September is suicide prevention awareness month. I have tried to kill myself several times. This is why I care. You should care too. People you love struggle with depression and pain and heartbreak. People we love struggle with mental illness, feeling like they don’t fit, deal with bullying, and handle let downs on the daily.
I write this because someone in the world needs to know that he or she is not alone. Someone out there needs hope in a dark place. Right now in 2020, things are harder than ever for some of us.
This world is a hard place to be for some of us. It feels dark and hopeless sometimes. It feels so lonely. We look around and we see all the problems that are in the world and we wonder what is the point of it all. I look at the pain and the suffering and the struggle and the slow progress and I wonder why I keep trying. I look at all of the hard things and I say to God “why do you let me see these things if I can’t do anything about it?”
It seems that I go through cycles. I see a horrible thing in the world. I try to figure out a way to fix it. I fail at it, become overwhelmed. Pray a lot. Know it’s still going on. Wonder what it is the point. Cry a lot, talk to someone. Continue praying. Do something small. Keep praying. I deal with my depression by talking and doing. I dealt with my burnout by talking and doing. I never feel it’s enough.
I was in junior high, probably about 13 when I first tried to die. I failed. No one noticed. They all thought I was really sick. I was, just not the way the thought. I tried again two years later. I failed. No one noticed. I probably almost died. I was really, really sick. But not sick enough, apparently. I tried again. Same result.
I had the thought “I keep failing. I can’t even properly kill myself.” Finally, I set on the idea that I should stop trying. The trying gave me hope – I believe in heaven and I thought it would be nice to go there early rather than living through the pain and suffering. The failing felt hopeless. Then, I realized that God didn’t want me in heaven yet and that I should probably stop trying and failing and just wait it out.
I did try one more time when I was in my twenties. I was living with my abuser the last time I tried to die. I suppose that if there’s a thing to fail at, dying is it. So, I decided to live. I have made a million mistakes since then.
What I have learned from all my mistakes: Life is hard and we can live and breathe through it. We can do more than exist and suffer. It seems as if things will never get better and then they do. It seems there’s nothing that can be done and then there’s something to do. It seems as if the world is absolutely awful and hopeless. Then there’s something that gives hope to the hopeless. Then we move on.
No one noticed my pain and suffering. No one sent me to a counselor. No one hugged me. No one said they loved me. No one noticed me. I just decided to stop trying to die and to try to figure out what living is.
I struggle with depression every day. I don’t usually say anything about it. I just try to focus on all the good things and look for positive things in every day.
I’ve read about how to be a happier person and how to be better in life. Studies show that happier people do better financially, relationally, and emotionally and I wanted that for myself. I wanted to feel on the inside the way I see other people feel on the outside. Here’s some tid-bits that I’ve pulled from various sources along the way.
- Smile on the outside. Two things happen when a person smiles. First, the brain begins to believe that the person is happy. Second, other people begin to smile back because humans have a thing called mirroring neurons.
- Look for a thing to be grateful for in the morning and at night. Try to think of a new thing every day. In the morning this forces you to think through all the things that are in your life because you’re trying to discover a new positive item. In the discovery process, your brain will effectively begin making a list of all the things that are blessings in your life. When we do this same thing at night, we reflect on the day and point out all the good things that happened.
- Sunshine. We are humans and we need sunshine. When we get sunshine it makes us feel better there’s a reaction in our brain and the result is happiness. In the middle of winter, in my state, there is very little sunshine. I take vitamin D to counteract that problem, it helps. Also, there are blue lights that you can purchase that mimic the vitamins and produce the same effects as the sunlight.
- Exercise and water. We exercise more and it produces the endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine that our brains convert to the emotion we call happiness. Water is our human need with regards to dehydration. Headaches, stomach aches, itchy skin, and other small and large maladies are related to dehydration. When we physically feel better, we are happy.
- Stop focusing on the problem. I think it was in Pirates of the Caribbean that Jack Sparrow said something like “the problem is not the problem, it is your reaction to the problem that is the problem.” This is so true. We begin to spin the problem around in our head over and over, circling and we can think of nothing else. Suddenly the problem is our reaction and we cannot get on to living because we are thinking only about the problem. We miss a thousand things that are wonderful because we can’t stop thinking about the one terrible thing.
- Look for the positive things around you and do something you enjoy. Go for a walk. Go get a coffee or a donut or a chocolate. Go play with puppies and kittens at a shelter. Browse through a used book store. Go to the woods, the park, the beach, the sidewalk downtown, the bike trail along the river. Go to play mini-golf or play pool. Go to the zoo and look for happy people and children. Go volunteer at a women’s shelter, a food pantry, or a soup kitchen. Find a butterfly and watch it. Birdwatch. Paint. Draw. Color. If you don’t know what you want or like try any of these things, or all of them, and give it a shot. It can’t hurt really.
- Just keep going. Don’t stop. Take a break, rest, breathe. Just don’t quit living. Life is beautiful and awful at the same time. It is amazing and terrible both together in every moment. There are a million good things and a million bad things existing all at the same time. So, breathe in and breathe out a few times.
- Call someone. Anyone. A friend, your mom, your teacher, your counselor, the hotline. Talk it out. There is a strange power in the verbalization of the hidden dark thing. Once the darkness is exposed to the light, it loses power somehow. So, turn on the light.
I believe in the afterlife. I believe in heaven. I believe in God. Many Christians will say that I am wrong and going to hell for trying to kill me. I don’t think so. Forgiven covers it all. Some people will say that they can’t be forgiven of all the things they’ve done, it’s too terrible. But, Jesus forgave the people who tortured and executed him. Jesus forgave the thief on the cross. All he asks is to believe. If they can be forgiven, and I can be forgiven, so can you.
If you’re thinking about giving death an opportunity to just march in and take over, call the national suicide hotline 1-800-273 TALK (8255). Or you can text NAMI to 741-741. There’s no shame, no judgment, we’d rather see you smile than see you die.
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