My Friend’s Struggle With Anxiety-Triggered Suicidal Thoughts

My Friend’s Struggle With Anxiety-Triggered Suicidal Thoughts September 22, 2018

An astonishing number of people struggle with suicidal thoughts triggered by depression and anxiety.  September is Suicide Prevention Month.  As a reminder, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 800-273-8255 (800-273-TALK) available 24 hours every day.   If you prefer, you can CHAT instead.

For those who struggle with staying, please know this world needs you, your talents, your brokenness, all of you.  Someday your struggles and experiences will be just the thing needed to help someone else in their journey. You will be their lifeline.

For those who struggle to understand, thank you for making the effort. Thank you for your love. Thank you for being there even if you don’t know what to do.  Your presence makes a difference.

My friend Melissa Hill, a bright, vivacious, engaging woman, shared a recent struggle. I asked her permission to share its important message.  Following are her words.

Melissa Hill’s Struggle With Anxiety Triggered Suicidal Thoughts

woman crawling through tunnel a metaphor for suicidal thoughts
Melissa Hill

This is a really brief summary of something that happened several weeks ago and I feel it is relevant to Suicide Prevention Month. I’ve written and rewritten this in my head for weeks now and I think it’s finally time to share.

Please note, the MOST IMPORTANT part of this post is the information at the end.

My primary symptom is anxiety. It’s mostly managed but sometimes it’s not. Fortunately, I’ve had a lot of good therapists over the years that have worked with me and taught me some great coping skills. So, it was a surprise to me to have this little blip while on my vacation in August.

This summer I spent 3 glorious weeks on the mainland soaking up all the love and laughter I could with the people who are near and dear to me. People who are sunshine and people who matter. The third week I was on my own because Leighton and Olivia had to return home for work and school. I was in Idaho with my Dad and the Murphy side of my family. Friday, the day I went to Redfish Lake, I dropped my Dad off at the lodge and parked.

On the walk to the lodge I started wheezing and for some reason, my anxiety kicked in. I panicked and my brain train went from having a tight chest to having lumps in my lungs to having lung cancer to dying. WHAT??? But the last thought was the worst, I thought, I’d be okay dying.

I’d Be OK Dying

It wasn’t a peaceful thought, it was a dark and unwelcome thought that slipped in. I pushed at it but it didn’t want to go very far away. Even though it stared at me, it didn’t speak up again until hours later. I was able to enjoy a nice trail ride and a drive home with my Dad. That evening it wouldn’t shut up and that’s when the real fight for my life, in earnest, began.

Suicidal thoughts are exhausting. They are no joke. They are terrifying and, at least for me, they are really personal. Leighton is the only one I shared them with this time. I cried and cried while I talked with him.

Struggling to Understand

In the Spring I had a blip but it made sense. I don’t handle stress well and I was under a lot of stress planning an event. I was so overwhelmed I honestly didn’t know how to ask for help. Anyway, when the event came around I wasn’t my best self so I was embarrassed and felt inadequate most of the time.

THAT made sense, but THIS? This didn’t make sense. I had just spent 2 weeks in a positive, loving environment surrounded by people who wanted to be with me. Where was THIS coming from? We were caught off guard. The best thing we came up with was something was off with my medicine. So, that meant I would have to suffer until I returned home and could meet with my doctor to discuss what was going on.

And let me tell you, that was a struggle. Saturday was rough. Those dark thoughts are powerful and real. I’ve been well long enough to know that they pass but this time I couldn’t feel that hope and that knowledge wasn’t there. I felt this would never end and the only way to make it stop was to end it myself. Saturday evening I sat on my bed and planned it all out. I knew it would work. And then I thought about my poor dad and how it would affect him and how hard it would be on him. It made me mad. I wanted my hurt to stop but I didn’t want to hurt my dad either.

I left my room, went upstairs for dinner and put on a happy face. No one knew what was churning inside. Sometimes that’s just the way it is. Some people will tell you, others won’t. In this case, I wasn’t really close with anyone I was staying with so I wouldn’t dare open up to them. Leighton is the only one I would talk to.

Distractions Before Light

We had a nice dinner. It felt good to get my mind off of the ugliness that was asking for attention inside. Later we played a game and then watched Goonies. It was a sweet relief to be distracted for so long. When I went back to my room to go to bed those, “you’re not good enough”,”you don’t deserve to live”,”your family would be better off without you”, “It ALWAYS comes back to this (medicine), you can just make it stop by ending it all now,” thoughts returned. They’d been waiting for me all night. I said a prayer, crawled into bed, waited for sleep to come and hoped it would come quickly. I cried while my cousin slept quietly in the bed across the room. Sleep eventually came.

Sunday came and so did the light and some relief. I talked, in vague terms, to some of my cousins and asked for a priesthood blessing. Talking with Leighton ALWAYS helps. I was feeling less despair. By Sunday evening I was feeling better. I know my experience was just a blip. I still felt bruised and tender as I went through the rest of the week and visited with other friends. I wasn’t all better but I was better than I had been.

I’ve been to my doctor and we’ve tweaked my meds. I’ve seen my therapist and things are good.

Check In With Loved Ones

I share this with you because sometimes, there are no warning signs and suicidal thoughts come out of nowhere. So, if you have a friend or loved one who does have a mental illness it wouldn’t hurt to check in with them when you feel prompted to or even on a regular basis.

Here is some helpful information;

We didn’t ask to be mentally ill. It’s just the way our body is.

It’s not contagious. You’re not going to become Bipolar or Anxious just from spending time with us.
Suicidal thoughts are exhausting. People usually fight against them before they act on them.
We need friends that aren’t afraid to ask how we are doing. For example, “How have your moods been?” “Do you like your doctor?”

It’s helpful to have someone to just listen, not fix things, but just listen. And, then let us know we are loved and there is hope. Hope is what we lack.

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