The first time the dreaded suicidal thoughts came was the middle of my sophomore year in college. I was a college basketball player at the University of Tennessee. I had slipped into a deep depression. I felt like I was a failure and that no one would miss me if I just died. I looked out the balcony of my apartment, where I lived on the Tennessee River. I saw the bridge and considered leaping from it.
Then…I became terrified. In my heart I didn’t want to die, but I did want the pain to go away. The deep emotional pain of feeling so much stress and pressure from every area of my life. The feelings of failure for not playing up to my potential. The feeling of overwhelming stress after my mother’s near death from a mental health crisis. My world was closing in on me.
I finally lie down in my bed and started to cry. I prayed to God to help me get through the pain. I didn’t understand what was happening to me. I didn’t know I was experiencing my first bipolar depression episode. I finally picked up the phone and called my sister. She said, “Amy I think you need to go home. You need to be around your family. You need help.” I listened.
I’m not going to lie and say fighting through suicidal thoughts has ever been easy. Since the first time I experienced those thoughts I’ve struggled four additional times. Two times I checked myself into the psychiatric ward. One time I had no health insurance so I had to fight through the pain alone.
What worked for me is recognizing and understanding that suicidal thoughts often come when I’m not thinking clearly. I learned that I can have those thoughts but I don’t have to act on them. I also think about all the people who would be impacted if I took my own life. At one point when I was struggling I would see the faces of all the kids who I worked with and I kept telling myself I did not want those kids to have to live with that burden.
Everyone has their own pain. Depression effects people in different ways. Hopelessness effect us all in different ways. The pain of despair is very real. What has worked for me is to get at the core root of why I am having those thoughts. I think about them. I analyze them. I know if I act impulsively my act will be final. There will be no tomorrow if I take my own life.
The problem is there often isn’t rationale thinking when suicidal thoughts start their haunting. I’ve successfully handled my thoughts by fighting through the pain. In my darkest moment I would focus on holding on for just one more day. I’d pray to God to help me.
I’ve learned that pain, tough times and even bipolar depression are time limited. No matter how horrible things have been in my life at times, things have always gotten better.
So if you’re experiencing a difficult time, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Things will get better. Hold on for just one more day. I promise things will get better.
If you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts reach out. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Text the crisis line at 741-741.