You usually don’t discuss suicidal thoughts with others. And because of that, they fester inside. Often the people around you have no clue what’s going on with you until it’s too late.
I personally don’t believe suicidal thoughts in themselves are necessarily unhealthy*. In fact, I believe they can be a good way to use your brain the way it was designed:
To consider all outcomes of a situation, good, bad and ugly. Your brain appreciates that it has a choice.
If you have been or are currently experiencing suicidal thoughts then keep reading.
Just having thoughts of hurting or even killing yourself doesn’t mean you’re broken or wrong. They’re just thoughts. And some thoughts will be of your choosing and some won’t.
As for the ones you can’t control, be okay with them. I want you to explore what would happen if you chose to let go of your resistance to “bad” thoughts. You already know that what you resist persists. But what’s not exactly highlighted is just how much you resist amplifies.
What you resist persists and amplifies!
It’s not a matter of trying not to have suicidal thoughts, it’s a matter of allowing them to be as normal as any other thought that goes through your head. Once you stop resisting them, you won’t feel so controlled by them.
During my bout with these types of thoughts, I decided that I would explore what would happen if I went in the opposite direction of what brought me to those thoughts in the first place.
In my youth, I rarely stood up for myself. I would let people walk all over me and I would hold in my anger toward them. All that repressed anger caused me to go into a depression. After a couple years of trying to not be depressed, I decided to do something different. I thought, “What would happen if I chose to not hold in my anger? What would happen if I chose to express it instead?”
That was a scary thought!
After all, expressing anger might mean people won’t like me, or worse, hurt me. But… I was depressed and since I was considering suicide anyway I had to come to terms with “How is someone hurting me worse than killing myself?”
That logic didn’t make any sense. It didn’t register. So I made the choice to start saying what was on my mind and make it known when I was angry. That wasn’t an easy choice.
In fact it might have been the hardest step I’ve ever taken for myself. But it was also one of the most powerful changes to happen in my life.
It was a powerful choice.
It took me a few years to really get comfortable honoring myself like that, but I preferred going in that direction rather than the direction that left no other options. After all, if I died what choices would be available to me then? At least if I expressed what was on my mind I’d still have choices!
Sometimes we fear facing our fears more than thinking about committing suicide, which is sort of a strange perspective when you think of it. At least when we face our fears – the fear you get facing them is temporary. In fact all of your fears are temporary unless you choose to never look at or deal with them. Then your fear can last forever. And that’s what can lead you down a darker path with no choice.
Logically speaking suicide isn’t really a good choice anyway. After all once you’re “out”, you’ve actually dis-empowered yourself by removing all access to choice. At that point you go wherever it is you go and you have no longer have any control in your life. It’s like getting caught in an ocean current… you’re going to be swept to a place you may or may not like.
At least when you’re alive you can make different choices until you make one that brings you into a better space with even more choices.
One of the keys to happiness is more choices.
Committing suicide takes all your choices away which could cause more problems. I know what you may be thinking: “Yeah, but I’ll be dead!”
Who knows what or where you’ll be. It’s possible you could wink out of existence. Or maybe you’ll reincarnate into a moth or an elephant. Belief and faith will tell us all kinds of things that happen when we die, but it’s still a great unknown that will always be there waiting for us regardless so why rush it?
That great unknown isn’t going anywhere – you will experience it eventually. No need to rush.
It’s like when I was 15. I absolutely hated school. I wanted to get out of it and I knew my chance was coming because where I lived, you could quit school when you turned 16. I thought, “When I turn 16, I’ll finally be free!” That is, if my mom allowed it.
So I asked her: “Mom, when I turn 16 can I quit school?”
Her answer shocked me, “You can do whatever you want.”
I replied, “Really? You’ll let me quit at 16?”
She said, “Sure. Whatever you want to do.” (Us kids had very little structure or discipline).
Suddenly I felt empowered. I now had the ability to choose my fate. At 15 years of age, I made my plans that would alter my future forever. I was going to quit school as soon as I turned 16. It felt good having that kind of power! I had an exit strategy out of the hellhole I called “school”.
When 16 came, I was a Freshman in high school. This was the moment I was waiting for! But… since it was so close to the end of the school year I figured, “I’ll just wait until school’s over in June to quit. That way I can finish up this year and say I at least made it this far. I just won’t go back when 10th grade starts.”
The Summer came and went and it was great knowing that I didn’t need to go back to school. I felt weird because I didn’t know what being a teenager was like without school. I also felt free as if having the choice to quit was enough to make me feel better (even though I hadn’t officially quit yet).
As the first day of grade 10 approached, I made an odd choice: I decided to attend. I thought, “Hey, I can choose to quit anytime so why not just attend for a few weeks, see how things are and if I simply can’t stand it or it’s as terrible as I remember, I’ll just quit! After all I can quit anytime I want.”
And it was awful. Every day was a chore and I hated getting up early and doing my homework at night. So much free time lost.
But I didn’t quit. I had the power and the permission to quit but I didn’t do it! I ended up staying and finishing up my 10th grade school year. What got me through it was the fact that I could quit anytime I wanted so I didn’t feel so much pressure to stay. It was a choice. But why did I keep going if I didn’t like it?
I’ll admit, there was a tiny voice in the back of my head telling me how terrible life would be without a high school education. But that voice was definitely not the overpowering voice in my head at the time. The overpowering voice was telling me to leave as soon as possible. “You hate it here! The jocks hate you and make fun of you. You aren’t smart enough to fit in with the nerds. You’re too tall so the girls aren’t attracted to you. You only have two friends. You don’t attend any school functions and you feel like a total outsides. There is no benefit to staying so why stay?”
Yet I did stay. I finished 10th grade knowing I could quit at anytime. The summer once again came and went and 11th grade was starting. That voice was convincing me to leave. I wanted to quit school so bad… how could I possibly endure two more years of this?
My Junior year, 11th grade, started and that same old thought came to my mind again: “Hey, I can choose to quit anytime so why not just attend for a few weeks, see how things are and if I can’t stand it I’ll just quit. After all… I can quit anytime I want.”
So I stuck it out. And I hated 11th grade too!
But I didn’t quit.
In the first quarter of my Junior year I thought to myself, “You know, I’m this close to 12th grade. Why don’t I just stick it out and see if I can make it to my senior year? That would be an accomplishment. And, I made it this far…”
My senior year arrived. I made it. I had endured three long years of something I absolutely hated and I was on my very last year.
I thought, “You know, I made it to 12th grade. It’s only one more year. Why don’t I just graduate? Look how far I’ve come.”
And I did graduate.
There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to quit school at 16. But my mom empowered me with the ability to choose, and that one thing altered my course because it shifted my entire perspective.
Previous to that, I felt locked in like I had no choice but to submit and obey. But when the power of choice was given to me, that locked in feeling went away and I was free to take the path I wanted. The power to choose gave me the ability to introspect easier and deeper than I ever had in the past. It made me realize that having choice was more empowering than being without it.
I tolerated high school through all the bullying, difficult classes, lack of girlfriends, and lack of interest (school was never easy for me) because I could choose to do it or not. I had my challenges and worried a lot but the ability to choose gave me hope and freedom during those difficult times.
I learned two powerful lessons during my teenage years:
- I am resilient and can handle almost anything that life throws at me
- I can push through the hardest, most challenging task because everything is temporary
I’ve taken the belief that I always have a choice with me into every situation. It has allowed me to persevere through the challenges and push through even the worst pain.
The more choices you stay open to, the more resilient you will be and the more empowered you will feel.
Suicide is permanent. It is also a choice. And as long as you have choice, you have the ability to get through anything. Don’t limit your choices by thinking you have none. You may have to do things you don’t want to do or say things you don’t want to say but imagine if doing so led to feeling better?
Some people will think you’re crazy. Some people will want to avoid you. Some will tell you to seek therapy immediately. Those people are one of many choices in your life. Sometimes you have to search for the right people that understand you. You create more choices by searching for options you don’t think you have.
Suicidal thoughts don’t have to be all doom and gloom, they’re just thoughts. Everyone has a right to think about anything they want. Sometimes we need to talk things through to understand why we think the way we do, so it’s important to express these thoughts before the thoughts turn into action. When you take action on thoughts that don’t serve you, that’s when you start making choices that take all of your other choices away.
A final choice leaves you no choice.
If you’re thinking about suicide, consider calling the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 because you’ve got nothing to lose and only a kind, non-judgmental ear to gain. And the best part is that it’s anonymous so you can share all you want and they’ll never know who you are.
It’s a choice you have if you want to take it. And having more choices is being empowered. Allow yourself to have more choices, not less!
I talk on this subject a bit more in this episode of The Overwhelmed Brain.
*This article represents my opinion may not reflect the view of the medical or therapeutic community. Always seek professional guidance when it comes to your physical and mental health.