TRIGGER WARNING: This post deals with an account of sexual abuse and may be triggering to some people.
“That’s the thing about suicide. Try as you might to remember how a person lived his life, you always end up thinking about how he ended it.” ~Anderson Cooper
I know what it’s like to want to die. I know the feeling of hopelessness. I know the sense of loneliness. I know the soul crushing despair and longing to fade into nothingness.
If you are reading this, then you know what I’m talking about. I’m not sure what brought you to the point of wanting to die. But I know you don’t have to make that date with death.
Death is forever. While you live, you have the power to change things, even if it feels impossible. Once you are gone, your choice is over.
My date with death started when I was thirteen. Starting when I was four or five until I hit the age of twelve, two separate men molested me on a regular basis.
When the abuse stopped, I blocked it out. What I couldn’t block out was the misery, anger, and hatred. I had no idea what was really wrong, but I was monumentally pissed off. I had constant nightmares about men trying to kill me and about fires consuming me.
I was already dead inside, so what was the point of actually living? Those men took my soul. I was no longer a child. I was just a body trying to survive. I felt nothing but pain and grief. I hated my life. I hated myself and everyone else. I wanted to die. Every day. All day.
But did I really want to die? Do you? I don’t think you really want to die. I am guessing what you really want is for the pain to stop. I know deep down that was what I really wanted.
One day, in my early twenties, I got to a point where I couldn’t bear it anymore.
I came to a crossroads. I came to my breaking point. The unrelenting emotional pain had become too much, and I was drowning under its weight. I had to decide.
I literally said to myself, “Carrie, you either kill yourself today or you need to do whatever you need to do to get better, because this is no way to live.” That was the moment I decided to take back control of my life.
Live or die? Which will you choose? I’m hoping that you choose to listen to what I’m saying and that you choose to live. I know your pain. I feel your pain. I have lived in your pain. If I can live through it, so can you. You are not alone no matter how alone you feel.
What Leads Someone to Want to Take Their Life?
I have come to believe there are three common reasons people want to kill themselves. You may identify with one or with all of them. Personally, I have contemplated suicide over all of three.
Severe Pain Caused by Abuse/Trauma (Rape, War, Assault)
This type of pain is acute, but can also be chronic. It can be a debilitating type of pain that keeps you locked in a world of constant hyper-vigilance, trying to survive. If you have been a victim of childhood abuse, domestic abuse, or have been raped or subjected to the ravages of war, then you know what this suicidal ideation looks and feels like.
I identified with this pain from my teenage years up until my early to mid-twenties. If the only feelings you have are pain, anger, and hurt and they are all turned inward, you will do anything to find relief, and the thought of suicide will become your constant companion.
Emotional Reactions to Specific Situations (Divorce, Death, Breakups)
When you go through the death of a loved one, or your spouse cheats on you and leaves you for someone else, you may feel useless, empty, and betrayed. Feeling unworthy can lead you to contemplate doing something that you normally wouldn’t do.
I experienced this a few years ago when I found out my boyfriend was actually not who he said he was, and had not only another girlfriend, but a wife and a child.
I felt like such an idiot because I thought he really cared. I thought there must have been something wrong with me that he was able to manipulate me so easily. I thought there was no point in going on. Many nights I would stare at the gun on my bedside table. Journaling is the only thing that kept me going.
Constant Feelings of Hopelessness (Depression, Apathy)
This type of pain is quite scary because it is a smart and well-thought-out pain. It isn’t rash and isn’t a reaction to something that happened. This pain is insidious. It seeps into your subconscious and gets you slowly thinking that there’s no point to life.
Yes, I’ve felt this type of pain. From my late twenties until just recently there were many days when I would wake up and say to myself, “Maybe today is the day.” I would make plans for when and how I would do it. I would weigh the pros and the cons.
I had gotten to a point where I no longer cared, but I wasn’t really in pain. I was apathetic to the world around me and more importantly, to my own heart. I no longer cared to live. I was not experiencing joy. I didn’t care about anything. I had no passion. Perhaps you understand what I’m talking about.
So, What Do You Do Instead?
For those struggling with the thought of death and dying and for those who see no other way out, here are some things to think about before you swallow that entire bottle of Vicodin.
This Too Shall Pass
Remember this saying, because it really is a universal truth. The only thing constant in life is change. Remember when you broke up with your first love and you thought would never love again? You did.
The way that you are feeling right now will not last. Remind yourself that the awful feelings won’t last forever.
Your Thoughts About Yourself Aren’t True
Do you feel misunderstood? Do you feel like no one really knows you, what you’re about, or who you are down to your core?
I have never really had a lot of friends, and the majority of the friends I have are men. I have always wondered what it was about me that caused girls to dislike me. Was I doing something wrong? I don’t think I’m mean. Why didn’t they like me?
I’m an INFJ personality type, which represents about 2 percent of the population, which is another reason that people just don’t get me. My personality is literally different than the majority of the world.
I never dreamt about getting married, having babies, and living in a house with a white picket fence. So, while most people I know are having grandkids, I’m still living alone and trying to figure out my life. Another reason I think no one understands me: We don’t want the same things or have the same goals.
But, what if I took all those negative, self-effacing thoughts about myself (I don’t fit in, I’m kind of alone, and no one likes me) and turned them into positive thoughts? What if all those thoughts weren’t really true?
What if they were something I had created to keep myself in a safe little cocoon of negativity? What if I started to believe that my differences make me unique?
As I started to work on loving and accepting myself, I came to realize that I’m not for everyone, and that’s okay! So what if everyone doesn’t love you? So what if you don’t have a ton of friends? So what if you need to find a place where you do fit in, and so what if the love of your life might be taking their time finding you?
Remember what Dr. Seuss said, “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive that is Youer than You.” There is only one you. Even if you don’t believe it right now, you are special and unique, and you have a history and a story and talents that no one else on the earth has.
There Are People Who Will Be Devastated by Your Loss
I used to tell myself that my mom, sister, and friends really wouldn’t care if I was gone. I figured they would get over it in a few weeks. I would tell myself that everyone would say, “Oh, that’s so sad” and just go on with their lives.
But again, this can’t be any further from the truth. If you kill yourself, the pain you are feeling will be gone because you will be gone, but now your friends and family will feel your pain for the rest of their lives. They will wonder every day what they did wrong. How they could have helped. Why they failed.
Is this the legacy you want to leave? Maybe you think no one cares about you, but do you care about them? Do you care about your family and friends? Do you want them to spend the remainder of their years wondering why?
If you commit suicide, you’ll leave an indelible mark of pain and grief on those you have left behind. If you don’t believe me, go read some stories from mothers, fathers, and sisters who have had a loved one kill themselves.
Is There More to Do?
Is your time on this earth over? Do you believe you have nothing to offer? What will people say after you die? It is more than likely they will say, “How sad, such a waste.” Is your death how you want to be remembered?
Even if you do not see your value, others do. Each one of us is unique and has special talents. Instead of thinking about killing yourself, try thinking about what your talents and your passions are. Maybe you don’t know, and that’s okay. The very act of trying to figure it out will bring some hope for the future.
For the longest time I had no idea what I was doing and where I was going, and I completely lacked passion, energy, and feeling. Then, one day I realized that I have always had something to say (even if no one wanted to listen), and that became the roadmap for my new life.
One of the few things that saved me when I was suicidal was writing in my journal. I realize that I needed to write again, and once I did, everything changed. I had a purpose. I had found my passion. Yours is there you just have to find it.
Your Life Doesn’t Have to Feel Empty Forever
Maybe your life feels empty today. But that doesn’t mean it has to feel empty forever. I spent years (more years than I care to admit to and more years than I should have) feeling empty, lonely, and unfulfilled. This is an awful place to be, and I would never wish this on anyone else.
Just because I felt like I was living a meaningless life for over forty years doesn’t mean the rest of my life had to be that way. The past is the past.
Feeling lonely and unfulfilled doesn’t have to be a forever proposition. It can be a temporary landing if you want it to be.
If you feel empty and lonely, like your life has no meaning, then I say to you, “What can you do to change it?” Try and focus your energy on what you can change, not what you can’t change. I know it sounds corny and cliché’, but every day is a new day to rewrite the story of your life.
Usually we don’t know the answer to this question, which is why we stay stuck and hopeless. Everyone has something they love to do, something that is their passion. You have one too; you just don’t know it yet. Find this passion. Search it out. Give your life some meaning. Take yourself on a journey and find out who you really are.
You Are Not Alone
Remember that although you are in pain, you are not the only one. Get online. Start talking to people. Call a suicide prevention hotline. Go to the forums and find out what others have done to combat their feelings of loneliness and depression.
Do not let your thoughts run your life. Thoughts are just thoughts. They are not truth. Remember this. Feeling alone is a belief in your head, and it isn’t necessarily true. I know they feel like they own you, but you have the power to take back your life and own your thoughts.
Find others who have struggled with your issues and ask them what they did and how they found some peace. Read books. Listen to podcasts. Why reinvent the wheel? If others have been able to succeed, learn from them.
Maybe you need a friend to talk to. Maybe you need a support group. Maybe you need a therapist. Maybe you need a hobby. Maybe you need to find something, anything that gives you the slightest glimmer of hope. Search. If you can’t find any of those things, then give me a shout (firstname.lastname@example.org), because my inbox is always open.
There Are No Words
Maybe there are not enough words or not the right words. Maybe nothing I can say will make you change your mind. Maybe I will fail at my task, but I hope not.
I hope you take my words to heart and understand that I have felt your pain, and not just for a few days or weeks or on occasion. I have felt your pain to the core of my being and to the depths of my soul, for years and years. I have plotted my death too many times to count. Yet, I’m still here.
So, every day is another chance for me to try to get others to understand that they are not alone, and that depression and loneliness are fixable conditions. The human condition is a beautiful, complex assortment of struggles. You are not alone in this.
Suicide is not the answer. Death is final. But, you my friend are reading this now, and I believe you have some hope, even if it’s only a tiny little glimmer. I believe you can survive and that you will survive. I believe that, like me, you can also be a voice for change and hope.
Never give up. Every day is a new day to fight, and every day is a new day to recreate yourself.
If you are struggling please reach out for help: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ (1-800-273-8255).
About Carrie L. Burns
Carrie L. Burns is a blogger on a mission of self-discovery. As a sexual abuse survivor that struggled for years with depression anxiety, low self-esteem, lack of self-love, and relationship issues, she found her purpose through writing and sharing her story with others. Check out her other writing at www.acinglife.com.