Thoughts of suicide can accompany Both Anxiety and Depression, so It's really important that I cover this issue as I know how it feels to have an episode of suicidal thoughts.
Please do not be alarmed by this page, it is not meant to cause worry as it may not even be the case in your own journey, however for those bothered by thoughts of self harm, it's important that I address this issue so maybe you don't feel quite so alone.
Your stress symptoms could have started out of the blue or maybe there is a cause such as a relationship breakdown or debt but the thing is it does not matter as we can all go through this we are only human after all.
My findings and experience indicate that thoughts of suicide or self harm come for three reasons:
1. Because we can see no way out of the situation or difficulty we are in ( a cycle of Anxiety, or Low mood with Depression) , we think we will never get better and will never feel inner peace again. We don't want to end our life, in fact we want to live more than anything, we just do not want to feel this way anymore. We want to stop the way we feel. We want to feel in control.
2. The thoughts come as a result of Anxiety and Depression as 'obsessive' thoughts of self harm or harming others. By this I mean the thoughts just seem to pop into our heads, we don't mean to think them and are alarmed by their presence. We believe that if this is a thought it must be true and we feel we may be powerless not to act on it. In other words we believe the thoughts to be true, we think they are harmful and are scared of them. We try not to think the thoughts and in doing so think them even more! See my page Obsessive thoughts.
3. Because we see no way out of the 'life 'difficulty we are having. For example we feel lost of job will lead to us losing everything material such as our home, then our family will lose everything and it will be all our fault. We believe we will never get over this terrible situation.
It is important to note that a stage of bad/alarming thoughts does come hand in hand with anxiety and depression and they can be alarming and upset you greatly as you feel there is no way out of this living hell, But there IS And they WILL pass. By knowing this you can be prepared for them and more accepting that this is just a stage of the condition that you must go through in order to become well.
Below is my own experience and advice:
This is very personal, however I want to share my own experiences and how I came through it as it may help someone else see that they can get through this too. I want to write this from the heart as I see it.
In my own experience both Depression and Anxiety are very bewildering experiences, you feel odd, very odd, not yourself, not calm and not comfortable. This can last weeks, months or maybe even years.
To everyone else you look the same however you know that you are not, inside of you a whole hurricane is blowing and shows no sign of stopping, Your will is tested and you begin to lose hope. You see no way out of whatever situation or difficulty you are in and are quite overwhelmed with symptoms.
I could sit in a whole room of people I knew and loved, but feel incredibly lonely and unable to explain how I was feeling, I was very scared that I would never been the same again.
When I had these thoughts looking back I was just overloaded with stress. I had had a really bad year that year. I had lost some treasured animals, was way too busy with no fun in my life, was rowing with my partner who was a dominant controlling person anyway, had lost a close friend through a row..the list goes on, but it's safe to say over all it was the worst year ever!.
I was also still suffering with unresolved anxiety issues that had gone on years.
I had the type of suicidal thoughts that pop into your head uninvited and just really out stay their welcome.
I also had them as I could not see a way out of this anxiety after 12 long years of immense personal suffering.
At the start of the year I already had the signs that I was having a huge anxiety setback and was spiralling again, I was just feeling more and more down, tired and uninterested in anything especially the areas of my life that used to keep me happy and motivated.
I just allowed myself to spiral and barely left the house, the more I felt unable to do the more confidence I lost and the smaller my world became. I didn't want to see friends or even family, and just got worse and worse - you get the picture.
The fact I had suffered three previous setbacks before my recovery and allowed each one to spiral initially went against me in the sense that I was thinking what is the point in this, I will never get better or rid myself of this, I am ashamed to say my iron will was slipping for a while, I really could see no way out and didn't want to die but didn't want to live forever feeling like this either if that makes sense.
When the thoughts came out of nowhere it felt like a tsunami, moods so low I felt I would have to be scraped off the floor. No motivation to even get out of bed, and I was really struggling to get through my day. I started with constant thoughts of self harm - which really bothered me and the more I let them bother me and tried not to think them the more I had them! I seemed to have no control over my own mind at all.
I felt utterly desperate. I was scared to be me and also very scared to tell anyone. I felt trapped by these thoughts that just kept popping into my head and I had no sense when it would pass. I was locked inside myself and everyday seemed like ten in length. I felt that life had stopped even though it continued around me.
I felt a burden and felt that everyone would be better off without me (very odd now looking back I am amazed I could think that!)
It lasted a couple of weeks if I am honest and was really unpleasant. I would not of cared if I fell asleep and never woke up, I just wanted to be rid of these feelings.
My saving grace turned out to be what was initially my hindrance. It was the fact that I had suffered setbacks, anxiety and Depression before and so had spent some time in the past researching my symptoms and so suspected that this was probably a phase of irrational/obsessive thoughts and also I knew that whatever it took I must not fall into it but it was hard, really hard.
I just stopped thinking of any long term solution and just got up each day and put one foot in front of the other. I went though these couple of weeks blanketed in a black mind fog but I did it. I started thinking of the thoughts as an outlet- the bad stuff leaving me and coming out in thoughts.
Really hard yes, but I learnt that its absolutely possible and the strength that surviving this black storm and the positivity it was to give to my future is immeasurable.
So how did I cope?
I took the 'oh no you are not getting me that easily route'. I also wondered what it would feel like to come though this. So I did everything possible to stop myself engaging in these thoughts. I rang friends for conversations about anything, went for a cycle anything!
My past experience told me that if I hung in there, it would pass. I had also never really believed in myself and figured that this was kind of happening for a reason, to force me to take control of myself and rely on myself to come through this.
I changed my perception and view of the thoughts. I saw them differently. Instead of dreading them I began to see them as an anxiety release and an outlet for my anxiety to leave me, kind of like the bad stuff leaving me and coming out in thoughts.
I stopped trying not to think them and let them come. I learned to observe them rather than react to them.
That's why it is SO IMPORTANT for me to share my experiences as the people reading this may not have had previous experiences that I had when they go through it and so may not have the knowledge that these feelings will pass and they will get through this.
Remember this is my own experience of how things happened to me. If you are bothered by debt, relationships, custody battles , it doesn't matter, whatever is causing you to feel this way creates these thoughts, but they cannot sustain forever and will pass and you will be able to think more clearly!
NOTHING IS SO BAD THAT YOU SHOULD NO LONGER BE HERE - PERIOD.
Life is changeable, that is why depressions lift, fears dissolve, new job opportunities come up etc
Everyone goes through difficulties that they wonder how they are going to get through- that is life, the trick is to face this, hang in there and the good times will come back.
However bad things are - you can do this!
Yes you may lose your job, go through a breakup and never think this will get better, but maybe this is happening for a reason- to pave the way for something even better, how will you know this if you are no longer here?.
Yes you feel utterly dreadful, desperate and unable to cope BUT..
Feelings like this are a result of a short term difficultly and are themselves a short term difficultly no matter how bad they feel.
So what is the key to getting through this?
Never look to make a long term decision based on short term difficulties!
Here is what helped me to overcome this difficulty:
- I LET GO OF THE NEED TO CONTROL THE OUTCOME (If everything came tumbling down as a result of how I was feeling then so be it. What will be will be. Let go of control, there are certain things in life you have no control over and that is life, neither does anyone else!)
- I REALISED THAT I HAD ALWAYS HAD A CHOICE AND WOULD CHOOSE THE OUTCOME (By this I mean, I decided whether I gave into a panic attack or not, I had decided not to go out with friends and hide myself away, and I decided whether to do this or not, it was my choice and I had to take responsibility for that!)
- I TOOK RESPONSIBILITY FOR MYSELF ( If I could get myself into this, then I must be able to get myself out of this)
- I ACCEPTED THE THOUGHTS FOR WHAT THEY ARE- JUST THOUGHTS NOT REALITY AND A THOUGHT CANNOT HURT YOU! ALLOW YOURSELF TO THINK IT AND MOVE ON! (A thought is just nothing, we have on average 50,000 different thoughts every day, they come in and out of our minds as if opening and shutting a door, some happy, some sad, some weird- who cares it is just a thought. It can only bother me if I let it or choose to act on it, so I choose to practice the art of detachment which really helped)- see my mindfulness page
- I KNEW I WOULD BE A STRONGER PERSON AS A RESULT OF GETTING MYSELF THROUGH THIS (whatever difficultly you go through in your life, it's a lesson and you come through it a much stronger person- why not show yourself that you can do this?, I know just how desperate you may be feeling as I have been there. Believe me you can do it, it's possible. Then you can look forward to the rest of your life!)
- I ALSO FORCED MYSELF TO SEE OUTSIDE OF MY BUBBLE, IT WASN'T JUST ABOUT ME (When you are in this lonely place you are very self aware and its very self absorbing, all I thought about was me. I literally forced myself to come out of my head and think of my family and everything else I had worked so hard for. Was I really prepared to just let it all go if this was going to go away eventually?. The answer was no. I did not want to look weak for my kids, teach them it's ok to not work through a difficulty or leave them without a mum and force them into feeling like I did. That was not ok to me and neither was fighting for 12 years and then giving up at the last hurdle!. So carry on it was even though I did not know how long it would continue for. If I can do this so can you!)
- I STOPPED CARING WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK OF ME (This is a big one, people with any kind of confidence issue and self esteem care what others think of them- I stopped caring if people were going to like me once they found out my secret (that I suffered with anxiety), yes I may have lost some friends through ignorance, yes people may have gossiped BUT WHO CARES, very soon they would go back to worrying about their own lives. Feelings like this are very self absorbing, I got that people were just not that interested in me in this sense, they had their own lives to worry about!)
- FINALLY I REALISED THAT YOU HAVE NEVER GONE FAR ENOUGH DOWN 'THE ROAD' TO BE UNABLE TO TURN BACK (Who cares how bad things have got, it's never too late to turn things around)
I was once told by a Doctor that suicide is usually the persons 'last' bit of control. I can see the sense in this theory however you need to realise that you have always been very much in control. Sort out what is upsetting you and the feelings will diminish while yourself respect and self esteem go up because you survived and dealt with things.
No one ever said this would be easy, but it is so worth it, I can vouch for that.
If you really feel like there is no way out despite everything then please reach out to a loved one or your Doctor and if you feel unable to do this then at the very least pick up the phone and talk to the Samaritans who are available 24 hours- before you do anything you owe yourself that call.
Their number is 08457 909090
Remember that you are loved and important. Life is such a valuable miracle. We are all so lucky to be here at all. Don't place no value on your own life because these feelings will end. Love yourself and learn to cope.
One last thought...
"Suicide does not end the chances of life getting worse, suicide eliminates the chances of it ever getting better"