Think of your life. Stop thinking about others.
Think of your own.
Especially now, in this day and age of global interconnections with ongoing heartache and devastation.
It is hard to see joy when all we see and feel is pain.
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or feelings, or are losing hope, it is imperative to take a deep breath and close your eyes to search for that joy you once had, so that you can remember who you are and why you are here.
I have been battling ongoing suicidal thoughts since I was a small child. It first happened when I realized I was in a girl’s body, and not a boy’s. This realization put me in a state of shock and questioning what is my true life reality. I didn’t want to live the life of a girl. I wanted to live my life as a boy. My feelings around suicide then continued due to other traumatic life events.
As an adult, I struggle on-and-off with suicidal thoughts and feelings when I lose myself within the walls and confines of ongoing trauma, which then spark my tendency to think I am a “bad” or “wrong” person because of who I am.
I am a transsexual man living freely and openly in the United States of America. An openly transsexual man who now wears cowboy boots with the American flag on them. I bought them for a historic week of first speaking in front of our federal judges and then closing out with the US Air Force.
I am a sexuality educator/storyteller who uses my academic training to serve all forms of community, small and large – through both writing and speaking. My work is in an ongoing state of metamorphosis, as it is done through my own understanding of life’s meaning. While studying cultural anthropology in college, I had dreamed of becoming an ethnographer that traveled the world to observe and participate in other people’s lives in order to understand their cultures. But due to my eating disorder and increasing fear of not being in control of my diet and exercise, I ditched the idea and changed my goals.
With my eating disorder no longer being my central focus I’ve become an ethnographer of westernized culture and eastern influence. An observer of politics colliding with the body liberation movement. A human health behaviorist that is seeking the answer to what seems like a tiny question, but underneath is the rumbling of divine meaning.
That question is, who am I?
Who am I?
Being vulnerable to the public through my profession has opened me up to attacks that can knock one’s sense of self off its rocker. Every time I recover and find myself, something happens, like a lightning bolt striking my inner spirit, which causes me to slip back into a cycling and spinning mind state. My search then continues, for an answer that keeps being elusive.
I struggle with ongoing suicidal thoughts, anxiety and depression due to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). My PTSD has led me to believe that I am not lovable . . . that I have no value. Deep down, I know this isn’t true. What is true is I cannot be lovable if I do not love myself. And the longer I beat myself up, the further I slip away from being able to see or remember joy. I then become fixated on worrying about other people’s judgements, critiques or objections – which drives a further wedge between me and the desire to keep living. I then begin to severe connections. Which is why I am writing this down and sharing it. The pain we leave from suicide is what people most regret.
Yet, for people struggling with suicidal thoughts and feelings:
We believe if we kill ourselves then others will be happy.
We believe we are part of the problem and not the solution.
We believe there is no hope in life, due to another lightning bolt to our spirit.
We cannot see a future, or the one we do looks bleak.
How do we help ourselves and others out of this way of thinking, seeing and experiencing the world?
The first step is to have awareness of when these waves of emotions come over us and for how long. For me at this present moment, I have been able to find a place of state and calm, so these intense feelings are not driving me. But in the past, I’ve noticed that suicidal thoughts come throughout the day or week depending on what I am doing or focusing on. The best way to overcome them is for me to slow myself down and just let myself grieve. Even if in public. The more I grieve, the more I let out everything that deeply saddens me about living in this world. It is extremely difficult to sit with long-standing grief and feelings of despair – but hold on. Those feelings will pass, they just first need to move through you.
The second step is to close one’s eyes and take another deep breath. Close your eyes and try to focus on your name. The one you like to go by, not necessarily your given. For me, I focus on two names and two different people, even though we are both the same. Kim and Ryan. I had 25 years living as female, and now 17 living as male in this sexed body. In focusing on your name, think of a moment or time that you’ve heard it and it made you smile. It made you feel affirmed and seen on this planet.
The third step is to reopen your eyes and look at yourself to take in your reflection. It reminds you of who you are deep down. Look into your eyes and search for your inner voice and compass for guidance. Your eyes hold the windows to your soul . . . at least that is what they always say. Given the compliments I have received for mine, I believe this to be true. I have kind green eyes. I am a kind person.
The fourth step is to listen to music (or feel it, if you are not able to hear). Listen to a lot of music. Just let yourself get lost in a CD, album or playlist. Feel the beats and rhythm. Listen to the words and how they form into lyrics. Sit and listen. Stand and listen. Walk and listen. Run and listen. Pace and listen. Sway back and forth and listen. Get back into your mind and body. Let the music carry you to a new place like flying up in the clouds on an airplane.
The next step can happen either before what I suggested for step one, or any other time that you are ready – reach out for help. Let someone you trust know your feelings and seek or continue with your own mental health therapy. While we may feel ashamed to share our feelings of suicide, we are actually opening up the opportunity to talk about what is scaring us, weighing us down, or creating feelings of torment. Through talking, we can find clarity and forms of relief.
By doing these things it will help you calm down your nervous system. It may not be perfect, but each step we take to ground ourself back to this earth, the more we can open back up to those we love and see that love reflected back.
To keep going through all of this, I just keep asking myself. What is it that drives me in life? What is it that interests me? What is it that makes me feel complete?
My final answer – living my life with all of you. This includes the pain and hurt, and the love and joy.
Healing is achievable the more we feel safe and able to open up to finding ourselves.
You are not alone – National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255