How To Not Kill Yourself Even When Everything Sucks

How To Not Kill Yourself Even When Everything Sucks

So you feel like shit, and you’re thinking about checking out. Everything sucks, and you can’t figure out many/any reasons to stay. You’re sad, depressed, lonely, sick or some combination of the aforementioned. You want to kill yourself, because even nothingness seems better than this. And yet here I am, a fellow depressive-type person, asking you to stick around.

I’m not asking you to be happy, mind you. That’s a task that involves a bit of alchemy, luck, and magic all combined. I think you can get happier than you are right now, or else I wouldn’t be writing this blog post to you. And there are resources out there designed to help you in this exact moment of pain, just so you know (I imagine you probably knew this, because depressed people are often very smart, and did I mention we are incredibly attractive to boot? But anyway.)

Anyway, here is a good plan for how to not kill yourself even when you really want to.

1. Tell somebody how you feel, right this very second

It can be a friend or a family member or a medical professional. It can even be a stranger via the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Maybe you’d prefer it be a stranger, particularly since you may be feeling rather isolated at the moment and you may not want to “burden” or “bother” your family or friends with this stuff (important note: the people who truly love you want to help you, and you are not a burden ever — I am just saying that you might feel this way, and thus might prefer to talk to somebody totally unbiased and unattached to your situation). Tell people. Say something. Do it however you need to do it. My friend threw herself off a bridge earlier this year, and I can tell you based on the outpouring of grief that regardless of who she could have told about her pain — an acquaintance, a relative, a pal, an old comedy colleague — the person would’ve immediately taken the chance to help her. Your life affects so many other lives, even when you don’t realize it or think you’re worth anything at all. Somebody cares about you, even if it’s just someone who sees you at the store once in awhile or passes you on your morning walk to work.

2. Distract yourself, even for a minute at a time

The desire to kill oneself can turn into a ceaseless drumbeat in one’s head. Every time you distract yourself from this internal monologue, you give your brain a little reprieve (and maybe your soul, too, if you believe in such things). So watch something on TV. If turning on the TV seems like too much effort, sing to yourself. I used to jam the fuck OUT to an old church hymn called “Be Not Afraid” when my head got really noisy. If singing to yourself seems like too much effort, whisper the names of all your favorite members of Polyphonic Spree (there are like 11,000 of these people). Doodle. Take a walk. Organize your utility drawer. Count the triangles in the pattern on your quilt. I do not care how you distract yourself, so long as it does not involve harming yourself or other people. If you start to think, “I am such a loser, I should be doing X or Y or Z instead of this,” remember that the most important thing you can do for yourself is to keep yourself alive. And that’s what you’re doing right now, in whatever weird or strange or funky or silly way it takes.

3. Just keep breathing

Are you breathing? Good. Then you’re winning the war against the beasties in your head. Hooray! You are alive. Let’s keep it that way. Your sole task right now is to stay alive, so this breathing thing is key. Try counting your breaths. Or try the 4-7-8 breath: breathe in for four; hold for seven; and breathe out for eight. Be sure to inhale slowly and exhale slowly, feeling your belly rise and fall. After you do it once, do it again. And then again. Repeat for as many cycles as you like. It stimulates the relaxation response, which is incredibly important for people struggling with depression and anxiety.

I know this list may seem simple or stupid or silly, but this is actual lifesaving information right here. I know, because it’s saved my life on more than one occasion. When I wanted to kill myself, it wasn’t my fault. And if you want to kill yourself or are just really fucking depressed right now, it’s not your fault either. You are not weak. You are not unworthy. You are dealing with something that is treatable. Help is out there, and you can get better. In my experience, things can get better than you can fucking imagine. It’s wild, how much better things can get. But to see that, and to experience that, you’ve got to stick around. So tell somebody, distract yourself, and just keep breathing. You’re worth it.

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  • Darkrose

    Thank you for posting this.

    • sarabenincasa

      Thank you for reading!

  • Pookums

    How very timely. A good friend, more of a little sister, killed herself 4 years ago today. Thanks for posting this, Sara. You speak truth.

    • sarabenincasa

      I’m so sorry about your friend. Thank you for reading.

  • Jason M

    I think point #2 is especially useful. A bath, masturbating, a good walk, they’re all pretty simple, but they really do work wonders in the short term.

  • SandyGH

    Fantastic advice. I’ve been on a jag myself lately and saying stuff out loud can help get rid of it. Especially if you say it to someone who can give you something to quiet the chatter. But in the meantime distractions and breathing are good.

  • nothingisamiss

    Thank you.

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  • arallyn

    Bookmarked. I have my own methods, but I need a reminder many days. Keep plodding forward. Things will get better eventually.

  • Selena Coppock

    Great advice, Sara. Glad to know I’m not the only one who rocks out to super random songs when I’m a bit blue/anxious :)

  • TJ Barke

    I find listening to rapid tempo music helps. Also, for me at least, thinking how badly it would hurt my family.

  • Gary Eisenberg

    Very good advice – and exquisitely written. Thank you for sharing this!

  • 4. drugs and booze

    • spookymotion

      YMMV, but for me personally, when I’m dipping into depression, I’ve found very positive responses by eliminating all mind altering substances. Just for a time. Say 6 weeks or so. The first two days are like living hell. But day three is slightly better, and day four…

  • Draco

    Thanks for sharing this. Very brave and thoughtful of you. I love the breathing counts — never knew the correct ratio! :-)

  • Bitter Scribe

    Could I add one more?If all else fails and you really think you’re about to hurt yourself, go to the nearest hospital emergency room. Tell the first person who asks you what’s wrong that you’re afraid of hurting yourself. They’ll know what to do, which usually will be to admit you to the psych ward, either on site or the closest one that is secure and has a bed to spare.Psych wards aren’t exactly pleasant. They tend to be full of the kind of people you’d avoid in the subway. Plus it’ll be up to a shrink when you get out. But at least you’ll be safe, which is all that counts.

    • DontWasteMyTime.ThisIsIt

      thinking about going through all that gives me such depressive anxiety. I have a way better idea!!

  • johnnymeatworth
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  • spookymotion

    I found item 2 to be especially useful in this way: Make sure you do something physical. Every day. Seriously. Run or walk or rock climb or lift weights or play badminton or anything. Make it into a regularly scheduled ritual that you must keep -no matter what-.

  • Ben

    Also, too: Mindfulness Meditation. This isn’t one you can start doing in an emergency, but for those of us who’ve had Bad Days in the past and fear having them in the future, it can be great. Practice it a bit every day, and you’ll learn how to reliably fall into a “mindful” state. The next time things seem to be falling apart, that state will help you shut out past regrets and future fears. You can just live in the moment and enjoy your current distraction. (And if “living in the moment” sounds like a bad idea when the moment is horrible … it isn’t. You learn how to step outside yourself and observe your emotions without being controlled by them. Then, you can move on with your day.)

  • Darkrose

    It’s been five months. I have this post bookmarked, and I look at it often. Oddly, only when I’m at work.

    • Stephen Power

      It might be time for a new job, if work drives you to feel this way. Maybe I`m misinterpreting what you`re saying…