What I Want My Workplace to Know About Living With Chronic Suicidal Thoughts
by Yujia Ding
I’m sitting at my desk at work and my mind is wandering. I’m thinking about the conversation I had with my boss about how I am not cut out for graduate school. I’m thinking about the $175 I spent that I don’t have on clothes I doubt I’ll wear because I’m too self-conscious to wear them. I’m thinking about the fact that I wore a short black dress and patent leather ankle boot heels to work today and how uncomfortable it makes me. I’m listening to the Adele radio station on IHeartRadio and wondering what’s the point anymore?
When you are chronically suicidal, it is incredibly hard to speak up about how you are really feeling. It’s taken three years of intensive treatment — residential, PHP, IOP, outpatient groups, numerous therapists, 10 plus medication changes — to find a therapist I am comfortable naming my suicidality to. I battle my thoughts constantly, and with these thoughts come feelings of unworthiness, insecurities, hopelessness, uselessness, the list goes on and on. While mental illness is not an excuse, it is something that is affecting me in every aspect of my life.
Here’s what I wish I could tell the world I work in, if it were with lack of fear, judgment and received unconditionally:
1. I am trying my best. I promise. Some days are better than others. Sometimes just getting out of bed to walk the dog is the best I can muster. I will fall asleep for hours on the couch, and not get up except to try to stick to my meal plan and walk the dog again. Other days I am able to make it to work, wear something respectable and accomplish a few experiments and have some intellectual conversations. However, know I am trying. I may be in a brain fog half the day, but showing up sometimes is half the battle. And for that, I hope you can understand and forgive me.
2. I make mistakes and I’m not perfect. You don’t need to remind me I am making mistakes. I’m already hard on myself and not being perfect tears me apart inside. I am my hardest critic and I don’t need to hear it from the outside, especially from someone I would expect to be supportive of my endeavors. I hurt and am my own worst critic constantly, so please just understand and try not to humiliate me more than I do already myself?
3. I’m dying of heat exhaustion in my sweatshirt and jeans. And it’s getting to me, making me tired, exhausted and emotionally drained. Why? Because it takes extra effort to make sure you don’t show your scars from self-harm at work and when you have to walk to work in the more than 90 degree heat in a sweatshirt and jeans, and you can’t take off the sweatshirt for some relief, your mind becomes distracted from what you should be doing.
4. My mind is often, more often than not, thinking about how I can take my own life using the resources I have at hand. It’s not something I like to admit, yet it’s a part of me and I can’t keep denying it. I don’t have a plan, but I do have daydreams. I spend the better part of my day thinking about ways I could put myself out of the pain and suffering I feel in my life. Yet, I can’t admit this and I feel trapped, and the only way I can escape is by burying myself in some readings or taking a walk around the building and browsing social media to take my mind off of things. I can’t admit anything because I feel judged.
5. I live with profound mental illness, yet I am a functioning member of society who has responsibilities and a job. I’m also a student. I can do it, it just might take me a little longer. And if that’s not suitable for you, then I don’t know what I can say. I try hard, I am trying hard and if that’s not enough, then I am not enough for you and this isn’t worth my time.
Please know I am trying, as I’ve said many times here, and I am trying sincerely with all my heart. I battle my chronic suicidality. I battle my anorexia. I battle my post-traumatic stress disorder and triggers. I battle my urges and self-destructive thoughts daily, moment to moment, constantly. I don’t want to battle the rest of the world too.
So for now, please keep this in mind when you speak to me, and as I struggle to make my battle speakable and known.
© 2017 Mighty Proud Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Living With Chronic Suicidal Ideation
by Caroline Meadowlark
I had my first passive suicidal thought at 6 years old. I remember sitting at the top of the stairs after being scolded by my parents, repeating over and over in my head, “I wish I was dead, I wish I was dead, I wish I was dead.”
The active suicidal thoughts came later. Somewhere in my late teens, it occurred to me I didn’t just have to wish I was dead; I could bring death upon myself. Since that realization, that I could be the catalyst, I have never been the same.
The thoughts come every day. On a good day, it goes something like this:
Brain: You should kill yourself.
Me: No, that’s silly. Everything is fine.
Brain: OK, cool. Just checking.
On a bad day, it goes much further, even into specific plans. The intensity ranges from mild to ambivalent to severe.
I was recently diagnosed with bipolar II disorder in addition to generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I get the thoughts on both sides of the coin. When I’m depressed, I ruminate and plan for days or weeks. When I’m hypomanic, I get impulsive suicidal urges, sometimes every few minutes. The anxiety also triggers thoughts that I can’t live through whatever challenge I’m facing, so I might as well kill myself.
I don’t know why my brain seems to want to kill me. I wish I could make it realize — no, make myself realize — it’s an awful idea. That my life is worth something, worth living.
I’ve been in therapy for almost three years. I’ve been through two psychiatric hospitalizations. The therapy has given me more techniques to try and handle the thoughts and reduce their intensity. I recently found a psychiatrist I trust, and I’m really hoping he can help me get stable. I’m a fighter and I’ll keep fighting these thoughts, but I am scared I’ll have a weak moment and do something I’ll regret.
© 2017 Mighty Proud Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
I am a numerous suicide attempt survivor. Praise God, I am still alive today.
I am a Mental illness advocate and it is my passion to educate about mental illness, increase awareness about mental illness, reduce the stigma of mental illness and the stigma associated with suicide and prevent suicides. I want to and must reduce the alarmingly increasing rate of suicides around the world today.
I continue to make a daily post about suicide everyday throughout the month of September for Suicide Prevention month. This is post #26 and if you have missed my previous posts, please check them out on my blog. Also, continue looking on my blog for more daily posts about suicide for the rest of September.
We must focus our attention on fighting mental illness stigma and the stigma associated with suicide and prevent suicide.
We cannot become complacent with this very important problem and issue. It is the new civil rights movement of our area. We must stop the bias, shame and discrimination people living with mental illness and suicide loss continue to face on a daily basis.
We must all make our voices heard very loud and strong about mental illness, mental illness stigma and suicide prevention. It is critical. It is crucial. Each life is fabulous, beautiful, precious and priceless.
We must prevent suicides and save lives.
Please know you are loved and you all matter… and you all make a big, beautiful and positive difference and impact in this world and in the lives of many people every day.
God bless you all always and forever…
Love and hugs, Sue