What to Look For— 5 Signs Someone May Be Suicidal

I knew a little girl once. She was twelve-year’s-old at the time, just beginning sixth grade at a brand-new school with different faces in a fresh neighborhood. She was weeks away from beginning classes—when it happened.

Her father killed himself.

This little girl’s daddy took his life in the basement of her childhood home. It was awful. The things I could tell you are tragic, the sheer pain and guilt that followed her for years was more than anyone’s fair share of heartbreak.

That girl was me.

The mental anguish that battered me for years after his sudden death gave me a sense of empathy for those who experience depression or any mental health issue.

I decided to use my life experience for the wellness and betterment of those around me. Turning a harsh reality into a positive outlook was and is a hard thing to do; for anyone, I’m sure. The only way I’m able to emotionally deal with his suicide is by helping others. It’s unfortunate life had to be this way, but I can’t go back and I can’t change things. In the very least, I’m a better person because of his actions. I am much more aware of what to look for now, and you can be too:

5 Signs Someone May be Feeling Suicidal

1. Withdrawal (McSwain, Lester, & Gunn, 2012, pp. (186-188)—this seems like an obvious factor, but few take this seriously or even notice. If you or someone you know no longer enjoys participating in once-loved activities and refrains from social opportunities, this may be something to be concerned about. Everyone has off-days and times where they wish to be alone; however, if the problem persists, there may be a larger and more serious issue at hand. It’s easy for things like this to go unnoticed in our hectic lives, but stay aware. Check in on your friends or family, even the “strong” ones.

2. Increased use of drugs and/or alcohol (Szumilas & Kutcher, 2008, p. 286)—Sure, not everyone who smokes or drinks has a mental health issue, but increased activity may be concerning, especially for those who become interested out of the blue. People with depression often turn to unhealthy habits as a means of coping with their thoughts or problems.

3. Giving away personal items (Szumilas & Kutcher, 2008, p. 286)—If someone seems to be giving up personal and important items suddenly, you may want to check in on them and their well-being. A suicidal person may feel the need to give prized possessions away to family members or friends as a token of remembrance for when they are no longer physically here.

4. Hopelessness (McSwain, Lester, & Gunn, 2012, pp. (186-188)—An individual that is constantly hopeless and cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel should be taken seriously from the get-go. Many suicidal individuals feel like they have gotten themselves “in too deep,” and they often don’t know how to rise above whatever mistakes or problems they have encountered. They might find themselves drowning and don’t know how to “swim.” This is, quite literally, life or death. Any talk of “no way out” or “no hope” for someone should be brought to the attention of a parent, spouse, doctor—anyone really—so treatment can be sought.

5. Changes in appetite/weight (King & Vidourek, 2012, p. 15)–It is not uncommon for individuals with depression and suicidal thoughts to be showing physical symptoms. Mental health radiates on the outside, too, and that is often overlooked. Those with depression and who are feeling suicidal tend to lose or gain a lot of weight because they either; A. Use food as a coping mechanism or B. Cannot bare to eat because it makes them ill.

Obviously not everyone with these traits is or has been suicidal. Humans are just that—humans. We go through phases, bad days, off-weeks… sometimes we just aren’t our normal selves and that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with imperfection. What’s not okay is when negative traits become habits. The need for concern comes when we find ourselves or those we love in a rut that we/they can’t dig themselves out of.

It is imperative to remember that those with depression and suicidal thoughts cannot control feeling the way they do. Please don’t question or make them feel bad about it. Mental health in our society is unfortunately not taken as seriously as it should be, but I think we become more aware every day. Warning signs are often ignored or overlooked due to the idea that “it can’t” or “it won’t” happen to those we love. I am living proof that it absolutely does happen, every year, to thousands of people. According to afsp.org, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 44,965 people die every year from suicide. To put that tidbit of information into perspective, that’s more than half of the entire population of West Chester.

If it’s you that feels suicidal, please try to understand that you aren’t in this alone. I know it’s hard. I know you feel isolated and empty. I’m so sorry. But keep this in mind: It isn’t shameful to ask for help or reach out when in need—plenty of services are out there specifically for crises. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24/7, where you’re able to speak to a live individual when you need it the most. The same service also offers a chat, just in case a phone call isn’t your thing. (I know it’s not mine.)

I didn’t go through this tragedy on accident. I’m a firm believer that events, even tragedies, happen for a reason. My purpose is to spread awareness in every way I can, to whomever I can.

Luckily for us, much information is readily available to those who need it, and you too can become an advocate for suicide prevention.

We’re all fighting the good fight. You’ve come this far—we need you.

Advertisements

How my Anti-Depressants Almost Killed Me— and What I Did About It

I remember being in the middle of a Target store when I started to fade out. Something deep within me knew I wasn’t right. My vision was becoming blurry, my balance off, everything around me becoming dark. I made it to the pharmacy just in time to mutter “Please call me an ambulance,” before I started to hyperventilate.

On my way to the hospital I kept begging the EMT to tell me I was going to be ok. He remained silent.

My resting heart rate was a little over 180.

Was I going to die?

After I arrived at the hospital, staff took three EKG’s, inserted an IV of Ativan, and told me to rest. It took a little over an hour for my heart rate to lower.

The problem?

An adverse reaction to two medications I was taking.

I’d been on a cocktail of pills since I was about fourteen. Prozac, Xanax, Trazodone, Viibryd, Ambien… and that’s only a select few. I’ve had depression from an early age, that much I know. But looking back; I wonder, was it necessary for a kid that barely hit the stages of puberty to be taking prescription drugs like candy?

I knew the moment I landed myself in the ambulance that something had to give. I was fighting the good fight, as so many of us do, but I couldn’t take it anymore. My body physically and mentally could not bare any more experiments. I had gained weight, my anxiety had heightened, I was suffering from extreme sleep paralysis and hallucinations. I wasn’t sleeping. I had no idea who I was or what I stood for anymore. If this was what my life was destined for, I wanted no part of it.

So I quit cold turkey.

I threw seven years of work down the drain. I knew if I didn’t stop I would end up killing myself or the medications would end up killing me. If I was going to die, I wanted control over it. I wanted a life, my life, back.

So I ran after it as fast as I could before it was too late.

Every breathing second after ceasing my regular use of medication was a walk through Satan’s garden. Withdrawal is a bitch and it was no kinder towards me. The shakes, cold sweats, confusion, sleepless nights and everything in between. I almost wanted to go back on everything I said I wouldn’t do– but I couldn’t and I didn’t. I had to pull through.

And I did.

It’s been three full months without any prescription medication in my body. It seems so minuscule, but it is a victory 14-year-old me would be mesmerized at. I never thought I would be able to say I’m free of all anti-depressants and sedatives.

The story for each prescription is the same– I take it for a few weeks and feel great. I swear I am cured and I am so happy to be alive and I can take the world by storm.

Then the crash comes and the cycle continues. Over and over and over.

But not anymore.

The only “drug” I take regularly now is CBD oil by mouth once daily and melatonin at night to help me sleep soundly.

It’s been three months since I’ve released myself from the pharmaceutical prison that held me as their bitch for so long.

I’m doing fine.

I’d like to stick around to see just how much better it gets.

The world needs me.

DISCLAIMER: I do not condone nor endorse quitting medication abruptly without a doctor’s approval. This story is purely to share how far I’ve come– every one of us deals with things differently. Everyone’s body is unique and should be treated as such. Take care of yourself. ❤️

Overcoming the Losses in Life

19225844_800916530069845_6922221981865160338_n

The ninth anniversary of my father’s suicide is next Monday.

Its strange to me. Not because of how quickly time has gone by, but how I have healed from the loss. I won’t say I am complete– I never will be. But I am at peace with the situation, mostly.

I’ve had so many great losses in my short lifetime, whether it be deaths or broken friendships or relationships. In the heat of the moment, the emotions you feel always seem everlasting. Its hard to look hardship in the eyes and say “This is only temporary. This too shall pass.”

As humans I expect none of us to be perfect with how we manage our emotions towards any unideal situation. The lives we live are not black and white, and the tragedies we suffer through are not black and white either. Shades of gray and black and whites fill up our world, making whatever we’re going through that much more complex.

The ugly truth is, we all handle loss in our own way. There is no right or wrong. There’s no secret manual to guide us through all of life’s major and minor inconveniences. We can debate for as long as we live why things have to be the way they are, or we can be sensible and say to ourselves, “Okay, this is what it is for whatever reason. How do I become better from here?”

I’d like to say that managing any loss, big or small, is easy. But its so far from easy. Its heart-wrenching, its exhaustion, its I-haven’t-eaten-or-slept-in-weeks. Its a multitude of very high-highs and very low-lows.

And the only control we have over what happens is what we choose to do with our attitudes and reflections towards the situation.

That’s the hardest part.

The only ease we have is knowing that despite how lonely we feel during a time of loss, there’s a billion people out there that feel very similar to us. Everybody has or will lose somebody. Sometimes we lose a lot of people. Sometimes we lose people who aren’t even dead.

But we owe it to ourselves to keep moving forward. We have no time to waste.

We could be next.

 

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑