What I Need From You When I Talk About My Suicidal Ideation
I’d like to begin by stating I am not currently suicidal.
I am writing not about any plan to kill myself, but rather about those lingering thoughts that haunt not only me, but others suffering from depression as well. Suicidal ideation is a taboo topic, not allowed in most groups for fear of triggering others and being misunderstood by anyone who has not suffered themselves.
Most people who have depression know these feelings well. It’s that little voice, that devil on your shoulder, that constant companion who overstays their welcome like an unwanted house guest. It internalizes everything in my life and makes me feel helpless, my life hopeless. It is the constant weight on my chest controlling my every breath, the elephant in the room I cannot ignore.
There are times I greet that little demon on my shoulder as I would an old friend. It has been there more consistently than any friendship and has been the only one to offer any real “solution” to my continuous suffering. I know, however, this demon is a bully. It does not care for me and is not looking out for my best interests. It is ever present, always badgering, forever insistent that giving up is the only way to stop the pain.
That demon is the personification of all the trauma and abuses I have endured. It wants me to give up. It wants me to fail. It wants to win.
I cannot tell you the number of times over the years I have written out my goodbyes to people I loved, apologizing for being me, the mess I am. I apologize for not being strong enough, good enough, for just not being enough. I have cried, “No more. No mas. Please, make all this pain stop.” I have begged for those I loved to not give me another thought because I’m truly not worth it.
I admittedly have daydreamed about acting on my thoughts many times. I imagine those final moments, knowing my pain would finally be over, drifting away. Where other people fantasize about far off, white sandy beaches or beautiful crisp nights under a starry sky, my bliss is simply a world where I am no longer suffering and no longer in pain. When life feels unbearable, a piece of me longs to surrender to that inner voice, to say, “You win!” and just fade away.
Anyone who has not walked in my shoes cannot understand what it’s like to constantly battle my own brain, my own thoughts and emotions. They cannot comprehend having an inner voice who is always poking at me, telling me I’m not enough, that life will never get better and that this pain will never stop. When I’ve spent years in constant torment, any escape seems almost blissful.
I’m constantly haunted by these feelings while simultaneously being afraid to speak about them. The hardest part about having these feelings is that I’ve never been able to talk openly about them. The moment I verbalize having these thoughts, even if I do not intend to act on them, there’s the very real fear people will panic me for my own safety. People are comfortable with me suffering in silence, but panic when any of the despair I feel every day spills out. Rather than let me acknowledge and discuss these feelings, some will ultimately try to use my vulnerability against me.
Perhaps worse than those who want to lock me away out of panic are the naysayers and the minimizers. Those who have never suffered through depression assume expressing these thoughts is akin to having a pity party. If I even bring up these thoughts, some people accuse me of wanting to take the “coward’s way out.” I’m accused of being a drama queen. Some people swear I’m not serious or even dare me to follow through, declaring I only want attention.
Others cannot grasp I’d even consider giving up on life. They assure me my life cannot possibly be as horrible as it seems right now. They toss out cliches about there being a rainbow after the storm, encourage me to keep my head up or that things can only go up from here.
There needs to be a middle ground where everyone feeling this way, myself included, can openly discuss our feelings, without fear of judgment, rejection or being locked away against our will for using one of those trigger words that make others uncomfortable. Thinking about suicide does not always mean we are actively planning to kill ourselves. Finding bliss in the thought of there being an end to our suffering does not mean we intend to follow through with it. Many times suicides occur because someone has been suffering alone, without a voice, for so long that their demons begin to make sense. If left alone with our demons long enough, some will succumb to their will.
Those who want to talk are still trying to survive their battles. Suicide often occurs when someone loses the will to talk or to fight. Listening non-judgmentally to us venting our feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, while moderately uncomfortable to you, may save our lives in the long run. It lets us know we are not alone and validates our voices.
We would not be reaching out if we did not want help. We would not be speaking up if we didn’t want to fight, want to survive. We’re putting our trust in you by letting you see us at our most vulnerable. Please, do not let us down.