I once saw a picture on a website about suicidal ideation that showed a scale with "coping resources" on one side and "pain" on the other. The pain on that scale was far heavier than the coping resources and was tipping it quite drastically. The image was accompanied by a message that said, "Suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain."
It's stuck with me for years. Both the image and phrase were incredibly validating in the sense that it simplified a mountain of overwhelming, panicked feelings into one logical conclusion--one that was not my fault! It also encouraged me into thinking that all I needed to do was adjust the weight on my own "scale". It helped me to see surviving as a practical, doable solution instead of something overly complicated and chaotic. It helped save my life.
Today, that image is one of the cornerstones of my crisis-related coping skills. If I am feeling incredibly down and helpless, I pull up that photo from my memory and try to imagine lifting some weight off of the pain or adding some to the coping resources. It has become something I can count on as grounding technique to help keep me safe.
However, dealing with suicidal ideation and crisis management is not just as simple as having a plan and some coping resources. Part of the challenge is realizing and also even accepting that we are in crisis in the first place. Sometimes, even despite conquering that first step, we might feel undeserving of help, or unable to muster the energy to do anything about it. Some of our typical coping skills or resources might become difficult or impossible to use, or may even be tied to a specific trigger.
In any case, I know from experience how difficult it can be to find the energy, self-love, motivation, etc. to pull yourself up out of the worst of the worst, and I thought we might benefit from sharing our strategies with each other. What do you do when you feel like you have tried everything and it's just still not working?
This week's questions are:
- What leads you to realize you are in a real crisis situation? Are there obvious/non-obvious signs/symptoms that you or others notice?
- What kinds of coping methods do you employ or put into place during a crisis situation? (Do you have a plan? Could you make one?, etc.)
- What kinds of coping skills or resources are difficult for you to make use of during a crisis?
- Bonus question: Do you have a small collection of "surefire" crisis-related coping skills or resources that you can count on to help keep you safe during a crisis?