I imagine that the average healthy person must have a hard time comprehending what it must be like to want to end your own life. The majority of people avoid death and breathe a sign of relief when they hit the breaks in time to avoid a smash on the motorway. I can totally understand why they would struggle to understand someone who is suicidal.
So what is it like to feel suicidal?
To me it starts with a niggling thought, almost like a seed of doubt in my mind that tells me I am not capable of living. Alongside this a repetitive thought says, “I can’t take much more” over and over again, gradually getting louder for weeks and weeks until it’s a screaming thought and all I can hear.
There are times when fear hits me like a bus smashing right into my face, tearing my lips open and bruising my gums. The fear is that I will never achieve what I want to. Right now it’s a fear that I will never make a difference to the world I live in, I want my blog to help people, I want my writing to reach out and make a change to at least one person. Maybe if I helped one person to understand mental illness or helped a sufferer to feel less alone then it would make living with my illnesses worth it, it would give meaning to the pain. I’m scared this isn’t achievable. Mix that fear in with my illnesses and it’s a recipe for a nightmare. Following the fear comes the feelings that my life is meaningless, worthless. I am nothing.
Sometimes these niggling thoughts and fears last weeks or months before they develop into something more serious. The thoughts of suicide are there but I manage to hang on to something. I somehow manage to drag myself from one day to the next.
When these thoughts become more powerful then my life becomes a terrifying, dark place. It’s like being trapped with no way out. As though I’m in a room with no doors and I’m running into the walls repeatedly out of desperation because I just need to get out. With this comes isolation, I become so withdrawn that I don’t hear what people are saying, I can’t concentrate on their sentences-written or verbal. I push them all out because I’m scared of hurting them and I feel guilty and ungrateful for the way I am feeling. I can be sat in a room packed with people and still feel totally alone. I can only hear my thoughts, nothing else.
I’ll see ‘signs’ that I need to die in everything I do. If I spill my drink then it’s because I should die. I drop a plate and it smashes then it’s because I should die. Someone doesn’t reply to my text, it’s because nobody wants me around and I should die. All those small, everyday problems begin to have meaning to me. I become so fragile that the smallest thing causes me to burst into tears.
Sleep becomes unimportant. I’m not sure if it’s because I can’t sleep or because I feel no need to. I end up spending the nights planning, thinking of methods and back up methods in case my plans fail. I’ll listen to music, write to people just in case. Everything is about preparing for my death. I think of little else.
In fact, self care in general becomes unimportant. I stop eating, barely bathe or get dressed. I don’t manage my finances. None of it matters anymore and even if it did I don’t have the energy or the head-space to deal with it all.
I lose sight of any other options. It’s like a tunnel vision, I can only see one thing, there is no peripheral vision. I feel weak, alone, tired. My thoughts scream at me and then I can’t stop myself. I get caught in the grips of it again. My plans are in place and I attempt to exit the world.
Fortunately I have survived each attempt and with the help and treatment I have received following them I always end up feeling glad that I survived. It was illness making me feel so suicidal, not life.
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please know that they are temporary and it will get better. One day you will be watching a fireworks display and you’ll remember the world can be a beautiful place and you’ll be glad you survived. Or you’ll meet a new person and instantly click with them and you’ll chat and laugh the afternoon away drinking hot chocolate. Or you’ll paddle in the sea and feel the waves against your shins. One day you will be glad you are alive.
Please seek help if you are struggling with suicidal thoughts: