To the Person Considering Suicide:
I can’t say I know exactly how you feel. But I’ve been there, at that place. 3 am in a quiet house. A sunny afternoon in a parking lot. A cloudy morning, sitting on the cold tile of a bathroom floor. The break lounge at work. The thought of escape, of leaving it behind seems like a viable and welcome choice.
When I am at that place where nothing seems to work and the only thing I want to do is give all the pain and hurt to someone else, I see no way out. I want to protect those I love from me. I cry. And sometimes the tears turn to hysteria, which is ultimately good. Sometimes the tears turn to an eerily calm numbness and I don’t recognize myself in the mirror. That is not good. It is easier to hurt the “me” I do not recognize. That is when I have ended up in the hospital after a suicide attempt. Three times over the last five years.
In the place, right before the calm that comes with my decision to taking those near fatal steps (slit my wrists or overdose), I feel raw. It is as if someone has flayed the first few layers of skin off my body. Â There is buzzing in my head, static and constant. Â There are no discernible sounds there, the air vents at the same decibel level as the bass coming from the house next door, the purring cat, the washing machine downstairs. It makes me scared and nervous and flighty. Â
In that place, I can’t focus, I can’t write, I can’t complete simple tasks. Â The thoughts returning, that constant whisper of paranoia that insists, “Don’t let anyone see….don’t let anyone see. Â They’re watching…watching…watching…” Â I feel weak and exhausted. I feel my internal voice going hoarse arguing with the anxiety and irrational thoughts. Â It feels like I’m battling myself every day and I’m never sure which part of me is winning.
I withdraw from family and friends to protect them from the burden I feel I am becoming. I hide. I can’t function.
That is good. Because if you do, there is hope.
There is hope because you are sick. You have a terrible but treatable illness with all too common symptoms of lethargy and disassociation and disrupted thought patterns. Â There are a lot of us out there. And a lot of people who want to help.
For some of us, medication was needed to get to a point where we can even access the rational part of our minds to use tools like talk-therapy, behavioral-cognitive therapy, journaling, breathing techniques, etc to overwrite the damage done by misfiring synapses and chemicals. These chemicals (seratonin, norepinephrine, and endorphins) are teenagers having spring break in our heads and we need medication to be the sensible friend who says, “Dude, guys. Â We need to chill. Â We don’t want to do anything we’ll regret here.” Â Then the other chemicals stop and say, “Yeah. Â You’re right. Â We should, like, maybe bring it down a notch.” Â Â
Â I’m trying to use humor here, but unfortunately, it’s not really funny.
The seriousness of the situation is that it was in the psych ward after a suicide attempt that I realized a very deadly pattern. The pattern is different for everyone but has some of the same components. Depression, withdrawal, numbness, persistent feelings of worthlessness or being a burden on others, suicidal ideation, and eventually some kind of plan.
I think we keep repeating patterns until we become aware of the pattern and make a conscious choice to get help to change it. Â Some of these patterns are like fractals (remember those from geometry and trig class?), very intricate and mathematically complicated. Â It may take awhile to find the variable or series of variables that completely changes the pattern.Â
But you will find the variables.
You will find the help.
And you will heal.