This three-part series is aimed at promoting suicide awareness, and we will be discussing the topic of suicide throughout. If you are feeling suicidal & need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK – and get some support. I truly hope you will stay alive and stay with us.
We started this conversation back in part 1 – you can find that here.
This photo was taken hours before a recent bout with my own suicidal thoughts… about 2 months ago.
I’ve talked a lot publicly about how I *used* to be suicidal. It’s true – I used to be much less stable than I am today. I’ve also talked about my relationship with my first love who died by suicide. Indeed, that journey has been foundational to the person I am today.
But, this doesn’t really reflect the whole story.
When this picture was taken, I was mid-business strategy event that I’d traveled many miles to attend. Instead of leaving the event inspired that day, I felt defeated.
Extremely low on myself, I felt like I had a million miles left to climb. I wasn’t sure I had what I needed to keep going. I felt alone, duped, abused, abandoned.
On the drive back to my beautiful AirBnB, random thoughts about dying started to pop in.
It’s been quite a few years since thoughts like this took over my consciousness with such strength. They surprised me on this day when they decided to come back for a visit.
I was surprised because I’m in a better place mentally, emotionally, and physically than I have been in years… maybe in a better place than I’ve ever been.
I’m surrounded by family and friends almost every day, in a healthy and happy relationship. I love my home, my pet snake, my work, my life in general. At the risk of sounding cliche, I’m pretty blessed.
On this day I was shocked to find that none of it seemed to matter.
In those moments, it didn’t matter that I really want 200 more years to live on this earth, enjoying the people, places, and things that I love.
It didn’t matter that I’m incredibly lucky and incredibly loved by a surplus of my closest people.
I reached out for support – and I received it. Even that didn’t matter.
It felt like nothing mattered, nothing was worth it. It felt like *I* wasn’t worth the air I was breathing.
This was an old familiar feeling of deep self-loathing… it settled in and wouldn’t shake.
I ate dinner alone at a bar, brimming with tears, furiously writing in my notebook, a million miles away from home. Two hearty glasses of wine subsided my tears and lulled me to sleep at a decent hour, until I woke up at 2:30 AM feeling frantic, crawling out of my skin.
I texted my boyfriend. He called me to talk, but I was too irritated to receive the support he was trying to give me. He wanted to understand what was happening, but I couldn’t get my words out about what I was feeling. I was too upset. We both hung up even more frustrated than we were to begin with.
I felt so betrayed by life. It felt like my loved ones & the world at large would be much better off without me. I felt so tired, so ready to give up.
Grasping for any sense of connection to myself and the universe that I could find, I stayed awake well through that lonely 4 AM hour.
I prayed, I packed, I paced, I wrote, and I eventually soothed myself to sleep.
Clearly, I stayed alive.
The long 9-hour drive home the following day gave me time to reflect & refocus. Really, I’ve been reflecting on this experience ever since, and my passion for suicide prevention is being reborn.
I’ve come to the conclusion that eradicating these thoughts is a fool’s goal.
Because, from my experience, over my relatively short life so far, my feelings only seem to get sharper and deeper over time. This is especially true as I welcome in my physical and emotional experience more and more.
As I welcome more and more good things into my life, and I feel new levels of awesomely blissful, loving feelings like I’ve never felt before, I also feel new depths of “low”. I believe that’s normal and OK.
I’ve learned over the years that regardless of my mental stability and strength, which grows stronger every single day of every year, death will still come to visit me.
It’s often on the tail of my best day ever that my worst moment comes knocking.
Feeling a vast, deep array of emotions, the full spectrum, is an essential part of my creative process.
Maybe this is who you are, too.
When I judge myself as sick or wrong when I have these low experiences, I stifle myself creatively and I dig myself a deeper hole that becomes harder and harder to get out of every time.
Those judgments breed shame & secrecy… and I’ve learned that anything that conjures shame needs a flashlight shined on it. (That’s what I’m doing here today).
Even though I can’t permanently erase these thoughts from my brain, I’ve found ways to grow stronger through them.
My tools and my choices are what keep me alive during these moments, so I’d love to share a few of those with you now. (These are the same basic steps I apply to all of the personal & professional project work I do with my clients).
Cocoon is all about nurturing a rock-solid connection with yourself, that allows you to be your own constant in a constantly changing world. It’s all about leveraging your mind, body, and energy to become the strongest possible version of yourself, so you can magnetize your dream life to you.
This self-connection is incredibly essential for me when I’m facing my own darkness.
It is so important to have a system for self-connection to fall back on in these moments when life feels life is falling through your fingers. (I love my Mental Wholeness system for this).
In trying moments, you will not be in your most resourceful state to learn something new. You need to know how to shift yourself to get there. Well practiced steps, that become your normal every day of the week, can literally be a lifesaver in these moments when it counts the most.
For me, in the instance I described above, this looked like writing and dumping all of my thoughts down on paper. Acceptance is one specific strategy I use; for starters, I accepted the way I was feeling and I welcomed the expression of my emotions rather than pushing them away. I leaned on my emotional alchemy process to work through the emotions that were coming up. By walking to and from dinner and soothing myself with a cold cloth on my forehead & neck to help me fall asleep, I connected with my body. I leaned into a sense of trust that by following my own process, I’d allow everything to work out perfectly for me.
Create is all about partnering with all-that-is to get all-the-things done – as opposed to feeling the need to figure everything out and make everything happen all alone. Faith is very much at the core of this phase… even if the only faith we’re talking about is faith in ourselves.
I’ve found that surrendering to something greater than myself is an essential component of navigating through moments like these.
Even as I sat at the bar, eating dinner alone & writing in my notebook, I recognized that this was an opportunity to more deeply understand the highly sensitive creative folks that I’m passionate about supporting. I believed that the universe was trying to show me something important.
I apply every experience – especially the difficult ones – to my purpose, allowing myself to gain more clarity about how I can serve a purpose in the world.
After years and years of practicing this, I instantly know that my challenging moments are a gift that can highlight my way forward.
My drive to serve people with my life has kept me alive more times than I can count, and partnering with the universe to do this is what *really* makes life feel magical… even when the dose of guidance I’m receiving is hard to swallow. I opened up to receiving the wisdom available to me through this experience, and, that’s when the inspiration for this blog series was born.
This is all about connecting with other people because our connections are what life is all about.
Being connected to others is a fundamental human need. More than that, our connections with other people allow us to receive the things we want most in life – love, abundance, opportunities, impact, etc.… we become much more fulfilled, happier, successful people when we’re able to connect and collaborate easily with others.
On the night in question, for me, connecting looked like smiling at the bartender through my tears, taking his suggestion regarding the salad I ordered, thanking him for his guidance as I enjoyed my dinner. It looked like having a conversation with the man next to me, whose wife was in the hospital after a sudden stroke. I stayed connected with my boyfriend throughout the night, including our phone call that I mentioned earlier. Even though I wasn’t able to receive his support, communicating with him was enough to remind me that there are people who deeply care about me. That felt very important.
Another essential part of using my connection to others as a support during this time is a decision I’d made long ago, after feeling the effects of losing someone I loved to suicide… I *know* the pain that suicide causes, and I decided that I will never inflict that pain on my loved ones. After years of practicing this choice, I remember quickly, even in the moments when my brain is telling me that I’m a burden to them.
My connections to myself, to the universe, and to my people – and the strategies I use to intentionally maintain those connections – help me stay alive and thriving every day.
These three steps work. You’re probably already taking some of them yourself, and I hope that you will start practicing more intentionally right away.
That being said, we are only scratching the surface here. There is so much more where this came from, so many specific strategies that can help you make these concepts real in your life in a way that fits perfectly for you.
Investing more time, effort, and resources into strengthening these skills for yourself is basically like taking an insurance policy on your life and your success.
When you practice these concepts, you will allow yourself to stay alive & stick around for the people and projects that mean the most to you. You’ll develop a winning formula to really show up as the best possible version of yourself in every situation. Maybe most importantly, you’ll discover exactly how you can easily set your life up right now to support that most positively influential version of you.
If you’re interested in learning more from me about this, join my free Facebook group The Cocoon.
You can also simply connect with me on social media (YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter), or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if social media isn’t your style. I would love to hear from you.
If you are feeling suicidal & need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK – and get some support. I truly hope you will stay alive and stay with us.
I’ll be back soon with the final addition to this three-part series. We’ll be looking towards the future of suicide prevention, exploring what mental health & stability *really* looks like, and more.
Thanks for reading. Talk to you soon.