I think a lot about how a couple of times a year, people start talking about suicide awareness and sharing posts telling people that if they’re struggling, they should reach out.
And I wonder how many of the people who share those posts have ever actually experienced suicidal thoughts.
Because reaching out is actually one of the hardest fucking things to do.
I mean sure, whenever I’m lying at home, thinking about how it would be easier if I just weren’t around, I do sometimes think “maybe I should text someone.”
And sometimes I do. Sometimes it helps. Or sometimes people don’t text back. (To be fair, it’s probably because I’ll go with something much less extreme than “I want to kill myself” because that just always feels like too much to throw at anyone over text.)
But many times, I just can’t bring myself to do it. Sometimes I feel like I’d just be guilting people into saying they care about me, and that doesn’t really help. Sometimes I feel like a massive burden, and telling people something so heavy would just make me feel worse. I don’t want to be needy, I don’t want to be an inconvenience. I don’t want someone to say something nice just because I’m feeling desperate, so I can later convince myself they didn’t actually mean it.
Or sometimes I’m worried people will just give me advice or tell me to try harder. Eat more veggies and go to the gym! That’s all great stuff, but I know plenty of people who live unhealthily and don’t struggle with thinking they should die.
Then there’s times where you try to tell people how you’re feeling and they make you feel worse. Telling you to just cheer up, as if you hadn’t thought of that. Telling you that you have so much to be grateful for, as if you didn’t know that, and as if that thought itself isn’t one of the things making you feel unworthy of being alive. Or maybe telling you that suicide is selfish. Which truthfully, is the worst of them all.
I don’t know what causes most people to deal with suicidal thoughts. For me, it usually comes back to self-hatred. I don’t know why I have so much self-hatred, and I hope to start figuring that out with a therapist soon. But I have it. I often feel unlovable, unworthy, empty, selfish, lazy, annoying. I find it hard to understand why people would like me. On a certain level I know all these things are just mental illness talking to me, and try my best to push those feelings down. But it doesn’t stop me from feeling them. Plus I often have disproportionately strong reactions to things, though I have learned to manage it and internalise it when I know it’s irrational.
So when someone tells me that suicide is selfish, it essentially confirms all my worst fears about myself. That all I think about is myself, I don’t care enough about the people around me, and maybe they’d just be better off without me.
At the moment, I genuinely don’t feel at risk of hurting myself, because I have enough awareness that it’s essentially another voice in my head that’s just fighting with me. And it will come and go and it isn’t permanent. I also have a list of people that I know care enough about me to care if I’m gone, and some days that’s what keeps me going.
But it’s hard. It’s hard when your brain is screaming at you that you’ve fucked up their lives enough already and you may as well just quit. And you have to scream back that that’s not the answer, that you just need to get better for them.
When I was a teenager, I also used to think suicide was a selfish choice. But now I realise that battling those demons on such a regular basis is fucking exhausting. I’m fortunate to have a support system that keeps me going. But if I lost that, I don’t know how I would manage.
I don’t really know why I’m writing all this. Partly to get the thoughts out of my head. Partly because I want people to know what it’s like. Because educating people about mental illness, or making other people who struggle feel less alone, is the only thing that makes all this feel like it has any purpose. Otherwise it’s all just shitty and overwhelming.
So instead of telling people that they should just reach out, learn the warning signs for suicide. Learn about the symptoms of depression. Keep an eye out for the people you care about, and check in with THEM. Don’t wait for them to come to you. Mental illness has a way of convincing you that no one gives a shit, and that even if they do they’d still be better off without having to deal with your baggage. So if you want someone to know you’re there for them, you have to tell them.