I’ve been struggling with depression and anxiety since I was 10. If I knew then how sick I would get, I would have asked for help a long time ago. Through years of therapy, medications and a lot of tears, nothing felt like it was getting better. It seemed as if every year that passed my depression and anxiety worsened. I felt utterly helpless. When I hit my lowest, I completely gave up. I was done fighting but I refused to let others see that. As far as everyone else was concerned, I was okay. The only people who knew how truly depressed I was, were people who didn’t deserve to know. My suicide attempt was very recent, and though I am still at a beginning stage of recovery, I have already learned so much from what I’ve gone through. I want to share what I’ve learned with others because I want them to have these tips and truths in their mind before they have a suicide attempt. I don’t want others to go through what I have to learn these lessons.
Although it might feel like it, the worst days are not leading up to, or even the day of your suicide attempt. They are after.
As I drove to the hospital with my parents, everything hit me at once. I had tried to kill myself. The pain and misery I felt on that car ride and the 16 hours I sat in the ER room waiting to be transported were worse than anything I’d experienced before. The day you go to a hospital for a suicide attempt will be one of the worst days of your life, but also the first day on your path to recovery.
Recovery is possible at any time when you are struggling with mental illness. It’s always better to ask for help before you reach the point of a suicide attempt. An attempt is not the only way you can start your recovery process, and it’s always better to start sooner rather than later. You can talk to a trusted adult, your school counselor, or reach out to a mental health crisis line.
People will certainly judge you.
It’s hard to keep a hospitalization and suicide attempt completely private, especially as a teen in the world of social media. After my suicide attempt, I lost so many people because they were scared. Many of my friends didn't want a suicidal friend, or didn’t know how to help. You may find that some of your “friends” are not in your corner, and if so you need to end the friendship. The only person you need in your corner during this time is you and the people who truly support you. When friends don’t know how to help you, reach out to them. Many friends might be scared of making you feel worse. Try to educate them. You can recommend articles and websites they can read to gain insight on how you might be feeling. Try to help them understand what you are going through. After a suicide attempt, you learn who your true friends are. The ones who support and care for you are truly your friends and you don’t need anyone else.
To find your passion, something you love and stick with it.
Find your passion, something you love to do, something that motivates you to get out of bed. I found having dance and musical theatre in my life helped me relieve stress and pushed me to work hard. After my hospitalization, no matter how depressed I was, I was always okay with going to theatre, dance or just singing in my bedroom. This passion can also be used as a great coping skill for when it seems life is throwing seemingly impossible problems at you. Trust me on this, find something you love and stick with it. It will help tremendously for many people. If you feel as if your passion is pointless, or if you are still too depressed to do what you love you may need to be treated with medication. I was always too depressed to participate. It felt pointless, until I was hospitalized and started a new medication.
4. To set an achievable goal.
Set a goal and plan to reach the goal. Take baby steps, and take care of yourself during this process. Set an attainable goal that will be challenging but not too hard to reach. Treasure every tiny accomplishment that brings you closer to your goal. This will help with self esteem and self confidence and hopefully make long term goals less scary and intimidating.
You can’t control everything.
There are few aspects of your life that you control. You can control your relationships, your education, how you present yourself, and how you treat others. When you accept there are many things in life you can't control, you’ll be on your way to living a happier life. Do not dwell on past mistakes and problems. As harsh as it sounds, move on. Moving on is tough and will certainly hurt for awhile but it is the best thing to do in the long run. I believe everyone comes into our lives for a reason, and not everyone is meant to stay forever. Try to cherish the good memories you shared with this person and surround yourself with people who you know love you. The longer you linger on something you can’t control, the longer it hurts and the longer it takes to deal with it. Just accept that you can’t control everything in your life, and live life to the fullest.
You need to be able to be content alone.
I don’t mean to always lock yourself in your bedroom and bottle up your feelings. Talking about how you feel is okay. Needing to be around company is okay, but you have to learn how to be comfortable in your own skin with your own thoughts. Being alone can give you time to recharge from the everyday drama of life, but only if you feel comfortable and know you will be safe alone with yourself.
You need to learn how to ask for help.
Know you are not battling this battle alone. So many others are experiencing similar sadness, anxiety, emptiness, loneliness, grief, intrusive thoughts, hatred, or shame. You are not the first and certainly not the last who will attempt suicide. So many people have gone through it. I am going through it and in the process of recovery. I didn’t want to die, I just wanted my pain to end. I felt as if I couldn't tell anyone, considering i didn’t even completely understand what i was feeling. If you are struggling, there is no shame in asking for help. You can reach out to your parents, teachers, friends, your school counselor, your doctor, and help lines. because trust me, people will be much more sad to hear that they’ve lost you completely.
7. So many people care about you.
After my suicide attempt, the amount of friends I haven't talked to in awhile who reached out to offer their support was jaw-dropping. I never realized how much my close family and friends care about me until after my attempt. I had so many team members, family friends, and even a teacher reach out to me. People care more than you could ever imagine. You are not a burden or a waste of space. After your attempt people will not be reaching out to you out of pity but out of their concern and love for you.
8. Your death will affect others.
The amount of people you affect if you die is tremendous. Family, friends, acquaintances, teachers, people you haven't talked to you in years WILL be affected by your death. It goes way beyond your family and closest friends. People care about you and they don’t want to be in a world without you in it. No matter the history of the relationship, if they were ever affected by you they’ll be hurt by your suicide. After a suicide attempt, the most unexpected people will step up and share how scared they were to lose you.
9. Returning home is hard.
The first step is hospitalization which can be a long process in itself. Pediatric beds in mental health facilities are hard to come by, so you could be stuck at the general hospital for days. Hospitalization can only good as you make it, and you’ll only get out of it what you put in. I don’t know anyone who wants to be in a mental hospital, but most of my peers there including myself understood that that is where we had to be. Personally, I put a lot of work into inpatient. I always participated in group and was honest with my doctors. The hardest parts for inpatient for me were being away from my phone because unfortunately i’m addicted, the food, showers, being away from my family, and not sleeping in my own bed. I barely go to sleepovers let alone sleeping in a room with 2 other teenagers in a strange, scary place.
After you get discharged from the hospital, your social worker will either recommend therapy every couple days or an outpatient program. I went into the outpatient program, so I go to group from 9-3 everyday, but get to go home at night. When you are discharged, you’ll have more independence than you did at the hospital, but don’t expect to go back to the life you were living. Whether its medicine and any thing you can harm yourself with being locked up, having to keep your door open, or having to give your phone for awhile. The part I’m struggling the most with after hospitalization in my loss of independence. I’m a very independent person and not being able to take my meds by myself, or having to ask for a razor to shave my legs has been tough for me to cope with, but I understand that it is what needs to be done. Whatever your support system does after you get out of the hospital isn't to annoy you or make you miserable, it is for your safety.
Luckily it is summer, so I don’t have my full responsibilities and social obligations to return to yet but I predict that it will be difficult for me. Things will start to fade away then. I did it, I survived, and now it's over. I am very hard on myself in school and depression and anxiety often tend to creep in during those times, but luckily I now know how to cope with those feelings.
Teenagers With Experience is an organisation created to provide teenagers with a platform to share and help others from their own experiences while also educating others on different topics. We aim to provide a safe space to all teenagers around the world and support others. You can contact us via email, social media or our contact form found on our home page.