Living With Suicidal Ideation
Suicidal Ideation: Wanting to take your own life, or thinking about suicide.
Remember to take care of yourself. This post discusses suicidal thoughts, and if that’s something you will be triggered by, please don’t read. If you need it, the darling Ruth from Ruth In Revolt has a whole post dedicated to mental health resources in the UK. You can access that HERE.
For the past six or so years, I have lived with constant, low lying, passive suicidal ideation. Sometimes it has just been background noise, a bee on my shoulder I can just flick off. Other times, it has gotten so loud I have tried to stop the noise in the only way I could think of: giving in to what the suicidal ideation wanted.
I am still alive. None of those numerous attempts worked.
Some might argue that makes me ‘bad at suicide’. I would tend to agree. If I wasn’t, this blog would never have started, I would never have moved to London, I would never have found my people. My story would have ended in 2013.
What I really am, though, is grateful for ‘being bad at suicide’.
The continuation of my story past when it should have ended is something I will never take lightly or for granted. Still being here when for all intents and purposes I should be six feet under is something I still can’t really wrap my head around.
In the quiet moments, I sometimes wonder if life did stop in 2013 and I’m in some weird limbo dimension, waiting to move on to the next life.
But enough of that. Drive yourself mad thinking about all that stuff. Christ knows I don’t need to be driven any further round the bend.
Despite being so grateful for surviving, and despite wanting to be alive, I still live with consistent suicidal ideation. The small voice in the back of my head that keeps nudging me towards the edge.
The voice I have to ignore when I’m stood on the tube platform and know the train is rushing towards me.
The voice that wants me to step closer and closer to the edge of the cliff when out walking.
The voice that makes my hand shake when cleaning the house and handling chemicals.
The voice that pushes me to stockpile medication.
No matter what I am doing, no matter where I am going, no matter how happy I am, that voice is still there. Sometimes it’s easy to push away, to laugh at. Sometimes it isn’t, and the wondering whether it would just be easier to give in kicks in.
Whenever anything remotely bad happens - and this can just be as simple as accidentally forgetting to cancel a subscription and losing money to it - my brain ‘reassures’ me with the thought that ‘no matter what happens, if it gets really bad you can always kill yourself’.
Imagine having that reassurance every week, every day for years on end.
I don’t want to die. Not right now. And that’s the big kicker here. I will never not be mentally ill, but I can deal with that. But I don’t want to die. It’s been years since I could truly say that from the heart - and mean it. And I do mean it with every goddamned inch of my body and soul. I love being alive. I love having incredible friends and being able to take in these amazing experiences and I love that first breath of cold air in the morning and I love lighting all my candles and listening to the magic of Mama Cass and Daniel Versus The World at night.
I love so many things about being alive, and I’m not willing to give them all up just yet.
I would give anything to get rid of the suicidal ideation though. It feels like a separate part of me, one that I have no control over and one that doesn’t care how good my life is. It’s like that intrusive thought that pops into your head every now and again - but it’s not every now and again, it’s every minute of every day and changes based on the activity.
You made it into town, but now you have to get another train. You made it to the destination station, but now you have to cross a road. On and on, minute after minute, day after day.
I am exhausted.
I don’t want to give into the voice. I really don’t. I like my life right now, I know I have pretty good prospects for the future, I can keep most aspects of my mental illness under pretty good control.
But still I wonder.
Wonder if it would be easier to just give in. Anything for a quiet life, right? But I won’t. I know I won’t. I mean, I won’t promise that there won’t be attempts in the future, that the voice won’t get too big and too loud and nothing I do will quell it.
But I can promise to try.
What I want you to take from this piece is this: sometimes being suicidal doesn’t mean having an active plan to take your own life, and shouldn’t always be approached with alarm and with carting the person off to get medical attention. If the person is actively suicidal, i.e they have a plan and have intent to carry out that plan, by all means get them the help they need.
But if they have passive suicidal ideation - what I struggle with - and they trust you enough to open up about it: please, don’t freak out. You don’t know how much it’s taken them to open up, and how scared they are about your reaction. It’s not normal to have persistent thoughts about killing yourself.
Sometimes you just want to tell someone.
Passive suicidal ideation can be so devastatingly lonely. You feel like no-one else has ever felt this way, that you’re a freak of nature, that if anyone could see inside your head they’d be shocked by what they saw - and it’s these thinking patterns that can spiral down.
Telling someone, just having even one person who will listen without judgement and share that burden for just five minutes can be invaluable. And of course, if someone does then switch from passive to active suicidal ideation, you are better placed to know what is going on.
Being suicidal doesn’t always mean you want to kill yourself.
Sometimes it means the exact opposite, your brain just isn’t playing ball.
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