WARNING: This article contains mentions of suicide and suicidal thoughts.
Back in the early months of 2015, I was suffering with depression. At that time, I was revising like mad for my summer exams and having frequent panic attacks. I was severely unhappy. But I thought it was normal or just a side affect of having panic attacks nearly everyday. I didn’t think that my mood was anything to worry about at the time. I kind of ignored it because I was revising, but I was progressively getting worse. As the months went on and my exams got closer, my panic attacks nearly doubled. I’d experienced them multiple times a day, which meant that I was feeling even worse. It lead to me not sleeping properly. Often, I would sit in silence and stare at nothing for hours at a time, not even realising how much time has passed.
However, I was still ignoring it completely. I just convinced myself it was the revision and stress getting to me. I thought I’d feel right as rain again as soon as I finished my exams. Obviously, this didn’t happen. Without revision filling my days, I just felt empty. All of my friends were going out and filling their new found freedom with fun activities. I, on the other hand, was staying in my house, unable to enjoy anything. I used to lock myself in my wardrobe and just stare at the wall, thinking about how much I hated my mind for doing this to me, how I just wanted to stop feeling numb all the time.
It was around this time that I started to feel suicidal. At first, I wasn’t really aware what I was thinking. It was more about making what I was feeling go away. Then I had a moment where I thought the easiest way to stop feeling like this is to die. That opened the floodgates for a plethora of suicidal thoughts. I was actively thinking about different ways to kill myself. I’d written several suicide notes, but I hadn’t done anything. That’s until I attempted suicide on holiday. The fact it was unsuccessful only lead to me feeling worse about myself.
My suicide attempt was the shock I needed to start getting help. In therapy, I learned different ways to control my suicidal thoughts, and how not to let them impact my recovery. The most important thing to do if you are feeling like this is to talk to someone. If you don’t feel like talking to a friend or don’t know who to turn to, call a helpline. If you’re in the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the National Hopeline Network at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433). In the UK and Ireland, call the Samaritans at 116 123. For those who live in Australia, call Lifeline Australia at 13 11 14. In other countries, visit IASP or Suicide.org to find a helpline in your country.
Another important thing to do is make a safety plan. This where you develop a set of steps you can follow when you’re feeling suicidal. The plan should include contact numbers for a doctor or therapist, family members and friends that you’ll feel comfortable asking for help. Alternatively, have a helpline written down if you don’t feel like talking to anyone who knows you. Whilst feeling suicidal, it’s important to keep a regular routine. Make a schedule everyday and stick to it. This will ensure that you’ll feel more in control.
Something that really helped me was exercise, especially running. When you run, your brain pumps out two powerful feel-good chemicals, endorphins and endocannabinoids. This gives you a natural high and boosts your mood. It also helps to get you out the house and into nature. You should also make time for things that you enjoy. Even if very few things are enjoyable at the moment, trying to engage in your favorite activities will keep you busy and your mind distracted.
While feeling suicidal, it’s also key to avoid things that are going to make you worse. Such as being alone. Although you might feel like you want to be alone, solitude can make your thoughts even worse. So make sure to spend time with someone who you feel the most comfortable with when you’re feeling low. Listening to sad music and looking at certain photographs can also decrease your mood. Try to avoid running over past situations in your mind. You should also avoid drugs and alcohol as these can increase depression and make you act impulsively.
Even if your suicidal thoughts and feelings have subsided, get help for yourself. Experiencing that sort of emotional pain is itself a traumatising experience. Finding a support group or therapist can be very helpful in decreasing the chances that you will feel suicidal again in the future.
If you are feeling like this, know that you’re not alone. And there isn’t any shame in getting the help you need.
Edited by Viveca Shearin