I often hear people say that they could never commit suicide.
I feel guilty because I have thought about it, and in some confusing and dark periods it is part of my daily options.
How many people out there have considered or attempted suicide?
And worse yet, how many have succeeded, though success does not seem to belong with the word suicide.
When I admit this to a friend they say they have thought about it too, so I know it’s more prevalent than I think and I am not alone.
If so many people have experienced the same feeling, then why is it taboo to talk about it?
I’m envious when people say that they have never thought of suicide.
Have they not had crushing blows that break their hearts and knock them down?
You are rejected. Your loved one dies. You leave someone or something that you love because it is hurting you, not realizing that other pains would replace those that you left behind. Childhood wounds resurface when you least expect it and are like a monster wanting to eat up every good thought that you have. Or chemistry plays with your brain so that it makes you more anxious, sad and forces you into darker places that you don’t want to go to.
Life is not fair and really sucks at times.
For me, sometimes deep emotional wounds from childhood come up to the surface, and I experience the same terrifying feelings I had as a child. Through therapy, I learned techniques to bring in the adult to love and care for the child that feels helpless, terrified and alone in these moments of darkness. The current is strong and my natural instinct is to swim hard against it until I remember to float on my back, going feet first to avoid the rocks. Each time I let go of this place of darkness, more light comes in.
Leonard Cohen, the legendary Canadian singer and poet, sings about hope in darkness:
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
Each reason for wanting to end our lives is different but at the same time similar. We are in pain and suffering, we don’t feel worthy, and we forget why there is a reason to live.
Suicide is my crutch and escape.
Before I was 12, I thought about it often to stop the abuse from my mother’s violent temper and uncontrollable rage. I was never successful at suicide. I believe it’s because I had a deep desire to be something and do something with my life and I wanted to live to find out what that would be. My life was like a book and I wanted to finish it instead of ending it at a chapter with the rest unwritten and unread by others
Now the suicide thoughts come mostly when I’ve been rejected or lost in transition, triggering childhood trauma of not being enough and having a safe place to land. and not being enough and ashamed.
On Facebook, everyone seems to have it together with the perfect lives, partners, relationships, babies, vacations, and lives, you name it.
When things are going well this is all great. I “like” many posts and am generous with the smiley face emoticons. But when they are not, I feel that I am not enough and it’s hard to take, so I disappear.
It has nothing do with the friends and posts, it’s me.
On social media, I show the happy sides when I am happy, and I don’t when I am not. This seems like the societal norm so I do it.
It’s good that people are honest and open on Facebook asking for help, but it may not be the right place. It’s like calling the doctor when your teeth are hurting.
The wounds are deep and what they truly need is not on social media. The “friends” on social media are friends you don’t see often or acquaintances you have never met. They will say many things to acknowledge and comfort you. It feels good at first like when the alcohol or drug of your choice starts to kick in but when you leave Facebook the drug wears off and there you are alone again with your worst enemy… yourself!
You can’t blame people for airing out their feelings on social media because there are few places where we can openly ask for help so quickly and easily. If you have a loved one or family you may be able to go there, and if you don’t or if they are part of the problem, which is frequently the case, then you can’t go there.
There are many kinds of communities, whether churches, organizations and trained professionals that care about you and want to help. There are also help lines set up for this purpose. It doesn’t need to be a lot of people, just one person that gets you and loves you as you are is all that you need. Also, a good therapist or helping professional can help pull you out of dark places. I am fortunate to have both. Setting this up when you are feeling good is like a disaster relief plan before you need it. Do it.
I hope that the shame and stigma about talking about suicide are washed away with each voice that speaks up and says “me too”.
I am not perfect, my life is not perfect. I am happy for the most part and my dips are not as deep when I first started on this path of self-learning.
But when those dips come in like dark storms, I am terrified and they came become overwhelming.
I believe in part it’s because we are our own worst enemies.
You feel terrible and don’t want to meet people because you feel like shit. A friend’s voice seems on mute about how wonderful you are and how many things you have to look forward to, and you can’t seem to turn up the volume to hear her/him better no matter what you do.
You feel stuck.
You think the easier way would be to kill yourself so you wouldn’t have to worry about this anymore, so you wouldn’t have to feel these incredibly painful feelings, and you think, “who would really miss me anyway?”, feeling sorry for yourself.
The big thing is you feel that you don’t matter.
Here’s the conversation that goes on in my mind. If I didn’t wake up tomorrow morning, who would notice? Yes, friends and family would be shocked and sad, and say on Facebook in the comments that it’s “tragic, “shocking, “sad, “heart breaking”, “sympathies to the loved ones”, and so forth. But after that blip, life goes on to the next post, right? On some level, you wish this wasn’t true but deep inside you feel it is.
We seem to care more about things like our smart phones than people.
I believe as creative souls, trying to express the world through our feelings, we train ourselves to be more observant and this includes the negative yucky stuff too that comes up too.
Melancholy feelings enable us to reach into our chest of feelings that we usually can’t access and pull out beautiful words, songs, or a creative work of art. When I write I often put on melancholy music that seems to hold on to my heart as I create.
But sometimes I feel sorry for myself and get caught in negativity and sadness. It’s like my leg gets gripped in this cruel trap and I can’t escape no matter what I do.
I believe suicide stems from not feeling loved and I don’t think how much love we get matters. I used to think if I had the perfect partner, family, and career I would be immune. But now I doubt it.
After a yoga retreat outside the city, we had a big bonfire ceremony to disperse anything that wasn’t serving us anymore. Almost every person said that they didn’t love themselves, and even if they had highly respected positions, they felt like they were imposters.
This was shocking and heartbreaking for all of us in that we all come from different backgrounds but there was the universal feeling that we are not enough and felt ashamed to admit this.
Shame and vulnerability researcher Dr. Brené Brown says shame is the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging. It’s the most primitive human emotion we all feel — and the one no one wants to talk about. If left to its own devices, Dr. Brown says, shame can destroy lives.
That taste of shame I know well because I’ve lived with all my life. Where ever I was, who ever I was, it was right there, saying I was not enough.
We were all in tears by the end of the bonfire ceremony at the yoga retreat. Tears of sadness, relief, and happiness because we had collectively shed the secret we had in common in the end. It brought us closer together.
I feel there is incredible power in being vulnerable.
In my weaker moments, I was scared to ask for help because I didn’t want to seem weak, vulnerable or not perfect. I was a victim and helpless.
In admitting this vulnerability to a good friend, and most importantly to myself, and asking for help from the right people, there was a release of sorts. I finally started to understand how I could become free from the cruel trap that I thought was holding me back. And the light came in.
I felt compelled to share my thoughts on suicide for a long time but I was afraid and ashamed.
I am letting go of the secret and hope to encourage other people let go of their secrets that have a tight grip around their hearts and lives. We label them as “bad” and thus we are bad people.
In an Oprah talk, she said that we are imperfect human beings with perfect souls. I love that.
I believe each of us in our lifetimes has one responsibility. It’s to be who we truly are and honest about what it is to be human, to the world and ourselves. This is not an easy as it sounds.
I start with me. I walk the talk and see where it goes without feeling there is something wrong with me and I am alone.
The best thing a friend or caring person can say to a person who is suicidal or not feeling great is to have compassion and take the person seriously. We cry for help because actually deep down I believe we want to live but often it is a quiet or silent cry because we are ashamed. It may not the ideal time for a well-meaning friend to give us a list of things we should do to make ourselves feel better. We are already feeling inadequate and bad that we are not enough, that we could be better, do better.
A warm hug or gentle touch, looking into someone’s eyes, and saying words such as “I care about you”, “you are worthy”, “you matter to me”, “you are enough”, “you are not alone”, “I love you” can help heal another. Raw, honest and simple words from one heart to another.
If we can’t see someone in person, try a personal message. It doesn’t have to be long or say a lot. When I left the restaurant that I loved and my relationship that I thought would be for life, I got many comments on my Facebook post that I appreciated but what I remember most are the messages that people, often who I didn’t know well, took the time to write, saying that they cared and I mattered to them. This touched me deeply.
We are humans that are meant to live in a community to help one another, we always have, we have just lost our way. We reach for things, not people.
The only way to find our way back is through the way we got lost in the first place, repairing the human connection to others, and to ourselves.
The only thing that can cure a human problem is humanity.
Here’s what I like to eat for self-love and comfort. You could call it my “soul” food because it nourishes the physical and emotional sides that are hungry. It’s simple and makes me feel good with no guilt. Most things in life that truly comfort us are like this.
It’s hot Japanese rice, fresh spicy greens, a fried soft runny egg on top, kimchee or other pickles, hot sauce, nori flakes and a drizzle of soy sauce on everything. I eat it in a bowl with my favourite chopsticks accompanied by green tea.
What’s yours? Why not eat it today?
I believe eating good food is one way to let the light shine in through the cracks. Do it.
One last food for thought, call it a sweet ending of sorts.
I love Unmistakable Creative podcasts. It is my university of self-learning and love, it is my community. Thank you, Srinivas and team for inspiring, encouraging and being there, even though you probably don’t know who I am.
I mention this now because, in an Unmistakable Creative podcast, Wesley Chapman touched me deeply with his story of 12 documented suicide attempts and his mission to prevent teens from self-harm and suicide with his non-profit called A Human Project. Do you know that 1 out of 3 youth think about suicide and every minute a youth attempts suicide?
After listening to the podcast, I had the courage to finish writing and releasing this post. It is amazing what we can do from our most difficult experiences and suffering. It starts with being honest with ourselves.
“Until we are honest with ourselves we can’t be honest with the rest of the world”
Originally published at Caroline Ishii.