As a therapist, my primary goal is to help individuals navigate through life’s challenges and offer support during their darkest moments. However, it’s important to recognize that therapists are not immune to their own struggles. In this candid blog post, I want to shed light on a deeply personal experience I’ve had – struggling with suicidal ideation. By sharing my own journey, I hope to break down the stigma surrounding this topic and provide valuable insights for both therapists and individuals struggling with suicidal thoughts.
By openly discussing my own experience, I hope we can address a prevalent misconception about therapy – that the therapist is a pinnacle of mental health, and the client is a medical problem to be solved. Therapists are people ourselves, and we are fallible to all the same stressors and challenges that our clients face. It would be dishonest to present ourselves as immune to the very same human conditions that our clients struggle with.
For me, the therapist-client relationship isn’t about giving and receiving services. As the therapist, I may not have answers or solutions, but I do have a set of tools and knowledge that are gathered through my education and experience. As the client, you agree to go on this journey of figuring out what works best for you and your set of circumstances, and what will help in bringing about meaningful change. In this sense, I walk alongside you, and we work together as a team.
With that said, I would like to share some things that I wish more people understood about suicide and suicidal thoughts.
1) It’s not just you. Not most of the time, anyway.
“Why can’t I just be happy, like other people?”
“I hate that I am this way.”
“What is wrong with me?”
In understanding my suicidal ideation as a sign of overwhelm, I have also understood that it is not just me. Rather, it is that we live in a world that is incredibly overwhelming, especially for those of us who hold identities that are constantly under attack.
Suicide rates increased approximately 36% between 2000–2021. In 2021, suicide was the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-14 and 20-34. (CDC Data)
So, when I fall into thoughts of shame and self-blame, I try to practice compassion and understanding for myself. In a world where living can be so difficult, it’s incredible that I can still continue to choose to live.
2) Sometimes, it’s hard to talk about suicide. Sometimes, it really isn’t.
When I first experienced suicidal thoughts, I found it incredibly scary and upsetting. There was immense shame around opening up, and talking about it was incredibly difficult.
As the years have passed, I’ve come to accept that my suicidal ideation is almost a coping mechanism. It lets me know that the stressors and pain I’m currently experiencing are overwhelming, and there’s a part of me that wants something about my life to change or be different.
In that sense, it’s not difficult or upsetting for me to think about dying. In fact, in a culture so focused on suicide prevention, it can be incredibly affirming to feel like I can have the space to evaluate whether or not I even want to continue living.
3) Connection is not the same as “helping.”
One of the suggestions that is always given to people with suicidal thoughts is to “reach out, talk to someone, find support.”
Like me, you have probably wondered how that could make a difference. How would talking to someone about how I don’t want to live anymore help me? Wouldn’t that just be worse for anyone who has to listen to and support me? What if I don’t want to burden someone else, or I don’t want anyone to pity me?
The truth is, I don’t know how it helps. But it does. And I mean that connection helps, not just getting help. It’s not necessarily the practical tips on how to stop thinking about it, nor the advice about how to distract yourself, nor the how-to’s or lifestyle changes that you can try. Rather, I mean connection as being fully heard and understood by another human being.
Sometimes, somehow, just knowing that someone else in your life understands the pain that you’re holding inside does make it feel less intense.
4) There’s no single perfect “answer” or “cure.”
Maybe this is an outlier where you only think about suicide once, and once you feel better, it never comes back again.
But from what I’ve seen with the clients I work with (and from my own experience), suicidal ideation tends to come back. Maybe not with the same intensity and frequency, but it does resurface. And it’s okay if it does. There isn’t anything wrong with you if your suicidal thoughts come back after therapy.
The truth is, there is no therapy or treatment specifically to get rid of suicidal thoughts, at least not right now. So, the point of getting help is not so much about “curing” suicidal thoughts, but getting comfortable with managing it if or when it rears its ugly head again. Getting help means finding ways to make it suck less – even if that means having to get mental health treatment again. And again.
I’m a firm believer that, often, life doesn’t get easier. We just get better at managing it.
5) And finally, there is nothing wrong with just being human.
One thing that has become so normalized is how available information is online, and how exposed we are to the heights of human experience – or as I call them, “superhuman experiences.”
What used to be aunties talking about your cousin’s ballet recital is now “5 year old piano prodigy” on IG reels, or teen TikToker with immaculate dance moves, or cute couples with seemingly perfectly cheesy loving relationships. It’s hard not to feel like we’re not measuring up, especially when we might already struggle with our self-worth.
But remember that we are only ONE human being. We’re not all meant to be superb, even when the world can sometimes make it seem like we have to be.
And sure, maybe it’s incredibly painful that we can’t do or be ALL the things that we’d like to. But there’s also a strange freedom in being okay with just being okay.
Whether it’s your first time struggling with suicidal ideation or, like me, suicidal thoughts have simply become a familiar visitor, I hope that this post makes you feel less alone. Speaking as someone who experiences this too, our experiences can make moving through the world a lot more difficult. But with support, we can learn to manage and cope better with our suicidal thoughts, and still carve out a life worth living. Even if it might not seem that way sometimes, you deserve love and support, and to have continuous chances to find a life worth living.
Begin Working With a Therapist in Los Angeles, CA and New York, NY
You don’t have to struggle alone as you navigate suicidal thoughts. Our team of therapists are here to offer support in individual therapy across California and New York. You can start your therapy journey with YCC by following these simple steps:
- Fill out our appointment request form here or below using the prompt
- Start sessions with one of our caring therapists
- Start navigating your journey with support today
Other Services Offered With Yellow Chair Collective
There are many options for treatment using online therapy in California and New York, it just depends on what you’re needing. And while we certainly service Asian American folks, we also work with individuals from other cultures, too. So, whether you need support in overcoming anxiety, burnout, trauma, or PTSD, we can help. Likewise, we serve teens and couples in need of support, too. So when you start online therapy with us, you can bring your whole self, including past struggles, cultural impacts, and more.
988: Dial 988 for Suicide and Crisis Line
Crisis Text Line: https://www.crisistextline.org/ or text HOME to 741741
Trans Lifeline: https://translifeline.org/ or call (877) 565-8860
MHA SF California Warmline: https://www.mentalhealthsf.org/peer-run-warmline/