Talking about suicidal thoughts/suicidal ideation

Renly

Confident
I’m finding as I go through my therapy that I want to talk more about my suicidal ideation with others - usually just to vent or be more authentic with how I’m really feeling at any particular moment in time. The problem is I’m finding it hard to talk about it with pretty much anyone other than my therapist - the reactions I’ve been getting from others are mainly:

-overly sad that I struggle with suicidal ideation, they become super emotional
-confused & uncomfortable- they change the subject
-feeling responsible like my SI is their fault (this is primarily my SO)

Anyone have success navigating anything similar to this? I’m trying to find more support with my suicidal ideation. I am also trying to be honest with how I’m feeling since hiding who I really am or how I really feel is a pattern I’m trying to change.

I’ve tried to share this delicately - I don’t want to dump this on anyone, but sharing has just left me mostly feeling worse and is not getting my needs supported. To be fair, everyone is shocked I’m struggling with SI (and mental health issues in general) as my PTSD had a delayed onset. And I’ve got a really good history of putting on a happy face.

Any help/advice would be much appreciated!
 

MnM

Confident
I'll talk about it.

I only became aware recently that there are people in the world who don't consider suicide and have never considered suicide. This blew my mind. It also made me much more inclined to talk about it for some reason.

Every month my psych asks me, "Your questionnaire says you're having suicidal thoughts, can you tell me about that?" And every month I say, "Same as we already talked about doc, it's fine, it's not going to go away."

I grew up religious and we were taught it is better to never have been born at all than to suffer through this life. So considering suicide felt absolutely logical. It was of course contradicted with the teaching that murder is a sin, and self-murder is the worst murderous sin, but that didn't stop the underlying belief that we were better off dead. All of my siblings have diagnosed depression - I now suspect as a result of this teaching in part.

I picked up the vacuum the other day and thought, "Oh to be dead," like one would think "Oh to be in Mexico right now." This wave of peace and calm and hopes and dreams and relaxation washed over me and I stood there leaning over the vacuum longing for the peace and silence of death.

Of course once I recognized what was happening, I laughed. I cannot fathom never having those thoughts! Like where do you get peace from if not knowing one day you will be dead and at peace finally?

I made friends with Death a very long time ago. Sometimes he comes to breakfast and we sit and have tea. Sometimes Life comes too and we all sit there and just sit in silence together.

I remember when I hated Death, when he tried to take me. I told him I wouldn't go unwillingly, and he let me choose. So I chose. And then I fought like hell for Life. I remember walking the hospital corridors naked in my gown gaping open at the back, the walls holding me up as I dragged my IV cart with me, Death and Life walking with me. I remember feeling my bones protruding from my chest, my clavicle like a fish out of water, I ran my fingers over my ribs like a harp, my spine like a grater.

Since then, Death has always walked beside me, a close and peaceful confidant. I trust Death. I don't trust Life. Death respects me. Death respects Time. Life.... life is unpredictable. Death is certain.

I don't self-harm (except for not eating properly). I respect Death too much. When I go, I will be good and ready. Death will be ready. Life will be ready. Time will be ready. I feel like I will know when that time comes.
 
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Eagle3

MyPTSD Pro
Wow, @MnM , what you wrote really resonates with me. I've had a similar relationship with Life and Death. Most people don't understand or feel comfortable talking about it unless they've Been There.

I've had SI for almost 20 years now. I've had some very serious health setbacks lately and feel my time to leave coming closer, but I'm still not quite ready to give in yet. There's things I still need to handle. That said, tonight is a VERY bad night for the ideation.

@Renly , I know what you mean. I long for people to reach out to when the ideation gets intense or even just to talk to about this thing that is part of my experience, but there are so precious few who really GET IT. I'm here if you want to talk.
 

MnM

Confident
I've had SI for almost 20 years now. I've had some very serious health setbacks lately and feel my time to leave coming closer, but I'm still not quite ready to give in yet. There's things I still need to handle. That said, tonight is a VERY bad night for the ideation.
I don't think I knew there was a "diagnosis" or term for this... I still cannot fathom living life without dreaming about being six feet under. I synonymize this feeling with someone who is terminal and choosing euthanasia. We know it's coming. We plan. We honor it. We hold it sacred.

As you feel your time coming closer, what are you working on completing?
 

Eagle3

MyPTSD Pro
As you feel your time coming closer, what are you working on completing?
I'm still trying to figure out social skills. I don't want to leave this life without knowing at least ONE truly healthy intimate relationship. Being a disabled autistic individual I know how unlikely this is, but I still want to try. In addition, I'm still holding out hope that I can find ONE place in society where I can become a useful and valued member. This means either income or activism so that OTHERS have opportunities I can't have. I keep reaching out trying to find a place and keep getting stonewalled due to my disabilities AND the ableism inherent in the System, but I'll keep trying until the very end. I also still need to get my paperwork in order so my parents don't have to make too many decisions on my behalf. They don't see things the way I do and they won't abide by my wishes unless things are written down and legal, and quite frankly not even then.

I just rejoined my martial arts classes, so that should help some, but from experience I know that there are nights where the only thing that give me any peace is the thought that I may not wake up in the morning and sometimes I go to sleep PRAYING for that to happen. This will likely be one of those nights. I don't know how others handle this life without these thoughts, but I know I have more difficulties in life than some others. There is so much to be upset about, and most of it is stuff I can't really change. What makes it so much worse though, is being on this journey SO ALONE. I always maintained that if I had just ONE person who was REALLY in my corner, who could hold me and support me the way I need support, I could conquer the world. Sadly, it just doesn't look like I'll ever find that person, and I don't even know WHY!
 

Renly

Confident
I long for people to reach out to when the ideation gets intense or even just to talk to about this thing that is part of my experience, but there are so precious few who really GET IT. I'm here if you want to talk.
This is where I’m at. It seems like those I’ve reached out to haven’t been there so they don’t understand the SI at all or just aren’t able to relate and provide the support I need. Thank you for offering your support!!! I appreciate it very much. Sometimes I really just need a listening ear, if not someone who really actually GETS IT.

Every month my psych asks me, "Your questionnaire says you're having suicidal thoughts, can you tell me about that?" And every month I say, "Same as we already talked about doc, it's fine, it's not going to go away."
I am guessing because my PTSD was delayed onset, my brain found a way to avoid the SI (and confronting any trauma) for most of my life (through self-preservation or staying chronically busy or some serious suppression/repression). But now it’s hit me like a ton of bricks and it’s foreign and uncomfortable and awful. And I desperately want it to go away. And holding onto it alone sucks. I’m sorry @MnM that you suffer with it as well, but glad you’ve made some sort of peace with its presence. Do you have any hope it’ll go away? I have a hard time thinking it will be along with me for the rest of forever.
 

MnM

Confident
I am guessing because my PTSD was delayed onset, my brain found a way to avoid the SI (and confronting any trauma) for most of my life (through self-preservation or staying chronically busy or some serious suppression/repression). But now it’s hit me like a ton of bricks and it’s foreign and uncomfortable and awful. And I desperately want it to go away. And holding onto it alone sucks. I’m sorry @MnM that you suffer with it as well, but glad you’ve made some sort of peace with its presence. Do you have any hope it’ll go away? I have a hard time thinking it will be along with me for the rest of forever.
I actually don't consider myself as "suffering" with it at all - I can't fathom it not being there so I don't think I could hope it will go away. (This is also why I don't identify as "suffering" with PTSD - I control what I suffer over.) I hope for kindness. I strive for peace. So that means I have peace with it, and I strive to be kind to it. I even have peace with my other long-term ptsd symptoms, because I have committed to as much joy as I can, and I know that what is cannot exist without my permission in some way. If I lose peace, I look at it. I turn it over, I open it up, dissect it, test it with fire and blood and I give it to Life and to Death. If it remains, it belongs, and I accept it as whole.

We are not broken. We are a whole system in response to our experiences and surroundings - nothing broken about it. Doesn't mean I don't feel bloody broken some days, but if I can accept that my body's response to everything is healthy and whole, I can move my body to move through the response as well.

I highly recommend putting a "face" to your SI. I have done this with Pain, Death, Life, and Grief, and it's changed my relationship with them, and subsequently Fear, entirely. Death is male. He is quiet, severe, dark, unforgiving, demanding, emotionless, and narcissistic in degrees. Pain is a 30' hand carved scarred wooden door, at least six inches thick, foreboding, heavy, insulating, and creaky. I have thrown myself at that door a million times, begging for mercy, begging for freedom, movement of any kind. Sometimes it creaks open, and sometimes it is silent, stoic, mute and deaf. Life is quiet only because she shares the table with Death and myself, and she is unpredictable, lives loud and large and bright and gregarious. When I play, it is her. When I am cheeky and adventurous, it is her.

Understand your SI. It is there for a reason. It will teach you what you need to know so you can move forward. It will bring you peace and kindness when you can walk beside it in peace.

How I do this - I sit with a piece of paper and a pencil or pen. Sometimes I don't use them, but having them there brings the intention. Then I close my eyes and re-enter the space where I feel the thing I am thinking about. If you get lost in the feeling, put a pane of glass between you and what you are looking at, or put it in a padded cell and watch it on the security cameras. Observe it. Sometimes I sketch it out. Sometimes I just say out loud what it looks like or feels like. Sometimes the visual comes and I gasp with how clear it is. Once its form appears to you, you can understand it better and it loses power over you. Then you can accept its existence. Whether or not it stays with you is between the two of you, imo. Once you see it, you can relate with it, and it will relate with you.

Something else that helped me wander around all this was continually asking myself, "What am I scared of here, what is my fear?" Taking your power back is incredibly useful, for example with my Last Incident, I was terrified P was going to kill me. I was surprised - I'm not afraid of dying. So I looked harder - I was afraid of having my choice taken away, of having Death thrust on me before he or I had agreed. I also realized it wasn't just being murdered that scared me - I knew P would torture and defile me. And that terrifies me.

I'm still trying to figure out social skills. I don't want to leave this life without knowing at least ONE truly healthy intimate relationship. Being a disabled autistic individual I know how unlikely this is, but I still want to try. In addition, I'm still holding out hope that I can find ONE place in society where I can become a useful and valued member. This means either income or activism so that OTHERS have opportunities I can't have. I keep reaching out trying to find a place and keep getting stonewalled due to my disabilities AND the ableism inherent in the System, but I'll keep trying until the very end. I also still need to get my paperwork in order so my parents don't have to make too many decisions on my behalf. They don't see things the way I do and they won't abide by my wishes unless things are written down and legal, and quite frankly not even then.

I just rejoined my martial arts classes, so that should help some, but from experience I know that there are nights where the only thing that give me any peace is the thought that I may not wake up in the morning and sometimes I go to sleep PRAYING for that to happen. This will likely be one of those nights. I don't know how others handle this life without these thoughts, but I know I have more difficulties in life than some others. There is so much to be upset about, and most of it is stuff I can't really change. What makes it so much worse though, is being on this journey SO ALONE. I always maintained that if I had just ONE person who was REALLY in my corner, who could hold me and support me the way I need support, I could conquer the world. Sadly, it just doesn't look like I'll ever find that person, and I don't even know WHY!
I love how much hope you have in here... how much life you're still demanding, the marrow of life. Get it!! This is where that whole psychological "you're suicidal" doesn't make sense to me - you have hopes, you have dreams, you want to experience pieces of Life yet. That to me is what psychs should be asking about - why are you still here? What makes you get up in the morning? Why are you choosing not to step into traffic? Instead, they (and thus we) focus on the negative. It's not really helpful. It sounds like you still have value to contribute, and a desire to contribute. Are you able to contribute somehow?

Something I've been working on myself, something I find common with people who lack support, is this idea that someone somewhere eventually will take care of me. I have to remind myself there is no fairy godmother. There is no sandman coming for me. I have to be in my own corner. I have to support myself. How do I do that? Make a game plan. It's f*cking hard work. It's annoying. But demanding that of someone else would be... hard work and annoying.... right?
 

Friday

Moderator
I’m flanking this a bit… with some questions of my own
Anyone have success navigating anything similar to this?
- Have you ever been responsible for someone else’s life &/or death?
- Have you ever had training on how to talk to suicidal people? (&/or training/resources for someone killing themselves after talking to you?)

left me mostly feeling worse and is not getting my needs supported.
- What needs/wants do you want someone else to fulfill?
- What kind of support do you want?

^^^^
All 4 of the Q’s circle around “Do you know what you’re asking for?” in various different ways.

Similar to asking someone for a glass of water… you’ve undoubtedly both been thirsty, and been around thirsty people. As well, you’ve probably been in situations where it’s no big deal, to get or give someone a glass of water… and situations where it IS a big deal, in different ways (water has to be bought or stolen, someone is sick/injured and can’t get it for themselves, etc.) … and possibly even been in situations where getting/giving water is either the entire point of you/they being there (marathon drink station) or completely disallowed (no fluids by mouth). Giant great big huge spectrum of normal on something as simple as a cup of water. Drop you into ANY of those situations? Your years on the planet, and personal experience numbering in the tens of thousands of daily encounters in countless situations, even if this particular situation is newish, will guide you.

SI has the same sort of immediacy as being thirsty, but there’s rarely the clarity born of experience.

A shortcut to spending the next few decades learning the answers to those questions by trial and error? Is to sit down and work out what you’re asking, of whom, when, & how, and what kinds of expectations to have of others (and yourself) in those situations. Whether someone is coming to you telling you that they are suicidal, or you’re coming to someone else.

^^^
The second 2 Q’s though, are also looking at if you’re asking someone for water when you haven’t eaten in a week. Yes, filling your belly with water will make you less hungry for a time, but won’t actually assuage your hunger. So if you’re asking for water hoping someon will offer you a meal, instead? It just leads to a lot of unnecessary disappointment as the “win” is someone giving you something you don’t need or want. So it’s a lose/lose proposition; as even when you “win” you lose. Meanwhile asking someone for food means you’ll still be turned down by many people, just like asking for water; but when you win? Someone says, sure! Here! You actually WIN. Getting what you need/want.
 
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MnM

Confident
Do you have any hope it’ll go away? I have a hard time thinking it will be along with me for the rest of forever.
I just thought to add... if you got through your childhood without SI, I do think you can get rid of it. But no amount of willpower will do that. Time and hard work, yes.... in the meantime, find out what it looks like, feels like, make friends with it. If/when it moves on, you can give it a good old Viking funeral :)
 

Sideways

Moderator
My experience. I think experiences (both internal and external) with this will vary widely.

usually just to vent or be more authentic with how I’m really feeling at any particular moment in time
Talking about any distressing topic (and yeah, suicide is a distressing topic for most people) is something where I want to pick my audience. And while SI envelops me so much sometimes that I just want to get it out there ("Hey World! Do you REALISE what I'm dealing with???"), the consequences are rarely going to make me any more comfortable if I vent to an inappropriate audience.

SI is there because I'm distressed. I need to pick my audience carefully when I talk about it, because making the people around me distressed is often unhelpful (or worse). It sucks. Internal distress is like that.

So venting about my SI is usually a therapy-only bag.

Being authentic when I'm flooded with SI? Means conveying "I'm deeply distressed right now". Which isn't necessarily a conversation about SI specifically, in order to be 'authentic'.
The problem is I’m finding it hard to talk about it with pretty much anyone other than my therapist
Yup. Ts have training (like, a shiteload of training) in how to navigate a conversation about SI.

People without that training? It's a bit like really wanting to play chess but you're surrounded by people who have never seen a chessboard before.

People around you will understand distress, even if they haven't experienced it to the nth degree like when you're overwhelmed with SI. Being more authentic about how you're feeling could mean conveying that deep and overwhelming distress, without necessarily making it all about the specific thoughts you're having.

And even then? It's a case of aligning what you're communicating with the appropriate audience. The guy making your morning latte? He doesn't want to know, and him knowing is unlikely to give you any sense of "wow, I feel so much better now".

So, who are the people that you want to be authentic about your distress, and to what degree (healthy boundaries!) do you want to convey the information?

overly sad that I struggle with suicidal ideation, they become super emotional
This is winning IME. The person who reacts like this has heard you, and is demonstrating both empathy for what you're going through, and caring for you that you're experiencing it. They care enough that it makes them emotional.

That's uncomfortable. People caring.
But it's incredibly powerful if you can allow yourself to accept it for what it is. Your SI has made someone emotional. Suggests they care. Suggests you're important to them.
 

Renly

Confident
Understand your SI. It is there for a reason. It will teach you what you need to know so you can move forward. It will bring you peace and kindness when you can walk beside it in peace.
This is what I've been talking to my T about. This is hard for me, although I am trying to befriend my SI. Right now, I am angry an frustrated at my SI - it is something relatively new I am struggling with (instead of just repressing or numbing) and it is triggered by (IMO) the dumbest things - I realize the surface triggers or stressors aren't the real issue, but it's what is immediately in front of me. I hate feeling like "oh, you made 1 error on this document - life is no longer worth living just go die." Which has been pretty a pretty consistent feeling across the last few months.


I have to be in my own corner. I have to support myself. How do I do that? Make a game plan. It's f*cking hard work. It's annoying. But demanding that of someone else would be... hard work and annoying.... right?
Part of my therapy is growing my support system. You are right here! I need to ask for support more specifically and not expect it from whoever i ask because that is unrealistic.

All 4 of the Q’s circle around “Do you know what you’re asking for?” in various different ways.
THIS really made me think. I guess I didn't really when I was asking - maybe just some sympathy or for someone to say "wow that does suck." But I didn't communicate what I was looking for when I brought it up - so that is my bad.

A shortcut to spending the next few decades learning the answers to those questions by trial and error? Is to sit down and work out what you’re asking, of whom, when, & how, and what kinds of expectations to have of others (and yourself) in those situations. Whether someone is coming to you telling you that they are suicidal, or you’re coming to someone else.
This is great advice.

Talking about any distressing topic (and yeah, suicide is a distressing topic for most people) is something where I want to pick my audience. And while SI envelops me so much sometimes that I just want to get it out there ("Hey World! Do you REALISE what I'm dealing with???"), the consequences are rarely going to make me any more comfortable if I vent to an inappropriate audience.

SI is there because I'm distressed. I need to pick my audience carefully when I talk about it, because making the people around me distressed is often unhelpful (or worse). It sucks. Internal distress is like that.
I have not shared with many people, maybe 4 or 5 - just those close to me/those I am hoping to be in my support system.

It's a bit like really wanting to play chess but you're surrounded by people who have never seen a chessboard before.
This is what I am learning. Love the analogy. I am just not sure who has played the game and I guess I found out the hard way.
 

Renly

Confident
This is winning IME. The person who reacts like this has heard you, and is demonstrating both empathy for what you're going through, and caring for you that you're experiencing it. They care enough that it makes them emotional.

That's uncomfortable. People caring.
But it's incredibly powerful if you can allow yourself to accept it for what it is. Your SI has made someone emotional. Suggests they care. Suggests you're important to them.
I guess my issue here was I already know this person cares for me. I was looking for support and instead I felt I had to support them due to their emotional reaction. I am working on some negative cognitions “I am not allowed to feel” and “I am responsible” so I think they flared up in this situation. I shut down my emotional needs to attend to theirs and assumed responsibility for their sadness. Again, this is not that persons fault, and recognizing how I reacted is progress on my part so I can work on changing it in the future.

It sure it hard asking for support after spending a lifetime pretending everything is okay and engaging in fawning behaviors to survive. It’s a new skill I guess I’ll have to learn to develop. Learning to be specific in the kind of support I need. Being vulnerable is tough.
 
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