My Experience with Suicidal Thoughts

Mental health is not one-size-fits-all.

My postpartum mental health landed more toward the “postpartum anxiety” end of the spectrum. It took me a long time to seek help, because I felt like things were only serious if I had a suicidal thought.

My actual hallmark symptoms were irritability, the longevity of it, and disturbing thoughts about accidentally harming my children.

Eventually, the lack of sleep and anxiety felt so overwhelming that I started looking for a way to make it stop, but it never felt like something I was capable of, or sincerely wanted.

It felt more like a wish for quiet.

Which isn’t something I love talking about, but I wanted to point out that mental health and postpartum mental health are not one-size-fits-all.

I knew all of the technical “signs” of postpartum depression, and I never felt like that applied to me.

Everyone is different, and I don’t want to downplay more critical experiences, but I wanted to point this out, because I wish I had gotten help sooner!

Sometimes, the battle is ongoing.

Last month, I had my first similar suicidal thoughts since my postpartum depression days – not something I actually planned or wanted, but my body’s way of trying to make the anxiety stop.

After some deep breaths, I told my husband and scheduled an appointment with my therapist.

She had some amazing suggestions!

*Please don’t mistake this for psychological advice or medical care that fits your needs. If you know me, you know how much I believe in therapy. One of the biggest reasons for that is because they are trained professionals who know exactly what to look for, how to assess risk, and what your options really are.

But, I feel like her advice was something we all need, especially right now, so I wanted to share!

The number one fear I had was what if.

I’ve never been so grateful for all of my practice in self-awareness, but, what if, I hadn’t been coherent enough to call myself out and get help?

The me in that moment wanted to do something the me now logically knows I would never want to follow through on.

I asked my therapist, in tears, “What about next time? What do I do?”

She estimated that probably 98% of her clients experience similar thoughts about “making it stop”, but continued:

Thoughts are not fact – let them come, so that they will go. And remind yourself of that.”

Creating A Mental Health “Emergency First Aid Kit”

She then suggested creating a mental health “emergency first aid kit”.

She explained, sometimes, anxiety causes our bodies go into fight-or-flight mode so often, that after “fighting” for extended periods of time, it chooses flight.

However, because thoughts are not fact, we aren’t always honest with ourselves about the full scope of our options.

So, we need to have options on hand!

My mental health emergency kit looks like this:

^This is the suicide hotline.

Breathing is something I’ve already been using, but my therapist explained that it works because oxygen to the brain is one of the fastest ways to chemically pull our brains out of fight-or-flight mode.

Makes sense, right?!

Give it a try!

My challenge to you this week is to sit down and make your own mental health “first aid kit”, if you haven’t already.

Self-care isn’t about what’s on your list; it’s about the intentionality you bring to the table, and giving yourself the tools you need to do that, especially when it doesn’t come easily.

Here’s to tools, and to being there for each other.

And, if you haven’t had the chance to read it yet, my friend Matt at Jesusluvsall recently shared a beautiful and heart-wrenching article about sitting on the edge together. I highly recommend it.

You are never alone.

❤ Jenny

20 thoughts on “My Experience with Suicidal Thoughts

  1. First of all, I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through all of that. My thoughts and prayers are with you!

    Second, I love the idea of a mental health emergency first aid kit! That makes so much sense! I had to share this!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. EXCELLENT! I just went thru a two month deep dark depression state, which I was spiraling down quickly. I had come to live in my present, working very diligently on my purpose in life …crash!
    I won’t go into details, but I want to let you know that this post touched me in ways I cannot explain. I read about Alisa Turner & reviewed the link you shared. Omg! Thank you 🌷 This is the reality of what’s going on inside, yet stricken with paralyzed thoughts, words, & actions one doesn’t feel capable of feeling hope or seeing the way out. I grieve at times for my brother, two girlfriends & my grandfather who committed suicide to this day, yet to help me get thru the loss is to celebrate theirs lives now.
    I have crawled out of the dark grave of deep depression recently & I am on my way to give, to help, to love, to listen, to sit with anyone on the edge – ALWAYS 🎈

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Your words are so beautiful, Cheryl. Thank you for sharing a piece of your story, too. I’m sending hugs to you in your struggles and grateful to know such a strong human. Suicide has touched our family, too, and I think that dark is more common than we think – which only means we are never alone in fighting it. ❤️❤️❤️

      Liked by 1 person

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