Suicidal Ideation: How to Avoid the Thought Trap

Suicidal Ideation: How to Avoid the Thought Trap

This week, I experienced a physical release in my body. I get these often as a part of my recovery. The emotions and memories have been stored in my body and I am releasing them as I recover. But the physical releases come with  good and bad. I love the feeling of freedom that comes with the release. I have to expend much less energy maintaining that particular defended place. I have less muscle tension to keep me drained. However, with those releases come emotions. And they can be hard to handle.

I have also noticed that location matters. When I have a physical release in my knee, the impact can be more tolerable. I can handle the anger and sadness as long as I can keep it from impacting my family. But I knew I was in trouble with this one. The physical release happened just below my heart. I can’t think of a more potent spot than that. To make matters worse, I could feel the desperate attempt to shut it back down. I had to focus for hours to allow it to stay released. I knew I was in trouble.

After the release, I was inundated with hopelessness. It is the worst feeling of all the feelings. It is the feeling that brings the suicidal ideation. To stay present with that feeling is the most difficult thing I have ever done. To make matters worse, I have noticed I am not alone. While the feeling of isolation can contribute to suicidal ideation, I certainly don’t wish these feelings upon anyone. Yet I have been approached by many who are struggling with the same thing.

And while the hopelessness is terrible, it can be beaten. So I decided to write down my approach. What do I do to avoid being swallowed up by hopelessness, to keep from being tricked by the thoughts? I have six approaches that help me get through it.

1) I check in with my body. When I first feel the hopelessness, it may show up as a physical sensation. I hold many of these feelings in my stomach, my lower back and my heart. I may feel the familiar heart racing or quick breathing which usually indicates I am fighting against an emotion. I take the time to acknowledge the physical feeling. I stay curious about it. If I can see the physical feelings before the emotions, I can stay ahead of the game.

2) I watch my thoughts. I first become aware of them. And I ask, “How are my hopeless thoughts being triggered by my current emotions?” I stay aware of my thoughts with an understanding that emotions from the past are creating thoughts about the present. And those two things don’t mix well (or maybe they mix perfectly which is the problem).  If I can let the thoughts go, I do.  If I can watch them as an observer, I do that.

3) I figure out where I am. If I am hopeless, I am not present. So I try to figure out where I am. When I can get present enough to close my eyes and visualize my location, I usually find it is a place from my childhood or early adulthood. And as it becomes more clear, I can gain an understanding for why I feel the hopelessness.

4) I journal from that place. What does that part of self have to say? What are the specifics that my inner part wants me to know? The more information I can write down, the quicker it passes and the better I feel.

5) I practice extreme self-care. This is the not the time to run a marathon or cook a spaghetti dinner for 50 people. I do get that life has to happen. But I do my best to release as many non-obligatory tasks as possible.

6) I connect with others as much as possible. There is nothing that creates presence like connection. And isolation is the defense mechanism of choice for many survivors. So I always go against my norm. As a single mother, I can’t always leave the house, but I can connect virtually. It helps that I have a forum and a Facebook page full of amazing survivors. But there are many ways to keep from isolating.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t as structured as it sounds. It is messy. It is very messy. I fall in to the thoughts. I forget it isn’t about this moment. And then I wake up and remember it is old stuff. I give myself a guilt trip for my lack of productivity until I remember I am deep in an integration process. I block the memory for a while and then remember I want to remember it. But then, by some act of divine intervention, it passes, if only for a while, and I am a little less burdened than I was before. I have more freedom. I am more whole. And I relish in my courage for pulling through another bought of hopelessness. And I find a few moments of peace.

 

If you are interested in my 5-week guidance sessions, please email me at beatingtrauma@gmail.com.

Stepping Up:

3 Steps to Overcoming the Awareness Challenge

 Sign up to receive updates from the

blog and get my FREE eBOOK. 

Begin taking steps today!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

22 Comments

  1. Thanks for the process, Elisabeth. I don’t quite understand the “release” part. Perhaps you can do an article about that in more detail. I appreciate your sharing of the process you use to deal with suicidal thoughts. I use some of them, but am not familiar enough with my past to use others. Hopefully, I will get to them at some point.

    Reply
    • Thank you Carrie. I will contemplate a post about releasing the memories and emotions. Here are some tips to try that I just wrote in a Facebook comment: The absolute best way to release is to feel the emotions while maintaining an awareness that they are not about the present moment. Allow yourself to drop in to them. You will not get lost in them. After you feel them for a while, they will start to lessen. You may release memories through the emotional expression or you may not. Some have always remembered, but I am not one of those. If you do start to get any information back, try writing it down. Journaling my memories has helped me release them. If you are really stuck and getting nowhere, you could also try some body work. I use Cranio-sacral but there are so many options. If you don’t want to do body work, try writing a letter to your inner child and tell her you are ready to listen to anything she would like to tell you.

      Reply
  2. the thoughts and feelings you describe convey more than just your inner struggle. you describe emotions and experiences so many of us share yet, until now, have never had the kind of audience who truly understand. since discovering your site, which I truly believe could not have happened at a better (or worse) time, this has allowed me to give myself just one more chance to keep trying. I thank you for that.

    Reply
  3. Thank you fo, but I sure have felt hopelessness and gone into panic attacks because of the hopelessness! I love the way you broke it all down into hopefully manageable pieces. When I was in the worst of it, it just seemed like a big black hole in my head that I fell into. It seemed to lift for a few hours and then returned. It was so hard to describe.

    Reply
    • I meant to say I have not felt suicidal but I have felt deep hopelessness. For some reason part of my comment did not print there.

      Reply
    • That is a great description. I could see how it would feel that way. I definitely get the panic attacks when I am hopeless. I think that part of me is at war with the feeling.

      Reply
  4. “I have more freedom. I am more whole. And I relish in my courage for pulling through another bought of hopelessness. And I find a few moments of peace.”

    I love this. 🙂

    Yes to that difficult process of overcoming hopelessness. Thank you for these amazing tips on how to not only move past the hopelessness but also integrate the entire process. For me, the reminder of hopelessness not being the now is very effective.

    I really hear you on the need to feel those emotions. I used to say, “Why would I want to feel these things?” especially the body sensations. The body sensations without memories still seem particularly heinous to me. But being able to feel them and recontextualize them is the path to healing instead of just ignoring. And it’s fucking hard and I don’t think that anyone who does this work gets enough credit for it. But it’s what survivors do and it will make us strong and beautiful.

    Xo

    Reply
    • I deeply resonate with your words. So many people try to avoid this work, but it must happen for healing. I am inspired by your courage.

      Reply
  5. I can’t comprehend ANY of this. Maybe my hopeless is much different than yours. There are NO STEPS in hopeless. Just the giant black hole that consumes you. Just the wish for it ALL TO END FINALLY. I stay present only because of my children. I would never leave them with the curse of suicide. I’ve watched my nieces an nephew struggle to survive my late brother-in-law’s death. But before my children, I knew hopeless very well. Hopeless, sadly was all I had. Journaling? I’m sorry, I DO NOT mean to offend, but I could never journal when I was hopeless.
    I do work, now at my recovery. I do it every day! I work at it BECAUSE of my children. But with recovery come the memories. For me, memories I DON’T want to remember.
    I’m happy for you if you are in this place. Because if you are, you are obviously FAR from the hopeless I know. Best wishes to all here. Hopeless is hell. I never feared dying before my children, because I’d already lived ANY version of hell there is.

    Reply
    • I am sorry that this piece didn’t connect with you. I am so glad to hear that you have the kids to keep you present.

      Reply
  6. Thank you for this article! I have recently been listening to CDs by Pema Chodren and she talks about staying present but feeling the childhood emotions, that the emotions are energy and they will fade and pass. I made a point of talking to my child-self, telling her it was safe for her to tell me what she needed to, that I wanted her to and I was strong enough to handle it. One night I was lying in bed and a memory came to me from her. It was very painful. The feelings from this memory were complete rage and utter despair at the same time. It actually made the dark room go darker for me. I stayed with the feeling and remembered to breathe and stay present. It eventually faded and I felt a relief. It is the first time i’ve ever experienced this. It hasn’t happened again since then, I think because it was difficult and I’m not ready to do it again yet. My child-self seems to know this and hasn’t brought anything else to me. Your article is very helpful and perhaps I will try journaling. You are helping me recover, thank you so much!

    Reply
    • Thank you for this comment Diane. You have described exactly what I am talking about. I am so glad you were able to stay with the pain and let it dissipate. Try journaling the memory and you may find relief from that also. I would love to hear how that works for you.

      Reply
  7. Your writing really helps me make sense of my experiences! I feel so out of control when my body reacts and I can’t control extreme emotions and feel desperate, alone, and unreachable. I struggle with hopelessness too, and you’re right, it is connected with a trauma memory from my past. I didn’t connect that before. I really like your suggestions, and it gives me hope when I realize that my brain and body are integrating. Thank you for writing, Elizabeth. You help me.

    Reply
    • Thank you! I am happy to hear that it helps you. That inspires me to keep writing and sharing.

      Reply
  8. I am finding much assistance here. Your sharing has helped me to offer my traumatized child a safe place to speak. I can sense her crippling fear. I will not abandon her again.
    I am grateful for your posts.

    Reply
    • Thank you Diane. I am so glad my writing is helping you and your inner child. <3 to the both of you.

      Reply
  9. Hi, Elisabeth! What do you mean by physical release?

    Reply
    • Hi Ani, Typically my physical releases come in the form of muscle tension letting go. Many of my memories and their emotions have been stored in my body. And when my inner parts are ready to communicate with me, a tight muscle will often release. This could lead to skeletal shifts or other changes too, but it starts with the tight muscle. Let me know if you need more information about that.

      Reply
  10. Thank you! Are there cases when you suddenly feel muscle tension somewhere in your body?

    Reply
    • Yes. That happens all the time. I feel it come on very suddenly in many cases. Sometimes it is just a dull pain that lives there personally. But sometimes, it ramps up before it releases and feels brand new.

      Reply
  11. Thank you Elisabeth for sharing this, it helps. I’ve been going through that now myself. I feel for you and identify with you. If you ever want someone to talk with contact me anytime. Keith Ht on facebook.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stepping Up:

3 Steps to Overcoming the Awareness Challenge

 Sign up to receive updates from the

blog and get my FREE eBOOK. 

Begin taking steps today!

You have Successfully Subscribed!