When you're in the gray area of being suicidal

I woke this morning but didn't want to. My back was stiff. My legs were sore. Knots riddled my calves and crept up my thighs, and my head pounded. Too many beers, I thought. Too many drinks. But the real reason I didn't want to wake up was because I was tired of waking up.

My mind was shattered. My body was exhausted, and I was depressed. Every day I pray I'll close my eyes for the last and final time.

Of course, I am not alone. Millions of Americans live with depression. It is a common illness. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 7 percent of the US population has—or will experience—depression in any given year.

But there is more to my depression then sadness, sorrow and changes in my sleep. I live with chronic suicidal ideations. I regularly fantasize about death, and my own demise.


Make no mistake: These thoughts aren't glorified or romanticized. But I think about suicide regularly. Instinctively. The ideations come on like a cough, hiccup or sneeze. I think about suicide constantly. On bad days, on sad days, and even on good days. I consider what would happen if I drove into oncoming traffic or if, on my morning run, I kept going to the end of the island and jumped off the Verrazano bridge.

And while you might assume thinking about suicide means I am suicidal, that is not the case. I am depressed and sad, but these feelings are not fatal. I do not want to die.

Confused? Me too. But that is what it's like to live in the space between. In the "gray area" of suicide. You are at peace with dying. The thought brings you relief. There is an out—an end to all the hurt and pain. You feel comforted by these thoughts. Suicide soothes your broken soul, but that is because your pain is so great you don't know how to cope.

It's a form of escapism. Fixating on death seems easier than fixing yourself.

Kathryn Moore, a psychologist at Providence Saint John's Child and Family Development Center in Santa Monica, California, tells Upworthy many patients experience similar thoughts, known as passive suicidal thoughts.

"Passive ideation includes thoughts about death and dying that are vague, such as 'I wish I could go to sleep and never wake up' or 'I wonder what it would be like to be dead'... while active suicidal thoughts place a person at moderate to extreme risk of harming themselves because they have both thoughts and a plan."

"Active suicidal ideation is present in someone who has a plan and/or drive to carry out their plan for attempting suicide," Haley Neidich, a licensed mental health professional and practicing psychotherapist, says.

That said, while there is a distinct difference, there can also be overlap, i.e. passive suicidal thoughts can become active. For that reason, you should always take these thoughts seriously.

"If you have passive suicidal ideation, you should talk about it with others and/or your therapist to increase... your social support, problem-solving skills, and to create an active treatment plan," Moore says.

And if someone tells you they are having thoughts of suicide, you should take them seriously.

"Ask what the thoughts are specifically," Dr. Gail Saltz, an associate professor of psychiatry at the NY Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine and host of the upcoming Personology podcast on iHeart Media, explains. "Do they wish they weren't here (passive)? Or do they have an idea of actually killing themselves (active)? If they have an active idea, ask if they have a plan. If they do, do they have the means? If they do, take the means away... like if they have a gun, pills, etc. The point is it's always better to ask and remove access to a plan than to shy away from the topic."

Some might worry that asking a person with depression about suicidal thoughts might push them toward it. But that's not the case.

"You don't give a suicidal person morbid ideas by talking about suicide," Help Guide—a mental health nonprofit and wellness website dedicated to empowering those living with mental illness(es), and their loved ones—states. "Bringing up the subject of suicide and discussing it openly is one of the most helpful things you can do."

That is what I do. I reach out to my psychiatrist and psychologist regularly. I try to be honest with my family and friends, and I say the words "suicide." I admit when I am struggling and when I am not okay.

Does that mean the thoughts have gone away? No. Because of my mental illness, I live in dark places. I often wade through thick fog and grey spaces. But I keep going. I keep fighting, and I don't give in—or give up.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255, visit SuicidePreventionLifeline.org, or text "START" to 741-741 to immediately speak to a trained counselor at Crisis Text Line.
True
Frito-Lay

Did you know one in five families are unable to provide everyday essentials and food for their children? This summer was also the hungriest on record with one in four children not knowing where their next meal will come from – an increase from one in seven children prior to the pandemic. The effects of COVID-19 continue to be felt around the country and many people struggle to secure basic needs. Unemployment is at an all-time high and an alarming number of families face food insecurity, not only from the increased financial burdens but also because many students and families rely on schools for school meal programs and other daily essentials.

This school year is unlike any other. Frito-Lay knew the critical need to ensure children have enough food and resources to succeed. The company quickly pivoted to expand its partnership with Feed the Children, a leading nonprofit focused on alleviating childhood hunger, to create the "Building the Future Together" program to provide shelf-stable food to supplement more than a quarter-million meals and distribute 500,000 pantry staples, school supplies, snacks, books, hand sanitizer, and personal care items to schools in underserved communities.

Keep Reading Show less

The recent passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg not only marked the end of an illustrious life of service to law and country, but the beginning of an unprecedented judicial nomination process. While Ginsburg's spot on the Supreme Court sits open, politicians and regular Americans alike argue over whether or not it should be filled immediately, basing their arguments on past practices and partisan points.

When a Supreme Court vacancy came up in February of 2016, nine months before the election, Senate Republicans led by Mitch McConnell refused to even take up a hearing to consider President Obama's pick for the seat, arguing that it was an election year and the people should have a say in who that seat goes to.

Four years later, a mere six weeks before the election, that reasoning has gone out the window as Senate Republicans race to get a nominee pushed through the approval process prior to election day. Now, they claim, because the Senate majority and President are of the same party, it makes sense to proceed with the nomination.

Keep Reading Show less
True

$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather has become a beloved voice of reason, knowledge, and experience for many Americans on social media the past few years. At 88, Rather has seen more than most of us, and as a journalist, he's had a front row seat as modern history has played out. He combines that lifetime of experience and perspective with an eloquence that hearkens to a time when eloquence mattered, he called us to our common American ideals with his book "What Unites Us," and he comforts many of is with his repeated message to stay "steady" through the turmoil the U.S. has been experiencing.

All of that is to say, when Dan Rather sounds the alarm, you know we've reached a critical historical moment.

Yesterday, President Trump again refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power after the election when directly asked if he would—yet another democratic norm being toppled. Afterward, Rather posted the following words of wisdom—and warning—to his nearly three million Facebook fans:


Keep Reading Show less

"Very nice!" It appears as though Kazakhstan's number one reporter, Borat Sagdiyev, is set to return to the big screen in the near future and the film's title is a sight to behold.

Reports show that the title submitted to the Writer's Guild of America, "Borat: Gift Of Pornographic Monkey To Vice Premiere Mikhael Pence To Make Benefit Recently Diminished Nation Of Kazakhstan" is even longer than the first film's, "Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan."

As the title suggests, the film is expected to feature an encounter with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence as well as President Trump's TV lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Keep Reading Show less