Behind Cody's Mind

Living With Suicidal Thoughts, By Cody Fast

     Ok, that’s a pretty intense article title, trust me, I know that. But I mean “suicidal thoughts” is a pretty intense topic, right? So it should have somewhat of a title name that coincides with what I’ll be talking about.

If you’ve clicked on this article, you’re one of three people.

You’re either:

A) Somebody who just thought this article was intriguing, so you clicked on it,
B) Somebody who knows a person in your life who struggles with this topic, or
C) You personally are impacted by these dark thoughts that somehow crept their way into your mind and have intruded your life.

If none of those letters stuck out to you, I would love to talk about your reasoning behind why you decided to click on here. But for now, let’s just stick to the A through C people.

For those of you who answered A, I’m going to give you a little background information about myself to explain why and how I was compelled to share my personal experiences with whomever you are, that’s reading this right now.

My name is Cody Fast, and I’m a 23-year-old aspiring writer living with a few mental illnesses. I was diagnosed with Manic Depression Freshman year of high school, as well as ADHD. The few years after that, I came to realize that I would also grow very close to a thing called anxiety.

For those of you who are not familiar with Manic Depression, also called Bipolar 1 Disorder, it is simply a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings which include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).

Now when I say emotional highs, I’m not talking about somebody who talks faster than you can understand, although that can also be the case. I am talking about somebody who (when in a manic state) feels that they need no sleep and can finish a handful of tasks or projects, jumping from one to the other, without finishing any of them.

While being in a manic state, you can also make very rash and impulsive decisions in the moment that are not logical or rational whatsoever.

For instance, one time I got a couple-hundred-dollar check from my work and decided that it would be a great idea for me and my friend to drive from Portland (where we lived) all the way down to Arizona where one of our other close friends just moved and were inviting us down to visit. Mind you, it was about 5 pm in the afternoon, we only had a few hundred dollars, and the car we were driving was not the most reliable. In the moment, none of those things occurred to us though. All we thought was how great of a road trip it would be.

Fast forward, we embarked on the 19 or so hour drive south with a few snacks and 4 full cans of Monster Energy to keep us awake for the night drive. About halfway down in the middle of California, one of our tires blew while we were going about 95 mph (thank God we didn’t wreck) on a highway, in the desolate 100 degree California desert. My friend eventually called her parents, who made us promise if they paid for the tire to get fixed, we would immediately head back home. She agreed and hung up the phone. What her parents didn’t know was that she was lying about us returning, so that we could just get the tire fixed and proceed along our exciting adventure.

We continued on the journey and ended up about 5 hours from our destination. It was early in the morning, so we needed breakfast. Pulling up to McDonalds, I only had enough money for two hash browns and two large waters, not thinking ahead that gas would take up most of my money on the way down.

End of the story, our circumstances caused my friend and I to get into a very heated argument that led me to make my parents buy a plane ticket home for me, abandoning her to drive back alone.

My point is that being in a manic episode can cloud your judgment more and more the deeper you go. The more reckless decisions you make, the worse the outcomes, that ultimately persuade you to continue to make more ill-advised decisions. Before you know it, you’re in another state with no money, a broken-down car, and having to bathe yourself in the public bathroom of a supermarket to clean yourself. Well, in my instance at least.

I do not put any blame on my mental health for the reasons for the decisions I have made in my life, as I take full accountability for every single one of them, but I am simply saying that mental illnesses can play a major role in your day to day decisions and situations, if not understood and handled in a healthy way.

Now for the lows (or depressive episodes).

If you’ve suffered through depression or currently are, I commend you and have the utmost respect for you, because you know what it is like. If you have not, I hope the following stories put it into perspective for you.

A depressive episode or “low” due to mental illness is nothing to be joked about. In my opinion, it has been stigmatized and projected into so many different twisted concepts in today’s modern society, that it makes me sick to even think about. My thoughts on that topic are for another time. For now, let’s stick to depression.

It can be categorized into being the symptom of so many things, but the general common symptoms from depression are sadness, feeling down, having a loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities, to the more severe symptom of suicidal thoughts.

Now I warn those of you who are not familiar with this topic, as it is on the more intense side, but only because I want you to understand the severity of what we are talking about.

What does it mean to have a suicidal thought? What is a suicidal thought? Why would somebody want to take their own life? Is it for attention? Or are they just looking for an escape?

We can go around and around for hours talking about why we think people promote the idea, but that’s not the point. What is important is deeper than a surface level simplified-answer to these many questions.

I was a very energetic kid growing up, that always had to have my mind stimulated, or I would go crazy. I didn’t know at the time that this was a result of what was going on in my head, but nonetheless lived my life, and went on with my days. A few traumatic ongoing experiences began to take a toll on me, as well as my mind. I felt trapped and alone most of the time like there was nobody who understood why I felt the way I did. And over time, it all flipped on me.

Every day, I would wake up with less and less of a reason to get up and go into the world, like I was getting further and further from the vivid colors of life to much darker shades each day. I felt empty like there was nothing I looked forward to or anticipated. Joy and happiness evaporated, like water on the horizon. This was when the thoughts began to creep into my life.

The first time I tried to kill myself was sometime between Freshman and Sophomore year. I’m not sure what the exact reason was that pushed me over the edge, but now that I look back, I believe that it was accumulative. Over time, it all built up and I eventually felt like I was going to explode.

Being as young as I was at the time, I had always heard about stories where people would kill themselves. Or watched it on TV, or saw it in a movie. And when they finally did it, people cared about them and realized they were struggling. It wasn’t very scary because I always had those thoughts in my head, so it didn’t seem like a big deal.

So I decided to overdose on some sleeping pills (which being young I thought would be very peaceful to just fall asleep and not wake up). The reality was not that, but rather excruciating stomach pain shortly after swallowing them. After confessing to my mom why I was profusely throwing up in the bathroom, she rushed me to the hospital where I was put under suicide watch. I was in and out of consciousness, as social workers spoke to me about my family and our current situation. My parents would take turns coming in to ask me why I had done this, and why I didn’t tell them about it. I played it down saying that I just wanted to see what would happen, burying the real reason deep inside of me. From that point on, it was a downward spiral.

I think in total, I tried to take my own life a handful of times. Each attempt more intense, as my mental instability grew, along with the deep need somewhere inside of me to end it all.

I remember one fall night, the year I dropped out of high school, I had barricaded my door with my couch. The combination of my bipolar meds, Adderall, weed, alcohol, and other unprescribed drugs (all obviously taken at extreme amounts) led to a psychotic break and snap of reality.

I was sitting in the middle of the room with a knife to my stomach telling the SWAT team outside my window and my friends and family outside my door that if they tried coming in, I would kill myself. Each time they attempted to get closer to the window or door, I would make a deep laceration on my thigh. The cuts hurt tremendously, but at the time, it was relieving to feel something — anything that reminded me that I was alive. The sun finally came up and I realized that I had been hallucinating for the past few hours. The reason why I made the cuts on my leg and not my stomach, is because I didn’t want them to be noticeable if I ever went swimming or took my shirt off. If they were on my thigh, shorts or pants would cover them usually always.

Looking back now, I realize that I never wanted to actually die. I just wanted a way out. I thought that if I made it through this night and didn’t end up following through what the dark thoughts were telling me, I would still be able to live a normal life with my cuts hidden. Today I look down at them every day and rather than feeling ashamed or mad at myself, I am humbled by how far I have come, and how much I have grown. That was the last time I tried to kill myself.

Suicide was a fantasy, a what if? What if I ended up following through? Would I find happiness? Would the deep, aching pain in my soul that I’ve come to know as a close companion for so long, finally disappear? What would those around me think? Would they even care?

Suicide was always an idea — no, an escape, that I had in the back of my mind. It was a small flickering light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Something that was tangible, that I could control. Something that I had full capacity to make a decision for, in my own life. A life that I had come to hate. To wake up every single day with no hope or desire to live. To exist in a dream, numb, of every second of every day. To be handed pills over and over again, that would fix what was wrong with me. I never wanted to die, I just simply didn’t want to live.

Those were the thoughts that overwhelmed my brain for so long; that debilitated me, to the point of feeling like I had no other choice, but to end it all.

After that night, I called my parents and moved back home because I knew how unstable I was, and needed help. From then on, I made a choice. I chose to live a life that promoted beneficially positive and healthy habits for my well being, every single day. Being on and off of countless drugs prescribed by doctors never helped, it only made things worse. But let me be very clear, that was a decision I made on my own after years and years of feeling like a ghost. I realized I was a better version of myself off of meds than I was on them.

For those of you who answered A in the beginning of this article, I simply ask you to take into account to understand and realize that things aren’t always as they seem. That man that you just walked by on the sidewalk who didn’t return your smile, or that woman who didn’t say thank you after you held the door open for them, maybe they’re in a place so deep and dark they simply are incapable to do so at the moment.

According to the CDC as of 2019, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in the world for those aged 15–24 years old, and approximately 123 Americans die by suicide every single day. Not to mention the staggering number of connections that mental illness has with the many heart wrenching and morally corrupt mass shootings that our nation has seen in recent times. These are all very important facts that I urge you to look into and try to understand.

What I’m saying is, everybody is fighting a battle whether or not you know it. There’s a reason behind everything, and it simply starts with the question, “what can we do to help?

For those of you who answered B, I am not a doctor or a psychologist, so I cannot give you any licensed medical advice. But what I can give you is an understanding of what it is to have these terrible thoughts in your life, and how destructive they can be.

That friend I went on the manic-inducing, friendship-ruining road trip with, she struggles with mental illness as well. Today we are closer than ever because we both decided to create and build better lives for ourselves. If you know somebody who is struggling with mental illness, just be there for them. Let them know that you are there and they are not alone. Remind them and don’t abandon them. Make an effort to help them in whatever way you can, but do not encourage unhealthy behavior or habits, as it can be detrimental. If they talk about hurting themselves, please urge them to get help as it can be life-threatening if they are on the edge. Never assume a cry for help is just for attention. That is how we lose the people we love.

For those of you who answered C, my heart goes out to you tremendously. Having thoughts of wanting to hurt or kill yourself is nothing that is easy to live with.

Now let me be very clear.

Having thoughts of suicide and actually thinking about going through with it are two different things. But, if you have either of them, I highly suggest and recommend that you talk to somebody immediately, more specifically a loved one who can help you or a licensed physician.

If you feel like you are a danger to yourself, you need to get professional medical attention right away. Do not let those thoughts push you to the edge. There is so much more in life that you still have to experience, and I can say this to you first hand as a victim and survivor of suicide.

If talking to a therapist helps, then great! If going to the gym helps, as it does for me, great! If finding a doctor and getting prescribed medication that helps you, awesome!

What my point is, is that no two people on this planet are the same. What works for one person may not work for another. Try different things until you find what works best for you. All I’m saying is do not give up. Don’t let the dark thoughts cloud your judgment of what your life should be like. I made it to where I am today because I kept pushing every single day.

When I made the decision to build a life that was healthy for my mental health, I took it day by day.

So if you need to, take it day by day, as I did, and still do. Find one thing that you did today you are proud of, and go from there. Maybe you got a promotion. Maybe you killed that job interview. Maybe you made it to the gym. Maybe you simply got out of bed and showered for the first time this week. And if you couldn’t get out of bed today, that’s absolutely ok. Because tomorrow is a new day, and you can try again. What I’m saying is, that having a tomorrow is so much better than the alternative.

Focus on the small wins every single day, and before you know it, you’ve made a life that you can look at and smile. To be genuinely proud of yourself for not giving in to the monster that tells you otherwise. Because we all have days where we feel hopeless, but it can all start with a simple decision to say no to those thoughts, and say yes to tomorrow.

If you feel like you have nobody to talk to, please do not hesitate to reach out and message me on here or my Instagram account! I’m here to help if I can.

And if this message spoke to you, please do me a favor and give me a follow or clap, as I will be writing and posting much more in the near future. My goal is to create a platform to help and encourage any and everybody that struggles with mental health. The more help we have, the better chances we have at creating lives worth living.

Cody F.

Portland, Oregon

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