4 Tips for Coping with Suicidal Thoughts
Suicidal thoughts are a huge part of my life with borderline personality disorder. Even though I have them less frequently than I used to, they can still cause me a lot of distress. Here are my four tips for coping with suicidal thoughts.
How I Cope with Suicidal Thoughts
1. Understanding Why I Have to Cope with Suicidal Thoughts
Suicidal thoughts are my mind’s response to emotional pain. There were many times in my life when I felt so low that I wanted to die and I thought that I wouldn’t survive the pain I felt. Once I came to the understanding that suicidal thoughts are a response to painful experiences, I started to find ways of managing them. One of the main coping techniques I use is to remind myself that suicidal thoughts emerge from a place of pain. Acknowledging my distress helps me to be compassionate to myself, rather than being critical of myself for feeling suicidal.
2. Observing Suicidal Thoughts Rather than Getting Sucked into Them
I tell myself: “I notice I am having thoughts about death,” or, “I am observing the thought that I’m worthless.” Acknowledging my thoughts in this way separates what I think from who I am and what I do. I find that observing thoughts creates a mental space in which helpful choices can be made. When I recognize that I think I’m worthless, I identify that I don’t have to buy into this narrative. If my thoughts tell me to stay at home, I am learning that I can still choose to go out. Noticing my distressing thoughts won’t necessarily get rid of them, but it can stop me from being controlled by them. I discovered this technique in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).
3. Using Distraction as a Way to Cope with Thoughts of Suicide
Distracting myself is often a very effective way of coping with suicidal thoughts. Distressing thoughts tend to get stuck on repeat and this only serves to amplify sadness or shame. Engaging with an activity I love, such as reading, writing or yoga can give my mind a few minutes of relief from the exhaustion of suicidal thoughts when it's difficult to cope. There have been instances however when I’ve felt so suicidal that I can’t manage these activities. During these times, I’ve relied on books and films from childhood because they offer me a sense of simplicity. I have also turned to painting and drawing which give me a break from the pressures of the adult world.
4. Taking Care of Physical Needs to Cope with Suicidal Thoughts
It’s so important that I look after myself physically when I’m coping with a lot of suicidal thoughts. Often these thoughts are stronger for me at night which can make it difficult for me to sleep because I am crying and panicking so much. Therefore, it is vital that I do everything I can to feel as safe and calm as possible at bedtime, whether that’s taking a warm, soothing shower or listening to my favorite audiobooks. My suicidal thoughts also tend to get more intense when I’m hungry, so I carry healthy snacks with me whenever I can. I appreciate that it can be extremely difficult to look after myself when I feel suicidal, but my therapist has helped me to see that feeling worthless is not the same as being worthless.
Do you have other tips for coping with suicidal thoughts? Share them in the comments.
Cappuccino, R. (2019, July 31). 4 Tips for Coping with Suicidal Thoughts, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, February 25 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/borderline/2019/7/4-tips-for-coping-with-suicidal-thoughts