I loved the name Quarter Life Thriving; however, I realized that I would age out of it very soon. Meanwhile, I will always be a millennial. The name change aside, I lost interest in maintaining that blog. My writing did not feel like me. So I’ve decided to leave some of my older content up and possibly revamp it. But my goal is to sound more like myself in any case.
Please Note: I am not an expert; however, I volunteered for three years on my local distress line and have gained experience in this area. And you don’t need to be an expert to start the conversation. Let’s talk about suicide.
Let’s Talk About Suicide
September 10th is Suicide Prevention Day. As twenty-something millennials it is normal to feel some anguish or confusion about the future. However, there is a line between “What am I doing with my life?” and wanting to end your life. We definitely live in a culture where suicide is made light of with our language, we say things like, “If ____ happens then I’m going to just kill myself.” Or, “I’m so tired I could just die.” I am 100% guilty of doing this myself. Speaking in this way diminishes the experience that someone who is thinking of suicide might be having. It also might make it harder to recognize when someone is being serious about their thoughts.
Suicide is something that is highly stigmatized. Some families who have experienced a loss to suicide never talk about it. That loss is swept under the rug. In turn, this closes the doors for conversation if other family members are experiencing those same thoughts. However, this is tragic because simply knowing someone who has killed themselves increases risk of suicide. Talking about suicide is the only way to break down these barriers. If you are thinking about suicide you are not alone and there is help. Let’s talk about suicide and open those doors.
Let’s Talk About You
If you are genuinely thinking about killing yourself or having thoughts of doing so even if you aren’t intending on doing it, then it is very important to get some help. There are likely professionals in your area or you can talk to your family doctor about getting help. Talking to professionals or asking for help can be very scary and intimidating. It takes a lot of courage to admit that things aren’t right and a lot of strength to seek out help. Unfortunately, when it comes to mental health issues the first person you speak to might not be helpful or supportive. This is understandably very discouraging, but please don’t give up on it if the first person you speak to isn’t helpful. You are worth everything. Keep searching until you find someone who understands.
If you find yourself in this place and are feeling alone or like no one cares, please know this is false. Often when people are experiencing suicidal thoughts they might feel this way but the reality is that there are people out there that do care.
Often times when someone is having suicidal thoughts it is less about wanting to die and more about wanting to end the pain that a person is experiencing. This pain can take many different forms and varies by the individual. Whatever pain a person is in is valid. And wanting to end that pain is normal. This life and death struggle is referred to as ambivalence. If you are experiencing pain, there are other ways of ending it.
Lets Talk About Help For Others
If you suspect that someone you know is thinking about killing themselves it is okay to just ask them. You won’t plant any ideas. Make sure that you ask the question directly, “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” This opens up the door for conversation. A person who is not thinking about killing themselves will give a hard no. Someone who is may give a vague or non-answer or a just plain honest, “Yes.”
One of the reasons it’s important to have a conversation is that someone who is in that place may be experiencing perceived isolation. This is where they believe no one cares or no one would miss them if they were gone. While this is often far from the truth it is a common part of the negative spiral a person finds themselves in when they are depressed.
And please, never, ever, tell someone to, “Just get over it” or “Snap out of it.” This is more damaging than you could ever realize. And depression, suicidal thoughts or any other mental health concerns are so much more complex than this.
Let’s Talk About Suicide More
Recently, I went bungee jumping for the first time off of a 160-foot bridge (I like to go extreme or not at all) and I convinced my little sister to join me. As the older sister, I went first. Of course, the jump was scary, it is a massive bridge. But she was watching me. I knew that if I hesitated she would see it and it might affect her confidence jumping after me. I had to look over the ledge, take a deep breath and jump. It was amazing. However, I had to take a moment to face my own fear in order to instill confidence in someone else. We often praise those who overcome their fears and achieve great things. In facing your own fears, you may become an inspiration to others. You will not only achieve your own dreams; you will help others achieve theirs. Overcome fear and follow your dreams.
Fear is a fickle friend. It can both motivate but also paralyze. Everyone feels fear, even the bravest people have been afraid at some point. Working past that fear to face a challenge can be so liberating. What fears are limiting you? What is making you afraid?
I had a fear of starting this blog. I was afraid I wouldn’t be good enough or that I wouldn’t have anything interesting and new to say. But I’ve been working past that fear to try something new.
Sometimes, taking the full plunge all at once might be too scary. Necessary for bungee jumping but not always necessary for other areas of life. If this is the case and fully jumping into something all at once is too much then take it in smaller steps.
A common treatment for phobias is exposure-based therapy. This is essentially, gradual exposure to the feared object. While a phobia is an irrational, extreme fear of something, this concept of gradual exposure can be utilized in coping with other fears as well. If jumping all in at once feels too unattainable for you then try breaking down your fear into smaller pieces and slowly build your way up to overcoming it.
In my blog example, it took me forever to actually start it. I slowly brainstormed my concept and researched and researched. I bought my web address but did nothing with it. Then I designed my site but didn’t make it public. But eventually you do just have to take the plunge. Accept the fear, acknowledge the feeling, and do it anyway.
When I planned my recent trip to Spain I often found myself being asked about how I feel going to Europe with all of the terrorism happening. This frustrated me because I’m not going to change my life based on the idea that something might happen. I can’t stay home and live my life in fear. The city in which I live in has a mall that was called out as a possible attack site. I’m just as at risk at home as I am there. Letting fear take over can prevent you from having incredible opportunities. Please, don’t let fear of what could go wrong stop you from following a dream (That being said, if there is a true and actual risk to your safety then don’t do it).
Ways to Tackle Fear:
- Accept the feeling. It is okay that it scares you.
- Explore the fear. What is causing you to feel afraid? Truly. Be open and honest with yourself. Brainstorm what the possible causes might be. Figure out where this fear is coming from. If you don’t know the true reason why you’re feeling afraid then you can’t truly address it and change it. If the fear is that you won’t be successful in your endeavor, then know that any step in the direction of your dreams is a learning experience. It’s possible that you might not be successful by your standards but you learned something along the way that will make your next endeavor more successful.
- Face the fear. Whether it’s in small increments or all at once. Face the fear. You have to take that plunge. Trust me, it feels amazing.
- Live Your Dreams.
Please join me in the comments with some of your fears and how you have overcome them!