“I learned recovery was possible, even after I lost all hope.”

I used to think about suicide every day, so I know how scary that can be. 

Over the course of several months, I went from feeling more stressed than usual to becoming more depressed than I knew was possible. I felt like no one understood how painful every hour, every minute, and every moment was. 

Suicide slowly seemed more and more like the only way out, and eventually, things got to the point where I thought it was. I made a plan to end my life and then I tried to kill myself

That was over 10 years ago. I was incredibly lucky to survive and get a second chance at recovery. It took a lot longer than I hoped but I finally realized that despite how terrible I felt, it was possible to get better, to feel like myself again, and to enjoy life. 

I wish someone had been able to convince me that I would get better before I tried to end my life, but really, I had to convince myself. 

Here are some of the most crucial factors in my recovery. 

1. Believing recovery (and not suicide) was inevitable:

After my attempt, I was so surprised and caught up in the emotions of having survived and seeing my family again that my mood lifted for the first time in months. Although it only lasted hours, it proved to me that even after everything I had been through, I was still mentally and physically capable of feeling well again. 

I latched on to this idea, and from then on, each step I took to fight depression, each time I met with my doctor or my therapist, each time I mustered the strength to get out of bed, each time I was able to go for a walk outside – it felt like it was part of something bigger, that all the work wasn’t just prolonging my pain but was leading towards my recovery.

I started trusting in myself and believing I could get better.

2. Learning to manage suicidal thoughts in the moment:

Any thoughts about hurting yourself are tough to deal with. It’s especially hard to feel safe when suicidal thoughts follow you around all day. 

I survived my attempt, but in the days and months that followed, I was still in a dark place and had thoughts of ending my life. Here are some tips on what helped me the most in overcoming suicidal thoughts in the moment, including deep breathing, visualizations, removing myself from danger, and how to reach out.

Over time, I got better at managing these thoughts and they slowly started to come less and less often.

3. Learning to stop listening to depression:

Before my attempt, I had started to understand that depression was affecting my mood and thoughts, but I didn’t really see how deeply it went. 

When I was severely depressed, I couldn’t even remember a time in my life when I felt happy, it all felt fake. It was impossible to see a future where I would be able to recover and enjoy life again – but it wasn’t true. I had been happy before and I would be so again.

It’s hard to remain hopeful when your mind won’t allow you to envision anything positive, so I had to stop getting caught up in my negative thoughts and instead focus on what I could control – the small steps I could take each day towards recovery.

4. Developing skills to fight depression:

Once I began to understand more about depression, I learned how stress, sleep, diet, social life, and physical health are all tied into it. Each of these can be pulled down by depression but it’s not a one way street – each also offers an avenue to fight back.

Working on establishing healthier habits, especially with sleep and physical activity, helped a lot. Learning how to be more patient with all this was also essential, as I slowly began to develop more skills to cope with depression.

5. Leaving shame behind:

One of the main reasons I waited so long to reach out for help was because I was ashamed of being depressed and thinking about suicide. Like many guys, in my mind depression meant weakness, and reaching out meant admitting defeat.

But having a mental health issue is no different than having any other serious illness (like cancer or diabetes). There is no shame in being depressed. It’s not your fault. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with you as a person. 

I learned how important it was to reach out, and found that people were more accepting than I had worried they would be. It became a lot easier to fight depression when I didn’t have to hide things from my friends and family and instead, had their support.

6. Learning to not let suicidal thoughts sink back in:

These days, whenever I have any thoughts or feelings of hopelessness, I do my best to disengage and stop them before they get more serious.

Before my attempt, I never really believed I would act on these thoughts, so I would lie around ruminating all night, fantasizing about escaping from life. Now I understand where these thoughts can lead, how important it is to reach out right away, and talk to someone about what’s going on.

Reach out, believe in your recovery, and work slowly and steadily to get there – you have the rest of your life to live. 

– Joshua R Beharry
Project Manager

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