How I Keep From Killing Myself

Image by MJ Santos

When I feel suicidal, I remind myself of three things:

  • First, if I can wait another five minutes, or a half hour, I’ll probably feel better.
  • Second, there are things I want to do in the future, so I need to be patient a little longer.
  • And third, I’ve made it through some pretty hairy stuff in the past, so I can survive today, too.

Today, I’ll briefly share how I came to those three conclusions. I’m not a therapist, and I’m not giving professional advice, so your mileage may vary if you want to try this for yourself.

I’m writing because I know I’m not the only one suffering these days. The whole world is in the shit right now. (Well, except maybe the rich folks getting richer.)

The CDC found that adults in the USA were experiencing “ considerably elevated adverse mental health” in June 2020. I’m an American living in Europe, but people are feeling the strain here as well.

I marvel each day at the growing pile of very bad news. For a while, I seriously wondered if we’re all in a simulation because how else could it get this intense?

Therefore, I’m writing this because I want you to feel hope. Even if it’s just a tiny flicker, I want it to encourage you.

You hang in there — I’ll hang in there. Deal?

Besides, we gotta see how this ends. It’s like a constant cliffhanger every day…but, I digress.

So, how did I come up with my 3-point survival plan?

The first part about waiting for the bad feelings to pass comes from living with anxiety.

I’m anxious most of the time. It’s part of having Asperger’s Syndrome, AKA being autistic. (More on that in another post.)

I jiggle my foot, I chew on my fingers, I have to get things done NOW.

Same thing when I’m emotional or stressed. I want relief yesterday.

But I had a boss who taught me to wait.

He was the kind of supervisor that was rarely in the office. This required my team and I to become independent, making decisions on our own.

It was either that, or face unacceptable delays.

When present, he would rarely lend a hand, pleading that he didn’t know how to do certain things. Plus, he had meetings to attend.

Then, we had to hang around until he was available again.

Since he was a nice fellow, I excused his absence most of the time.

After a while, I came to realize that I wasn’t a 911 operator. I didn’t need to treat everything like an emergency.

Some things resolve on their own. My boss’s method was to wait and see what happened and only intervene when it couldn’t be avoided.

I’m not saying that’s the best answer for everything, but taking a step back helps.

When I’m in crisis, I try to distract myself. I just need a few minutes of something else to put some distance between me and the problem.

I just need to wait a bit.

Then, maybe it won’t look so bad.

It’s like how they say, “Things will look better in the morning.”

Part of my distraction ploy is the second step: considering what I want to live for.

It includes thinking about things I look forward to enjoying. It could be reading a book, seeing a movie, eating a special meal, buying the new iPad, etc.

I wouldn’t want to cut my time short and miss any of that.

As I’m not so much of a people person, but you might be, perhaps you could think about being with people you love.

Use whatever motivates you as a carrot and promise yourself that reward.

And remember, you’ve made it this far.

That’s part three: I’m a survivor.

I don’t like to rehash bad memories because that won’t help.

I focus on the things I learned and the positive moments I had. One example is the relief I enjoyed making the last payment on a huge debt that had buried me for years.

Or the awe I felt when so many people showed up at my spouse’s funeral.

Just like me, you’ve made it past a lot of obstacles already. I don’t care how badly it went — you made it.

Right now, you and I can swap a lot of tales about our past failures and tragedies. We can one-up each other on how bad it got.

So remember, this terrible time is going to be a story one day, too.

Be there to tell it.

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Trying to improve the world one story at a time. 🏳️‍🌈Autistic immigrant in 🇵🇹

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MJ Santos

MJ Santos

Trying to improve the world one story at a time. 🏳️‍🌈Autistic immigrant in 🇵🇹

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