves when they are little. My 4th grade teacher told me I was the most negative child she had ever taught. That in and of itself should have been a red flag.
I was 13 the first time I attempted suicide – overdosing on Tylenol…but not nearly enough to actually kill myself. I can’t remember how many I took – maybe 8? I didn’t die (obviously), but I did land myself in a therapist’s office. First time ever. She didn’t last long. My parents thought I was better after a couple of months and pulled me out. I don’t even remember her name.
The second time I tried to kill myself, I was 17. I wrote about this attempt in my blog Stand Unafraid. That time had a lot to do with the battle between my wise mind and this scary, controlling thing called ADDICTION. I didn’t necessarily want to die, but I didn’t know how else to get away from the drugs and alcohol. What I probably needed was rehab. But that wasn’t really an option…at least I didn’t think it was.
My third and final suicide attempt, I was 18. Newly 18. I had been at special olympics with some students that I was working with. At the event, there were clowns. Clowns are so incredibly triggering for me and my trauma stuff. The room where a lot of my childhood sexual abuse occurred was “clown themed.” When I see clowns, I am instantly thrown into a flashback…even now. When I was 18 though, I wasn’t really working with my therapist at the time on trauma work. She was pretty much just trying to keep me alive until I could get away from my mom. I got home that night after school and had a bit of a headache. I opened up a bottle of Tylenol. All of the pills were red and white…just like clowns. The whole world went fuzzy. I quit counting after 13, but I know I took more than that. I took enough Tylenol to pass out in my bedroom. I woke up the next morning feeling super groggy and my tummy hurt. I called my therapist. I didn’t mean to try to kill myself, but I just wanted to take all of the red and white pills. I wanted all of the clowns and the memories associated with them to go away. My therapist ended up having to call my mom so that I could receive medical care. It was humiliating. And truthfully, I am very surprised that doctor didn’t automatically admit me to the psych ward. I told him that I just wanted to take all of the red and white pills. That alone should’ve landed me in the hospital! I mean, I wasn’t trying to get admitted and I really didn’t want to be, but looking back, that doctor couldn’t have been very educated on suicide or dissociation. Clearly that suicide attempt had happened when I was in a dissociated state. And THIS is why I get so stressed out about dissociation! I can’t even tell you how many times I have cut myself when I’ve been in a dissociated state.
I haven’t attempted suicide since I was 18. That’s over 10 years! I would be lying though if I told you I didn’t still think about it. Since getting through some trauma work, I can tell you that I don’t think about it as much as I used to. I can tell you that it doesn’t control my thoughts for days and days. However, the thoughts are still there. It probably comes up once every week or two. I feel like I have chronic suicidal ideation that will never completely go away. My suicidal thoughts are rarely about making a temporary problem go away. They usually have to do with making me go away. I get into this space in my head where I don’t think that I am worthy of living. I think that I am such a horrible person and worthless, that I should just kill myself. That’s a hard place to be, and it’s a hard place to get out of. I know that those aren’t rational thoughts. I’ve done enough dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) to know that. I just…I don’t know…it’s hard sometimes to find self-love and compassion.
What helps me?
- Acknowledge the thought and let it go (“Ok, I’ve had this thought, now lets move on.” My current shrink and my hometown shrink both say that I give my suicidal thoughts too much power).
- Gratitude lists
- My daughter (She really does mean everything to me.)
- Focusing on being present
- Reminding myself how much I’ve overcome and where I am today
- Yoga (You Can’t Think About Killing Yourself When You’re Doing Cool Yoga Shit.Yoga also helps release the mental and physical tension that you’re holding inside, and that release makes me feel better emotionally. In addition, the mindfulness component of yoga and self-compassion component all make it harder to want to kill yourself. When I’m on my yoga mat, I am safe from myself.)
- Connecting with others – reaching out to friends and getting outside of myself is always helpful.