When you can’t stop thinking about suicide
it’s a nightmare really…
You know when you get those intrusive thoughts of hanging yourself, jumping in front of a speeding train, taking an overdose, etc.
And these thoughts come to your mind like it’s a solution. Even though you know you won’t do anything, because you still have that rational part of you picturing how and who will find you lying there. And how their lives will be violated if you take that solution.
Yet you can’t stop thinking about suicide. You think about it all the time.
How do you stop this nightmare?
An unconventional approach to stopping suicide thoughts successfully
I used to think that the best way to stop suicide thoughts was to pile up a trailer load of convincing facts. Drowning yourself in reasons why suicide is the wrong thing to do.
And in therapy sessions, I would ram my clients with reasons why they shouldn’t feel suicidal. But this just made them feel more evil, selfish, guilty and suicidal.
Essentially, bombarding yourself with reasons you shouldn’t feel suicidal only makes you feel abnormal. It makes you feel like a disappointment. Because a quadrillion reason to not feel suicidal does nothing to stop suicide thoughts.
However, over the last 20 years of helping hundreds of people overcome their suicidal thoughts…
I’ve discovered a faster more effective way to stop suicidal thoughts from overshadowing people’s lives. And surprisingly, this approach requires acceptance.
Isn’t accepting suicide thoughts the same as giving up?
If you accept your suicide thoughts and stop fighting against it, what’s to stop you going ahead and committing suicide?
Will accepting normalize something that’s not normal?
Does accepting mean you are condoning suicide as the right thing to do?
Is accepting suicide thoughts the same as accepting defeat?
These are really difficult questions everyone’s afraid to ask. But sweeping suicide under the carpet is a huge part of why it’s become a pandemic in our society today.
So here’s the crucial point…
You see, 3 traps lock you in painful, uncontrollable cycles of suicidal thoughts. Particularly if you are unaware that these traps exist.
What are these 3 traps?
3 traps that lock you in painful cycles of suicide thoughts
Trap 1: Biological paralysis
Has depression paralyzed you before?
Have your depressive cycles ever become so vicious…
And your mood dropped so low that you no longer have full control of your thoughts and feelings.
If you’ve experienced this, it’s like your brain feels unable to be positive no matter how hard you try.
Disner et al in his research paper (Neural mechanisms of the cognitive model of depression), suggest that this is because depression attacks parts of your brain that allows you to entertain positive facts.
And as the biological impact of stress takes a toll on you, you lose your ability to enjoy things. Your motivation and energy levels plummet and you begin to feel increasingly suicidal.
You experience all these symptoms, BUT IT’S NOT BY CHOICE.
Why do I say “It’s not by choice?”
Because, when you get depressed, you believe you are bringing everybody down. You believe you’re not a great friend, spouse or parent. Your thoughts buy into suicide as a tempting way out of your problems.
Suicide seems like something that will help your loved ones since you’d no longer be a burden to them anymore.
But, when you’re feeling okay again, you know those thoughts were irrational. You’re fully aware that suicide will hurt everyone you love. And you are able to rationalize yourself out of the thoughts or ignore them.
Now, here’s where the trap occurs…
It’s paramount that you don’t blame yourself for having these suicidal thoughts.
Because, if you blame yourself, your stress levels will spike, triggering more depression. This then makes it harder to reason yourself out of the suicide thoughts.
This is can be dangerous since blaming yourself for having suicidal thoughts can push you towards acting on the thoughts.
Can you relate to this explanation of the biological paralysis? If you are experiencing this now and your suicide thoughts are overwhelming you. Please get in touch with a health professional for support and advice now. Please don’t try to go through this alone.
Trap 2: The pink elephant popcorn
You could also fall prey to repeating suicide thoughts due to something called the pink elephant problem.
If you close your eyes and try your best to NOT think of a pink elephant?
You’ll notice one of two things happen.
You would notice that you either can’t get rid of the pink elephant no matter how hard you try.
Or the pink elephant keeps popping in and out of your mind like popcorn.
This is a natural phenomenon. Like magnet, the mind latches onto whatever you are trying to push out of your mind . So in a strange way, attempting to stop thinking of the pink elephant makes it more prominent on your mind.
And this is the trap.
You see, this same problem occurs with suicidal thoughts. The more you try not to focus on suicide, the more suicide thoughts will latch onto you like a leech. So, the suicide thoughts get worse the harder you try.
Essentially, if you get suicide thoughts popping in and out like this, remember that It’s not because of you personally. This is just what happens.
I’ll be revealing the best way to stop suicide thoughts in a moment.
Now let’s move on to the next trap…
Trap 3: Activated race tracks in your brain
Did you know you’ve got strands in your brain that act like highway race tracks?
Stick with me here, because…
Your brain is constantly building these super highway tracks. But these tracks could be a blessing or a curse depending on how you use them.
The scientific name for this phenomenon is called neuroplasticity. And it’s activated if you think in any particular pattern for too long. Neuroplasticity enables those thinking patterns to occur faster and easier.
And this is what causes our next trap.
You see, if you get bombarded by suicide thoughts regularly, chances are that this is because you’ve got a “suicide thought trigger.”
Your trigger could be a negative thought. Your trigger could be a negative experience connected to a painful past memory. Your trigger could be the negative feeling of depression and anxiety. Or it could be the suicide thoughts themselves.
Once triggered, neuroplasticity sets off a chain reaction of thoughts, feelings and behaviours. This dump you right in a sea of suicide thoughts.
To make matters worse…
Any attempt to stop feeling suicidal through self-criticism gets burnt into the racetracks. Including all the self-loathing and anxiety that usually comes with self-ridicule.
But, what’s triply worse is that…
Whilst each of these 3 traps are horrendous on their own, the common experience is to get attacked by the 3 traps working together. This makes suicide thoughts bleedingly hard to get rid of.
This is why fighting or blocking suicide thoughts is the worst thing you can do.
The only way to stop suicide thoughts from overwhelming you is to accept them as normal within the experience of depression.
But, how do you practically use acceptance for stopping suicide thoughts?
Let me show you how.
How to use acceptance to stop suicide thoughts permanently
First, what does acceptance really mean?
Imagine you went to the supermarket to buy a pack of baked beans that was worth £3.50. Only to find the cost hiked up to a whopping £15.
In this case, accepting will mean that you are not happy about the change in price. You don’t agree with it and it upsets you, but you choose to either buy the baked beans or find another shop to buy it.
Not accepting this hike in price will be you angrily yanking all the stalls down. Demanding to see the supermarket manager. Threatening that you won’t leave the shop until they drop the price back down.
In a similar way, accepting your suicide thoughts means you can rationally see that within the context of depression, suicidal thoughts are as normal as having hay fever symptoms.
Step 1: Become an uninterested spectator
Treat your suicide thoughts like you’re watching a boring football game. Don’t try to force the thoughts away.
Don’t try to question the thoughts and don’t try to challenge them. Just carry on with your day as if something unimportant and meaningless has happened. Treat the thoughts like you would treat other unimportant thoughts that pop in and pop out of your head.
Step 2: Get intimately deep with acceptance, but in baby steps.
Why baby step?
You see, if you’ve been battling suicidal thoughts for a while, the concept of acceptance will be terrifying.
Because you’ll fear that accepting suicide thoughts will make you more depressed. So, jumping straight into full-blown acceptance could be traumatizing.
the better approach is to experiment with acceptance in baby steps and test your fears.
For example, you could try accepting for 10 minutes and see if your depression gets worse within that time.
Then you work on increasing the acceptance time from 10 minutes to one day. All the while checking to see if it is making your depression worse.
Then you increase the acceptance time slowly to a week, two weeks etc.
And to help you get through this exercise successfully…
Build your super effective shield against depression and suicide
Imagine I sent you into battle and gave you a shield to protect yourself.
But when you got into the battlefield, you decided against using the shield.
You believed your enemies would think you are vulnerable and weak for hiding behind a shield. They would interpret this to mean you are scared of them. You conclude that using a shield would make you more susceptible to attacks. So, you fling your shield away and run into the bloody field unprotected.
This would be preposterous, wouldn’t it?
Shields are meant for protection, everybody knows this. No one feels ashamed about this.
However, the truth is that acceptance is your shield against depression and suicide. And dashing into the bloody battle with depression and suicidal thoughts without your “acceptance shield” could literally mean your death.
So, I encourage you to…
Start thinking of acceptance as a necessary winning process.
Think of acceptance as the key to stopping suicide thoughts from darkening your existence.
Think of acceptance as that positive action that enables you to live more days without depression.
And think of acceptance as the key to spending more time with friends and family, doing fun things for longer hours without exhaustion and brain fog.
And as you do this, one day, you will be surprised.
Because you’ll suddenly notice that you haven’t had suicidal thoughts in a long, long time.
Because your body has built new neuropathways that have made you stronger. You have built emotional resilience to suicidal thoughts.
And even if those pesky little thoughts creep up on you ever again, they’ll never ever overpower you anymore!
Breaking Down Emotional Barriers to Your Success
If you resonated with this article, please subscribe to my personal blog for practical tips for coping better emotionally.
Originally published at www.stresstherapist.net.