July 17, 2019

How Suicidal Thoughts can Wake Us Up & Force us to Grow.


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I was six years old, maybe five, the first time I thought about suicide.

I don’t remember much in general about my childhood, and even less regarding the reasons I thought about it, but I remember the notebook I wrote it in and the stairs I was on when I did so.

I’m not sure where the idea came from. I had an uncle who had committed suicide, but I have no idea how old I was when that happened. Young, maybe five or six. Maybe that’s what triggered it.

Maybe it was just some abstract concept I had seen on TV or overheard adults discussing.

Except, I also remember a few years later realizing that not everyone had those sorts of thoughts and that they definitely were not something we talked about. I don’t remember ever admitting having them to anyone, though I suppose I could have in my early years. Definitely not in my teenage years, though, and I even struggled to admit these things in therapy as an adult.

The thoughts are always immediately followed by my rationale that if I do kill myself, considering my belief in reincarnation, I’ll just have to come back and redo this life anyway. And that has never been an acceptable option, so I figure I might as well just stick it out.

But this isn’t a “woe is me” tale.

I’ve been extremely lucky and blessed in many areas of my life, and am really happy and content with my life as it is. I recognize that there is probably some unresolved trauma, but I am appreciative of where I came from and what I was provided.

And I’m in a really good place now.

I can recognize that, because I know what it’s like to not be.

Depression and I were buddies for a long time. And, I’ve had my heart broken so many times that I used to wonder what could possibly be holding it together.

I have the benefit, now, of looking back over more than a few decades. Even though I’ve had these thoughts through all periods of my life, I don’t think I’ve ever really been suicidal. Mostly because I know myself—I am strong-willed and if I had ever really, truly wanted to do it, I’m sure I would have at least attempted it during some of those dark days that I didn’t ever think were going to end.

When I check in with my mind, heart, and soul, I am not scared of death.

It is a fascinating topic.

I’ve volunteered at a hospice and appreciate deep conversations with terminally ill people. I tend to be drawn to people who aren’t afraid of death, too. And sometimes I wonder if I would fight for my life if I had to, if I really have that much drive in me. But I guess that’s something I cannot know until I actually have to face it.

I still have the thought pop into my head in occasion. Even now, even when life is so good. Maybe because “bad” was so familiar that it was comfortable, and because I know “good” can end in a heartbeat.

When the thoughts come, they are always out of the blue, though I bet if I charted it, I would find the cyclic pattern. It doesn’t happen often. Perhaps once or twice a year at this point, but it could be even less.

And by now, when these thoughts do come, I can quickly recognize them. They are outside of my core self. Maybe some would equate it to ego. It is easy to detach from them.

I don’t know if anyone else ever has these thoughts. I’m afraid to talk about it because I don’t want to be labeled as sick or weak. I don’t want anyone to worry about my sanity or my health. I don’t want to have to defend myself or explain it to people who might try but will never understand. I don’t want to be lectured on so many possible topics this brings up.

But maybe, just maybe, there are others out there like me who wonder if anyone else ever has these thoughts. People who are open to these kinds of conversations but don’t know how to have them. Or who do—and it’s just that we haven’t found the group invite yet.

Maybe there are others who are where I was 20 or 30 years ago, who wonder what’s going on or if it will ever get better or why they think about it.

I’m still waiting to see if it goes away. I still continue to do the work on myself to dig into the whys. And there is always a why—I just don’t know it for myself yet, and I don’t think it’s anything someone else can clarify.

But I can testify that it does get better—more recognizable for what it is, less scary. More of a mark on the map and an invitation to look deeper than a desire to commit suicide. A wake-up call. A challenge on the path of growth.

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