Surviving Suicidal Thoughts
Knowing I was capable of recovery provided the spark I desperately needed.
Though I was diagnosed with depression in the fall of 2009, there were signs dating back several years to high school. Some nights after a tough day, I would lie in bed fantasizing about escaping life’s problems. I didn’t really think about it this way then, but what I was really doing was fantasizing about suicide. These thoughts continued on and off for years. I never shared them with anyone.
During university, in 2009, my thoughts became more serious and I started to think of suicide as something I would eventually do; maybe at some distant time in the future once my parents had passed away.
In the months that followed, thoughts of suicide overwhelmed me throughout the day. At my worst, I would see a knife in my kitchen and would have thoughts of hurting myself. It was terrifying to be a few thoughts away from hurting myself, knowing that under the influence of such intense emotions I could do so without having a chance to challenge or ignore these thoughts.
In January 2010, my mood fell to an all-time low. I was feeling sad enough to be on the verge of crying day after day, while watching myself mentally and physically slow and weaken. It was too much to endure. At the time I felt like I only had two options: feel awful forever and watch my life waste away or end my life. I couldn’t believe the thoughts going on inside my head, I had finally taken the step from thinking about suicide to planning it and it scared the shit out of me. Hoping to get away from these thoughts I convinced myself to sleep on things one last time.
When I woke up feeling worse, I knew that day would be my last. There’s no point going into all the steps I took that day. I had many opportunities to turn around, to go to the hospital, to go home, to call someone, to call anyone, and although I stopped many times trying to reconsider, by this point living only seemed like an option that would prolong my agony.
I had decided to jump off the Oak Street Bridge, and later in the day I acted out those plans.
After surviving the fall, somehow in the hospital, between the adrenaline and the elation of being alive, my moods became almost normal, if only for hours. These feelings were proof of my ability to still recover and gave me hope. It’s one thing to listen to people say you’re going to get better but it’s quite another thing to experience and feel that it’s possible. I was still capable of feeling OK and I finally believed it.
Depression changes thoughts and beliefs. That’s why I was unable to feel the hope of getting better and why my emotions no longer matched the reality I was living in. With these realizations, I thought I would get better quickly. But even though I had a better understanding of what depression was it would still be months before I felt relatively stable.
Now when I am feeling down and it doesn’t feel like I’ll continue to get better, I hold on the fact that I know I can. I have real tangible proof, no matter how distorted my thoughts become. When depressed I don’t feel like recovery is possible but I do my best to ignore these negative emotions. I know they are a result of depression. I try to detach myself from these thoughts and remind myself that I’ve recovered before and can do so again.
I can’t think myself out of depression in one moment or one day. I have to slowly live and act my way out from the illness, reshaping my thoughts over time.