Suicide Prevention Day

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. I wanted to say something about this because it’s important, and people need to know that there is no shame in having these thoughts or in seeking help. But on the other hand, it almost seems like a foreign topic to me. It feels like a forgotten language or past life with which I can no longer connect.

For the longest time, suicide was my biggest fear. I was afraid that one day I would not be strong enough to hold back the urges, and I would lose my fight with suicide and chronic depression. Suicide was the single most constant in my life. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to die. It is the subject of many of my earliest memories. And I don’t know why.

But now that I am on an antidepressant that inhibits depression and suicidal thoughts, they come much more rarely and even then, as fleeting moments that last no more than a breeze of wind passing by. Suicide is no longer a constant in my life. Part of that is due to therapy. Another part is due to friends and loved ones. The last part is due to antidepressants and personal choices to take care of myself.

Each part has taken years to build to get me to this point. And I guess the point of all this is that it is possible. It is possible to go from years, even decades, of suicidal thoughts to it being little more than a memory. I don’t know how it happens. For me, it was a million little things that led up to this point. It was friends and family and therapists and counselors and medications that drove me past of the point of insanity to medicine that changed my thoughts in ways I never knew were possible.

As someone that once contemplated suicide on a daily to hourly basis, I just want you to know there is hope. There is hope that it won’t always be this way. It may not feel like it now, but things really can get better. You just have to make it through this. And please know you don’t have to be alone. You don’t have to do this alone. It is never too late to reach out and get the help you need to feel better.

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Hangry

Last week was an especially difficult week emotionally. I had multiple breakdowns a day and just struggled to control my emotions several times throughout the week. By the end of the week, I realized that this was not simply the result of inconvenient timing of mood swings but was instead directly correlating to my eating habits. The longer it took for me to get food, the more aggressive and anxious I became.

I have always known that I struggle with handling needing food. I can tolerate hunger and can go without eating for a while without issues, but if I do not get food when I am expecting to eat, I lose self control. I lash out and have even injured myself at times. This probably sounds a bit extreme, but I looked up a couple articles about “hanger” and aggression around hunger. The ones I found most relevant explained that low blood sugar can decrease serotonin, which increases stress and affects the ability to regulate your mood.

As someone who already struggles with serotonin levels and mood regulation, this can easily send me over the edge. I remember as a kid, kicking myself off a bed because I was so hungry that I didn’t know what to do with myself. The biggest problem with all this is that it is difficult to provide food for yourself when you get to that point. Trying to cook something when your brain isn’t working leads to more anger and frustration because the process takes too long or is not going as planned.

At this point, I have realized as an adult that I have three options. I can withdraw myself from the situation until my body tires itself out and I no longer have the energy to be aggressive, or I can try to maintain self control just long enough to get something to eat, or I can allow things to get to the point when I explode and am at risk of hurting others or myself. I can’t tell you how many times I have experienced these problems as an adult, much less as a child. Granted, as a child, someone else was mostly responsible for providing food for me, but I had less control about how or when that food came.

I think it is interesting to note the differences between what we expect of children and adults. Often when we become most frustrated with how someone is acting, there is probably a physiological component to their behavior. Maybe they literally cannot just keep calm and carry on. Maybe they cannot communicate their needs. Maybe they cannot provide for themselves in the ways we expect. The difference between children and adults though is that we expect the child to learn to do these things and the adult to know how to do these things. But maybe instead we need to focus more on why things are happening to help prevent the physiological reaction because at that point, it is too late in many ways to avoid unwanted reactions.

An Effect of Antidepressants

I have been taking an antidepressant fairly consistently for a couple years now. There have been times when I stopped taking it because of money or pride or thinking I would be okay without it. I always go back though because I see what my depression does to those I love. I never want to hurt people, but depression is a complicated beast that is hard for me to control without medication.

My antidepressant works wonders. It helps me go from constantly suicidal to occasionally suicidal. It helps me go from desperately needing to be saved from myself to being as close to normal as I can imagine. Medication helps me stay alive.

Unfortunately, medicine has side effects. Sometimes these are in addition to its helpfulness. Sometimes it is because of how it is helping. I have noticed recently that my antidepressant seems to make me less compassionate and sympathetic. In addition to suppressing my harmful urges and destructive thoughts, I sometimes feel nothing when I want to feel something. The medicine does not completely negate my emotions. I still feel sadness and pain and all the other emotions tied to depression, just at a more normal level. There are some emotions though that I enjoyed.

I feel like I loved people more in my depression. I felt for them more. I understood them more. I wanted to be around them more. It can be hard to lose these feelings, to feel heartless, emotionless, unable to connect to others. Depression is a beast, but it made me feel more compassion for others.

I am not sure how to get those feelings back. I know that I cannot stop taking my antidepressant because the consequences of that are worse than not feeling emotions I want to feel. Maybe I just need to learn how to feel differently, love differently, live differently.

Alone

Loneliness is my least favorite thing about life. The thing that I’m most worried about is just being alone without anybody to care for or someone who will care for me.

~Anne Hathaway

I have been having a rough few days. Well, to be entirely honest, it has been a lot longer than that, but the last couple days have been especially hard. There is something about being alone that has always bothered me. I do not do well by myself. Even though I am a very independent person, I crave the companionship of others. I have a hard time concentrating by myself. I work best when I have other people nearby, but we are all doing our own thing.

The point of all this is that being alone is hard for me. I have not been alone physically lately, but I have felt very alone in many ways. I feel alone in my struggles, responsibilities, questions, concerns, doubts… I fear that if I tell anyone how I feel, they will worry or not understand or take it too seriously. Sometimes I just want someone to listen to my concerns because most things cannot be fixed and some things do not need to be fixed, but it is nice to have someone to tell what is on your mind.

I have some pretty wonderful friends, and one in particular that has been there for me tonight. I realize that I did not tell her everything and there are a lot of things I have been keeping bottled up, but I was so grateful to be able to share some of my burden, to feel just a little less alone tonight.

Why I Keep Trying

If those of us who felt like we don’t belong stopped trying, the world would lose something beautiful that it desperately needs.

I have been suicidal for as long as I can remember. My earliest childhood memories are of wanting to open the car door on the freeway. I knew from an early age that I did not belong. I was different. I could not explain how or why at the time and there are still things that I cannot explain that make me different, but I have a deep, persistent, aching feeling that I can never belong in this world.

There are days when I wonder why I keep trying. I consider all my options and ask myself why I should stay where I am and continue trying to live this life. There have been a lot of suicides in the news over the last few years. More people of prominence, that are well-known and adored by family, friends, and fans, are taking their lives. And it makes me wonder, why not me? I have thought about suicide all my life. Why should I stay when others are leaving?

I have come to the conclusion that people who don’t belong are more needed than ever. It is in this turmoil and drowning world that those of us who are drowning internally are most needed. We know what it is like to lose everything. We know what it is like to hurt in ways we could never explain. We are experienced in ways that others are not. We see things in ways others do not.

I recently watched “Tomorrow Land” and thought that if there was a satellite making our thoughts dwell on our impending doom, it would make sense to want to “abandon ship” by leaving this world behind. But I wonder if instead, we can be like the girl in the movie who saved the world by believing that it could be changed. We can consign ourselves to our fate. We can leave. We can stop trying so hard. But… What if we didn’t?

What if the ones who didn’t belong just kept not belonging, but stopped pretending? What if we just let people know we don’t belong? I know it is not easy to tell someone to stay when everything in them is ready to leave, but… We’re needed. The ones who don’t belong are needed. And maybe that is a reason to stay.

You Can Only Handle So Much

I have been struggling lately. I have a hard time regulating my emotions and finding positive outlets for them. It is probably because I am working two jobs. The interesting thing is that working two jobs does not feel hard most of the time. The jobs themselves are fairly enjoyable, and I rarely feel overwhelmed at work. The only part of working that has been overwhelming is scheduling the jobs around each other. It is hard to make sure you get everything done when you don’t have enough hours in the day to do everything.

The real struggle though is everything else. Having autism means that everything is bombarding my senses all the time. I am extremely protective of the autistic side of me. I have developed a long fuse or way to hide my autism despite it wanting to come out in difficult situations. The same thing is true for my depression. I prevent these parts of me from coming out just anywhere because I know most people do not understand and that could potentially be very dangerous for me.

Working two jobs has forced me to take care of myself in ways I have not done before because I do not want the vulnerable parts of me to come out at times when I am working. However, self care can only go so far. I still work two jobs and have depression and autism, so I tend to get to the end of what I can handle when I get home. This means that I have been having more meltdowns and breakdowns and more thoughts of suicide and self harm.

This is especially true at times when my body needs something. I find myself to be overly aggressive when I feel hungry. I have broken things or yelled at people or thrown items when my stomach feels even slightly empty. I have also struggled with self harm and suicidal thoughts and feelings of desperation and loneliness when I am tired. It is interesting to me how completely hopeless I can feel at night, but it all seems to dissipate when I wake up in the morning. How can I go from the brink of suicide to feeling mostly at peace in just a few hours?

The best explanation is that I am not truly suicidal. I love my life. I do not want to die. But my body is unable to handle life and simply wants the pain to stop. I remember times when I was truly suicidal. I was convinced that I was a burden. I felt that the world would be a better place without me. I felt sure that my family and friends would be better off without me. That is no longer the case. I don’t feel like anything would be better off without me. I just want the pain inside me to get better. I want to stop hurting so much.

Of course, there are lots of ways to help your body handle more. Eating, sleeping, hugs and other physical touch that helps you feel loved, spending time doing something you enjoy or being with someone that relaxes you, and anything else that helps you feel better mentally, physically, or emotionally allows you to be able to handle more of life. I have learned from spending my life trying to hide my autism and depression, etc. that you can force yourself through almost any situation if you use the right resources to help your body cope.

So, I guess the point of this post is to remind myself and others to find ways to cope. Find things that relax you, that help you feel loved and wanted and needed, or that meet a physical need. By finding and doing things that help your body feel better, you allow your body and mind to be able to handle more difficult situations. You allow yourself to be able to get through things you could not handle before. And you might be surprised at the difference it makes it your mental and emotional state.

Feeling Different

Every once in a while things really get to me. I feel different, flawed, unlovable. I am usually not sure what starts it, but it is hard to pull myself out of that mindset.

I was spending time with my best friend last night and kept breaking down because I felt alienated from the world. I feel like I don’t fit in and don’t belong. I love being with my friend though. She is one of the few people that helps me feel whole and always makes me feel like I belong in some way. I am so grateful for that.┬áMy friend continually assures me that she enjoys being friends with me and loves the things that make me different.

But it is hard to feel like I belong when I have never met anyone like me. I know that no two people are alike, but I mean more that my personality seems like a stark contrast to those around me. It probably doesn’t make sense, but one of the things I struggle with the most is feeling like I love people too much. I constantly think of others. I see them in everything. Sights, sounds, smells, tastes, textures, almost everything reminds me of a memory with someone. I buy presents and other things for people all year long because I see things that remind me of them or that I feel they would enjoy.

Maybe that is what brought on these thoughts. With the holiday season, I questioned my sanity. Was it wise to travel long distances to see others for a short time? Was I ridiculous for having too many gifts for family and friends? Did I do more than a reasonable person would do in similar circumstances?

I normally love Christmas. It is one of the few times a year that I feel like I fit in. People do more of the things I tend to do on a regular basis. But this year, Christmas felt like a lie. People are not giving and loving and helpful all year round. Drivers are selfish. Most people do not constantly think of others at the grocery store or during other daily routines. How can we sing these songs of keeping Christmas in our hearts when most people don’t?

I regularly do things for others that most people would not do. I have travelled all day to be with a friend for a few minutes. I have gone above and beyond to help a friend in need. I have sacrificed my own comforts to help someone else feel better. And the thing is, I know all of these things are good, but I feel so flawed for doing them.

This has made me feel like I do not belong in this world. I feel misunderstood. I feel like the world swirls around me while I crave to be connected to it. Is there a place for me? Is there somewhere I can belong? Is there someone who will see me as all that I am and love me anyway?

I want to believe that I am needed here, that I have a place in this world. I want to feel like I belong, even though this world doesn’t feel like home. Was I put here for a reason? Is there a reason I don’t feel like anyone else understands? Do my differences benefit others in positive ways? And most of all, can I ever belong in a world where I was born to stand out?