EPISODE 105 – PODCAST TRANSCRIPT
Hi there, welcome back to Kelly Martin Speaks. I’m your host Kelly Martin and this is episode 105.
Today I am answering a request from a follower of my Facebook page on a topic they are struggling with. So I am going to talk about suicidal thoughts and how this pandemic, lockdown measures, social distancing and any type of life crisis can exacerbate those who have suicidal thoughts and how to handle them.
Before I begin, I want to highlight, I’m not an expert. I’m not a psychologist or psychiatrist, so I ask that any advice I do give you remember this.
However, I am someone who has suffered from intense anxiety in my life, panic attacks and many episodes of debilitating depression. In fact this past few weeks as we edge deeper into social distancing, even as lockdown measures lift in my country, the UK, my own mental health has been a struggle.
Like many of you listening, I have had suicidal thoughts in my past. I have met many rock bottoms and I have felt the awful sensation and deep feelings of ‘What’s the point?’ many times.
I get suicidal thoughts; I understand why people have suicidal thoughts, especially during this pandemic. I see so many people who are stressed and struggling with the changes and loss of identity.
My own suicidal thoughts in the past have come at the same time as feeling like a failure, loss and grief from losing loved ones, feeling isolated, rejected and different from other people. Depression sucks, it really does, but it also has its reason for being.
Depression is when the weight of the world is bearing down on us, often because we have heightened unmet expectations for life and/or a lot of conditioning that crushed our value and our worth in childhood and beyond.
This is not always the case, because some people have a biological predisposition to this. It could be an imbalance, chemical, hormonal, or other drugs we may be taking that may be having an effect on our sense of self and who we are. So, don’t automatically think that it’s all conditioning, sometimes we just need to reach out to someone qualified and see if we need that imbalance correcting.
I’m not against using drugs for mental health issues. I’m not pro them either. I just think we need to do what works and if this means getting that kind of help, consider it.
One of the hardest things this difficult 2020 has brought to many is the sense of isolation. For some, like me, it has emphasised how much my normal life is quite isolating, because as we lift measures and people join what our Government is calling bubbles of family or friends, I have no bubbles to join. My family are too far away, my friends don’t drive and may not want to do public transport yet and they are a drive away. And if I wanted to make new friends, it would be pretty hard with social distancing measures in place and specific bubbles being created.
In the beginning the lockdown just felt a bit scary, maybe a bit invigorating, the change, the new, the ‘EEK what’s going to happen’, but as time has gone on, I think many have just become worn down by it. When we have nobody but ourselves for company it can be very easy to fall into a black hole, to overthink things, to worry more, to focus on other health issues because we have the lack of distractions we are used to and it could be very easy just to give up.
I’m here to ask you not to give up.
Why shouldn’t you give up?
Because when suicidal thoughts arise, we can head for a breakthrough, instead of a breakdown, if we continue on.
What depression does is it highlights the old stories that are no longer working for us. It repeats the old worth stories and leaves us with little in our lives that is working because we are so focused on what is not.
Watching a psychologist called Jordan Peterson last night on You Tube, I liked what he said about getting through depression. Instead of focusing on what you think is working in a positive sense, what you have accomplished in your life, which let’s be frank doesn’t always work when depressed, he said take time to look at your courage. Ask yourself where you have shown courage in your life.
To me this is a good marker for turning around what is happening. I have said on my blog in the past, that making a list of things we are grateful for doesn’t always work, in fact sometimes it can make me feel worse if I am depressed. At one point I did something that helped shift my perspective in a way that amused me some. I wrote ingratitude lists. I wrote a list of things I wasn’t grateful for because what it did was it left my head, my thinking mind and was objectified on paper, but to look at our courage, this takes us into a new place.
I could look at my life in the normal ‘focus on what you have succeeded in’ way and I would probably just cower in the corner, because my mindset can take me down some dark failure routes, but if I focus on where I have shown courage? A whole different ballgame.
For example. I showed courage when I tried to resuscitate my grandmother at age 16. She died, but I was still courageous in what I did. I showed courage showing up to school, not in tears, after the headmistress told me I was an embarrassment to the school. I was very courageous to do that at age 7. I showed courage to enter social groups, when I knew the people were rejecting me, I showed up all the same. I showed courage when I left university and travelled around Australia alone. I showed courage when I left my parents’ home to live where I do now, and I showed courage when I comforted my mum and sister for three months when my father died.
I showed courage when I tried different business ideas, even if they didn’t continue on. I still took a leap of faith and did them anyway, even when the failure story was playing inside my mind. I showed courage when I set healthy boundaries for myself and spoke my truth.
The courage is immense.
And I imagine that because I can find courageous examples, you can too, even in the depths of depression.
If you are reading this on the transcript or listening on the podcast, you showed courage by showing up for you. You wanted to hear or read support or understanding on what you are experiencing. Your courage leads you to wellbeing.
You have already chosen life which takes great courage when you are inside a dark hole.
To go into more of what Jordan Peterson has also said (he has suffered with depression from the age of 13 and it runs in his family). Like many he understands that depression feels as if your entire family have all died at once and you feel this heavy weight inside every day. I can definitely relate to this.
What Peterson says about people with anxiety and depression:
“It doesn’t matter so much if they go to bed at the same time each evening but waking up at a consistent hour is a necessity. Anxiety and depression cannot be easily treated if the sufferer has unpredictable daily routines. The systems that mediate negative emotion are tightly tied to the properly cyclical circadian rhythms.”
At the moment I am going through a low grade of depression. It’s not a heavy dark one, because I am using tools and a mental health medicine box that I use to cope. One of these is keeping to a specific wake up time.
Toolbox For Depression
My own toolbox for depression and my ways of preventing my own suicidal thoughts are:
- CONSISTENT WAKING HOUR As Jordan mentioned, keeping to a consistent hour on waking and going to sleep. I find many who are depressed, sleep longer and often go to bed late, so much of the waking daylight hours are halved. If you do this, consider setting your alarm earlier, even if you feel you can’t do it anyway. The earlier you get up, the earlier you will go to bed too, so you still get a good level of sleep.
- CONSCIOUS REST I take time out, to rest during the day. Not sleep, just rest. I lie on my back or sit on a comfy chair and give myself some love and attention
- EXERCISE And I understand exercise is very resisted when depressed, but like the timing of waking and sleeping, making sure I do a daily walk or some indoor exercise, no matter how short, kick starts my day, even when the mind is low, like it can be right now for me.
- TIMER FOR DARKNESS If the suicidal thoughts are very loud, give yourself a time limit on them. Instead of staying with them for a long time, set an alarm, tell yourself ‘Okay, if we are going to think like this, I will give you 5 minutes to really go there’. What you may find is the actual time limit confuses your mind and you find it hard to find those thoughts again. It’s like the negative story is suddenly being watched and this makes the mind a tad uncomfortable.
- LOWER BLOOD SUGAR DIET Try to keep to a diet of food that does not give you constant blood sugar surges. I understand you may want comfort food and for me sugar is my go-to, but again we can limit this. Allow some of the goodies in, but increase your protein intake so you are fuller and more satisfied for longer
- REDUCE ALCOHOL Reduce or give up alcohol. Alcohol is naturally a depressant. If you have an addiction, please do go to Alcoholics Anonymous and get support to come off it. My uncle was an alcoholic, he drank most of the day, even having it for breakfast. He developed septicaemia in his legs and liver disease. He was a good man, who let the weight of job losses and relationship challenges take him down. He didn’t commit suicide, but he had a slow suicide in his relationship with alcohol. So please get help, you may think alcohol switches off the pain story, but you know deep down it’s only temporary. The same goes if you are addicted to other drugs, be it legal or illegal. Get help. Substance addiction is not just something you can come off easily, human support is necessary often.
- RHYMIC MUSIC Listen to music. I know that when you are at the darkest point, even music is painful, so choose your music wisely. You probably feel worse from listening to upbeat happy songs and unhappy songs, but if you manage to find music that just has a steady rhythmic beat like tribal drums or something regular, this can steady you and also help balance the brain.
- ESTABLISH ORDER Routine is important. If you are lacking order because of depression, for example your home is a mess, you feel unsatisfied and unfulfilled because you never get to finish the tasks you set for yourself, be they work related, personal or household related, creating some order will help clear your mind. Again if you feel resistant to this, set a timer. Say to yourself I will give myself 10 minutes to tidy this one corner of this room or 10 minutes to check my financial budget. Stop when the timer is up if you feel you need to, but you may find that you naturally want to continue once you begin.
- NATURE HEALS If you are alone and isolated, take time to relate to your local natural environment. I don’t see hardly anyone. My housemate is my only companion and is the only regular person I have spoken to since March. And often I really yearn for friends. So I take myself out for a walk or sit in the garden and I focus on the wildlife out there. I connect to nature. The more I am able to be present there, the easier my mind becomes.
- READ MORE Read books by people who can help with depression. My life saver was ‘The Mindful Way Through Depression’, but you may also benefit from a small book I co-authored called ‘Emerging Proud’. The other authors in the book all have experience of suicide; some have attempted it more than once and understand how to transform the mindset when in this place.
For those of you who consider suicide at this moment, go online to get help or phone your local suicide helpline like Samaritans. If you think, ‘What’s the point?’ perhaps just think instead, ‘What have I got to lose?’ And in all honesty, you will realise you lose nothing from just talking to someone.
This pandemic will end, social distancing may continue for some time. It’s not the end of the world being isolated; it is hard, it is painful, but it won’t be forever.
In the meantime, all you can do is follow what I have spoken about today. Get help if needed. I understand when depressed we don’t want to reach out, we often feel like a burden, especially to friends or family. This is why so many online services are becoming available like online counselling, even mental health apps or texting services.
And remember not to watch too much news or stay on social media for too long. There is a lot of pain out there and negativity and you don’t need to add to your own by seeing others. Focus on you for now, you matter, and you are important.
We no longer need to be alone during this challenging time.
Thanks for listening to this episode of Kelly Martin Speaks
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Until next time…bye for now