The counselor I see is part of the outpatient program SAFER (Suicide Attempt Follow-up, Education and Research). Each session begins with discussing my suicidal thoughts of the previous week. How often do I think about suicide? How intense are the thoughts? How long do the thoughts last? Do I have plans attached to the thoughts?
Thoughts on suicide are common, way more common than we would like to admit as a society if numerous conversations I’ve had since “outing” myself as someone who thinks about suicide are any indication. And incidentally, it isn’t all bad. For example, last night my roommate told me how the comedian Doug Stanhope performed a show after two of his friends died, one by suicide in his house just hours earlier. My initial thoughts? “I don’t want to kill myself, but if that changes in the future, I cannot kill myself in this apartment. I cannot leave my body to be found by Kevin and Kyle. Just don’t do that Kate. No exceptions”. That is what I consider to be a good thought about suicide.
During my second counseling session I admitted I had no desire to live for myself, but I was willing to concede that living was the better option as I didn’t want to hurt my family and friends. I think my counselor was relieved I had come to this conclusion as he was ready to celebrate that achievement. He did want to work with me so I would carry out the bigger achievement of wanting to live.
In the course of another session I brought up how I tend to pick one person or activity to revolve my life around. I don’t realize I’m doing it, and when problems arise in the current center-of-my-universe, they knock me into orbit. I don’t know how to live. My most recent example was cycling. A flat tire is an annoyance; for me it was a reason to die. It turns out this is a really bad way to live. My counselor proposed I find a way to take that energy and focus it on my health and well-being this time.
The third important discussion we had came up when I mentioned how I truly, honestly, without a doubt believe that I, Kate Hendry, am wonderful. I proved this to him by explaining how surprised I was when someone I met recently liked me even though we met when I was depressed and full of anxiety. “If he’s impressed with me now, just wait until I get through this depression and anxiety and get back to being myself!” My counselor pointed out that people do like me, even when I’m depressed and living out of fear. Maybe it was time for me to accept that part of my life with more compassion.
These conversations have been swirling though my head. I’ve decided it is worthwhile, vital even, to work on project “Prioritize Kate’s Health and Well-being”. It seems like a huge, and frankly overwhelming project to take on. I have my counselor and an Occupational Therapist to help me break it down into manageable chunks, which is good since I am far and away from prioritizing my own well-being.
What about you? Is this the regular mindset for most people? And what actions do you take to prioritize your own health and well-being?