Not Helpful

I had a short conversation about suicide the other day with a woman on Twitter. We were discussing the mindset of someone who is suicidal and how not to try to help them. What caught my attention was her statement that people who are suicidal are generally not rational, so trying to reason someone out of killing themselves is not helpful.

I agreed with her point because I think she’s right. At least in my case, and in the other cases I know personally, the suicidal person isn’t thinking rationally. They are hurting and they don’t see any end to the pain. They feel like they are wrong or that they just don’t fit the rest of the world. They feel alone or that the ones they will leave behind are better off without them.

Some of those things may be partly true, but they’re not all true and none of them are 100% true. The problem is you can’t just tell the suicidal person “You’re wrong.” They’ve already done the math, they’ve just come up with the wrong answer, and telling them to recompute doesn’t help.

As an observer, you may not think what they’re going through is a big deal. Unless you know them really well, you probably don’t understand just how big of a deal it is to the suicidal person. You do not see what they’ve been thinking and feeling, what personal hell they are trying to escape, or what underlying mental illness they may be struggling with. None of the stressors look to you the way they do the suicidal person, but the suicidal person certainly thinks they are a big enough deal that they’re willing to kill themselves.

One of the pitfalls of failing to recognize just how big of a deal the suicidal person is going through is thinking they’re making a big deal of nothing or that they’re being suicidal for attention. For the love of God, don’t say what you’re thinking! They probably are blowing things up, but what they need to hear is that you care, not that they’re wrong.

In some of the dark times I’ve been through, I’ve been so turned around and twisted up in my thinking, that suicide seemed like a valid way out of the never-ending carnival fun house I seemed to be living in. I knew it was selfish, and I knew it was wrong. I was hopeless and desperate. I felt out of place, like I didn’t belong and that the world would be better without me.

I doubted everything, especially my sanity and my chances of coming back to the real world. I even doubted whether I was really suicidal not.  Was I just so fucked up that I was pretending to be suicidal to make myself feel pitiable and important? What kind of person would do that, I wondered. Surely I must be really far gone if I’m trying something so sick.

And whatever I had been before, I then became very self-loathing and very certain that I needed to go. If someone had tried to “help” me then by telling me to stop being such a drama queen or to stop making such a big deal out of nothing, or if they had told me I wasn’t serious? I don’t know what I would have done, but I probably would have felt rejected, like my feelings didn’t matter. I would have felt like I had permanently lost that person’s respect and that it was only a matter of time before I lost everyone else’s (if I hadn’t already). I don’t know that I would have pulled out of that line of thinking.

Fortunately, no one tried to help like that. The few people who knew I was suicidal showed that they cared about me. And ultimately it was my routine that got me through. Getting up, eating breakfast, going to work. Putting one foot in front of the other, over and over, going through the motions but not the emotions of life. I took care of my loved ones, not because I felt anything at all for anyone, but because that was the right thing to do. And because I knew at least two people cared about me, even in my dark place, I kept putting one foot in front of the other.

Slowly but surely, the emotions started coming back and I found reasons to live as well as reasons not to kill myself each day. I still struggle with the same stressors and the same feelings of being crazy and hopeless and helpless. When I’m in a dark place, it feels like it’s not getting better and it never will, but step by step it is getting better.

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About Anonyman

Recovering adulterer and husband of an awesome wife who has given me a second chance. Sinner and Christian, saved by grace alone. I cuss a lot
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6 Responses to Not Helpful

  1. Let go says:

    Wonder if someone who is depressed as you say you have been has fought it all of his/her life. I know many people who operate in a gray area. Getting married is going to solve the problem, and when that doesn’t work having children will solve the problem, and that doesn’t work then that job promotion, or the job change, will work but that doesn’t work, so maybe a little extra alcohol or some other drug will work, but that doesn’t work so then an affair comes along. What affairs seem to do that nothing else seems to do is give you a state of euphoria they can last for a long time because it is intermittent. You can’t do it every minute of every day….if you did you would go back into your natural state, which is mild depression. I often wonder if this why affairs happen.
    I think IC and medication are so beneficial in these cases.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anonyman says:

      I’m actually starting to wonder if I might be bipolar as opposed to straight up depressed. I seem to alternate between really low lows and being super-energetic and productive – almost feeling like I’m invincible. I know I should get help, but when I think about doing that it terrifies me. I can’t think of a better word to describe it. It’s a raw, primal fear so intense I’d almost rather kill myself than be REALLY honest in a therapy session. Messed up, I know.
      Anyway, whatever it is, I do think it played a part in the affair, but it’s certainly no excuse. Nothing is.

      Like

  2. megggpie says:

    Suicide can be so complex. I lost my beloved brother to suicide. But oddly enough it was during a time period that he actually seemed more happy. My brother had multiple mental illnesses, physical pain, and addiction. He hit some really bad times and talked about suicide, my family honestly never thought he would, like many others. Those factors were his under lying problems, then there was a so called “perfect storm” that happen that caused his suicide.

    5 days before my brother completed suicide he was very happy to be getting him life back on track and working two jobs and saving money. All seemed well and he knew his family loved him. My 10 year old nephew talked to my brother the morning of his suicide, he said he seemed happy and was smiling. My sister texted my brother about noon that day because he wanted an address to a therapist so he could continue to seek help. So she sent it to him. Then 1:20pm my mom got an odd text from my brother with him saying odd things. 1:00pm my brother called my dad. My dad was at work and did get to his phone. But my mom did text my brother back at 1:40pm asking what was wrong. He was found 4:45pm with a self inflicted gun shot wound to his head. I received the call at 4:59pm about it and head to the hospital.

    11:42pm my brother was pronounced brain dead.

    We believe it was the “perfect storm” with him. With his under lying problems he already had and fighting with his drug addict gf, and having her crazy ex bf wanting to beat him up. And a gun in his procession he took his life. It was not a selfish act, he was not a coward, and he did not go to hell like many say. My brother felt like a burden on the family with his problems and wanted to free us, which he was not. He also was in so much pain physically and mentally that he saw suicide as the only solution…. which it was not. But that was what he saw. I’ve noticed a lot of people that are suicidal or completed suicide are perfectionist, which is really to hard in a very non perfect world.

    I also heard this story when I was at a suicide meeting about a girl at college that had an under lying mental illness. She called her mother to order her some pizza and pay for it. The mother said no. For some reason this drove the girl over edge and she completed suicide.

    It just all depends on what the factors are.

    I was just telling you my story of being a suicide survivor. It’s been exactly a 1 year and 2 weeks since my brother died. And I still tear up talking about his story. He is missed so much and the pain is still unbearable at times. It’s not a selfish act but it does leave devastation here on earth.

    Hope you stay strong my friend. And you sound like you are heading into the right steps of getting better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anonyman says:

      I am so sorry for your loss. I can only dimly imagine the pain your family has gone through this last year.
      It sounds to me like your brother may have gained a sense of peace when he finally decided to go through with it. From what I’ve read, those are the hardest ones to save and your family shouldn’t blame themselves. It sounds like you have a sense of peace about your brother even after what he did, that you understand why he did it even if it doesn’t make sense. I feel sorry for him for what he must have been going through, but I’m sorry for you that he didn’t see any other way out.
      As far as being a perfectionist, I hadn’t heard that but I can relate. I don’t know if you’ve read much of my previous posts, but I’ve been struggling with the guilt over something I did that I can’t undo and I can’t fix. I have a hard time accepting that now I can’t ever be the perfect husband and father I wanted to be. I’ve had to make peace with the fact that I’m human after all in order to move forward.

      Liked by 1 person

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