Push & Pull
By Celina Huynh & Anna Trimble
Discussed: suicidal ideation
This is for anyone interested in reading about the experience of having suicidal ideation, and for anyone who has experienced it, and the conflicting emotions— the shame, fear and discomfort—that accompany it.
take my life
my mom cries to me
she doesn’t want to die
she longs to live
for decades to come
because “life is beautiful”
and i find that so
because this week
all i’ve wanted to do is die.
my mom clings onto longevity
as her chest burns to the rhythm of her breath.
hungry masses gnaw at her insides
she fears dying
sooner rather than later.
she sees doctors
who drain her blood into tubes,
cut into her,
and try to keep her alive.
i see doctors
who won’t let me go
until they’re sure they’ll see me again next week
who examine my wrists for cuts,
and try to keep me alive.
yet i am still
so allured by death
like it’s the
glowing Exit sign
in an endless maze of doors
at a party i didn’t want to go to.
i crave it like a warm embrace,
it is the cure.
i can’t help but feel this way,
ever since it came to me in the fifth grade.
i know, compared to others, my circumstances aren’t as dire,
so i don’t know why i’m always consumed by this dark desire.
i want to want to live.
there are so many people
who fight for scraps of life
while i try to leave it
and if that’s the case,
i’d want them to receive it,
give my life to someone who really needs it.
By Anna Trimble
Some days I find myself teetering on the lip of the sidewalk, the cars rushing past. I think: I don’t want to die but I don’t want to be here anymore. I don’t want to kill myself but I’m afraid I might.
Other days I hear the buses full of people out my window. I put my fingers on your wrist and count my pulse in time with every pedestrian, every driver and every living thing and machine that could kill or hold me.
Through our conversations, we realized we have both had experiences with suicidal ideation. We then free-wrote, and compared our differing yet shared experiences of feeling the push and pull between life and wanting to end it. Here is how we were both individually inspired to create our respective pieces:
CH: One day, my mom, in tears, was telling me how concerned she was about her health issues and that she does not want to die. I processed her words and realized I’ve had the opposite experience: I am young and, in a way, perfectly healthy, but I find myself wanting to die. I was amazed at how different our mindsets were, and I got frustrated because I was seeing firsthand how important life is, but I just couldn’t shake my suicidal thinking. I decided to express these conflicting emotions the best way I know how: in a poem.
AT: For a time, suicidal ideation was a constant presence in my life. Sometimes it felt overwhelming and inescapable. This piece is about learning how to cope with impulses to self-harm, and to hold space for these impulses without acting upon them.
After creating these pieces, we also discussed the ways in which we’ve sought help and guidance through therapy and self-care.
For emotional crisis support, call 1-800-273-8255 or text HELLO to 741741.
Celina Huynh is a high school junior in New York City. She aspires to become a clinical psychologist in the future, and loves all forms of self-expression, especially writing.