How to Maintain Self-Respect During Conflict

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Years ago, I was the queen of passivity. I avoided conflict and difficult conversations at all costs and refused to put my needs and desires first. I would come up with scripts in my head of what to say; however, as soon as an intense conversation would begin, I felt my self-respect fade away. I wished that I could trade in my copious amounts of passivity for self-respect, but something always got in the way. Fortunately, in the past year, I have learned how to maintain self-respect during a conflict by following a few simple steps. 

Dialectical Behavior Therapy FAST Skill

If you have read my articles before, you know that I am enrolled in an intensive Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) training program at Columbia University and loving it. Through being trained in becoming a DBT therapist, I have been able to practice these therapeutic skills on myself. One interpersonal effectiveness skill I particularly like is the FAST skill, which is an acronym that outlines how to maintain self-respect when asking for what you want. 
Be (F)air 
Be fair both to the other person and yourself. Be fair to yourself by acknowledging your needs as opposed to hiding them, which requires a degree of assertiveness. Be fair to the other person by avoiding judgment, harsh tone, and other harmful communication tactics. Many people shut down when they feel targeted. 

No (A)pologizing
I should clarify that this does not mean that you should never apologize! Apologizing when you have done something wrong can help rebuild trust and relationships. However, if you have not done anything wrong, do not be sorry. I have a bad habit of apologizing compulsively, and I believe that this is an issue that many women in our society face. Pay attention to how often you apologize daily, and you may be surprised. 

(S)tick to Your Values
During conflict, it can be tempting to compromise what is important to you in order to please the other person. Make a list of your current values and stick to them. If you are not sure of your current values, it is worth exploring this. In any relationship, it is crucial that you and your partner have your needs and desires met. If your partner does not respect your values, perhaps it is time to reflect on your relationship. 

Be (T)ruthful
Be honest both with yourself and others. I have struggled with being truthful in conflict, and I have minimized my feelings and wants. By not being truthful about what you hope to get out of the conversation, you may never have your needs met. 

Tracking Your Mental Health Is Centering and Empowering

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Can’t sleep? Whether you can’t fall asleep or stay asleep, it’s a big problem. Discover things to do and not do when you can’t sleep on HealthyPlace.

Tracking Your Mental Health Is Centering and Empowering

Living with any mental illness can be discouraging. Have you ever wondered, “Will I ever get better?” or, “How do I heal?” Questions like these are often overwhelming when you don’t know the answer.  Tracking your mental health is a simple yet effective way to make you feel more centered and empowered to take charge of yourself and your life.

Tracking helps you see what your brain and body, behaviors, thoughts, and feelings are doing. You can look for patterns and broaden your perspective. In your mood tracker or mental health journal, keep a record of things such as:

  • The symptom
  • What time you’re feeling it
  • Your circumstances
  • How long it lasted
  • What you did to help it improve
  • Medication you’re taking, doses you accidentally miss, how meds are impacting your symptoms
  • Your nutrition, what you’re eating and drinking and how these influence your moods
  • Situations that worsen your symptoms and those that relieve them
  • The amount of sleep you’re getting, and what habits you form to increase your sleep quality

While tracking any aspect of your mental health arms you with information so you can do more of what works and less of what doesn’t, over-tracking can increase stress and anxiety. Start by selecting just one thing to monitor.

Tracking gives you insight into your mental health so you can reduce problems and increase wellness.

Related Articles Dealing with Sleep

Your Thoughts

Today's Question: If you use a mood tracker or mental health journal, how has it helped your mental health? We invite you to participate by sharing your thoughts, experiences, and knowledge on the HealthyPlace Facebook page.

From the HealthyPlace Mental Health Blogs

On all our blogs, your comments and observations are welcomed.

Feel free to share your thoughts and comments at the bottom of any blog post. And visit the mental health blogs homepage for the latest posts.

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Here are the top 3 mental health articles HealthyPlace Facebook fans are recommending you read:

  1. Stigma Against Schizophrenia Prevented Me from Being Honest
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  3. How Our Expectations About Self-Harm Recovery Sabotage Us

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"Wake up, smile and tell yourself: 'Today is my day'."

Read more mental health quotes.

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That's it for now. If you know of anyone who can benefit from this newsletter or the HealthyPlace.com site, I hope you'll pass this onto them. You can also share the newsletter on any social network (like facebook or stumbleupon) you belong to by clicking the links below. For updates throughout the week, follow HealthyPlace on Twitter or become a fan of HealthyPlace on Facebook. Also, check out HealthyPlace on Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest, where you can share your mental health pins on our Share Your Mental Health Experiences board.

back to: HealthyPlace.com Mental-Health Newsletter Index

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2019, September 16). Tracking Your Mental Health Is Centering and Empowering, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 16 from https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/mental-health-newsletter/tracking-your-mental-health-is-centering-and-empowering

Last Updated: September 16, 2019

Why People Suffering from PTSD Have Suicidal Thoughts

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Trigger warning: This post contains a frank discussion of suicide and suicide attempts, specifically as they relate to PTSD and suicidal thoughts.

Suicide can be a tough topic to discuss among those suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Though around 56% of people with PTSD experience suicidal thoughts, ideation, or actions1, admitting to having those feelings can feel shameful.

It can be quite shocking for people to learn how prevalent suicidal thoughts and actions are among those with PTSD, but it's not surprising to me. I understand all too well how PTSD can drive a person to the edge. I've been driven there myself.

PTSD traps you in your own mind. It takes the very worst moments of your life and puts them on replay in your brain. Try as you might, it can feel impossible to stop the symptoms of PTSD from overtaking your life. Yes, there are ways to cope with it. Yes, PTSD does get better over time. But it never disappears completely. It's a nightmare that never ends.

Why PTSD Can Cause Suicidal Thoughts

Despite the hardships of PTSD and suicidal thoughts, it is possible to live a peaceful life alongside the disorder. I've managed to find moderate peace and happiness in my own life through years of hard work and dedication. But sometimes it's hard to keep up with the processes that help ground me. 

Going to therapy every week and putting in that emotional effort can be draining. Trying to stay calm when I feel a panic attack rising up in my chest is tiring. Waking up after a night full of bad dreams and memories is exhausting. I constantly feel tired, and it's not a feeling that sleep can fix.

Human resiliency can only go so far. We're tough enough to get through horrible circumstances when it's required. We can survive emotional and physical trauma. We can endure grief and pain. But we can't withstand it forever, and this is why people with PTSD are sometimes driven to suicidal thoughts and actions. They get tired of constantly fighting the war within themselves.

I have considered suicide many times throughout my PTSD journey, but it was never out of a desire to end my life. I simply wanted the pain to stop. I wanted the endless nightmares to stop. I wanted to stop feeling and remembering, but I never wanted my life to end. I wanted a life without PTSD.

I've heard other people with PTSD express the desire to go back to the way their lives were before they developed the disorder. Because my trauma started at such a young age, I can't remember a "before" time. My life has been painful for as long as I can remember. But I do relate to the desire to have a life without PTSD. Sometimes it just doesn't feel possible, and that's what drives hopeless thoughts into my life.

Finding Hope in a Life with PTSD (Without Suicidal Thoughts?)

The most important thing to remember when you're struggling with PTSD is that a life with PTSD does not have to be a bad one. PTSD might bring a lot of bad days and nights into someone's life, but it doesn't erase all the happy days and nights. For every painful memory that crops up, there are many future joyful memories to be made.

PTSD can make things difficult, but it doesn't have to prevent you from having a happy life. You are still capable of feeling love, experiencing love, and giving love. You are still able to form friendships and relationships. You can learn to trust others again, no matter how long it may take you. 

Be patient with yourself. Take the time you need to heal. Focus on your mental health and happiness. Little by little, the shattered pieces of your life will start to feel whole again. And with that healing comes peace. 

If you feel that you may hurt yourself or someone else, call 9-1-1 immediately.

For more information on suicide, see our suicide information, resources, and support section. For additional mental health help, please see our mental health hotline numbers and referral information section

Sources

  1. Tarrier, N., and Gregg, L., "Suicide Risk in Civilian PTSD Patients--Predictors of Suicidal Ideation, Planning, and Attempts." Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, August 2004. 

How to Honor Someone Who Has Died by Suicide

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Trigger warning: This post contains a frank discussion of suicide.

How can we honor someone who has died by suicide? Since suicide is unfortunately common (it’s the second leading cause of death in the US for people aged 15 to 341), it’s likely we all know someone who has died by suicide. A death in that manner can be a sensitive topic. 

How to Honor Someone Who Died by Suicide

Share Positive Memories

Just like you would when you want to honor someone who has died in a natural way, share positive memories of the person who died by suicide. Although that person may have struggled with mental illness (in fact, 90 percent of those who kill themselves have a diagnosable mental health condition1), some interactions you had were surely positive. 

Getting friends together to reminisce about good times, whether as part of a formal remembrance service or as an informal gathering, can be cathartic for those left behind. Sharing those positive memories can also help put that person’s life in context by balancing all the negative thoughts and conversations around the way the person died. Repeating this get-together every year on the anniversary of your friend's death can be a great way to continue to honor that person's memory.

Spread Suicide Awareness to Honor Someone

Another way to honor someone who has died by suicide is to spread awareness. Your loved one’s death is no longer preventable, but someone else around you is likely struggling with a mental health condition as well. Take the opportunity to spread awareness about mental health and suicide. 

Make yourself a resource for others who might be contemplating suicide. The simple act of talking to you about suicidal ideations could make the difference between life and death for someone else. Some steps you can take to become a resource include doing your own research on suicide prevention, keeping contact information for suicide hotlines handy, and taking training for how to help someone who may be suicidal. 

You can make others aware of your commitment to suicide prevention by posting related content periodically on your social media or volunteering at a local suicide prevention organization. 

While the conversation regarding someone’s death by suicide may be delicate, we can still honor that person by focusing on positive memories and sharing suicide awareness. 

If you feel that you may hurt yourself or someone else, call 9-1-1 immediately.

For more information on suicide, see our suicide information, resources and support section. For additional mental health help, please see our mental health hotline numbers and referral information section.

Sources

1. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Suicide Facts. Accessed September 13, 2019.

How to Use Writing to Cope with Suicidal Ideations

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Trigger warning: This post contains a frank discussion of suicidal ideation, and specifically, how to cope with suicidal ideation through journaling.

The feeling that life is meaningless can lead to suicidal ideations. These ideations are thoughts about suicide without the intention to follow through with it. While suicidal ideations are common and can pass quickly, they can become dangerous if they are not treated. I find writing to be a healthy way to cope with suicidal ideations. Here are some things to keep in mind if you want to use writing as a healthy coping technique.

Writing to Cope with Suicidal Ideations: 5 Things to Remember

1. Do not force yourself to write to cope with suicidal ideations.

I hear many writers talk about writing as a “job” — something that they have to do. They think writing all of the time is the only thing that determines their identity as a writer. Without writing, they feel as though they are nothing. No matter how serious you are about writing, it can become more of a punishment than an outlet. When you struggle with depression, putting too much pressure on yourself can add to suicidal ideations instead of reducing them.

2. Use writing as a type of therapy.    

Some people think that writing has to be perfect. If you take writing seriously, you probably do this quite frequently. But there is a time to be a serious writer, and a time to simply treat yourself as a therapy patient. Write as though you are a patient talking to a therapist.

3. Try not to judge your thoughts when writing to cope with suicidal thoughts.          

As you write, you might learn things about yourself that you never even considered. Some of these revelations could be negative and cause you to feel really sad or guilty. Try not to focus on these feelings. Instead, acknowledge the truth to these difficult lessons without judgment. Remember that some of the lessons you learn could help you shape your future in a positive way.

4. Remember that you are not weak.

Having suicidal ideations is really hard. So writing about these ideations takes a lot of strength. I will admit that writing about my own suicidal ideations has made me feel weak at times. It has made me feel ashamed of even thinking about suicide. But by writing about something so sensitive, raw, and honest, I have learned that you can gain so much internal strength. Writing allows you to process even the darkest thoughts. By doing so, you can allow yourself to see life from a new perspective. You can change your thoughts and even get rid of suicidal ideations.

5. Find a place where you feel comfortable to write.

Some people feel uncomfortable writing in public places. That is completely understandable. If you want to write in your bedroom, that could help you avoid distractions. Perhaps writing under a tree in a secluded area will help you feel relaxed. Find the place that is most comfortable for you.

If you have used writing to cope with suicidal ideations, please share some of your own tips in the comments.

If you feel that you may hurt yourself or someone else, call 9-1-1 immediately.

For more information on suicide, see our suicide information, resources and support section. For additional mental health help, please see our mental health hotline numbers and referral information section.

Anxiety and Suicide: Supporting Anxious Loved Ones

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Trigger warning: This post contains a frank discussion of suicide and suicide attempts as they relate to anxiety.

We don't talk about anxiety and suicide very often. In fact, when we think about suicide, the first association that comes to mind is often depression. The link between suicidality and depression has been documented not only in the research literature but also in much of the media we consume, to the extent that the majority of people are aware of this link. Unfortunately, we are much less aware as a society of the impact that anxiety has on suicide. 

Anxiety Is Associated with Suicide

Although this is a contentious subject, there is evidence that anxiety independently contributes to suicidality. One study of anxiety found that it was an independent risk factor for subsequent suicidal ideation and attempts and that comorbid anxiety increased the risk of suicide for individuals suffering from mood disorders1. Additionally, different comorbid anxiety disorders seem to convey distinct risks of suicide, such that comorbid panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and anxiety generally all increase the risks suicide2. Finally, there is also evidence that panic and generalized anxiety disorder are associated with suicidality even after accounting for the effect of depression on suicide, and that comorbid anxiety and depression have an interactive effect that further increases suicide risk3

What Can We Do to Prevent Suicide Caused by Anxiety?

I believe the studies above clearly illustrate the risks of suicide that are associated with anxiety disorders. To be clear, this does not mean that just the slightest bit of anxiety in our loved ones means they are suicidal, nor is it my intent to convey this. Instead, I wanted to share this information to demonstrate the importance of obtaining treatment for anxiety.

It can be hard to make the decision to look into treatment, and so our most important role is often to encourage our loved ones to obtain treatment. This can be a difficult role, but I believe that the key is to maintain consistent compassion, love, and support throughout the process. Additionally, once treatment has started, we can help by cultivating an environment that naturally supports treatment goals. This may involve changing your schedule, moving furniture, preparing different foods, or a range of other steps, but by being willing participants in the treatment process in whatever way is required, we can make each step far easier for our loved one. 

It is important for us all to take anxiety seriously and support our loved ones as best we can as they go through their journey in overcoming anxiety. This can be a challenging process, but by maintaining love and empathy, we can all provide the support our friends and family need. 

If you feel that you may hurt yourself or someone else, call 9-1-1 immediately.

For more information on suicide, see our suicide information, resources and support section. For additional mental health help, please see our mental health hotline numbers and referral information section.

Sources

  1. Sareen, J., "Anxiety Disorders and Risk for Suicidal Ideation and Suicide Attempts.Arch Gen Psychiatry, 2005. 
  2. Pfeiffer, P., "Comorbid anxiety as a suicide risk factor among depressed veterans.Depression & Anxiety, June 2009. 
  3. Norton, P., "Suicidal ideation and anxiety disorders: Elevated risk or artifact of comorbid depression?Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, December 2008. 
 

How Shame Feeds Suicidal Thoughts in Complex PTSD

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Trigger warning: This post contains frank discussion of suicide, suicide attempts and the role of shame in complex posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Suicidal thoughts are often part of living with complex PTSD, especially after childhood trauma. When you are experiencing shame, those thoughts can become worse. Understanding how to identify shame and have self-compassion can help with suicide prevention.

How Shame Affects Suicidal Thoughts

Complex PTSD after childhood trauma can result in severe depression and anxiety that lead to suicidal thoughts. When you were never taught proper coping skills as a child for handling strong emotions, you may be left feeling the only way to escape your pain and bad feelings is through suicide. Shame feeds this feeling, because not only can't you see a healthy way out of your pain, feeling as though you are bad, don't belong in the world, or are different from everyone else can feed your feelings that it would be better if you just weren't alive. 

Survivors of childhood trauma can experience very low self-esteem. You may have grown up in an environment where you constantly received messages that you didn't matter and you had no value. Emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse can leave you with intense shame that affects the way you view yourself in relation to the world and feeds suicidal thoughts.

When I made a suicide attempt several years ago, I was deeply ashamed of who I was. Sexual and emotional abuse that I had hidden for years kept the message going in my head that I was worthless, damaged and broken. I was living with constant anxiety and depression that only grew worse as I very poorly tried to handle what I was feeling on my own.

As a nurse practitioner and mom, I was deeply ashamed that I couldn't stop my panic attacks or pull myself out of depression. I was constantly afraid someone would know how badly I was struggling when I was always seen as "the strong one," which led to even more shame. Ultimately, because I hadn't sought help and continued to stay quiet about what I was struggling with, I decided the best way to escape my pain was to end my life. 

Stop Shame from Feeding Suicidal Thoughts

Thankfully, my suicide attempt was unsuccessful. After that night, I sought help from a trauma-informed therapist and began learning I was never taught coping skills to handle my anxiety and depression. I also learned the even though I thought I was in charge of my life, actually, complex PTSD and shame were in control.

The message behind shame is that "I am bad,"  which feeds the negative beliefs your childhood abuse has left you with. This message only serves to reinforce the thoughts in your mind that may say you don't deserve to live.

In therapy, I began facing the intense shame and negative feelings I had about myself because of what happened to me. I learned that shame keeps us stuck in the lies of abuse. Most importantly, I learned how to take my power back from shame and complex PTSD through healthy coping skills.

It's extremely important to recognize when you are feeling shame, especially when you're struggling with suicidal thoughts. Signs you are feeling shame include thoughts that you are bad, stupid, or worthless. These are messages that you received as a child, but today you can teach the child within you that those messages were never true. 

Once you become aware of how shame feeds your bad feelings, you can begin to address your pain with self-compassion so that it doesn't intensify suicidal thoughts. You can give a new voice to the abused child inside of you by changing the shame messages in your mind and recognizing the role shame plays in making you feel worse. 

If you feel that you may hurt yourself or someone else, call 9-1-1 immediately. 

For more information on suicide, see our suicide information, resources, and support section. For additional mental health help, please see our mental health hotline numbers and referral information section. 

Taking Care of Yourself After a Suicide Attempt

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Trigger warning: this post contains frank discussion of suicide and what comes after a suicide attempt.

Suicide attempts are more prevalent than anyone would like. This means that there is a whole population of people out there who need a different kind of help than the one suicide prevention resources offer. This also means that many people may currently be finding themselves alive on the other end of a suicide attempt and wondering, “What happens after a suicide attempt?” 

Common Feelings After a Suicide Attempt

The period after a suicide attempt is a fragile one. We may feel vulnerable and raw in a way we never have before, possibly to an even greater extent than before the suicide attempt.

The main goal of this period is to just get through it in one piece and steady the ground beneath us. It is therefore important that we are able to identify and acknowledge our emotions fully. This will help us feel less overwhelmed by them and feel more in control. 

After a suicide attempt, it is not uncommon to feel embarrassed or ashamed. Lots of people express thinking of the attempt as yet another one of their failures — a reflection of their weakness. We should try our best to recognize this feeling as just a feeling and nothing more. Feelings are not the truth. 

We may also feel disappointed that our attempt failed. Or we may feel relieved to be alive. Often, we may feel both things to different degrees, and feel confused by our conflicting emotions. 

After an emotionally intense event like a failed suicide attempt, our sensitivity may be heightened. It is normal to act touchier than usual and get angry or frustrated with the people around us, including our loved ones. We may want to hide away and isolate, or lash out and behave recklessly. 

In other words, we may not feel quite like ourselves. In the face of all this, what is the best way to get through each day after a suicide attempt? 

How to Take Care of Yourself After a Suicide Attempt

Ultimately, we all must be responsible for taking care of our own mental health. The period after a suicide attempt is an especially crucial time. By helping ourselves through this period, we will learn a lot about ourselves and discover effective ways of managing our mental health that we can carry with us throughout our whole lives. 

But we have to put in the work.

For one, during this sensitive time, self-protection is key. Be protective of your time and attention. Do not over-commit. Take time off of school or work. Avoid people, places, and situations that you find mentally and/or emotionally draining.

Find soothing and relaxing activities. Even if it sounds silly, activities such as spending time in nature, going on walks, and drawing or coloring have a way of calming the brain. Taking as much stress off of the brain as possible while it recovers from the trauma is very important. 

Establish a routine. Even a loose routine does wonders for reducing stress and mental fatigue. Incorporate relaxing activities and other grounding routines such as meditation into the routine. 

In short, we should take it easy on ourselves and get out of our own heads. We need to give ourselves space both physically and mentally to let ourselves heal. It is our choice to take the period after a suicide attempt to view this as an opportunity to change our relationship with ourselves for the better. 

If you feel that you may hurt yourself or someone else, call 9-1-1 immediately.

For more information on suicide, see our suicide information, resources and support section. For additional mental health help, please see our mental health hotline numbers and referral information section.

Unhealthy Coping Skills Can Cause Suicide & Suicide Attempts

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Trigger warning: This post contains a frank discussion of suicide, suicide attempts, and how unhealthy coping skills can lead to suicide.

Having unhealthy coping skills can play a major role in suicide attempts and death by suicide. When someone is struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts, the pain and confusion he/she feels is often compounded by misinformation, incorrect beliefs, and unhealthy coping skills that can lead to suicide. Yet, these are often the only things a person suffering from a mental health crisis has at his/her disposal. It's time to change this now by having educational conversations about mental health, suicide, and healthy coping skills.

I spent many years battling depression before receiving an actual diagnosis of major depressive disorder. Those years were a nightmarish mix of darkness, numbness, pain, and loneliness. When I tried to describe my thoughts and feelings to friends and family, I was told to pray about it. I was also encouraged to stay strong in my faith and focus on my blessings. People said things about my needing to get out of the house more or exercise more or get outside in the sunshine more. Well, I was doing these things, and they were not helping. In turn, what these well-meaning -- yet misinformed -- people were saying was making me feel guilty. This guilt, added to the negative thoughts I already had about myself due to depression, wore me down time and time again.

I blamed myself for my thoughts and feelings. I felt like such a failure because I just could not get better. I started wondering why I couldn't just pray enough or have enough faith to be happy and filled with positive thoughts. Why couldn't I just be rid of this darkness? I got so tired of fighting it all the time. I'd do better for a while, but then depression would come back and cover me again.  I realized I couldn't beat this thing. I was tired and just wanted to rest and be at peace.

Unhealthy Coping Skills Contribute to Suicide   

I realized at some point during all of this that I probably needed to be on medication, namely an antidepressant. I was stubborn, though, and didn't want to take those. I still thought I could get better on my own. I also didn't want want to be someone who had to take medicine just to function. I know -- rather prideful of me. Plus, let's be honest. I knew if people found out I'd have to deal with being stigmatized. 

Instead, I used unhealthy coping skills. I self-harmed in order to deal with my pain. I zoned out a lot of times. I would have no idea what had been going on for an hour or more. I didn't know then and I don't know now exactly where my mind went during those periods of time. I just know it wasn't in the present moment with my body. I binge-watched television or spent way too much time online. I'm an avid reader, but I couldn't even read during this time. The words made no sense to me. I would try, but I just wasn't able to take a coherent thought from the page to my brain. I isolated myself from friends. I couldn't handle seeing or talking to people. I didn't have the energy. I coped by sitting in one spot on the couch and just being alone with my online or television "friends." I felt like I was going through motions but not really making conscious decisions about anything. I was confused and scared, and I had no idea what was happening to me.

Unhealthy Coping Skills and My Suicide Attempt

With all of this going on inside me, and with my having no healthy coping skills to handle it, I broke. I don't know a better word for it. I look back at myself on that January day of 2017 on which I attempted suicide, and that's how I would describe myself: broken. I was broken, confused, afraid, and exhausted. I wanted peace and rest. I wanted to give my husband the chance to find a better wife, and I wanted my kids to have a better mother. I believed I wasn't good enough. At that time, I believed suicide was my only choice. Thankfully, my attempt was not successful. My husband came home and took me to a local hospital for treatment, and afterward, I spent a week in inpatient psychiatric care. While there, I received a diagnosis, started taking antidepressants, and began therapy. 

How Healthy Coping Skills Can Prevent Suicide

I was taught healthy coping skills while in therapy. These skills, along with antidepressants, have kept my occasional, fleeting suicidal thoughts that sometimes appear now from becoming actual suicide plans or attempts. Because of this, I feel that my suicide attempt could have been prevented if I'd been taught healthy coping skills earlier. There is a part of me that is angry because I wasn't taught these skills until it was almost too late. For some people and their loved ones, it is too late.

Ignorance and stigma kill. People need to know that major depressive disorder cannot be prayed away, exercised out, or cured by sunshine. When people tell someone who has depression but has yet to seek professional help yet, these kinds of things, it's harmful and stigmatizing. It's also misinformed and incorrect. Someone, like myself, with major depressive disorder, could potentially reach the point of suicide. I needed healthy coping skills, and I needed a society where it was not only safe to talk about mental health, but encouraged and even expected. I still need this today. We all do. Let's start now.

If you feel that you may hurt yourself or someone else, call 9-1-1 immediately.

For more information on suicide, see our suicide information, resources and support section. For additional mental health help, please see our mental health hotline numbers and referral information section.

Staying Grounded and in Your Power During Verbal Abuse

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It's hard staying grounded while facing verbal abuse, especially if you've been on the abuse merry-go-round with family, friends, or significant others for some time. Having deep-seated connections with abusers can cause confusion when it comes to determining your feelings and deciphering boundaries because these loyalties make it difficult to decide if a behavior is okay.

No matter the person, situation, or type of attack, the only way to combat an abuser is by staying grounded in your power and setting immediate boundaries. To successfully release an abuser in a moment of verbal abuse means knowing who you are, knowing the other person is in the wrong and removing yourself from the situation in a safe way.

Second-Guessing Yourself and Not Staying Grounded During Abuse

I'm not sure if it's optimism or human nature, but it seems we don't want to believe negative things are occurring in the moment. For a long time, I told myself people weren't verbally abusing me. They were having a bad day, they were just tired, or their behaviors were normal. In moments of abuse, I knew they were happening, but I didn't want to believe it. I wasn't strong enough to believe it. I would second-guess the behaviors, or I would jump into victim mode and shut down. But this wasn't the worst part of the experience. It was the internal dialogue that followed which caused significant damage to my heart and soul.

I told myself it was my fault. I told myself I deserved it. I would start thinking about all the bad things I'd ever done in my life and used it as negative self-talk kindling. This response is exactly what verbal abuse does. It creates a downward spiral of negative thoughts that make you feel unsafe and helpless. It's the reason people stay in abusive relationships. This is what it looks like when you allow the other person to take your power.

How to Stay Grounded While Facing Verbal Abuse

It may feel impossible to stand up to your abuser but standing up for yourself doesn't mean putting on a shield, grabbing a sword, and playing the part of a Greek hero. Staying grounded and in your power means keeping calm, acknowledging the abusive words and patterns that are coming at you, and letting it all bounce off. The key here is recognizing abuse tactics in their words and reminding yourself none of it is real.

Think about verbal abuse as a glitch in a computer program. It's a mistake from incorrect programming. It's not real, and it's not personal. What the other person is saying to you reflects their life, not yours. And the more you can reinforce this narrative in your mind, the easier it will be to walk away unscathed.

When faced with a difficult person, here are some in-the-moment reminders for staying grounded:

  • Stay calm
  • Remember to breathe
  • If given the option to speak, say your piece once and only once.
  • Do not engage with irrational rhetoric because you can't talk rationality into irrational people.
  • If the person refuses to calm down, hear you, or acknowledge their behavior, walk away.

When someone is using verbally abusive tactics, they are most likely hurting. Their inner child is in pain because they've been abandoned by the adult version of themselves. It may feel cruel, but their problems are not your problem. You have worked hard to combat abuse and better yourself, and you should be proud of the person you are. Don't let anyone take that away from you because, at the end of the day, you're the only person who can release your power and allow someone to steal your joy.

Your Pass to Walk Away From Verbal Abuse

In some cases, it's a cranky co-worker. In others, it's a parent or spouse. No matter the context, abuse stems from the same place: conditioned responses from childhood programming and or a complete lack of self-awareness. No matter the person and no matter the reasoning, if you are in the line of verbal abuse fire, you're allowed to walk away.

I needed someone to tell me this. I needed someone to tell me it was okay to set emotional limits and that it wasn't my job to fix the world. I needed someone to tell me I didn't have to feel bad about setting boundaries with the people around me, especially after my abuse awakening. I am here to be that person for you.

It's okay to stop talking to people who put you down or make you feel bad, no matter how long you've known them. I'm here to tell you that even though someone is your blood, that doesn't give them the right, privilege, or pass to say hurtful things and demand you take their baggage. You are allowed to walk away from an abusive partner no matter how many excuses and reasons flood your mind. I'm here to give you a get out of abuse free card--free of charge. It's good for life, and it never expires. Stay grounded and in your power, metaphorically throw the card and walk away.