This piece was written by Bria Barrows, a Thought Catalog contributor
I know this is an extremely sensitive topic, but it is one that needs to be discussed.
Because I know for a fact that at one point in our lives, we have been suicidal or have known someone struggling with these thoughts. One in five people struggle with mental health issues. That means for every room you enter with hesitancy and your head turned downward, believing you are the only one with issues, one in five of those people are going through the exact same thing.
For someone who has never experienced suicidal thoughts, the thought of wanting to die in itself can seem ludicrous. The sun is shining, there is a chance for another day, you are in love, the breakfast you had that morning was delicious. The thought of dying seems way too far-fetched. Something left for a time far away in the future. What more could you ask for?
But for those who struggle with debilitating mental illnesses, such as depression, the demon of them all, suicidality is a strong risk. Let me make this clear. Depression can kill you. You need your brain to eat a meal that tantalizes your taste buds. You need your brain to have the guts to socialize with people at school or work. You need your brain to feel the warm air on a sunny day and feel relief. You need your brain to kiss and feel the warmth of the kiss all throughout your body.
But a depressed mind often feels none of this. You are constantly in a state of isolation in your mind. Enjoyment is no longer something you crave. Simple tasks seem like a chore and your bed is your safe haven. Sleep calls you constantly, just so you can get a short escape.
When we think of someone who is suicidal, or just the term in itself, we shy away from even talking about it. It frightens us. The realness of it seems too much to swallow and we just sweep it right under the rug. We do this because suicide is viewed for the finality of it all. It happens, and we are left wondering…
“She was beautiful.” “He was smart.” “She was talented.” “He excelled in sports.”
But none of that can hinder the mind from becoming unwell.
It doesn’t matter what we look like on the outside. The brain is a blessing, but yet can also be a wicked thing when it comes to mental health. I deal with depression on a day-to-day basis, have been through a dramatic relapse, and I can tell you from my experience, suicidal people do not truly want to die, but see it as the only option to end the pain they are in.
To the suicidal mind, you feel trapped. You feel suffocated by the state of your psyche and there seems like there is no way out. Day in and day out, you deal with mental agony and anguish that both frightens you and pushes you at the same time. You feel like death is the only way out, but at the same time, the human in you desperately wants to fight to cling on to hope. To cling on to life.
It’s human nature to want to survive, to live, to thrive. But mental illness can get to a point where you seem isolated.
Mental illness can be a battle. A battle of the mind, a battle that many are unfortunate to experience. But I can tell you that death is the ultimate, last resort for someone who feels suicidal. They might feel like they’ve exhausted all efforts and everything that they try has failed to provide relief. They feel like there are walls in their mind that have locked them deep behind and there is no way out.
Most importantly, however, suicidal people do not want to die. They want to live so desperately, but they can’t seem to find a way to. They feel like they have exhausted all their options and the pain they are experiencing is well beyond them.
Many will say that people who are suicidal are looking for attention, or they are cowardly for feeling the way that they do. But depression is real and you shouldn’t be judged for going through something that is incredibly scary and lonely. People who experience suicidal thoughts do not need anyone criticizing them or belittling them for having the thoughts they do.
If you’ve been there or are there right now, give yourself credit for the tremendous strength you have as a human being for making it thus far. Commend yourself for surviving even though inside you want to just crumble. Congratulate yourself for making it through this hour without acting on your thoughts.
I know you want to live. I want you to live too so you can inspire others with your story. I want you to be able to be a voice for everyone who has experienced these thoughts and are still alive to tell the tale. I want you to grow through all of this and know that even though you are hurting and in a place that seems absolutely beyond you, you can get through it. You are here for a reason and you are stronger because of all you have been through.
You are a survivor.
Use your story to propel yourself further as an individual. Use your story to remind yourself of your strength and all that you have survived thus far. You should be commended for making it this far, to this very moment, and for all the progress you have made.
I want you to know your beating heart is the hope you have been looking for, and death is not the only option. Look at where you are right now, look at all the people who have provided you with hope thus far. I know, it is not easy to believe death is not the only option. Trust me, I am where you have been or are. But your life is worth living because you are still here trying to survive, you are still here getting stronger each and every day, getting better each and every day, even if you don’t realize it.
I’m still here with you, so don’t give up just yet.