Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The illusion of Suicide

There are so many people going through extraordinarily difficult moments in life right now.  From the financial crisis and the struggle to find work to the mass murders and angry discourse in our country, hope and brighter days are sometimes hard to find.  When it gets difficult, people who have been struggling for an eternity it seems, almost think the illusion of suicide is the answer.  Deep down, they know it isn't and most people would tell them it isn't so, but in times of despair it can look differently than it does to a mind that is functioning logically.

The illusion of suicide is that it solves all the problems the person has.  They often feel that life is beyond their control and that no matter what happens, nothing will get better.  They get tired of the struggle and tired of fighting each day.  With their body weary and worn, they desire an escape from reality and often suicide is the only option they see.

In society, we don't want to talk about suicide.  Most people are able to see that it is an illusion, and not reality.  However, that is for the mind that is functioning in a healthy state and able to see reality instead of fantasy.  We as a society need to talk more about this because right now to even mention the thought is considered taboo.  I realize it is hard for people to talk about this or be there with someone that they love who is fighting through thoughts of suicide.  It is not easy for anyone involved.

We need to be understanding as a society and open our arms up to the person who feels it is far better for them to give up in life, rather then face life by kicking and screaming.  We need to take our own fears out of the equation because when a person sees the illusion of suicide as reality, it is not about us.  It is about their struggle.  Allow them the space to talk about these things without fear of repercussion or without an attitude of righteousness and superiority.

One of the things that happens when a person is contemplating suicide is that they feel completely alone, isolated and as if no one cares.  It doesn't matter if a million people are trying to embrace them and showing they care.  The suicidal mind is not able to see what most people can see and so even in the midst of a million people, the isolation they feel is enormous. 

When a person is thinking about suicide, they often feel that the people they would leave behind would be better off without them.  That is, if they stop to really consider this.  Often though, they are so caught up in their isolation that these thoughts are hard to reach.  Remember, the mind is not operating in a healthy state and so things that would appear normal, are anything but that to the illusion of suicide.  Somehow and in some way, they need to realize how much it would hurt the people left behind and the intense pain they would have to deal with.  Suicide takes a life in a way that no one is prepared for and there are not enough answers for the questions that remain for those left behind.

Whatever you do, let the individual talk and help them know that you are not judging them and you are not acting like you have all the answers.  I don't believe they are necessarily looking to someone close to them to provide them the answers, as much as they are asking for you to walk with them through their pain.  It is a lonely and frightening journey they are facing and if they know someone is there right beside them, it can go a long ways to finding their way through this difficult moment in life.

I have had moments in life where I have attempted to take my life as well as been ready to do this.  Each time, it seemed like there was something or someone there to change the course of events.  In one case, I tried to drive a car off the road and no matter how fast I went or how sharp I turned, the car stayed on the road.  There is no physical reason it should have done so other than I know my angels were there helping me.  Another time, I had the knife ready to plunge into my body and a friend stopped by at the right moment which stopped me cold in my tracks. There have been other times that I felt there was no reason to go on.  In one situation, one person actually just held me tightly in his arms and didn't let go.  It was the best thing he could have done, because I began to cry intensely and as I did this, the picture of my life changed.

It wasn't easy for me to talk to anyone about the thoughts or illusion of suicide.  In fact, it isn't easy to write about it now, but I know others are out there hurting and struggling with this.  Fortunately I have some people in my life that won't judge me and will just allow me to talk and accept me for who I am.  If it wasn't for that, I'd be gone by now for sure.  My life has not been easy and sometimes it gets overwhelming, but I am learning that the more I heal those deep recesses of my mind, the more suicide appears to be nothing more than an illusion.

Suicide draws you deeper into despair and isolation.  It feeds upon itself.  The more you feel suicide, the more you desire it and the more you can't let it go.  The deeper you fall into its arms, the less reality you can see and the more the illusion of fantasy becomes real.  It is in those moments that you have to reach as far down as you can and find that source of courage to go ask for help and keep going.  Find someone or something that will help you reach for thoughts and feelings and emotions that take you out of the arms of despair and isolation.

If you have a close friend you trust, tell them about this and ask them to not judge you for these thoughts.  Let them know what they can do to help you should you get to the point where suicide seems like the answer.  Make a pact with them that no matter what, you will contact them before you make the decision to end your life.  If nothing more, ask your friend to drop what they are doing and come hold you tightly and allow you to feel the pain of the moment.  If you don't have a close friend you can do this with, try the Suicide Prevention Hotline ( www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org ) at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Whatever you do, don't keep feeding into the illusion that suicide is the answer or that there is no one that cares.  You may feel that way, but know that these are lies that despair and isolation are feeding you.  They are not real, even though they may appear to be.  Ask for help and don't give up until you find it.  I know life can get difficult and I know in moments such as this it all seems hopeless, but I can tell you without a doubt, that life can get better.  Your life can change.  There is Hope And Possibility. 

You may also want to read a blog post I wrote, Therapeutic Listening For Suicide And Depression (July 18, 2012).

Blog Post And Images (c) 8/42/12 by Don Shetterly

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