The importance of treating yourself with compassion

When a person gets to the dark stage of feeling suicidal, it is not inevitable that they will attempt suicide. Being able to spot the signs of these thoughts and try and help your friend or family member, does not mean you have to be a professional or qualified in giving therapy. Simply being there for the person and supporting them through a time of crisis can often help change their mind.

Sitting with what you think is no hope at all, only seeing completely nothingness, can be interrupted.

If you are reading this and you’re living with thoughts of suicide, I imagine, like me you might have spent many hours searching for the ‘solution’ to how you are feeling. Searching for a light at the end of the tunnel or in this case a light at the end of the pages of google results. The first thing to notice is that; you, by typing it in, by reading that first sentence by remaining with the pain: are so brave. You are choosing to fight and let’s face it, when fighting this war sometimes reading that a hot bubble bath and a warm cup of tea will solve your problems is really infuriating. (Although I am partial to both for my wellbeing).

Sometimes we need more than that. We need something palpable, a plan. So, I have chosen three practical things that you can do that I hope will help with the pain you are in. As it’s suicide prevention week, these things I hope would give you support even in the darkest of moments.

1 – Remind yourself right now that these moments, these feelings, this pain, cannot and will not last forever. Even though it feels that it might. Like all feelings, even the happiest ones, these feelings will pass. You may be in the eye of the storm, but like the dark clouds and rain that feels endless in the depth of a Scottish winter, the sun will shine again. Hold onto the fact that these feelings will pass.

Hope is the one thing we all need in order to move on from the situation we can find ourselves in at any given time. The old cliche ‘there is light at the end of the tunnel’ is not to be sniffed at. Even in the darkest of your despair, it only takes one person to show you kindness and it can make a huge difference to the thoughts that are going on in your head. By showing that the darkness can get a wee dot of light in to it, brings unknown Hope and can be the distraction you are needing right there and then.  

Something as small and simple as your friend turning up at your door, telling you to “pull your coat and shoes on top of your pyjamas as we are walking the dogs”.  This small selfless action can completely turn around those heavy thoughts and steer you away from the darker side of things.  I would highly recommend going for a walk alone, with your pets and or with a friend, any of these will do. Watching my dogs and cat running around together and playing, then as they go off in their own directions to whatever has caught their eyes or whatever the interesting smell is coming from. This is very good for grounding me when it is needed, I often listen to birds singing and chattering to each other and other times I thoroughly enjoy the complete silence.

Picture shows two cute doggos on a beach
image shows another furry dog member of Nicols's crew holding his stuffed toy

Try talking to yourself as if you are talking to anyone that you love deeply. Try talking to yourself with that same deep love and compassion.

2 – Do something to distract yourself. Anything! If you are on your phone, look through your photos and videos, watch a show on Netflix! If you feel like you can text someone and tell them if you are struggling. Let them know. Write it down, draw it out. Basically, try and do something that will divert your brain into having to think about something else. This is not an easy task; it might take trying a few different things. But keep going. Go outside or open a window for some air. By all means have a bath and a cup of tea! (Which is why I think that’s used so often).

3 – Try talking to yourself as If you are talking to your best friend, partner, parent, basically anyone that you love deeply. Try talking to yourself with that same deep love and compassion. If they were to tell you they felt like a burden, what would you say to them? If they were to tell you they didn’t want to be in this pain anymore, what would you say to them? Now say those things to yourself. Because, that is what they would say and it might just remind you how special, loved and important you are in their lives.

Image shows one of Nicola's dogs sitting on a couch beside a beautiful ginger cat
Image shows Nicola's beautiful ginger cat outside on a rug doing a big stretch

Thank you for sharing with us, Nicola. It can be hard to love yourself and your message of giving yourself the same compassion as you do for other people is such a powerful sentiment (we also love the images of your fluffy crew members).

Nicola is a Senior Practitioner with our Self-Harm Network Service.

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