the little moment where i might know
Content warning: Suicide, Suicidal Thoughts
I've wanted to die a lot. If we tallied up all the time I've thought about dying it would at least be a weeks worth of hours. I mean I'm just guessing, but 168 hours might even be low balling it. The point is, I've thought about it a lot.
When I was in my teenage years, I thought about it so much more, it just felt like I was waiting for the day to come. I even hoped for it most days, and a few times I tried to speed the process along with self-harm. But I made it out alive.
Making it out alive doesn't mean you instantly want to live. First of all, no one even knew the extent of my struggling so when I did or didn't die, it wasn't like anyone rushed to my attention and made me feel a new sense of belonging, which would have likely also been awful because I definitely didn't want attention, and it wasn't like suddenly I had a whole new therapy plan and was working my way through my challenges, for most of my teenage life I didn't even reach out. I felt the exact same, I was just not dead.
Somehow I made it out of high school and reached out to my doctor about what I was experiencing. I started counselling, medications, and the whole works. When you tell someone you're experiencing mental health issues in the first half of your assessment you're sure to be asked some variation of have you ever wanted to end your life, or have you ever tried to end your life, or do you want to end your life right now? When I first started therapy, I answered this question with "well, not really, I mean I'd really like to not exist a lot of the time, but I don't want to hurt myself right now, like I'm not a risk to myself, but I still just would happily fade away."
I learnt that answering that way didn't get me "locked-up" which was what I thought would happen, because the stigma around mental illness is very real and extends into how treatment is given. I thought that if I told someone that I really didn't want to live that it would mean I would be sent to a hospital, and if I didn’t want to die now I thought surely I would then.
In my first year of college it got way bad. I'd been a risk to myself for years really, just running around hurting myself and justifying it by my awareness. I might not have been suicidal all the time, but I didn't want to live either, and feeling like that allows you to neglect even some of your most basic needs. Hurting yourself doesn't always mean cutting, taking drugs, or attempting to take your life, it comes in so many forms. And not wanting to live doesn't mean you have to want to die, but my first year of college like when I was a teenager, that was what it meant.
I went to my doctor and we started to talk about my mental health, and the age old question of if I wanted to die came up. I couldn't brush it off like I had in the past. So I told her, I told her that I wanted to die right now, right here, and that I'd be so much more better off for it, but that I couldn't do it myself, I couldn't kill myself. I would, but I hadn't found a way that was 100% foolproof and so that's why I was there. When she asked me to explain further, I told her that what scares me more then living through this, is that little moment between when my chosen method sets in and when I actually die, that little moment where I might know. I don't want to know and regret what I've done.
Over time my doctor helped me realize that the little moment was more then just fear of potential regret, that little moment was hope, that little moment meant so much to me because I knew deep down that this wasn't the right answer, that if I still thought I could regret dying there was hope I could want to live again.
That little moment was something that I thought was an inconvenience many times over the years, something that I told myself was almost a weakness, but it was one of my greatest strengths. My ability to still see that there might be something worth living for, my ability to see that I still might actually not want to die was one of the biggest factors that kept me alive.
Before I had ever spoken about wanting to die, I thought about it a lot. I spent a lot of time thinking about methods, and times, and places, and people, and that little moment. It was always the little moment that kept me from taking the next step beyond just thinking. I still think about it, because my mental illnesses haven't magically disappeared, but I have coping mechanisms now, I have mantras, I have plans for when it gets to much, and I have a lot of very supportive people who might not always get it, but are trying to. I'm still anxious as hell, but I don't want to not live. It doesn't even get to the little moment now because I can finally find more things to live for than to not, that doesn't mean some days still aren't pretty low but I think about dying a lot less.
I didn't realize how much that little moment meant but it literally meant that there was a world I still sincerely might not be ready to leave, and if you're feeling the same way too I hope you find your little moment and hold on to it. Reach out, ask for help, share, and recognize that you deserve to have a life that is more then just existing, you really deserve to live.
if you are in crisis please call 911 or visit your nearest emergency department. You're worth it.