Stories of Well-Being
SUICIDE – What does that word create for you – the vision of a loved one; emotions that are so deep they explode within like a volcano erupting; all of the questions you have been suppressing knowing there are no answers – Why? What if -----?; or is this a subject that is “just not talked about”? For me, it invokes most of the above, now that it is part of my life experience.
Through this series I will be sharing my personal journey, which began on June 10, 2015 at 3 AM with the hysterical phone call from our daughter saying “he’s gone!”. Writing this will be opening the doors of my heart to expressing in words the most painful thing I’ve ever had to go through. You won’t be able to see the box of tissues by my side and the number of times I have to stop, cry, and regain my composure. So “why” put myself through this? My prayer is that it will prevent another family from having to go through their own “forever journey after suicide”. If I don’t talk about it and turn it into something positive, it will eventually destroy me. With God’s help I won’t allow that to happen.
It’s important that you, as the reader, be aware that I will be very graphic and explicit in the following writings. I want anyone who has ever considered or is considering suicide to know exactly what happens to those who are left behind. That realization may be the one deterrent which stops them. I understand the mental health umbrella covers so many factors and some of those involve a lack of reality. However, I believe that my story will reach those it’s meant to help.
In the next posting I will write about our grandson, Alex. It’s important to me, and all who have lost loved ones, to share who they were and their challenges. Following that will be the actual details of those nightmare days when we were forced to say goodbye to Alex as we hung on to each other for strength and comfort.
YOUTH VOICES ESSAY
Overall feelings about behavioral health?
It is imperative that the conversation is opened on mental health. So many people struggle with it and they don’t talk about it. There is such a stigma behind it and it causes people to hold everything in and eventually they will blow up. It is so important to check in on people and encourage them to get help. Mental illness/suicidal ideation does not discriminate. Some of the people who you think are the happiest are most likely fighting for their life. Education is prevention and more people need to talk about it. We are all human and no one is crazy for reaching out to get help for how they are feeling whether it be depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc.
What brought you or someone you know to feel depressed, anxious, suicidal, etc?
The pressures of growing up was a catalyst for me and most people I know to feel a lot of worry. I feel like these days way more than a few years ago kids are worrying about everything even as young as 3 years old. From sports, grades, looks, popularity it can all really put a strain on a child’s ability to function. Me personally, my anxiety started when in early elementary and was about to take a standardized test. I had to sit by a bucket. I thought I was going to throw up because I felt I was going to fail. That pretty much marked the spot of me developing an anxiety disorder. My personal experience with depression started when my home life really took a turn for the worst and I started to put on weight. I found myself rarely going to school, never sleeping and sleeping all the time.
What was/is ineffective and effective about the treatment process?
I wouldn't necessarily say that the treatment process has been ineffective. It just takes time to get situated with the right medication and a therapist that is a good fit. Even with treatment, we all still struggle with whatever we are going through. The bad days come and go. We just get stronger and learn better coping skills. What is effective about the treatment process is getting the help that is so much deserved and taking the steps on the path to recovery. We all deserve the ability to be able to adequately function throughout society.
What would you recommend to other students who might feel pain?
Talk to your parents about it. If they don’t understand or support how you are feeling, maybe compose an email to them about it. Find a friend you can trust and let them know about what's been going on and talk to them about the thoughts in your mind. I also recommend messaging the Crisis Text Line. It has helped me. You are connected with a crisis counselor and they just guide you through how you're feeling. Get involved with support groups around your area. I know it is really hard to find joy in things when you’re struggling, but I highly encourage people to find an activity to do during the week. Whether it is going to the gym, walking around the block for 20 minutes, listening to music, painting, etc. Doing things like that can make a difference on how you feel.
What can parents and schools do to be more supportive?
What schools and parents can do is listen to the kids. They need to open their ears and not their mouths when the kids are trying to explain how they are feeling. Schools need to have a mental health presentation per semester in my opinion for students and teachers. Prior to each school year, teachers should have adequate mental health and suicide prevention training to recognize those signs in students and be able to support them. Parents need to be their kid’s advocate to get them the help they need. Parents need to push their kids in healthy ways out of their comfort zone so they are not enabling them to hide away from their anxiety, depression, etc. I feel like parents should allow their child 3 mental health days for their child per semester so they can have a day to sleep in as well as catch up on work. Schools should accommodate that regarding absences.
Thank you for listening to my thoughts! Let’s open the conversation on mental health and suicide prevention. Check in on someone. We may not be able to save everyone, but we can save someone.