The importance of a “real” bucket list

As a disclaimer, I’m going to iterate: There is no one thing that will help everybody, and one individual thing won’t save your life. But this is something that has helped me, something that is vital to me, and maybe something that will help you as well.

What do you want to do before you die?

This was actually a really confusing question for me once. Precisely because of the chronic suicidality and severe depression, death is all I think about when I fall down too far. Unfortunately, in order for me to find something that resonated with me, I first had to want to live–but I think my first “mock” bucket list helped with this, in a way.

The first one started out as daydreams really. I have a vivid imagination and dreams every night. I have memories of past lives, inexplicable bonds with certain things. I mused over absconding to Europe, revitalizing the flower child counterculture, and revolutionizing the world. I dreamt of hopping freight trains and hitchhiking and doing other things which can be done but are definitely not exactly my “own.” I thought of these adventures because I had nothing else. I wasn’t really holding onto them. I definitely wasn’t making plans to do them. Truthfully, I had thought for a long time I’d never even hit 18.

But when I think back to all of the things that helped me get better, I think those things sometimes kept me alive. It’s true that I can trace my distinct and purposeful decision to live back to April ninth of this year. But it’s also true that everything that has helped me also helped me to that point. You do not live with chronic suicidality for decades and then just “set” your purpose one day. No. There’s a lot of work that goes into it all. Remember that everything you do today shapes tomorrow. And with those of you with anxiety, I know that’s a huge thing. But really–one step at a time. Breathe. Move forward.

So after April, which was my seventh, technically eighth, (I can’t even seem to count correctly anymore?), inpatient psych hospitalization, I started thinking about things that I found a real purpose in doing; things I could justify working towards; things shaped by my beliefs and personality; things that were undeniably and intrinsically “me.” And so I set them, creating a bucket list I can be proud of and can concretely work towards. This was a huge step because it reinforces my self-purpose, and it’s simple and clear-cut, essentially. My questions then to you are:

  1. Who are you?
  2. What do you need* out of this life? (even if suicidal, there is always something you need–if not, then suicide would not have so much gravity for you.)
  3. How can you sate this need without causing unnecessary harm to others and/or to yourself?

* what we must note is that our needs and our wants may not be the same. For instance, for a long time, I wanted peace (in my eyes, to die); but ultimately, I recognize I need strength, self purpose, and a strong sense of self to really do with my life what lines up with my personality, core values, etc.

I’ve come up with a more specific list–the “typical” bucket list, comprised of places I want to go, things I want to see. But a list like this isn’t doable without a real life purpose list–and I guess that’s what it is. It’s about self purpose. It’s about life. And, really, that’s what I, as someone who still struggles with suicidality, must work on and embrace.


Sending love and strength to all.





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