If you are struggling with suicide, I want to encourage you with stories from others who have undergone a similar struggle and found a way to heal. Below is one of a series of stories of people who have survived their suicidal crises.
Noah is a thirty-three-year-old videographer. We first met when he came to one of my peer educational support groups in a suicidal state. Through using a combination of therapies, hard work and perseverance, he eventually learned how to manage his depression and has used his experience in recovery to help others.
I had been drinking since the age of thirteen. I was now twenty-four, and my doctor suggested I try a medication called Vivitrol, which was supposed to decrease cravings. However, I had an adverse reaction to this medication. Taking it plunged me into a severe depression that was accompanied by intense agitation. I was so freakishly uncomfortable, I was almost paralyzed.
After having a month of going through this nonstop agony, I began to consider suicide as a way of getting out of my pain. One evening, I drove up to a bridge, parked my car, and sat there and thought about it. The main reason I didn’t jump was my fear of death. I was too deep into my pain to be concerned about how my death would affect other people.
Another reason I didn’t make an attempt was that I had the tiniest sliver of hope that perhaps the next day I would feel better. I thought to myself, “If I die now, I would not have had the chance to get a little better.” I remembered the saying, ‘Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.’ There are no do-overs.”
A part of me was interested in keeping my pain a secret, because if I decided to go that route, I didn’t want anyone to stop me. I was also afraid that if I told people that I was suicidal, I would get locked up in a mental ward.
But my raw survival instinct was to reach out for help and be as honest as I can and tell people my thoughts of killing myself just in case someone decided to stop me.
A big help was attending a peer support group and meeting other people who were also depressed. I did not realize that there were others in the world who were experiencing what I was. Once I discovered this, I tethered myself to their experience, strength, and hope. It was other people’s testimony that saved me when I did not believe in my own potential for recovery.
I had a handful of days that were especially terrible. Nothing could comfort me. Not food, not TV, not company. It was pure agony. What I did was to lay on the bed as my mom rubbed my back and touched my arm. I just lay there curled up, and I survived.
As I became more familiar with my suicidal ideation and saw that my suicidal thoughts came and went, I began to use affirmations such as:
In addition to attending the support group, I tried a number of other therapies such as antidepressants and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). They helped about twenty percent. But what really turned things around was my finding out that I was extremely low on testosterone for being a man in his mid-twenties; I had a hormonal problem. So I was treated with testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) and felt much better. This, healthy coping strategies, and the passage of time allowed my brain to heal.
Now that I am in recovery, I continue to exercise, get good sleep, and follow a healthy diet. Of course, I have had my ups and downs. Last year I relapsed on alcohol and am now attending twelve-step meetings again. Right now I am in a depressive dip, but I know that it will pass if I continue to stay connected to my Higher Power, reach out to others, and apply my healthy coping strategies. As we say in AA, “Recovery is not a one-time event but an ongoing process
If you are in the middle of a suicidal episode, it is natural to wonder, “When and how will I feel better?” If you ask that question, your imbalanced brain will lie to you and say, “Never! You are never going to get better.”
Therefore, rather than worry about what is to come, ask yourself: “What can I do to change the way I feel right now?” In doing so, you shift your attention from the future to the present-moment coping strategies. For example, you could call a friend, take a walk around the block, or listen to some calming music. The more you can direct your mind away from a catastrophic future, the less despair you will feel.
In summary, I want to repeat that your pain is not forever. Like the food that you buy in the grocery store, your pain has an expiration date. Your episode has an endpoint. As a result, you will not always be feeling this way.