*Trigger Warning: Suicide
Let’s talk about mental illness. What is mental illness?
It is defined as a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling, or mood. As someone who has a mood disorder, I am living proof of this definition. I love that this definition includes thinking. Our thoughts are so important. Our thoughts lead to our feelings which lead to our actions, no matter how damaging those actions will be.
Since I got out of the hospital and have been working with a therapist I have been more aware of my thoughts. You can’t be complacent about suicidal thoughts. You have to actively fight against them. It is a conscious decision to tell yourself that you will not entertain those thoughts. That suicide does not run your life.
Your decisions do not have to be based on the thoughts of doubt and worthlessness. You can control what thoughts you dwell on. When you are depressed it is so hard to handle the thoughts. You don’t have the energy to fight your feelings. That is what makes depression so dangerous. The thoughts that you can’t control that make suicide so appealing.
So how do we change our thoughts. I’m not 100% sure, but I will share what I have been working on with my therapist.
We realized that I have a progression of suicidal thoughts. First, the thought pops into my head. It may be the thought that I could jump off this bridge or step in front of that train. Second, I keep thinking about it. I dwell on this thought, I imagine it really happening. How I would feel before I died, how other people would react. Then third, the depression comes. The idea that I really could go through with it. The thought that I could end it all and that would be it, I would be done forever, no turning back.
So once I realized that this is how my thoughts worked I had to consciously stop them at that very first thought. As soon as I even get an idea of suicide, I immediately have to distract myself, think about something else, call someone, turn on Netflix. If I can stop the thoughts at the beginning, I prevent the inevitable depression that would normally follow.
Do you still not agree that thoughts are important?
When it comes to mental illness, thoughts have the power to end your life.
And your life is important.