Do you find yourself getting into spells of self-loathing emotional pain that make you want to hurt yourself or think about it all the time? If so, you could be at risk suicide and have untreated depression or bipolar disorder. If that’s the case, I have some suggestions that I hope you will take to heart.
Self-Loathing Is Something Alot of People Struggle with In This Country
The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control emphasize what a serious problem suicide is in this country. The suicide rate has been climbing for the last 15 to 20 years and the problem doesn’t seem to be getting better. This is in direct relationship to our western phenomenon of self-loathing and the emotional pain that can go with untreated depression and bipolar disorder. We are always hearing about how we ‘should’ do better than we do as individuals, and this can lead us to hate ourselves and feel like we are the odd ones out that ‘don’t measure up’ to some external standard that society has for us. Does this sound familiar? If so, that’s symptom of depression or bipolar disorder that might be at the root of your issues with suicidal ideation and/or self-harm.
The Good News About This Situation
The good thing about this is that if your having these thoughts and feelings, it’s a sign you need help. Getting help is the way out of this mess you may have found yourself in. That may sound easy, but it’s not. So what I’ve done is tried to come up with some things you can do to combat suicidal ideation/feelings and self-harming behaviors. Here they are:
Talk to someone else about what is going on. The key here is to make the effort to call or talk to someone. It may be a friend, a family member, a clergy member, or a therapist. It may be someone on a suicide hotline you are calling, but the main thing is to let someone else know how much you are suffering. This is the first step towards getting the help you most certainly need. It may require a busload of courage, but the main thing is just to do it...like the Nike ad.
Have a safety plan: This is something it is best to make with a therapist or counselor. It’s not a plan to off yourself; it’s a plan on what steps you can take to get yourself safe if you’re having suicidal thoughts and/or feelings. It can be as simple as talking to a friend, family member, or neighbor; it can be as major as calling a crisis hotline. The main thing is that it helps take the thoughts/feelings away and gets you into a safe space.
Get therapy help/ consider medication: This step is usually two-pronged. The idea is to consider getting evaluated for depression and possible bipolar disorder by a psychiatrist (maybe a PCP if there are no psychiatrists in your town), and finding a therapist or counselor who can help you deal with the thoughts and feelings without resorting to self-harm or suicide. These don’t have to be done in a particular order, but most clinicians would recommend a psychiatric evaluation before getting counseling help. (If you have an addiction problem, the medication isn’t your ‘drug of choice,’ by the way).
So there they are: some simple but monumental steps to help keep you from becoming a statistic. Suicide has been called a permanent solution to a temporary set of problems. They may seem like they are huge and unchanging problems, but taking your own life creates huge problems for others who are connected to you by either family ties or friend/love relations. These are some important reasons to live, and if you act on the above steps these will become the focus of your life going forward. Your set of circumstances may seem extreme, but with some help ways can be found to help your situation so that it becomes better...better than if you ended it all right now for certain! The better world we may be looking for is waiting for all of us if we ask for help and find it’s been there without us knowing it.
The National Suicide Hotline can be reached at: 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
About the author: Scott Kampschaefer, LCSW is a private practice therapist in Austin, Texas. He has an extensive background in working with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder at a clinic for older adults with these disorders in Austin. He now works with adults and adolescents of all ages in private practice.