Lesson 2 Section 1
With your plans on pause, it’s tempting to immediately try to convince you that things can get better. But we both know that hearing things like “it gets better” or “hang in there” might provide a temporary boost at best, but it takes a lot more than that to make life better.
If I said it was going to be easy, you would know that I was either lying or naïve.
I’m just going to be honest and say there might be hard work ahead. I hope it will be worthwhile, meaningful, fulfilling, uplifting, and possibly transformative work… But it is going to take effort.
There is no need to jump right in after putting plans on pause. It’s a good time to take a break.
“Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions are searched for.
Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”
- Maya Angelou
How to put off the life-or-death decision
Procrastinating… My kids do it when they don’t want to go to bed. My dog does it when our walk is almost over and she wants to stay out longer.
It’s so natural, it might seem pointless to offer guidance. Actually though, I’m asking you to put off doing something that might have some appeal. That’s a bit harder than only avoiding something you don’t like, but I have some suggestions for what you can do instead of working on the life-or-death decision.
Please download the worksheet (I mean "Break-Sheet") below for guidance on figuring out the best distractions that will work specifically for you.
“Play allows us to develop alternatives to violence and despair;
it helps us learn perseverance and gain optimism.”
- Stuart Brown, MD
Resources for Being Distracted
You're not alone. Below are some additional resources to help. I'm not endorsing these resources. Sometimes it's just easier to get started when you get a few initial ideas. Admittedly though, I found myself getting distracted by these sites while I was trying to develop this lesson.
“Procrastinate now, don't put it off.”
- Ellen Degeneres
Why put off this decision? (Click the sections below to open more information)
Sometimes my mind just gets going on something and won’t stop. That’s a good thing when I’m trying to solve a problem, or work on a project. It’s not such a good thing when I’m feeling suicidal. Putting on my favorite headphones to listen to a calming playlist, or treating myself to a brownie can break the cycle in my head. Sometimes it’s just easier to meditate or call my therapist after taking a break.
The online course developed by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (CALM) provides this rationale for paying attention to lethal means, which also supports the Academy use of "pause" for Lesson 1 followed by "procrastinate" for Lesson 2:
"The period during which a person is actually ready to take their life is usually brief... Suicidal crises are difficult to predict, can escalate rapidly, and are often brief. Putting time and distance between people at risk and lethal methods can save lives... The greater the delay, the greater the chance the suicidal crisis will pass." [emphasis added]
The specific ideas suggested in this lesson can be used with distress tolerance skills taught in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), a therapy approach that has been very successful at decreasing suicidal risk. The worksheet helps identify ways to focus your attention on the physical senses, much like the methods for "self-soothing" taught in DBT. The resources included above were suggested because of the likelihood that at least one of them could help shift your mind away from negative thoughts and emotions, additional principles taught in DBT for getting through periods with intense emotions.