When you're in the gray area of being suicidal

I woke this morning but didn't want to. My back was stiff. My legs were sore. Knots riddled my calves and crept up my thighs, and my head pounded. Too many beers, I thought. Too many drinks. But the real reason I didn't want to wake up was because I was tired of waking up.

My mind was shattered. My body was exhausted, and I was depressed. Every day I pray I'll close my eyes for the last and final time.

Of course, I am not alone. Millions of Americans live with depression. It is a common illness. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 7 percent of the US population has—or will experience—depression in any given year.

But there is more to my depression then sadness, sorrow and changes in my sleep. I live with chronic suicidal ideations. I regularly fantasize about death, and my own demise.


Make no mistake: These thoughts aren't glorified or romanticized. But I think about suicide regularly. Instinctively. The ideations come on like a cough, hiccup or sneeze. I think about suicide constantly. On bad days, on sad days, and even on good days. I consider what would happen if I drove into oncoming traffic or if, on my morning run, I kept going to the end of the island and jumped off the Verrazano bridge.

And while you might assume thinking about suicide means I am suicidal, that is not the case. I am depressed and sad, but these feelings are not fatal. I do not want to die.

Confused? Me too. But that is what it's like to live in the space between. In the "gray area" of suicide. You are at peace with dying. The thought brings you relief. There is an out—an end to all the hurt and pain. You feel comforted by these thoughts. Suicide soothes your broken soul, but that is because your pain is so great you don't know how to cope.

It's a form of escapism. Fixating on death seems easier than fixing yourself.

Kathryn Moore, a psychologist at Providence Saint John's Child and Family Development Center in Santa Monica, California, tells Welcometoterranova many patients experience similar thoughts, known as passive suicidal thoughts.

"Passive ideation includes thoughts about death and dying that are vague, such as 'I wish I could go to sleep and never wake up' or 'I wonder what it would be like to be dead'... while active suicidal thoughts place a person at moderate to extreme risk of harming themselves because they have both thoughts and a plan."

"Active suicidal ideation is present in someone who has a plan and/or drive to carry out their plan for attempting suicide," Haley Neidich, a licensed mental health professional and practicing psychotherapist, says.

That said, while there is a distinct difference, there can also be overlap, i.e. passive suicidal thoughts can become active. For that reason, you should always take these thoughts seriously.

"If you have passive suicidal ideation, you should talk about it with others and/or your therapist to increase... your social support, problem-solving skills, and to create an active treatment plan," Moore says.

And if someone tells you they are having thoughts of suicide, you should take them seriously.

"Ask what the thoughts are specifically," Dr. Gail Saltz, an associate professor of psychiatry at the NY Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine and host of the upcoming Personology podcast on iHeart Media, explains. "Do they wish they weren't here (passive)? Or do they have an idea of actually killing themselves (active)? If they have an active idea, ask if they have a plan. If they do, do they have the means? If they do, take the means away... like if they have a gun, pills, etc. The point is it's always better to ask and remove access to a plan than to shy away from the topic."

Some might worry that asking a person with depression about suicidal thoughts might push them toward it. But that's not the case.

"You don't give a suicidal person morbid ideas by talking about suicide," Help Guide—a mental health nonprofit and wellness website dedicated to empowering those living with mental illness(es), and their loved ones—states. "Bringing up the subject of suicide and discussing it openly is one of the most helpful things you can do."

That is what I do. I reach out to my psychiatrist and psychologist regularly. I try to be honest with my family and friends, and I say the words "suicide." I admit when I am struggling and when I am not okay.

Does that mean the thoughts have gone away? No. Because of my mental illness, I live in dark places. I often wade through thick fog and grey spaces. But I keep going. I keep fighting, and I don't give in—or give up.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255, visit SuicidePreventionLifeline.org, or text "START" to 741-741 to immediately speak to a trained counselor at Crisis Text Line.
True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Welcometoterranova and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Welcometoterranova-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

Keep Reading Show less

If you've never seen a Maori haka performed, you're missing out.

The Maori are the indigenous peoples of New Zealand, and their language and customs are an integral part of the island nation. One of the most recognizable Maori traditions outside of New Zealand is the haka, a ceremonial dance or challenge usually performed in a group. The haka represents the pride, strength, and unity of a tribe and is characterized by foot-stamping, body slapping, tongue protrusions, and rhythmic chanting.

Haka is performed at weddings as a sign of reverence and respect for the bride and groom and are also frequently seen before sports competitions, such as rugby matches.

Here's an example of a rugby haka:

Keep Reading Show less
True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Welcometoterranova and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Welcometoterranova-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

Keep Reading Show less
True
Gates Foundation

Once upon a time, a scientist named Dr. Andrew Wakefield published in the medical journal The Lancet that he had discovered a link between autism and vaccines.

After years of controversy and making parents mistrust vaccines, along with collecting $674,000 from lawyers who would benefit from suing vaccine makers, it was discovered he had made the whole thing up. The Lancet publicly apologized and reported that further investigation led to the discovery that he had fabricated everything.

Keep Reading Show less
via Good Morning America

Anyone who's an educator knows that teaching is about a lot more than a paycheck. "Teaching is not a job, but a way of life, a lens by which I see the world, and I can't imagine a life that did not include the ups and downs of changing and being changed by other people," Amber Chandler writes in Education Week.

So it's no surprise that Kelly Klein, 54, who's taught at Falcon Heights Elementary in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, for the past 32 years still teaches her kindergarten class even as she is being treated for stage-3 ovarian cancer.

Her class is learning remotely due to the COIVD-19 pandemic, so she is able to continue doing what she loves from her computer at M Health Fairview Lakes Medical Center in Wyoming, Minnesota, even while undergoing chemotherapy.

Keep Reading Show less