If you’re searching for reasons not to kill yourself, then you would be doing me the greatest possible service by reading this article. Please. Read this. It’s short, and it will help. I promise.
“I have wanted to kill myself, every day, for the last three months. I’m only holding on because I think me killing myself might upset my parents.”
This is the entirety of an email that I received from a reader of mine. She was deeply hurting in her life, and she felt brave enough to reach out to me for help.
As soon as I read the email, tears leapt to my eyes. Not only because I loved her and understood her pain, but because I could have written those exact two sentences myself only a year prior (not to mention my actual suicide attempts when I was younger.)
The message encapsulated so much of what happens during a depressive episode.
– It is persistent. She had wanted to do it for months on end. It was in her mind every day.
– It distorts reality. She thought that her killing herself might upset her parents. Even if her parents were abusive monsters of human beings in their own worlds of pain, it is fairly undeniable that yes, they would be upset by finding out that their child that they had loved and raised had taken her own life.
– A part of us wants to hold on. Some tiny sliver inside of ourselves wants our dark thoughts to be proven wrong… somehow.
I have been through three major depressive episodes in my lifetime. There have been, with the most conservative estimate, at least 300 days throughout my lifetime where I thought to myself, “I should just end it. I feel hopeless and terrible all the time, and this pain isn’t worth enduring.”
There were years when I had countless panic attacks. I used to cut myself. There were times when I felt deeply hopeless. I once tried to overdose on pain killers. I know what suffering feels like, and I know intimately what suicidal ideation sounds like rattling around in my mind for months on end.
So if you have found your way to this article on an especially dark day, I just want you to know, first and foremost, that I love you. Holy fucking shit I love you. So much. I can say that with total confidence without ever having met you in person. And why can I say that? I love you because I am you. I love you because I know your pain all too well. And right now, in my mind, I am wrapping my freakishly long arms around you in the worlds biggest bear hug as I write these words.
And even if your mind (aka ego) is resisting what I’m saying and pushing back with “You don’t know me. You couldn’t possibly love me. What a bunch of bullshit! You don’t know pain like MY pain!”… fine. But I am still over here loving and accepting you where you are at… because I have been in that exact place, where I doubted the love or care of anyone for me. Whether you want to let that in or not, it’s the truth.
I could have written a list of a hundred reasons not to kill yourself, but I decided that you probably wanted a more quality over quantity approach (because time is of the essence). So please, take a minute to consider the four following reasons not to kill yourself. I have written them with you in mind, and I want your heart to hear and receive them so badly.
1. There are people who love you dearly, and it would crush them for hundreds of years
If you add up the emotional pain that all of your friends, relatives, co-workers, admirers, and past lovers would feel if they heard that you had killed yourself, their pain would span over hundreds of years.
I know how, when you’re in the depths of it, your mind is adept at rationalizing that only a small handful of people would care just a little bit. I promise you that that isn’t true. People you have never met or talked to would be rocked by the news. It would affect certain people for the rest of their lives.
There are so many people who love and care for you. Take whatever the number you think it is and multiply it by at least thirty… and you’ll have a more accurate representation of the people who would be crushed by you leaving us too early.
These people also want you to reach out to them. This is no easy task, I understand. In fact, it takes the ultimate courage to reach out and tell people “I am hurting so much right now. All I think about is killing myself. I don’t know of a way out. Please help me.”
By touching on this point, I’m not trying to enlist guilt. I am not belittling your pain, or making you wrong for your experience. I am simply acting as a foil to the part of your mind that tries to convince you that NO ONE cares about you or your pain. No matter how isolated you are in your life currently, I can still promise you that you are wrong. You are connected to others, whether you think you are or not.
(Side note: If you are at all thinking about hurting yourself or having any kind of persistent suicidal thoughts and you don’t feel like you have anyone that you can trust to call on, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It’s available 24/7, it’s free and it’s confidential. The number is: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).)
2. There are beautiful moments ahead of you just waiting for you to witness them
There are so many beautiful and amazing moments still ahead of you.
Having your breath taken away by your favourite musicians at an outdoor concert at a venue that you haven’t ever been to before. It will be lightly raining on you and your fellow concert-goers, but you won’t care because the warmth of your lovers hand will be keeping yours company.
Your all-time-favourite book hasn’t even come out yet. And believe me, when you read it, it will blow you away and reaffirm everything that you know to be true about life, and show you new perspectives that will make you tear up in self-recognition.
You think you’ve had a decent sex life so far? God/the universe/Jesus/the scientific method/Allah/the deity you believe in just called me… yeah, and they told me that, in their eyes, your sex life has barely even begun. There’s a ton of fun, crazy, amazing, wildly intimate sex coming down the pipeline and you won’t want to miss it.
I know that, with how you are feeling today, it might be difficult to even get up and have a shower or make yourself a simple meal… but if you keep soldiering on, I promise you that there are thousands of beautiful moments just waiting for you to experience them.
3. The best part of your life is still ahead of you
Let’s use some straight up logic for a second.
If it’s a fact of life that you only become more self-aware, more educated, more experienced, and more emotionally resilient with time, then it’s inevitable that life only improves with age.
When I asked my grandfather how he felt about turning 82 a few years ago, he replied, “Great! I get to take all of the lessons I’ve learned through my first 81 years and compound them into the next one. It’ll be my best year yet.”
Or, as Tony Bennett once said to Amy Winehouse, “Life teaches you how to live it if you live long enough.”
At the time of my writing this, I am 30 years old. I still have a lot of living to do. But if there’s one thing that my three decades on this spinning beach ball has taught me, it’s that life experiences (heart break, losing friends and loved ones, having life kick the shit out of you, etc.) only make you stronger. I know that it suuuuucks right now but remember that you are only becoming more resilient every time you go through this. You are a fucking superhero, being forged by the pain that you are experiencing.
Hold on to the mantra “I can’t wait to meet the version of myself that comes out the other side of this.”
4. You won’t always feel this way. I promise.
Depression, anxiety, addiction, sadness, grief, your burning desire to bring yourself harm… none of these things are static states of being. Like any and all emotions, they are temporary. Feelings are like weather patterns… they move on eventually.
I know that that can be a tough idea to swallow if you’ve already felt depressed and/or suicidal for weeks or months on end, but no emotion lasts forever. You will move through it. You will look back on this period of your life and laugh with your friends about it. And not because it was funny. But because sometimes you just have to laugh to keep yourself from bawling your eyes out.
I promise you that if you hang in there for just a little bit longer, you will make it through. And it will be greater on the other side of whatever it feels like you’re drowning in now.
Also, here is a poem I discovered by Dorothy Parker that made me laugh when I was at my most depressed. And when I say laugh, I mean I momentarily pushed a bit more air out of my nose for a single second.
I know… it feels shitty today. I’m not taking that away from you. It’s the fucking worst, and I have been there, many times. I get it.
Maybe, just to get through the day, you have the suicide prevention number on your phone’s favourites list… or an Ativan or two in your pocket at all times… or you frequently cry uncontrollably for ‘no reason’… but you’re doing it. You’re already winning. You are a brave, beautiful warrior of a human being and I am so proud of you for making it this far.
Suicidal thoughts happen when your experience of your pain begins to overtake your available coping mechanisms. And, in most cases, the pain is less alterable than your coping mechanisms. So how do you increase your available coping mechanisms?
Reach out to someone who you think cares for you. Tell them you’re hurting. If they don’t respond to your text/phone call/email/message then reach out to another person. Keep doing this until you get someone on the phone who can be with you in your pain. Just having someone to connect with and letting them know the depth of how much you are hurting can help you get through the night. So please, I beg you, deploy the courage it takes to reach out to a friend or family member.
And if you got something from this article, I would also strongly recommend you check out my article All Of Your Suffering Was Worth It. It’s one of the best metaphors for life, and I know that it will help you during this trying time.
Also, if you’re looking for actionable steps on improving your mood and physical health, my articles How To Overcome Depression Naturally and 7 Simple Tips To Beat Anxiety Naturally will likely be helpful for you on many levels.
The advice in these aforementioned articles touch on some basic stuff like ‘move your body at all’, ‘eat a meal with some nutrients in it’, and ‘get sunlight on your face if that’s an option’, but it all helps when you add it up. Fighting depression and suicidal ideation isn’t a battle of annihilation, but a battle of attrition. In other words, it’s a battle that is won by a lot of tiny steps. And I believe in you and your ability to take some of those steps.
Dedicated to the expansion of your beautiful heart,
Ps. I want to reiterate, because I know firsthand how stubborn, doubtful, and untrusting a suicidal mind can be, that you are loved. Whether you believe my love for you or not is irrelevant. But there are people in your life who care so deeply about you, and want you to feel better, just as desperately as you want to feel better. People want you to succeed, no matter how much your mind wants to convince you otherwise. Please, reach out to someone, anyone, for help. Find someone who will listen, and let them listen. Let your pain be held. It is so difficult and requires real courage to do so, but it will help. I promise.
Pps. If you’re interested in reading my personal journey though depressive episodes and suicidal ideation, I recently released a deep dive into my entire journey. It’s called Suicidal To Successful to Self-Loving: The First 33 Years Of My Life, and it’s basically a long form essay detailing my entire journey with mental health. Check it out if you want.