Suicidal Anonymous

What if there were a meeting to go to for those of us that have attempted suicide, or been stopped just in time? If I went to that meeting would I stand up and say, “Hi, I’m Dave. It’s been 4 months since my last debilitating bout with suicidal thoughts.”? Would I have to go into what brought me to that point? Would I have to disclose all the stuff about my PTSD and depression and fears and general weirdness that I deal with in my head every day? Would anyone go to such a meeting and share their innermost thoughts? I have compared recovering from suicide to alcoholism more than once. I think both are a lifelong recovery process. Both need a support group of some sort. And both require the person to be completely honest with himself. Suicidal Anonymous? We might need a better name for our group.

A few weeks ago, I was on the phone with a fellow Soldier talking about things in life. Like many other fellow Soldiers I talk to and share my story with, she was intrigued that I was so open with something so personal. Many of the people I talk to one-on-one have gone through a situation similar to mine, or have other behavioral health issues that I can relate to, not just suicidal thoughts. The most asked question of me during a conversation about my story is, “Aren’t you afraid people will look at you differently if you share that stuff?” Actually, there was a time I did fear that.

In the military, there has always been a stigma placed on those who sought help for mental health issues. Granted, it is more accepted now to seek help than when I came in in 1989, even encouraged now. The Army has come a long way in the last couple decades in dealing with the matters of mental health concerning Soldiers. But it’s that first step a person has to take to get help that is by far the hardest. Asking for help or sharing the deepest secrets of your mind can be very uncomfortable. And you can’t make someone get help until they’re on the verge of it being too late, especially if that person doesn’t want help. Or at least, that’s my personal experience.

Back to the question, “Aren’t you afraid people will look at you differently?” I have accepted that I need people to look at me differently than they used to. I am different now. I see myself differently. My brain doesn’t always process things rationally anymore, although I am making progress. But I still cannot be expected to perform on the level I did before my brain changed and I got diagnosed with PTSD and other things. Therefore, I need people to understand my situation and see me for who I am now. And I need to share my experiences because it keeps me in check with myself and allows others to keep me accountable to continuing my recovery.

We don’t have a Suicidal Anonymous group for those of us recovering from our own dark thoughts and actions. Even though I went to group therapy after my hospital stay last year, in the beginning of my recovery, it felt like each one of us was our own solitary group, an island, alone in the waves somewhere. I intend to change that, and I have for myself. I tell my story. I read some of the blogs posted by others on the topic of their experiences with suicide, some posted anonymously, some with a name. I make myself available to those that need to talk about it. And I connect with all those people as if they are in a group with me, going to our anonymous meetings, whether they know it or not.

I imagine I will be in recovery for the rest of my life. Just the fact of how close I came to dying, I know it will always be somewhere in my mind. I know there are experiences that will trigger my PTSD and drive me to being severely depressed or having anger issues. But I am choosing to not be anonymous about it. I am choosing to share my story even if people look at me differently. I am choosing to be better. Not because it’s easy to choose to be better, it’s actually very difficult. But because I want to be better, choosing to be better is now a viable option.

I’m bringing this meeting to order. Hi, I’m Dave, it’s been four months since I last seriously thought about suicide, 15 months since my last attempt. I’m glad I’m here. I’m glad you’re here, too. Good day, God bless.


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11 thoughts on “Suicidal Anonymous

  1. What an inspirational post! I think we sometimes feel shame whether it be for a suicide attempt, self harming behavior, sexual abuse ~ the list goes on. We are afraid of what others will think; afraid our peers may shun us. I think if one can reach a point where they openly acknowledge the problem they face, it can actually be beneficial on several levels. One drops their cloak of secrecy which is a relief in of itself. Plus you bring light to issues that so many people are affected by yet reluctant to speak openly about it. There may be a few that don’t understand but by and by I think most will.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I try and remember with the stigma that it isn’t my stigma, it’s theirs.

    I’m okay with me; I know why I did what I did. I understand the forces that drove me to that brink. Others pretend they have no brink and nothing driving them but mostly rational thought. (Ha!) If I’m ashamed, I’m ashamed that I had no trust that tomorrow could be better. And, given the age I was the first time I tried (16) I’m not surprised.

    But I do suicide ideation every day, day in and day out. It may only last a second or two, but it’s there. I no longer see myself as “crazy” because of it. Thanks to a wise therapist who said, “Suicide is the absence of pain. PTSD hurts. Of course you have suicide ideation!” I remember that the suicide ideation is the rational response to the irrational force which has mangled my life. It is reasonable, rational, and to be expected. If I act on it, that’s another matter.

    The person judging me, with their stigma, likely doesn’t have the suicide ideation to contend with. But I’m stronger than they are. I’ve brought myself back from the brink — not once, but many times. They don’t even acknowledge they have a brink. Who’s the better prepared? Who’s stronger? Who knows the ins and outs of their brain the best?

    I manage the stigma thing when I’m talking to most people in small groups or one on one. In larger crowds? Naw — I expect brickbats and catcalls. I’m working on it, but so far, nothing has worked.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Just keep asking for help and getting help, Dave. And you won’t hurt yourself. Talking is good. Just don’t be quiet if you ever think about it again. Ever think about daily affirmations? Might be something good for you!

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  4. Dave, Do you know about Joiner at U Mass Boston? The summer writing workshop might be helpful and connect you with like-minded/life-close folk? The first 2 times I went were fantastic. The last time, not. If you want details, PM me and I’ll send you an email. Long and short of it is that in the 3 years I didn’t go, they shifted their emphasis a lot more towards vets.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dave, as a recovering alcoholic, with PTSD from Desert Shield/storm I want to tell you “I’m glad you’re still here” You are worth it. Keep on sharing, that was the key for me, the power of half, every time you share what’s going on in you head you cut it’s power in half. Keep cutting it’s power, and you’ll keep getting better. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, but it WILL work! If you ever need to talk get ahold me or someone you trust….gods speed brother

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I think secrets are toxic for everyone. Those that love you and you, too, are parsing your words, staying stressed, waiting to be judged. Ok, here’s my judgement. I am proud of you. You put yourself in harms way for my family, my friends, people I will never know and me. Thank you.
    I hope someone hugs you every day. In our culture we don’t realize that men need affection just as much as women. Ask for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi. I’m Ligeia, I went back to therapy because it got a wee bit too dark in my head recently, more so than usual. I’ve been at war with this thing since I was 11 when first I began thinking about it. I have a plan. It’s easy. I always have a plan. Allergies allow me a quick release button.

    But I promised God to fight to the finish. So I do. And most of the time, a little self care, a Harry Potter movie and a nap, watching my boys on Supernatural, seeing how I didn’t end up as an example for Criminal Minds after all I’ve been through, and Xanax keep me tethered…mostly.

    The nightmares and flashbacks are the worst.

    BUT, I get up. I make breakfast and do something, anything that will put my hands to work and keep me busy. The thoughts are always there.

    And I am STILL fighting.

    I’m glad you live open David. It’s important. Radical Honesty is the only way some of us don’t drown. Keep fighting. Keep talking. Keep doing what you are doing here.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Milestones and Reflections | Story of My Life

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