Say the Word Suicide: The Telling | Article F18

NEW Articles THUMB = 11.29.18

Apparently, in titling this article I found out the difference between “tattle tailing” and “telling.” Tattling, as it were, is reserved for those who aim to have someone else get in trouble by revealing other’s secrets. Telling is for reporting to another individual that someone is struggling or otherwise needs help (definitions as listed by Safe 2 Tell Organization of Colorado).


In this way, it’s only fitting for this series to have a look at the most fundamental rule of dealing with a person struggling with suicidal ideation: to tell and to tell loudly.


Assuming that you are close to an individual that has told you whether directly or indirectly that they are having suicidal thoughts, it’s important that you: ask for additional information, assess if they are a current danger to themselves, get them extra support if they are and take care of yourself after the fact, too.


It’s not easy to ask someone: “are you having thoughts of killing yourself” but it can be entirely life-saving. I know that suicide is a very loud word most often not spoken about, but I swear that unless you’re talking about specific suicide methods, you won’t be planting the idea into their head when you ask them outright if they’re thinking of killing themselves.


In fact, I’ve always found it a breath of fresh air when someone has asked me directly. Yes, it can be uncomfortable. Yes, I might not reveal all of the pertinent information. And yes, it could be the one thing that prevents me from ending my life–because it means someone has noticed me, someone has noticed the pain I’m in and that I don’t feel like I can go on living with that pain as it is right now.


There’s something about my experiences with suicidal crises that are the picture definition of ambivalence: I want someone to hear me, see me, acknowledge my existence, my pain and I also want them to leave me alone and not try to help me. But at the end of the day, I do want help. Because maybe I don’t have to die, maybe what’s being said in my head isn’t true at all and maybe there’s another avenue of help and hope that was just within my reach if I hadn’t followed through on suicidal plans.


I mentioned in my article “Treatment 101: Resources Part 2” that the hardest decision I had to make in my life was to choose to live and the second hardest was to tell someone. In my years of getting treatment, I was almost always the relatively responsible one in the relationship that would tell someone, even if it meant creating a middle man situation, that I was suicidal, had a plan, had intent and was still uncertain.


I think back then I told because I was actively in treatment, much like I am now. I told because that little sparkle of hope was still inside me and I knew from witnessing a NAMI IOOV presentation that that hope had a reason for existing.


When I was at the crossroads between choosing to live and choosing to die, I thought about what ending I wanted to be told about my life. Would I want to be the one telling the story about what I did to overcome the darkness or did I want to just give up and let the story end prematurely? This is a concept I still use in my current day-to-day treatment.


I know now that from being stable for so long that I’m really not the sum value of my experiences with suicidality and mental health conditions. Back then, I didn’t have this yet, but I believed it could still be there for me if I just kept on breathing another breath.


I’ve also mentioned before how just holding on for the moment can be the most important thing, too. When weeks and months are too long, too complex for me to stay alive for, I work with the minutes and the seconds instead.


Maybe because the root of my suicidality was OCD I never truly wanted to die. In some ways, I believe this to be true but I also want to add caution to this idea as well—over time a person who is suicidal will try more dangerous and more severe attempts to end their life. Unfortunately, with time a person can learn how to be more effective in ending their life.


So, yeah, maybe John is just saying people would be better off without him or that Stacey saying goodbye is just abnormal behavior for her, but do you really want to take that chance? If a suicidal individual tells you to keep their intentions a secret—don’t. They may hate you for it, but at least they’ll be alive to hate you. The same cannot be true if they follow through.


Stay safe.

Article written: 10.23, 10.25, 11.7.2018

PD A/N: Boy, I am EXHAUSTED. It’s currently Wednesday when I’m either publishing this or sending into a schedule post for Th. Regardless if you follow me on Twitter you’ll know that Wed I did a lot of coursework so I’m feeling super exhausted about that now and am ready to just end the evening on a high note and go to blissful sleep.

Additionally if you follow me on Twitter you’ll also know that I wrote some fanfic (a new story) the other day and I actually had time and inspiration to write more for it today which is really awesome. Although I want to edit a video I also really want to get offline so who knows what’ll happen next.

For now, that’s all I’ve got. I’m utterly exhausted lol. We’ll chat more later.


Accumulating Preventative Measures | Article F18


Photograph & article by: Raquel Lyons

Trigger Warning: Mentions of suicide and self-harm


“Help me, it’s like the walls are caving in…Laying on the bathroom floor, feeling nothing; I’m overwhelmed and insecure… Keep telling me that it gets better. Does it ever?…Afraid to be alone again, I hate this. I need somebody now. Someone to help me out. Sometimes I feel like giving up, but I just can’t: it isn’t in my blood” – Song lyrics from Shawn Mendes’ “In My Blood.”


In this article, I’d like to explore the notion of creating and actively accumulating preventative measures against problematic behaviors. Namely, my own problematic behaviors because I’m an expert in my own experience and can only truly speak from that lived experience to what I want to discuss here, and for what I hope can also be applied to other general situations.


I’ve included the song lyrics from Shawn Mendes at the start of this article because it fits with the message I want to convey within these strung lines. I want to discuss how accumulating preventative measures against self-harm and suicidal thoughts have helped me greatly in the past, present and hopefully the future as well.


I believe I’ve mentioned it before, possibly as long as two years ago, but I have always personally found safety contracts hugely impactful in my recovery. For some people I know it can be a bit hit or miss, and for me it has done wonders. For me now, I have acquired enough barriers between myself and any action steps I could take with my intrusive thoughts and images that are utterly life-changing and life-saving, as it were.


The main one is that I signed a piece of paper saying I would not engage in self-harm or attempt/complete suicide while at the Dialectical Behavior Therapy-Intensive program. The DBT-I at my current day program–a day program I’ve been in for the last seven months and been in Intensive since May–lasts for six to eight months. That means six to eight months between me wanting to act on an urge now and by the end of eight months, no longer wanting to act on my thoughts because the crisis by then has disappeared.


It’s kind of ingenious, in a way, if you think about it. What it buys me, is time. Time to think of the ‘what if’s.’ Time to pause and breathe (even though that’s the last thing I want to be doing) and to tolerate my emotions and let go of my thoughts, ultimately take a mindfulness approach and just return to Earth as gradually as I can. It gives me time to call someone at a hotline, time to interact with another fellow human being, or time to write an article about my preventative measures. Time is a valuable, valuable thing when someone is undergoing a crisis. To have access to time, to allow the thoughts to come and go as they will naturally do is so, so critical. Because the crisis will fade, the crisis will not last forever and the cruel thoughts being slung around your brain will cease to exist again. They may return, and they very well may do so, and by then, you’ll be stronger.


You will be strong enough to say ‘no’ to them. You will be strong enough to choose to live.


It doesn’t matter what BS images my brain shows me, because in reality none of them have actually happened. I may be sitting alone on a bench crying in public, and that may not be entirely effective in the long-term, but it beats being somewhere alone where things could turn the corner in the worst way possible.


To me, accumulating preventative measures means remembering what if’s–what if my next round of treatment would have made the difference? What if I tell someone how I’m feeling and they respond with compassion? What if I don’t act on my thoughts and feel better again soon?


Another thing I find about accumulating preventative measures is using a lot of skills all at once: change my self-talk by finding encouraging or inspirational quotes, check the facts about what situation triggered me, reading over letters friends have given me, seeking out ways to help the community around me, or even watching some of my old YouTube videos.


The biggest thing I’ve learned from program is that acting on my harm thoughts really isn’t in line with my values at all. I have built an army of reasons not to act harmfully, including: the awareness of the safety contract, listening to new music that comes out, watching a sunset, creating more art, seeing the next Avengers movie, graduating, feeling happiness.


And although this article has ended, the journey has not. It’s ever changing, ever flowing and so very, very worth it.


Stay safe.

Article written September 11.2018

This was a post-crisis work through article that has been polished up and is ready for submission (I’ve already sent it out, actually). I decided to add my sunset photograph to this piece, and have a few more photos related to articles to be published soon. 🙂 It’s similar to the process of acceptance, it’s on-going and will wax and wane in progress.

I hope that you enjoy this article! Leave me your thoughts down below on what some of your own preventative measures are! 🙂

❤ ❤ ❤

PS If my after-thoughts don’t make as much sense, I’m trying to avoid a ruminative process right now (Sat evening) so that may explain things. I also didn’t read over this article so that might have something to do with it, too. 😛

What Stability Taught Me | Article F18

Featured image:

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I still really love this photo of my baby Mokeys. ❤

Photographer & Author credit: Raquel Lyons (AKA me!)

My symptoms of mental health conditions did not begin to surface until I started college at the age of nineteen. For the first two years, they were relatively dormant until I was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder on self-harm and suicide obsessions when I was twenty-one and starting my fall semester in 2014.


I ultimately bring this up because I want to say that I knew what life was like before the reign of a mental health condition. In 2015 I started the next few years of my life with multiple hospitalizations. I went in and out of treatments–such as medication adjustments, hospital stays, exposure response prevention treatments for the OCD, therapy appointments twice a week for a year, a stay for five weeks at the OCD-Institute and a few repeated partial programs. I self-harmed on and off during the duration of my time in treatment, attempted suicide multiple times and didn’t always stay as safe as I could.


It was a whirlwind of years of which I lost my identity to. I became so obsessed and enthralled by the idea of suicide that I began to identify as a suicidal blob that had something to “prove” and could only prove so by acting on my thoughts.


At the start of 2018 I fell back into a darker spiral than usual, a deeper depression where I genuinely no longer believed in hope, peace and stability. I wrote articles that were out of character, I wrote journal entries about my thoughts and fantasized with a glorified perception of my final acts.


But luckily for me, I was given an ultimatum by family to enter myself into the hospital, and I took it. Within the next week I began a partial program where almost a month later I would return to and confess suicidal plans and enter into the hospital once again.


In three years I had twelve hospitalizations and four minor suicide attempts.


In preparing for this article, I thought 2016 was the year I went nine months hospital free, but the more I think about it, the more I don’t think that was the case at all.


If the latter is true, this is the first time in almost four years where I have been solidified in stability for the last six months like feet in wet cement. I have been so stable for such an accrued amount of time that I’ve gotten a glimpse into what life without a chronic illness is like again. And god is it freeing.


In six months I have reshaped and transformed my identity. I have juggled many mediums of art like an expert, I have written copious amounts of fan fiction, I’ve done photography shoots, completed a summer course, returned to In Our Own Voice presentations and made new friends.


The effort, time, patience, compassion and self-love that I’ve implemented into my life as I’ve attended my day program three days a week for the past six months has been life changing. “Passages” has been life saving for me. I have truly blossomed, grown and made better again.


For an undetermined amount of time I’ve been attending the dialectical behavior therapy intensive program at Passages that meets for review of homework assignments, lecture and diary cards (a tracking system for thoughts, urges and feelings and the usage of skills).


And in that, my recovery has not been linear. I’ve had a few crises over the summer that I didn’t come out completely unscathed. Each day is a continual choice to use skills, whether consciously or not, and to maintain my wellness regimen that is centered around no time granted to ruminations, finding activities to keep myself busy, coming up with a score of the day on a one to ten scale, filling out my planner, journaling my accomplishments of the day as well as filling out my diary card.


With this system in place, I’ve been able to track my time, my days, my emotions, thoughts and any patterns that have emerged within them. As suicide and scratching forms of self-harm have erased into the background, scalp picking and trichotillomania have taken center stage. The amount of times I’ve lost my brows and eyelashes in the last year is too many to count.


Every day is a new day and while I still live with mental health conditions, I have learned to not become them anymore. I have also learned that anything I am able to achieve in life is doubly impressive for the obstacles I have to overcome. I have been reaffirmed that my voice is powerful and my story matters, so I continue my work in advocacy and, I hope, being inspirational for others to follow in my footsteps. We are, after all, survivors radiating badassery.

Article written: August 25.2018

Author’s Note:

I have two other articles I’ve written before the semester began (this past Tuesday) that I will be adding to my blog within the week. From there, I will probably re-ignite some commentary on mental health TED talks, suicide prevention (minimally), a treatment 101 series and more from here and there. Any suggestions? Leave them in the comments down below! Or email me privately, if you’d prefer.

Thank you for reading!!

Stay safe,

❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ xxxx