9780060936211

How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill Me : One Person's Guide to Suicide Prevention

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780060936211

  • ISBN10:

    0060936215

  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2009-11-18
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications

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Summary

The statistics on suicide are staggering. According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 1997 in the USA more teenagers and young adults died from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza and chronic lung disease combined. It is also an international epidemic. Susan Blauner is the perfect emissary for a message of hope and a program of action for these millions of people. She's been though it, and speaks and writes eloquently about feelings and fantasies surrounding suicide.

Table of Contents

ONE SO YOU THINK YOU WANT TO DIE?
Hello
3(4)
The Reality of Suicidal Fantasy
7(3)
Moderation and Time Limits
10(1)
Me
11(11)
Finding Life Essence
22(3)
Change (Arghhh) and Choices
25(4)
TWO OUTTHINKING SUICIDE
Breathing
29(3)
The Language of Suicide
32(5)
The Neuron Superhighway
37(5)
The Grim Reaper
42(3)
Brain Style
45(3)
Recognizing and Avoiding Triggers
48(4)
Stopping the Snowball
52(2)
Finding Relief
54(5)
THREE TRICKS OF THE TRADE
TRICK #1 Asking for Help
59(5)
TRICK #2 Emergency Contacts
64(5)
TRICK #3 A Crisis Plan
69(13)
TRICK #4 Feelings
82(12)
Identifying Feelings
83(1)
Feelings Chart
84(2)
Feelings Galore List
86(3)
Tracing Feelings Back
89(4)
Stating a Feeling
93(1)
TRICK #5 Feelings Versus Facts
94(3)
TRICK #6 The Brady Bunch Syndrome
97(2)
TRICK #7 Spirituality, Nature, Meditation
99(19)
Spirituality
99(8)
Nature
107(6)
Meditation
113(5)
TRICK #8 Acting As If
118(1)
TRICK #9 HALT
119(18)
Hungry
120(6)
Angry
126(3)
Lonely
129(4)
Tired
133(4)
TRICK #10 Keeping a Journal
137(4)
TRICK #11 Tasks and Activities-Healthy Diversions
141(2)
TRICK #12 The Telephone Lifeline and Phone Lists
143(2)
TRICK #13 Contracts for Safety
145(4)
TRICK #14 Brain Food
149(4)
TRICK #15 Therapy
153(8)
TRICK #16 Vitamin "P"
161(4)
TRICK #17 "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning" Sayings and Affirmations
165(6)
TRICK #18 Mirror Work and Inner Dialoguing
171(4)
TRICK #19 Service-Helping Others
175(4)
TRICK #20 Movement and Exercise
179(5)
TRICK #21 Sound and Color
184(5)
Sound
184(4)
Color
188(1)
TRICK #22 Support Groups
189(2)
TRICK #23 Structure
191(6)
TRICK #24 Hospitalization 193
TRICK #25 What About an Afterlife?
197(6)
FOUR THERE IS HOPE! LETTERS FROM MY THERAPIST, FAMILY, AND FRIENDS
Honesty
203(1)
Sylvia's Perspective
204(3)
A Brother's Walk on Eggshells
207(1)
Watching Her Husband, My Brother
208(1)
Like a Holiday from Adulthood
209(2)
God Doesn't Make Junk!
211(2)
Sue's Song
213(1)
Rich with Humanity, Hope, and Change
214(5)
FIVE HELPING THE SUICIDAL THINKER
Introduction
219(6)
Risk Factors and Warning Signs
225(6)
Suicide Facts and Statistics
231(36)
WORDS
What I Heard Versus What I Needed to Hear
233(5)
Delivery and Timing
238(3)
Expressing Your Feelings
241(2)
Acknowledging Their Pain
243(1)
Speaking from Love
244(2)
BELIEFS
Secrets Are Deadly
246(3)
It's Okay to Talk About It
249(3)
It's a Family Challenge
252(1)
Change Is Possible
253(2)
ACTIONS
Listening Well
255(3)
Respecting Boundaries While Taking Action
258(3)
Practicing Patience and Compassion
261(1)
Getting Educated and Finding Your Own Support
262
SIX UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN
geese (a poem written by Christopher Brehl)
267(1)
I Recognize ...
268(2)
Destiny
270(5)
Hotlines in Canada
275(1)
Organizations
276(16)
Organizations in Canada
292(1)
Twelve Step Organizations
293(1)
Book Lists
294(1)
Books Useful to Me
295(1)
General Works
296(1)
On Youth
297(1)
On the Elderly
298(1)
For Professionals
298(2)
For Survivors
300(1)
NOTES 301(4)
INDEX 305

Excerpts

How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill Me
One Person's Guide to Suicide Prevention

Chapter One

Hello

Congratulations. Your lungs are breathing, your fingers are touching these pages, and your eyes are reading these words. At this very moment the part of you wanting life is stronger than the part of you that thinks it doesn't -- otherwise you wouldn't be reading this book. Let me repeat that: At this very moment the part of you wanting life is stronger than the part of you that thinks it doesn't -- otherwise you wouldn't be reading this book. Every word, belief, and idea it contains is dedicated to you.

I wish I could make your suicidal thoughts disappear, but I can't. What I can do is teach you how to get through those excruciating moments when every cell in your brain and body is screaming, "I want to die!" By surviving those moments unharmed and learning new ways of coping, you will gradually create a set of tools that can make life more manageable. Suicidal thoughts will occur less frequently and with less severity.

The thing to remember is that change takes time and practice. Fortunately, you'll have plenty of time to practice. The good news is that practice and repetition can make these skills a part of you, and that increases your chances of getting rid of suicidal thoughts altogether.

How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill Me is based on the following beliefs:

  • Most suicidal thinkers don't want to die; they just want their feelings to change or go away.
  • Every single feeling we experience eventually does change with or without any help from us.
  • They never stay the same or at the same intensity.
  • Feelings and thoughts are just electrochemical impulses in the brain.
  • It is possible to out think the brain, actively change feelings and eventually eliminate suicidal thoughts.
  • The reality of suicide is far different from the fantasy. Most suicidal thinkers romanticize their death by suicide, failing to realize that any suicide gesture or attempt can result in permanent brain, kidney, or liver damage, loss of limbs, blindness, or even death.
  • When I was fourteen, I never thought I'd live to be twenty-one. Ironically, I didn't make my first major suicide gesture until I was twenty-five, one year after I found Sylvia, the therapist who saved my life. In the years following the 1991 overdose, I was locked in a psychiatric ward three times; wound up in the intensive-care unit twice; and made two more big suicide gestures -- an overdose in 1992 and another in 1998. During the eighteen years I had suicidal thoughts, I experienced the excruciating "I-want-to-die" moment thousand of times and did my best to destroy my life. Fortunately, I did not succeed.

    The brain has a mind of its own, particularly when it's trying to kill you. It can say nasty things, based not in reality but in old patterns, fears, and intensified emotion. Since most suicidal thinkers don't want to die -- what they want is relief from emotional pain -- it's important to stay alive and healthy long enough to find the relief that's out there (and inside of you). To stay alive and healthy I had to develop new coping skills and philosophies. These tools I affectionately named "Tricks of the Trade." They've saved my butt countless times. I hope to teach you these tricks in part 3, leaving room for your own creative imagination.

    Even if a person calls for help after making a suicide gesture (like I did) or leaves a clue so that he or she will be found before the suicide is complete, what most of us fail to realize is that we might not be found. We might wind up losing a limb or the use of a limb. We might wind up with brain damage, paralysis or internal injury. We might even wind up dead.

    One thing I finally got after ten years of therapy was it's okay to have suicidal thoughts, just don't act on them. They are just thoughts. instead of feeling isolated or ashamed for having them, I had to acknowledge my suicidal thoughts, look beneath them at the feelings, and find a healthy way to address the feelings in order to diminish the thoughts. I had to grasp the notion that all thoughts are temporary -- even suicidal ones -- just as all feelings are temporary.

    Letting go of suicide was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. It took tremendously hard work and determination, but if I can do it, anyone can. If you don't believe me, simply borrow some of my strength and belief in you. I had to borrow other people's strength and belief in me for years. Now I have plenty for myself with extra to lend.

    That's not to say my road to healing was smooth and straight. I battled for years, ripped with despair and loneliness. Often my brain held me hostage and tried to convince me that I was pathetic, useless, and unloved, and that ending my life was the only solution. It was wrong.

    If you feel resistance while reading this book, that's a good sign, and it's perfectly natural. It means something good and new is sinking into your brain. When I am starting to change a part of my psyche, my brain sometimes feels threatened. Resistance can take the form of fatigue, headaches, shallow breathing, distraction, a sense of being overwhelmed, tight shoulders, a swimmy head, a squirmy stomach, a "what's-the-use" message from the brain. If any of this happens to you, take a deep breath and read on, or take a break and do something nice for yourself.

    If Resistance Gets Too Strong:

  • Find some way to get it out of your body:
    • Take a look at the Tasks and Activities List and find a few things...
    How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill Me
    One Person's Guide to Suicide Prevention
    . Copyright © by Susan Rose Blauner. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

    Excerpted from How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill Me: One Person's Guide to Suicide Prevention by Susan Rose Blauner
    All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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