It's not that I wanted to die; I just wanted the pain to end, permanently.
I think my therapist even asked me if I thought about suicide, Yes, but I would never end my life.
I didn't realize I'd had classic suicidal behaviors and thoughts. I thought suicide literally meant wanting to end one’s life, to kill the self. So I didn't even consider myself a suicide risk because I didn’t want to kill myself.
But I desperately wanted to end the pain. The pain had become my life.
I often hear people tell me, I’d never do that to my kids, and yet thousands of people who die by suicide are parents. We believe our threshold is the one thing that will hold us back from taking action, but I believe this is a dangerous false belief. It’s something we tell ourselves we would never do, and yet if we have the typical suicidal behaviors, we are absolutely at risk of dying by suicide.
My actual suicide attempt was impulsive, but had I gotten help when I was exhibiting the known risk behaviors for suicide, perhaps I wouldn't have taken the overdose.
Let me share what my experience was in terms of the classic signs for risk of suicide:
I talked around the "S" word. I didn't have a plan to end my life, but my thoughts and statements reflected suicidal tendencies. I can’t take it anymore. I just want to sleep forever. I can’t go on like this much longer. This is too much to bear. I just want this to end. Life isn’t worth living. I can’t deal with life anymore.
On a few occasions, when I was the lone car on the massive LA freeway, I drove with my eyes closed as I accelerated late at night. I also drove while intoxicated, not thinking about the damage I could have caused to others because I didn't care about my own life. I brought home strangers to have sex with and didn't care if anything happened to me. In fact, there were times I wished someone would just put an end to my suffering.
Increase in Alcohol / Drug Consumption
I still feel bad for my poor liver. My go-to numbing choice was alcohol, and I often experienced blackouts. It was legal and easy. You can make booze look as pretty as a pink Cosmo, but when you gulp them down, it's not so pretty anymore. I also started smoking pot and even cigarettes on occasion. Oddly, I didn't abuse any of the prescription pills until my overdose.
Changes in Sleep: Sleeping Too Much or Not at All
I experienced both of these intermittently. All I wanted to do was sleep, but my mind was constantly racing with looping thoughts. When I did fall asleep, I had horrible dreams about my ex and often woke up crying.
I felt extremely low due to my belief in my husband's opinion of me, my capabilities, and my worthiness of kindness and love. Add onto that my feelings of guilt and shame for how I was behaving, and it was a very dark scenario in my mind's eye.
I’d never experienced anxiety until the end of my marriage came so quickly. For me, it looked like repetitive thoughts on a continuous loop, body shakes, trembling, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, hair loss and sleep disruption. It was shocking how a mental health condition could cause such extreme physical symptoms.
No Sense of Purpose: Feeling Hopeless, Desperate
Because I'd allowed my whole life to revolve around my husband, I absolutely felt like my purpose was stripped from my soul. Without my husband, I'd lost what I'd given the most meaning to in my life. I questioned whether life was worth living without him, our future and his family. I believed I might always feel the intense pain because he wasn't coming back; nothing would change.
Withdrawal and Isolation
I wanted to hide away from everything and everyone. I felt completely alone in the world; like no one knew the deep psychic pain I was experiencing.
I had been on an anti-depressant for years, but nothing helped lift me from the depths of despair I felt during the first six months after my husband left. For me, depression felt empty and heavy at the same time. I saw no hope, no brightness to the world that seemed to swirl in smothering ashes from the life I thought I had. Interestingly, my depression often led to very productive creativity, and my book reflects the internal world I was experiencing at the time.
Neglecting Basic Care of Self
I didn't have much interest in caring for my body, mind or spirit. I barely ate, and when I was isolating, days would pass when I wouldn't shower or brush my teeth. I even neglected to feed my cats a few times when I stayed in bed all day.
Other warning signs include:
- Self-Injury or Non-Fatal Suicidal Behavior
- Giving Possessions Away
- Putting Affairs in Order
- Sudden Mood Changes
I share my personal experience in the hopes that if you are reading this and can relate to anything I've written, you will reach out and get help. The National Suicide Hotline number in the U.S. is 800.273.8255. You can also call if you have concerns about a friend or family member. Suicide is preventable. We just have to start the conversation.
Written by Patty Blue Hayes
Patty Blue Hayes is a divorce survivor. She chronicles the crippling effects of her divorce and the dark days and manic nights in her book "Wine, Sex & Suicide - My Near Death Divorce." Patty is a certified trainer and coach, who shares the tools and techniques that helped her heal her broken heart. You can learn more about Patty Blue Hayes at www.PattyBlueHayes.com.