Years ago I took a call on a suicide hotline from a distressed male caller who started by saying, "I need to talk to someone because I am having thoughts of organizing my closet by color!" This man's story led me down a path of understanding suicidal thoughts with new curiosity and next I'll share a few of the most important things I've learned.
Whether you have ever had thoughts of not wanting to be alive and/or know somebody who has, you probably know that talking about suicide can be quite uncomfortable and even scary. These thoughts often feel like the elephant nobody wants to acknowledge. If you had answered crisis lines and sat with hundreds of people contemplating thoughts of ending their life over the years like me, you would also know that they can be an important turning point in someone's life and are even an opportunity to bridge to something better. Here are a few different ways to understand and handle suicidal thoughts:
Why do we like fireworks when they can cause so much terror in our furry friends and destructiveness to our natural habitat? Are they a reflection of our self-centeredness? Or do they bring us into an awareness of how terribly beautiful life is and how it joins us together in a giant display of celebration? Another way to say self-centered is to use the word narcissist.
I recently quit my job. I left the place feeling tearful, angry, and eventually relief. I jokingly called this time in my life a period of divine disappointment. Hundreds of hours poured into the hardest job of my life and the disappointment was not in what I was doing, but the company I was doing it for. Right as I was concluding my last few days at this place, several clients brought up stories that included an infuriating sense of helplessness in their life. I kept hearing the question on what to "do" with helplessness. Below is what I have practiced sometimes on an hourly basis in order to survive 21 months with this divinely disappointing company. If you take nothing else from what you read below, my invitation is to lean into the helplessness and keep breathing deep from your belly.
I often hear people say that they "aren't the trusting type." Meaning, they have been burned so many times that they consider it a feature of their personality that they do not tend to trust easily or at all. Respectfully, and with great curiosity, I like to ask questions about how anti-trust they really are.
About the Author
Ruth Diaz, LPC, Psy.D. is a counselor, consultant, and coach on returning to compassionate connection in relationship with ourselves and each other at every level. She works as an organizational consultant and therapist in Portland, Oregon.