**This post may be triggering to those who have experienced suicidal ideation, depression, have lost someone to suicide, or suffer with a mental illness of any kind. This post is not intended to substitute professional health. If you are experiencing suicidal ideation please reach out to a trusted loved one and seek professional advice. This post is intended to provide home and encouragement but does speak of suicide.**
If you are currently suicidal and are in the U.S. please call: 1-800-273-8255 or text 741741 (from anywhere in the US) to talk with a trained Crisis Counselor. If you are currently suicidal and are in Canada you can find crisis numbers and services in your province by clicking here.
This week Netflix will be releasing season 2 of a show that should be called "13 Inaccurate Depictions of Mental Illness". The first season really impacted my mental health and the mental health of my boyfriend at the time who suffered with severe, lifelong depression. The show itself was addictive and we didn't realize it was impacting our mental health, but after we watched the "suicide scene" we felt numb. That numbness continued into the next couple of weeks and my boyfriend's mental illness flared. We loved the show until we realized the impact it had on our mental health.
I knew from the beginning that the show wasn't an accurate depiction of mental illness. I knew that the whole show wasn't an accurate depiction of suicidal ideation. I knew this, I studied this (I'm becoming a counsellor), but I watched it anyway.
So in honor of the season 2 release, I decided to counteract it before it was released. If you want to watch it, go ahead! It might not have impacted your mental health to the same degree it did mine. But if you don't want to watch it, you don't have to. I'm tempted to watch it every time Netflix reminds me that season 2 is about to come out. I've had to rate it a "thumbs down" so it'll stop advertising to me and therefore I'll no longer be tempted.
I've had 2 people in my life die to suicide. The first was an acquaintance in high-school. Her name was Acacia and I'll never forget the morning our homeroom teacher told us that someone in our homeroom died last night. I'll never forget her Aunt crying at her funeral. I'll never forget her.
The second was a closer friend and an ex-boyfriend. When I talk about my past relationships I usually refer to the 3 consecutive long-term relationships I had. However, I dated someone else in grade 9 for 2 months and it was all innocent and fun with no bad feelings when it ended. His name was Johnthia and he would soon become a boyfriend to a good friend of mine and a friend to me. I knew he had mental health issues but didn't know he was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder until after his death. We drifted from friends to acquaintances depending on the season or distance between us. At the time of his death, he was away at college on a football scholarship and I was bedridden at home. We hadn't spoke for a while, but he introduced me to the boyfriend I was with when I became bedridden. I distinctly remember when my mom came up to tell my boyfriend (who was at my mom's house at the time) and I that an old classmate she didn't think I knew too well committed suicide. Once she told me who it was I got mad at her forgetting who he was and thinking I didn't know him too well.
I'll never forget the way Johnthia's mom wailed while walking back and forth between the aisles at his funeral. I'll never forget how she screamed when they put his body into the ground.
After realizing that we had lost 2 people to suicide in a high-school that didn't have an intense bullying issue (both Acacia and Johnthia were popular as well), I made a Facebook status urging people to come to me if they ever feel suicidal. I knew they probably wouldn't. But our high-school grad class was coming together to support each other more, despite having graduated years prior, and I thought it was worth a shot. I had promised that I'd personally share 50 reasons why they shouldn't kill themselves if they were to come to me. But not in a "I know better than you do and you just need to see things objectively" way, no, but in a "I'll come over to your house and support you and love you and remind you that you're not alone while promising you that things will get better" way.
Suicide and mental illness is an issue so dear to my heart because of the loved ones I've lost or seen tortured by either or. Since I know suicidal ideation and depression are more prominent in the chronic illness community (suffering will do that to you!), I am especially motivated to create a community where we can openly talk about this without judgment. Unfortunately, "13 Reasons Why" stopped at the "talking about this without judgment" aspect. Awareness about a problem, without offering up a solution, isn't responsible. So I want to be able to talk openly about suicidal ideation but also provide hope.
I also have a friend who has attempted suicide many times but thankfully is still alive today. I pray every couple days that God will keep her alive. My biggest fear is that one day one of these attempts will be final. She has shared with me some of her friends attempts at "comforting her" in response to her transparency. Their responses always sound something like:
"But life gets better!"
"Why would you do that? You have so much more to live for!"
"But think about how much that'll hurt your mom."
"Be strong!" (This one is also often used in response to any kind of suffering. I hate this unempathetic response. Be strong? Chances are, they already are.)
The uncomfortable, dismissive responses with a lack of follow-up shock me. But I guess it shows that as a society, we still have so much stigma around mental illness, mental health, and suicidal ideation.
We need to be comfortable talking about suicidal ideation to help prevent it from becoming suicide. If you're interested, I wrote a 3-part blog series about chronic illness and suicidal ideation that also shared my experience with it: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
So I don't know where you are in life, or what exactly you're going through, but I do know that I am so grateful that I didn't commit suicide any of the times I almost did. I'm hoping that some, or any, of these points below help bring hope to your day. I don't judge those who have committed suicide by any means. I don't think "oh if ONLY they read these 50 reasons why not to kill themselves then they'd be here today." Mental health, mental illness, and suicide are all way more complicated than that. I don't believe suicide is shameful, but I believe it's absolutely heartbreaking. So my hopes for you today is that you'll continue to live until you feel alive again.
50 Reasons Why to Choose to Stay Alive:
1. Suicide will always be an option, that option isn't going anywhere. So put that option up on a shelf. You haven't exhausted every other option yet, as much as you might think you have.
2. Ask yourself "what about my life do I want to kill?" and focus your energy on that. Because, chances are, you don't want to kill every aspect of your life and yourself. There are certain things about your life that are far too painful to bear, while other aspects you can see hope in. Instead of killing yourself, kill the things in your life that you hate and give life to the things that give you any kind of hope. You don't want to die, you just want the pain to stop. Fight to kill your doubts, your self-hatred, your fears, and the lies you tell yourself. You're not the one at fault, these other things are.
3. You deserve the second chance you so freely give to others.
4. Suicide attempt survivors will often tell you how they're so glad the attempt wasn't successful. Some of the most amazing influencors and motivators have come from this perspective. Let's learn from these attempt survivors instead of suffering through it ourselves.
5. Don't ever kill yourself based on the hurt someone else has caused you. They do not get to deny you of your birth right to live. Staying alive and learning to thrive despite the suffering will be the best revenge.
6. "[Suicide] happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain. You can survive suicidal feelings if you do either of two things: (1) find a way to reduce your pain, or (2) find a way to increase your coping resources. Both are possible." -Metanoia. It's time to focus all your energy into those 2 things.
7. Relief from pain doesn't come from committing suicide. Relief is an emotion that you can only experience when you're alive. Relief from your chronic illness will come with further discoveries of treatment and cures on this earth.
8. There is no dumb reason to stay alive. If it's because you don't want your dog to be left wondering where you went, or because you have an event you're looking forward to, or for the taste of your favourite food, that's amazing. Cling to those joys.
9. "Don't quit 5 minutes before your miracle."
10. If you attempt suicide but (thankfully) it doesn't work, there's a high likelihood that all of the suffering you're experiencing now would be increased. Maybe it would be intense PTSD, brain damage, liver damage, etc. I wrote this quote down once (I don't remember the source):
"There isn't a great way to do it. Unless you've suppressed you self-preservation instincts quite well, you're likely going to cause yourself grief, pain, hassle...and there's the chance that your methods will fail, causing all sorts of complications. If your life is going badly, why add more bad stuff to it?"
11. Think of your future. What do you think the likelihood is that things will get even remotely better? 1%? 20%? 50%? I beg you, that if there's even just a 1% chance things will get better, you're worth that 1%.
12. "Any moment can change your life. You just have to be there."
13. Your suffering could become your platform. You are not alone. There are people all over this world suffering with depression and suicidal ideation and you can create an online platform to connect with them and work toward wellness. You could be the reason someone else doesn't kill themselves. But you have to be alive to do that.
14. Since you're reading this there is still hope. In your better moments, write a letter to yourself to read when you feel suicidal. Remind yourself of your dreams, your hopes, your passions, and make it personal. You know you better than anyone else.
15. Because although you might think that no one cares, I care enough to write 50 reasons about why you shouldn't kill yourself. Even I am affected by your presence on this earth. You have no idea how many people you impact.
16. If your suicidal ideation comes from a place of self-hatred, then your brain is most definitely lying to you. It's impossible to hate yourself unless someone taught you to. You are not worthy of hatred, you are not worthy of suffering, and you are not worthy of the suffering you plan to inflict on yourself if you go through with these thoughts.
17. There are so many beautiful moments waiting for you. I know people always say "things will get better" when you're feeling hopeless, and it feels like an empty promise. I know that because I felt it. I was suicidal for many years and truly believed that staring at 4 walls, bedridden, was where I'd spend the rest of my life. My best moments were ahead of me. I'm living my best moments now, even with sickness.
18. I am so grateful I never killed myself every day I wanted to. When I as bedridden and housebound, and even for a year after that, I thought of suicide daily at my worst. Whatever tiny pieces of hope I found kept me alive until I could start living again.
19. This is temporary. Please don't make permanent decisions on a temporary reality. You deserve to experience relief and you will. This is temporary. You won't feel this bad forever. I know this is hard to take seriously when you've been suffering chronically, either mentally, physically, or both, for years, but no emotion or flare lasts forever.
20. A lot of times people feel suicidal because they feel like their life isn't worth living. Either they feel like they've made a mistake and feel shame (shame can't exist when talked about! So please find a safe and trusted person), or they experience self-hatred, or they feel purposeless. They feel consumed by the weight of what fixing this situation or changing themselves would look like. But you do not nee to worry about being fixed because you're not broken. You are a whole and complete person. You are suffering, you are not bad, you are not "less than." Suffering doesn't decrease your worth.
21. Your depression is lying to you if you think for a second that you are worthless. It is absolutely impossible for you, or anyone, to be worthless. You are breathing for a reason. Whether or not you're spiritual, there is only one you out of the 7.5 billion people on this earth. That's not an accident. You are not an accident. You have purpose and worth seeping from your very pores. Your depression may try to convince you otherwise, but it's not true. Counselling has helped me see this a lot. I remember my counsellor saying "if someone barged into my office right now and accused me of being a meth dealer, I obviously wouldn't believe them. I'd probably laugh! It's only when we believe the accusations, whether or not they're true, that we absorb them." If someone comes barging into your room and says "you're worthless" it hurts because you might believe them to a certain extent. The goal isn't to change you, but for you to see what already exists in you to equip yourself against the lies your brain is trying to convince you of.
22. A year form now your life could look completely different. I know it does for me.
23. You deserve to choose life for yourself, you deserve relief, and I want you to stay alive because relief, one day, is possible. Choose life because it's your birthright. Don't let depression rob you of this.
24. Don't let your suicidal thoughts be dictators when they are simply indicators; indicating that you've been fighting a really tough and unique battle. Indicating that you are tired, lonely, afraid, and in pain. Indicating that you don't want to live like this, not that you don't want to live.
25. You have the authority to talk back to your life and gain control of it. When suicidal thoughts would come to mind, at one point I started praying against them. As a Christian I would talk to those thoughts out loud, in prayer, as if they were all coming from Satan himself (whether they all were is up for debate). There was so much power in speaking out loud against these thoughts and telling them who was boss.
26. You were born for this moment. I truly believe it. There's a Bible verse that says "Perhaps you were born for such a time as this" -Esther 4:14. Perhaps this moment, this decision, is the moment for which you were born. Right now you have a choice. You have air in your lungs and a heart in your chest beating. In this moment, there is power in choosing to say "yes" to life. This might be the biggest, and most important, step of faith in your life. This might very well be the step that changes everything.
27. There's a powerful quote I wrote down on my phone's memopad in 2014. I didn't write down the source unfortunately, but it said:
"Actually choosing to go on living can be a bit of a rush. When it's a firm decision - 'I choose to live!' - it can give a sense of purpose or meaning to life, just from the idea that you chose it. It seems like you're in control. The feeling fades, but it's nice for a bit." Depression feels like it takes away your power and choosing life can gain some of that power back.
28. People from the POTS community often reach out to me saying "I don't want to live like this."But it's those last 2 words that show me you still have the tiniest bit of hope left."Like. This."To that, my response is more or less: "then don't." Don't live like this. Live like something else. Just live. In any way that you can, with the limited resources you have, with the energy that you have.
29. "Your darkest hour still only has 60 minutes."
30. You've most likely been here before. You will get through this time too. But I don't want you to just "get through" it. I want you to live, not just survive. But you'll have to survive this in order to truly live. On this point, I love the quote "the bravest thing I ever did was continuing my life when I wanted to die." – Juliette Lewis
31. Death is permanent. If you believe in a certain faith then you might believe in a Heaven or Hell. If you're not a believer, there's still a chance that there's a Heaven or a Hell. There's also a change that there's nothingness. Neither nothingness nor Hell would be a relief from the pain you're experiencing.
32. I don't like shaming people by telling them to stay alive for other people, but I know that staying alive for my mom was a huge motivator for me. Now I am also able to choose life for myself. I believe that when we experience so much self-hatred, sometimes staying alive for other people is our biggest motivator. And that's okay. Whatever keeps you alive until you can live is the goal. A quote I love is "Suicide doesn't end the pain, it just passes it on to someone else." Thinking of my mom or a loved one finding my body is enough encouragement to keep on living. I don't want the biggest impact I leave behind to be PTSD to the person who found my body and depression to my loved ones in my life.
33. When you start to seriously contemplate suicide, think of yourself in terms of your 5 year old self. Think of how innocent and lovable they were. That person is still in you, you've grown up, and people have taught you to think less of yourself, but you're still as lovable. Don't kill that little kid.
34. This world is a better place with you in it. I know that might seem hard to believe, but it's true. Even if there's only 1 person in your life, they are greatly impacted by you. Even if your depression tries to convince you that their life would be better without you in it, that's a lie. There are people you haven't even met yet that are going to be greatly impacted by you.
35. “Anyone desperate enough for suicide should be desperate enough to go to creative extremes to solve problems: elope at midnight, stow away on the boat to New Zealand and start over, do what they always wanted to do but were afraid to try.” – Richard Bach. You're at a crossroads here: choose life, or end it. If you choose life (and I really, genuinely hope you do) then you don't have to choose your old life or the life you've always lived. One thing I've learned in my mental health journey is that variety really helps. I remember listening to a podcast where a woman with severe depression talks about changing her life aground. One day she was crying her eyes out in the same corner of her apartment that she always did. She then decided to go and cry in a different corner of her apartment while standing on one leg. She said "it may seem silly, but mixing it up a little bit gave me back my power." She wasn't forced to stay in the same corner of her apartment the whole time. With depression, it's really hard to get motivated but any sort of variety can help. This also reminds me of a quote I once heard about travelling with chronic illness (I forget where from) that said something along the lines of "if I have to be sick, I might as well be sick on the beach!"
36. "The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us." -Voltaire. If you haven't already, finding a counsellor that works well with you (this is so important as the biggest predicting factor of success in a clinical setting is the relationship between the client and counsellor) to help you see things from a different perspective is crucial. This has been the most helpful thing in my mental health journey. I have seen around 4 counsellors and only the one I still see now (on a weekly basis) made a life-changing impact. My counsellor is around half the price of most counsellors which made it more doable. Every other counsellor was around $100-$140 per session so I always felt guilty using my parents' money to pay for it (trust me though, your parents would rather have you alive than have more money in their pockets). My current counsellor only charges $60 a week and I noticed a HUGE difference in going on a consistent basis than "as-needed" (which just extinguishes fires instead of working to prevent them. But it's definitely better than nothing!).
37. Through choosing to live and finding hope, you will be hope and the reason someone else lives.
38. "Your life is not over. Your life is important. Don't take your beauty from the world." -unknown.
39. Allow yourself to feel the suffering in this moment without needing a solution. Scream, cry, blast music, vent to friends. Then once you've gotten out all your anger, sadness, and frustrations, talk with others about a solution. Don't make permanent decisions in ta state of these heightened emotions. Allow yourself to feel it instead of repressing it. Repressing it often causes a lot more pain and numbness than we realize. Allow yourself to feel the emotions. Your emotions aren't bad.
40. If you've always wanted to have kids, they will be so thankful you didn't choose to end your life. If you've always wanted to have kids, ending your life will also take away any possibility of life for them.
41. "Suicide doesn't end the chances of life getting worse, it eliminates the possibility of it ever getting any better."
42. "To get out of depression and suicidal feelings, order your favorite food, eat a lot, listen to music, meet your friends, or talk to strangers if you wish to empty yourself. But don't isolate yourself!" -Quotabulary. Isolation is like the oxygen that airs the fire of your suicidal thoughts. Depression encourages that isolation: convincing you that no one will understand and that reaching out would be burdensome on others. Both are huge lies. Surround yourself with people. Studies have shown that the happiest people (and introversion and extroversion had no impact on this) are the ones who spend the most amount of time with people. So connect, even when it feels counterintuitive. Find people who understand and watch hope slowly seep back into your life. This was a life-changing realization for me.
43. “When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe
44. Think of yourself like you would a friend. If your friend felt like this, acted like this, thought like this, and believed like this, would you think the appropriate solution would be suicide? You deserve the same love you so freely show to others. Start with this moment.
45. Even if you don't believe it, I believe that there is a God. I believe that He loves you more than anyone on this earth ever possibly could. I believe that He created you for a purpose. I believe that He sees your suffering and His heart breaks for it. I believe that He doesn't cause suffering. But I believe that He allows it and with your consent, He will use it to bring about the most amazing things to ever happen in your life. You are loved. You were uniquely made. You were hand-picked. You were born for such a time as this.
46. Think of something you've always wanted to do but haven't. Plan it. One big protector against suicide is having something to look forward to. Make a concrete plan for even months ahead of now to shift your focus on.
47. You have so much life left in you yet. We often catastrophize the future- we think that the future will be as worse as our worst experiences. But on the other extreme, we can start to think "what if I wake up tomorrow and find out they have a cure for my __physical/mental illness__? What if I wake up tomorrow and meet the love of my life?" We literally do not know what will happen in the future, but it will most likely not be as bad as depression is trying to convince us of.
48. You don't have to figure it all out. You just need to live moment to moment right now. Usually depression and anxiety cause us to think in the past or future. But in this moment you are here, you are alive for a reason, you are worthy of love, you are purposeful, and you do not need to know what to do tomorrow. You just need to choose that you'll live long enough to see it.
49. In our lifetime, I truly believe that there will be huge medical advancements for the treatment of physical and mental illness. You will want to be alive to feel the overwhelming relief of these medical treatments.
50. You don't want to miss what happens next.