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A Spiritual Approach to Suicidal Thoughts

Suicidal feelings or thoughts may be a spiritual indicator of a process sometimes known as an awakening. This can be a positive, hopeful take on a place that is unbearably painful, as those who have been there will know. I often say depression can be a terminal illness, but it doesn’t have to be so. Sometimes though, we don’t know how we can make it through, as it feels so very painful.

I did not think I would live to 25 years 

Numerous suicide attempts in my early twenties felt just like this was just another failure, when I’d wake up ‘still here’. I did not think I would live past the age of 25. I felt lost and alone and in such pain. During one attempt, I had a near death experience, experienced a brilliant warm white light and felt immense peace, unlike anything on this earth. I came back feeling like I was meant to be here. I thought that maybe if the suicide attempts weren’t working, perhaps I was here for a reason. How could I turn my life around?

Take each day at a time

Life gradually got so much better, it was a long slow haul. I began to function again and enjoy life, however! I have learnt over the years of still feeling and experiencing suicidal ideation that this is a little talked about spiritual approach to understanding suicide. We are NOT to act on it, the task is to take each moment at a time, each day at a time. It is an achievement to get through the day. Be kind to you! Take the pressure off you. Suicidal thoughts can be characteristic of a spiritual transition period sometimes known as the Dark Night of the Soul. This is where things get or feel worse before they get better. It can feel like a downward spiral.

An ego death, not a literal death 

I came to realise over the years of being in this place, that this is what I call an Ego Death. When I’m in this place it feels like a part of me is dying, the part that ‘wants to control life’ , and ‘be right”,’ to have my own way’ or resists change. The ego isn’t always about being ‘big-headed’, as many of us may think.  And the ego death isn’t a literal death. I wrongly interpreted the feelings literally and thought I should act on them, but reframing them to something with spiritual meaning helped reduce the pain significantly and I felt like there was a purpose to it. I could accept it more. Actually, it was symbolic; it was to make way for something new within me. It’s a bit like the leaves die in the autumn. It’s cold and dark in winter months, then in the spring new life bursts forth which is vibrant and green. And we start afresh. 

Break through 

I came to also recognise that it is ALWAYS DARKEST BEFORE THE DAWN. Things often feel worse before they get better. Once we come to realise that Suicidal Ideation spiritually, can characterise a SHIFT, so that new BETTER things can come into our lives, we can let go of the pressure and pain and it becomes easier. We ride through these times better. It’s often said “We don’t break down we break through..’ I also love this quote by Jon Kabat Zin, ‘You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf’.  Growth, and the resulting awareness can come in huge waves. Initially we may feel powerless until we learn to surf. When we learn to ride through it, it gets easier and something better eventually comes in. 

‘This too shall pass’ and ‘let go and let God/Higher Powers’ (if you have spiritual beliefs in something greater) can be other useful mantras during such times. I’ve come to also see that this deep pain that I’ve felt during those times is also like peeling the layers of the onion, and my awareness grows and grows as each layer is shed. As I experience it now I can detach from it, notice and observe it rather than becoming it and feeling like it consumes and overwhelms me. Neither does it dictate or run my life. It is as it is. I know it passes.

The concept of impermanence 

Things do not stay the same forever, and feelings may take a while to pass, but eventually they do and we come out of every feeling we’ve had. If you think back to all the times you have been depressed or had difficulties, they do pass eventually. This is sometimes known as the Law of Impermanence and helps us to ride that wave, trusting that change is inevitable and change is the only constant. Things don’t stay the same forever. And the seeds of new change that spring forth from us, are seeded in the darkness, so take heart and have hope.

The Heroes Journey 

Realising that this is a stage that we can pass through may help. It is sometimes called Mystical Suffering, or the ‘Heroes Journey’, where our ego and our spirit do battle! The light and dark within us. It’s a time to be gentle with yourself, a call for self-compassion and nurturing. Be your own best friend. Take each moment, each day at a time, you are doing your best. After numerous attempts I began to wonder if all that was required of me in this life, after having failed so many times, was to just survive and get through, moment by moment. Perhaps this is true for you if you are in this place. Well done for making it this far if this is you! That is the spirit, literally, let the light win. Mental health may in the past have been seen as a weakness, but to bear that amount of mental pain takes tremendous courage and strength to endure when you hit rock bottom. 

Think about how courageous and strong you actually are, recognise and give credit to your inner hero, that part of you that has endured and got your this far! It is no mean feat. Courage is not the absence of fear! ‘Tomorrow is another day’ is another mantra. The pain can go on for a time but think about what immense strength you do have to cope with that level of suffering! Even if it doesn’t feel like it.

Survival is imperative, anything else is a bonus and when I realised that, I took the pressure off myself and grew. I also recognise that it is a call for my ego to step aside, to put down the sword of pressure down, to stop beating myself up too and let the Divine lead my spirit. I then cultivate further depths of humility. As the darkness in me breaks down, it means that more and more light, and awareness, then comes into my life. 

I now know from having been through the dark night of the Soul many times that it is a cycle, or period growth. Much like the Anais Nin quote ‘And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud, was more painful than the risk it took to blossom’

Rebirth

It is often known as rebirth in spiritual traditions, where we don’t break down but we break through. So during these times I know it is a call to me to take extra good care of myself, take pressure off myself where I can, and accept where I’m at knowing that it will pass and I will feel better. I’ve come to recognise that amazing things do happen and I am so much better, and ‘able’, rather than disabled as I was. Spiritual ideation can be the point of transformation. As Richard Bach says, ‘what the caterpillar calls the end of his life, the Master calls a butterfly’. I see now that the experiences that I have had have made my lemonade when life gave me lemons – i.e. I am able to use these experiences to hold a space of understanding, through my healing journey I have learnt so much which informs me in my job. Synchronicity (meaningful coincidences) can also occur as a salve to reassure us that we are on the right track. Our intuition, when we learn to listen to that, can also guide us through the dark times. Our intuition would never tell us to harm ourselves or another.

Holistic Self-Care 

Holistically, self-care for me involves exercise, running or walking in nature daily, ‘wholesum’ nutrition, meditation (mindfulness), listening to my intuition. giving myself space, talking therapies, supervision for work, treatments such as aromatherapy massage,  essential oils, reiki, reflexology, osteopathy, homeopathy and so much more! I talk more about these on my website and Facebook and in the courses that I run too, such as ‘A Holistic Prescription for Mental Health’. I’m not just a survivor, but a thrivor.

A holistic lifestyle is how I cope and manage my mental health. I’ve gone from being agoraphobic, with severe anxiety and depression and M.E. to becoming self-employed as a Holistic therapist. I’m doing what I love and am passionate about ,because it has helped me so much.

Find your passion, feed your soul 

I don’t often give advice. I like to empower others to find their own answers, but I will say now if you are in this dark place, find your passion. This mean do what you love, ask yourself what lights your soul now or in the past, what has helped. Make this a priority to feed and nourish your soul and your growth. You do matter, you are worth it and when you start to live your truth with a heart-felt life, life not only becomes more bearable but naturally more joyful. 

If you have been affected by the issues discussed in this article:

Seek professional help – please consult your healthcare provider, a counsellor or therapist, or the Samaritans if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Samaritans
Need support? We’re here to listen 24 hours, 365 days a year.
Call now on 116 123

Mind
For mental health advice and support
Infoline: 0300 123 3393


This article was originally published here at Emma Sims Soul Readings on 21/05/2020.

Emma Sims
Emma Sims is a complementary Holistic Therapist and Reiki Master Teacher with 20+ years experience in the field. She is based in the Community Resource Centre, Gwersyllt, Wrexham, North Wales.

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