Do the laundry, wash the dishes, and don’t kill yourself — those are on my to-do list. That last one is on my daily to-do list. (Yes, I realize it’s more like a to-don’t item, but allow me some latitude, if you would.) Yes, I have to remind myself every day not to die. I put it on lists. I remind myself of it in blog posts, and I say the words to myself almost as a mantra — “no kill, no die.” Let’s talk about why I need to do that and how I can not kill myself every day despite the desire to do so.
Don’t Kill Yourself; It’s Important
Of all the things I do today, not killing myself is the most important. After all, if I don’t accomplish that one thing, nothing else matters. It’s the same for everyone; however, most people don’t need to think about it on a daily basis. So Why do I have to put “don’t kill yourself” on my daily to-do list?
Not Killing Myself Is Hard
I’ve been depressed for longer than I care to admit, and this has brought with it varying levels of suicidality. Some days, when acutely depressed, killing myself is the only thing I can think of. On other days, killing myself just feels like a default position. On still other days, it lingers in the back of my brain like an option, just ready to pounce if things don’t go well.
In short, the idea of killing myself is in my brain all the time in one way or another. It feels like an obsession that I don’t want and didn’t ask for. And if you’re obsessed with something, how do you ignore it? How do you go ahead and not go through with it day after day after day? That is so much harder than you think. While every organism wants to live, most people do give in to their obsessions in the end. This is why “don’t kill yourself” literally has to be on my daily to-do list.
What’s the Benefit of Putting Don’t Kill Yourself on a To-Do List?
I know it sounds trite to put something so important on a to-do list, but it has been working for me. I admit I’m a lover of lists and putting “don’t kill yourself” on my to-do list gives me something to cross off every night. And crossing it off is essential because not dying is a feat some days. Some days, suicide has felt like a foregone conclusion, and not acting on it has been miraculous. But my to-do list helps. It’s a tangible thing that reminds me every day that living is my goal — some days, my only goal. And believe it or not, sometimes crossing something off a list is a reward that feels better than living does. Living sometimes feels like shit.
(If you don’t like lists, putting your goal on a sticky note and putting it on your bathroom mirror might give you the reminder you need throughout the day, but honestly, I think a list is better.)
If You Feel Suicidal
So, if you’re struggling with suicidality, if that is what you see behind your eyes every time you blink, I understand. I have been there. My urges have been hellaciously strong at times. But take a page out of my book and externalize your goal not to die — do it even if you feel like you don’t believe it. It can give you something to cling to in a very slippery world.
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