#MentalHealthMonday

#MentalHealthMonday | (TW: Suicidal Thoughts)

#MHM

Let me start off this post with a huge TRIGGER WARNING for suicidal thoughts. I debated writing this post at all. It is not my intent to cause anyone harm, to trigger underlying feelings, or to somehow validate the idea of taking one’s own life.

If you are currently struggling with suicidal thoughts, please skip this post. It won’t hurt my feelings. Your health is more important than anything I could write. Please, please, reach out for help. If you feel comfortable, my DMs are always open on Twitter. If not, please check out the National Suicide Hotline here.

fullsizeoutput_277b

Suicide has become kind of a buzzword since Netflix aired their adaptation of Jay Asher’s YA novel, 13 Reasons Why. More people than ever are talking about teen suicide—about why it happens, what we can do about it. Unfortunately, sometimes, these conversations turn into arguments about whether or not Hannah Baker’s decision was justified. As much as I’m glad we as a society are talking about teen suicide, I’m concerned that these conversations are not the ones we should be having. (For more of my thoughts on 13RW, I did a post a while back.)

I’m not actually here to talk about suicide, despite the trigger warning. I’m here to talk about my experiences with what I call Passive Suicidality, or Passive Suicidal Thoughts.

fullsizeoutput_277b

If you’re new around here, a little background: I’ve been dealing with clinical depression for about 10 years (at least, that’s when I was diagnosed). I’m fortunately relatively high functioning, and I’ve never struggled with self-harm or attempted suicide. I am lucky. But in other ways, I’m not so lucky.

From the age of 17, I developed pretty severe anhedonia (loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities), and I basically woke up every morning wishing I could just stop existing. I didn’t really talk about it; when I did try to voice my feelings, I was told to stop being dramatic. For some reason, when a teenager expresses the will to die, it’s rarely taken seriously. And then, because I never attempted to end my own life, most people who knew about my depression didn’t see me as a suicide risk.

But there’s a different kind of suicide risk than the one that’s talked about in the media. I don’t want to take away from kids out there who are truly, actively suicidal. Those kids absolutely need help. I just want to shine a light on all the other kids out there who maybe aren’t vocal about it, but are going about their days with no will to live.

This was (and still is, some days) my reality: waking up with this huge hole in my chest where the will to live is supposed to be. For most of these years, none of my friends knew, or they didn’t take me seriously because I didn’t fit the stereotype of the suicidal teenager. I wasn’t depressed enough to “deserve” attention or help. But just because I didn’t have a plan didn’t mean I didn’t fantasize about dying. Just because I wasn’t physically hurting myself didn’t mean I wasn’t in a lot of emotional pain. Something I’ve come to terms with (multiple times) is that everyone deserves to get help. You never know what another person’s threshold is, and needing help doesn’t make a person weak.

fullsizeoutput_277b

Passive suicidal thoughts are a lot sneakier and harder to combat because they’re less aggressive. How do you make yourself want to live? It’s not a question for which I have any real, solid answers. I generally avoid advising people on dealing with their depression. No matter what a person’s intentions, telling someone how to feel better always has mixed results. What works for one person may not work for another. Still, I want to share some of the things I’ve implemented at various points that can help ease those pesky thoughts of non-existence.

1. Get outside.

(I realize this is not always feasible—especially during the winter months.) Maybe this is just my Taurus self speaking, but there’s something to be said for getting outside in nature. Even if it’s just taking a walk around your neighborhood, or venturing to the local park. Changing your surroundings and giving yourself something new on which to focus can help get your mind off negative thoughts.

2. Do something physically stimulating.

I know, it’s so annoying to be depressed and have people tell you that you should take up exercising. It seems impossible, when you’re in the depths of depression, to even contemplate getting out of bed sometimes. If that’s where you’re at today, that’s okay, and I understand. I used to hate when people would tell me I should just try yoga…but then I started doing yoga, and I saw their point.

It doesn’t really matter what the physical stimulation is, to be honest. Some days, I just sit in my yoga mat and focus on breathing, and that’s as far as I get. I do think there’s something about connecting to the physical body that can have healing properties. The harder I push myself physically, the more powerful I feel. As my dad likes to say, “the body adjusts to what you ask it to do.” Physical exercise floods the body with endorphins and it can distract you from negative thinking.

3. Write it down.

I’ve been doing this for longer than I even knew I was depressed. Journaling is one of the few things that keeps me going. It doesn’t have to be the best writing you’ve ever done, and no one ever has to see it. Sometimes, just getting those words onto the page makes you feel just a little bit better.

4. Make a list of some silver linings in your day.

This kind of goes along with #3. When I’m having a particularly rough day, I write down how I’m feeling. But before I close my notebook, I write down at least one positive thing. It can be something that happened that day, something as simple as making it to work on time, or getting some amazing book mail. It doesn’t have to be something huge, but the act of forcing yourself to think of something happy can get your brain off the negative energy train for a little while. Bonus! The more you write down silver linings, the easier it gets to come up with some. It becomes a habit.

5. Make a list of things you like about yourself or things you’ve accomplished in your life.

It sounds so cheesy—and it totally is—but it works. It’s not always easy, either. Depression is great at making you hate yourself, but the best way to fight back is to work at loving yourself. It’s so easy to get trapped in a fog, where all you see are the worst things about yourself, and all your failures are on display. At first, you might not be able to compliment yourself very well—which is why I like to write down things I’ve accomplished. Even if it’s something seemingly small, like having passed a really difficult class in school, or getting through a really bad day at work. Everything counts, as long as you let it count.

6. Take a mental health day.

I’m a huge advocate of this. I know it’s not feasible for everyone. I also know that, when overused, this technique loses its meaning. Still, there’s something to be said for acknowledging that you need a day to take care of yourself. Doing little nice things for yourself—making tea, having a bubble bath, listening to your favorite music—reminds you that you matter. When you treat yourself with kindness, you’re able to realize how much you deserve that kindness.

Again, these are the things that work for me. They might not work for you—or they might work for you, but not today. Listen to yourself. Acknowledge where you are in your head right now, and know that it won’t be like this forever.

I hope this post has helped you in some way, whether it’s just feeling like you’re not alone, or maybe helping you to keep fighting for yourself. Whoever you are, know that you’re loved, and you’re not in this alone.

fullsizeoutput_277b

Thank you so much for reading this post. It means the world to know that even one person can relate to what I’ve gone through. I love you guys so much, you don’t even know.

Have you had similar experiences with depression? Did I miss any self-care tips you think I should add to this list? Let’s talk in the comments!

Advertisements

11 thoughts on “#MentalHealthMonday | (TW: Suicidal Thoughts)”

  1. What a wonderful post! Thanks for sharing your story. I am also passively suicidal. My therapist knows as does my best friend. Those are the only two tho’ because the rest of the people in my life just seemingly hear “suicidal” and not the “passively” in front of it. Then they freak out and make things worse.

    I cannot remember a time in my life when I was not passively suicidal. I did have an issue with self-harm for a while, but not so much now. It’s a temptation sometimes, but one I say no to fairly easily. But I honestly cannot remember a time in my life when I didn’t feel like not living was the better option. When I didn’t wish I wouldn’t wake up in the morning or when I didn’t wish I’d never been born. My family’s fairly great – most of my issues stem from being raised in a very very conservative church and being abused by a family friend from said church.

    I love your checklist. I do a lot of those things on days when the thoughts are bad. My best friend also taught me to make sure I’m fed, hydrated, took meds, and well-rested before I even attempt the things on the checklist. Sometimes a nap or eating does help amazingly. I’m pretty good about remembering meds, but it helps sometimes to go thru the list and go, “Ohhhh… forgot meds, that might help”. heh. #4 about the silver linings usually helps me TREMENDOUSLY. Especially if it’s a day when I get to see my niece and nephew. But even if it’s not, I often list them as a silver lining because it makes me feel better to think about them and how much they love being with me.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing, Valerie. It means a lot to know that I’m not the only one living with this. It sucks and I wish it wasn’t this way for us 😦

      I like what you said about making sure you’re fed/hydrated and stuff – it’s one of those things that’s so easy to forget when you’re in the midst of a bad day. I know when I don’t sleep well, I can’t even think to pull myself out of depression. I also really like what you said about listing your niece and nephew as your silver lining. I do the same thing with my niece! I don’t get to see her a lot because I don’t live close to my family, but she’s definitely a big reason that I’m still fighting. I think it helps to know that we’re not only loved but also NEEDED by someone.

  2. I absolutely understand what you’re saying, because I’ve struggled with suicidal thoughts as well. There are days when I don’t see the point in living at all, and in those moments it’s only the thought of my family that stops me from acting on them. This is a beautiful, very important post on what we must do to take care of ourselves. Thank you for writing this!

    1. Aww thank you so much for reading and commenting!

      I definitely think about my family a lot when I’m having a rough day. It sucks because they’re 1,000 miles away from me so thinking about them sometimes makes me sad too. But then I remember how luck I am to have the relationship I do with my parents and my older brother, and how my 6-year-old niece loves me pretty much unconditionally and how important they are.

      None of us are alone in this, even when it feels like we are. ❤

  3. I’m definitely adopting the term passively suicidal from now on. That absolutely encompasses my feelings for the past couple of years. Thank you for writing this post xx

    Related, have you ever had the thing where you don’t want to die, but you don’t want to live either? I always think of it like I want to be in a coma, or constantly asleep. Existing, but not living. I get that quite often as well, though I’m not sure what the term for it could be.

    All my love to you, as always xxx

    1. I’m so glad this resonated with you! My goal was to express how I feel but also (hopefully) to help other people feel less alone. It’s so easy for us to not talk about these things even when we really need to. I appreciate all your kind words ❤

      YES. I do that exact thing so much! I don't even know how to explain it to people? Sometimes I make jokes out of it, but nobody laughs and nobody ever takes it seriously either! Maybe we should invent our own term?

  4. Wow – thank you so much for opening up to us here in the book blogging and blogging in general community about your thoughts, feelings and perceptions on such a controversial, yet completely relevant topic.
    Growing up in such a digital-controlled world with all this social media and modernity touching our lives, it’s hard not to feel a little disoriented and lost. I, myself, despite always being successful in losing myself and forgetting about the world for a few precious moments every day in a book, I’ve still managed to somehow find myself waking up some mornings and, like you, simply not wanting to exist and just go back to sleep.
    I really appreciate the tips you provide for us here – sometimes getting over such a condition isn’t simply about taking a few capsules of Prozac here and there but actually getting out of one’s bubble and engaging with the beautiful world.
    I look forward to reading more from you soon!
    Happy Reading and Happy Blogging 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for your sweet comment! It’s so nice to hear that my personal musings can have a small impact on other people – funny enough, that’s one of the few things that pulls me out of my depression. I hope this has been of some help to you, if only to know that you’re absolutely not alone. I hope things get better for you soon, but even if they don’t, know that you’re strong enough to fight through it ❤

      1. Thank you so much – your posts are a delight to read. Same here, the comments I receive and the conversations I’m able to have with my fellow bibliophiles here in the blogging community has a power of uplifting me at any moment in my mental decline.
        I hope to hear more from you soon ❤

  5. This post hit me so hard but in a good way because this is EXACTLY how I feel on a regular basis. I didn’t even know there was really a term for it. I always felt like I was being over dramatic with my suicidal thoughts because I never acted out on them (I do have some issues with self-harm, but even then it’s never been anything overly serious). I wish no one had to feel this way, but it’s so comforting to know that I’m not alone and that other people experience this too. I feel like so many people presume that unless it’s extreme then suicidal thoughts don’t really matter? Also, yoga’s been something I’ve wanted to try for a while now. I’ll definitely try and have to give it a go!

    Thank you so much for writing this Christine. It really helped me a lot ♥♥

    1. Awww I am so glad this helped you! I’ve spent so much of my life feeling like I’m not “depressed enough” to deserve help, attention, affection, whatever. Which, really, is just my depression telling me that I don’t deserve help. Writing this post was terrifying but it’s been so gratifying because, like you said, I realize that it’s not just me. I’m not alone, and there are so many wonderful people out here in the blogosphere who know what I’m going through and don’t judge me for it.

      I feel like I should do a yoga post soon, like a list of recommended videos. I only really follow one YouTuber for yoga because I fell in love with her outlook on everything, but there are definitely certain videos I come back to when I’m having a bad day and just need to feel supported and okay with myself the way I am.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s