how to live through a very complicated day
November 9, 2017 2:02 PM   Subscribe

I survived a suicide attempt on a date coming up very soon. What do I do that day? That week?

I'm a year out, pretty soon, from a suicide attempt. I won't go into detail, but each month the anniversary of that day has been unexpectedly rough, and I'm feeling that now tenfold, combined with other things like: being incredibly proud and astonished I'm alive! Being disappointed I am still very ill! Grateful for the support I've been shown but wanting to ask for more support, feeling guilty and defiant and different, all sorts of things. It's been a long, surreal, hard year for me and I know ignoring this day is only going to make it worse. In a strange way, I'd like to honor it, and to honor the truth of my experience. I feel a lot of complex grief, and guilt, and while I have a support system who loves me, a constant fear of being a burden to them in this specifically.

There are a ton of resources for the families and friends of people with attempt survivors/loss in their lives, but many fewer for people like me. I'm not necessarily looking at this from a medical/psychiatric standpoint, but from just being a person. If this is a thing that happened to you, what did you do on this day? What kinds of self-care-y things have you done that worked? Have you ever done anything significant to mark your survival (I know someone who got a tattoo, which I thought was very cool and powerful)?

How can I best explain that I need extra support, when I might be afraid to ask for it? I am very bad at doing self-care, as you might imagine, but when I can manage it it's helpful, especially physically. But everything I'm feeling is like a big roadblock to self-compassion.

I have a really hard time equating what happened to me with a "real" life-threatening physical illness or injury, which would be a helpful thing I cannot wrap my head around. For example, I think if I had survived cancer or a heart attack I'd be hypothetically feeling less ambivalence than I am now.

Please answer with the assumption my medical and psychological health is being taken care of my professionals as well as metafilter questions. Thank you for your kind responses, in advance, especially to those who have been through this who are willing to share their experience.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
To speak to your question of how to explain that you need extra support, I think a lot of people are familiar with the concept of a "bad anniversary". I think most people have at least one of these, whether it's something like your situation, or to do with a loss, a shitty thing that happened, or anything else.

So one thing to consider is just telling a friend/s that this time of year is a bad anniversary for you, whether or not you want to go into the backstory, and asking for company/support/etc.
posted by ITheCosmos at 2:17 PM on November 9, 2017

I have a bad anniversary. The first year, I had a tree planted in memory and spent some time visiting it. I took the day off work, and called family, and took a long walk. I tried writing out my thoughts but there was...too much?

I did mention it in advance to a couple of friends, and specifically asked them to check on me during the day.

One of them had been somewhat involved with the event, and she and I talked in more depth - she told me what she remembered, and I gave my part of it, and that was helpful somehow.

I’m glad you’re still here.
posted by punchtothehead at 2:59 PM on November 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

Could you perhaps drink an actual toast to yourself on that day? Pour yourself a beverage that you love—doesn’t have to be alcoholic, that’s not the point—and even buy a very special glass/mug/goblet ahead of time that you’ll only use on this date every year. Actually say your toast to yourself out loud—perhaps congratulating yourself for surviving and thriving—only you will know what is most meaningful. Make a ceremony out of it, because you deserve it.
I am also glad that you’re still here.
posted by bookmammal at 4:08 PM on November 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

I’m a bit farther on than you - the 14th anniversary of my suicide attempt was in September - and that date is always hard for me. I agree with commenters above about the “bad anniversary” concept - it’s vague enough that you can say to an acquaintance “hey I’m having a bad anniversary and need some extra support this week” without having to go into details.

More concretely, some of the things I’ve done in years past:
—breathed deep and let myself work through all the mixed emotions as they hit me. This was the first few years and involved a lot of crying at home. (Take the day off from work if you can.)
—made it easier to care for myself - made favorite foods in advance, put a comforting movie in the DVD player the day before, made sure i had good calming tea on hand, etc.
—got a tattoo. This was ten years on, and says “wicked girl saving myself” (it’s from a song), to remind myself that i really can do this even on days when it’s hard.
—talked about it. It took until almost the 10-year point to be able to talk about that night with someone other than a mental health professional, and all of the emotions then and since, but it does help sometimes.

More than anything, i want to say that you’re probably going to feel a lot of different shit, a lot of it conflicting, a lot of it feeling “wrong”. You might go through periods of not feeling anything about it at all. Every single one of those feelings, and the lack of them too, is 100% legit. Get through it as best as you can, process what you can and leave the rest for another day.

Kudos to you for asking this question. You’ve got this, and we’re all so glad you’re still here.
posted by okayokayigive at 4:21 PM on November 9, 2017 [7 favorites]

I'm so glad to know that you are still here! I hope you can take some bit of comfort knowing that so many people out here on the Interwebs would love to hug you and take you out for a lovely beverage of your choice. I hope it's OK to just say "Yay, you!"
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 7:53 PM on November 9, 2017

Can you instead celebrate the day as a Rebirthday? It's a whole year and you're still here. Give yourself congratulations for making it through the lowest point of your life —you've already taken many of the steps needed to live your life.

For my rebirthday, inspired by this song I built a small fire in a firepit and burned all the painful photos and clothes and other reminders of the time of my attempt. I let all the miserable past blow away with the smoke.

If you can do something positive on the anniversary you can build a new memory of the date. You can make it a day to appreciate your life and all the good things you aspire to.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 11:04 PM on November 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

I haven't attempted suicide but a close coworker of mine committed suicide and the anniversary of his death is coming up soon.
I'd love for you to spend the day feeling connected with being alive, and not feeling judged. Animals love you purely. They don't know what happened to you. Can you plan any activities spent with animals, or adopt a pet? Can you do anything new and kind of crazy, since you are alive and still around, like paragliding, or hot air ballooning?
If your attempt happened to coincide with Christmas/New Year's, can you get out of dodge to take a break from that holiday? Go to another country. Go camping.
I'm happy you're alive. Take care.
posted by sacchan at 3:19 AM on November 10, 2017

« Older Roomba (or equiv) for Elderly Couple?   |   Stuck in Youtube hell... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments