Healing After a Suicide Attempt
I was having breakfast with a friend of mine the other day and the topic of her suicide attempt came up. She attempted suicide years ago at a very low point in her bipolar disorder. And what she said was, she found herself very upset about it presently, even though it was years ago. She said she never dealt with her suicide attempt and now that was hurting her.
I understand. I think many of us don’t deal with the realities of a suicide attempt. I think many of us what to put our suicide attempts behind us so badly, that we just push them away without ever considering how deeply something like that scars us.
For my own part, I know what I’ve done with my suicide attempt. I’ve rationalized it. I’ve intellectualized my suicide attempt as “passive” and “not a real attempt” (since my chances of truly dying were low) and this has allowed me to, well, pretty much ignore it. But will that technique come to haunt me one day?
Depending on who you ask, about 50% of people with bipolar disorder will attempt suicide at least once. That’s a shocking number. That means that half of our brothers and sisters with bipolar disorder are walking around with this psychological injury. Half of us have gotten to points in our diseases where we actually attempted to escape our suffering – end our lives – and we felt that the only way to do that was through suicide.
Honestly, I weep for anyone who has gotten to that point. It’s a torturous place to be. I remember my suicide attempt like it was yesterday. I was in so much pain and I was so suicidal and I had just been denied access to a psychiatrist. I thought, “If I can’t get a doctor, then I can’t get help. If I can’t get help, then I can’t get better. If I can’t get better, then what’s the point?”
And the horrific thing about that is that if the same thing happened to me today, I might just consider the same thing.
Meaning of a Suicide Attempt
I think suicide attempts hold different meanings for us all. It’s always desperation, but what drove us to that place is different for everyone. I blame the doctor who denied me access to treatment for mine. In fact, I almost wish I had died so that she would have to live with that fact for the rest of her life. That’s what I feel she deserves.
But suicide attempts are about much more than the why. Suicide attempts are deeply personal and hurtful. Yes, a suicide attempt hurts those around us, no doubt, but it also wounds us personally as well. No one wants to live with the fact that they almost caused their own death. No one wants to live with the memory of that pain. No one wants to live with the knowledge of the ramifications either.
Healing from a Suicide Attempt
I’m not sure how one formally “heals” from a suicide attempt. I know that, somehow, you have to make peace with what happened, with what you did, and move on. I know that you can’t beat yourself up for what is the symptom of a disease you didn’t ask for. I know that you can’t live in the space of a suicide attempt forever as it will ruin your present and your future.
But actually getting to that point is tough. I think for anyone who has attempted suicide, he or she should seek out psychotherapy to deal with it. I think it’s important not to just push it aside with no further thought. I think it’s important not to simply try to forget something that powerful. I think it’s important to face what we did and not run from it.
Because while I know a suicide attempt is horrible, I also know that there is life after a suicide attempt. I know that people go on to live happy, healthy, successful lives after a suicide attempt. I know that suicide attempts happen at very low points but that those low points pass.
Maybe, to some extent, a suicide attempt will always haunt us, I don’t know, but I do know that healing from a suicide attempt is possible but it may take professional help to do it.
[Also, you may wish to look up suicide attempt survivor support groups (locally and online). As I said, a shocking number of people with bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses do attempt suicide so you’re not alone. You’re not alone in your suicide attempt and you’re not alone in trying to deal with it. More suicide and suicide attempt resources can be found here.]
About Natasha Tracy
Natasha Tracy is an award-winning writer, speaker and consultant from the Pacific Northwest. She has been living with bipolar disorder for 18 years and has written more than 1000 articles on the subject.