This article was originally published on the author’s blog here.
You can read the first part here.
TW: Self-harm, Suicide, Suicidal ideation
On the bright side, it has become increasingly easier and less painful to admit when I feel suicidal. Part of it can be owed to the realization that the idea on its own need not be as dangerous as it sounds. For the lack of a better phrase, this feeling isn’t always black and white – wanting to live or die. I could feel like dying on the worst days, and on most other days it’s just that the desire to live doesn’t really look exciting or colourful or even mildly positive. On some days, I am just satisfied with trudging along the desert and not falling, on others, I feel ashamed of myself for thinking about giving up and not trying enough.
After I narrated my experiences with suicidal habits and self-harm publicly almost a year ago, I had always wanted to write a second account; like a follow-up. But due to the fear of being judged as hackneyed or bland, and because I didn’t want to make it another detailed, dark commentary about my feelings without any definite ending, I was pushing it further away.
But ever since then, I feel that many of my friends have become more receptive too. Still, I feel extreme paranoia about how they might respond to me, and thinking about all the things they might not be telling me for the fear of making my state of mind worse while acting all cool on the outside. I also feel insecure by thinking whether revealing too much would affect my relationships with them adversely – that it would completely alter the way they see me, micro-analyzing the way I walk and talk. These are some things I always make a fuss over. I will never want them to keep such a misunderstood image of me for long periods, and them being overly conscious and uneasy around me is the last thing I need on top of my anxieties. There’s always a dilemma where you have to choose between letting them see the importance and the gravity of this disclosure and pushing them into a thought process where they mistake me for someone who wants to die every single day of the year.
If I may take the liberty to evaluate my own experiences, I can say that during my entire life I have stayed in that murky area that comes between having very benign, short-lived thoughts about harming yourself and actively pursuing thoughts about suicide. When I open up, it is not intended to create panic or distress (sadly, most of the reactions are either too apprehensive or too lukewarm). No, I am not minutes or hours away from doing it. And I am not putting the onus on anyone to step in and convince me not to do it. In 9 out of 10 times, I would just be looking for some sort of respite from the crushing sense of isolation and searching for some kind of connection or bond – to assure myself that whatever is going on with me isn’t such a bizarre occurrence. Considering all these, the probability of all kinds of wrong assumptions that can be made as a result of confiding in someone is extremely debilitating.
Due to the fear of being judged as hackneyed or bland, and because I didn’t want to make it another detailed, dark commentary about my feelings without any definite ending, I was pushing it further away.
And I don’t think my experiences are in any way a reliable source for judging the behaviour of people who go through this. But this doesn’t erase its validity either. Suicidal ideation is something that knows no social barriers or divisions like class, gender, race, or sexuality (even though there are stark differences in the number of people who die because of this from different communities). And along with the widespread notion that beginning to develop any similar inclination towards it is inherently bad, many among us don’t even feel bold enough to divulge anything. And again, just because one has developed suicidal ideations doesn’t mean that they are always thinking about taking their lives. Like, the sole interpretation of suicidal thoughts relies on the idea of hate and resentment towards the life you live; the apathy factor seldom comes into the picture. Nor does the facet of passive thinking.
It has been almost a year and a half after college, and as a working professional. It feels tremendously taxing sometimes, but these moments are still manageable. I am looking forward to a day where I can live without any such instincts. But it also comes with the daunting truth about the inevitability of these thoughts. I have had enough delusions about winning that ultimate battle, but I don’t plan on feeding them anymore. Am I comfortable with what I have at the moment? To an extent, yes. But being comfortable doesn’t always translate to a content life, does it? I can safely assume that my ideation hasn’t become severe yet. For one, I don’t constantly dream about my death by various means, I don’t actively search for methods to take my own life, I haven’t had to try hard to distract myself from voices inside my head that tell me to end my ‘misery’. Most days go by without any major setbacks, and I have noticed that I seem to be okay as long as I am not obsessed with finding the edge of the desert I am stuck in. I have to gradually teach myself that the edge won’t necessarily be a refuge and that I need to think about it only when I stumble across one. That I have what it takes to survive here. And most importantly, not to be scared.
Because why should I be frightened if I am not alone in this journey?
Also, you wouldn’t have asked for my two cents, but all of us will be going through some kind of emotional disaster or mental health emergencies at some point in our lives. The key is to find the courage, and a secure space to talk. Talk about all the things bothering us, the things that we would rather have instead, the things we are looking forward to excitedly. As someone who has experienced first-hand the kind of effect healthy conversations can have on potentially dangerous thoughts, I have learned that in the end, it is all about the things that make us want to keep living. These can do so much towards providing us with the necessary arsenal to fight everything out there, and simultaneously help us heal all the cracks and wounds.