When you don’t want to be here but you’re too scared to die
I don’t want to be here anymore, but I’m too scared to die.
I typed this into Google a year ago, my hands shaking as I questioned what it meant. I no longer wanted to be alive or exist. But at the same time, he didn’t really want to die.
I felt selfish as I wrote it, thinking of all the people who had been suicidal, worried that I was disrespecting those who had actually lost their lives in such a way. I also wondered if he was just being dramatic.
But I hit enter anyway, desperate to find an answer to what I was feeling. To my surprise, I came across search after search for the exact same question.
“I don’t want to die, I just don’t want to exist,” said one.
“I’m suicidal but I don’t want to die,” said another.
And then it hit me: I’m not being silly. I’m not being stupid or melodramatic or seeking attention. There were so many other people feeling exactly the same way. And for the first time, I didn’t feel so alone.
But he still felt what he felt. I felt distant from the world and from myself; my life almost felt like it was on autopilot.
I was aware of my existence, but I didn’t really experience it. It felt as if I had separated from myself, as if a part of me was watching my body go through the motions. Daily routines like getting up, making the bed, and working all day felt almost mechanical. I was in a toxic relationship and very depressed.
My life had become repetitive and, in many ways, unbearable.
I began to imagine what people’s lives would be like without me. I wondered what would happen after my death. I was bombarded with intrusive thoughts, suicidal feelings, urges to hurt myself, and feelings of despair.
But there was one thing that contradicted him: he was afraid of dying.
So many questions went through my head when I thought about ending my life.
What if I try to kill myself and it goes wrong? What if it went well, but in the last moments of my life I realized that I had made a mistake and regretted it? What exactly happens after he dies? What happens to the people around me? Could you do that to my family? Would people miss me?
And these questions would eventually lead me to the question, do I really want to die?
The answer, basically, was no. And so I clung to that to keep going, that little glimmer of uncertainty every time I thought about ending my life. If that little trepidation was still there, there was a chance that he was making the wrong decision.
There was a chance that a part of me thought things could get better.
But it wasn’t going to be easy. Things had been going downhill for a long time. She had been suffering from severe anxiety caused by PTSD for several months, which had escalated into daily panic attacks. I experienced a constant feeling of dread in my stomach, tension headaches, body tremors, and nausea.
That’s when everything went numb. It was a huge turning point, going from feeling everything at once to feeling nothing at all.
And, in all honesty, I think nothing was worse. The nothingness, combined with the same daily routine and the toxic relationship, made my life feel completely useless. At the end of my rope, I turned to Google. No one really explained how to deal with suicidal ideation, particularly when Really want to die.
Scrolling through post after post, I realized that a lot of people actually understood. A lot of people knew what it was like not wanting to be here anymore but not wanting to die.
We had all written the question with one expectation: answers. And the answers meant that we wanted to know what to do with our feelings instead of ending our lives.
And maybe, I hoped, that meant that, deep down, we all wanted to hang on to see if things could get any better. And so We could.
My mind was clouded by anxiety, despair, monotony and a relationship that was slowly destroying me. And because I had felt so depressed, so numb and empty, I hadn’t really stepped aside to really and truly see this. To see how things could improve if he tried to make changes.
The reason I thought it only existed was because it really existed. I was miserable and stuck. But I hadn’t taken my life apart to figure out why.
I can’t say that everything changed in one day, because it wasn’t. But I started to make changes. I started seeing a therapist, who helped me gain some perspective. My toxic relationship ended. I was devastated by it, but things got better as quickly as I started exercising my independence.
Yes, I still got up every morning and made my bed, but the rest of the day would be in my hands, and little by little, that began to excite me. I think a big part of feeling like I was just a form of existence was because my life was so predictable. Now that it was removed, everything seemed new and exciting.
Over time, I felt that I was living again, and more importantly, that I had and have a life worth living.
But knowing that I got through this really tough time in my life gives me the motivation to get through every other bad time again. It has given me the strength and determination to carry on.
And despite how I felt at the time, I’m so glad I googled that question. I’m so glad I realized I wasn’t alone. And I’m so glad I trusted that trepidation when it came to the idea of taking my own life. Because that concern led me to live a life that I am actually happy to live.
What I want you to know, especially if, like me, you found yourself here through a Google search or a headline that caught your attention at the right time, is this: no matter how lonely or how bad you feel, know that you’re not here. only
I’m not going to tell you that it’s not a horrible and terrifying feeling. I know better than most. But I promise you things can and often do get better. You just have to hold on to that doubt, no matter how small. That doubt is there for a reason: there is an important part of you that knows that your life is not over yet.
And speaking from experience, I can assure you that that nagging little feeling is telling you the truth. There’s a future you’ll be so glad you heard.
Hattie Gladwell is a journalist, author, and mental health advocate. She writes about mental illness in hopes of lessening the stigma and encouraging others to speak up.