As sensitive as it might be and as vulnerable as it makes me feel, I want to talk about having suicidal thoughts. As someone who has struggled with them since I was 17 (I’m almost 23 now), I have thought of many ways to deal with thoughts of suicide.
Working at West Springs Psychiatric Hospital made me realize that we all have our own battles, and that we can all conquer these battles and persevere when we believe in ourselves. I will not pretend that I have it all figured out or that I don’t still struggle to where I crumble – there are days I feel entirely broken. I do not want to try and sugar coat this topic, or try to give anyone the idea that one thing should work for all because that is not true. Everyone struggles and handles things in their own way, I just hope that I can help someone not feel so alone. Here are 10 ways I cope when I struggle with suicide.
10 Tips for Dealing with Suicidal Thoughts
#1 – Identify the Trigger
Situations, feelings, bad news, a certain person – what was the trigger? I try to think of what triggered the thought first, that way I can train my brain to not think negatively when this certain trigger comes up. In some cases, it may be best to remove yourself from situations or people that constantly trigger you.
#2 – Rerun the Day’s Activities Through your Head
It can be easy to slip into thought patterns and go down a rabbit hole of negative emotions. Take a moment to step back and assess. Ask yourself how your day is going. If I don’t know what triggered the thought (which sometimes happens) I think about how my day is going and what has happened in the day to bring this up?
#3 – Reflect & Look Forward to Good Moments of the Day
Think about good moments in the day or how to end it better. Sometimes my day is going just fine, so I think about the good things that happened and remind myself that I was lucky to have experienced those things. If my day was hard, I think about why it was hard – what can I do better? How can I change my day around and create a better ending?
#4 – Make Time for Yourself
Sometimes we forget about ourselves during the busy day. Whether we are taking care of our kids, our students, patients or clients – we have to remember to make time to appreciate ourselves. It’s hard to just say “I have done enough and I need to make time for myself.” Maybe you can’t say it out loud right now, but remember to do something you enjoy to thank yourself for overcoming the day.
#5 – Think About the Consequences
I have not given up on the hope that someday these intrusive thoughts will no longer be a disruption to the present. When having suicidal thoughts, I am often in flight or fight mode – I am upset or just feel like I need to get away somehow. The thing that brings me back to myself is thinking of the consequences.
What are the consequences? There are consequences to every decision you make. I ask myself, “what would happen if I did?” If it does not benefit me, or anyone around me, and if I do not have a 100% guarantee of the outcome – then I reconsider.
#6 – Think of Loved Ones
There are times life can get lonely – even in a room filled with people. I think of the most important people in my life. I think about good times with that person(s), and sometimes reach out to that person(s) to see if they can hangout. Being around someone you love and who loves you will help you smile and feel like you are wanted – WHICH YOU ARE.
#7 – Talk to Someone you Trust
If you need someone to talk to or comfort you through this scary and hard time, call them. Explain to them what is going through your mind, allow them to be there for you. Remember, there are 24/7 crisis lines available if you don’t want to reach out to a friend or family member. There is always someone to talk to.
#8 – Reflect on your Dreams
What are your dreams? If you don’t have family or friends to lean on during this time you may need to lean on yourself. So what are your dreams? What are your aspirations? You have the whole world to travel, the whole world to make yours and become the person that you either needed or always wanted to be. Chase those dreams and get so caught up in them that you keep that hope going.
#9 – Remember Your Journey is Unique
I do not want to try and sugar-coat this topic, or try to give anyone the idea that one thing should work for all because that is not true. You are unique in your own life. You may have a similar story to someone you know, but it doesn’t mean you have to feel or deal with it in the same way; it does not mean that you will overcome your battles using the same methods that they did. If one of these methods does not work for you, that does not mean you are broken – it just means you are unique. Keep searching for more solutions until you find the one thats right for you.
#10 – Remember You are More than these Feelings
I will tell you what I wish someone would have told me when I started having these feelings. You are not alone. You are more than the intrusive and scary thoughts that may come into your head. You are more than the ugly pictures you have drawn of yourself because of what you’ve been told, or what you’ve been through. You are more.
Reach Out for Help
Most importantly, remember that it is okay to need help. If these thoughts become too much to handle always, always reach out for help. West Springs Hospital offers 24/7 admissions. Thank you for taking the time to read this and work on your mental wellness. I truly hope my experiences can help someone, anyone, experiencing suicidal thoughts.
Molly Spomer was previously a patient at West Springs Hospital and then became a valued staff member. She recently moved on from her position here, but continues to blog regularly about life and dealing with mental illness from her insider perspective.