Kimberly’s Story: “I Coped With the Pain to Stay Alive”

Stories of Perseverance and Survival

I believe that if you are having trouble with suicidal thoughts, it can be supportive to hear stories from others who have undergone their own suicidal crisis and recovered. Below is one of a series of stories of people who have survived their suicidal crises. 

Kimberly is a subscriber to my YouTube channel, and she recently sent me an email in which she described her struggle with suicidal thinking. I was impressed with how holistically she approached her recovery. She used a combination of practical tools and coping strategies that allowed her to regain her stability. 

Kimberly’s Story: “I Coped With the Pain to Stay Alive”

Since I was a child, I have dealt with anxiety. When I was 12, I experienced a traumatic event of my mother attempting suicide and saw the aftermath, which resulted in me developing Obsessive Cumpulsive Disorder regarding my own safety and health. I would check the doors repeatedly to see if they were locked and washed my hands many times throughout the day. I was able to stop the compulsions but continued to be a highly anxious and worried person. I had my first depressive episode in my first year of college, at age 17.

I became suicidal after sinking into another depression due to a reaction to the medication Ativan prescribed to me after experiencing an intense panic attack. I was stressed due to a hectic job that required public speaking and I was neglecting my own self-care and sleeping.

Trying different medications and having adverse reactions was very difficult as well. I also felt hopeless that I did not respond to antidepressants and often felt so much worse. A psychiatrist even discussed Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) with me, which is not a route I wanted to take. 

Strategies for Coping With the Pain

I did a number of things to cope with my pain and keep myself safe. I removed many stressors in my life and started focusing on my self-care. I reduced my workload and schedule. I kept a strict sleep schedule and diet plan, along with supplements. In regard to the suicidal feelings, I called someone or told someone how I felt and asked if they could watch me because I did not trust myself at the time. Walking and pacing helped a lot too.

I was able to reach out to family and friends. At first I was afraid to let them know what was going on because I did not want to worry anyone. 

When I would have intrusive thoughts of killing myself, which was the scariest, I would use positive self-talk.  I would tell myself while taking some breaths: “I will be ok, maybe not today, but I will be ok.” I would say at the end of the day that it’s “one day closer to not feeling this way.”  

Reasons to Stay Alive

I viewed my struggle as a battle that I wanted to win. I reminded myself that I had so much more life to live, being only 26, I also thought of my boyfriend and how I wanted to be with him. I essentially forced myself to get through the pain. 

It helped me to think of how my death would affect the people I love, particularly because I know the impact my mother’s attempt had on me. I was also supporting a group of mental health patients, and I could see how they stabilized over time. This showed me solid evidence that my symptoms would improve.

Turning Points

Eventually, through an excellent therapist and self-care, I came out of the episode. I kept a strict diet of anti-inflammatory foods, such as cage-free eggs, plenty of organic fruits and vegetables, and I avoided processed foods. I also discovered I was deficient in vitamin D, so I began taking a vitamin D supplement. I also take turmeric, magnesium glycinate and a liquid B complex. I made sure to sleep at least 8 hours every night. Eventually, my symptoms of depression subsided.

Studying psychology and helping others who also struggle with mental health is my passion, which has kept me grounded and hopeful during my life. I am currently feeling stable, but I make sure to keep up my self-care habits regularly. I’ve reduced my work schedule so I have time for myself to manage stress levels. I practice gratitude, and my job is more fulfilling as I give back to others in the community. Music and some of my favorite movies remind me of who I am.