It’s All So Toxic

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.

Why I Took Part in the AFSP Virtual Overnight Event
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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)

The Importance of Just Listening
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The Importance of Just Listening

The people who helped me, and continue to help me, are the ones who will ask me questions and then just listen. They want to hear my story, even though they can’t fix it. They know that they can help by just giving me a space to tell my story, without worrying about the need to fight off their attempts at fixing something that may or may not be relevant at all to my situation. (i.e. I’m glad your cousin felt better after a walk in the forest, but that’s not what is happening here!) 

So please, just listen. Make the space around you, even if it’s virtual, a safe space for your friends and loved ones to tell their stories. Find small ways to help, if you can, but also know that by just listening, just sitting with our stories, you are already helping so much.

Dak Prescott, Skip Bayless and Blaming the Victim

Dak Prescott, Skip Bayless and Blaming the Victim

If you aren’t a big sports fan, please indulge me for a minute, because this story, while it takes place in the football world, isn’t really about football. It’s about stigma, and also blaming the victim. In a nutshell, Dak Prescott, the Quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, gave an interview in which he talked about…

More on Athletes and Mental Health
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More on Athletes and Mental Health

When I wrote about watching Athlete A last week, I mentioned the fact that the win-at-all-costs mentality of USA gymnastics blinded the organization to the fact that girls were being abused right under their noses, and played a role in their lack of response to allegations. They had one guiding quest, winning gold medals, and…

Quick Thought #15 – Stigma Around Mental Health Issues May be Lessening During COVID-19, but Will it Stay That Way?

Quick Thought #15 – Stigma Around Mental Health Issues May be Lessening During COVID-19, but Will it Stay That Way?

You may have seen someone talking about this on social media, or in an article online, or somewhere else. I’ve seen it in numerous places. The idea is that, right now, with a pandemic, racial justice issues, and everything else that we are dealing with, suddenly talking about anxiety and depression, or being lonely and…