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- World Suicide Prevention Day 2021 - So, the thing I want us to talk about this year is not just encouragement to call a hotline or to reach out to a friend for help, or even to tell our stories and erase the stigma around mental health issues. I want us to consider doing more than that. I want us, as a society, to figure out how to provide hope. As much value as there is in all of those other things if I can't provide some hope that things will get better, that we are working and advocating for things to get better across all areas of our culture, then I can't honestly say that there is a reason for someone to hope, and at the end of the day, the thing that truly prevented me from taking my own life when I was at my worst, was the hope that life wouldn't always be that painful.
As it turned out, my life wasn't always that painful, and even in times of pain, I can look back and remember that.
How do we provide that hope for others who have been beaten down and worn out with life right now? Where does their hope come from?… Read More
- Running on Fumes - I heard someone on the radio use this phrase to describe herself as we were out grabbing a few last-minute items to assist with riding out Hurricane Ida. She was talking about evacuating her home in New Orleans at 10:30 last night, driving to Alabama to seek shelter, and then doing the show remotely from there.
Here, we aren't in as much of a need to evacuate, we are further from the coast and the storm surge, but it's still going to be a long, dangerous couple of days. So, we are spending a lot of time, and both mental and physical energy, preparing to possibly be without power, for needing to leave if the house is damaged, and so forth. It's a lot. And that is on top of all the mental energy necessary to deal with large COVID outbreaks we've had in recent weeks, all of the recent events in world news, and the various personal and professional challenges that we are also dealing with.
Running on fumes is a really good description of how I think most of the entire state feels today, and yet, there's a storm coming that we are all going to have to deal with, while everything else just continues on as well.… Read More
- It’s Hard to Have Hope Right Now - We need each other now, as always. We need our community. We need our connections. We need to know that we are not alone in this. So, let me, in the midst of my own exhaustion, do this one thing. If you're feeling hopeless, angry, anxious, depressed, etc. because of the state of the world, or the state of your job, the losses you've suffered, the issues you are fighting for, the struggle to hang on to hope, you are not alone. I am with you. I see you. I share your exhaustion, frustration, anger, and your need for rest. Whether we've talked about this personally, or if you're simply holding this all in and trying to keep it together, I see you. I'm with you. We are together in this, and we should share the little bits of hope with each other. They may be hard to see, but the more of us who are dedicated to looking for them, and sharing them, the more of it we'll draw strength from.… Read More
- It’s All So Toxic - Of course, one of the tell-tale signs of depression, and unhealthy responses to trauma, like abuse, is overly black and white thinking. Going to extremes, if you will. So, it's easy for many of us to fall into these toxic traps. It's easy to think that we should feel shame about what happened to us, or that we can somehow rid ourselves of that shame, and anger, by simply refusing to do anything but be positive. But neither one of these is real healing. Real healing, like real emotions, and real people, are messier than that.
It's still worth it though, as are a lot of those messy emotions and people too. If you let yourself get out of the black and white thinking, you just might see that too.… Read More
- Why I Took Part in the AFSP Virtual Overnight Event - It was the stories. It was all of those people doing this in memory of someone they lost. Or, like me, in memory of the fact that we are still here instead of leaving others to tell our stories. In our day to day lives, it's too easy to forget how many people are impacted by suicide each and every year across the country, and the world. The further in time I get away from that time in my own life, the easier it can be to put it behind me and forget about it. But, that is something I never want to do. As painful as it is, I want to remember what it was like to no longer want to be alive. When someone is in that place, I want to be able to say, "I've been where you are", to recall all of the details, and be able to sit and understand. Because that is how we save people. Not by talking in hushed tones about depression, or mental illness, but by sharing the stories of people who survived and healed, and of those we've lost.
Let's face it, if you spend much time considering those losses, and listening to those stories, it is impossible to walk away without realizing that we have lost a devastating number of people to this disease. Many more than some of the diseases we all gladly talk openly about every day. Yet somehow, maybe because we don't understand it, or are afraid of it, we keep silent. After all, it might make someone uncomfortable. Even I have, at times, kept the details to myself in fear of making other people uncomfortable, or risk having them worry about me. The more I read and heard these stories though, the more I realized that I needed to share my story, if only so that anyone who reads it would know, and maybe even understand a little bit, what it's like to be so far down into the darkness of depression, that you don't want to live any longer. So, with that said, let me share my experience with you, now that it's been some 25 years, and maybe now people won't worry so much about me. (Warning, this is about to get dark, and we will talk a bit about suicide, though I will keep those exact details out)… Read More
- Quick Thought #18 – Sports as an Example of The Lens We See Life Through - Just like in sports though, sometimes it's not about how the world works, or what mistakes we made, it's about the other team. In our case, it's the abuser. They did this. Healing is understanding that, and coming to grips with the fact that our lens is wrong. We're looking at someone else's actions and choices through a lens that only sees ourselves. We were abused, maybe when we told someone, we weren't believed, or maybe even as adults, when we share our experiences we make others uncomfortable. But it's not us. Other people get to make their own choices, have their own reactions, and choose who, and what, to believe.
What we need to do, is start untying other people actions and reactions, from ourselves. The abuser chose to abuse. The people who refused to help, made that choice, and the people who still don't believe us, have their own reasons for doing that. None of it has anything to do with us, those are other people making their own choices, playing their own game. We can do everything right, live our life to the best of our abilities and still "lose" in these interactions. It happens. It doesn't lessen us, it shows us who these other people are, and tells us about their agendas.
We learn from that, and move on. We do not blame ourselves for their agendas.
It does take developing a more mature lens to view life through, and that takes time, and work. Are you up for it? Or maybe the better question, are you tired of blaming yourself?… Read More
- Want to Lower LGBTQ Youth Suicide Risks? Just Accept Who They Are - Since it's Pride Month, I've seen a few references on social media to the higher rates of suicide of LGBTQ youth. I've also seen a number of explanations for it, and things that you could do to help, but I wanted to share this quote from the Inside Mental Health podcast, where the host, Gabe Howard, was interviewing Dr. Amy Green, from the Trevor Project, because it really cuts to the chase with data, and facts.
When we look at that, the data is striking. One of our data findings found LGBTQ youth who have at least one accepting adult are 40% less likely to report a suicide attempt. When I say risk factors, rejection is one of the biggest ones on the other side for protective factors, it’s acceptance, its affirmation, its support. It’s so crucial during the adolescence and young adult period.
If you go listen to the whole podcast below, you'll see that the things that increase the risks for suicide among LGBTQ youth are very much socially based. It's not that LGBTQ youth have some sort of genetic quirk that makes them more likely to deal with mental health issues, it's because they are so much more likely to be rejected, and unable to live their authentic lives. That one thing, is something that has an oversized impact on suicide rates for everyone, and happens to LGBTQ kids more often.
So, here's something you can do that will have a huge affect on the likelihood a LGBTQ kid in your life will be lost to suicide, just accept them. Just allow them to be who they are, and live their life accordingly. That's it.… Read More
- Want to Save the Children? Listen to the Experts, Who Say the Truth Matters - Somehow, I had missed the statement put out prior to the elections by almost every organization out there doing the real work of battling human trafficking. They minced no words, and I wanted to share them here, so that readers all know where I stand as well.… Read More
- Deaths by Suicide Went Down in 2020, Maybe Actually Talking and Paying Attention to Mental Health Matters? - So is it possible that simply making some sort of care easily accessible to more people, and looking out for each other, including in the workplace, helped lower the number of deaths by suicide? I'm willing to continue trying to do both of those things going forward to find out. It certainly seems like as good a place to start as any, and maybe lowering that number isn't as complicated as we thought. It just takes the willingness to get these things done.… Read More
- Why Should I “Earn” The Things That Are a Required Part of Life? - If you want to eat, eat. Your body needs food.
If you want to sleep, sleep. Your body needs sleep.
If you need to do something for your mental health? Do it, your mind needs care.
If you want to workout, workout. It's good for you.
If you want to work hard on a project, work hard. The sense of accomplishment you get from hard work is great.
Do any of these things, it's your choice. But don't let your view of the things you need be altered by things you might want to do, and don't let anyone else tell you how to earn those things. You don't have to earn food and rest, they are a required part of being a human. You're allowed to be human, no matter how hard you workout.… Read More