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Not worthless. Just suicidal.

by thebends

If any of you have ever called the suicide prevention line, you probably know that their strategy is to convince you that your life has value. I suppose they assume that this revelation will stop you from killing yourself. When I figured this out, I told them “Yes, I know that my life has value, but that doesn’t change the fact that I want to throw it away.” This effectively ended the conversation because the counselor had no idea how to proceed, so I thanked her for her time and hung up.

Am I a total aberration, even within the suicidal world? Or can someone please tell me that they relate? I suppose the stereotype of the suicidal person is someone who feels that they are worthless… Just like the stereotype of the depressed person is someone who spends all their time in bed and hasn’t had a bath in 2 weeks. But no, from reading posts here I know that a lot of us have jobs, often highly specialized jobs, and we are “productive members of society” but we just want to die. High functioning suicidal. And whether we admit it out loud, I’m sure a lot of us realize our value and how important it is for us to stay alive. But that means nothing when you’re just tired of this whole game.

An analogy would be the star athlete who decides to retire because the game is just too exhausting and painful. You can tell the athlete how important they are to the team & how much they are loved by the fans. But do you think that will make a difference to someone who just wants out?

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24 comments

pa47385 2/17/2021 - 5:18 am

i wrote an answer to this. then i self censored to fit it into the opinion corridor. here it is:

yes. this happened to me.

blue_dude15 2/17/2021 - 5:30 am

Yeah, I used to be like this, though now I have more and more days when I start to hate myself and feel worthless.

thebends 2/17/2021 - 5:39 am

@pa47385 Ha I’m curious to hear the uncensored version. But at least it’s good to know I’m not the only one.

@blue_dude15 I’m starting to know the feeling. The other day I called myself a loser for the first time in my life, and unfortunately it didn’t feel wrong to say it. I wonder if self hatred is inevitable after living with depression for so long.

pa47385 2/17/2021 - 8:02 am

it was on online support chat, and a newbie said to me something like “i used to be a loser but i am not anymore and i could help you too.” he was a racial minority in america, and i couldn’t continue the chat, because i started wondering how someone could lose their self esteem like that only because of a slight difference in appearance. the chat just felt like a stage, like i couldn’t have a real conversation there.
so now i mostly just read sites like this, i can’t handle interaction with people.

Once 2/17/2021 - 8:05 am

” But that means nothing when you’re just tired of this whole game.”

I’m currently seeing a counselor to help me learn to “take suicide off the table.” I recently went to the ER for insomnia and mentioned suicidal thoughts. This made everyone stand up and take notice. Similar to walking into a store with a loaded gun – everyone puts on their best happy smiley face and walks on egg shells around the crazy person. They asked me to see the counselor and I agreed, simply because right now, I need attention. Of any kind. I’ve already been through this counseling program, 3 years ago. It didn’t change anything back then, and it won’t change anything now. I will never remove suicidal ideation from my table because as I have explained to the counselor, suicidal thoughts, for me, are as common as ANY other random thought on a daily basis. “…need to go buy milk. Don’t forget to pay the electric bill. Wow, that’s a nice car over there. It’s time to go, this life is just…not…appealing anymore. Where are my sunglasses?” etc. etc.

I specifically asked my counselor “So what if someone commits suicide – what is all the fuss about? They did it because they WANTED to do it. What’s wrong with that?” He paused, and his reply was “Life is about being knocked down but getting back up and learning to deal with situations, not run from them.” I left it at that and we went on with his agenda.

So that’s the secret? I’m probably 25 years his senior, and I am not disparaging him, he’s a caring person, but I’ve known THAT for decades, and still, as you say, would rather not be here, because the world humans have created for themselves is absurd and lopsided. Do I attempt to argue that with him? No. Why bother? He isn’t suicidal, and even if he did understand that, he’s paid to state otherwise. He can’t walk a mile in my shoes, because they don’t fit him – end of discussion. I’ll continue to see him, for no other reason than I need attention right now because I am extremely needy right now, but suicide will be my constant companions till my dying day, no matter what anyone says or does, no matter how I die, naturally, accidentally, or by my own hand.

As for your reference to a star athlete, I wonder if you were thinking of one Tyler Hilinski. A PERFECT example of your point.

I’ve rambled on long enough. Great post!

Once 2/17/2021 - 8:22 am

Apparently I’m not done rambling. (You have my payment information and may bill me for an extra comment.)

In keeping with your theme, my counselor does not stop stressing how valuable my life is. At least four or five times a session, in varying ways. While I have little to no real self esteem, I know it has value, and I’ve never thought highly of myself, but definitely am not a loser, by MY definition. I suppose the term “loser” is subjective. Even at that, I’ve just plain seen and done all I care to see and do here – there are no surprises remaining. There is nothing left I want to do. I have a cat I dearly love, and I’d like to see her through to her dying day, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to. I am having to revise my goal regarding this cat to conform to my new train of thought, which is I saved this cats life ten years ago and have given her a WONDERFUL life, full of care and love for a decade now, and perhaps thats all I am capable of doing. There’s no shame in that. I’m not a loser, not by my definition, and am not so hindered by human denial as to see the futility of our mad struggle to live lives of purpose because “We Matter.”

Sorry. Your post just touches me to the core. What you asked and spoke of is part of my struggle right now, in a huge way.

pa47385 2/17/2021 - 8:34 am

i am going to decensor it a bit then, as requested, because now there are two people here touching upon this subject:
psychotherapists and people on suicide hotlines have to work by rules, they aren’t having a real conversation with people, especially when they know that the person is suicidal. and on websites people censor comments in a similar manner.
why?
because doctors take full responsibility for a suicide if it happens right after interaction with them. they have to send the person to the inpatient not to save the patient, but to save their own career. it’s just simply law.

Once 2/18/2021 - 1:08 am

Yup.

Abnormal.Thoughts 2/17/2021 - 8:44 am

Well articulated. It’s not that I don’t see value in my life or self, being BPD this is true sometimes but not all, and even when I feel like a productive member of society that doesn’t change that I’m tired of trying and want to walk away from it all.
Thank you for sharing.
On a side note, when I called the suicide hotline that wasn’t at all how it went, they just gave me a phone number to try and get a counselor during business hours, that was it. Which I clearly ignored.

thebends 2/17/2021 - 10:52 am

@pa47385 Ah, I think I understand you completely. Yes, when lawyers get involved things tend to go strictly by the book. When I was on that crisis call, it crossed my mind that the counselor may have had more to say but wasn’t allowed to go “off script”. There seemed to be a very strict protocol to the call: 1) ascertain if the person has immediate plans for suicide, and if so then call the cops. 2) keep the person on the line as long as possible and maybe they’ll calm down. 3) keep reassuring them that they have value and people care. I’m sure any deviation from the plan + a suicide on the other end of the line would lead to big legal trouble. So they have to play it safe, maybe even literally reading from a script, who knows.

@Abnormal.Thoughts To be honest, what you said describes me better than what I initially wrote. I must’ve been on a manic high. The truth is that it swings from feeling like I have worth to being worthless. Repeat enough times, and it no longer makes a difference. Like you said, I just want to walk away from it all.

That’s too bad that you got the brush off from the suicide hotline, I have to admit it felt nice for about 5 minutes knowing that there was a human on the other end of the line who genuinely wanted to help. Maybe try the text line? (Pretty sad that I’ve tried them all)

@Once YES that’s exactly it. It doesn’t matter how highly or lowly we value our lives; when it’s time to go, it’s time to go. So your therapist’s pep talk about getting back up and dealing with issues and not running from them… I’m sure it sounds good in his head because hes not in your shoes. He’s still playing the game whereas people like us have already turned in our cleats.

Oh by the way, no I wasn’t thinking of Tyler Hilinski but that’s a frighteningly close guess. I was actually thinking of a local kid, high school quarterback, bright future, “so much to live for” but just decided he’d had enough. Like Tyler, he permanently retired from the sport and from life.

I cracked a smile at the idea of a kid 25 years younger than you giving you life advice. I supposed it’s better than him answering your question with “You’re fkkd dude” but it’s just kinda funny. Roll back the clock 25 years on any one of us and maybe the pep talk would work.

One thought I want to run past you, not that I’m trying to play therapist, but maybe I’m trying to convince myself: I think when we reach that point of “suicidal thoughts as common as any other random thought on a daily basis” maybe the guy has the right strategy of trying to remove suicidal ideation from our normal routine. After all, that’s what separates us from “normal” people, isn’t it? Normal people get a speeding ticket and think “well that ruined my day” whereas people like us get a speeding ticket and think “well time to kill myself.” Maybe it’s as simple as rewiring our brains back to “well that ruined my day” instead of stringing up the noose at every minor setback.

I know, easier said than done. But imagine (sci fi scenario) that every time you start to have a suicidal thought, they’d zap your brain and you’d forget what you were thinking. Over time, maybe your brain would forget the pattern that you’ve practiced for so many years. You would forget how to be suicidal, the same way you might forget a password if you’re not allowed to log on for a long time.

I think we’ve talked about this on one of my drug threads and I’ve been thinking about it a lot, that sometimes when you feel the anxiety coming, if you’re quick you can pop a pill or light up or do whatever it takes to redirect your mind. Crisis (and potential suicide) averted. The question is, if you get really good at it, to the point that you can sidestep not just panic attacks but suicidal thoughts in general… could that be the cure?

Last thought for now, since you mentioned your cat. Something I’ve been doing for the last few days whenever I feel myself slipping into suicidal obsession is I look directly into my dog’s eyes. It snaps me out of it. The key is you have to look directly into the eyes, it’s almost hypnotic. Give it a try sometime and post your results, I feel like you’re one of the few people it would work on, which means there’s still… h… (the four letter word that starts with ‘h’)

Once 2/18/2021 - 1:19 am

Good point…my counselor is a good guy, I don’t discredit him at all because I could be his dad, he knows his “academic” stuff and is very informative. His goal is to teach me to counter the thoughts with alternatives, and I see the positive possibilities in that process, plus it’s good to vent to a stranger sometimes, I suppose. I just wonder about the possibility of creating real change in my mind…that’s difficult. I’ve never tried just staring into my cats eyes…maybe she’ll lash out at me and slice my jugular…that could be fun! I’ll give it a try. The funny thing…I still hold “hope”…for what, I’m not exactly sure, but it’s all I can do.

a1957 2/20/2021 - 2:04 pm

We have something of a group therapy going here. Hey Once, long years of seeing my therapist has started real change in my mind. I think she has been through hell though I never ask and she never mentions it. My other therapists are both cats. I give them a wonderful life.

Once 2/20/2021 - 4:40 pm

@a1957, I remember you saying that a few years ago here on SP, and I think that’s really cool. I think you also said it took a while to find a therapist that helped, that you’d tried several, so obviously it can take time and requires patience. I’m glad you’re making progress, truly. My experience with them is limited, but I’ve learned little bits and pieces from each of them.

a1957 2/20/2021 - 5:45 pm

I had learned a little bit from each one too, then on my eighth try to try to get an effective therapist I found one that could work with me. The first seven I saw were picked practically at random. I assumed any therapist should be compatible and helpful. What I found out was they are practically all very approachable but few can really help any given person. Then I stopped the random search. This is one was picked with the help of my wife who read through the profiles of dozens, widdled it down to a short list, I picked this one and she was /is a keeper.

So yes, when I wanted so fervently to die, if only I could overcome the innate desire to live, I also wanted help just so I could stop being so miserable. She has eased the misery a lot and shown me my mother never had the last word. I can now live for as long as I am relevant and it remains humane for me to live in this body.

Abnormal.Thoughts 2/18/2021 - 8:56 am

Based on all the responses, I gather you are far from an aberration in this community. 🙂
I actually used the text line long before I ever called the hotline, the experience was much better, that’s probably in part that I am more comfortable in writing, as soon as I have to talk to someone I feel the need to smile and pretend everything is ok, though even with the text line most of what they did was parrot back what I said and have resources, it was still helpful to get me through that night.

thebends 2/18/2021 - 9:46 am

@Once “Death by cat while trying to quell suicidal impulse” That would be a headline for the ages. One time my ex’s cat was lying on my neck and I remembered there’s supposedly a certain pressure point in the neck where all it takes is 4 lbs to cause death… So here’s to all the world’s mysterious unsolved murders and the secrets of cats.

@Abnormal.Thoughts I have to say this thread has been the best therapy. Nothing like being in a group of aberrations. About the text vs voice thing, I know exactly what you mean. Any personal (voice) contact turns me into a smiling happy puppet. Good thing I have this website so I can be my miserable true self. But I guess one way or the other, like Once said below, it’s all about contact. Whether we’re getting good advice, or whether it’s just a fake little show, the point is that there’s someone on the other end who is validating our existence for a few minutes.

niki 2/17/2021 - 1:24 pm

I can relate.
Have you all heard of the term “Existential Crisis” (or “Existential Depression”)?
When you’ve reached that point in life, and when it won’t go away from your mind, that’s when you know you’ve lost it all. Will to live, value, purpose, meaning, etc etc. It’s even worse than nihilism. In philosophical term, it’s already more into the “Pessimism” territory, which is actually already a ‘dead-end’. But I don’t know, what’s strange is that there are even still a lot of people who adhere to “philosophical pessimism” who are somehow still alive & not commit suicide yet (I’ve read that one of the most common reasons is they still haven’t found the painless way to die yet).

But as for me personally, once I’ve seen/known/understand about how this life/world/society/existence (& reality) is meaningless, stupid, nonsensical, unfair, random, hopeless (for some or even many people), etc etc etc, honestly it’s really hard to not have suicidal ideation everyday, always thinking “what’s the point?”

Mf 2/17/2021 - 6:09 pm

I kinda feel sorry for people on suicide prevention hotlines, most of them are not really qualified for what they’re doing (at least where i am at), you need some serious training in order to deal with suicide. Sometimes you might get lucky and get on the phone with someone that has more experience, but YMMV.

That said… in a few hotlines i’ve seen they work with a diagram sheet kind of protocol, as in “if this doesn’t work, try this, then this”… and yeah, i’m guessing “i’m not worth a damn” is big chunk of the suicidal people they deal with. Keep in mind those protocols tend to be really superficial and don’t consider more extreme cases, so yeah… those standard answers don’t work for everyone, specially not for people that have long lasting depression.

system 2/17/2021 - 11:12 pm

This is part of the reason I’m putting in an application for teen line… there’s far too many clueless 16 year olds who have gone through six months of training and seem to think that’s going to prepare them for the emotional labor they’re about to deal with. People who are suicidal (me included) don’t want to hear the textbook “you’re worth it” bullshit. Ask questions. Ask them about future plans, if they have any. Ask them about their hobbies. Help them imagine a future rather than repeating “it gets better” or “I understand how you’re feeling”.

Once 2/18/2021 - 1:24 am

I’d much rather speak to a hot line counselor that just shows genuine interest and concern in what I’m saying, than one who is reading a scripted flow chart of suggestions and solutions. It’s so easy to pick up on that. I’ve called twice in the past two years. Just be human with me if and when I call…I didn’t call to receive a solution…I called for contact. Plain old human contact.

darkwillow 2/18/2021 - 3:59 am

It’s been a while since I’ve seen this many comments

thebends 2/18/2021 - 10:17 am

@NIKI Yes I’ve heard the phrase “existential crisis” but only in the context of a joke, the way we might joke about a “zombie apocalypse”. Maybe we joke about things that are too horrifying to take seriously. But you described it perfectly. It’s the loss of will to do anything. And that’s why even the most convincing arguments about the value of life have no impact. I’ve often wondered the same about nihilistic & pessimistic philosophers. If they’ve truly argued themselves into a hopeless corner, what keeps them alive? Probably what you said. The effort required to die is itself a self-defeating thing. Maybe that’s where madness comes in? When you reach that point where you don’t care about the pain, the mess, the damage it might cause others, and you just do it because you’re literally insane …yet doing the “sane” thing?

@Mf Exactly that’s the feeling I got when I was on the crisis line, I started to feel sorry for the person on the other end who was just not capable or trained for this kind of thing. I once saw a documentary on suicide hotlines & first responders dealing with suicidal people where it showed how hopeless the job is. Maybe the diagrams & canned responses are their only way of applying some kind of method. But this says it all: “those standard answers don’t work for everyone, specially not for people that have long lasting depression”

@system That’s the funny irony isn’t it? Probably the majority of suicide prevention volunteers are younger people who haven’t really experienced how bad a lifetime of depression feels. Meanwhile the people who truly understand it and are qualified to help others are most probably the ones who are calling into the suicide hotline themselves. Is this whole thing just a comedy?

a1957 2/20/2021 - 6:24 pm

This story hits all the right notes with me. First I will tell you what I know of the hotlines. I was up in the mountains racing my car down a winding road trying to get up the nerve to go fast enough to lose it in a curve and go over the edge. Seeing I couldn’t do it I just pulled over and turned on the radio to relax. Lo and behold, the station was promoting a suicide hotline. I jotted down the number and drove to the next town to call the hotline from a payphone (remember those lovely things?). The person answered the call with something like, “Hoover Vacuum Cleaners, my I take your order?” What? I said I was trying to reach the suicide hotline and they told me that show (?!!) was over 10 minutes ago and now the number was routing over to the sales team for the “Hoovers” or whatever. Bullshit! The suicide hot line could not even bother to keep the number alive long enough for anyone who needed a little a extra time to get to a phone. This was back in the 1970’s when only corporate executives where likely to have a cell phone. Since then I have met two people who have worked those lines and neither had a clue. They just wanted to divert the caller’s attention. That was all.

You are not an aberration. There are celebrities, inventors, athletes, and business people taking their lives too. I was living well with plenty of visible good trappings and knew I was valuable all the decades I was chronically suicidal. Traveling, doing business deals, responsible for much, living well as far as anyone could see.
Your analogy is spot on. Even though a person may well be giving some or a lot of relief, hope, wealth, safety, and who knows what other benefits to others, and mean so much to a few and some to many, all that personal value does nothing for their own pain other than to distract them from it. It was distraction from mental pain that drove me to do all that business stuff etc, etc. The whole time I just wanted to die as soon as the “high” from whatever deal or work had worn off.

Years into therapy I have learned more and more to do high functioning things from the perspective of values (my values) rather than pain avoidance. The difference is really nice. I do more, suffer less, and don’t get so tired from over working.

But maybe 10 years down the road (who knows?), maybe a bad thing will come my way and then I must choose between life in this body and (as I believe) life in the hereafter. We shall see.

Thanks for your post.

Azzam 2/23/2021 - 10:11 am

That’s a Really, really, good point. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, i really appreciate if

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