Where Does Your Mind Wander?: A conversation about death and dying

Trigger Warning: Please note that this blog post discusses death, suicidality (ideation, contemplation, methods), and imposter syndrome. It also mentions self-harm, depression and mental illness.

Do you ever wonder how your life will end? I wonder if I think about this too much, I wonder if my cognitions are pathological, or if they fit with the 97% bulk of the bell curve; the “norm”. If this is the case and my thoughts are in fact normal and frequent, then why don’t I hear people talk about dying to the extent their minds cross it? Well the obvious answer lies in our favourite buzzword: stigma. And while I can’t help but roll my eyes when I hear that word, it does play a significant role in silencing our conversations around mental illness and suicide. But if we got rid of the “stigma” surrounding these issues would we really be more open to talking about death? Our inevitable mortality almost feels like a category on it’s own, people tell me that it’s pointless talking about death because we can’t stop it from happening and this scares them. Heath care professionals echo words of panic and “immediate intervention” when the topic is approached.

But what if I want to talk about death? What if I want to talk about my own mortality? When I was 15 years old I began thinking a lot about dying, and 6 years later this has not changed. I don’t know how much depression skews my cognitions on the matter, but I am convinced that I will one day take my own life. Being in a constant state of suicidality is comforting but also terrifying. Everything becomes about death: crossing the street and wondering what it would be like to get hit, belts and cords becoming nooses, full pill bottles an opportunity, and sharp objects…well I won’t even get into that. It is hard mostly because these thoughts cross my mind and fill my thoughts and I feel like I cannot express them the extent that I want to.

I believe this contributes to my sense of alienation in the world. My life feels like a parallel of imposter syndrome, only it is relative to every waking moment. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, imposter syndrome is characterized by an inability to internalize success, feeling inferior, and like a fraud mainly within the scope of academics. I feel inferior and incompetent in my life, I feel like everyone else is equipped to live, except me. I feel like I don’t belong here, or anywhere in this world for that matter. Don’t get me wrong, I do have friends, family, and consider myself to be quite sociable, however this feeling goes much deeper than that.

If you can relate to any of this, I wish I could make you feel less alone… And I hope that you feel more comfort than fear in your own thoughts whatever they may be. And if you cannot relate to this, then I hope you can open your mind to conversations that lie outside of your comfort zone.

If you feel triggered by any of the content in this blog, we encourage you to reach out to family, friends, health care providers, or anyone you trust to support you. In addition, here are some mental health resources you may wish to access:

CU Health and Counselling Services

Distress Centre Ottawa