How counselling has helped with my suicidal thoughts
Cliodhna shares some of the practical skills she has learned in counselling this year
I think we all need to start having more compassion and kindness for themselves. It's so easy to put ourselves down and say "I'm so stupid because of X" or "I did this wrong so I must be a failure." It has become so acceptable for us to feel and think horribly about ourselves but we would never say these kinds of things to our friends or people we love and care about.
For me, and I believe for a lot of other people too, a large part of my suicidal thoughts came from being overly critical towards myself. These critical thoughts held me back. I believed I should stop doing things I enjoyed as I felt I wouldn't ever be good enough anyway. I think a lot of people feel like this nowadays, especially with the increasing pressures of social media and the misconceptions of having a "perfect" life.
If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal please talk to someone. Asking for help can be a really difficult step, but people do care and they want to help. They value having you in their life and enjoy spending time with you. You have so much to offer and things really can get better.
These are some skills that I find really useful from when I went to counselling:
At first I was really against mindfulness because I couldn't just turn off my thoughts and I thought that's what people were asking me to do. Then I realised it was more than that. I learned to distract myself from negative thinking and emotions by focusing my attention on something else. I started reading regularly, listening to music and doing jigsaws. It also helped with my confidence as I had interesting things to talk about with friends.
Challenging my negative thoughts
I always ask myself questions now when I begin to feel really bad about myself, such as:
- Are these self-critical thoughts helpful to me or are they getting in my way?
- What evidence do I have that these thoughts are true?
More often than not we think negatively about ourselves but when asked for evidence to back it up, we don't have any. This shows that what we think about ourselves can be in our heads but nobody else will be as judgemental as we are to ourselves.
Exercise and healthy eating
Healthy eating and exercise is also very important to help us feel good. I believe that the food we eat and the activities we do can also impact how we feel. I used to eat a lot of takeaways and sweets which used to make me feel sluggish and definitely contributed to my low moods. I think it's so important to be aware of what we're putting into our bodies and the impact it can have both physically and mentally. I find exercise a great way to clear your head and feel good about yourself because you are taking time out for yourself and taking care of your body.
Have goals and routines for yourself
It can be really helpful to have goals of where you want to be at different parts of the year and what you would like to have accomplished. With those goals it’s important that even if you haven't had the chance to accomplish it within the time period, you aren't hard on yourself. I am about to start college and a part time job so my goals are that I'll have learned new skills in the job and that I'll have made a few friends from college by Christmas. I also think doing things such as getting up or having dinner at the same time of the day can be really helpful.
Make an appointment with a counsellor if you feel you need it
If you have been feeling bad for a while I would recommend talking to someone who can help you. It can be really daunting but if you find someone who you can trust and confide in it really is worthwhile so long as you are honest with this person. You are important and you are worth the time and energy it takes to feel better. It helps to not have to handle these thoughts on your own.
These are all skills I learned when I was feeling suicidal and going through a really hard time. I'm in a much better place now and I'm looking forward to seeing where the present and future bring me. I hope these skills help you change the way you see yourself and make you feel more positive and valued. Make sure you look after yourself and do things you like doing for you.
If you are worried that you can't keep yourself safe please reach out to someone.
Pieta House: 1800 247 247
Childline: 1800 666 666