Mental Health: Suicide Looming

TW: self harm, suicide

As I’ve said before, please know that before I get on Bummed Out Baker to write I always prioritize working with my family and psychiatrist to stabilize myself. I wouldn’t be on here if I hadn’t first confirmed my safety.


Last Wednesday I wrote an ode to a friend who recently died by suicide. While the following thoughts were further propelled by her devastating passing, I did not include these thoughts in last week’s piece because I wanted that to only be about her. She deserves that space, and so, so much more.

Something I do here on Bummed Out Baker is challenge mental health taboos. I crack open topics that are historically only talked about in hushed tones among one’s closest, if that. A lot of people don’t even like to acknowledge the same things I openly discuss, for one reason or another, but I’m trying to break a barrier to benefit us all. I want to remind readers of my purpose so my words aren’t confused with sensationalism or seeking attention.


I’m petrified suicide is going to sneak up on me and take me by surprise.

As I wrote about in Mourning the Living, in July I had the strongest ideation I’ve experienced since 2008. It led to paranoia-fueled psychosis and an emergency trip back home to New York. In August, my cousins’ cousin, who I knew in passing, died very young and unexpectedly. It completely wrecked my cousins, aunt, and uncle. The whole family was gutted. Then, in September I got news of my high school friend, K, a death by suicide.

I feel like, since this summer, suicide has been circling me, like something stalking its prey. First it was manufactured in my head. Then, death happened a few degrees away. Then, suicide happened closer to me. It’s coming closer and closer. Is a best friend next? Is a family member next? Am I next?


“I’m scared of suicide. I’m trying to understand the mentality of people who’ve passed, what exactly they were thinking that led them to their ultimate decisions. I want to know, because I want to be on guard for it,” I mused to my psychiatrist. My eyes darted across his book shelves while I tried to piece together my thoughts. “Because the only people who could identify that mentality would be, well, people who were successful in their attempt. Death is so final, you know?”

He nodded.

My psychiatrist’s brother died by suicide, the same way my friend K did. I’m empathic to a crippling degree, and was wary of triggering my own psychiatrist by working through my thoughts. He assured me that while of course sometimes it hurts, he actually thinks it helps him to muse on the subject, for us to spit out what feels like nonsensical feelings and then rearrange them into shapes of understanding.

I continued. “It’s not like we can ask the people who are gone. How do I know if I’m getting close to the edge? It’s not like there are built in alarm bells. I just can’t fathom a feeling worse than how I’ve felt, but apparently it exists. I just can’t fathom the mentality…”

“Imagine having your worst day, every day, for five years straight,” he offered.

I imagined living July 18, 2019 day after day for five years, and in that moment the great opacity of suicide began to quiver and dilute. In that moment, mercy and sadness bloomed bigger inside of me for those lost to suicide. The pain remains challenging to fathom, but the reasoning began to take shape.

I try to remain on high alert for myself and for my family, but, if we’re being honest here, sometimes that’s not enough.

In college I had an English professor who likened those who thought suicide was selfish to people who wanted someone else to walk miles every day in shoes that were tearing up their feet into a bloody, blistered mess, in order to make them feel better. The person labeling suicide as selfish is actually, perhaps, the selfish person. If someone you love is in pain that immense…

This is not provocation, but food for thought as we collectively work to understand something so horrific.

My thoughts have been fed, shuffled, and remolded as I continue to contemplate what taking your own life means. Trying to gird myself against self harm feels like choosing a random place to reinforce a protective fence when, actually, the threat is infiltrating from another area. The efforts can feel like a shot in the dark, and a feeling of hopelessness can manifest.

It’s shrouded in mystery, the whole thing.

I feel like most everyone has lost a loved one to suicide and, while this is a topic unfortunately many may relate to, it’s not one I can tie up in a bow on some idle internet post.


One of my favorite Bright Eyes songs is No Lies, Just Love, which recaps the beautiful arc of one person’s ideation, presumably that of Bright Eyes’ singer, Conor Oberst. If you prefer to listen, see video below. If you prefer to read the lyrics, which read like a prose poem, I’ve posted them below the video. If you prefer to do neither, that makes me laugh and I admire your candor. Just keep scrolling.

No Lies, Just Love

It was in the march of the winter I turned seventeen
That I bought those pills
I thought I would need
And I wrote a letter to my family
Said it’s not your fault
And you’ve been good to me
Just lately I’ve been feeling
Like I don’t belong
Like the ground’s not mine to walk upon
And I’ve heard that music

Echo through the house
Where my grandmother drank
By herself
And I sat watching a flower
As it was withering
I was embarrassed by its honesty
So I’d prefer to be remembered as a smiling face
Not this fucking wreck
That’s taken its place

So please forgive what I have done
No you can’t stay mad at the setting sun
‘Cause we all get tired, I mean eventually
There is nothing left to do but sleep

But spring came bearing sunlight
Those persuasive rays
So I gave myself a few more days
My salvation it came, quite suddenly
When Justin spoke very plainly
He said “Of course it’s your decision,

But just so you know,
If you decide to leave,
Soon I will follow
.”

I wrote this for a baby
Who has yet to be born
My brother’s first child
I hope that womb’s not too warm
‘Cause it’s cold out here
And it’ll be quite a shock
To breathe this air
To discover loss
So I’d like to make some changes
Before you arrive
So when your new eyes meet mine
They won’t see no lies
Just love.
Just love.

I will be pure
No, no, I know I will be pure
Like snow, like gold
Like snow, like gold
Like snow, like snow
Like gold, like gold, like gold

I listened to this song over and over in 2008, indeed before my brother’s first child was born, to comfort myself during one of my darkest times. Maybe it’ll bring comfort to someone else now.


I wish I had more helpful words to offer, a step-by-step way to find peace with the irreconcilable. If you share my headspace or love someone who does, rest in the knowledge that you’re / they’re not alone.

Big, giant, internet bear hugs to anyone needing one today. Hugs are always on offer in person, too.

Thanks for being there for me. I’m here for you, too.

Related on Bummed Out Baker:
Mental Health: Dealing with Suicide
Living in Lyrics
Mental Health: Mourning the Living


Writing through PTSD helps me name my feelings and heal, and I encourage you to share Bummed Out Baker with anyone you think may find it helpful or relatable. I work hard to create community and conversation around what are often painful topics.

Subscribe at the bottom of Bummed Out Baker to get my mental health musings and recipes emailed to you directly – Follow on Facebook for mental health articles and discussion – Follow on Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild.

If you or someone you know needs help right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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Recipe: Chocolate-Filled Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies (Vegetarian)

I was trying to recreate these Trader Joe’s shortbread cookies I love to house. It didn’t go well. :(

Ingredients

2 c flour
1/2 t sea salt
1/2 c cane sugar
3/4 c + 1 T butter, slightly softened
2 T coconut milk
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 t almond extract
1 c chocolate chips
2 T heavy whipping cream
1 T corn syrup
Optional: Sprinkles

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Whisk flour and salt together in a medium bowl.
  3. In a stand mixer, add 3/4 c butter and beat on medium until creamy.
  4. Add sugar and mix on medium until incorporated, scraping down sides as needed.
  5. Add vanilla and almond extracts and mix until combined.
  6. On the stand mixer, switch beater attachment to dough paddle. In 2-3 increments, add flour and mix until just combined and dough begins to form. Do not over mix!
  7. Continuing to scrape down sides as needed, add coconut milk and stir on low to combine.
  8. Using a cookie dough scoop, place balls of dough on baking sheet about an inch apart. Make indentations by using the back of a 1/4 t. Press the middle of the ball about halfway down.
  9. Bake for about 12 minutes, taking care not to over-bake. Remove from oven and cool.
  10. While the cookies cool, combine heavy whipping cream, corn syrup, and butter in a saucepan. Heat and stir over medium until steaming. Remove from heat and pour in chocolate chips. Let mixture sit for five minutes without stirring.
  11. Stir chocolate mixture until smooth. If there are still chunks of chocolate, return saucepan to low heat and stir until smooth.
  12. Using a teaspoon, spoon chocolate into each indentation and immediately top with sprinkles. Allow the chocolate to sit until firm.

Will keep 3-5 days in an airtight tupperware. I recommend mailing them to someone you don’t like that much.

Serves 4-6.

Bummed Out Bailey Rating: 2/10

“They were bad”

me

Rick-the-Meat-Eater Rating: 7/10

Adapted from Vegan Thumbprint Cookies with Strawberry Jam and Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies.

Related on Bummed Out Baker:
Sugar Cookies
Super-Easy Snickdoodles
Velvet Crinkle Cookies


Subscribe at the bottom of Bummed Out Baker to get my mental health musings and recipes emailed to you directly – Follow on Facebook for mental health articles and discussion – Follow on Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild.

If you or someone you know needs help right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Recipe: Lemonade (Gluten-Free + Vegan)

If you’re bummed out about your long weekend being over, make this lemonade esta noche to cheer yourself up. If you’re catatonically bummed out, add liquor and then look for a new job.

Ingredients

1/2 c lemon juice (~4 large lemons)
1/3 c cane sugar
4 c water
Optional: raspberries or other fruit to garnish, vodka

Instructions

  1. Stir or shake ingredients until well combined.
  2. Pour lemonade over ice and garnish / spike at will.

Keeps for about a week in the fridge and, if you use them, will become more and more pink due to the raspberries.

Serves four.

Bummed Out Bailey Rating: 8/10
Rick-the-Meat-Eater Rating: 7.5/10

Adapted from Perfect Summertime Lemonade.

Related on Bummed Out Baker:
Pumpkin Spice Creamer
Avocado Strawberry Caprese Salad
Roasted Garlic Lemon Broccoli


Subscribe at the bottom of Bummed Out Baker to get my mental health musings and recipes emailed to you directly – Follow on Facebook for mental health articles and discussion – Follow on Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild.

If you or someone you know needs help right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Recipe: Ugly Dip (Gluten-Free + Vegetarian)

My cheerleading squad was super into ugly dip in elementary school. Then, I stopped cheering because turns out I’m 5’9″ and don’t tumble well. It took me like, three years to do a back handspring, so I took my talents to South Beach the court.

scuse me scuse me scuse me

Volleyball. It was actually the volleyball court. And I rode the pine there, too :( I passed notes to my coach down the bench that read “please put me in” and she’d look down at me and laugh and not put me in. And ugly dip was also forgotten!!!

Welp, now that I got that out of my system, onto the recipe! Ain’t nobody got time for a complicated recipe in July in the northern hemisphere, but don’t zone out like I did and put twice as much vinegar, oil, and sugar then the recipe calls for. You’ll still eat it all, but you’ll have to do some dip draining first.

Put together this easy recipe for the 4th of July:

See? Too much liquid. Still outta this world, though

Ingredients

1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1/4 c white sugar
1/4 c olive oil
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
10 oz Mexican-style corn
4 oz feta cheese, diced
5 green onions, chopped

Instructions

  1. Whisk vinegar, sugar, and olive oil together in a bowl.
  2. Toss black beans, corn, feta cheese, and green onions together in a separate bowl.
  3. Pour dressing over bean mixture and toss until evenly coated.
  4. Cover and refrigerate dip for one hour before serving.
  5. If you blew it on the measurements, drain the dip and then serve.

Keeps for three days in the refrigerator, aging like a fiiiine wine.

Serves 6-8 as an appetizer.

Bummed Out Bailey Rating: 8/10
Rick-the-Meat-Eater Rating: 9.5/10

Adapted from Black Bean and Feta Cheese Ugly Dip.

Related on Bummed Out Baker:
Black Bean and Potato Enchiladas
Cauliflower Queso
Enchilada Soup


Subscribe at the bottom of Bummed Out Baker to get my mental health musings and recipes emailed to you directly – Follow on Facebook for mental health articles and discussion – Follow on Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild.

If you or someone you know needs help right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Recipe: Beet Tartare and Cashew Cheese Dip (Gluten-Free + Vegan)

This recipe takes forever to make, but it’s pretty dang good. If you’ve got some sort of sophisticated home event you need to bring a dish to, consider this.

Ingredients

1 c raw cashews, soaked four hours
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 T coconut oil
1 T miso
2 t nutritional yeast
1 t apple cider vinegar
sea salt, to taste
2-3 tablespoons water, as needed
5 small, prepackaged beets*
1 T balsamic vinegar

*You can buy fresh beets and cook them from scratch, but I found the prepackaged, cooked organic beets to be much easier.

Instructions

  1. After soaking for four hours, drain and rinse cashews.
  2. Place cashews, lemon juice, coconut oil, miso, nutritional yeast, apple cider vinegar, and a pinch of sea salt in a blender. Blend until completely smooth, adding water if necessary.
  3. Transfer cheese to an airtight jar, wrap jar in tea kitchen towel, and let sit overnight.
  4. The next day, preheat oven to 400°F.
  5. Place beets, balsamic vinegar, and another pinch of salt into a food processor. Blend until beets are diced or nearly shredded, not liquified.
  6. Pack cheese into a well-oiled 4″ dish (I used the bottom half of a round glass Tupperware). Do your best to eliminate any air pockets and bake for ten minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and flip onto a plate. The cheese should slide out.
  8. Top with beet tartare and return to the oven for another ten minutes.
  9. Serve warm with your choice of crackers. I chose one of my favorites, Nut Thins.

Serves 8-10 as an appetizer.

Bummed Out Baker Honest Rating: 6/10
Rick-the-Meat-Eater Honest Rating: 0/10

I took points off due to the recipes high maintenance time, and Rick hates beets, so.

Adapted from Beet Tartare with Cashew Cheese.

Related on Bummed Out Baker:
Roasted Beets and Sweets
Borscht Topped with Sour Cream


Subscribe at the bottom of Bummed Out Baker to get my mental health musings and recipes emailed to you directly – Follow on Facebook for mental health articles and discussion – Follow on Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild.

If you or someone you know needs help right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.