Loving Ourselves

Warning today’s topic is suicide.

My friend attempted suicide. It was her third attempt. The first two attempts occurred during a time where life had taken us in separate directions and we weren’t talking.

Since then, I didn’t ask her to many questions because I’ve been told I am one of the few people who can make her happy so I didn’t want to spend out precious time together talking about it unless she brought it up. But if she brought it up I would listen and be supportive.

My friend gets overwhelmed and decides she doesn’t want to be here anymore.

Suicide isn’t rational. We can all think, you just graduated, you just got a job in your field, you have three young children that need you. How can you try to take your life?

I don’t know much yet. I am trying to learn what my friend must be thinking. Perhaps months from now I will think what I understand now is idiotic, but this is what I think now.

With suicide, the person isn’t looking at the big picture. It is about a short time period in which they want something badly, in this case to end their emotional suffering, and need to relieve that need.

I wonder if this is similar to other desires that we may fall prey to such as possessions or lust. We have some object or person in mind and won’t be relieved until we posses it (we think). Or in the case of suicide, we are feeling pain and we just want to make it stop.

I don’t claim that suicide is only about a short term pain. I think the person may be carrying a heavy load of trauma that may have began in childhood or later on. But something triggers the episode, making it too much to bear when the attempt occurs.

My friend’s psychiatrist told her to prepare a box of objects so when she starts feeling overwhelmed she can go to. The box is filled with objects to invoke the senses. Objects with happy memories, scents and reminders of life’s goodness to take my friend out of her anxiety. I imagine this is helpful because it forces the mind to change directions and focus on something else.

I think sometimes we give into temptation because there is something attractive about the idea and we don’t want to stop thinking about it even when we know we should stop. Insert any thing you are trying to avoid here: dessert, the opposite sex, ending the pain.

But if we love ourselves, and think of ourselves as worth love, we will realize choosing any of these things is a short term solution to a temporary problem. It’s one chapter in the whole book of life.

Instead of ending the pain, perhaps she can add images of events to come to the box. The picture of her oldest son’s high school graduation picture in two years. Her second child’s Confirmation. Her daughter’s wedding, my own wedding.

One thing I have learned so far is when you have someone who is suicidal in your life, you can’t apply what seems like common sense. The afflicted person probably thinks these things with one part of their mind, but they are in so much pain they can’t feel that.

Please don’t judge them, listen to them and look for information online to try to understand what is happening in their mind.

I’ve noticed my friend will stop talking about how she feels when someone else inserts their thoughts about how she should feel or what she should do. I imagine it’s like you trying to explain your trip to France and someone else, who has never been to France tries to tell you what they think its like.

Listen to them, and learn to discern the signs that they are going beyond what they can handle, and get them help if they are spiraling downward.

Suicide Hotline

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