The silent killer, the part of our own battles with mental illness that we don’t really talk about openly: suicidal thoughts.
There is nothing more terrifying than thinking that the only way to make it all stop is by ending it all. Opening up about having mental illness is hard enough but for some reason admitting to suicidal thoughts is even harder. It’s hard to admit to yourself, and hard to articulate it to anyone else. Ned Vizzini explains in well in his novel It’s Kind of a Funny Story (which I highly recommend). The main character, Greg, is a teenager who is struggling with depression and anxiety. He can’t quite grasp that it’s an illness and he feels as though he shouldn’t have these feelings when he lives a relatively normal life. One night he sets out to end it all, but instead admits himself to the hospital where he spends a week and learns a lot about his illness and himself. At one point he says, “Its so hard to talk when you want to kill yourself. That’s above and beyond everything else, and it’s not a mental complaint – it’s a physical thing, like it’s physically hard to open your mouth and make the words come out. They don’t come out smooth and in conjunction with your brain the way normal people’s words do; they come out in chunks as if from a crushed-ice dispenser; you stumble on them as they gather behind your lower lip. So you just keep quiet.”
And that’s the truth. So many mentally ill people experience suicidal thoughts whether they’re active or in passing, but most people don’t speak up about it. Honestly, it’s almost an embarrassing, shameful thing. I don’t quite know why; maybe it’s the fear of people thinking you’re crazy, or maybe it’s not wanting to hurt the people you love.
In the midst of a full blown panic attack the only end I could see was my own. That is scary. I kept shoving the thought down into the back of my mind, until I found myself in a parking lot at 3am, tears streaming down my face, and scared that this was the last straw. I immediately called my boyfriend, who came to my rescue. He sat with me for what felt like years, and I remember looking over and seeing the pain in his eyes from watching me completely breakdown and become someone else. It was in those moments that I realized I needed to do something. Whether it was the side effects of starting a new medication, or just a result of anxiety/depression, I finally talked about it.
The last few weeks have been full of doctor appointments and visits with therapists. One night I even ended up at CMHA. It’s all trial and error. It was scary to be in that situation and have the possibility of medications only making things worse, but we’ve found the right ones. I’m thankful for the wonderful team of people who are helping me and care to see me back on my feet. Mostly, I’m thankful for my family and loved ones. I’m sorry to have put such a heavy feeling on everyone I’m close to. But I couldn’t get through this without any of them. I am overwhelmed by the support and love that surrounds me everyday. I know things aren’t going to get better overnight, and it’s going to take time, but now I know I’m not losing my mind.
Like matchbox20 says, I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell. (Yes, I’m referencing that song.)
About Emma Holden
18, tea enthusiast, animal lover, word writer, and wants to change the stigma on mental health one blog post at a time.