Changing your internal dialogue to NOT WANT TO DIE.

Suicide triggers*

I tried to kill myself when I was very young. Still in elementary school. I don’t remember exactly what I took. I think it was a bottle of aspirin of all things! Nothing happened. So I went to school as normal, ate the school lunch, a corn dog, and immediately started throwing up in the bathroom. The school nurse called my mom and I went home with a “stomach bug”. I have ever again eaten a corn dog.  I don’t remember the abuse starting that early but small little flashbacks lately are giving me clues to it beginning far earlier than I thought.

I tried to slit my wrist when I was in the 6th grade, something I remembered right now at this very moment and had no recollection until I started writing. But it is vividly clear to me now. I made one cut and barely broke the skin, not horizontal but vertical, started to bleed, ran and got a bandaid, and went to school. Seems like before school was not a good time for me. My friend at the time, Shea, asked me, why is that bandaid on your wrist? We were walking to PE. I told her the cat scratched me. 

I tried to kill myself again when I ran my car into a ditch and hit some trees when I was a late teenager. This was a spontaneous moment of I am done! I was driving along and decided this is it. My car flipped, EMS was called, and I told my parents assumed I fell asleep at the wheel. This was after years of abuse were nolonger tolerable. After my parents did nothing to get me away from the abuser. After nothing changed, I just wanted to die. 

I tried to kill myself again by taking many many pills that I knew would most definitely kill me. The hospital didn’t let that happen.  Loads of ipicack (no clue how to spell that) a very insensitive doctor “Well looks like you had some peas for dinner before you tried to kill yourself” and my stomach pumped full of charcoal, I lived. 

I never felt happy that I lived. I never felt a senseation of  ” wow, I am glad that did not work and I lived!” I just went on to the next day, waking up every morning wishing I were not still alive. 

It wasn’t until I met my husband and had my daughter that I noticed my mind had switched over unknowingly, unnoticed, to waking up happy. 

Ten years ago, after my best friend’s husband attacked me in his garage, that old dialogue came back. Not every day. Not as purposeful. But it was there. Just a whisper of “Are you really happy to be alive? Do you sometimes wish you  were dead?”

I know what it feels like to want to die. I know what it feels like to not want to live. I know what it feels like to not have hope. I have been there many times. Once your brain knows that feeling, it is not simple to turn the switch. I nolonger want to die. But in a PTSD flashback I notice my mind says “I don’t want to live like this”. I’ve discussed this with my psychiatrist and she has said it is very normal to not want to live in a state of PTSD. My psychiatrist knows of this dialogue and she has said it is not suicidal thinking it is just depression talking. 

Not wanting to live is not necessarily saying you wish you were dead. I think it is more of a not knowing HOW to live. How do we wake up and say, ” I want to live!” How do we choose life? When our brain keeps reminding us that we have frequently chosen death. We have frequently thought that dying would be easier than living. It is a huge leap. But the leap must be made. 

I may not be thrilled about life but I can still choose to live. I can say the words, “Today, I choose to live. I choose to live. I choose to live. I choose to live.” It is much easier to let our mind wander to “I just wish I were dead” but do we really wish we were dead? I don’t. I do NOT wish I were dead. So I needed to clarify, what do I really want? Well, I wish that I were not suffering. I wish that I were not in pain. I wish that I did not have flashbacks that put thoughts into my head wishing for death rather than this memory. But in all reality I do not wish I were dead. I want to LIVE. I just don’t necessarily want to live under these conditions. It is a distinction that must be made. Just because we do not like our circumstances and wish we did not have to endure them another moment does not mean we wish our existance ended.  It is our inner brain conversation that we overlook, we repeat without awareness of the consequences, and out of depression and despondency and defeat, we may say words we don’t really mean. But our body hears these words. Our mind hears this internal conversation that says over and over again, I just don’t want to live. When in reality, we just don’t want to live THIS WAY.

Change the dialogue. Change the internal dialogue. One step at a time. If you have been suicidal, if you have been through trauma, you know what it feels like, your body remembers wishing death over another moment of pain. But we CAN try to change that dialogue. We can try to make a tiny shift. It may only be tiny. It may only be just for today. It may be just for this moment. Try to say it, “Just in this moment, I choose to live.” I know the struggle. You are not alone in it. 

32 thoughts on “Changing your internal dialogue to NOT WANT TO DIE.

  1. I used to tell myself every single day: “You will die, it doesn’t have to be today.” I needed that promise that there is death at the end, and I needed to know I only had to endure today. Tomorrow I could die. That was years ago, now, but the promise that I will die – someday – is actually quite comforting. Just not today. 🙂

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  2. Hello Beth. I am sorry you have had to deal with this. IF you have wished for death then you are correct, you need to learn to live, and throw the switch that says “just exist” to “actively live”. I wish I could give you some suggestions, but I have not been in that situation. My situation was different than yours. I simply hope you can find things to excite you about life, that is what I did. I found things I did not know and learned them, I found things I had not seen and went to see them. I have a love I couldn’t imagine and I bask in it. I love to live and I wake up happy to be alive. Always I have Ron to keep my life going and to give me reasons to be excited in life. As I am still enjoying life, as I am still amazed by life, and as I still have so much to see and learn I want to live to see and do it all. I hope that makes sense to you. I realize it did not address your situation. I read the part where you said you needed to learn how to live and I thought.. wow that is what I did, I found something to give me a reason to live, life itself. Be well and see the possibility in all things around you. Hugs

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    • I just realized how preachy my comment comes off being. Please know I did not mean it that way. I am sure you have explored all avenues and as I said your situation is so different than mine. I was abused in the house I grew up in by the people that adopted me and their kids. So I did not have the same dynamic you did. I was just existing, not living and I did not know how to live, trapped as I was in the daily abuse. Once I realized how exciting and fun life could be I wanted it all, like a junkie I couldn’t get enough of it. I still have the nightmares, the panic attacks, the triggers, the dark thoughts that invade my mind / emotions and wont let me be. Hope this helps. I really wish I could do something to assist you as I like you and respect your family and outlook on life. I love how you can be positive when you lost the family you did love and suffered from your body being invaded and used by others for their gratification. Hugs

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      • No no I don’t think it was preachy, I think maybe you just didn’t quite understand what I was trying to say because I didn’t present it well enough.
        I know how it feels to exist and not live. I know that well. I am so so sorry that there was ever a time when that is how you felt, that abuse in your own family created those emotions, I am so so sorry you endured that. Thank you for sharing your story, your feelings, and how you have overcome. I always appreciate your thoughts.

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      • I think you did describe it well as other people understood what you were saying. I think it is one of two things for my not understanding. Either I have not been in that situation emotionally or I have some type of emotional blind spot about it. In truth I have never thought about killing myself. I have thought of killing my abusers, to the point of once putting a gun to the head of one of my abusers. However before I could pull the trigger a voice in my head talked me out of it. Well thanks again. Best wishes for you. Hugs

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      • And SEE I have not been where you are! I have not thought of killing my abuser. But I can completely understand why you would. I understand why anyone would. That kind of pain brings a person to a level they thought they may never be at. That must have taken some incredible self control to not follow through! I’m glad you didnt. Im sure Ron does too 🙂

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      • It was so weird. I heard a voice in my head simply telling me I shouldn’t do it. I felt such a calm come over me, a feeling of contentment of peace . It was a feeling I had never known. I pulled the gun back, took the rounds out and put it all away. It was weird , like a dream. I look back and think the universe must have been talking to me as it was so powerful yet so totally non threatening, just a warm sense of being OK. Night. Hugs

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    • This is how I USED to feel and the thoughts that USED to fill my mind as I wished for death. My post was about learning that just because you have pain NOW , you need to make sure your brain doesnt go back to wishing you were dead and realizing maybe you just wish your situation were not what it is right now. Keeping it in perspective. Obviously I did not explain it in the way I wished. I know how to live. As you can see in my blog I appreciate and find joy in the smallest of things that most people do not even notice. But IN a ptsd moment things get confused so my blog post was helping others to make sure if that happens they clarify it in their mind. Hopefully this makes better sense.
      Having a sick child and my illness itself I do have to find new ways to live and enjoy life. I think everyone should be challenged to do that. If not then you are just floating through life and not realizing it.
      I am glad you have Ron and true love and that helps you to live. That is wonderful and something I would wish for everyone! Hugs to you.

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      • I think I understand now. It is so grand of you to be thinking of others and trying to help when you suffer so much from the Ptsd. I am lucky as my panic attacks are not any where as strong and debilitating as the PTSD you suffer from. I think I understand better. It is not the same but sometimes I get locked in my head with the memories and can’t get out and can’t get them to stop. I did not realize your daughter was also dealing with illnesses. I hope it is not life threatening. I can see why you cherish your time with each other. You both are dealing with huge issues. I find it heartening that you can smile and call to birds, do things like that to find joy and peace, when you are trying to deal with all of this. I have known people who have not handled a third of what you are dealing with anywhere near as well as you are. Thank you. Hugs

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  3. You are so right. Its like my body and mind seem to automatically go in that direction when I start to feel that old pain. Making the choice to live when in that moment seems impossible but maybe if I start to say it now before the pain begins again.

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  4. Great post Bethany, the point that am walking away with is that, it’s not that you wanted to die, it’s just that you didn’t like the circumstance you found yourself therefore that made you feel like you wanted to die. Once we make that distinction we can break those thoughts of death. I needed this, I have to make a conscious effort to keep an eye on the two. The link between the need to escape from the pain and the actual circumstance. Well written❤

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  5. This is very important. You do have to make that distinction and it does change your life. I remember I used to feel similarly to you. I got bullied a lot when I was young and, I remember growing up after that, I hated the way I felt and thought. I never tried to commit suicide luckily, but I didn’t know to make the distinction you did either.

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  6. This is something I need to work on. I DO often think “I should just die,” or “I don’t want to live.” But it is probably a case of “I don’t know how to live in a way that is not painful…”

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