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Does anyone have experience overcoming habitual thoughts of suicidal ideation?

HomeForumsShare Your TruthDoes anyone have experience overcoming habitual thoughts of suicidal ideation?

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  • #394840
    Helcat
    Participant

    Hello! This is going to be a unique one so please bear with me a moment. I hope that discussing these thoughts doesn’t break any rules. You wonderful people have provided some great advice to others. I was curious if anyone would be able to help me.

    First, I would like to reassure people that I am in no danger. I have received appropriate medical treatment regarding my mental health. I have no intention of acting on any thoughts. I do not have a plan. I have loved ones supporting me, I am not experiencing any circumstances that would put me at risk of harming myself.

    Next, a little back story. I was 11 when I started developing suicidal thoughts due to child abuse. There have been 4 incidents in my life where I genuinely considered acting on these thoughts. The former, after experiencing an assault, as a side effect of a medication administered during a difficult withdrawal from another medication, when I unable to walk due to a medical condition.

    As a child, I decided to live to protect my brother. As an adult, I decided to live out of hope that my situation would improve. With the side effect of medication my family intervened.

    Nowadays, these thoughts of suicidal ideation are habitual. Generally, I  interpret them to mean, “I don’t want to be in pain.”. They don’t cause me distress. But it would be nice if they weren’t there.

    Whilst these thoughts don’t cause me distress, they tend to be triggered when I am feeling distressed. For example, after an argument with loved ones or due to severe pain from a chronic health condition. Another example would be, due to work related stress.

    I have had a lot of therapy and done a lot of work on my mental health. It feels like this habitual thought is one of the last things to resolve.

    #394841
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Helcat:

    I stopped thinking about suicide when I realized that I was close enough to death happening naturally, and I figured that there’s no need to rush it. I used to think of suicide in my teens (if not earlier), in my 20s, my 30s, got close to it in my 40s… through all that time, life had an eternity-feel to it, like…life will last forever, and so will this pain.

    Now, being older, and with the recent escalated climate change, rising political radicalization and autocracy in the world, the current threat of a 3rd world war, the economic downfall…  and it really is one day at a time for me. No time for suicide ideation when life is today and tomorrow… don’t know.

    anita

    #394861
    HoneyBlossom
    Participant

    Sometimes when I have been driving and I have remembered something from my past, the words just come in my mind: “I wish I was dead” but now I catch myself and change the message in my head to something like, “I wish I could hide” or something like that.

    I did have genuine suicide thoughts many years ago – when I knew my marriage wasn’t going to work and then more years later after another relationship ended.  So glad I didn’t.  Life got better and my family would have been very hurt.  Besides, I’m sure there is purpose to my life even if I can’t always see it.

    #394863
    Helcat
    Participant

    @anita and @HoneyBlossom

    Thank you both for sharing! I appreciate your experiences and advice. I hope you have a good day.


    @anita

    It is comforting to learn that these thoughts might one day cease on their own accord. Focusing on one day at a time sounds like good advice.

    An emotional part of me does feel like pain from the past will last forever, simply because it has so far. But, the logical side of me differs. I do not focus on the pain. My attention comes and goes as I prefer to focus on my life. The pain continues to get smaller. I am hopeful that one day those feelings will resolve. Perhaps this is a foolish hope, or a denial of the idea of living with it. Perhaps these feelings are something that I will need to accept.


    @HoneyBlossom

    I have tried reframing the thoughts. It doesn’t seem to stick though. It may take more time? I will keep at it as I have been able to successfully reframe other thoughts in the past. This one is stubborn though.

    #394887
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Helcat:

    You are welcome and thank you for starting your own thread on this important topic. After my post to you yesterday, on my walk, I had more thoughts that I wanted to add on the topic of pain. I will add and develop them as I read your recent post:

    An emotional part of me does feel like pain from the past will last forever, simply because it has so far” – in my first post to you I was referring to emotional pain, and I still do (although as my former therapist said: everything is physical, emotions included). The pain I had, starting as a child, was intense, excruciating. I didn’t understand it then and wasn’t able to make the distinction until recently, a few years ago:

    The pain I experienced as a child was about (1) how much my mother was suffering (intense empathy for her), and (2) how terrible of a daughter I was for causing her more pain/ for adding to her suffering (excruciating guilt).

    My pain lessened significantly in the last few years when I became able to … peel off the second from the first.

    I found out that almost every time I hurt over someone else’s pain, much of the pain was about my core belief that I am guilty of the other person’s pain. Since then, when I feel pain over another person’s pain, I asked myself, am I guilty for this person’s pain? And if the answer is No, I feel significantly better.

    “The logical side of me differs. I do not focus on the pain. My attention comes and goes as I prefer to focus on my life” – when you experience intense physical pain, you can’t not focus on it, right? Same is with emotional pain. If it is intense, it is hard to focus on anything else, time has an eternity-feel to it, and you want the pain to stop any which way, whatever it takes.

    But if the pain is less intense, if you peel off one part of the pain and it lessens as a result, it is easier to focus elsewhere.

    I am hopeful that one day those feelings will resolve. Perhaps this is a foolish hope, or a denial of the idea of living with it. Perhaps these feelings are something that I will need to accept” – don’t accept what is not yours. I reject my guilt in all instances where I am not guilty and I reject taking more guilt than is mine, in instances where I am part guilty.

    I accept that hurt and anxiousness and other forms of emotional suffering are, unfortunately, the human condition in the world we are living in.

    It is comforting to learn that these thoughts might one day cease on their own accord” – not on their own accord, the thoughts of suicide have been almost non-existent to me because I feel significantly less pain.

    anita

    #394913
    Helcat
    Participant

    @anita

    Thank you for elaborating, I found it very helpful. I am glad to hear that you are in significantly less pain now.

    It makes sense that I may have to learn more about the reasons why these thoughts occur and the feelings behind them.

    I don’t believe it’s based in guilt for me. As a child I felt alone and unloved because of the abuse. For a long time, I struggled with feelings of not being good enough or being unlovable. At the time, I blamed myself, as children do. I have a fear that rears it’s head occasionally. I worry that my loved ones will one day decide they made a mistake by caring for me and abandon me. Arguments definitely trigger these feelings. I guess, I fear feeling how I did in the past.

    Generally, I am in significantly less emotional  pain these days. But, I also get overwhelmed and upset fairly easily.

    Also, I have a bad habit of avoiding physical pain by focusing on anxiety. I have a habit of worrying about various stressors in my life as opposed to focusing on emotional pain from the past.

    • This reply was modified 9 months ago by Helcat.
    #394917
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Helcat:

    You are welcome!

    I don’t believe it’s based in guilt for me… I blamed myself, as children do” – to blame is to assign responsibility for a fault or wrong, and guilt is a state of believing that you have done wrong… so you did experience guilt as a child, didn’t you? You are welcome to elaborate on it,if  you would like to.

    I have a bad habit of avoiding physical pain by focusing on anxiety. I have a habit of worrying about various stressors in my life as opposed to focusing on emotional pain from the past” – I wonder what you mean by avoiding physical pain, what physical pain? Again, if you would like to elaborate, please do.

    I will be back to the computer in about 11 hours from now.

    anita

    #394926
    Helcat
    Participant

    @anita

    Perhaps guilt isn’t the right word. That would imply that I was at fault, when I wasn’t. I felt overly responsible, perhaps shame is more accurate?

    My mother told me that after myself and my brother were born she magically became a terrible person. She claimed to have been perfectly fine before. Her temper could be triggered by the smallest thing, so at night I would analyse the day and try and figure out what I could do better to avoid it.

    I think these were part of the reason I felt why I felt. Therapy helped me see that her claims were extremely unlikely and that there was nothing I could do to prevent the abuse. If different children were born to her, they would have been abused too. It wasn’t my fault, she was simply looking for excuses to take her feelings out on us.

    I have had a chronic pain condition for many years now. The level of physical pain fluctuates, when I relax before going to sleep is often when I experience the most physical pain. I find muscle tension reduces the amount of physical pain I can feel, when my muscles relax it can be overwhelming and there is little to distract me. Worries are easier to think about than allowing myself to be immersed in the experience of physical pain.

    Previously, due to trauma I have had experience with emotional numbing and dissociation. I also have a tendency to dissociate to escape physical pain. Over the years I have made some progress with recovery, reducing the amount of physical pain I’m in so I am trying not to rely on that as much.

    #394927
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Helcat:

    I don’t believe it’s based in guilt for me… Perhaps guilt isn’t the right word. That would imply that I was at fault, when I wasn’t” – of course you were not guilty of (not responsible for) your mother’s abuse of you, it’s that you incorrectly believed that you were guilty and as a result, you felt guilty.

    I don’t think that it ever happens that a child who is abused by a parent (and is not protected and rescued by another parent/ adult in the home) does not feel guilty: a child instinctively takes responsibility for the parent’s abuse, a responsibility that does not belong with the child at all.

    I felt overly responsible” – interesting that you used the adjective overly responsible for your mother abuse, as if some responsibility was valid. In reality, you were not responsible at all.

    Perhaps shame is more accurate?” – both are unfortunately accurate, and they go together: the abused child naturally and instinctively feels guilty (believing that you have done wrong and are therefore responsible for the abuse) and ashamed (believing that you are wrong, inherently a bad girl, and therefore, you called for/ deserve the abuse).

    My mother told me that after myself and my brother were born, she magically became a terrible person. She claimed to have been perfectly fine before” – your incorrect belief in your own guilt did not need the additional glue that she threw at it by this false claim.

    I imagine that she hated the chores involved in caring for babies and young children, changing diapers etc., so she blamed her babies.

    Her temper could be triggered by the smallest thing, so at night I would analyse the day and try and figure out what I could do better to avoid it” – there is a natural, instinctive reasoning behind the child taking responsibility for abuse: if as a child, you believed correctly that the responsibility for the abuse was indeed all your mother’s, then you would have been aware that you were in great danger and that you were powerless about it.

    When you believed that you were responsible for the abuse, you were still aware that you were in danger, but that it was not as great of a danger because you were not powerless about it, there was something you could do to make the abuse stop. The feeling of having some power over abuse makes the situation feels less dangerous.

    And so, at night, as a child, you were in the habit of analysing the day and figuring out how to… not cause her to abuse you the following day. But of course, there was nothing that you could have done, like you said: “there was nothing I could do to prevent the abuse. If different children were born to her, they would have been abused too. It wasn’t my fault“.

    When I relax before going to sleep… when my muscles relax (the physical pain) can be overwhelming and there is little to distract me. Worries are easier to think about than allowing myself to be immersed in the experience of physical pain” – I assume that you saw medical doctors in regard to this chronic, fluctuation pain (?)

    * I am not a professional, but maybe (?)… the cause for this pain is peripheral neuropathy, “which refers to the many conditions that involve damage to the peripheral nervous system, the vast communication network that sends signals between the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) and all other parts of the body… symptoms improve on their own and may not require advanced care. Unlike nerve cells in the central nervous system, peripheral nerve cells continue to grow throughout life” (ninds. nih. gov/ peripheral neuropathy fact sheet).

    anita

     

    #394936
    Helcat
    Participant

    @anita

    I appreciate your feedback!

    To clarify, I feel like the emotions experienced with gaslighting are different from the emotions associated with guilt when inappropriate behaviour has occurred.

    I didn’t worry that I had wronged another person. I felt shame, anger and sadness  as I was being abused. I was bullied into feeling that I had it coming, not for doing wrong. But for existing. I felt that I existed to be abused and expected only that. This is why I chose the word shame. And this is why I said overly responsible, not because it my fault. It was simply my reality.

    Even as a child I had awareness of gaslighting. My mother often told me she loved me, but her behaviour told me otherwise. I was aware that I hadn’t wronged anyone, it was practical to  attempt to reduce the level abuse of abuse if at all possible.

    I was acutely aware of the inherent danger I was in and I did feel powerless. A small child cannot fight off a 200+ lbs adult. A 100 lbs teenager cannot fight a 200+ lbs adult, though I tried.

    The level of abuse and neglect I experienced at the hands of my mother was severe. She wasn’t tired of any chores because I was the one who did them. From the age of 4-5 I used a stove to prepare simple meals for myself and my brother if food was in the house. I looked after the dog, took care of my abuser, protected my brother and cleaned the house.

    Most of my childhood she spent sleeping, the rest of the time she was out (leaving us home alone), rarely purchasing food, watching tv,  getting drunk and abusing us.

    • This reply was modified 9 months ago by Helcat.
    #394940
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Helcat:

    As I read your recent post, I felt that I am more aware of the rawness of your pain, related to your mother’s severe abuse of you, how raw and intense it was/ is.

    When I relax before going to sleep is often when I experience the most physical pain… I didn’t worry that I had wronged another person…  I was bullied into feeling that I had it coming, not for doing wrong. But for existing. I felt that I existed to be abused and expected only that” –

    – is it possible that when you relax before going to sleep, when your body is letting go of doing, and is settling for just existing (into just being), it is then that you feel that you have it coming-it” being the pain inflicted on you by your mother, for no other reason than you existing?

    anita

    #394942
    Helcat
    Participant

    @anita

    Thank you for understanding! It was a long time ago. I left home at the first available opportunity and never looked back. After many years of therapy, I feel that this was the first time I have been able to safely express anger about it. Thank you for giving me that opportunity. I’m not upset at the moment, but it was visceral a long time ago.

    That’s a good question. I don’t know. Certainly, I have unresolved issues around the topic. It has indirectly been a theme of my anxious thoughts.

    I have a tendency to catastophise and expect the worst. The pins set up by my mother were reinforced by further trauma as a young adult.

    I came to expect pain and suffering in all walks of life. I have done some work on this. I know now this is not the case. There are good experiences to be had and kind people out there.

    Still, it is often my first thought when I am feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Thank you for helping identify this as an area I need to work on. I’m not sure if it necessarily related to physical pain, but it is definitely how I respond to it. Specifically, jumping to the worst case by experiencing habitual thoughts of suicidal ideation when I feel severe physical pain.

    • This reply was modified 9 months ago by Helcat.
    • This reply was modified 9 months ago by Helcat.
    #394950
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Helcat:

    You are welcome. I would like to reply to you further in the morning, in about 11 hours from now.

    anita

    #395000
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Helcat:

    The level of abuse and neglect I experienced at the hands of my mother was severe” – I have learned from my own experience and from daily communication with hundreds or thousands of members in these forums, for close to 7 years, that when we suffer significant or severe neglect and abuse as children, we keep re-living the same emotional experience of childhood as adults.

    An emotional part of me does feel like pain from the past will last forever, simply because it has so far“- as adults, we keep experiencing the same emotional pain of childhood.

    I worry that my loved ones will one day decide they made a mistake by caring for me and abandon me” – as an adult, it seems to me, you experience the same worry that you experienced as a child: fearing the next time your mother (your loved one at the time) will view you as a mistake and abandon you.

    I have a habit of worrying about various stressors in my life as opposed to focusing on emotional pain from the past” – seems to me that you did not adequately process your emotional pain from the past, that is, your childhood pain about your own mother viewing you as a mistake.

    As a child and during most of my adulthood, I too refused to focus on the pain involved in truly understanding that my mother did not love me. No! a voice in me objected! She did love me, it’s just that she suffered too much, it’s that I am not the daughter that she needed, poor mother, being stuck with the wrong daughter, etc.

    I left home at the first available opportunity and never looked back” – I hope that this means that you are no longer in any contact with your mother because it has been my experience that every time I heard the voice of my unrepentant abuser, aka my mother, every time I saw her face, or worse, felt her touch (even when her voice and touch were soft and her eyes expressed affection, even then, and maybe especially then), the severe abuse got re-activated in my brain all over again.

    My mother often told me she loved me, but her behaviour told me otherwise” – in my experience, adult daughters who acknowledge a lot of faults in regard to their mothers, will not acknowledge this one fault: the absence of love for her daughter. I personally experienced the greatest freedom from re-living my childhood emotional experience when I realized this simple, yet previously unbearable truth.

    anita

    #395050
    Helcat
    Participant

    @anita

    Thank you for your feedback. I’m sorry for the difficulties you experienced as a child. I’m glad you are in less pain now as an adult.

    Fortunately, I haven’t been in contact with my mother since I was a teenager.

    It seems the journey recovering from trauma is never ending. There is always more work to be done!

    I wouldn’t say my experience as an adult  is exactly the same as childhood, though there are still some adverse affects. Thankfully, my therapist helped me deal with a lot of the emotional pain and break the cycle of re-experiencing that abuse. What I experience now is a fraction of what I experienced as a child.

    I’ve known that my mother didn’t love myself or my brother since I was a young child. I quickly realised that our home life was very different from others and there are some things that you don’t do if you care about someone. There is no polite way to describe the things she did.

    When I was younger I wanted an explanation for why she behaved the way she did. I thought perhaps she was so disturbed by her mental health condition that might be causing it. My psychologist helped me see that it was her choice to behave that way. Many people with mental health issues take care not to abuse their children.

    I would appreciate any advice you could give about processing my pain from the past regarding my mother seeing me as a mistake.

    • This reply was modified 9 months ago by Helcat.
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