This will pass

Breathe.

You’re going to be okay.

Breath and remember that you have been in the place before.

You’ve been this uncomfortable, anxious and scared; you survived it.

Breathe, and know that you can survive this too.

These feelings can’t break you.

They’re painful and debilitating, but you can sit with them and eventually, they will pass.

Maybe not immediately, but sometime soon, they are going to fade. When they do you will look back at this moment and laugh for having doubted your own resilience.

I know it feels unbearable right now but keep breathing.

Again and again.

This will pass.

I promise this will pass.

Present Moments

You will be ok

even before everything falls into place

and not because you know exactly how everything will come together

but because you are free to have joy here

even in uncertainty.

You are free to pursue peace before you know what is happening.

You are free to keep your eyes open to every present moment…

learning as you go,

trusting into the unknown,

knowing in the depths of your weary soul;

everything will fall into place when,

where,

and how it is supposed to be.

‘discovered by Sonja on We Heart It’

Closure

When my ex boyfriend died by suicide I was sent into a gigantic tailspin of emotions, as expected. At fifteen you are supposed to be worried about school dances, playing in this weeks big game or if you should try to get a cash pay job to help save for a car. Instead I was trying to find something to numb the feelings of grief as we buried the boy that I was building my entire life around. That boy was supposed to be my happy ever after, my end game. Instead, we were picking out caskets. His family was amazing for letting me be a part of everything after he died, from reading at the funeral to helping clean out his room. I got to be there as they spoke of memories over and over from him growing up. There was something that I was able to do though and it is something that bothers me to this day.

Twenty years later and I am still battling for closure.

What I have learned is that I am now extremely fierce with making sure that I have closure in every other part of my life. I will cut people off with no chance of me talking to them again when I notice that we are struggling too hard to keep going. When someone does wrong by me, it’s done. No conversation needed. I am well aware there is an extreme level of bitch here but I can’t seem to soften the edges. I need the closure more then I care how bitchy I come off.

I sit sometimes trying to decide what I would need from my ex to get the closure I feel I need. The reason he felt he needed to end everything is clearly at the top of that list but there is more.

Why couldn’t he confide in me? Why couldn’t he see past the things going on at that point? Did he honestly believe that we would be better off without him? Why wasn’t I enough? Did I miss the signs?

I have dedicated twenty years to reading into mental health struggles, tactics, and roads to recovery. I will never question that things go deeper than anyone can understand. I fully understand that it is impossible to answer those questions most the time. It doesn’t stop me from wanting to ask. I think more and more about comments he said to me over the years, wondering if he was trying to get me to see it. It makes me over analyze words coming from people around me, especially my children. One of his hardest problems in life was an incredibly opinionated, overly strict parent. This leads me to pull back when I go for the bad cop approach with all of my kids, nieces and nephews. He struggled with learning disabilities that went under the radar and I feel like I am super quick to suggest to people that bad behavior may stem from a learning disorder the child is embarrassed about. I never realized that it may have stemmed from that until my therapist said something. There are so many other things that I notice could directly stem from him, or even the recovery of him, that I can’t help but smile.

Here he thought that he was trouble and we would all be better off without him, but over twenty years from when we buried him and he still influences decisions that I make now. Those influences keep me working to make sure that everyone around me lives a slightly better life then they would have without me in it. Not being egotistic in the slightest, just meaning that I work to make sure they smile as often as possible all while knowing someone is here looking out for them. Through anything. I will talk openly, as honest as I can, without holding judgement to them when they struggle.

I, of course, will judge a little if they choose to wear socks with sandals. 🙂

I like to think that he know’s he deserves the credit. I know for a fact that his family members are all on similar missions, with similar reasons.

He mattered.

Secondhand Trauma

A very close friend of mine was cheated on by her long term boyfriend last year. I have made a few cryptic posts all over my social media accounts because it was her story to tell so I was waiting for her. She spent almost a year recovering from this trauma. I think she spent the first six months sitting in shock. This was supposed to be her good guy. Her happily ever after guy that fought through her walls that she put up after the last train wreck. This girl has been through the ringer for sure. She has always been a rockstar, but this womans battles put mine to shame.

This last month she has been much more vocal about it now that she is working on the recovery. She has told her parents and siblings finally, giving herself a support system that is bigger then just her and I. I watched this woman rebuild shattered pieces while hiding the truth from everyone near her. She knew that she was going to stay with him. She knew that her family and other friends would annihilate him and pressure her to leave him. She for whatever reason has chosen to stay and is full-heartedly leaning on me to help her get through it anyway.

There have been a lot of things that I have done in life that I classify as hard, but this is getting added to the top of the list. Seeing as I am not in that relationship, I have zero feelings to get tangled up in. Well that’s wrong too isn’t it. I stood up at their wedding for them. I was there the night that she met him, it was me that drove her home from the school dance that was their first kiss and it was me that helped her get through the traumatic start to their relationship. He has grown on me over the years and their babies are some of the best joys in my life. So I am emotionally involved. There has never been a question as to who’s side I will always be on however. I would still be beside her even is she was the one that cheated, lied and broke him to a million pieces like he did to her. So I do have to take that into account.

The sex, love and happy feelings for him keep her in that relationship, but it doesn’t keep me. I am resentful of him, for breaking my rock. I am bitter and making comments under my breath constantly and am now getting worried that my feelings will come between us all now. He wasn’t there to see her having to rebuild because she did it in private. She told me that he cheated because of his own self esteem issues and she couldn’t hammer down on him without being scared he would break more.

So her whole damn world IMPLODES on her, but she has to hold back so his doesn’t?

She makes excuses not to go to therapy, thinking that she can handle it on her own. She writes him letters and burns them because I told her that was what I did to get over the death of my ex boyfriend. She now even writes to herself but I can only imagine she is tearing herself apart in those to explain how he could do that to her. She spends a lot of time talking about the things that she could have been doing better with over the years with him. While in no way am I telling her that seems unrealistic, I am further stressing his role in this instead. He should have pushed harder for whatever change to happen between them long before he looked elsewhere. He should have explained how important those things could be before EVER looking elsewhere.

This man stepped out of his marriage. He started simple, using porn as an avenue that led to more. He had so many warning signs that he was well aware to be stepping over, still ultimately making the choice. What started as innocent enough, turned into verbal communications leading to video chats before finally meeting up in real life. The fact that he was paying for it with money that he could have been using in so many better ways bothers me. She says at least it means he wasn’t in love with her.

I think that he has himself convinced that it wasn’t so bad because he knew this way it would strictly be sexual, not emotional which he considers to be worse.

Over a year in and I don’t think that I have made it an entire day without a phone call or text from her falling apart. I can’t go a single day without hating him. Her entire world is still in shreds and she acts strong in front of her family, their children and other friends.

She hides in kitchen pantries and showers to fall apart but then hides them in a beautiful package to show to world.

When does he break down? When does he have to worry about crying or showing too much emotion to his children or family? How often is he having to lie to everyone around him about things that he had no participation in? How often is he having to lie just to keep those around him accepting of her? The little decisions that she has to consistently make to go along with his deception in mind boggling.

I watch the process play out in her head in almost every conversation with anyone around her and I get infuriated more.

The two of us have given each other a wide berth, taking turns with her time and keeping ourself distanced. He told me he understood why I have such strong opinions here but that it is not my relationship and I need to respect them enough to let them handle it.

Of course I know he makes absolute sense.

My problem is HOW TO DO THAT.

Surface Pressure

I’m the strong one, I’m not nervous
I’m as tough as the crust of the earth is
I move mountains, I move churches
And I glow ’cause I know what my worth is
I don’t ask how hard the work is
Got a rough indestructible surface
Diamonds and platinum, I find ’em, I flatten ’em
I take what I’m handed, I break what’s demanding
But
Under the surface
I feel berserk as a tightrope walker in a three-ring circus
Under the surface
Was Hercules ever like “Yo, I don’t wanna fight Cerberus”?
Under the surface
I’m pretty sure I’m worthless if I can’t be of service
A flaw or a crack
The straw in the stack
That breaks the camel’s back
What breaks the camel’s back it’s
Pressure like a drip, drip, drip that’ll never stop, whoa
Pressure that’ll tip, tip, tip ’till you just go pop, whoa
Give it to your sister, your sister’s older
Give her all the heavy things we can’t shoulder
Who am I if I can’t run with the ball?
If I fall to
Pressure like a grip, grip, grip and it won’t let go, whoa
Pressure like a tick, tick, tick ’til it’s ready to blow, whoa
Give it to your sister, your sister’s stronger
See if she can hang on a little longer
Who am I if I can’t carry it all?
If I falter
Under the surface
I hide my nerves, and it worsens, I worry something is gonna hurt us
Under the surface
The ship doesn’t swerve as it heard how big the iceberg is
Under the surface
I think about my purpose, can I somehow preserve this?
Line up the dominoes
A light wind blows
You try to stop it tumbling
But on and on it goes
But wait
If I could shake the crushing weight of expectations
Would that free some room up for joy
Or relaxation, or simple pleasure?
Instead we measure this growing pressure
Keeps growing, keep going
‘Cause all we know is
Pressure like a drip, drip, drip that’ll never stop, whoa
Pressure that’ll tip, tip, tip ’til you just go pop, whoa-oh-oh
Give it to your sister, it doesn’t hurt
And see if she can handle every family burden
Watch as she buckles and bends but never breaks
No mistakes just
Pressure like a grip, grip, grip and it won’t let go, whoa
Pressure like a tick, tick, tick ’til it’s ready to blow, whoa
Give it to your sister and never wonder
If the same pressure would’ve pulled you under
Who am I if I don’t have what it takes?
No cracks, no breaks
No mistakes, no pressure

The Fact that these are lyrics to a Disney movies song blew my mind. However this did not stop me from adding it to my Spotify playlist and jamming out to it at the gym this morning. 🙂

Thank you guys for taking the time to read my blogs! This is a great writing experience that has also worked well at being my therapy without a therapist!

Tis this season too

Seasonal depression timing is coming. Are you doing the things that you need to do to prepare for it? Are you making sure that you are planning things that you will actually follow up and do? Here are some of the things that I do to prepare.

First off, I allow myself to know that it is perfectly acceptable to have down days to do nothing. It is ok to have days that running laundry through the washer and dryer are considered productive. Reading a good book is productive. Watching movies and allowing your feelings to fall out of your eyes is productive. SOMETIMES. However, not all the time. Not when it is day after day after day.

Personally, I like to bake during the colder months. So I start a Pinterest folder for the things I want to bake this year. Since it helps me feel like I was productive and gives me a momentary smile I consider it a win. Even though I will never look at it again.

So then I print out the few that I may actually make since it now shows a different level of seriousness. This may or may not work, but it sure makes me feel like it will.

These last few years I have chosen to start a new gym routine in the beginning of December so that I already have a routine set in my mind before all of the ‘resolutioners’ bear down on the local gyms. There is nothing worse then trying a new routine when you are climbing around a bunch of fresh and clean gym members who talk too much while they stare at every move you make thinking if they watch hard enough they could remember each and every step. They won’t, but that doesn’t stop them from trying. Would you like a little piece of advice from someone who has been enduring torture as my self care routine for a few years? It’s ok to watch for motivation, but we know the difference between someone being creepy vs someone with honest intent to learn.

Now, does that mean that my routine won’t get shook up during the first six weeks of the year before they drop like flies? Nope not at all. It will absolutely get shook up. The difference is that now I am in the mindset of getting through it so that the work I put in wasn’t a waste. When I started the routine I gave myself a goal. Inches off the measuring tape in a certain problem area, or a pair of jeans that I want to fit in. Sometimes it is as simple as how I want my arms to look in a bridesmaids dress that I know someone is making me wear. Whatever it is, I want those results.

There is a feeling that you get when you set a goal, push through the bullshit and get the results. It is unmatchable by any amount of laziness, or comfort food. That makes me move. Is that enough for you?

The last thing that I do is make sure that I feel out where the people I live with are at with their mental health. Sometimes it can’t be about me. Sometimes I have a child struggling and instead of allowing myself to wallow, I now need to be watching them and keeping them moving instead. That changes from year to year of course, but if I am not prepared for it then there is a lot of scrambling. I can handle my boat being rocked a bit of course (well, hopefully) but there have been years that it comes so far out of left feild when I wasn’t ready that it blows me out of the water.

That’s going to happen sometimes I suppose, but if I can make it to where it isn’t EVERY year then I feel like I am winning the battle.

Do you have a plan?

Cemetaries

There is something cathartic about going to the cemetery.

I spent many years avoiding going there for anyone I had lost, telling myself that I could communicate with them wherever I was. Why would I need to get in the car and go to the last resting place of their body shell? Their spirit wasn’t there anymore right?

This goes against a lot of what I was taught growing up but my stubborn mind was made up. Every culture and every religion has their own belief, and while I fully respect just about every one of them I just couldn’t accept them into my reality.

In many ways I still can’t.

But I sat at the cemetery the other day and found myself talking in a way that I hadn’t with them, in years. Open, outloud, honest and raw. What was supposed to be a quick visit turned into over an hour. I had no plans of things to say but there was never a lull in things to talk about. There was laughs to break up the tears that flowed free.

When I walked back to the car there was a sense of relief that I hadn’t felt in quite some time, and suddenly I was aware of something else.

I could NEVER tell my mother that she was right.

Are they worth it?

Addiction and the recovery from it is a lengthy process that is super daunting when you face it alone. Yet so many people don’t have any other choice.

More often then not they are dealing with it alone because they have pushed everyone away with their behaviors.

Here is Alcohol Anonymous’s 12 step program. These are the steps every addict has to go through. Some skip a few or don’t do them in order, however they are all significant.

These steps can easily be adapted to any addiction process. Drinking, Drugs, sex, eating, Etc.

No one is perfect. I am surrounded by addicts of all sorts, in varied states of recovery. Some I had to give up on. Some I stayed too long. Some are worth the fight.

The 12 Steps, as outlined in the original
Big Book and presented by AA are:



1. Admitting powerlessness over the addiction

2.Believing that a higher power (in whatever form) can help

3. Deciding to turn control over to the higher power

4. Taking a personal inventory

5. Admitting to the higher power, oneself, and another person the wrongs done

6. Being ready to have the higher power correct any shortcomings in one’s character

7. Asking the higher power to remove those shortcomings

8. Making a list of wrongs done to others and being willing to make amends for those wrongs

9. Contacting those who have been hurt, unless doing so would harm the person

10. Continuing to take personal inventory and admitting when one is wrong

11. Seeking enlightenment and connection with the higher power via prayer and meditation

12. Carrying the message of the 12 Steps to others in need

Surviving suicide loss

For the person you lost, the pain is over. Now is the time to start healing yours.

A Handbook for Survivors of Suicide, Jeffrey Jackson

I discovered the term ‘survivor of suicide loss’ only when I lost my husband to suicide last year. Until then, death by suicide was something that happened to others. It happened in other families. Not in mine. People who died of suicide were faceless, nameless statistics. However, all these defenses crumbled when I had to confront the staggering reality of my loss.

A survivor of suicide loss is someone who has lost a person dear to them to suicide. A close family member, a dear friend, colleague or a health care professional (notably mental health professional) could at any point be a survivor of suicide loss.

You are a ‘survivor of suicide’, and as that unwelcome designation implies, your survival —your emotional survival — will depend on how well you learn to cope with your tragedy. The bad news: Surviving this will be the second worst experience,” writes Jeffrey Jackson, a survivor of suicide loss, in A Handbook for Survivors of Suicide.

Suicide, as we all know, is an intentional self-inflicted death. Edwin Shneidman, the pioneering suicidologist, vividly describes suicide as “psych ache” or intense psychological pain. Not surprisingly, mental health issues have been identified as a predisposing factor in 90 percent of deaths by suicide. According to the American Association of Suicidology, “the primary goal of a suicide is not to end life, but to end pain.” 

The statistics are indeed grim.

  • Globally, 800,000 people die of suicide every year
  • Every 40 seconds someone in the world dies of suicide
  • Every 41 seconds someone is left to make sense of it
  • Suicide occurs throughout the lifespan
  • It’s the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds globally. 
  • The suicide mortality rate in India is 15.7  people per 100,000, and the regional average 12.9 (WHO 2015-17)

Death and the resulting emotion grief — the loss of someone we love — are universal experiences. However, a death by suicide, has been described as a death like no other. Suicide, like death by accidents, murder (homicide) and even unanticipated sudden death, is another form of traumatic death. However, death by suicide does not elicit the same level of compassion and empathy in people to support the bereavement process. This huge empathy deficit makes a survivor of suicide loss feel isolated and excluded.

The American Psychiatry Association (APA), says suicide bereavement is “catastrophic” and on par with a concentration camp experience. According to the APA, family members of individuals who die by suicide — including parents, children, and siblings — are at increased risk of suicide – almost 400 times higher than others.

Survivors of suicide loss are invisible and marginalised. They often encounter blame, judgment or social exclusion, while mourners of loved ones who have died from terminal illness, accident, old age or other kinds of deaths usually receive sympathy and compassion. Thus, grief and the grieving process for survivors of suicide loss is complex and complicated. It is compounded by negative societal attitudes based on stigma, shame, secrecy and silence around suicide. This is because we tend to view suicide through a morality lens rather than a public health crisis and mental health issue, which it truly is.

“It’s strange how we would never blame a family member for a loved one’s cancer or Alzheimer’s, but society continues to cast a shadow on a loved one’s suicide,” writes Deborah Serani in Understanding Survivors of Suicide Loss.

There is a strong sense of shame associated with suicide. Most survivors of suicide loss prefer not talk about suicide; of someone who died by suicide. We are deeply ashamed to admit this. Instead, we tend to create ‘acceptable’ explanations of the cause of death that we choose to tell others. If a loved one dies of suicide and someone asks us about the cause of death, we often tend to say, “It was a heart attack” or some other ‘natural’ cause of death that is socially acceptable.

We do not seek to glorify suicide; nor do we condemn it. People who die of suicide are not heroes; nor cowards; nor criminals. Suicide is not a crime. It is a public health crisis. It is a mental health issue that is treatable and preventable.

Such informed perspectives can change conversations on suicide and also ensure supportive spaces for survivors of suicide loss to rebuild their lives.

Dr Nandini Murali is a communications and gender and diversity professional. A recent survivor of suicide loss, she established SPEAK, an initiative of MS Chellamuthu Trust and Research Foundation, Madurai, to change conversations on suicide and promote mental health.

https://www.whiteswanfoundation.org/mental-health-matters/suicide-prevention/what-does-it-mean-to-be-a-survivor-of-suicide-loss

These are not my words, in any way. I am a suicide loss survivor. This year marks 21 years. I am still struggling. While looking for resources I stumbled across this and found it very in touch with reality. Even if this link does not give you the sources you need to heal, please keep searching. Keep working. Keep healing. In whatever way you can.

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