Today is suicide prevention day.
“What does suicide have to do with parenting?”
Well… the leading cause of maternal death is suicide… so that’s how it applies to parenting.
I rarely talk about this part of my mental health because I know it’s scary and triggering for so many of you. But I decided to ask myself the question…
“How have I prevented myself from suicide, all these years?”
I have had episodes of suicidal thoughts, for as long as I can remember. I recall “attempts”at 8 years old. As a teen there was cutting and minor attempts. This may be hard to understand but I saw myself as not brave enough to go through with it. I now see I was braver to carry on, despite the pain.
I’ve been suicidal while pregnant, with small children and even while achieving a 4.0 in University. I remember this profound level of fear and anxiety came over me when I became pregnant. It was an incredibly strange feeling to actually fear death, as I had never feared it before. So then I became terrified of my suicidal thoughts and possibly making a choice I would not live to regret. My anxiety about my suicidal thoughts and all the other ways I could be die or be traumatized further, became something I feared, when not having an episode. During a suicidal episode, there is a war between the suicidal part and the rational part.
Lately, I have had drastic improvements to these symptoms. I began a new medication about a year ago, that has improved my ability to deescalate myself. But this would be useless without reflecting on my mind set and doing exercises like this one right here.
A therapist once asked me “how many times have you attempted suicide?” And the truth is very few. And actually I had not acknowledged or even realized that before. The therapist said “wow! That takes incredible strength to not act on those impulses, when you struggle with them so often.” It was EXACTLY the reframe I needed. I prevent my suicide, every time. Me, and the fact that the ability to prevent my suicide is in my control, is empowering. Empowering with something I felt so out of control with.
Instead of seeing every suicidal episode as evidence of my emotional inabilities, I have chosen to take these moments as evidence that I CAN survive. Even when I truly feel like I can’t survive the pain, even when all the voices are working their hardest to convince me of my worthlessness, I am able to tell myself…. Now… after all these years…. “I am strong enough to make it through this. I know this, because I have so many times before.”
That’s my suicide prevention tip, know that you are strong enough to make it through. If the voices had won… well, I wouldn’t be here possibly helping someone else, possibly preventing another suicide. Your healing journey can show others that it’s possible. I have a shirt that says “move mountains” and on some of my worst days I wore that shirt and thought about that quote “you have been given this mountain to show others it can be moved.” That quote is what has personally inspired me to begin this blog. I want to show others…parents… that you are not without worth, because you struggle with your mental health. You can be an amazing, wonderful parent and still be someone who cries in the closet some days. Even the most emotionally intelligent people have to pick themselves up off the floor some days. Just get to the other side. It will be easier to think clearly there.
A supportive community can make all the difference BUT if you lack a supportive community, you may internalize that as evidence that you are not worthy of support. YOU ARE ❤️ There are people out there who care about you. It is the system that has left you feeling unsupported. Systemic change is what is needed for more than bandaid solutions but until then, we can try our best to support each other.
Survival Mode plans are probably the most crucial part of my crisis prevention plan. Having multiple plans for what to do when a panic attack, does hit, is essential to it not escalating into more harmful thoughts. You can download the Guide to Survival Mode Plans HERE