By Brian Thornsburg
The thought of suicide is something that has followed me throughout my teenage years and adult life. It started in High School, where I was relentlessly bullied to the point of being told to go kill myself. Other classmates would yell just die and laugh with their friends. Somehow that sentence seemed to burn into my head.
As I went home for Winter break I was extremely depressed. I kept repeating the words just die in my mind. It was a miserable two weeks, filled with constant arguments with my parents about how I shouldn’t think like this. That I should just enjoy Christmas and not let words bother me.
Their words did bother me though, and for someone who already dealt with anxiety, it only made things more difficult. For example, when I would get the just die chants stuck in my head, I would freak out and fear I couldn’t make them stop. I would just listen to it for hours until I either fell asleep or finally was distracted by something else.
Fast Forward to college and I was still having suicidal thoughts and suicidal OCD a few times a year. It always seemed to start around the fall months of the year and finally retreat around springtime. Unfortunately for me and my family, things took a bad turn one spring and I was faced with a three-day period of suicidal OCD.
For those that don’t know, suicidal OCD is the constant intrusive thought of death. Now, this doesn’t mean that you want to die or even hurt yourself. It just means that your mind isn’t switching its focus to something else and your body is having a fear response as a result. This can manifest in physical symptoms like anxiety, shaking, coughing, and even crying.
This was all happening to me while I was trying to go about my daily life. The words just die repeated in my mind constantly. I even thought about ways to do it sometimes and I’m not proud of that either. The thing is, I learned a lot about that last bout of suicidal OCD that has taught me a lo. It has also taught me a lot about dealing with depression and thoughts of suicide.
Suicide is not an easy subject to talk about. I myself even find it difficult to type the words I am right now in fear of saying something wrong. Maybe that has to do with the stigma still associated with depression and other mental illnesses, but there are just no words that describe how painful thoughts of suicide can be.
With that being said, when you are having these thoughts, the first thing you need to realize is that it is only a moment. Yes, you might feel absolutely miserable at that moment. Like nothing will ever make what happened to you or your feelings be ok. You might thinking ending your life is the only way out, but that’s just how you feel right now!
Think about it like someone being pressured into a decision. Your anxiety is probably running wild while thoughts dance in and out of your head. If nothing else, this is no time to be making life decisions and you need to take some time to calm down before you respond. How do you stop yourself though?
I have asked myself that question 1000 times, but have found quite a few interesting answers over time. The first thing you probably need to do is inform a family member or a friend of how you are feeling. After letting someone know, try going to your room for a meditation session or even just to listen to music. Make sure to check in with your family member or buddy at certain intervals.
The next thing I would recommend is to give yourself something to look forward to every day. Whether it’s a new business idea you have, an art project you always wanted to do, or even furthering your education. You need to give yourself a reason to keep going. It can be as big or as small as you want. Just give yourself something.
After that, try doing things you enjoy for the next couple of hours. This could be anything from video games, movies, music, books, or a walk. Just something that puts you in a better headspace. Don’t feel discouraged if you are having trouble putting your suicidal thoughts behind you. Just keep trying to shift your focus when you notice it creeping up again.
Finally, keep telling yourself this is only a moment. Only a period of time that will pass. You will eventually feel better. You will eventually move on from this dark time and come out a stronger person. There is always something to live for, you really just have to reach out and find it.
Please Note: The suggestions listed above are just suggestions and not a guaranteed way to cope with mental illness. This is just how the author dealt with their mental illness and made peace with it. If you or someone you love is in danger of hurting themselves, please call 1800-273-8255 for the suicide hotline. Or, call 911 for immediate assistance. Finally, please know you are not alone and this is survivable.