*This post discusses suicidal thoughts so please take care if you might find it distressing.*
Although I still have fleeting suicidal thoughts every now and again during of extreme stress, several years have now passed during which I haven't had daily suicidal thoughts. For many years, it was normal for me go to sleep each day feeling so frightened, alone and despairing that my final thought before falling asleep was: could I take another day of emotional agony? For a long time, my response to any and all stressors-- anything I perceived as conflict or criticism-- was suicidal thought: 'I should die', 'I deserve to die', 'I can't live like this'. I think my response was a mark of the deep emotional pain I felt. I felt this agony often multiple times a day, most days.
I didn't want to upset others or let anyone down, so I got really good at hiding how I felt. For someone who had no affinity for acting, I became a solid actress. I turned to self-harm because it felt like a release of painful emotions and it was helpful for social functioning. I found that I could stop my tears or outward displays of emotions if I translated them into a physical pain. Of course self-harming wasn't helpful for me as a person or my wellbeing because every time time I hurt myself, I reinforced the things I felt I was: shameful, bad, horrible, disgusting, worthless. It would not be fair to blame or shame myself for what I did to myself. I didn't know how else to cope; in those times I felt as though I had no other options. I wish everyone understood that.
Today I know that I didn't deserve to feel that fear, loneliness and despair that incited my relentless suicidal thoughts. I didn't deserve to be in buried so deep in my problems. Nor was it my fault that I turned to self-harm. I needed help. I waited for help. At times I asked for support. There were many instances when I ought to have been given help, but I didn't get it. I didn't deserve to bear that burden of suicidal thoughts and self-harm. If you can relate to my experience, please know you don't deserve that burden either.
I am writing this because I am no longer in the place. I am so far from that scary world where each new day feels like a threat. I no longer walk streets crying in the dark, I don't think about suicide like other people think about what to have for dinner, I don't turn up at A&E sobbing for help. The past me-- the me who did all of these things-- would find it surprising to know that this time passed. I wish I could have told the past me. Although if I did, I bet she wouldn't believe me. People who feel hopeless often find it difficult to feel hopeful.
If you are wondering how much longer you can cope with your agony, please know that there really can come a time when you will look back at a past you and see how things can change. I really want you to give your future self that chance.
Hope is not something that needs to be strong. It doesn't need to be something you need to permanently hold onto. You can pass it to other people to hold, whilst you feel hopeless. Hope can flicker like a flame in the wind. So can hopelessness. They both can come and go. If your hope has gone right now, it will come back. It's a matter of waiting. As hard as that may be. Please wait.
I guess I just want to say, if you are feeling as scared, hopeless and alone as I once did, this time can pass. The past me didn't know that, but the present me does. I am glad to know this because I am here, alive with my happy life. I am here right now holding onto hope for you, until you can hold it in your own hands.