So after this post and this post, I suppose it’s not a secret that I’ve had a few struggles with depression through the years. It took a long time to admit it. I fought against thoughts of suicide for as long as I can remember, long before I even knew that “depression” was a thing. I can remember being 5 years old and screaming at my siblings that I would kill myself when they were being extra mean. What 5 year old even knows that you can? Apparently, me.
Now, I know that thoughts of suicide can vary widely for each person experiencing them. I know the reasons behind the thoughts vary. I know that mine is probably a very strange thought process compared to most.
Why I Wanted to Die
For me, I have always wanted to die because I have a very deep conviction in God and a place we go when we’re done here. I also firmly believe we lived with God before coming here. And I miss it. I miss Him. I miss that life. And I have always wanted to go back. I’ve always wanted to go Home. This craving gets especially bad when things aren’t going well here on earth. When I’m angry or frustrated or stressed, when people are mean or the world seems to be falling apart around us, I long to go back to the safety and comfort of Before.
I know for others, it’s more of a hope of ceasing to exist. For some, they don’t think past escaping the current pain. Some can’t see a way out of their current situation. I know there are many other reasons that fuel the thoughts behind suicide. But the reasoning isn’t what I want to talk about today.
I want to talk about my cure.
While I’ve had these tendencies my whole life, I knew I’d never act on them. And after my sister did, I was extra sure that I could never put my family through that again. But I still thought it. I still wanted it. I still dwelt on it. And the best way to do something, anything, (whether good or bad) is to allow your mind to linger there. If you never think of having an affair, chances are, you won’t. But if you spend hours fantasizing about someone, the likelihood dramatically increases. And I was playing with fire by allowing my mind to focus on suicide.
My husband knew that I had these thoughts and had tried a lot of ways to help me overcome them. He thought for a long time that if our marriage was just better, if he was just better, if we lived somewhere nicer, if I had everything I wanted, if, if, if. But of course, none of those things were true. My particular reason behind these thoughts meant that even if everything was perfect and I was happy, I still missed Home. I still wanted to be There.
After a few years of marriage, I started learning about addictions. I had never understood them. I don’t feel like I have it in me to become an addict, to anything. So, I started learning about and watching videos on and reading about addictions. I stumbled across groups such as Fight the New Drug that taught me about addictions. But nothing made me understand addiction quite like this video called Landscapes of the Mind.
Then, one day, while in the midst of my postpartum depression, my husband asked me a question that changed my life. He said,
“Have you ever thought about these thoughts of suicide as an addiction?”
I couldn’t even answer him. That had never occurred to me. My mind raced.
I don’t know. Could they be? Could I be addicted to thinking about suicide??
And that’s when I realized, other addictions could also be to thoughts. And ALL addictions could be controlled by controlling your mind, which then controls your actions. The purpose of rehab is often to clean the body but then to re-wire the brain.
It made me reconsider the casualness with which I allowed these thoughts of suicide to cross through my mind.
I started fighting back. I stopped allowing myself to think of it. It was no longer an option. I didn’t get to imagine some great escape from the drudge of every day life. I didn’t let those thoughts grow. They still came but I didn’t allow them to stay in my mind. I forced them out with other thoughts, with songs, with reading, with math, with anything that occupied enough of my brain to get them to go away.
And one day, they stopped coming.
One day, I had something go wrong and I thought, “This sucks.”
And that was it.
There was no follow up. There was no daydreaming of escape. There were no thoughts of suicide.
Occasionally they still make appearances but they are quickly expelled. I’m sure even when someone has been clean from addictive substances for many years, the thought to return to them crosses through their mind. The important part is how we react to those thoughts when they come.
I for one, don’t allow them to stay.
And it has probably saved my life.