You are not alone. When you are hurting and feeling as though it is difficult to keep going, reminding yourself of your value to the world and those closest to you can help you overcome dangerous urges. Fear and shame are two key emotions behind impulses to use alcohol and/or other substances or engage in other harmful behaviors.
Origins of Fear and Shame
One major contributing factor to fear and shame is stigma. You may even be used to stigmatizing yourself, even when surrounded by people who are not judging you. There may have been instances in your life where you have felt judged and were deemed less-than, but those situations should not dictate how you think about yourself. Do not be afraid or ashamed of your experiences.
Stigma is often a result of trauma and mental health diagnoses, leading to a fear of seeking help for your most basic needs for compassion. You must try to be compassionate toward yourself as you battle emotional pulls to self-destructive behaviors. Your life can be more than a back-and-forth of health and harm.
Mental health diagnoses often lead to urges to self-harm and use alcohol or other substances as a means of coping. The problem with any self-destructive impulse is the urge’s tendency to make you feel worse. Your emotions may become even harder to control, and returning to harmful behaviors persists. The recurrence of these behaviors induces more feelings of fear and shame, leading to thoughts of suicide. (If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, reach out to a helpline or call 9-1-1. You do not have to continue to suffer alone. Ask for help now.)
Suicidal thoughts can occur when struggling with addictive behaviors. Overcoming your fears and shame about your behaviors and life history can make you feel hopeless. There is hope, and there is a brighter future. Fear and shame do not have to control your life.
Risk Factors for Engaging in Harmful Behaviors
There are multiple risk factors for engaging in suicidal thinking. Many of these risk factors have an underlying element of fear and shame. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) outlines some of the risk factors in their article on suicide prevention.
The article explains that in 2019, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. Some risk factors relative to suicidality include, but are not limited to:
- Depression and/or other mental health disorders: Having a mental health condition can often be a source of shame. You may believe you should be able to prevent your suffering or overcome it by sheer force of will. Asking for help is complicated and involves facing the fear and shame surrounding your mental health conditions as a means of overcoming your struggles.
- Exposure to trauma: Trauma can include physical, verbal, emotional, and/or sexual violence that severely impacts your coping ability. You can overcome trauma with time and help from a professional. At Renaissance Ranch, we understand trauma plays a significant role in the development of shame and anger, which can lead to substance use disorder. For this reason, we offer a wide variety of services and therapy options.
- Chronic pain: Physical pain is difficult to overcome without resources. The development of many substance use disorders is linked to improper pain management, both physical and emotional. The toll of physical pain can be overwhelming and lead to dangerous impulses.
This list is not all-inclusive of risks for suicidality or other dangerous impulses. You must recognize that your feelings are not facts and do not always provide all the information.
While there are multiple risk factors for suicidality and addictive behaviors, there are also multiple protective factors, as outlined in an article by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Protective factors can include the following:
- Coping and problem-solving skills: Having skills to cope with dangerous impulses is vital. Development of these skills can happen with professional help.
- A supportive relationship with a professional provider of mental health: Having a solid relationship with a mental health provider can help you identify warning signs of distress and develop skills to help you avoid dangerous impulses.
- Family, friends, and community support: Often, when you are in crisis, it is difficult to think of the people who love you. You may think of yourself as a burden; this is a lie from your feelings. Your families and friends love you and want you to have a better life – one without suffering.
The key element to coping with suicidality and impulses to use alcohol and/or other substances, as you can see, is support and coping skills. Another element to help you cope is realizing you are not alone in your suffering and all you need to do is ask for help.
Dealing with fear and shame on your own can lead to suicidality and other dangerous impulses. Overcoming feelings is a tricky part of recovery, and recognizing your feelings are not facts can lead you into true healing. At Renaissance Ranch, we recognize the dangers of allowing fear and shame to rule your life. You do not have to live in the shadows. Come into the light and learn how to find your purpose. You deserve to live. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction to alcohol and/or other substances, struggling to make it through each day, you do not have to suffer any longer. Help is available. At Renaissance Ranch, we offer clinically driven and gospel-centered treatment to help you find hope for your future. Learn how to start dealing with emotions that lead you to dangerous behaviors. Contact us at Renaissance Ranch by calling (801) 308-8898 and learn how to build your brighter future.