Have you ever felt a sense of heaviness and feel that it will not go away?
What about having a deep existential feeling of hopelessness and life feels like one big dark hole?
How would you react if you painted your room with the most hideous pictures?
Would it make you want to stay or even enter the room?
Or what about listening to an out of tune music with the most disparaging lyrics?
Would you want to listen to it again?
The above are just some illustrations of how someone who feels suicidal experiences life. Even a non-suicidal person will become suicidal if exposed to the most horrendous images, sounds or experience negative feelings for a prolonged period of time.
The shift from “I am fine” to “I want to kill myself” is only a step away in the human mind, and to be exact, it is an automatic way the brain associates to such exposures and then automates a survival response, even if it means having suicidal thoughts.
The thought of suicide as a permanent answer to a temporary ‘dis-ease’ is not a solution. Life can be meaningful and there are ways to overcome suicidal cycles.
From a neuroscience perspective, you can delete, change, rewrite and install a better way of taking back control of your life.
Some practical steps are:
Deep breathing activates the sympathetic and para-sympathetic nervous system. Inhaling for 5 counts and exhaling 7 counts calms the body and allows the mind to think rationally.
Connect with people.
Self-isolation only reinforces the suicidal angst. There is something about meeting a friend face-to-face that anchors us to the meaning of being understood and reminds us that not everything is bleak or hopeless.
If you find yourself creating images that make you feel suicidal, change them into grainy black and white pictures – shrink these images and place them in some obscure corner in your mind. It might sound strange, but it works and the brain learns to re-code and automate a new response.
Negative feelings and words we tell ourselves are transient. It will not last. You do not have to take yourself seriously…for example, if you have an internal voice that constantly reprimands you, you intentionally change the tone, slow it down, hear it as if it is the voice of your favourite cartoon character. Again, you will find that your mood changes – and that is just the way the brain encodes.
Know that you are one of a kind and there is no one like you. Live your life to the fullest and know that the suicidal thoughts will not last. Let us band together to make a difference – all lives matter.