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Pay Attention To Your Internal Dialog

Humans are infinitely complex creatures, what you see is most definitely not what you get. The inner dialogue is known only to the one experiencing it and how much they choose to reveal is the choice of the individual. I am writing this in response to the recent suicide of Anthony Bourdain, who I would like to honor in another post – but there a few points I would like to address here first.

There are legitimate reasons for taking one’s life, at least in the sense that the act of suicide has been thought out and processed thoroughly and rationally in response to whatever is causing the extreme distress. For example, my sister committed suicide after many years of untreated debilitating mental illness and poly substance abuse. She had attempted it multiple times before, and her life had been a nightmare of psychic pain and chaos for a long, long time. She chose to end her life, and ultimately I had to accept that this was her choice. I had tried to intervene a thousand times, but one of life’s brutal lessons I learned from her was that you can’t fix someone else, no matter how much you love them – the desire to get better has to come from deep within.

When a well loved public figure commits suicide, the rational human response is to wonder why? But why is unknowable except to the one making that decision. Perhaps they were recently diagnosed with an incurable disease, or had been fighting one privately for a prolonged period of time. Maybe that disease was mental illness…

And that brings me to the point of this post: Pay attention to your inner dialog. There is a well known and statistically successful treatment for clinical depression called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that essentially works by teaching the individual suffering from depression to monitor their thoughts and learn to to recognize their cognitive distortions. This requires a degree of self-awareness and the willingness to seek help.

If you are thinking about hurting yourself or ending your life, you owe it to yourself to think carefully about what you are doing and why. The choice is ultimately yours to make, and yes, you do have the right to end your life as you see fit. Just don’t do it as a spontaneous act.

When you are feeling this way, write down your thoughts and tell yourself you’ll wait until tomorrow to read them and decide whether to act on ending your life. And if you are so fucked up you are afraid you are going to kill yourself immediately without being in full control, call 911 and simply say “I’m afraid I’m going to kill myself.” EMS will pick you up and take you the closest ER, and as an ER nurse, I love it when someone does this, because they have asked for help. We have a protocol for protecting people who feel this way. It keeps them from immediately harming themselves and gets them evaluated by a psychiatrist.

There is no shame in having a mental illness, and there is no shame in wanting to hurt yourself. These things are just part of the human condition.

There is shame in not asking for help.