Jul 14, 2014
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.