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Personality Disorders are like tips of icebergs. They rest on a foundation of causes and effects, interactions and events, emotions and cognitions, functions and dysfunctions that together form the individual and make him or her what s/he is. I have always been interested in people, their ways of thinking and behaving. Studying psychology has partially satisfied my curiosity, however, I have also ended up more intrigued then ever! I have a great interest in neuropsychology or simply, the way our brains work. I have worked in various mental health environments and have seen the effects that absence of good mental health can have on people. However, I have also become much more aware of the ignorance and stigma, which is unfortunately, still attached to mental illnesses and mental instabilities. I have set up a web site as well as this blog to promote the awareness of mental health and the related issues, to help eliminate the prejudiced thinking prevalent in our societies. I hope both will develop into useful resources for different individuals and I look forward to all the interesting comments and posts from the readers, who are all welcome to sign up to the blog.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Coping with Suicidal Thoughts

There are times in life when we might feel totally, hopeless, helpless, overwhelmed with emotional pain. It can seem like there is no other way out of our problems, we've run out of ideas, possible solutions. Our problems seem unfixable. The pain feels like it will never end. We believe we've run out of options, and suicide is the only answer left.

Maybe the suicidal thoughts come to mind, and you might have mixed feelings about them. They can be frightening and confusing.

For some people, suicide may be a way of getting back at others, or showing them how much pain you're in. But after suicide, you won't be there to see that they feel guilty, or finally understand your pain.

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Feelings will pass. Depression feels permanent, but it's transient. Things will change. Depression comes, and it goes. Depression and pain distort our thinking. It can seem like we're wearing very dark tinted 'gloomy specs'. Everything looks different to how it really is. Thoughts are thoughts - not necessarily how things are, although it certainly feels like the thoughts are true. Thoughts affect the way we feel, and thoughts and feelings affect the way we react, what we do.

Suicidal thoughts can result when we experience too much pain, without having enough resources to cope.

We therefore have two ways to get us through this horrible time:
  1. Reduce the pain
  2. Increase coping resources

REDUCE THE PAIN:

Self-soothing
Do something that will help you feel better, right now.
Perhaps collect items into an emergency bag or box that you can turn to.
Use all five senses to find things that will soothe you.

VISION – Focus your attention on looking at something nice, nature, a painting, watching a favourite programme or movie.
HEARING – Listen to a favourite piece of music, sound of nature, sing.
SMELL – Really notice smell – favourite soap, food, essential oil.
TASTE – Use sensation of taste to focus your attention. Eat mindfully -savouring each moment.
TOUCH – Wear soft comforting socks, stroke a pet, give yourself a hand massage.

Avoid drugs and alcohol
Whilst it seems like they help for a while, they will make your problems worse.

Ask yourself:
Are these thoughts facts or my opinion?
What has helped me feel better in the past?
What can I do right now that will help me feel better?
What gives my life meaning? What are my goals, dreams or life values? E.g. Family, friends, pets, helping others, faith, spirituality, community life, connecting with nature.

Tell yourself:
I've coped this far, I can get through the next .... (day, hour, 10 minutes)
Things will look better in time.
Depression is temporary - this will pass.
Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Depression is distorting my thinking - these thoughts are the voice of depression. They are not facts. I don't have to act on them.
The vast majority of people get better from depression. I will look back and be pleased that I chose to live.

Write things down

INCREASE COPING RESOURCES – IMMEDIATE STEPS

Read and put your Safety Plan into action! 
Keep the Safety Plan where you can easily find it when you need it. Maybe make several copies – and keep them in several places (e.g. your room, your car, your purse).

Take one step at a time
Take things a little at a time. Set out to get through the next day, the next week or month, perhaps the next hour or even less. Tell yourself: "I've got through so far, I can get through the next hour".

Distraction
Do something else, and focus your attention fully on what you're doing (e.g. gardening, physical exercise, something creative, sudoku).

Talk to someone - now!
  • A friend or family member
  • A telephone helpline (E.g. Samaritans 08457 90 90 90)
  • A health professional
  • Go somewhere you'll feel safe - be with other people
  • Go to the local Accident & Emergency department
  • Call the local emergency number (E.g. 999, 112, 911)
Reference:
A huge thank you to Carol Vivyan who has put together an incredibly useful set of resources.
Vivyan, C. (2011), www.getselfhelp.co.uk



4 comments:

  1. I found this post to be full of amazing resources I wish I had, had when I dealt with these feelings. what you said "Suicidal thoughts can result when we experience too much pain, without having enough resources to cope." was very similar to what I heard an intact worker at the hospital say to the ignorant police officer who brought me in that had said that I was "probably just overreacting about a boy or grades". The intake worker said in firm words, that suicide is our reaction when stress over powers our coping ability, and fought for me, which is something I had never experienced. I never forgot that. I got lucky that a friend noticed the warning signs and called 911 before it was too late. (I don't know if you've made a post about these warning signs for others to notice, because it is just not the person dealing with the thoughts to help, but those around them, we are all responsible for one another)
    Knowing how to help yourself is so important and it has kept me from doing it again.
    Thank you for being an advocate, I'm looking forward to reading more of your blog!

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    Replies
    1. Dear Emily,

      what a wonderful post from you! I am so happy that you find it useful but also extremely happy that there was someone there for you when you needed it most. You are absolutely right that everyone should be 'educated', people's ignorance often shows how little they know about certain things and even more sad, how little they care...

      It is an honour to have you on board.

      Best Wishes,

      Denisa

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  2. Hi Denisa,
    I have been through a few of your posts-all made interesting & informative reading....it seems i can never have enough of psychology & related topics....coming to the present post,it was so well written....i do hope those who feel suicidal come to it...BTW i have a post on the same topic-see what you make of it.
    http://jeeteraho.blogspot.in/2010/10/there-is-hope-only-if-there-is-life.html

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  3. Thank you so much for such a positive feedback. I have checked your blog too and it is ever so inspiring. Well done:)
    Best Wishes,
    Denisa

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