Trigger warning — this post discusses suicidal ideation. If you ever feel the need to take your own life and you don’t have anybody close to you to talk please call the suicide prevention hotline. They are there 24/7 and want to see you through your Dark Place. Their number is 1-800-273-8255.
Picture being roughly 10 to 12-years-old and crying yourself to sleep because all you want to do is end everything. These raw memories of that age are not something I would never wish on anybody. Feeling so low that you think that if you end it all everything will be better — feeling like all your pain and suffering will go away if you go away. What really keeps you from going through with it — is it guilt? A vague disappointment of not succeeding? The thoughts of leaving your family behind? Or is it not wanting your family to find you laying there with no pulse left?
These morbid thoughts are what continually run through my head when I’m in my Dark Place. I began feeling suicidal at the very young age of 10. I remember wanting to drown myself or slitting my wrists with a knife from the kitchen drawer. But what always stopped me was the thought of never seeing my mom again. I felt selfish for wanting to get rid my pain when I knew it would cause her immense pain. My Dark Place continues to find its way back into my mind to this day; it invades every thought that runs through my brain.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among Americans and the 2nd leading cause of death for US military men and women. In 2017, there were more than 47,000 successful suicides and more than 1.3 million attempts. Those who commit suicide truly feel like they can’t go on any longer, their pain feels too much. For many who suffer, there think there is nothing left in the world to live for and that nobody in the world loves them. Any time I feel these thoughts creeping into my mind, I have to start my strategies for coping with my Dark Place.
I started revisiting my Dark Place recently and I was too afraid to tell anybody. I didn’t tell my husband, my mom, my best friend, my coworkers, my counselor or my doctor! I was so afraid I would be locked into a mental ward. I also worried they would take my son from me. I worried my husband leave me or that I would be fired from my job… I worried I would never have a “normal” life again. I just didn’t want to have the stigma of being mentally ill follow me from doctor to doctor. So I suffered in silence. I let those dark thoughts eat me to pieces.
Recently during a counseling session, the floodgates just spilled open. Almost immediately, my counselor could tell something was wrong — she knew I was actively trying to keep these thoughts and feelings to myself. After telling her, I felt a huge rush of comfort come over me. The room was silent as she formulated a plan for me… and in that silence, I thought: this is it, I’m going to be locked away in the loony bin and never see my family again. What she said next honestly surprised me! She asked if my husband knew about these thoughts. I explained I was afraid he would leave me if he knew the extent of my illness. She urged me to tell him, she felt he could help me put away everything I had wanted so desperately to use on myself.
Some items, like medicine and cutlery we couldn’t put away, but he hid the ammunition to our guns. It was a huge step for me. He listened to my words and took them to heart. He doesn’t want to see me die, he doesn’t want to find my body lifeless. He was a huge support for me then and still now.
After telling my husband about where my mind goes, we formulated other ways to help me. First we came up with a mantra; I tell myself “I am enough. I am loved.” I take a really deep breath and say one sentence at a time. If my mantra doesn’t work, my counselor urged me to talk to somebody, anybody who would listen and take me seriously. I could call her, a friend, my husband, a relative or even call the suicide hotline if all else failed. If still after doing my mantra and talking didn’t help the thoughts to go I was to drive to the closest Emergency Room. Thankfully my mantra has been a huge help in breaking my mind out of my Dark Place.
Brittany Ivie is living the gypsy life with her active duty Army husband. She is the mom to a curly haired little man and the fur mom to two crazy dogs here and one who crossed the rainbow bridge. She has the hands of an artist, the heart of a child, and is her own worst critic. You can follow her column, “Walking With Anxiety” on ATRP.
The featured image is from Unsplash by Thought Catalog.
All thoughts and feelings expressed are the authors. Article is not for republishing by any entity without permission from Mrs. Ivie and ATRP.