TW: Suicidal thoughts/feelings.
Suicide is a topic I am yet to speak about on my little ol’ blog. Indeed, I have delved into many areas of mental health including OCD, eating disorders, depression and anxiety. However, suicidal thoughts and feelings? Not so much. In all honesty, I’m not quite sure how to approach this post – I would even go as far as to say I feel afraid to! After all, how exactly do we discuss such a sensitive subject?
However, the reluctance to talk about suicide that I (and I’m sure many of you reading this) feel, is exactly part of the problem. I have been speaking publicly about my own experience with mental illness for well over a year now. All of this I voice online for anybody and everybody to see. Yet, I still struggle to spark up a conversation on a topic as important as suicide. If I can’t do it, how do I expect others to?
Nevertheless, I have recently been inspired by the incredible work of the STOP suicide campaign, who encourage safe and non-judgemental conversations around this very matter. One way in which they are doing this is by spreading vital information on the warning signs of suicide and suicidal behaviour. I truly admire and support their aims – because if we well and truly wish to abolish the stigma surrounding mental health, then we need to be willing to discuss all aspects of it (even those that we feel more uncomfortable speaking about!).
My Own Experience
Perhaps a good way to start a conversation, is to share your own experience of that topic. You may just find that as you open up and begin to relax, others find it easier to do the same. I have certainly found this to be the case time and time again, since I started discussing my own mental health struggles.
I first started experiencing suicidal thoughts and feelings around three years ago, when in the depths of my battle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). The distress caused by the constant stream of obsessions and compulsions was both terrifying and exhausting! It began to seriously affect my mood, and I felt low, withdrawn and isolated – trapped inside a mind that wanted nothing more than to cause me distress. I had lost all sense of purpose to my life, and instead my existence had been completely overtaken by OCD.
It was during this time that I felt so hopeless, I questioned my ability to carry on living. Suicidal thoughts became somewhat of a comfort to me, a way to escape the mental torment. However, I struggled to communicate this with anyone at all; not even those closest to me. I feared the judgement I would receive if I was to open up about my suicidal thoughts – worried that that I would be accused of being a) selfish b) ungrateful or c) completely crazy. As far as I was concerned, there was no point in sharing this information. Nobody would understand, anyway.
You Aren’t Alone
Medication, CBT (and a whole lotta hard work!) later, I am now in a much better place with my OCD. Unfortunately, however, I have instead entered into a similarly daunting battle with anorexia. Yes, it is true that I still experience suicidal thoughts and feelings. They reared their ugly head during my time at University (which I am now taking a break from) and still like to pop by during times when my mood is particularly low (evenings appear to be particularly popular visiting hours!).
Despite this, I have hope – comforted by the knowledge that I am never, ever alone in my struggle. Sure, I sometimes feel incredibly isolated, but there are others out there who are facing a similar fight. There is no need for me to keep these thoughts and feelings to myself any longer. Instead, I can reach out with the reassurance that there will always be people that understand how I feel. Every time I am presented with a difficult thought, I remind myself of the many times before that I managed to survive it.
But I do not have to endure it alone, and neither do you.
Contact the Samaritans.