Only through consciously remembering the past can we resolve the difficulties and strength that often lie within our past. (Monica A. Coleman, Making a Way Out of No Way, 104)
********Trigger Warning: I talk about Suicidal Ideation
I just completed writings about some of my biggest memories of my life about my episodes of suicidal ideation. I did this for the "Paul G. Quinnett Lived Experience Writing Contest" for the American Association of Suicidology.
I had suicidal ideations almost every day for over half my life and it is only been one year since I stopped having them entertain me on a daily basis. It is glorious! I feel free, which I wrote about in my contest entry. I also wrote about how desperate I felt after being infiltrated with suicidal thoughts day in and day out for so many years.
At first I thought that my subject matter was too morbid to be worth writing. I thought that surely a narrative that is solely focused on hope and recovery is a much better endeavor, but as I was writing a new thought formed-is not suicidal ideation the most untalked about and stigmatized aspect of mental illness? We can talk to our friends about feeling a little down and bipolar disorder has even gained some acceptance in popular discourse, but talk about suicide? That's too scary.
It is scary to think that someone you love is struggling with suicidal thoughts. Or perhaps even worse, that those thoughts are so common that the person has gotten used to them. Is that even a life worth living? We do not want to think about it. We want to talk about pursuing recovery and offer hope, which are, of course, very good things and worth talking about, but one thing that I have learned from DBT is that I cannot progress if I do not acknowledge where I have been and where I currently am. If you suspect someone is struggling with suicidal thoughts, don't ignore the issue. Do not pretend like if you do not talk about it then it will go away, because most likely, it will not. We worry about how to prevent suicide, well, the first step is to get people comfortable with talking about it. Right now, there is a stigma against talking about suicidal feelings and thoughts, so people do not talk about it and feel that they are alone, when they are not. The only way to overcome the stigma of talking about suicide is by talking about it. There is no other shortcut. I know it is uncomfortable to think about and to talk about, but the only way that we can grow as a culture is if we throw our insecurities aside and actually talk about how we feel.
We may find that we are not alone. We may find out that we are loved. We may be able to get help sooner, but we cannot find out any of these thigs if we do not first talk about the hard thoughts and feelings that we experience.
And so I think my experience of living in a suicidal Hell is an important story. Perhaps when people read my story they will see that they are not alone too. Hopefully, they will get a sense of realizing that telling my story has not made me worse, but, in fact, has made me better. Our stories give our lives meaning and my story ultimately is one of hope. I lived for over twenty years with suicidal thoughts on a daily basis and that is not my reality anymore. I know what it is like to suffer and to feel invalidated and so I want to validate your story: you are important, no matter how you feel or think.
If you are struggling with suicidal ideations, you can always call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).