You Want to Kill Your Problems (Not Yourself)

"I want to die."

Trigger warning: suicide.

27,000 people type that sentence into Google every month.

Suicidal thoughts and feelings are more common than we like to believe.

Tragically, a lot of people act on that impulse. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S.

In 2018, 48,000 Americans killed themselves. Given 24 out of 25 suicide attempts fail, we can assume more than a million people attempted suicide.

The pandemic wrecked our mental health, so expect that number to grow. We're more stressed, depressed, and anxious than any other time in recent history.

I was almost a part of that statistic. A mental breakdown caused me to say and do strange things. Friends were alienated. Bridges were burned. The costs were huge.

No one wishes for death. They want poverty to die. They want loneliness to die. They want feelings of anger, apathy, sadness, hopelessness, and inadequacy to die.

When you're in a dark place, they feel like the same thing. If you can't fathom a better future, it's easy to assume suicide is the only solution. I've been there.

People mean well, but they often say the wrong thing. "Just cheer up!" Yeah, okay. You can tell that jackass has never struggled with a mental illness.

I'm not here to give you empty platitudes or inspirational garbage that wouldn't resonate with somebody facing a real suicidal crisis.

But I would like to talk you through the train of thought that stopped me from committing suicide. Life is worth living. I promise.

I didn't want to kill myself. I wanted to kill my problems.

When you get dumped or fired, it's like a punch in the face.

Imagine getting punched in the face (metaphorically) four times in a row.

That's what happened to me in 2017. It was the most savage beatdown I've ever seen.

Someone stole my dog. My job and relationship came to an end. I had to move in with my dad.

No job.
No lover.
No home.
No companion.

I'm a great worker. And I'm not stupid with money. But a manic episode caused me to make bad decisions.

Mania is equivalent to being possessed by a spirit. You have little control over yourself. People tend to be horrified by what they did.

Bear in mind I'm speaking of a worst case scenario. Some manic episodes are just a frenzy of productive energy. Those are the lucky ones.

I was unlucky. No one realized I had a problem until it was too late. If bipolar disorder isn't treated fast, a manic episode can turn into a psychotic break.

Psychosis leads to delusions and hallucinations. Paranoia is a common symptom. I was afraid people were conspiring against me, even friends and family members.

Not getting into all the specifics -- although Madness and Me does (note the book preview at the end) -- but to give you an idea, I unfriended every Facebook friend.

That's a literal statement. On the day I snapped, my friends list went from 500+ to 0. Later, I was ashamed and didn't even try to explain. How could I? It was crazy.

Multiply insane behavior like this by several days and it's not difficult to imagine how I might have accidentally sabotaged myself at the most epic level possible.

I've read stories from people who faced a similar situation. The most heartbreaking ones involve relationships being ruined or children being taken away.

The person in question often says: "I'm shocked... that's not something I'd say or do. This scares me. Why would I ever behave that way?"

After I got medicated, the consequences dawned on me. It was an oppressive burden. Depression and an existential crisis followed.

It felt like my mind couldn't be trusted anymore. I pride myself on being intelligent, so this was the absolute worst part.

If I was so smart, how did I get fooled by my own brain? This is the question that almost pushed me over the edge.

Suicide attempts don't end in "peace" or "quiet." They only cause more suffering.

Recall the statistics I shared earlier.

Only 1 out of 25 suicide attempts are successful.

In other words, you have a 96% chance of failure.

An overdose won't kill you (it'll just mess up your organs).

Jumping off a ledge won't kill you (it'll just put you in a wheelchair).

People have even survived gunshot wounds to the face (it's 100% true).

Like it or not, your body is built for survival. Biology wins this battle every time.

However bad your life is today... understand a suicide attempt will make it 1,000 times worse.

You can recover from emotional scars. It might take weeks, months, or years. But you can (and will).

Physical scars could haunt you forever. You'll also risk traumatizing the people who love you.

Even if that's just one person, that's one too many. Live for their sake. Not yours.

If you feel alone, adopt a dog or cat. Live to care for them. They need you.

"Think positive" doesn't register to a suicidal person. They need a brand new identity.

I wanted to die, because my thoughts were so toxic.

"Your life is over."
"You might as well quit."
"You'd be better off dead."
"You'll never be happy again."

Morbid, I know. But this becomes normal when you feel suicidal.

Positive thinking isn't enough to save you. It takes a total mental makeover.

My identity was based in problems. It's all I thought about. Problems, problems, problems.

I read a fantasy book called the Wizard's First Rule. It's about a woods guide named Richard.

Richard is prophesized to become a war wizard. His grandpa Zedd -- also a wizard -- trains him.

Zedd constantly tells Richard (the biggest worrywart ever): "Think of the solution, not the problem."

Richard replaces anxiety with confidence as he learns to attack problems (instead of identifying with them).

I'm not getting deeper into the plot, but readers get to see Richard live this truth repeatedly in high stakes situations.

Self-help content did nothing for me. Too much theory, not enough action. Plus it's hard to read when you feel depressed.

Fiction is better, because you get to immerse yourself in a different world. You also get to see characters live their philosophy out loud.

Richard's example rubbed off. I made online dating profiles. Within a few weeks, I had a girlfriend. She knew about my junk and didn't judge me.

Next, I got a job at a restaurant. Ideal? No. But I still couldn't bring myself to write. And I saved enough money to fund a gap year in which I learned code.

I'm on a medication that causes weight gain. So I started lifting weights again. Yeah, I've put on some weight. But I also turned a lot of pounds into muscle.

Dixie -- the dog who was stolen -- wasn't returned. But I turned that hurt into a passion. I volunteer at the animal shelter and have helped 100+ dogs find a home.

The last part is huge. My biggest problem was a lack of purpose. Without purpose, suicide is more tempting. The urge is gone now. If I don't help the dogs, who will?

Let me be clear. This wasn't a fast or easy process. For a year, depression followed me like a dark cloud. But I weathered the storm and today I'm stronger as a result.

I don't know how long your storm will last. But every storm ends. All you have to do is wait. Meanwhile, read and watch stories about heroes who rise above the odds.

Heroes aren't born. Usually, they're created by a traumatic experience. If Bruce Wayne's parents didn't get shot in Crime Alley, there would be no Batman.

Bruce didn't become Batman right away. He was depressed and apathetic for years. Rage consumed every waking moment throughout his childhood.

Many years later, Bruce healed and found a productive way to channel his anger. He created a new identity. In the process, he found purpose.

You'll heal, too. After your healing completes, you'll find a reason to live again. Life might feel meaningless now. But it won't last forever.

I wanted to die... but choosing to live is the best decision I ever made.

The problems I faced? 

They felt big and insurmountable at the time.

In the rearview mirror, they look as small as an ant.

Don't sacrifice your eternal potential because of a blip on the radar.

I have no doubt your problems are hard and painful. They might feel impossible to solve.

Please don't be impatient. The solution hasn't arrived to you yet. But that doesn't mean it never will... wait!

Feel like a danger to yourself? Stop reading and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Share this article on Facebook or Twitter, because you might have a friend who needs to read it. Thanks in advance.

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