PTSD and Suicide - The Conversation of Warriors
This is going to be heavy. It's going to be triggering. It will make you uncomfortable, it will have you shifting in your seat, it may have you sick to your stomach.
It will really make you think about a lot of things.
If you are feeling this low, or you need help, please contact the Suicide Hotline in Canada at 833-456-4566
If you're at risk of killing yourself, PLEASE call 911. Trust me, they'd rather take you to the hospital alive versus tell your loved ones that you're dead.
You ARE wanted.
You ARE loved.
You ARE worth people's time.
Your presence is required on earth. If you don't believe it, that's fine. I'll believe it for you.
As promised, the heavier the topic is, the younger the picture of my dog. Wookit that wittle face... it's almost as if she's not entirely a shithead.
Definition: Thinking about, considering or planning suicide.
This is a common symptom of PTSD, and one that I can say I've had.
I've had it a lot.
It's uncomfortable for a lot of people to hear that someone's suicidal. The reactions are pretty much the same.
"We love you!"
"It's just a bad day."
"You have people relying on you."
"People love you."
"You have so much to live for."
"Reach out if you ever get like that!"
And that's if they even say anything. Usually, they sit across from you in tears for a while, then change the topic. Because talking about being suicide is fucking hard. I've been suicidal, and talking to patients who are at that point is hard.
I get it. People don't know what to say. Especially people who have never experienced that low. We call it the "hole". "I'm stuck in the hole, and I'm spiralling."
So, what's it like to be stuck in the hole?
It's like nothing, but that feeling is mixed with pain at the same time. It's like life itself is suffocating you from the outside. There's a pain in your heart so bad that all you can see is that pain. There's nothing but pain. All you want is some fucking relief. You can't sleep, you can't eat. The only thought going through your head is your plan. It spins through your head, you can't push it down. There's so much pain, there's so much doubt. And a singular thought tumbles through your head that could make it go away. The single image, or the video of the pain being gone... finally being gone, it fills your every waking and sleeping moment. It fills everything.
"You have so much to live for" turns into "Other people would have an easier life without me."
"People love you" - "I can't love myself, there's nothing worth loving."
"You have people relying on you" - "You're a burden, and you can't pull your weight."
"It's just a bad day" - "This is all I can remember. The pain, the nothing, it takes over everything. There's no good days, not anymore"
"We love you!" - "Great, I'm just disappointing my family, again."
"Reach out if you ever get like that!" - "I'm not worth saving."
The worst moments of your life, the moments that you feel terrible about spiral through your head, dragging you down.
"You're a burden."
"You take up everyone's time, and you give nothing back."
"They'd miss you for a while, then they'd move on to better things."
"You're a terrible person."
That's what it's like to be stuck in the hole. But, when you're there and there's no end in sight, there's one light. One shining example to just fix it.
It's not a thing about violence, or about attention. It's not even about going to Heaven or Hell (if believing in that is your jam).
All you have to do is kill yourself. Then it would all go away.
That's what it feels like, to be stuck in the hole. That's what it's like, for hours, or minutes, or days, or months, or years.
I've heard people call suicide "selfish". This was even before I'd admitted to anyone that I'd planned it down to the last detail. Hell, before I felt this way, I thought the same thing. It's a selfish way out, and you don't see the shattered family after you're gone.
You don't see the therapy your spouse has to go through after finding you. You don't see their sleepless nights when they think about what they could have done differently just to save you. You don't see how the spider-web shifts out, how there's people crying for years.
I get it. I get why people think that suicide is a selfish way out. Because I've seen the shattered lives, I've seen the crushed dreams of a spouse. I've told people that their loved one is dead, and that there was nothing I could do for them. I've seen their lives die with their loved one.
But I think we're lost in that fact of selfish.
Labelling someone this way is a very easy way to shift the blame. It also separates us from that destiny.
I'm not selfish. I'd never do that to my family, so I'm not at risk.
It's a self-preservation strategy. It shields us from what we see in the news, or from the family reports over coffee (pre-covid). Sure, it's sad.
But that will never happen to me.
Because I'm not that selfish. My wife isn't that selfish. My parents/sister/brother/coworkers aren't that selfish.
It's sad. But it's a future for the selfish. And I don't know anyone who would take such an easy way out.
That type of thinking is pervasive. Probably amongst all of us. I'm not going to say I've never thought things like that.
See, that's the problem. We shift the blame to the person.
We don't see how long they fought this internally. We don't take into account that maybe it's their 1000th day in a row of feeling they are in the "hole", and finally they lost their fight.
"I'm tired of fighting."
I've said those fucking words. I've said them.
"I get why people with PTSD kill themselves."
I've said that, too. To people who love me. And I watched as their heart breaks in front of me.
I know that I'm loved. I would give anything for my family. I am not selfish. So, either how humanity perceives suicide is wrong, or I'm so selfish I can't see it.
Food for thought, perhaps?
It is a war, somedays. It's a war to wake up. It's a war to get out of bed. It's a war to parent. A war to be a spouse. A war to go to work.
People with suicidal ideation are in a silent battle. Always.
Warriors sometimes lose.
That's not selfish. That's not failing.
That's a fact.
So, maybe you'll think about the next suicide with a little more empathy for the person going through the battle. That's all I want.
I want the pervasive judgement for those who lose their battle to end.
And for people to realize that you should be thankful you've never had to battle like that.
There are studies that show people with PTSD have a 5 - 13(!) times higher rate of death from suicide than others. That's fucked up.
All those people... They aren't selfish.
They just lost a fight.
I think they deserve a little more respect.
If you are having thoughts of self-harm but are in no immediate danger, please go to a mental health professional. They can help you with ways to cope, with ways to dig yourself out of the hole, they will throw you lifelines to set up so you can even work on saving yourself.
You deserve the help.
And you deserve to be here.
Suicide Hotline: Canada
Suicide Hotline: USA
988 - New line being introduced America wide for suicide prevention in 2022.