Indifference about staying alive is a concept that can be hard to understand. We might not be actively suicidal or have specific suicidal thoughts. We simply no longer have the will to survive.
Descriptions of suicide
Descriptions of suicide vary.
A violent act. A deliberate act. An active decision that a person makes. Some romanticise it. Spin it into creative stories. Though there are journalistic guidelines for reporting suicides, people don’t always follow them.
Regardless of the description, it’s almost always seen as deliberate. In fact, for a coroner to conclude that a person has died by suicide, it has to be proven to be a deliberate, intentional act. A deliberate choice that a person has made to end their life.
Indifference about surviving
We don’t have to be suicidal to stop caring about whether we live. In fact, we don’t necessarily want to die. We don’t take a deliberate action to end our life. But we don’t care about living, either.
We’re totally indifferent.
We might continue our daily tasks. Keep going to work. Manage our responsibilities as well as we can. But we don’t care if we live or die.
Our emotions can be dull. In fact, they can be so dull that they turn to nothing. Occasionally, we will get flashes of something. Distress, sadness, upset, fear… but the rest of the time, we have as many emotions as a piece of cotton wool.
Self-care seems pointless
When we feel like this, it can be really hard to keep looking after ourselves. Especially when looking after ourselves requires doing things that we don’t particularly enjoy.
Why would we put time and effort into healthy eating when chocolate tastes good and our long-term health doesn’t matter? Why would we seek medical attention when needed if we don’t care whether we live or die? Cleaning our teeth becomes less of a priority when we don’t expect to need them for tens of years.
With energy in short supply, we don’t always manage the basics. If we notice that our self-care has slipped (because we don’t always notice), we might not feel like we have the ‘oomph’ to do anything about it.
Indifferent about risk
Without eyes on the future, we might end up taking more risks. Or at the very least, avoid doing things that reduce our risk.
Our perception of risk becomes squiffy. We minimise some risks. We forget others altogether. When we do register risks, we might be too slow to respond to them.
We’re tired. Taking precautions can feel like a waste of our limited energy when we don’t care about ourselves enough to worry about the consequences. When we feel indifferent about living.
Indifference about things we have to live for
When people hear that we’ve become indifferent to being alive, they’ll often ask us to think of things to live for. Or tell us what they think we should live for.
It’s not that we don’t want to feel things, care about things, or look forward to things. We just have no emotions about any of them.
We might understand what all the words mean, and know that at some point any one of these things to live for might genuinely have helped us to turn things around. But tiredness overwhelms us. Nothing is absorbing well enough for us to feel it. We can’t feel anything about any of them.
‘Choosing’ not to help ourselves
Other people often struggle to understand why we ‘choose’ not to do things that help us. It’s rarely an active choice. We don’t wake up one day and have a bright idea to avoid anything that might help us to feel a bit better.
We’re exhausted. We have absolutely nothing left in our tank. We’re often moving from moment to moment and rarely thinking or planning anything much at all.
We live in a perpetual foggy haze. Often, we’re trying so hard just to keep things going. We’re doing our best. Right now, our best might not extend to doing all the things that might help, but we have nothing more to give.
We’re tired. We are just so tired.
Often, we’ve been coping with poor mental health for such a long time. We are utterly exhausted. We’ve ridden waves, dealt with lobbed lemons, and pulled ourselves back up from rock bottom more times than we can count.
We’re done. We have no fight left. Nothing left in us. No desire to keep going, but no specific plans not to. We’re just past the point of caring; indifferent. We’re existing, not living.
We are strong, but we need help
We feel anything but strong, but we are. Until we’ve been there, it’s hard to understand the sheer strength it takes to keep getting out of bed every single day when we’re indifferent about living. The tenacity it takes to keep surviving.
We’re at the limit of our ability and energy. We’re doing our best, whether it looks like it or not. We need others to stand alongside us, walk with us, and sit with us during the loneliest hours – in person or remotely. We need people to keep checking in, caring, and helping us to access support, until we’re able to care for ourselves again.
Please help us to help others and share this post, you never know who might need it.
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