What Happens When You Keep The Idea Of Suicide As Your Ace In The Hole (by Dee Chan)

What Happens When You Keep The Idea Of Suicide As Your Ace In The Hole

I spent years trying to commit suicide and probably made more than 15 attempts in my life. Thankfully, none of them were successful although there were  a few which came pretty darn close. I used to hoard pills and keep them in a bottle which I hid under my bed. It was my “ security blanket”. My stash was my “way out” if things got to the point that I could no longer stand to be alive. I would go into my room when my kids were at school and open the bottle and count them just to make sure they were all there.

I would do research online about what the lethal dosage was and whether or not it was best to combine them with alcohol. Yes, that was the best way to make sure they would actually kill me.

At other times I would fixate on how my suicide would impact the people in my life. Who would come to my funeral? How much would they cry? Who would be the sorriest for all the terrible things they had done to me?

Nowhere along the line did I think about what my suicide would do to my children. Scientists know that children whose parents have committed suicide struggle to recover, and many never recover at all. Even though I knew this in the back of my mind, this was never enough to dissuade me. That said, I was acutely aware of the fact that I didn’t want to actually die. I just wanted the pain to stop and I would go to any length to achieve that objective.

Keeping my stash eventually became a crutch for me. I knew that if things got too bad, I had a way out. So, I was never motivated to work on the things in my life that needed changing, namely me. I lurched from one therapist to the next, discarding them like soiled handkerchiefs when they didn’t “fix me”. I lived in a state of unbearable desperation always looking for the quick fix instead of taking a good hard look in the mirror. Because I had a way out. Because I could choose to leave it all behind if I couldn’t stand it anymore.

The problem with this mindset is that it didn’t really give me a “way out”. In fact, it kept me locked up tighter than a person in solitary confinement. I became completely unable to relate in any kind of normal way to anyone else because I didn’t “have to”. I was so in love with my own pain and misery there was literally no room in my life (or my heart) for anyone or anything else. I gradually began to shut down all my intimate relationships but constantly bemoaned the fact that I had no meaningful relationships in my life except with my husband. Even that relationship became problematic as my suicidality knew no bounds. Nothing anyone could say or do enticed me to believe that life could be worth living. Finally, after too many years of living like my own emotional hostage, I admitted defeat and agreed to go to a hospital in the United States for long-term inpatient treatment.

All this suicidal behaviour, however, kept kept me in a highly dysfunctional state for more years than I like to admit. It gave me the excuse to not do the emotional work I needed to get past my chronic suicidality and address the deeper, more meaningful issues. When I finally started to do that – looking at the issues around my abandonment as a baby and what that had done to me, how it set me up for a lifetime of failure, I was able to finally start to do the grieving I needed to do in order to put those events into a box so I could move forward it my life.

When I was discharged from the hospital and returned back to my home community things were still pretty difficult even though I had learned some vital and important coping skills. Despite all my therapy, though, it still took many years for things to really “click” and for me to finally begin to make the headway into getting better. I finally turned that corner after my last and, hopefully, final suicidal incident. I  was admitted back to the hospital which felt like a profound failure. All the therapy seemed to have been for naught. I decided to look at it as a ten year “tune up” and began the painful work of starting over. Again, I was reintroduced to mindfulness meditation and the gentle art of practicing gratitude and I was finally able to finish my healing. When I was discharged from the hospital that time, I was able to finally take the stash to the local pharmacy and ask the pharmacist to dispose of them for me.

Doing that allowed me to finally start to live in a way I never had before. When I was always so fixated on the act of dying I closed myself off to actually living and I boxed myself into a very narrow existence. Saying goodbye to that behavior was liberating beyond belief.

[irp posts=”8592″ name=”What I Learned After My Last Suicide Attempt (by Dee Chan)”]


About the Author: Dee Chan

Dee Chan was diagnosed with BPD more than 35 years ago back when the diagnosis was still fairly new and not very well understood. She has been living with it and coping with it ever since and finding ways to thrive despite it. She has been able to put it into complete remission and turned her life around completely through the practices of gratitude, forgiveness and accountability. Find out more about Dee’s work on her website bpdnomore.com.

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One of our rituals was in the week before Christmas, we’d go shopping and each kiddo would choose a keepsake decoration for the tree. This would forever be their decoration. To make sure we’d remember who owned what (a year is a long time!) I wrote their name and year on the box. The idea is that when they leave home, they’ll have a collection of special decorations for their own tree, plump with throwbacks (‘Oh I remember when we bought this!).

Then of course there was Christmas morning. Santa would leave a note on the table and bootprints on the front path, which smelled remarkably like talcum powder. So magical the way the snow was under the boot and never melted, even in an Australian summer! But that’s the magic of Christmas, right?!

We often put so much pressure on ourselves to make Christmas magical. Rituals can make this easier. They get the special memories, you get to make the ‘magic’ without having to come up with something new and different each year.

It’s very likely that there will already be Christmas rituals happening in your family, even if you don’t realise it. Ask them what they remember most, or what they loved most about last Christmas, aside from the presents.

They might surprise you with things you’d completely forgotten about, or which at the time didn’t seem to be a biggie. It can be the simplest things. Maybe they loved the way they were allowed to have ice-cream with pancakes at breakfast last Christmas. (Ice-cream at breakfast?! Told you Christmas was magical!!). 

If it’s what they remember, and if it lights them up, let it become a ‘thing’. Maybe they loved the magic ‘neverending carrot’ sprinkles you put on the scrawny carrot you found in the vege drawer (remembering reindeer groceries can be so hard sometimes!)

You’d be surprised what they find special. It doesn’t have to be big to feel magical.

What are your Christmas rituals? Let’s share ideas in the comments.♥️
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Because sales are the best, and Christmas is the best, and helping kiddos find their brave is the very best of all! So, to celebrate the end of the year (because truly, it's been a year hasn't it), and to help you settle brave hearts for next year, or night times, or separations, or, you know, all the things, we're taking 25% off books and plushies in the Hey Sigmund shop.

There's no need to enter a code. The books and bundles are already marked with their special sale prices. You'll find them all there - plushies, books, bundles - doing shopping cartwheels, beside themselves excited about helping your young ones feel bigger than anxiety, and shimmy on to brave. 
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It can feel as though the only way to strengthen them against their anxiety is to make sure they have nothing to worry about, but when their worries are real this might not happen quickly. 

Instead, we need to focus on helping them know that even though those worries are there, they will be okay. ‘Not worrying’ isn’t the antidote to anxiety, trust is. This will start with trust in you and your belief that they will be okay, and trust in your reaction if things don’t go to plan. Eventually, as they grow this will expand into trust in themselves and their own capacity to find their way through challenges to a place of hope and strength. 
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Strong steady breathing will reverse the fight or flight physiology that causes nausea, butterflies, or sick or sore tummies during anxiety. BUT telling an anxious brain to take a strong steady breath will potentially make anxiety worse unless strong steady breathing feels familiar. Practising during calm times will make it familiar. 

During anxiety we’re dealing with their amygdala, and it wants short shallow breathing to conserve oxygen. It doesn’t want strong steady breathing and will work hard to resist this. 

An anxious brain is a busy brain and it will be less able to do anything unfamiliar. A few minutes of strong steady breathing each day will set up a strong neural pathway to make strong breathing more automatic and accessible during anxiety. 

In the meantime though, you can do it for them. This is the magic of co-regulation. When you do strong steady breathing during their anxiety, it will calm your nervous system which will eventually calm theirs. You will catch their anxiety, and this will feed into their anxiety. Your strong steady breathing is the circuit breaker. They will catch your anxiety, but they will also catch your calm. Don’t worry if this takes a few minutes (and maybe a few more after that). Anxious brains are strong, powerful, beautiful brains working hard to protect. Breathe and be with. This will open the way for that distressed young nervous system to find its way home. And you don’t need to do more than that.♥️
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Needs and behaviour can get tangled up and treated as one. When you can, separate the need from the behaviour. Give voice to the need - let it find a way to breathe - and redirect the behaviour. 

The need might always be clear, especially if it’s being smothered by angry shouting words. If we stifle the behaviour without acknowledging the need, the need stays hungry. Help usher it into the light by making it clear that you’re ready to receive it. Then wait. Wait for the big behaviour to ease, for bodies to calm, and angry voices to soften - but keep the way to you open. ‘You’re a great kid and I know you know that behaviour wasn’t okay. Talk to me about what’s happening for you.’

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