Help! I get thoughts about ending my life…
Question: Nothing major is going wrong in my life. Yet, I feel low in the last 2 months and I am getting thoughts of ending my life. Am I crazy? My friends too yell at me for acting funny and not joining them as usual. What is happening?
Answer: We all feel sad every now and then because of numerous things happening in our lives. Suicidal thoughts/death wishes can occur when we feel that we don’t have enough coping resources to deal with the pain we are experiencing. These thoughts may cross one’s mind because of various reasons like, feeling overwhelmed, guilty, stuck, or meaningless. Sometimes these thoughts can occur when we are depressed, when we are feeling extremely sad, hopeless and discouraged in life.
It is important to understand that feeling sad for a short period/temporarily is different from feeling depressed or having clinical depression.
If you feel that your sadness and thoughts about ending your life are pervading over all the other things you are interested in doing and are making you feel exhausted, if these are interfering in your daily functioning (eating/sleeping/grooming), work and relationship then you should consider consulting a psychologist/psychiatrist. You might be suffering from depression which is a mental disorder caused by one or more factors or combination of factors like genetic vulnerability, biochemical factors or stressful life events. It is a disorder which is treatable and with the right kind of treatment and therapy people are usually able to lead healthy and happy lives.
Question: These thoughts scare me. I do not know what to do when I get such thoughts. I feel I might end up acting on them.
Answer: Many people get thoughts about ending their lives from time to time because of various reasons. Getting these thoughts does not always mean that you are crazy or may act on them. Try to think about the various reasons which may be contributing to these thoughts.
Are you facing a difficult life situation? Can you think about the possibility that the situation may improve? Are you feeling unloved, hopeless or worthless? Is there a chance that these thoughts are just thoughts and not reality? Do you need to believe everything you feel or think? Perhaps such thoughts are coloured by your negative mood state which is clouding your thinking. Perhaps you may not think that way if your mood state is different even if the situation remains the same. Be your own advocate and argue against your own thoughts. Can you jot down various facts/anecdotes from your life (e.g. having a loving parent/partner/friend/having done something reasonably well despite lack of support etc.) which contradict your negative thoughts?
You might be going through a phase in life when everything looks meaningless. Can you still think of writing down things which you would like to pursue (like learning a new instrument, travelling)? Can you think about things which make you feel hopeful towards life?
Also, have you tried talking to someone about your feelings? Sometimes just talking to someone who cares can help you in thinking through your thoughts clearly. Another person, be it a friend, a caring elder or a therapist may give you a fresh and different perspective on looking at your own life.
Question: I feel that there is no meaning in what I am doing – no point in living. I cannot go on like this when I find everything to be pointless. Is there any hope?
The fact that you have not acted on your thoughts and have chosen life over death shows that there is something which has kept you going. What is it that keeps you going? What had made you hopeful in the past? There is a good chance that this point of crisis will pass and you would like to live again for one or more reasons. Can you make a list of reasons for staying alive? (E.g. my list will consist of responsibilities towards my partner/parents, to pursue things I still haven’t done, to travel and see different places, concern towards my sibling). Your thoughts like ‘I have nothing to live for’ are understandable because of the tough time you are going through, but do you need to believe in these thoughts completely? Though these thoughts are painful and unbearable, can you still be wrong? Like I mentioned earlier, sometimes when we are going through a difficult phase in life everything looks depressing and gloomy, like we are wearing coloured spectacles that make hope hard to find. But hope might just be around the corner, once the grey clouds of sadness pass. So talk to someone you trust, or reach out to a professional counselor/therapist.
Expert: Dr Anindita Bhattacharya
Dr. Anindita Bhattacharya currently serves as a senior lecturer at
Azim Premji University, Bangalore.