Many of us with mental illnesses will, at some point, have suicidal ideations. These can be terrifying - especially if you have never experienced them before.
I've been experiencing them for eight years now - I was fourteen when I took my first overdose - so I've learnt how to manage these thoughts, to an extent. The reason I say "to an extent" is because there are times when these exercises don't work. When I have suicidal thoughts, they absolutely consume me, to the point where I feel like they have complete control over me. I become an absolute mess. I self-harm, I write suicide notes, I tell people I am going to kill myself. Not only is it scary for me, but it is also scary for the people who have to receive the messages.
I decided to write this list because I think it's important for people with suicidal ideations to have some sort of idea of things they can do when they get these intrusive thoughts. This is only my list - there are other things that work for different people. Some of them I have found out myself, and some of them were exercises I practised with my psychologist while I was an inpatient.
If some of them don't work for you - don't worry. As I say, every single person is different. It is just a case of finding out what specifically works for you and your illness.
So, lets get in to the list...
TALK! Whether you talk to a friend, a family member, Twitter, Instagram, a forum - anything. Talk, talk, talk to your hearts content. I think people underestimate the power of opening up and talking. I am most definitely guilty of this. For example, when I was in hospital, I was going through as extremely low episode. I was crying constantly, had no motivation to get out of bed, had cut my wrists with a blade, made a noose... I really did not want to live anymore. All it took was for a nurse to come in to my room, ask me if I was okay, and that was it - I let it all out. I didn't realise exactly how much better I would feel afterwards. I felt lighter. Like something heavy had been removed from me.
If, like me, you find it hard to approach people or bring up how you're feeling, have some code words. For me, I have 'red' as suicidal/close to killing myself, 'amber' as suicidal but not in danger and 'green' for extremely depressed but not suicidal. I find this really works for me as all I have to do it say/text one word, and people know straight away to get back to me and check I'm okay.
I guess this could sort of come under Number One, but I'm going to put it as it's own. Something I have found this year that helps me is to vent. I vent on Twitter, I vent on Instagram by posting quotes, I keep a journal that I write in nearly everyday. I find this good for late nights, when no-one else is awake, but you need to get your feelings out. Journal-ing is fantastic because only you can read it. It's where you can write down the darkest of your thoughts and no one in the world can judge you.
If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know I can post about twenty quotes in a day sometimes. I post and post and post. I'm not sure why this works for me, but it does. Having a dedicated mental illness Instagram has helped me more than I ever expected. To know that there are people going through the same thing as me makes being ill that tiny bit more bearable.
This is something I learnt in hospital - relaxed breathing. If you're in to mindfulness and the likes, you may already be familiar. However if you're not, here is the technique:
Ideally, you should be lay down (however you can sit if this is the only position you can do it in. Make sure your feet are flat on the ground).
Place your hands on the lower part of your abdomen, and the other on your lap.
Breathe in as deep in to your belly as you can through your nose, hold for five seconds and breathe out out through your mouth.
As you are doing this, rub your hand on your abdomen. This helps to get air "deeper" in to you.
Relaxed breathing tricks your body in to thinking you are calm - even if you are not. It is best to practise relaxed breathing before you feel suicidal - that way when you are you are familiar with the technique.
Something else I have found that is helpful is colouring. Nope, colouring is not just for children - there are plenty of adult colouring books out there too. It helps as you are solely focused on the colouring, and before you know it, you are completely immersed in it.
There are many times I have been colouring and then before I knew it, it was two hours later. I like to have my colouring books next to my bed so if I get a wave of suicidal thoughts come over me, I can just reach over and begin colouring.
To many people, this may sound crazy. However, it works. For me, anyhow.
When you begin getting suicidal ideations - just accept them. Don't push them away, try not to let them consume you, don't ask why. Just accept them. Accept they are there. Accept that they will pass. Do not question them.
In suicidal episodes, it's so easy to ask yourself "why?".
"Why do I bother?"
"Why am I feeling like this?"
Don't do that. Just accept them. The more you question the thoughts, the more you feed in to them. Do not give them the energy they want or need. Just accept, and assure yourself they will pass, these feelings are not forever, and they will go.
This is such a generic one but I love watching television when I'm suicidal. (Love is probably not the right word but you get my jist!).
If you know me, you'll know I absolutely love The Big Bang Theory. It will forever be my comfort programme. Whenever I am down, I tend to put it on. It's familiar, it's comforting.
Many people also have music they find comforting too. Or perhaps uplifting music, powerful music. This is another perfect"solution" to helping yourself deal with suicidal thoughts.
I will say that I, personally, would not recommend listening to sad music if you are already suicidal. For some people, it may help in some way, but I know for majority of people, listening to sad music does not help at all, and in fact makes them worse. Just be careful.
AVOID ALCOHOL/DRUGS IF YOU ARE SUICIDAL. Don't do it. Whenever I have felt suicidal, and I have drank because I thought it would numb the pain, it actually made it so much worse. I know for a lot of people when they're sad, they think "fuck it, I'm going to get wasted". But it's really not a good idea.
I, myself, have never done drugs. However I have read enough and have spoken to enough people to know that doing drugs when you have a mental illness or are suicidal is just going to make it even harder for you to come out of the other side. Many drugs can actually start off mental illnesses, and if you're already ill, you're only hurting yourself.
Before people jump on me and say "drugs helped me", I want to say - that's fine. Whatever works for you. For majority of people however, drugs can cause so many more psychological problems that are even harder to overcome than if the person hadn't taken drugs. It is better to be safe, than be sorry.
If you know you are going to be safe, take a bath! A bath is such a good stress reliever for me. Just lie back, and just try to clear your mind.
If, like me, you don't shower enough because your mental illness is a bitch, having a bath, putting some clean pyjamas on and getting in to a clean bed can be a luxury - and it feels great. Add Number Six in to this scenario and you've got yourself a super clean, super cosy, self care package for when you're suicidal.
So that's my list of things that work for me when I am suicidal. I'd love to know what works for you!
And if you are suicidal - and nothing works for you, take yourself to A&E. They will support you and help you find the right solution for you at that moment of crisis.
Never give up your fight.