What I Learned After My Last Suicide Attempt (by Dee Chan)

What I Learned After My Last Suicide Attempt (by Dee Chan)

If you are feeling depressed and suicidal this story is for you. I learned some very important lessons after my last suicide attempt – things I never knew before.The moral of this story is: Be careful what you wish for because you might just get it. Or, in my case, almost get it.

The last time I tried to commit suicide, I took every single pill in my house and used up every single Fentanyl patch I had in my possession. Then I laid down and waited to die. Except I didn’t die. A friend had been trying to call me for about 48 hours and when she could not reach me, she finally came over and let herself in with the key I had given her years ago. She found me. Or maybe I should say what was left of me. I went to the hospital in an ambulance where I languished for another two weeks in a coma. When I finally regained consciousness, I was in a sorry state.

You see, I had given myself what is called an Acquired Brain Injury. In my case, all the drugs damaged the left side of my brain and gave me what was¨ in essence¨ a stroke. The doctors later explained to my son that it was a demyelination of my brain nerves. It left me unable to speak, unable to read, unable to swallow. Recovery was slow and painful. I had to relearn how to do many of the things we all take for granted. I spent weeks and weeks in a wheelchair while I had extensive physiotherapy. Learning how to dress

Learning how to dress myself was an especially frustrating endeavour. I could not remember that the tag went at the back of the neck when putting on my t-shirt. Learning how to tell the difference between the right sock and the left sock was incredibly hard.And then, of course, there was the problem of waiting until my swallow reflex returned. I never learned to like a liquid diet fed through a nasal tube. My swallow reflex didn’t return for about three months.

The most terrifying thing for me was that I could not read anymore. You know how when you get to the end of a sentence, your eye has to jump down to the next sentence and go back to the beginning of the line? My brain could no longer do that. I had always been a voracious reader so the idea of never being able to read again was horrible.

The worst part, though, was not being able to speak. I had always been a very verbal person and so having that cut off from me was frightening. Because I could not use my hands, I also could not write. Even if I had been able to use my hands¨ I could no longer put any words together. I was trapped in my own dysfunctional brain.

I was lucky though. I had very good rehab. The Occupational Therapists taught me the skills I needed to know in order to regain some semblance of independent living. The physiotherapists taught me how to walk again. True I was using a walker but I could walk.Eventually after about six months I was deemed ready for discharge and sent home. I returned

Eventually after about six months I was deemed ready for discharge and sent home. I returned back to my home with my Executive Functions in shambles. My short-term memory was shot. I could not remember where I put my shoes¨ my purse¨ my dinner. I could not shop or prepare a meal for myself. I retreated into the back room of my house where I spent untold hours on my computer staring at the screen trying to make sense of my new horrible normal.I decided that I was going to try to recover as best I could and so I thought I would try to write

I decided that I was going to try to recover as best I could and so I thought I would try to write some articles for the internet. I signed up for a website called freelancer.com and started to write for them. At first I would merely copy other content and then re-write it in my own choppy words. Even though I was writing at about a third-grade level, my work sold. After about six months of doing this, I slowly started to notice that other things were getting easier. It was easier for me to put together a simple meal. I was having to make fewer lists to keep myself on track during the day. Eventually¨ I was able to branch out and started writing content for a man who had a wedding website in my home town.

It took six years of tedious¨ slow work but I began to recover. What did I learn? That the brain is an incredibly plastic organ. I had done such damage to my brain but it seemed to have been able to regenerate itself with only a little effort on my part.Eventually I decided that I wanted to start walking more than just from my living room to the

Eventually I decided that I wanted to start walking more than just from my living room to the bathroom¨,so I adopted a little dog and we went out for a walk every day. At first, we walked just around the block. After a while though, he stopped doing his business and so I added another block. Then another. Then another. Before I knew it I was walking between six and eight miles each day with him. And over a period of two years¨ I lost about fifty pounds.

But the most important thing I learned was that suicide is not the answer to my problems. Even though I attempted suicide many, many times, luckily for me I was never successful. Better to find different ways to cope with my emotional pain. I no longer consider suicide when I am feeling low. I’ve actually done a tremendous amount of work on myself and put my Borderline Personality Disorder into complete remission but that’s another story for another time. Do I still have days when I feel low? Yes, of course. Life is full of ups and downs. But the most profound lesson I ever learned was that feelings come and go. They are transitional. I have learned to wait them out while they pass. They always do. Suicide is a permanent answer to a temporary problem.


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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Big feelings, and the big behaviour that comes from big feelings, are a sign of a distressed nervous system. Think of this like a burning building. The behaviour is the smoke. The fire is a distressed nervous system. It’s so tempting to respond directly to the behaviour (the smoke), but by doing this, we ignore the fire. Their behaviour and feelings in that moment are a call for support - for us to help that distressed brain and body find the way home. 

The most powerful language for any nervous system is another nervous system. They will catch our distress (as we will catch theirs) but they will also catch our calm. It can be tempting to move them to independence on this too quickly, but it just doesn’t work this way. Children can only learn to self-regulate with lots (and lots and lots) of experience co-regulating. 

This isn’t something that can be taught. It’s something that has to be experienced over and over. It’s like so many things - driving a car, playing the piano - we can talk all we want about ‘how’ but it’s not until we ‘do’ over and over that we get better at it. 

Self-regulation works the same way. It’s not until children have repeated experiences with an adult bringing them back to calm, that they develop the neural pathways to come back to calm on their own. 

An important part of this is making sure we are guiding that nervous system with tender, gentle hands and a steady heart. This is where our own self-regulation becomes important. Our nervous systems speak to each other every moment of every day. When our children or teens are distressed, we will start to feel that distress. It becomes a loop. We feel what they feel, they feel what we feel. Our own capacity to self-regulate is the circuit breaker. 

This can be so tough, but it can happen in microbreaks. A few strong steady breaths can calm our own nervous system, which we can then use to calm theirs. Breathe, and be with. It’s that simple, but so tough to do some days. When they come back to calm, then have those transformational chats - What happened? What can make it easier next time?

Who you are in the moment will always be more important than what you do.
How we are with them, when they are their everyday selves and when they aren’t so adorable, will build their view of three things: the world, its people, and themselves. This will then inform how they respond to the world and how they build their very important space in it. 

Will it be a loving, warm, open-hearted space with lots of doors for them to throw open to the people and experiences that are right for them? Or will it be a space with solid, too high walls that close out too many of the people and experiences that would nourish them.

They will learn from what we do with them and to them, for better or worse. We don’t teach them that the world is safe for them to reach into - we show them. We don’t teach them to be kind, respectful, and compassionate. We show them. We don’t teach them that they matter, and that other people matter, and that their voices and their opinions matter. We show them. We don’t teach them that they are little joy mongers who light up the world. We show them. 

But we have to be radically kind with ourselves too. None of this is about perfection. Parenting is hard, and days will be hard, and on too many of those days we’ll be hard too. That’s okay. We’ll say things we shouldn’t say and do things we shouldn’t do. We’re human too. Let’s not put pressure on our kiddos to be perfect by pretending that we are. As long as we repair the ruptures as soon as we can, and bathe them in love and the warmth of us as much as we can, they will be okay.

This also isn’t about not having boundaries. We need to be the guardians of their world and show them where the edges are. But in the guarding of those boundaries we can be strong and loving, strong and gentle. We can love them, and redirect their behaviour.

It’s when we own our stuff(ups) and when we let them see us fall and rise with strength, integrity, and compassion, and when we hold them gently through the mess of it all, that they learn about humility, and vulnerability, and the importance of holding bruised hearts with tender hands. It’s not about perfection, it’s about consistency, and honesty, and the way we respond to them the most.♥️

#parenting #mindfulparenting
Anxiety and courage always exist together. It can be no other way. Anxiety is a call to courage. It means you're about to do something brave, so when there is one the other will be there too. Their courage might feel so small and be whisper quiet, but it will always be there and always ready to show up when they need it to.
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But courage doesn’t always feel like courage, and it won't always show itself as a readiness. Instead, it might show as a rising - from fear, from uncertainty, from anger. None of these mean an absence of courage. They are the making of space, and the opportunity for courage to rise.
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When the noise from anxiety is loud and obtuse, we’ll have to gently add our voices to usher their courage into the light. We can do this speaking of it and to it, and by shifting the focus from their anxiety to their brave. The one we focus on is ultimately what will become powerful. It will be the one we energise. Anxiety will already have their focus, so we’ll need to make sure their courage has ours.
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But we have to speak to their fear as well, in a way that makes space for it to be held and soothed, with strength. Their fear has an important job to do - to recruit the support of someone who can help them feel safe. Only when their fear has been heard will it rest and make way for their brave.
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What does this look like? Tell them their stories of brave, but acknowledge the fear that made it tough. Stories help them process their emotional experiences in a safe way. It brings word to the feelings and helps those big feelings make sense and find containment. ‘You were really worried about that exam weren’t you. You couldn’t get to sleep the night before. It was tough going to school but you got up, you got dressed, you ... and you did it. Then you ...’
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In the moment, speak to their brave by first acknowledging their need to flee (or fight), then tell them what you know to be true - ‘This feels scary for you doesn’t it. I know you want to run. It makes so much sense that you would want to do that. I also know you can do hard things. My darling, I know it with everything in me.’
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#positiveparenting #parenting #childanxiety #anxietyinchildren #mindfulpare
Separation anxiety has an important job to do - it’s designed to keep children safe by driving them to stay close to their important adults. Gosh it can feel brutal sometimes though.

Whenever there is separation from an attachment person there will be anxiety unless there are two things: attachment with another trusted, loving adult; and a felt sense of you holding on, even when you aren't beside them. Putting these in place will help soften anxiety.

As long as children are are in the loving care of a trusted adult, there's no need to avoid separation. We'll need to remind ourselves of this so we can hold on to ourselves when our own anxiety is rising in response to theirs. 

If separation is the problem, connection has to be the solution. The connection can be with any loving adult, but it's more than an adult being present. It needs an adult who, through their strong, warm, loving presence, shows the child their abundant intention to care for that child, and their joy in doing so. This can be helped along by showing that you trust the adult to love that child big in our absence. 'I know [important adult] loves you and is going to take such good care of you.'

To help your young one feel held on to by you, even in absence, let them know you'll be thinking of them and can't wait to see them. Bolster this by giving them something of yours to hold while you're gone - a scarf, a note - anything that will be felt as 'you'.

They know you are the one who makes sure their world is safe, so they’ll be looking to you for signs of safety: 'Do you think we'll be okay if we aren't together?' First, validate: 'You really want to stay with me, don't you. I wish I could stay with you too! It's hard being away from your special people isn't it.' Then, be their brave. Let it be big enough to wrap around them so they can rest in the safety and strength of it: 'I know you can do this, love. We can do hard things can't we.'

Part of growing up brave is learning that the presence of anxiety doesn't always mean something is wrong. Sometimes it means they are on the edge of brave - and being away from you for a while counts as brave.
Even the most loving, emotionally available adult might feel frustration, anger, helplessness or distress in response to a child’s big feelings. This is how it’s meant to work. 

Their distress (fight/flight) will raise distress in us. The purpose is to move us to protect or support or them, but of course it doesn’t always work this way. When their big feelings recruit ours it can drive us more to fight (anger, blame), or to flee (avoid, ignore, separate them from us) which can steal our capacity to support them. It will happen to all of us from time to time. 

Kids and teens can’t learn to manage big feelings on their own until they’ve done it plenty of times with a calm, loving adult. This is where co-regulation comes in. It helps build the vital neural pathways between big feelings and calm. They can’t build those pathways on their own. 

It’s like driving a car. We can tell them how to drive as much as we like, but ‘talking about’ won’t mean they’re ready to hit the road by themselves. Instead we sit with them in the front seat for hours, driving ‘with’ until they can do it on their own. Feelings are the same. We feel ‘with’, over and over, until they can do it on their own. 

What can help is pausing for a moment to see the behaviour for what it is - a call for support. It’s NOT bad behaviour or bad parenting. It’s not that.

Our own feelings can give us a clue to what our children are feeling. It’s a normal, healthy, adaptive way for them to share an emotional load they weren’t meant to carry on their own. Self-regulation makes space for us to hold those feelings with them until those big feelings ease. 

Self-regulation can happen in micro moments. First, see the feelings or behaviour for what it is - a call for support. Then breathe. This will calm your nervous system, so you can calm theirs. In the same way we will catch their distress, they will also catch ours - but they can also catch our calm. Breathe, validate, and be ‘with’. And you don’t need to do more than that.

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