I have spent the better part of my life wishing to die. I first wanted to die at 11. I consider myself an old lady at 29 in avoiding suicide. Getting on two decades of experience.
I distress counsellors and intake nurses and doctors and any person trying to gauge my mental health risk. To be fair, I don’t really know or understand what my own risk is. I only know when I’m scared. Which is when my suicidal ideations get away from me, when I am not in control of them. I am usually able to get across to these medical professionals that I think about suicide so much that using the presence of suicidal thoughts is not a good ruberick for me. But using the way in which I’m thinking about them and how much control I have over them is a good ruberick. Usually they understand.
I am very good at not killing myself. I have a series of safety plans and always have. Long before someone talked to me about a safety plan. Indeed. I was pretty resistant to writing it down. I kind of still am but it is a good exercise: the act of writing down the safety plan is so that you can refer to it in a time of crisis. PUT IT IN A NOTICABLE SPOT. Possibly so you see it every day or put it where you know it will be in your way if you are in crisis.
When we go into crisis we cede a level of personal autonomy over to the crisis: This is why it feels like a crisis. What we know about ourselves is that we can get through a crisis if we are safe from ourselves but we might not make it if we are not safe from ourselves.
Your safety plan should include:
- Warning signs. Things you know that you do before going into crisis. For me, irrational spending, my shoulders up around my ears, irritability or inability to avoid focusing on bad things, and isolation are big red flashing warning signs now. They were not always so. Your safety plan involves catching crises before they happen as much as dealing with them mid crisis.
- Coping techniques that you might not remember in the crisis. Mine include mindless cellphone games, sleeping (not really that effective but very safe), reading, art, biking and cooking. These are things you can do to distract yourself while you wait for your higher brain to kick in about a crisis. Or things that might help you outright.
- Social situations that can allieviate distractions. A list of places you can go to be around other people in a safe setting. This might be a coffee shop, this might be a weekly event like a dance.
- Specific people you can call either to talk to or visit. A number of these is good. People have lives. It doesn’t mean they don’t care about you. Have a chat with someone and see if you can add them to your safety plan. Make sure they understand what a safety plan is.
- Agencies and organizations you can call. Suicide hotlines and the ambulance are on mine.
- Finally, include some tips to make your environment feel safe. Mine includes leaving rooms where sharps are held and or putting on music to relax.
Take care of yourself humans. Outsmart yourself. I know you can.