After a stay in a psych hospital following suicidal thoughts with a plan, a 16-year-old high school student described his suicidal intensity as two peaks happening in a twenty-minute period.
He said as the emotional pain got worse (peaked), the more he wanted to end it.
Then it eased off and that was a period where he had more fear and wasn’t so sure he wanted to die (ambivalence about death). Then he said there was one more peak, more intense than the last, when he really felt worthless, that the world would be better off without him. After that, he said he felt like he had a hangover although he had not had anything to drink. It also frightened him.
He managed to endure it without attempting but he very much wanted to tell and texted his counselor, told him, and gave that social worker permission to tell his parents. The young man didn’t want to tell his parents face-to-face.
Since that description, others with lived experience have described it similarly. Not all but many. Some tell me their episodes last five minutes with similar activity and others have said two hours. One person told me most of her episodes throughout her life have been about fifteen minutes with one lone episode lasting seven hours with several peaks and valleys. She said it was unbearable but she survived it and it made the twenty-minute ones easier to endure. This person has since found a medication that quiets those thoughts.
If you have lived experience and are in recovery, do educate us on what yours have been like. I’m grateful to all who have shared their experiences with me so I would understand, so the rest of you might understand.
Quote from a person who suffers from suicidal thoughts currently:
…”I didn’t really understand when you said that moment of actually wanting to hurt yourself doesn’t last long. Today, I experienced it. For a brief moment, I was going to do it and then I was ok. I realize if I can get thru that brief moment then I was still sad and upset but could reason. That was huge because I didn’t understand how it could be so short but I witnessed it.”
The peaks in the episode last about 60-90 seconds or less. Brutal seconds but know that it will fade like all emotions do. And while you won’t feel like skipping through a meadow with a basket of muffins, you will have relief from the intense brain pain.