People have been asking me for advice on how to cope with sadness a lot lately. What techniques do I use when I’m really upset? How do I manage REALLY bad days? Well, I have a tip that may help a lot of you out.
Let me preface this tip with the disclaimer that people who have NOT been burned in the depths of depression-hell to the point where death or self-harm appears to be the only form of solace, may disagree with the advice I am about to give. But for those of you who HAVE been there, I am pretty sure you will find that this technique can help you to get through those days of hell, like it recently helped me.
I had a horrible day a few weeks ago. So much so that for the first time in over a year, I felt the petrifying feeling of numbness that came with my old suicidal ideations, and I started to reflexively dissociate. When this feeling crept in I fought to ignore it with all my might! I didn’t want to admit to myself that it was even possible for me to still feel that way. Logically, it made sense that because thoughts of suicide had been my automatic response to traumatic emotions for so long, that of course my brain would jump to that same permanent option to remove myself from those emotions when they appeared again. Death was my ‘out’ for so long! And just like a smell can trigger a memory in a second, feelings can trigger emotional responses just as quickly.
So on this day, I sat in my car, crying harder than I had cried in a very long time. Uncontrollably sobbing and wanting to literally vomit. I cried and I cried, and then out of no where the thought of suicide appeared; in a very different form, but nevertheless, it appeared. I KNEW that I wasn’t going to kill myself. I KNEW that this was sadly a common reaction to my previous traumatic emotions. But that knowledge still didn’t take away the battle that ensued between a devil and an angel on each shoulder, tugging me back and forth from familiar thoughts of destruction to reminders of how far I’ve come.
Then out of nowhere, something amazing happened. Something simple, but so powerful! While the devil was winning and my mind was spinning…the angel would whisper, ‘Not Yet’. The devil would remind me how easy it would be to stop the pain…and the angel would whisper, ‘Not Yet’. The devil would pull me so deeply into my sorrow that I believed that I was sick enough to hurt myself…then the angel would whisper, ‘Not Yet’. The devil would try to convince me that one drink would be ok, and that no one would know!…then the angel would whisper, ‘Not Yet’. Minute by excruciating minute, I told myself, ‘Not Yet’, and minute by minute, the suicidal pain went away, until finally I was strong enough to turn to the devil and scream, ‘No!’.
While immersed in the depths of my darkness that night, ‘No’ to suicide was impossible to say, because in that state, ‘Yes’, is my mind’s only (albeit toxic and potentially lethal) possibility to cope with the pain. But, ‘Not Yet’, gave me the time I needed to calm down, and still feel like I was in control.
While in a hell that contains no logic, I knew I could say ‘yes’ to killing myself IF I wanted to, and that’s where those of you who have never been in this hell may not like this technique because ‘yes’ is an option for delusional minds. But having a ‘yes’, option does not at all mean I suggest the implementation of it – but it’s important to be realistic and honest and accept that when I’m suicidal, ‘yes’, is a very loud option. To you, ‘No’, to suicide may be the immediate, and only possible option; but luckily, that means you’ve never been to hell.
‘Not Yet’, allowed me to remain on earth until my deluded irrational thinking subsided. ‘Not Yet’, let me play the tape to the end and remind myself how amazing life is now. In short, ‘Not Yet’, gave me the time I needed with my angel. ❤