Recovering From A Suicide Attempt

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’d know that I’ve had multiple suicide attempts this year. Shit got dark quickly. Two of these attempts were just a few days apart and the third one was a few weeks later. Even after my hospitalization, I wasn’t ok. Most days I felt stuck and I had trouble getting back into the swing of things.

People are at a high risk of attempting suicide again a year after their most recent attempt. Even if you no longer want to end your life, it can be a struggle to pick back up where you left off or to put your pieces back together.

Over the past few months, I’ve worked diligently on myself. After my attempts in February and my breakup in March, I knew I needed to get serious about my recovery as well as my healing. I’ve had some setbacks over the past few months but I’ve started doing the work necessary to become the best version of myself.

I think when discussing suicide it’s important to talk about recovery and how to care for yourself after you’ve attempted to take your life. First and foremost, take your time! Don’t feel like you have to jump back into things. It’s ok to ease your way back into your routine.

I took a week off of work after my hospitalization. This allowed me to spend time relaxing and I honestly didn’t do much but lie around. While this was what was best for me, I understand not everyone can afford to do this. For many of us, we have to go straight back to work or school. 

Know that whatever you’re feeling during this tough time: depression, anger, anxiety, exhaustion, your feelings are valid. You will get through this and as cliche as it may sound, things will get better.

Caring for yourself after your attempt:

  • Make a safety plan – If you were recently released from the hospital there’s a good chance you had to sit down with someone to make a safety plan. If you attempted suicide but weren’t hospitalized, one of the first things you might do when recovering is make a safety plan. Your plan should include how you will keep yourself safe, names and contact information of people in your support system, and ways you will cope and manage moving forward. 
  • Sit with yourself to figure out your needs – What do you need in this very moment? Grab a piece of paper and a pen or pencil and take time to assess what it is you need.
  • Practice good hygiene – For a lot of people when they’re experiencing a mental health crisis the last thing on their mind is hygiene. Push yourself to try and bathe and brush your teeth. If this still feels too difficult to do, try washing up in the sink or using wipes to clean your body. 
  • Connect with your support system – Now that you’re in recovery, you will need all the support you can get. Reach out to those you listed as support in your safety plan.  Update them with how you’re doing and let them know if there’s anything you need. These should be people you feel comfortable going to if you have a crisis in the future.
  • Make a plan for when you will return to school or work – If you work or go to school, it’s time to start thinking about when you will return. Do you need to ask for time off? If you need help on how to talk to your employer regarding your mental health refer to this blog post. It would also be helpful to consult a therapist if you have one.
  • Seek therapy – Connecting with the right therapist to assist you with your recovery gives you the opportunity to work through whatever led up to your attempt. If you need help finding a therapist I will list some resources at the end of this post.
  • Make a list of healthy coping skill – Create a list of things you can do to cope when you feel yourself going downhill. This could be a list of things you enjoy doing. There are a variety of lists available on the internet if you can’t think of anything. I’ll leave some of my coping skills below as well.
  • Create a self-care box – This ties in with your coping skills list. There are many ways to practice self-care. Some of them are fun and relaxing such as bubble baths and face masks, while others require more effort and can be less enjoyable like cleaning and making appointments. Ultimately, self-care is about taking care of yourself mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Practicing self-care is showing yourself that you are worthy, even at your lowest.
  • Journal – Journaling is a great way to connect with your emotions. Write about how you’re currently feelinig and about your attempt. Don’t feel like you have to hold back or sugarcoat your feelings.
  • Rest – A decline in your mental health can take such a toll on the body. In the midst of trying to put your life back together, remember to make time for rest.
  • Allow yourself to feel – Most importantly, allow yourself to feel. If you still feel depressed, that’s ok. Remember it’s ok not to be ok.

Just because you’re struggling right now, doesn’t mean you will be forever. Again, I want to stress that it’s ok not to be ok. It’s ok to allow yourself to fall apart as long as you put yourself back together eventually. 

Coping Skills:

Self-harm

  • Pop rubber bands on wrists
  • Use punching bag or pillow
  • Draw on old scars or unharmed skin
  • Scribble on paper
  • Paint/color
  • Scream into a pillow
  • Rip paper or tissue
  • Squeeze something
  • Play rain sounds
  • Distract yourself with videos
  • Write out feelings
  • Cuddle with pillows or stuffed animals
  • Make and read a list of reasons not to cut
  • Breathe

Depression

  • Write/journal
  • Do yoga
  • Read
  • Talk to someone from support system
  • Light candles
  • Take a bath and/or shower
  • Do my makeup
  • Color/paint
  • Listen to music
  • Listen to podcasts
  • Go for a walk
  • Watch Netflix or Youtube
  • Guided imagery
  • Meditation

Anxiety

  • Visualization: Picture yourself at a place where you feel safe and comfortable
  • Pause to examine evidence, pause to examine your thoughts and challenge them.
  • Bring a cheat sheet: Before going out into anxiety inducing environments, anticipate what anxious thoughts you will have and challenge them on paper or phone. Bring it with you.
  • Remind yourself: Anticipation is worse than reality.
  • Muscle relaxation exercise: Tense muscles for 5 seconds, relax.
  • Create goals: Create simple, small goals.
  • Keep a rational outlook: When out, imagine other times you were in social settings and did fine.
  • Breathe
  • Do yoga
  • Practice meditation

Mania

  • Dance
  • Get creative
  • Write
  • Color/paint
  • Do yoga
  • Go for a walk
  • Talk to someone

Therapy resources:

Therapy For Black Girls

Psychology Today

 

Photo by Prince Akachi on Unsplash

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