It’s suicide prevention awareness month so content warning: suicide.
I thought I would post a series of posts with tools that help me when I have suicidal thoughts. This is just from my perspective, please simply take what you like and leave the rest. If you’re feeling suicidal and want someone to talk to here’s a list of lots of hotlines in lots of countries for all types of people. I encourage you to go to a nonprofit org over the government phone number.
Suicidal thoughts and depression I’ve heard characterized as a rage turned internally.
The work of staying alive is the process of soothing the violence within me in order to create peace.
I think the real revolutionary work in this world is helping people create internal peace. That’s what’s going to really shift humanity. More and more people coming into alignment with their true selves.
To that end, I treat suicidal thoughts as a warning light going off on my mental health dashboard. I’ve already shared what I do for impulse control when I have suicidal thoughts.
I keep a list of 20 or so behaviors to turn to in those low low moments. I’ll share here my current list, I keep it in my journal either the last page or in the front few pages. Each time I transition to a new journal I revise the list.
My therapist helped me understand that once one starts having suicidal thoughts that tends to be the thing we go to when things are hard, uncertain, bottoming out, etc…
A teacher I’ve studied under, Kyle Cease, has a theory that suicidal thoughts are actually ego deaths. It’s the death of an old story about yourself, old personality/traits that maybe were masks and not part of the authentic you who is emerging. I really loved this theory, which has helped me make peace with the ongoingness of my struggles with depression and these thoughts.
A lot of these are journal prompts that will help me sit down and have a talk with the dark voices. For better or worse, it’s a part of me. “Having a cup of tea with your depression,” is a sweet way to put it.
I believe our thoughts and our internal rage have messages and there’s something under the chatter about my unworthiness that’s an unmet need, something to be witnessed, or something I might need more support to work through.
On the first episode of Dickinson (AppleTV—a great queer feminist show) Emily gets into a carriage with Death (played by Wiz Kahlifa). She’s wearing a gorgeous red gown that’s on my outfit bucket list and Death is in era appropriate finery. That’s how I picture myself interacting with the darkness that swirls in my brain.
I still wonder how it is I still go into these cycles even though I prioritize so much self care. I had buckets of trauma and inner child stuff I’ve worked through the past few years so it might just be developmentally appropriate for me to still deal with cycles of suicidal thoughts/plans/depression. I have also only recently realized how powerful it is to just be present for my pain and let it wash through me.
It only takes 90 seconds to clear a strong emotion so if I can let it happen and cry through it there is relief swiftly. Most of what we are afraid of is how we are going to feel–so I just bravely feel. And then release!
I’ve made it a priority to learn how to hop in the carriage with Death when he comes to visit and try to convince me I’m better off not alive.
Long intro for a list of helpful self care for getting out of the bog of stench, but I think my mindset around how I deal with these thoughts might help others.
- JOURNAL: How can I radically resource my wellness right now? How can I clear and drop everything that’s not benefitting my mental health? Whose opinion can I release responsibility for?
- JOURNAL (or talk to a friend/therapist): Do I feel despair or frustration? What in me is longing to be witnessed?
- JOURNAL: stream of consciousness write.
- Watch this Esther Hicks video.
- Do gentle yoga.
- Call a bestie for distraction or venting (be clear about my intention).
- Do rage aerobics.
- Make a gratitude list–physically write “I am so grateful for _____.”
- Take a sea salt bath or shower.
- Take a nature walk.
- Lie down on the ground (preferably actual grass/dirt/moss) and ask the Earth to release and transmute negative energy.
- Star gazing. Ask the ancient light to relieve frustration.
- Write 50 good things that are possible.
- 5 minute dance tantrum. (Pearl Jam’s Corduroy is my fav soundtrack for this right now.)
- Do a reiki healing on myself.
- Watch It’s a Wonderful Life and do a puzzle.
- 15 minute declutter/clean.
- Primal scream.
There’s more but this is what I’m willing to share! Make your own list when you feel okay so that it’s a life raft when you need to crawl out of the bog of stench.
Again I want to share that I’m teaching this simply from my own experience. I don’t feel in danger of harming myself at the moment and I’ve committed to friends to do my best to stay alive. (My mom already got some concerned phone calls after my last blog post about this. I told her “Be on the lookout for more soon haha.”)
Here’s a podcast episode that I made (Episode 70) that covers this concept in a more kitchen table hangout way from last year.
Because I could not stop for Death—
He kindly stopped for me—
The Carriage held but just Ourselves—
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