Having survived three suicide attempts and having had two friends who died by suicide from their mental illnesses, I have become quite passionate and open about my own experiences, in hopes that one day, they may help someone. I have also, for many years, contended with bouts of self-harm and try to reach out to as many people as possible, in an effort to provide alternative methods of dealing with the pain. I leave my DM (direct messages) open to anyone on my twitter account (@onelastkick71) so anyone who may be struggling can reach out anonymously, know that someone cares and they are not alone.
I am no therapist by any means. I have been to countless numbers of them over the years, each with their own approach on how to best “fix” me based on their numerous years of reviewing textbooks, attained level of education and job experience. Now don’t get me wrong, I see a psychologist and am an advocate for therapy if that is something that works for you in your healing process, however I truly believe that regardless of the therapeutic viewpoint, suicide and self-harm are sometimes best empathized by survivors. I am certainly not equipped to handle a full blown suicidal episode, and have and will always do what is necessary to make that person’s safety a priority, however there is often a buildup point before reaching that extreme state and that is where I have found my life experiences have been most helpful to others.
I know in my case, and I believe, in many others as well, that sometimes being suicidal does not necessarily mean we want to die, we just want the pain to end, and our illnesses have convinced our minds that suicide is the only option, the only way to find some peace. The people who reach out have accomplished the hardest part by taking the first step and asking for help, even if it is only someone to listen. You don’t have to understand what the person is dealing with in order to listen without judging and to provide kindness. I know from experience that it is often easier to communicate such desperate feelings to a stranger, rather than a friend or family member, if not only due to fear of judgment or repercussions. I know there have been times when I have called a crisis hotline, only to be left on hold so long I have hung up in frustration and tears, and all I really needed at the time was someone to lend an ear and make me feel cared for and wanted. It really does not take much to be one of those people, and doing such a small thing can greatly impact a life.
Self-harm can be an addiction like drugs or alcohol or anything else we do compulsively. For me, it has gone in waves throughout my life, sometimes going away for years at a time, and generally surfacing amidst a trauma of some sort. The endorphin release and distraction from self-harming may only be temporary but at the time I am looking for any sort of diversion from the immense pain I’m feeling inside, that I simply don’t know how else to release. Again, something as elementary as allowing someone to speak can be a long enough distraction to slow down if not stop the impulsivity that often comes with self-harm. I understand the need for pain, or self-punishment but have learned over the years that there are less harmful things to do that provide the same type of relief without the long term consequence of scarring. There are plenty of resources online for not only people who self-harm, but for concerned friends and family members. The people I have spoken with I have not only given other options to but also made deals with them… if the urge presents itself, we will contact each other before acting, and as basic as that may sound, just knowing someone else is fighting alongside you can be motivation enough.
With the people that have reached out, I have formed emotional connections and incredible friendships merely by being able to empathize with their mental state at the time, after all, having BPD, I have spent the majority of my life dealing with both these subjects. There is nothing more rewarding for me than to know that the trauma I have been through actually helps to positively affect a life. I have received numerous random thank you messages from those who have found help through my writing, and for that, I am extremely humbled. For the many people I have spoken with online or on text, thank you for being brave enough to not only reach out to me, or anyone but for allowing enough trust to let me try to help. Reaching out truly is the hardest part, but know when you reach out your hand there will be someone there to hold it.