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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We teach our kids to respect adults and other children, and they should – respect is an important part of growing up to be a pretty great human. There’s something else though that’s even more important – teaching them to respect themselves first. 

We can’t stop difficult people coming into their lives. They might be teachers, coaches, peers, and eventually, colleagues, or perhaps people connected to the people who love them. What we can do though is give our kids independence of mind and permission to recognise that person and their behaviour as unacceptable to them. We can teach our kids that being kind and respectful doesn’t necessarily mean accepting someone’s behaviour, beliefs or influence. 

The kindness and respect we teach our children to show to others should never be used against them by those broken others who might do harm. We have to recognise as adults that the words and attitudes directed to our children can be just as damaging as anything physical. 

If the behaviour is from an adult, it’s up to us to guard our child’s safe space in the world even harder. That might be by withdrawing support for the adult, using our own voice with the adult to elevate our child’s, asking our child what they need and how we can help, helping them find their voice, withdrawing them from the environment. 

Of course there will be times our children do or say things that aren’t okay, but this never makes it okay for any adult in your child’s life to treat them in a way that leads them to feeling ‘less than’.

Sometimes the difficult person will be a peer. There is no ‘one certain way’ to deal with this. Sometimes it will involve mediation, role playing responses, clarifying the other child’s behaviour, asking for support from other adults in the environment, or letting go of the friendship.

Learning that it’s okay to let go of relationships is such an important part of full living. Too often we hold on to people who don’t deserve us. Not everyone who comes into our lives is meant to stay and if we can help our children start to think about this when they’re young, they’ll be so much more empowered and deliberate in their relationships when they’re older.♥️
When we are angry, there will always be another emotion underneath it. It is this way for all of us. 

Anger itself is a valid emotion so it’s important not to dismiss it. Emotion is e-motion - energy in motion. It has to find a way out, which is why telling an angry child to calm down or to keep their bodies still will only make things worse for them. They might comply, but their bodies will still be in a state of distress. 

Often, beneath an angry child is an anxious one needing our help. It’s the ‘fight’ part of the fight or flight response. As with all emotions, anger has a job to do - to help us to safety through movement, or to recruit support, or to give us the physical resources to meet a need or to change something that needs changing. It doesn’t mean it does the job well, because an angry brain means the feeling brain has the baton, while the thinking brain sits out for a while. What it means is that there is a valid need there and this young person is doing their very best to meet it, given their available resources in the moment or their developmental stage. 

Children need the same thing we all need when we’re feeling fierce - to be seen,  heard, and supported; to find a way to get the energy out, either with words or movement. Not to be shut down or ‘fixed’. 

Our job isn’t to stop their anger, but to help them find ways to feel it and express it in ways that don’t do damage. This will take lots of experience, and lots of time - and that’s okay.♥️
The SCCR Online Conference 2021 is a wonderful initiative by @sccrcentre (Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution) which will explore ’The Power of Reconnection’. I’ve been working with SCCR for many years. They do incredible work to build relationships between young people and the important adults around them, and I’m excited to be working with them again as part of this conference.

More than ever, relationships matter. They heal, provide a buffer against stress, and make the world feel a little softer and safer for our young people. Building meaningful connections can take time, and even the strongest relationships can feel the effects of disconnection from time to time. As part of this free webinar, I’ll be talking about the power of attachment relationships, and ways to build relationships with the children and teens in your life that protect, strengthen, and heal. 

The workshop will be on Monday 11 October at 7pm Brisbane, Australia time (10am Scotland time). The link to register is in my story.
There are many things that can send a nervous system into distress. These can include physiological (tired, hungry, unwell), sensory overload/ underload, real or perceived threat (anxiety), stressed resources (having to share, pay attention, learn new things, putting a lid on what they really think or want - the things that can send any of us to the end of ourselves).

Most of the time it’s developmental - the grown up brain is being built and still has a way to go. Like all beautiful, strong, important things, brains take time to build. The part of the brain that has a heavy hand in regulation launches into its big developmental window when kids are about 6 years old. It won’t be fully done developing until mid-late 20s. This is a great thing - it means we have a wide window of influence, and there is no hurry.

Like any building work, on the way to completion things will get messy sometimes - and that’s okay. It’s not a reflection of your young one and it’s not a reflection of your parenting. It’s a reflection of a brain in the midst of a build. It’s wondrous and fascinating and frustrating and maddening - it’s all the things.

The messy times are part of their development, not glitches in it. They are how it’s meant to be. They are important opportunities for us to influence their growth. It’s just how it happens. We have to be careful not to judge our children or ourselves because of these messy times, or let the judgement of others fill the space where love, curiosity, and gentle guidance should be. For sure, some days this will be easy, and some days it will feel harder - like splitting an atom with an axe kind of hard.

Their growth will always be best nurtured in the calm, loving space beside us. It won’t happen through punishment, ever. Consequences have a place if they make sense and are delivered in a way that doesn’t shame or separate them from us, either physically or emotionally. The best ‘consequence’ is the conversation with you in a space that is held by your warm loving strong presence, in a way that makes it safe for both of you to be curious, explore options, and understand what happened.♥️
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#mindfulparenting #positiveparenting #parenting
When children are struggling to physically control their bodies, we support them in ways that strengthen. If they’re struggling to write, for example, we don’t punish or shame them. We guide them and show them by doing ‘with’. We also lift them up, ‘I know you can do this. Keep going. You’re getting better and better.’ We also don’t wait for perfection. ‘You wrote a number 4! Nice work you!’ We sit with and do with, over and over. We also give them a break when they get frustrated or upset.

It’s the same for behaviour. Big behaviour comes from big feelings or attempts to meet valid needs. (And all needs are valid.) It is this way for all of us. When we’re upset or angry, the last thing we need is for someone to tell us we can’t be, or to lecture or shame us. Kids are the same.

With kids and teens though, there can be a sense that we need to ‘do’ something in response to big behaviour, so we lay down punishments or consequences with a view to teaching a lesson.

But - unless the consequences make sense (punishments never do), they risk teaching lessons we don’t want them to learn:
- that the environment is fragile and won’t tolerate mistakes. 
- that secrecy and lies are a safer option than coming to us. 
- shut down. They put a lid on expressing big feelings. The feelings will still be there, but they aren’t getting the vital guidance from us on how to calm them (through co-regulation). The risk is that they will eventually call on unhealthy ways to calm the fierce stress neurobiology that comes with big feelings.

Consequences have to make sense. Maybe it’s to repair or reconnect. Discipline has to teach. It’s not about what we do to them but about what we nurture within them. Is that trust and the capacity to learn and grow? Or is it fear or shame.

Often the only response that’s needed is a loving conversation with us. ‘What happened?’ ‘What were you hoping would happen?’ ‘What did you need that you didn’t get?’ What can you do differently next time?’ ‘How can you put things right?’ Because if discipline is about learning, the most powerful consequence is the strong, loving conversation with us that lights their way and speaks softly to the safety of us.♥️

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