A few weeks ago, I read an article that got me thinking about suicidal ideation. It’s a really good article, and you should click on the link and read it. Put simply, in that article, Anna Borges describes suicidal ideation as treading water in the middle of the ocean. And that, my friends, is a damn fine description.
You may wonder why I am talking about this now. That’s a valid question. First, I don’t want you to worry. I don’t have any plans to hurt or kill myself right now. But then, that’s kind of the point concerning this condition. SI is a passive form of suicide. It allows for thoughts of self harm to live in the mind, whether or not active plans are present. As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, I’ve suffered from depression for most of my life. I have never gone on medication, mainly because I’m scared. I’m scared of what the medication might do to me, and how it will change me.
I don’t define myself by my depression and thoughts of suicide, but they are a part of me. Sure, they’re an unhealthy part that hold hold me back, but there they are. Does it seem silly to worry about how feeling better will change me? Of course it does, but that doesn’t change my feelings. I often think that I should just go for it, but I always stop myself.
Anyway, back to why I am bringing this up at the moment. One, it’s the holiday season and that is a difficult time for many people. Though, according to this healthline article, suicide rates actually drop during the holidays and increase in Spring. This is interesting, considering the standard myth of most suicides occur during the holidays.
Suicidal Ideation is a State of Being
However, just because most suicides don’t happen during the holiday season, doesn’t mean those thoughts aren’t there. In fact, (again according to the healthline article) those thoughts probably are there. However, many people can ignore the thoughts because of interactions with others. Holiday parties, family gathering, and seasonal cheer might stave off suicidal action. Also, there is the idea that we don’t want to ruin the season for others. Suicide is already often considered a selfish act by many, and the holidays are for giving.
Second, and this goes back to the article by Anna Borges, we need to talk about suicidal ideation. The mystery and complex feeling surrounding suicide makes it difficult to talk about. If we tell our friends or family, there’s no telling how they will react. Some of them might get angry. Others might get scared. Most likely, there will be a combination of emotions. And I understand that. Listening to someone tell you they feel like hurting themselves or killing themselves is hard. It’s scary, and anxiety inducing, and can leave you feeling helpless.
Our friends and family care about us, and to that end they might want to solve what they see as the problem of our contemplation. The trouble with that, though, is they may not be able to solve it. In fact, they probably won’t be. And then they might get mad at their failure. Or, we will let them think that everything is okay while we suffer. Why would we do that? Because we care about them as much as they care about us and we don’t want them to worry.
And that’s the crux, isn’t it? We don’t want our loved ones to worry. So we remain silent.
Silence is Harmful and Unhelpful
But staying silent does more harm than good. It closes people off from us, and creates feelings of isolation. It also prevents us from working through our emotions. I’ve rarely expressed my suicidal ideation to my friends and family, but when I have, I’ve been lucky. No one has freaked out or gotten angry with me for expressing these thoughts. But, I still felt fear when doing so. Just as I feel fear now, writing this post.
But I am doing it because Anna Borges inspired me to be a bit more vocal about my feelings. I am not asking for help, advice, or sympathy. I am just asking anyone reading this to understand that many people have these thoughts. In fact, you, dear reader, may be feeling something similar at this moment. And that’s okay.
It’s okay to have these feelings. And it’s okay to not feel okay. Furthermore, it’s even okay to not want to share these feelings with others. But you know what else is okay? Wanting to and needing to share these feelings. Humans are social creatures. We need people we can trust in our lives, and we need to express ourselves. There is no shame in sharing your dark thoughts.
If you don’t think you have someone you can talk to about this, there are plenty of online resources. One example is the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Phone number: 1-800-273-8255.
You can also comment here, and I will listen. Though, I understand if you don’t want to.
As for me, I’ve been feeling blue, so I bought myself a new pillow. It’s a silly thing and it won’t stop my suicidal ideation, but I needed one. And sometimes getting things that we need and want can help keep the darkness at bay.
Listen and Be There Without Judgement
If someone comes to you with feelings of darkness, be kind. Understand it took a lot for them to open up. You can experience anxiety and anger and fear, but later. Let them tell their story. Open your ears and your heart. Close your mouth and your rational mind. There will be time for all of that later. But listening is so important. Many people don’t feel heard, and that adds to the pain. When we don’t feel heard, we don’t feel valued. And when we don’t feel valued by others, we often have difficulty valuing ourselves.
I’m not saying we need others to validate us before we can validate ourselves. However, I know when I feel down and worthless, it is nice to hear others express their feelings of love for me. It feels good to be valued by others. Additionally, by listening to your friend who is going through a rough patch without judging them or giving them advice, you show them that they aren’t a burden.
This is important because so many people don’t share for fear of burdening the listener. And yeah, it can be hard work listening to someone talk about suicide. It can also feel burdensome if your friend keeps telling you the same thing without changing. At that point, it sounds like complaining. But, remember, this is a process. It’s okay as the listener to feel like you can’t take it all. You don’t have to be there all the time, but be there when you can. Help when and how you can. It matters more than you think.
Thank you for reading. I love you, even if I don’t know you.