It’s Okay If You’ve Thought About It
Trigger warnings: Mental health, suicide
It’s okay if you’ve thought about it. Sometimes, against life, it feels like we don’t stand much of a chance. Life, particularly modern life, may be full of things to be thankful for, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t exhausting and relentless at times. Getting out of bed every day, to continue juggling your responsibilities, can feel like a monumental task. And those responsibilities can feel just as monumental, especially when you start adding them up — trying to keep up with a job, with rent and bills and taxes, with a full social circle, with keeping one eye on your health and the other on your finances, with hobbies and birthdays and Christmas, with the dust on every bloody surface in your home.
That’s without mentioning the odd shitstorm that life decides to throw at you here and there — a death in the family, a nasty breakup, an illness. Then there are the little things, the ones that chip away at you slowly, like mistakes at work or your charger cable finally giving out. If we don’t have healthy outlets for our emotions, these things can build until they become explosive. Even if we do have those healthy outlets, sometimes, it’s just not enough. Our mental health suffers. So, again — it’s okay if you’ve thought about it.
There’s a lot of stigma around mental health in general but especially around suicide, around the idea of wanting to die. I can understand why. The last thing anyone wants is for someone to feel so low that they have no other option, that they simply can’t go on, and unfortunately, a lot of people’s favoured reactions to even so much as talking about these things is to uncomfortably ignore it. Brush it aside. People think it can’t happen to them or someone they love, that they would never even contemplate the idea, and that becomes a safety net that they lean on. But the sad truth is that the thought could cross anybody’s mind.
Really, such thoughts are probably more common than any of us think. The ache to escape life, even if it’s only a temporary escape, seems natural in the modern world. Sometimes, the typical avenues of escape — a book, movie, or game — just won’t cut it, especially when life turns up the heat, or adds another weight to the already-heavy load.
I’ve never wanted to die before. I don’t enjoy the idea of death, whether it’s happening to me or anyone else, whether it’s voluntary or not. On the contrary, I’ve always feared death and probably always will. It’s one of the great unknowns that I’m not particularly interested in getting better acquainted with, and many suicidal people have probably felt the same way despite everything.
But — and this is a big but — I have flirted with the idea of simply not being here anymore, on Earth, of simply not existing. Sometimes I yearn for the ability to just blink out of existence for as long as I want — for as long as I need — and, for a while, at least, not have to deal with life. Something deeper than sleep, but not as permanent or final as death. After all, the fantasy always includes me coming back eventually, nobody any the wiser, no time having passed, not a thing out of place. And wouldn’t that be wonderful, if it was possible? It’d be like a spa break for your consciousness — a weekend getaway, a retreat to absolutely nowhere, where the responsibilities that plague everyday life can’t find you.
Unfortunately, it isn’t possible. There is no magic wand to wave here. I’m sure, if people had a choice, they’d opt for the chance to just blink in and out of existence at will, to take a break when it’s all too much and always have the choice to come back. But they don’t have that choice. It’s either live, or choose not to live, and that some people suffer to the point of choosing the latter is heart-breaking.
Often, people don’t want to die. They want an escape, from life and its cruel, cold hand. And something tells me that that’s been most of us at some point — that just about every single one of us has thought about it, no matter how fleeting the thought might have been. We’d probably all be surprised to learn which of the people in our lives have been there.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you you’ve definitely thought about it. The last thing I want is to convince you that you have. If you haven’t, you haven’t, and that’s okay. What I am telling you is that it really is okay if you’ve thought about it. It isn’t selfish, or wrong, and it shouldn’t be allowed to eat you up inside.
Sure, I understand where the stigma surrounding suicide comes from. There’s no denying that it’s a painful, delicate topic that many people just aren’t comfortable with handling. But ignoring something gives it more power. We feel bad, even when we have only fleeting thoughts of not wanting to exist, because it’s a subject people discuss in hushed voices and keep close to their chests. When a subject becomes the elephant in the room, that also translates to how we feel as individuals, until it feels like the elephant is sat right on top of us.
So, let’s talk about it more. Let’s stop giving the subject so much power. Let’s shrink the elephant until we can breathe again. It’s not that simple, I know, but sometimes a starting point can come from the strangest of places — like an article on the internet.
Writing this was a cathartic exercise — a way of putting something previously hidden out into the world. That way, it stops becoming a dark spot in my mind and instead, becomes just another thing that has happened to me. Just another feeling. Just another thought. But I also want this article to be like an outstretched hand to others. Something that reminds people that they’re not alone if they’ve thought about it because, well…here I am, telling you that I’ve thought about it too.
I could go on and on about how life does get better, especially after a rough patch. I am an optimist, after all. But everyone’s circumstances are different. Some people’s rough patches are just a hop, skip and a jump, while others go on for miles. It’s not for me to wax poetic about suddenly feeling better, stepping out into the sunshine, stopping to smell every flower and being eternally grateful for choosing life. Not everyone will feel that way.
The most uplifting thing I can tell you isn’t that the storm will eventually pass or that time will heal all wounds. All of that comes down to experience and when you’re at your lowest, talk like that often feels cheap. What I can tell you, again, is that you aren’t alone, and that — sincerely — it’s okay if you’ve thought about it.
If you feel you need help with suicidal thoughts, call the Samaritans on 116 123, or text HOME to 741741. They’re both available 24 hours a day.