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Suicidalness = I don't want to live THIS life

Ecdysis

MyPTSD Pro
So, in my early 20s, having just left my abusive family home with raging, as yet undiagnosed PTSD, I was in a desperate state and made the first of 2 suicide attempts.

It ended up being a very deep, life-changing experience... and one of the big lessons I learned was that "not wanting to live" for me meant not wanting to live THIS life, that I was living.

For me, that meant that if I changed the circumstances that were making me want to be dead, then I'd no longer want to die.

Sounds kinda simple and obvious, but I think when you're in so much pain and so desperate that you're suicidal, it's a non-obvious thing. Being dead sounds like the only thing that will make all the pain go away and it can be hard letting go of that idea.

So... I did a lot of trauma therapy... was doing fine... and 20 years later, I got re-traumatised in a way that brought up soooo much more childhood trauma than I ever was aware of before and my life totally started unravelling... relationship breakup, job-loss, financial worries, Covid, menopause, health issues, deaths of loved ones... a giant mess of life challenges and pain and grieving...

I've been soooooo suicidal ever since... much, much worse than in my early 20s.... So much so that I've barely known what to do about it... I'm doing all the "things"... Doing therapy, taking meds, trying to make life changes... But my suicidalness has been raging in the background as I somehow try to make it through every single day without giving into that urge.

Today I had a brief window of seeing my life clearly - kind of like from a bird's eye view - with a sense of distance, like looking at a friend's life - and realising again that just as when I was in my early 20s, my suicidalness = I don't want to live THIS life.

The big difference is tho... In my 20s, I guess I was deeply unhappy with about 80% of my life, but there was this core of 20% of things that I loved and valued and it was something that I could build on.

Now, nearing 50, I feel like 98% of my life is stuff that I don't want, stuff that I resent, stuff that feels wrong, stuff that feels alien to me, stuff that I've outgrown, stuff that reminds me of childhood trauma, stuff that no longer means anything to me, stuff that makes me sad or angry or reminds me of loss, stuff that makes me feel empty, stuff that irritates me and grates on me, stuff that weighs me down, stuff I want to escape, flee, leave behind, run away from...

And I dunno how to deal with that... 98% feels too daunting... Like I'll never manage to change all of that... And 2% feels way too little to cling to, like that will never be enough to see me through this, like that can't possibly be enough to build a new life from...

98% feels so all pervasive... I feel like every single thing I do each day feels wrong... All my possessions, all my furniture... everything feels like it's part of someone else's life, but not mine...

And I feel too old and exhausted and tired and worn out to make those massive changes...

And I don't even know what I want to change all that stuff TO...

I don't know what I WANT

I just know everything that I DON'T want and it feels like an infinitely long list...

But yeah, today, for a while I had that sense of deep clarity that yes, I truly DO need to change 98% of my life fundamentally, as nuts and as impossible as that sounds...
 
So, I'm too exhausted to put my thoughts into words properly, but I'm going to attempt it anyway...

I must say that I'm finding the process of ageing way more intriguing, baffling, complex and confusing than I had ever expected.

I'd always assumed it was a kind of process of maturing, becoming more experienced, learning, working towards your goals...

But I'm finding it a process of changing and evolving, of letting go, of loss, of entering totally new mindscapes and perspectives, of actually becoming someone else...

I thought it woul be some kind of linear process, instead it's more like a paradigm shift, going to meta-levels, the whole map, the destination and the journey changing...

So strange...

One thing that I think I may be observing in myself and have also observed in others is a tendency to "even things out" as I / they age.

What I mean is for example - people who are tough when they are young become softer as they age and people who are softer when they are young become tougher as they age.

Or people who were very "outward" oriented when they are young become more inward oriented later in life and vice-versa.

People who were very family-oriented in younger years, later strive for more indepence, whereas people who were more independent when they were young start to value family and connection more.

If I wasn't too exhausted, I could make a more extensive list but the point is people seeking out the "opposite" of what they initially experienced... sort of like it's an instinct that to be "whole" we need to experience the whole scope and breadth of life, and not just "one end" of the scale, if that makes sense.

I feel like so many things that I experienced and valued from ages 0 - 40 are now no longer relevant to me. They were valuable at the time, but I feel like I've "been there and done that"... I've ticked those items off my bucket list, so to speak.

My soul/ my subconscious seems to be saying "Yah, enough with that stuff already, now I want all the OTHER stuff"

Which sort of makes sense in theory, but in practice it's very unsettling.

I feel like I'm leaving the old me behind and evolving into someone totally different.

In some ways that feels quite appropriate, but mostly it feels totally overwhelming and confusing and painful and I feel like I'm doing all of it completely wrong and making an utter mess of everything.

It feels as deep and momentous and complete a change as the change from child to teenager to adult. So many shifts there, so many wildly different experiences and perspectives.

But I'm finding that our culture and our society has a really well-described roadmap for the child-teenager-adult transition and while that's messy and confusing and all trial-and-error, everyone's aware of the process and it's discussed and reflected on a lot.

But this later-in-life transition stuff is talked about so little, IMO. Sure, there's some discussions about the challenges of menopause, aging, retirement etc... But that discussion seems so much more superficial to me... It's like that's stuff that "just happens" instead of being talked about as a deeply transformative, intensely unique personal journey that changes your experience of yourself and the world.

I guess that's connected to our culture and society no longer viewing old people as "elders" the way tribal communities used to but rather as old fogeys that are slow and annoying and irrelevant. Our society doesn't value the journey of ageing at all - it views it as a process where our bodies become less reliable and begin to fail - and don't view the psychological journey of aging as a process that might be valuable, profound or of interest.

I find that I'm viewing my mid-life experience through society's lens... I find my body starting to show signs of wear and tear and failure... I'm experiencing the losses of "what once was" and of people who are "no longer with us". I'm constantly comparing myself to who I "used to be".

And while we do often mourn the loss of childhood and innocence somewhat as we become adults, I think it's different because there are so many joys of adulthood to look forward to - getting your driver's license, getting a job, moving out, finding a partner, going out with your friends as you please, starting your own family...

But with aging, you lose the stuff of your younger years, but it feels like what you can "look forward to" seems kinda dubious... It's stuff like "if you're lucky enough that your health holds up and your partner's health holds up and your marriage holds up then you might have a pleasent retirement phase together".

Sigh... I dunno... I assume that like with everything else in life, this aspect and this phase of it would be a ton easier without childhood trauma along for the ride, mucking everything up and muddying the waters... It's always such an additional hurdle to overcome, while trying to deal with the rest of life's challenges.

One of the many "opposites" that I'm experiencing on this annoying and dumbfounding journey is that I used to be someone who loved to make plans and always had a plan... and now it's the total opposite... I haven't a clue what my plan is and I'm completely unable to come up with the barest of plans that go beyond just trying to get through this month... I'm very much having to learn to live in the here and now and to just shrug about the future and just let what ever happens happen...

I must say that I'm hating the process.... I don't recall being a teenager feeling this kind of shite... I mean, it was an angsty and overwhelming time too, but also thrilling and exciting and adventurous, whereas this ageing crap just feels... crap.

I'm also annoyed that I got basically no warning... it wasn't a slow and steady build up... It feels like one moment I was still feeling young and had a ton of plans and wham, some stuff happened and from there on in I've been feeling old.

Anyway, point is, I think this is part of why my life feels so "wrong" at the moment and why I'm so utterly depressed by it and why suicide feels like an easy way out of a life that I no longer enjoy. I just want all of "this" to go away and can't figure out a good way of how to get rid of "this" life while staying alive and replacing it with a better life.

I like the poem "Warning" by Jenny Joseph about ageing... and I always thought I wanted to be that kind of granny, but I dunno if I have it in me right now...

 
I dunno... it's all so hazy, like remembering snippets of a dream, when you wake up.

For one thing, I have this huge, deep desire to isolate and be on my own... I just don't want to be around anyone at all... I keep fighting it because it can obviously be a symptom of depression, so I do keep forcing myself to go to things and talk to people, even when I don't want to... but I just want to spend time on my own... I've always enjoyed my own company and I'm sooooooo sick of that thing that so many of us do when we're younger of trying to fulfil other people's expectations... My (traumatic) childhood was all about other people's expectations and that stuck aroun later too and I'm so sick of it... If all of humanity were to disappear, I'd be quite content puttering around on my own...

For some reason, music has become really important to me... Like, it feels like it's almost spiritually important to me, in a way that I don't really understand. Viewed objectively, it seems like a trivial and frivolous thing to spend much time and energy on but for some reason my subconscious seems to think that music is fundamentally important now. At the same time I feel confused about what to do about it.

Another thing that childhood trauma meant for me was bearing huge, overwhelming burdens of responsibility. And that carried on throughout my life later too. And I'm sooooo sick of it. I just want all responsibilities to magically go away. I was fiercly independent my whole life, but I'm actually considering moving into some kind of care housing, where social workers and therapists shield me from life's problems to some degree. It feels like I'm kind of wanting to re-create the childhood that I never had - a setting where other's are looking after me cos I no longer feel up to the task.

I've also always liked the idea of going into a western Buddhist monastry and disconnecting from a lot of what most of us would consider to be "society" - you know, all the stuff that you see in the evening news... all the oh so important blahblah that no longer feels relevant to me.

I've also always like the idea of minimalisim and down-sizing and I have a strong temptation to throw away/ donate 95% of my possessions.

I find I no longer care about so many of the things I used to care passionately about. Nowadays I want weird random things like the sensory experience of sunshine on my skin. For some reason, that seems way more important to me nowadays than a million other things that I used to care about deeply.

I also used to be so active, always doing stuff, always making plans, thinking about stuff, discussing stuff, doing volunteer work... And now, all I want to do is just float... just to let things happen an just to be me and to let all the chips fall where they may...

I guess none of these changes are impossible... It's just that there's so many of them and they're all at once so it's de-stabilising and I feel like I'm losing my sense of identity.

And I don't feel like being a sensible adult and working out how to implement these changes... I want to be a child and just close my eyes and wish really hard and make things happen by wishing them... Which sounds utterly dumb, so I resist it and try to force myself to make sensible plans instead... But maybe I just have to trust the process, even tho it sounds all wrong and nuts.
 
So very much of what you say here sounds familiar! Fwiw, I'm sorry you're struggling--I totally and absolutely understand that feeling, esp. as it pertains to the kinds of stuff you're dealing with.

one of the big lessons I learned was that "not wanting to live" for me meant not wanting to live THIS life
Yes! I learned this at some point, as well, and I honestly think it's that thing that, if people could feel it during those times, there would be fewer suicides. Understanding it is *the* thing, in my opinion, that is both impossible to get when we're in pain and the one thing that will save us.
I think when you're in so much pain and so desperate that you're suicidal, it's a non-obvious thing.
Definitely.
my suicidalness has been raging in the background as I somehow try to make it through every single day without giving into that urge.
I have the same. The ONLY things keeping me here are my cats and my mom.
Now, nearing 50, I feel like 98% of my life is stuff that I don't want, stuff that I resent, stuff that feels wrong, stuff that feels alien to me, stuff that I've outgrown, stuff that reminds me of childhood trauma, stuff that no longer means anything to me, stuff that makes me sad or angry or reminds me of loss, stuff that makes me feel empty, stuff that irritates me and grates on me, stuff that weighs me down, stuff I want to escape, flee, leave behind, run away from...
I'm 62. I don't remember when I started feeling this way, but I think it was about 3 years ago. I feel this *exactly.* And, although I am sorry you do, too, it helps knowing it's not just me.
And I feel too old and exhausted and tired and worn out to make those massive changes...
Yep. But...think how old *I* feel! LOL You are young compared to me!
And I don't even know what I want to change all that stuff TO...
Yeah...this is my primary issue. People keep asking, "so, if you're unhappy and don't want to be or do what you currently are or are doing, what do you want to be and do?

I have NO clue. It's not that I don't have a TON of interests; it's that I have lost all interest in them.
But I'm finding it a process of changing and evolving, of letting go, of loss, of entering totally new mindscapes and perspectives, of actually becoming someone else...
Yes. My T, who is a Buddhist priest/monk, says he thinks it's a kind of spiritual awakening. I told him I'd rather be asleep, 'cause how I'm feeling is sooo painful and hard.
But I'm finding that our culture and our society has a really well-described roadmap for the child-teenager-adult transition
Well...true, but it's not one you HAVE to follow, no matter what society tells you.
I have this huge, deep desire to isolate and be on my own... I just don't want to be around anyone at all... I keep fighting it because it can obviously be a symptom of depression, so I do keep forcing myself to go to things and talk to people, even when I don't want to... but I just want to spend time on my own... I've always enjoyed my own company and I'm sooooooo sick of that thing that so many of us do when we're younger of trying to fulfil other people's expectations...
Me, too. I do think there is some depression involved with me, BUT I'm gradually stopping the fight. Because I fight because everyone else thinks I should, thinks I need to go out and be social. In fact, that was never me to begin with. I've always only done that because everybody said I "should." How messed up is that? I'm experimenting a bit now with how I think I truly am and want to be. Most of the depression and anxiety arises or gets worse when I realize I'm not doing what other people think I should be.
I find I no longer care about so many of the things I used to care passionately about
Same here! I wonder if it could be a kind of awakening to the things that are truly important? Of course, at least for me, I know there is also some depression involved, but I'm beginning to question how much.
I also used to be so active, always doing stuff, always making plans, thinking about stuff, discussing stuff, doing volunteer work... And now, all I want to do is just float... just to let things happen an just to be me and to let all the chips fall where they may...

Yep.

Great discussion. Thanks for allowing us to be a part of it!
 
I keep fighting it because it can obviously be a symptom of depression
Yep, but also a key coping strategy with PTSD - the whole Avoidance cluster. The idea that if I were to just move far away and hit reset, I’d cope better.

Sometimes we do need a time out from life.

But as a general concept to fix the problem, running somewhere else doesn’t work. Because the problem is actually our brain, which we will take with us wherever we go.
I do keep forcing myself to go to things and talk to people, even when I don't want to...
One of my mantras for my depressive episodes is to “act in spite of how you feel”.

Anhedonia means you won’t feel better for doing the things that help. They remain essential, because of the impact they are having on our brain chemistry.
I find I no longer care about so many of the things I used to care passionately about.
Values checklist? Very helpful for me personally, and tied in heavily with ACT therapy which was also amazingly helpful for me.

I quit lawyering, and started in an entry level position working with dogs. To get the job of my dreams.

I don’t regret it for a second. Values-driven actions, help determine the things that have true meaning for us. That’s what makes my days worthwhile. And is much less like throwing darts in the dark when considering what you want your life to look like.

Fk sensible. Do what you need to do, to have a life that is meaningful for you.
 
in my own case, i believe it was absolute truth that i loved life, but i had been handed a seriously shitty hand to play out. i didn't want to live THAT life. my last suicide attempt in 1972, age 17, lead me to a healing path which lead to the building of a life worth living. i still live with allot of residual effects from that rough start, but this i can work with.

maybe it's my start as a child prostitute --the further i get from my childhood, the happier i get-- but most of what i lost from my own child through early adulthood was worthy of losing. i miss my youthful strength and stamina, but that's about it. good luck convincing me that 69 is too old to try new things. i can and do exactly that every time my current life falls too far out of balance.

old age isn't too streamlined a transition because it's the newest phase of life. in 1900, the average life expectancy was 47.
 
Another thing that childhood trauma meant for me was bearing huge, overwhelming burdens of responsibility. And that carried on throughout my life later too. And I'm sooooo sick of it. I just want all responsibilities to magically go away. I was fiercly independent my whole life, but I'm actually considering moving into some kind of care housing, where social workers and therapists shield me from life's problems to some degree. It feels like I'm kind of wanting to re-create the childhood that I never had - a setting where other's are looking after me cos I no longer feel up to the task.
I used to go check into a hotel or resort, when I wanted to be taken care of.

I feel like 98% of my life is stuff that I don't want
I’m in the thick of that, right now.

I spent 9 years being stalked, attacked (literally, as in waking up to someone, and having to fight them off), harassed, etc. Because they could.

I FINALLY broke free of that… and? Covid.

Then managed to claw my way forward, and? IDFK. There is some kind of infection effecting my nervous system. I’ve been waiting over a year to see a doctor (I’ve seen MANY doctors, who all say I need to see 1:3 specialists; spine, neuro, endocrine… but? New patient appointments are all 6mo+ and longer. I’ve seen spine. Now waiting on neuro).

Almost NOTHING of my life? Is what I want.

But?

I’m still breathing.

Where there is breath? There is possibility.
 
I'm 62. I don't remember when I started feeling this way, but I think it was about 3 years ago. I feel this *exactly.* And, although I am sorry you do, too, it helps knowing it's not just me.
God yes, it's a relief knowing someone else is going through it too. Sorry you are too but omg I'm so relieved it's not just me.

Cos I don't understand what I'm going through with this, it's so easy to feel like it's not real somehow. People keep telling me to suck it up and get over it and I feel like I should be able to and feel like a failure for not doing it.

All the therapy stuff I've tried in the last 7 years has made close to zero difference. Which is beyond frustrating because with PTSD stuff prior to this, therapy worked well and I put a lot of work into it but now, with this, nothing seems to work.

Yesterday, ideation was so bad. Just wanting to be done with it all.

Sitting in the waiting room of a new p-doc atm... Have waited 6 months for this appt. My old pdoc is a 2 hour drive away, in the city I used to live. I hope to keep both Dr's - one who knows my history and one who I can access locally.

At the same time it feels so pointless. Like no Dr, meds, therapy or anything else will be able to make any difference at all.

It's like the word hope has just become 4 random letters devoid of any meaning.

Sigh... I'm wondering whether I should try HRT for my menopause again. I think it helped the first time I tried it.
 
So, things got sooooo bad that I've finally gone back on HRT.

I wrote a post about it here: Worsening symptoms at age 40+ ?

I've been in peri/menopause for the last 4 years and my previously manageable mental health issues and symptoms have skyrocketed to unreal levels due to the hormonal changes in that time.

@Friday I don't know how old you are, but for me, peri/menopause completely f*cked over my body too.... Everything's been affected by it - my metabolism, my skin, my hair, my joints, my muscles, my digestion, my strength, my sleep... Literally, no stone has been left unturned either mentally or physically by the hormonal changes. I too have felt like there's some weird infection or other thing going wrong in my body, f*cking everything up. Well, in my case it's been the hormones, so it might be worth checking it out. There's a great informative Facebook group on it called The Irish Menopause. Definitely worth checking out if you're having weird/ unexplainable physical or mental symptoms and are 40+
 
I just know everything that I DON'T want and it feels like an infinitely long list...

But yeah, today, for a while I had that sense of deep clarity that yes, I truly DO need to change 98% of my life fundamentally, as nuts and as impossible as that sounds...
I feel THAT to my core, no matter our age difference. I have made a huge mess of everything.
The truth of 98% changes- if you can get past the idea of that number- is that changes always happen in steps. Let's say 10% of that 98% was wanting to go to school again. You would think simultaneously of the ridiculous number of steps, studying, exams, paperwork and time that would entail.
But really, you just need to chart the direction you like to go in, and start working on the first part (in this case, either looking at types of schools depending on the change you want, OR if you have a school in mind- making a list of the requirements, set a deadline and start working on the change.
My applicaton to university had 3 stages. The first was realising I hated my highshool, my city, the life I was living, but had no clue what to do about it. There were few months of just taking walks with music randomly and thinking of what I want.... of course that was a lot simpler at 16, but let's keep going. One night out of boredom I ended up at an alumni speech from a university. Not foreign country one(couldn't afford) but foreign enough so it excited me. Suddenly I had purpose.
Next 2 months were 2 things: insane hours of preparation for SAT and TEOFL and essays, plus a lot of daily listening to the same 3 songs while imagining being in that university. People study for 2 years for SATs, but I had the luck of being ignorant. For 2 months I spend 3x classes in the morning before school studying English for TEOFL, and 10h every weekend studying for SATs. I ate sandwhich in the park and went to school after. I wrote essays in the school breaks. I did SAT practice tests in evenings and any spare moment. Then in 1 month I took both exams. Not exceptionally,. but well enough to get in. Another month of paperwork- and I had my early acceptance letter.
Yes, I know all that is much easier when young. I'm grappling with that one myself even if I'm younger- but I'm trice the age of this pushy kid I was going to uni.
My point is, you want to lose weight- you don't start with working daily for 90min and exhausting yourself. You do things gradually. And however it feels, you have time and it's your life. You were certain person, that ran it's course- you are fully free to make any changes you want. Start small. Changes tend to snowball once you see change. This summer I briefly believed everything was changing and was starting to eat salads and smoothies and high protein food.... and many changes came from that, and most of them weren't planned. I just had more energy for changed.
Start wandering a bit. Try things. Sometimes we stumble upon what we like by accident. Or just by timing. Read, take walks, watch movies, see what changes inspire anything in you.
I feel like I'm doing all of it completely wrong and making an utter mess of everything.
I feel that. Mess is expected. Like cleaning your apartment, it looks worse before it gets better. Mess isn't always a bad thing, take it as part of the seeking process.
I've also always like the idea of minimalisim and down-sizing and I have a strong temptation to throw away/ donate 95% of my possessions.
Don't throw! There are so many homeless people and people in need. Donate stuff if you can. And what is in good condition- make a garage sale. Sell in local groups on Facebook for cheap. That way, you both get your minimalism and you build some savings because it's unplanned earnings. Make a little nest egg from all the change you're doing! Why not? Minimalism is a great thing and change as well.

the sensory experience of sunshine on my skin.
Maybe spend more time in nature? See if that sparks good feelings in you? Not sure how much free time you have, but still. You can hike, or have a picnic on a blanket and read outside, listen to music, read a book, take pictures, enjoy it.
I FINALLY broke free of that… and? Covid.
I FEEL that. The first time I finally started improving my PTSD, and was able to work for a first time in 3 years- COVID lockdown hit, leading to my sciatica injury that lasted a whole year (could barely walk and had to stop every 2m, and worked half-sitting).... that injury still comes back.
In any case that knocked down my mental progress too like a house of cards and the next year was horribly hard.
Where there is breath? There is possibility.
Love that saying. Need that saying. I'm still alive. Must mean something.
People keep telling me to suck it up
Personally I hate that saying. Sucking up and down my feelings has lead to big worse breakdowns later on. For me I have friends I can talk to about anything as well as regular journaling. Besides on days where you don't have a minute to yourself and just need to DO, sucking up feelings just doesn't work for me.
I've been in peri/menopause for the last 4 years and my previously manageable mental health issues and symptoms have skyrocketed to unreal levels due to the hormonal changes in that time.
Can't comment on that since I'm not there yet, but just wanted to say I hear you. And it's impossible feeling you have to change so much of your life. But I believe that just means you have a lot more in life that you haven't explored. You gave some decades on the other stuff- why not give some time for potential changes to happen in their own time? No hurry, no massibe plans, just....life. It's still your life. You have the right to change anything you want that doesn't suit you anymore, even if you loved it as some point. You lived a full life- why can't you leave another? It's not very linear, but real life also isn't...
 
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