This Is Not A Cry For Help

I have suicidal thoughts every now and then.

They don’t necessarily come out during bad times. It’s rather random. And it’s not like these thoughts involve planing how I’m going to do it, I just think of how much simpler things would be if I weren’t living. A line from Being John Malkovich comes to mind:

[Consciousness] is a terrible curse. I think. I feel. I suffer.

I think the root of my “suffering” is the anxiety I harbour. Anxiety about social situations, the state of the world, and other trivial details that make life seem complicated. I don’t want to have these thoughts, but I do. Then life gets even more complicated, and I get more anxiety. It’s a vicious circle, until it becomes not about the anxiety itself, but anxiety about having anxiety. I didn’t really identify it until I was in the car with Julie, feeling sick and sicker until I almost asked her to pull over on the highway.

All I want to do is stop thinking. Suicide would be such an easy solution, and as much as I disagree with the reasons for suicide in the first place, I honestly believe this is true.

It makes me scared that one day I’m going to make a stupid mistake with a permanent consequence.

I know I have a good life, I know how illogical these thoughts are, but that doesn’t stop them from reoccurring on a monthly basis. I remember having these thoughts as early as high school, although they were much more common back then.

More frequently, I have thoughts of mutilation, about once a week. Not self-mutilation, because there’s never anyone specifically doing it to me. It’s just me in blackness, then a floating knife flying into my windpipe, or an axe splitting my head down the middle, or an ice-pick in the back of the neck, or…well, you get the idea.

I’ve never told anyone about this. Not because I’m ashamed of it, but because I didn’t want anyone to worry. Not even my closest friends know.

But harbouring this fear and anxiety, I’m slowly realizing, is difficult. It’s preventing me from enjoying life. I’ve decided to get some help; my first appointment is in three days.

I’m tired of living with this.


  1. I’m glad you’ve decided to get help because I went through something similar and I think talking to a 3rd party helped. That and maybe the drugs. Or a combo of both. :p

    It took me awhile to realize that having suicidal thoughts isn’t a “normal” thing, and now that I feel more at peace with myself, those depressing thoughts hardly ever enter my mind. But I do remember in high school it was a constant struggle for me to keep those thoughts at bay, but I knew I was depressed in high school, I just didn’t think it would come back in my 20s when I thought I was happy.

  2. This is one of those rare times I can say I know how you feel and mean every word of it. Battling with suicidal depression for years, I used to see a doctor for it, then I kinda got better because I got better at hiding everything from the people that would make a big fuss about it. I have friends who are on medication and I swore to myself a long time ago that I won’t go down that path and I haven’t been to a doctor ever since, instead seeking solace in people who also share the same dark thoughts.

    It’s been about 10 years since I started battling depression and the occasional onset of self-mutilation. I do get what you mean by the freedom of ending it all because some days, there is not a moment that goes by that I think about it.

    The trick has always been to lean to all the good things in life. To keep friends who can hear you out close by and above all…give yourself a iron clad reason to keep surviving. Even if we go all wonky in the night and no one is there to see us through, those reason will keep us alive. There is not a night I don’t focus on that. Not a night that I hope I’ll see the sunrise in the morning.

  3. I’m glad you’re seeking professional help.

    I just heard an interview of a trained psychologist who suffered from anxiety disorder. She had to see a psychiatrist, but she finds turning to philosophy to be really helpful. I guess it boils down to having to alter one’s view of life.

  4. @Sophia — Are you still on meds? People have told me terrible things about the side-effects, and it’s made me somewhat hesitant about approaching any kind of prescribed drugs. I also didn’t think these thoughts would still occurr when I started changing my life, and everything started getting better. Comforting to know I’m not alone, especially from someone from my culture.

    @Edrei — It sounds to me that, like me, you worry more about how people will take such information, than about the information itself.

    Have you accepted your dark thoughts? To me, it doesn’t seem natural to accept such things, because they don’t make sense. It also sounds like you have some bad experiences with people on medication; perhaps I shouldn’t ask, so that I’m not biased and hesitant in case I have to go on them myself.

    I’ve tried to always give myself an iron clad reason to keep living, but there are some days where I forget or it gets lost in the moment. This scares me, because all it takes is a moment to make a really bad mistake.

    @Uncle Joe — I’ve tried philosophy, but these anxieties don’t make any sense. It’s not something I can make go away by rationalizing it, or viewing it logically. My friend Dan once said that the world is a complex place, and I told him that as a Taoist, I view the world as being very simple, but it’s our thoughts, materialism, desires, and trivial pursuits that make it complex. While this makes sense to me in every way — and I believe it from the bottom of my heart — these suicidal thoughts still surface.

    In my psychology class in university, I watched an interview with a schizophrenic person, which the professor told us was a somewhat “typical” profile of a patient off his medication. This schizophrenic patient spoke in rambling sentences, and said that sometimes he has voices in his head that tell him to punch women. Then he showed us an interview of a schizophrenic patient on medication, and you couldn’t tell that he had any kind of mental affliction at all.

    Unfortunately, turning to philosophy can only do so much sometimes.

  5. It takes a lot of strength to own these thoughts and put them out there and to seek help for it. You deserve to have the best life you can whatever the means. Good for you for going for it.

  6. No I’m not on meds, I was only on them for about a week actually because the side effect was insomnia. I refused to take them but sometimes it’s not really about sorting your life out, sometimes it ‘s chemical. Anyways, they helped in a sense that it helped me feel better so that I could sort my thoughts. You think more clearly when you’re in a better mood.

    I hear good and bad things about medication.. it depends on the med and it depends on what the problem is. I don’t believe in just popping pills, but sometimes it’s necessary if you want a better quality of life.

  7. On the complex world and the simple world, how about the analogy of a person feeling comfortable fighting for justice knowing fully that there will never be true justice. This person’s action is not logical, but he’s happy. So the world can be complex and simple at the same time, and we can still be happy about it. Am I making any sense to you?

    God, I hope yours is only a psycological problem, and has nothing to do with the nervous system. I think my view of the world is much more negative then yours, and you have much more going in your life than I. So it really puzzles me. Did you have these anxieties when you had a girlfriend?

  8. Jeff, there are plenty of stress factors in your life lately, so talking about them with someone is going to do a percentage of good. I myself have never met a psychologist or psychaitrist who actually did any good for me, but that doesn’t mean that another person wouldn’t find it helpful, just for sheer release if nothing else.

    But your having gone on and off meds is harsh on the system; that may have something to do with it. I had a friend who was on something as apparently harmless as treatment for severe acne, and it gave her suicidal thoughts that she battled for a couple of years, which she had thought were her own thoughts. Turns out that years later, they view that particular medicine as very dangerous to teenagers — Acutane is now known to have caused such symptoms in young people particularly. If she’d killed herself, that would have been a particularly lame reason. Thank goodness she didn’t.

    If you’ve had the self-destruction imagery in your head longer than that, I have some theories about it, but would like you to e-mail me if interested, can’t discuss them here; too involved.

    Think of the people who respond to you here if that’s possible next time. We all think supportively of you (with the exception of that one freaky chick we unanimously declared freaky.). We don’t ask anything from you but that you continue to be yourself. Because if for no other reason than being yourself, you support us in just… being. It’s good to see you. It’s good to hear about you. We like having you be around. That’s all.

  9. @Sophia — Insomnia is a terrible side-effect. I think that lack of sleep gives me some kind of dementia, and certainly makes things worse for me. Interesting that you were only on meds for a week, and it helped so much. The strange thing is that I’ve been in a pretty good mood lately, so one would think that I’d be seeing clearly.

    @Uncle Joe — It sounds like a Taoist paradox, which makes sense. I agree that the world is both simple and complex, just like Taoism is both simple and complex. To be perfectly happy is to be without happiness. In theory, this works, but it still doesn’t help.

    I’m on the fence about whether I’d rather it be a psychological thing or a chemical thing. On the one hand, if it was psychological, it’d be rather easy to fix; I just need to change things in my life. On the other hand, if it was chemical, it means that my life right now is good.

    I’d prefer it be psychological because I don’t want to be on meds. Unfortunately, I suspect it’s chemical, unless deep somewhere in my subconscious, I’m very unhappy. This is the only way that it makes sense to me.

    I do remember, on occasion, having these anxieties while in a steady relationship. I can’t tell if the relationship is a distraction or an aid though.

    @Xibee — Thanks for your supportive words. I’m trying to think of whether or not thinking/talking about this stuff is a good idea, because it generally makes me think more, until it becomes too much. I haven’t actually gone on meds myself, but I hear terrible things about it.

    And it’s not necessarily “self-destruction” when I have these vivid images, it’s just “destruction”, because I’m not doing it to myself. These go about as far back as the other thoughts of suicide.

    I wish that thinking of these supportive comments would cure me of these thoughts, but as I said, this is not a logical feeling or thought process. I can think of a thousand things I should be grateful for, but it doesn’t help.

  10. Hey, take care of yourself ! You’re my music buddy !

  11. It seems to me the concern isn’t the images of knives or the self-harming stutter of thoughts (and I’ve had those since teenage years too and the scale dropping a lot over the years, either from my mental training, or hormones shifting themselves)

    With me it’s been a learning self, a matter of self-trust when what-if racing thought taking over. The threat is from escalating one’s own thoughts over how easy it would be to act and game over.

    It’s a matter for me of remembering distraction strategies and even using a measure of self-mockery, taking a bored stance to self. Head conversation: Sure, that old thing again. Fine, thrash yourself out if that’s what you’ve gotta do, meanwhile this part of my mind and body are going to do this task, or take a nap or do meditation but wait out you noisy-head-chaos-rant-bit. It’s a heady bully of thought direction that likes to rattle the chain.

    Yes suicide thoughts can be threatening, especially to others. Therapy directly probably would help. I’ve though medicine might be a stop-gap but a measure of DBT tools can assist too.

  12. I have accepted it a long time ago. Whatever darkness I carry with me. I have accepted and embraced it. In a way, it makes me more content with myself. Much more able to function as an individual, protecting my own state of mind rather than fighting against it all the time.

    To me at least, it isn’t about taking the world on the outside and conforming yourself to it. It’s about taking you yourself and making the rest of the world conform to you. That’s why it isn’t the least bit strange to me. It makes sense in that madness and I don’t think I can be comfortable being anyone else but me.

    The people in my life who take medication are…alright. That’s the thing. They are normal. They have lost that spark, that sense of self and instead rely on medication to solve their problems. It has become a way for them to run away from their problems rather than facing, understanding and embracing who they are.

    I guess maybe for me, my reasons are…sort of…etched into my skin. The scars from my own self-cutting. Not that I suggest you should start it. But at least carry with you a physical reminder for those dark nights. They help keep the conviction. Or at least they help me. It might help you.

  13. @Pearl — I think I identify with your situation most in terms of the threat of “how easy it would be to act”. I’m curious…how are suicidal thoughts threatening to others?

    @Edrei — It’s amazing that I never would have thought of any of this about you from reading your blog. Embracing the darkness is certainly something I never thought of before.

    Your explanation of people you know on medication is rather scary. In addition to the side-effects, I hear it tones down the emotions. While I understand that this is the purpose, I think I’d really miss the happy, euphoric days, and I’d lose much of my inspiration. Relying on medication to solve/run from a problem doesn’t seem right. I think it should be used to get one through the day, so that one can live a “normal” life.

    In a way, I do carry a reminder of the dark side of my life in the form of a black and steel ring that I wear. I can understand that for you this is a way to accept yourself and these thoughts. Perhaps I can try this as well. If it’s helped you, it may very well help me.

  14. Embracing the dark side is what I was trying to say when I used the analogy of man fighting for justice …

    The thing is, being conscious of the dark side is different from embracing it. If you have to keep telling yourself that it doesn’t bother you, then you’re not yet embracing it. If you keep saying you don’t care, that means you do care. I know it’s not easy for me to understand your situation.

  15. How are they threatening to others?

    People worry. Because it’s an “imbalance”, like a mental illness people back away feeling its contagious, and it can color how what you (generic grammatical sense of “you”) say is heard. In the context of worry, people interpret things with a skew so something innocuous may be given more weight. And people who are really sensitive may dread “causing” a person to tip over the edge, may get all weird or walk on eggshells. It’s like a discomfort factor, like stating you’re gay (again generic “you”) people may get weird and try to relate to things like a person like “you” would be interested in as a way of trying to relate instead of acting normal. Does that make any sense?

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