7 Stumbling Blocks to Recovery After a Suicide Attempt

By Steve Austin | Best of Messy Grace

Jan 04

Since the story of my suicide attempt is becoming more public, people are asking about my recovery. The basic thing everyone wants to know is what the magic trick is to getting themselves or their loved one back to “normal”.

Hint: there is no magic pill.

The most recent question I received is, “What is the one thing that made you want to start living again.” Since I am not a professional and everyone has a different recovery story, here are seven things that did not make me want to start living again.

Stopping medications.

What a dumb idea. If I had cancer, you can bet I would take chemo. I might also listen to the naturopaths who say to drink carrot juice and cut out high sugars from my diet, but I would definitely take chemo.

Mental illness is a real thing. A disease. Maybe you can’t see it, but it is as real as the nose on your face. So when the doctor says things in your brain aren’t firing right and a certain medication will help level you out, you listen to the doctor.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Want to recover after a suicide attempt? Listen to the doctor! #recovery #suicideprevention #graceismessy” quote=”Want to recover after a suicide attempt? Listen to the doctor!” theme=”style3″]

Stopping counseling.

You must be a special kind of stupid if you think you can figure out the winding, ruthless road of mental illness all on your own. And if you aren’t going just because you’re too prideful to talk to a professional, your pride will kill you.


When my son was a toddler, he went through a very difficult time with his stomach. Frequently, he would vomit and make major messes. Each time, he would cry and beg for forgiveness. “Dada,” he would say, “I’m sorry I frowed up.” It would always break my heart and make me smile a little at his innocence.

My son couldn’t control having a stomach virus any more than I can control a panic attack in the middle of the work day. Both are inconvenient, but I wouldn’t choose anxiety or depression any more than someone would willingly choose to vomit.

[clickToTweet tweet=”I don’t owe anyone an apology because of my mental illness. #recovery #graceismessy” quote=”I don’t owe anyone an apology because of my mental illness.” theme=”style3″]

Pushing away those who care about me.

There are those who care. And there are those who only care to know what’s going on. It’s important to know the difference. But when you figure that out, surround yourself with those who care to walk with you through the hard times.

Not sleeping.

Insomnia is a hell of a thing, but when you are able to sleep, choosing not to sleep is true craziness. Staying up all-hours of the night to binge-watch Netflix, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Our bodies require good amounts of sleep and as someone with a mental illness, it seems even more vital.

Not eating well or on a regular schedule.

I’m a busy guy. And I’ve never been a big breakfast eater. See how I just made two excuses? No more excuses. Low blood sugar can make a person feel extremely out of it.

As a person with mental illness, I don’t need any other triggers to make me feel out of it. Not when I can control it. I can control my diet. I can control my eating schedule. What I cannot control is a panic attack that shows up out of the blue.

I’m not saying you have to join a gym, slap some patch on you, or post before and after pictures of some magical wrap. I’m just saying to eat as healthy as you can and as regularly as you can. Skipping meals isn’t the wisest move.

Caring more about the stigma than recovery.

The stigma of mental illness sucks. The stigma of being a Christian with mental illness sucks even more. You know what sucks worse? Not getting better.

Looking for more? Check out “7 Surprising Gifts of My Mental Illness” on Good Men Project.

Liked it? Take a second to support Steve Austin on Patreon!

About the Author

Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.

  • I don’t think you were following my blog back when I first posted about this, but this past May a beloved family friend of mine from my hometown (who was a dedicated believer and church member) committed suicide. It shook his church family and his rural community to the core – precisely because of some of what you have pointed to in your discussions about the struggle with mental illness: the stigma about it, the belief that it’ll “go away,” that it’s some sort of a mood or feeling as opposed to an actual medical issue involving the brain.
    I think of him often and do what I can to be an advocate for those with mental illness in my own community; I appreciate that you make this struggle (and believers who struggle with mental illness) visible and show it for what it really is. So many believers need to hear this – either so that they can understand it, or to know they’re not alone.

    God bless!

    • Steve Austin says:

      Gosh, I am so sorry for another one lost. It’s so tough, but I am determined to do what I can to help myself, not hurt myself. Denying it is the biggest enemy, in my honest opinion.
      I am grateful to be at a place where I can share and bring awareness. But for the grace of God…

  • Amazing post. As someone who’s struggled with suicidal thoughts and depression for years I’ve only just started to learn the above lessons but it’s made the world of difference.I think this is even better than some posts I usually read because it doesn’t focus on what you should do because we all need different things at different levels in order to recover and we have a tendency to get too focused on what others then say we should be doing. It’s a simple outline but it’s filled with small enough ideas that it’s achievable.

  • […] To read Steve’s “7 Stumbling Blocks to Recovery After a Suicide Attempt”, click here.  […]

  • LISA says:

    Thank-you for sharing your story on Beth Green’s radio show. I was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder last year at age 52 and have numerous health challenges at least partly due to engaging in self destructive behavior for many years, eating junk food, smoking cigarettes, etc. In case it can help you or anyone you know, after stopping junk food and eating what is considered a “healthy diet” for years, Julie Matthews with Nourishing Hope helped me understand my sensitivity to “healthy” foods that contain salicylate, oxalate, glutamine, sulfur, etc. I bought a 23andme and Genetic Genie test a few years ago and re-read this blog post to help me understand and adapt http://larrynewman-kirkman.blogspot.com/2011/01/how-to-support-biochemical-pathways-in.html.

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