Sunday, 10 September 2017

From the Heart: Advice From Someone Who's Been Suicidal | National Suicide Prevention Day

     Hi, it's me. Felicity. Felicity Rose. Live and in writing. A year ago today, I shared with you what the difference between contemplating suicide and being suicidal are. And today, I am going to share with you my story and my advice for those who have been in my position. Grab a snack and settle in because it's going to be a long ride.
     May 2016, I was 18 and I decided to switch antidepressant meds because what I was on (Zoloft) wasn't working.  I started taking Paxil and Xanax which I had heard was good for panic attacks and depression. Those medications together were a fucking nightmare for me. They caused my mental breakdowns to become weekly versus monthly. So when I finally realized that they were doing me more harm than good, I decided to switch back to Zoloft which is what I was taking before. The thing I didn't do, was wean off of Paxil, like I should have. I immediately started taking Zoloft again and a quarter of my daily Xanax dose three times a day. That alone sent me into a ten day suicidal phase.
     July 4th - July 13. I don't remember the intimate details of what when on during those ten days I just remember telling my parents multiple times that I wanted God to take me, I remember cutting with a shaving razor multiple times (but not deep enough to cause major damage. Just superficial cuts that burned and stung like a mother-fer). I remember telling my parents over and over again that I wanted to die. I don't remember having a plan, I just remember wanting to just end it all. I also remember listening to Samantha Bark's cover of This House Is Empty Now on repeat. On July 13th I went in to see a new psychiatrist, all thanks to my therapist who was able to pull strings and have me see him sooner than my scheduled appointment was. And that's when I started the cocktail of meds I'm still on today. 25mg of Zoloft, .5mg of Klonopin and 15mg of Remeron. I know now that if I hadn't seen a psychiatrist when I did, I would not be here today, writing this post for you all to read.
     Fast forward to today, May 18th, 2017 at 1:11pm (yes, I am writing this post months in advance). I am currently sitting on my bed, listening to the band Joseph while 13 Reasons Why is paused on my TV. I paused the show because it gave me a brilliant idea for a post. This post. I have been in Hannah Baker's position in terms of feelings. I never will know her troubles. I only know what's mine. Can't pretend to feel what I cannot, that'd be crazy. While there are probably miles of gaps between her story and mine, there are likely parts where they overlap such as the feelings of hopelessness, loneliness and emptiness. And rather than dwelling on the show and how many painful memories it has brought up for me, I decided to use those emotions to a) fuel my passion for becoming a psychotherapist and b) bring more awareness for the topic of suicide. 
     The purpose of this post is not for pity or attention, but to break the silence for suicide attempt survivors. While I have not fully attempted suicide, I have come damn close to doing it on multiple occasions.
     Since those unfortunate days last summer I have come up with advice for those of you have either though about suicide or have attempted it and survived. If any of you have others, feel free to leave them in the comments below. Some of these may not work for you and that's okay. All I am asking is for you to try. 
1. Live Simply
     Enjoy the simple things in life. Go on a walk and choose to focus on one thing. The cool or heat in the air. The birds singing, or the crushing of leaves or snow beneath your shoes. Forget about the materialistic things in life. They only add on to the stresses in life.

I went into the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front the only essential facts of life. And to see if I could not learn what it had to teach and not, when I came to die. I discovered that I had not lived. ~ Henry David Thoreau
2. Cultivate Sacred Spaces
     Find a space in your house or in nature that is ideal for relaxation. Whether that be reading, journaling, praying or meditating. For me, that place is under the bridge near my house. I spent a great deal of time there last summer, listening to podcast sermons, coloring in a meditation coloring book or just listening to nature around me.
     If you're out in the work field find a church, park, coffee house or art gallery where you can go to escape for a while during a pressure-filled day.

Your sacred space is where you can find yourself over and over again. ~ Joseph Campbell
3. Journal Regularly
     Journaling according to psychologists is one of the most beneficial things a person can do for themselves. It's a place where you can kick out the inner demons of your mind. I started journaling in 2015 and I have been through two journals already. I definitely don't write as often as I should, but when I do, it usually takes up many pages. You can even draw things in your journal, tape mementos in it etc. Your thoughts deserve a space to live that is not a place where they can torment you. 

Journal writing is a voyage to the interior. ~ Christina Baldwin
4. Create Works of Beauty
     Whatever moves you, do it. For me, it's dancing. Whenever I need to express my feelings in a way that words cannot, I dance. That song I listened to on repeat during my suicidal phase last summer, when I was feeling better and fully out of that phase I did a dance to that song which you can view here. 
     So go out there and create art. Paint, write and sing songs, make sculptures, choreograph dances, write and act out monologues etc. If it's a performing art, I recommend you record yourself, so you always have a piece of what you create with you. You don't have to share what you create with the world, like I do. But create it and save it. 

The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls. ~ Pablo Picasso.
5. Assemble Your Dream Team
     The exact people you will need to help you depends on what you're facing. But be committed to find a small group of people to be with you through thick and thin and to assist you with the physical, social, spiritual and personal healing that is needed. For me that is my sister Jaimi, my parents, my therapist and my significant other. 
My friends and family are my support system. They tell me what I need to hear, not want I want to hear and they are there for me through the good times and the bad times. Without them, I have no idea where I would be and I that their love for me is what is keeping my head above the water. 
~ Kelly Clarkson
6. Manage your Primary Illness
     Whether is is depression, addiction, an eating disorder or some other physical illness which brought you to deaths door, it requires your unwavering focus. If you put anything else before managing your primary illness ... you will likely lose that very thing you thought was more important. 
     This also means, no dating. Consider your “relationship bone” to be in a splint and cast for a while. You need to go easy on it until it is strong enough to handle more weight.

Putting yourself first is not selfish. Quite the opposite actually. You must put your health and happiness first before you can be of any help to anyone else. ~ Simon Sinek
7. Comply with Prescriptions
     This is especially necessary as it regards anti-depressants. Only increase or decrease your meds under the specific guidance of your doctor. There are terrible tales of patients who begin to recover, with the help of today’s psychiatric drugs, and then feel they no longer need them and simply cease using them and weeks later end up suicidal. I know that from personal experience.

Prescriptions can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Follow the directions precisely if you don't want them to become your worse enemy.  ~ Starr Neill

8. Share your Story Selectively
     Be careful who you share your story with. Some people might think you are doing it for attention (which is not at all my intent of sharing my story). And please spare them the immediate details, unless they ask for them of course. Be fully honest with your "dream team" but not everyone needs to or wants to hear how you attempted suicide. Hearing that can do a lot more damage to someone than you think. Hearing how one of my friends attempted it has done a lot of damage to me and I don't want to know how my other two friends succeeded at it. It would hurt me too much to know that.
     I am sharing my story and my advice to show whoever reads this than you are never alone. I know now that God has let all these things happen to me so I can share it with all of you So I can show everyone that you are not alone.

All of these lines across my face, tell you the story of who I am. So many stories of where I've been and how I got to where I am. But these stories don't mean anything, when you've got no one to tell them to. It's true, I was made for you. ~ The Story by Brandie Carlisle 
9. Eliminate Easy Access to Destructive Means
Get the pills, guns, and booze out of the house. When I'm at home my parents hold on to my meds for me and when I am at school, the school nurse holds on to them for me. And I don't have any sharp objects near me. Nothing. It is imperative that you clean house (literally) while you are in a place of strength, possibly with a trusted friend helping you. Don’t leave a “back door unlocked” which could undo all your good work later on when things get tough.

I eliminated all the temptation I could because I wasn't going to be come a statistic in USA today. I am stronger than the feelings I have of wanting to end it all. God has a reason for all my pain and I fully trust in him. ~ Felicity-Rose
10. Be Gentle With Yourself
Did you know that the 12 step literature urges “spiritual progress not spiritual perfection.”? Well, now you do. Those of us who are recovering from a serious suicide attempt or suicidal phase are doing a remarkable thing as we reclaim our life. I've started dancing again. I am working again. I am training a psychiatric service dog. I am finally taking heart heart in my progress and celebrating  and rejoicing in the small victories. On the 13th month, I’d go out and either by myself a book or buy myself a treat. The books are either a vampire fantasy novel or another psychology "self-help book" but what can I say. 

Be gentle with yourself, you are a child of the universe. No less than the tree and the stars. In the noisy confusion of life keep peace in your soul. ~ Max Hermann 

  If I am lost, find me but do not ask me to come back just yet. 
Sit with me in this lost place and maybe you'll understand why I come here too often, 
what draws me to my neverland. Find me, but bring me back when I am ready. 
Maybe you will get to know me a little better. Maybe we can get lost together.

     So there you have it. My entire story of contemplating suicide and my advice for those who were or are in the same boat as I was. Take it or leave it. The choice is yours. I hope you all have a lovely week! See you all next time.

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