There is something that I do that immediately connects me with suicidal teens around the whole world. I will not expose what it is for privacy reasons and to prevent lesser empathetic eyeballs in their direction but it’s serious and I’m basically playing with fire. Why do I do this? Because I understand what it’s like to be suicidal, I know what it’s like to feel unheard, unloved and unwanted. I know know what it’s like to only see darkness, perpetual darkness with every breath you take.
“People think depression is sadness, crying or dressing in black. But people are wrong. Depression is the constant feeling of being numb. You wake up in the morning just to go back to bed again.”
The first time I did this I must admit, it was a little difficult to stomach, I felt depressed for many days afterwards and couldn’t believe such a pained community existed in the public. After reaching out to a few of these teens who mind you, freaked out an adult even noticed what they were doing, I started to view the world through their eyes, the same eyes I used to view the world.
PAIN & SUFFERING
When I connect with these suicidal teens, I put my energy back into to that girl I was as a teenager and connect with one word only, pain. This word, “pain” is universal to anyone who is suicidal. Suicidal people are hurting, they are in so much pain, enough pain to contemplate taking their own lives and erasing themselves from our world. But I noticed that many would say, “I just want the pain to stop.” I get it, so did I.
This word “pain” is universal to anyone who is suicidal.
This was a pain that was so desperate to be loved, it found itself addicted to a toxic relationship, one that gave it 6 months of the love it always craved, another 10 that almost killed me. This was a pain that would transfer into many addictions further on in my life, from sex to drugs and alcohol. As an adult, I fed this pain by starving it from anything real and authentic.
This was a pain that longed to be heard, understood and loved. This was a pain that I grabbed by the throat at 29 and said, “We’re done, you’re not going to hurt me anymore.“
BE THERE BUT NOT EVERYWHERE.
My advice for anyone who may know someone that is suicidal is to empathise on a level of their pain and suffering. Despite what we are lead to believe, you must understand that you will never change the way they feel, you can only show up and be there for them through the tidal ways of depression. Talk them through their feelings, show up (not literally all the time, that is annoying) when they message you and provide undivided attention, listen to what they are saying and sometimes saying nothing but lending an ear is all they need.
“A big part of depression is feeling really lonely, even if you’re in a room full of a million people.” Lilly Singh
The last thing I wanted to do when I was suicidal was be around people, I wanted to be alone, often leaving my bed unless I really had to. Don’t continually invite them along to parties and events because you feel this may help. Yes, sometimes it does, but most of the time it doesn’t and when they get home, they are more miserable than before. Suggest a night in, watching movies, just be present with them.
I didn’t want to spend a second around people who would tell me ‘life was great‘ or that ‘I’ll get over it soon‘ because that wasn’t the case. I was in pain, a pain I needed to really understand the root of. Depression is a disease, a very common mental health disorder. It is not a feeling that goes away because you had some gin with a group of people, depression becomes part of your show and flows through your veins.
SHARE A SAFE WORD.
Not many people were aware that I was in the depths of depression in my late twenties, in fact the majority of people in my life had absolutely no idea. I had three friends who knew I was suicidal and would check in on me frequently. I didn’t like them to be in touch too often because it gave me anxiety, so I came up with a “safe word” that I used maybe 3 times over a 4 month period that simply meant, “I need you now.“
This safe word was as simple as Purple Cloud and it’s something I recommend if you know someone who is suicidal and comfortable with you enough to talk.
I know some of you will read this and think, “But if someone if suicidal, don’t they just do it?” No. The process of depression and despair is not overnight and nobody who reaches levels of helplessness suddenly commit suicide within days. Those types of extreme cases are rare. Sure, things can happen overnight that lead a person to weaken their mental state, but in terms of suicide, it’s an internal conflict that hasn’t been dealt with over a prolonged period of time.
These self destructive thoughts need to be dealt with with care, it is a process, a long one.
EMPATHY & UNDERSTANDING.
Somebody who is used to self defeating thought patterns will find it difficult to measure their worth as their inner voice continues to scream that they are worthless. There will be many times where you will not be able to see what they see yes, but you need to learn to empathise and just be there for them, even if it means sitting in silence and watching them cry.
My pain has stopped and I understand it a whole lot better than when I was in depression but my god was it one wicked journey down a very rugged road of recovery. Sure, I have days where I don’t feel 100% and I do withdraw from society, social media etc. but I allow myself to process my feelings right through to the end. I look back on my suicidal days with deep sadness and just want to hug that girl and say “you’ll be ok,” the same way I want to with these teens I am sometimes in contact with.
It doesn’t matter where you come from, your socio-economic background, how much money you have in your bank account, what your job title is or isn’t, whether your upbringing was picture perfect or not, depression can occur to anyone from any walk of life. It was one of the most difficult battles I ever fought in my life, a battle within myself, with my own self. I am lucky I had a fantastic support network who saw my reality and helped me every step of the way.
Be that person who cares a little more than others, compassion is a royal trait to have and just like royalty, not a common one to see. There is light at the end of the tunnel but often we need help from a compassionate hand to see it.
“I’m trying to let him know what I’m about to do.
I’m hoping he can save me, even though I realize he can’t.”