September is Suicide Prevention Month, and I want to raise suicide prevention awareness. Being a “survivor” in a sense, I want to be able to help those who want to end their lives. I hope to be able to touch someone with this post. So, I hope you have the time to read this.
~ Long read up ahead! ~
Around October or November 2012, I was cutting an illustration board for an extra credit project for Geometry class with a cutter. I was struggling so hard to cut polygons out of the illustration board for my “stained glass” project. It was so difficult, to the point that I almost accidentally cut myself several times. But there was this one time that I almost cut myself, but not by accident.
The whole time I was cutting the illustration board, I was crying. I wasn’t crying because of the cutting — I was crying because I was extremely sad, maybe even in grief. You may ask, I assume. Well, I felt betrayed by someone I trusted a lot. I also felt like I was just residing in our house, not living in a home; I didn’t feel the love in my family. And then there’s insecurity, self-doubt, lack of self-confidence, negativity, anxiety, depression, and regrets. Back then I wrote on a blog (that no longer exists) to express myself, but honestly, I felt like writing was not enough. I had friends whom I talked to, but it was as if talking to them was not enough. Maybe, it’s because I wanted a specific person to talk to me — the person whom I felt betrayed me.
And so that night, I was texting my best friend, telling her that I don’t want to continue with life anymore. It took her a little while to reply, so I thought that she didn’t care. I was a big over-thinker back then; to me, every little thing had a (negative) meaning. And so she didn’t reply right away. I was already crying so hard, until I got the cutter and placed the cold blade against my left wrist. I was about to cut in when my phone notified me that I received a text message. Being the girl who valued communication more than anything, I put down the cutter and read the text. It was my best friend telling me not to commit suicide — telling me how important I am to her, how loved I am, how valued I am. I cried even more, and I put away all the materials for my project.
Later on that month, I still wasn’t done with the project. It was the start of the Christmas rush, and I promised my mom that I will go with her to the mall for Christmas shopping. But then school work piled up, and I cannot go with my mom anymore. She then got mad at me, and I retaliated. I was so full of everyone, so I told her about my attempted suicide event. Her heart then softened, and she hugged me after a long time. In the end she went to the mall without me, and I finished the project with my heart a little less heavy.
The following year, my senior year in high school, I met an injury: my left kneecap got dislocated. With that came more anxiety and depressing thoughts, and overall health concerns. I lost all my will to study, and even to live. I felt like I lost everything, since my school life was my everything. Suicidal thoughts came back, but I no longer had the courage to act on it. I refused to get professional help, but one day, I finally went to a psychiatrist.
It was in late October 2013 when I was diagnosed with severe depression, but I think I’ve been depressed since 2008. The doctor gave me medications, explaining why I needed them. The balance of the chemicals in my brain should be restored, thus the medications. She assured me that it is possible that I will no longer take medications for my condition when the time comes, provided that I also have therapy and a solid support system. Ever since my injury, my family has grown stronger together, and I was happy because of that. I also knew who my real friends are, and I felt the support of my school.
The road to my high school graduation was rough, but I made it to the finish line. Then, I eventually went to UP Diliman for college. That, unfortunately, didn’t go well. I still got depressed about that, but I rarely got suicidal thoughts. Well, at least I got a lot less of those thoughts compared to when I was in high school. I guess it’s with the help of my medication, but more of my solid support system and my psychotherapy. These two (for some) or three important things will get anyone continuing with life. If you believe in God, then you have a fourth. Either way, these things show that no one is alone in the fight, even if they feel like they are.
I still get them, the suicidal thoughts. I had one around two months ago, because I felt useless. A friend then told me that those thoughts are from the devil, and that I shouldn’t listen to those “lies”. Since I am a practicing Catholic, I knew that what my friend said was true. I just needed a little reminder of that. The way my friend said it was not ideal though, and I kind of felt bad after it. And since I felt bad after, more reasons to take my own life came in as thoughts. I thought that I was a burden to my family (since I wasn’t studying), that I was useless, worthless, and unloved. But then, here I am now, typing a long blog post on how to prevent suicide but wrote a lengthy portion just for my history. So, how on earth am I still alive? Here are the things I tell myself, my reasons for living (and I hope they are your reasons too):
1. I am a champion
- Out of a billion sperm cells, I won the race to the egg cell. Yes, it was me. That’s the very reason why I’m alive. Though there will be times that I will lose battles, I will never lose the war. After all, I was a champion at the moment of conception. I was a champion when I was a mere cell — what more now that I am able to do many things? I am no failure, no one is a failure. If I fail at one thing, it does not mean that I fail at everything. In fact, I have so many chances to turn over a new leaf until the day I die. I just have to choose my battles and keep up with them. Also, champions don’t just succeed without learning, and that is important to know.
2. I have a purpose — there is a reason why I’m alive
- Winning the race of the sperms was not a coincidence; it was meant to happen. I was meant to be my parents’ daughter, my brother’s sister, my family’s gem, my friends’ confidante, a Filipino, God’s child and servant, and so much more. I am meant to be alive because I have a purpose in this world. I was not born because of nothing; no one was born because of nothing. Everything has its purpose, whether I realize it or not.
3. I am not my past
- There were so many times when I lost battles, and of course I felt bad about it. Who wouldn’t feel bad about failure, right? But then, I don’t stay in the low forever. Why? Because I am not my failure, I am not my mistake, I am not my past. Yes, my past was a part of me, but it was and is not me. A part is never the whole.
4. I am loved, and I am made to love
- Love may seem complicated, but really, nothing is easy. It takes a certain level of humility to give and receive love, but it is possible. To love, I believe, is natural to humans, no matter how hard it is. How is this evident? Of course, it’s my support system. I may come off annoying, but my family and friends still stay by my side. In return, I pay it forward to anyone I can reach — I learn to love those who come off as unlovable. See, loving isn’t that hard. It just needs humility.
- Now, how can I say that I am loved, or treated with goodness at least? Well, I can see how my parents provide for me, how my friends would stop what they’re doing or multitask so that they can “listen” to me on Facebook Chat, and how strangers would keep the door open so that can get in or our of an establishment. Amidst all the ugly in the world, there is still goodness, and I choose to believe in that. After all, goodness begets goodness; true love begets true love.
(For those who are non believers, you may skip this. But you may read on if you are still interested in reading this.)
5. God will never let me down
- I’ve had my fair share of doubts on the existence of the God introduced to me by my family and my school. I even had two periods in my life when I didn’t go to church, didn’t pray at all, didn’t choose to see God. But God is always good. He made me realize that it is Him who made me, it is Him who loves me even if I refuse to love Him. Eventually, He sent angels —disguised as friends— to lead me back to Him.
- I’d always remember my first year in high school, the time I told my parents about the time I was molested. I refused to go to counselors because I knew that God would heal me. Of course, I encourage everyone to go to counselors if they need to, but I knew the kind of “therapy” and healing that I needed. So I prayed and clung to God, entrusting my whole life to Him. I was not healed instantly, and my depression got worse, but I knew that He was with me. After all, Jesus did not promise a bed of roses on earth for us. He even told us to take up our cross. Although I lost my faith after high school, I saw His goodness in others. Maybe that was His way of making me believe in Him again. I am undeserving of His love and mercy, but He still gives it for free. Oh, the wonders of God are marvelous!
Now, if you don’t feel like you have at least one of these reasons, of if you don’t have your own reason, please try to do at least one of the following:
1. Express yourself through art, music and dance, writing, sports, and more of your other talents and/or skills.
- Having to release your (negative) energy and thoughts on doing something “productive” is a good way of coping with depression and sadness. You do not need to show the world your work; you can simply keep it or even throw it away (especially if it is full of “negativity”). Also remember that you are doing what you are doing to help yourself, to bring happiness and contentment to yourself.
2. Express yourself by talking to someone
- Talking to someone makes you open up to others. It also helps in releasing your thoughts. It can also be an avenue for validation. You just have to know who to talk to. By talking to your friends, you will find out who will make you feel loved and accepted; you will know who your safe friends are. For me, talking is therapeutic, but that’s me. We’re all different, so this may not be effective for you. But then again, nothing’s bad with trying things out.
3. Get professional help
- Talking to a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist is really helpful. Although some are not comfortable with this idea, I’d just like to let the world know that it’s not wrong to get help. Getting help is a form of loving yourself.
4. Avoid over-thinking, change your mindset, love yourself.
- Over-thinking can kill…literally. That’s a reason why people commit suicide. It’s hard to avoid that because the mind naturally thinks. But we can control our thoughts, and we should not let our thoughts and emotions control us. Thoughts and emotions are not bad; they are natural for humans. But we should learn to control how they affect us.
- We tend to generalize life as something miserable because of all the negative things that we’ve experienced. One thing I learned in therapy is that it is helpful if we do not label the events in our lives as positive events and negative events; we should treat them just as it is. “It just is”, my doctor would remind me. In all fairness, that helped me go along, not dwelling in the instances that I face. After all, life is not pure joy nor pure sorrow, it’s a mix of both, as we should treat life as it is.
- We are also encouraged to remember that we should avoid thinking badly about ourselves. Our self is the only person we have forever, therefore we should learn to love ourselves.
(Again, for those who are non believers, you may skip this. But you may read on if you are still interested in reading this.)
- Personally, my prayer life is not yet strong. But when I’m troubled, I pray hard. I tell God my story, I even rant and vent to Him even if He already knows what’s inside my heart. I just want to express every feeling I have. And then I would meditate, keeping my mind silent, focusing on my breath. I would listen to God then. Sometimes, His messages would come in a form of a reminder of a future event or an idea for my writing, but I wouldn’t recognize it right away (but I surely will recognize it anytime). Prayer is really powerful, and God’s message to us will always bring us joy in any way possible.
The ten things I listed above are just some things you can try doing and thinking about. I do not guarantee that you will be better after, but again, there’s nothing wrong in trying.
If you still have no one to talk to, please feel free to send me a message. Just send a comment on this post, and I will get in touch with you. I’m no professional, but I am here to listen to anyone who needs someone to listen to them. After all, I want to be a clinical psychologist in the future.
I hope that you bookmark this post and read it whenever you feel like you want to die.
I hope I get to help someone.
I hope and pray that there will be a day that people will be kind and understanding to one another.