A Look Into A Depressed Mind: Suicide Prevention Week

I suffer from mental illness.

What do you think when you see/hear those words?

When I say them, I instantly feel ashamed.  I feel judged and criticized even when nothing of the sort if coming my way.  Why is that?

Because of the stigma surrounding the term.  Mental illness stirs up feeling and thoughts of patients locked away in a psych ward, or bad guys shooting up schools.  I am not those people.  I am a good person.  I am a mother, wife and empathetic/compassionate human being.

AND I suffer from depression and anxiety.  I have written about my experiences with postpartum depression in the past (You can find the link on my About page).  It’s incredibly hard to deal with on the days where it shows itself.  I have good days and bad, and I long for the good days to last.  I cry.  I rage.  I cry some more.  Then I smile.  It’s a never-ending cycle.

I also think about suicide.  It’s just a thought, though, I know this for a fact.  I think about the different ways I could kill myself, and just end the madness.  I think about where and when the best opportunity would be.  I think about how I would do it, whether to slit my wrists or take a bunch of pills (just some of the ideas).

Then I think about my girls and my husband, and then I cry.  Not hard tears, or a break down of sorts, but a cry to release the pain.  Then I smile, and instantly feel better.

I wonder what it would be like to run away, disappear off the face of the world, never to be heard from again.  I could escape in the middle of the night, and not deal with this pain I cause others with my problems.  My girls wouldn’t have to suffer anymore, and wonder why mommy is happy and then so angry.  Mommy wonders too.

I’m still on Prozac, 30mg.  I am talking to my doctor about a referral next week to a therapist of some kind.  I need help.  Not from myself.  I would never harm myself, or leave my family.  They are just thoughts.  I need help from my mind.  My mind is the screwed up one.  Not me.

Dealing with this nightmare for the last 6 years has made me incredibly aware.  Aware of my thoughts and emotions, way more than I was after Samantha was born.  I’m not sure which is scarier, not knowing why I am crying, or knowing it’s because my brain is broken.

Why am I writing about this again?  I need to share my story again.  I have been trying to hide it, and wish it away, but it’s real.  It’s part of me.

I read this morning that it is Suicide Prevention Week.  I was very close to killing myself once a few years ago.  I know what that feeling is like.  I know what it feels like to feel alone, and in pain.  I know those thoughts, and how them seem so real.

THEY ARE NOT REAL.

They are not you.  Those thoughts are from a broken mind, and it’s not your fault.  Don’t ignore them, but don’t act on them either.  Seek help.

Suicide is not the answer, though so many have thought it was.  Too many people die from suicide, which is completely preventable.  You just have to reach out.  There will always be someone there, even if it’s through the phone or social media.

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386.suicide-prevention-graphic

You are loved, and you are more than your mind let’s you believe.  Stay with us, please.

Below is a list of warning signs from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

The following signs may mean someone is at risk for suicide. The risk of suicide is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. If you or someone you know exhibits any of these signs, seek help as soon as possible by calling the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves.
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.
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Hey America: An Open Letter To The General Public

Hey America,

Land of the free.  What does that mean to you?  Ponder that for a moment while I explain to you what I think.

Freedom: the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants (Oxford Dictionary Online).

Being free means having the right and freedom to think and believe the things you do, and live the life you choose.

That means freedom of religion.  In theory, you can believe and practice any religion of your choosing.  Whether you’re Christian, Muslim, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Sikhs, or anything, you can practice you beliefs without consequence, so long as you aren’t harming another individual.

With that kind of freedom comes respect and acceptance.  This is not a Christian nation.  Nor is it Muslim, Jewish, or any one religion.  The term melting pot used to be thrown around a lot for a reason.  BECAUSE IT’S TRUE.

We are a nation of multiple faiths, colors, genders, and cultures.  To run a country based on one religion, or one race, or one gender, or one culture is wrong, and it will never work.  When you choose to base laws off one religious belief, or exclude members of society based on any of those things, that is discriminatory.

Keep your religion out of our public schools.  There are multiple faiths represented in classrooms across the country, and they do not all believe in the same thing.  Faith is not science.  It is faith: complete trust or confidence in someone or something; strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof (Oxford Dictionary Online).

Teach your children about your god, and how the world was created according to your religious doctrines at home, in church, or any other religious place of worship you so choose.  You have that right!  However, it is disrespectful to push it upon other people who do not share your faith, and make it the way of the land.  That’s not going to fly.

While we’re at it, this is also not a male nation.  Nor is it a white nation.  Women make up 50.8% of this country.  Blacks make up 13.1%, Hispanics are 16.9%, and Asians are 5.1% (USA Quickfacts, US Census).  While whites may be a majority, that does not mean they can disregard the lives and freedoms of others.  Women are the majority (barely), but we are still being governed over our bodies, and still earning less than our male coworkers.

When you rule based on one race, gender or culture, dissension occurs.  That is not freedom.  That is an exclusionary culture that has no place in a modern, civilized society.

Wake up, America.  If one of us is not free, none of us are.

Love,

A Tired Citizen Worthy Of True Freedom

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50 Years Later: A Dream Not Yet Fully Realized

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Fifty years ago today, Dr Martin Luther King Jr stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and shared with us his dream for our great country.  It was a fairly simple dream in that all he wanted was equality for all.  He wanted love to rule over hate, and for his own children to live in peace with white families.  So simplistic and beautiful, but has his dream been fulfilled?

In part, yes.  Under the law, everyone of every race is viewed as equal.  My daughter plays mostly with the neighbor kids who are black, and has no concept any difference other than their skin is different colors.  There are laws in place designed to give protections to Blacks in order for them to receive equal opportunities.

Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

But racism is not dead.  It’s far from it.  Hate crimes happen every day against all groups within our society.  It’s not just a crime against skin color anymore.  And even with the nations first Black President in office, racism is still flourishing in all corners.  Progress has been made, as is evident with President Barack Obama, but we still has so far to go.

Fifty years later, Blacks, Hispanics and American Indians have the highest rates of poverty with unequal access to the very things that improve and better an individuals place in society, like education and pay.  Inner cities, where minorities are the majority, have the lowest performing and underfunded school systems.  This is also where poverty flourishes.  Women are still fighting for equal pay to that of their male counterparts, as well as the right to govern over their own bodies.  Homosexuals are still fighting for marriage equality, and the same benefits for their families that heterosexual couples receive.  Muslims, and people who are mistaken for Muslims, are hated and discriminated against because of the actions of a few.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

There is no finger-pointing here.  There is plenty of blame to go around.  We all have a share in the progression of equality.  A truly free society, in my opinion, is one in which equality is second nature.  Everybody has the same access to the important things, such as healthcare and education.  Instead of a dark cloud of hatred, a beautiful light of love shines down on everyone.

That may be only a dream, but it’s a dream worth making a reality.  Let’s reflect on the last fifty years.  All the progress, the steps backward, and the path that lie ahead of us in order to reach that dream.  Dr. King’s dream should not go unfulfilled.  His words and actions should be remembered for generations to come, and not taken for granted until his dream has been realized.

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

If you wish to read Dr. King’s speech, and I think everyone should today, you can find it HERE at the National Archives.  You can also listen to him give his historical speech here in this video:

Societal Disconnect: Misplaced Attention and Priorities

Over the weekend, news of Syria using chemical weapons on its own people broke.  It wasn’t the first time this type of story came out of that country, but there are pictures and video of it now.  Dead women clutching their dead children with no apparent shrapnel or gunshot wounds on any of them.  There were no destroyed buildings, or signs of an explosion.  The evidence seems to point to Assad using chemical weapons on his own citizens.  On children.  Innocent children who never stood a chance against such atrocities, who should never have to fear or face them in the first place.SYRIA-CHEMICAL_2650175b

Syria wasn’t the biggest news on mainstream media or social networks though.  Also over the weekend, MTV hosted the Video Music Awards, and unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Miley Cyrus’ performance was…interesting.  It has been the topic of debate and conversation for two days now, with much of it surrounding the questionable behavior during the performance.  Weird tongue action, foam fingers touching places it shouldn’t, and the twerking happening every so often.  Her performance has been deemed inappropriate, disgusting, to sexual, and just plain trashy by most.  I will admit, I even through out some faux rage about it.  She is young, was a Disney star (Hannah Montana for you rock people), and is trying to show she’s an adult now with this type of show.  What about her young fans?  What about a little self-respect?

I used the word faux because what was I really upset about? It happens all the time, especially at the VMA’s.  You don’t watch that awards show for the awards, you watch it for the outlandish attire and questionable performances.  I was also  a 20-something once, and I did questionable things then too.  So why is there such surprise at Miley’s?  Why have we misplaced the outrage upon her, and not the true atrocities in the world, like Syria?

It really says something about our society, and the things we deem important when we choose to focus on the lives of celebrities instead of the lives on innocent children.  When was the last time you saw the face of a child living on our own streets on our nightly news?  Or the massacre of people in Sudan?  I can’t remember the last time.  I might see tiny blurbs of it here or there, but a lot of focus is on what Kim Kardashian’s body looks like post-baby, or what celebrity slipped up and did something stupid.  Social media is even worse, and a true look into what society is thinking about.   Trending today on Twitter is Miley Cyrus, twerking, and the VMA’s.  At the very bottom of the list is Syria, and even then it drops off the list off and on throughout the day. 

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How many of you can actually find Syria on the map?

Why do we care more about celebrities than children being killed, or the fact that Congress and the President keep taking vacations instead of passing a budget?  When did our attention shift so much that many people do not even know what is going on overseas?!  THAT right there is a real problem.  Our world is so small in comparison to what it used to be.  The internet connects us all every day, as well as global trading, and even seemingly small every day events can impact the world.  Our focus should be the real problems in our own country and abroad, like poverty, famine, and mass killings, not the life of a celebrity just because they are a celebrity.

We must be the change we wish to see in the world.  We can’t expect the violence to end if we do not even give two thoughts about it.  Washington wont change its tune and actions until we focus our attention on them, and force a change.  I just wish I knew why it changed, and where this misplaced attention will take our society one day.  I can’t think of anywhere good it could drop us.

Turn Off The TV. Family Time Is Actually Fun! And Important.

Last week was Samantha’s first week back to school, and it went really well!  She loves her new school, and seems to really enjoy going again.  I just wish her first weekend off from school had started off better.  Friday, she earned her first grounding.  Kids playing where they shouldn’t can result in broken windows.  Anyway, because of her actions, she was grounded from TV, her video games, and from going outside all weekend.

Friday night was rough because she had to deal with the ramifications, including talking to a police officer (for insurance purposes, and maybe a little scare factor).  She also had a rough time with idea of not getting to play her precious Minecraft for a whole week, or playing outside (except for soccer practice that starts today).  However, when Saturday morning rolled around, something surprising happened.

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Look at that smile! That is true happiness, right there. ❤

She played.  She didn’t whine.  She didn’t argue.  She smiled, and laughed.  All day.

Now, I am sure some people are going to think, “Well, duh!  You turn the TV off, and kids are forced to be kids.”  This is true, and unfortunately is not something we really figured out until we had to punish her more severely than in the past.  Unfortunately also, I think this is an all too common occurrence in this country.

Violence is part of our main stream society these days.  Maybe it has something to do with 24 hour new coverage, but you really can’t deny that our youth and society as a whole have become increasingly violent since video games and television were invented.  I am not blaming those things for the change in our kids, mostly, but I am blaming the parents.

I noticed something this weekend.  Samantha was happy and smiling.  My girl is generally a sweet, loving, and energy-packed girl, but looking back, I see the difference in her with TV vs no TV.  When she plays Minecraft, she rarely smiles unless she’s telling us something about it, but if she is just playing, she is slumped over, with a blank stare, and frown.  The same with television.  If she gets into a show, that same stare and frown is there.  Sure, she will laugh at a joke, but it’s mostly a chuckle, and then it’s gone.

THAT’S not my girl.  The girl we saw this weekend was her.  I can’t believe I didn’t see it before, and recognize that something needed to change.

Instead of watching TV, we played games.  Instead of playing Minecraft, she built stuff with art projects.  Instead of arguing, we actually had an enjoyable time playing some silly LaLaLoopsy game.  She even finally lost her tooth after a few months of it hanging on for dear life, and we danced and cheered.  It was fun!  She had our attention, and we had hers.  Nobody got moody with one another, except for Lauren, but that’s because she’s a sleep denier.

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Why is this such a revelation?  Because it’s not the violence in video games and television that can cause the issues with today’s violent youth, but instead the fact that they were even sitting there playing or watching them at all.  Our kids need to stop watching vulgarity and trash on the television, and instead send them outside to play in the sun and fresh air.  Instead of letting them sit all day while killing aliens in a game, give them some paper and scissors and let their imagination run wild.

It’s all about moderation.  I’m not saying all TV or games are bad, and they should be damned to hell for eternity.  What I am saying is watch that show, but when it’s over, turn it off.  Get up, and go do something else.  We love to do arts and crafts around here, or play outside, or read a book!  There is always something better than sitting on our butts all day watching mindless drivel.

It’s easier said than done, and I get that.  Parents work, kids have school, and a busload of activities like sports, dance, scouts, etc.  But unless we want to turn the violence around, and stop having kids killing because they are bored, we need to reinvest in our families.  That time is so important.  Youth is when we mold their minds and behaviors into what is acceptable, moral behavior and thinking.  If they are engrossed in the latest kill on the Xbox, then their minds are molding in a way that is just unacceptable, and scary.

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These three killed an innocent man…because they were bored.

I know, for my family, we will be turning the TV off more often.  Movie time together is great, but it can’t be a babysitter all the time.  Kids need that family time, that one on one time with parents and siblings.  It’s how they learn to love, and be loved.  I am definitely looking forward to the love that will be filling up this house once again.

Music, Oh Music! How I Love Thee!

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”

-Bob Marley

Music is beautiful.  All of it.  I can’t say that I am knowledgeable on all that is musical, but I know what makes me happy.  Most of it puts me in a better mood, clears my mind, and gets me moving.  No matter what kind of mood I am in, I can turn on my Spotify account, hit Starred, and instantly be taken away from whatever bad mood, thoughts, or dark clouds that are surrounding me.  It really is a beautiful thing.

Like most people, I have songs that I identify with, and listen to when I am in that particularly dark state.  They usually involve a great beat, a great message, or both.  Lately, my song is “Wake Me Up” by Avicii.   The music makes me smile every time, and the beat gets me up and dancing with my girls.  The lyrics are wonderful.  Be who you are, and find the ones who share those same qualities.  Everyone has a place in this world, and you just have to find it, let go of the societal chains, and just be.  My favorite words of the song are “I tried carrying the weight of the world, but I only have two hands.”  Goodness knows this is how I feel on a daily basis.  Lately I have felt naive, and too empathetic.

Is that even possible?  To feel too much empathy?  I know I am a very emotional person, and I feel other people’s emotions as well.  Even someone I read about in the news that lives oceans away.  I always feel as if I let the worlds problems rest solely on my shoulders, as if I am the one who needs to fix everything.  I CANT DO THAT!  I am only one person, and just have to let go of the idea that it’s my responsibility to fix the world.  I have to share that responsibility, and advocate for change, help, and peace.  I have to use my voice and compassion in order to make a difference.  Music has helped me realize that, in particular that song by Avicii.

That’s why I listen to music.  Not only is it a wonderfully beautiful aspect of life, but it helps me work through my issues.  When I was suffering from postpartum depression, music was one of the few things that helped me get through the day.  Then when I was writing about experiences, music helped me sort through the jumble that were my memories, and get them down onto paper.  Florence and the Machine was one in particular that helped a lot with her song “Shake It Out.” 

How motivating is that?  If you start to feel like the world is pressing you down, or the darkness in your mind, you have to try to shake it off.  Know that you are worthy of goodness, that you deserve happiness, and the demons in your head are just that: demons in your head.  They aren’t you, and they can’t define you.  It’s tough getting to that point where you can really know that those dark thoughts really aren’t your own, but once you do, it’s a beautifully liberating thing.  I still struggle with it, but when I realize it, I just turn that song on.  Helps me so much.

Music can also just be fun, and the one thing that can make you get up and dance.  My two most favorite songs for that are “Daylight” by Matt and Kim, and “Love Today” by MIKA.  Matt and Kim are my go-to for uplifting spirits, as my girls and I always end up dancing and laughing together.  Seeing their smiles while we jam to good music equals happiness and success in my mind.   

What’s your jam, your go-to mood lifter?  Share the music!

First Day of 1st Grade!

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I’m not gonna lie, I have been overly anxious all day yesterday, and this morning.  She wanted to ride the bus for the first time on her first day of school.  I was so nervous letting her go.  She’s too little!  She’s my baby, she can’t keep growing up so fast.  I know she will be fine.  She was super excited, and that made me excited for her.

She gets to learn Spanish this year!  And do art!  And music!  Who would have thought the DoD could do something right.  I kid, sort of, but YAY for doing something other than testing, testing, testing.

I can’t wait to hear about her first day, so my anxiety can ease.  I just want to be sure she found her class OK, that she enjoyed the bus ride, and that she wasn’t scared.  I wasn’t there to hold her hand the entire way, which is different for both of us.  It’s time to cut the cord, as they say.  She’s officially a grade-schooler.