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  • Writer's pictureMinna

Act as if there are other options, even if you may not see them right now

Like many late-diagnosed, high-masking adult autistic women, I've struggled with thoughts of su*cide since I was young.

As a child, I consistently found myself distressed, overwhelmed, and in pain- often in ways no one around me understood. Everyone said things like "you're fine" or "you'll be fine" (I wasn't), "it's not that bad" (it was), and "it's going to be ok" (it wasn't). Not only did this eventually cause a wicked case of demand-avoidance (why would I respond well to anyone else's input when they were constantly steering me wrong?), but it also made me lose hope.

I found myself hoping for an 'eject button' from the chronic pain I was in, which eventually turned into su*cidal ideation. And everyone said the same thing to my thoughts of su*cide that they did to any other distress I'd experienced- "you're going to be ok", "everyone feels like this sometimes", and "it gets better".

What was meant to offer support or hope only worsened my distress. My entire life, people had been invalidating my experiences and offering false hope I'd long ago learned not to trust. Over time, I felt increasingly isolated in my pain and resentful of popular anti-suicide information, like the "it gets better" campaigns.

Until I ran across an article by the Mayo Clinic that said, "act as if there are other options… even if you may not see them right now." Something clicked for me. The statement wasn't invalidating my experience, nor was it implying it knew I had some shiny-happy future waiting for me. It simply asked me to acknowledge I didn't actually know what the future held for me, either- even if it *felt* like I'd always be this distraught.

As I sat with that, I thought, "I can do that. I can acknowledge there could be other options for me in the future that I just can't see right now. It doesn't mean I know there for sure *are*, but I also don't know for sure there *aren't*."

It might not be an idea that brings everyone solace, but it works for me. When I hit the lows that reflexively bring up su*cide (or another drastic measure), I remind myself that there *could* be other options I don't yet see, and it helps me get through the impulse to act and look for other ways to help myself get through the low.


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