What's the difference between suicidal thoughts and actions? One mom explains.

I’m suicidal. And no, it’s not what you think.

I am safe. I am not harming myself. I do not have a plan, and I do not plan on doing anything. But I’m suicidal. And I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t.

People like to think of things like suicide in such black-and-white terms. But much like everything else we are so quick to place into categories, being suicidal falls into a gray area for me. Sometimes, I wonder if it does for anybody else.


See, I can be in a really great mood, right?

I could be having the best day of my life. Still, suicidal thoughts will linger.

I don’t have to be in a bad mood to be suicidal. I will still have those thoughts if I’m surrounded by the people I love or if I’m doing something I’m passionate about.


Photo via Unsplash/Pixabay.

I wake up most mornings thinking I’d be better off dead. But I’m quickly distracted by my husband and son, who are sound asleep next to me.

I still feel it, but I try not to give power to it. Throughout the day, I am faced with challenges that directly affect my subconscious. Either the suicidal thoughts get louder, or they remain just a feeling.

I should explain better: Sometimes being suicidal is different than suicidal thoughts. It’s more of a feeling — the feeling that I have an itch I can’t scratch, that a dark cloud is blooming over me. It’s not just anxiety or depression — it falls into a mixed state that's often called suicidal ideation.

I sometimes feel like I'm drowning, like there’s no air, and coming down from that feeling takes so long that it feels impossible.

Usually, I just have to push through life while this feeling is happening, though. I need to go through the day as normally as I can, without feeding it. Some days are harder than others, though, and today happens to be one of those days.

Some days can be more difficult than others. Photo via iStock.

I woke up today knowing I wasn't feeling good, and I’ve taken that into account.

But I woke up thinking my family was better off without me. Then I started thinking about finances and my heart sunk a little more. I started thinking about my parents, and my depression got worse.

I started thinking about everything my husband does so I can test a career in writing, and God, he can do better than me. It’s not fair to him. If I can’t impress the people surrounding me now, can I face how my son will inevitably feel about me?

Then I start crying because it’s all too much, and I’m just a joke. I feel like I’m drowning, over and over and over again. It would be so much easier to end things, and my family could finally get away from how terrible I am.

Photo via ryan melaugh/Flickr.

Even before them, even with exes, and before dating, when it was just my adoptive family and me, it was still the same feeling following me through life.

The way I feel isn’t a reflection of reality, though. I know I have things to live for, and I know things will get better.

I know my family loves me and the people who don’t like me don’t matter. In fact, they probably don’t give a shit. I know this feeling will pass. I just wish my mind and my body would work toward getting better.

I’m not bad yet. I haven’t made any attempts in almost two years, and I’m really proud of that. Every attempt I’ve made to take my own life ends the same way: I fade into a sleep, and I do regret my actions. I think I used to romanticize my own death back when I had nothing to lose. Now everything is on the line, and I’m terrified of the day my thoughts will become louder than my voice. But I know realistically it may not always be this way, and I may need to admit myself to the hospital again someday.

I have great plans for my future and for my family. So please don’t worry.

I don’t intend to end my life, and I’m not self-harming. And if I was, I’d go to the hospital.

But I wanted to write this so people could better understand what it’s like to feel suicidal. It’s so much more than what happens on the day someone decides to end their existence. Suicide goes deeper than that, and it amazes me when people think otherwise. Often, it feels like years of torment, even on good days. Suicide doesn’t usually happen randomly — it’s a buildup.

I don’t want to die; my subconscious and my illness may disagree, but today my voice is louder, and I will not succumb to the evils of my mind.

But please remember that those of us with mental illness live in dark places and gray areas.

There can be dark places for those struggling with mental illness. Photo from iStock.

It’s not something that shuts off and on — it comes in waves, and it peaks and it fades. But these feelings are never gone. I wish more than anything in this world they would disappear.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter, though. I can overcome this. I am a warrior of my own mind, and I will continue defending my inner peace. Every day may be hard; but I am stronger every day.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

This article originally appeared on 11.21.16


Photographer Katie Joy Crawford had been battling anxiety for 10 years when she decided to face it straight on by turning the camera lens on herself.

In 2015, Upworthy shared Crawford's self-portraits and our readers responded with tons of empathy. One person said, "What a wonderful way to express what words cannot." Another reader added, "I think she hit the nail right on the head. It's like a constant battle with yourself. I often feel my emotions battling each other."

So we wanted to go back and talk to the photographer directly about this soul-baring project.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."