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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