I have been getting responses from my previous post that are inspiring me to clarify something.
First, I want to say, please… if you have experience with suicide, share your story. No matter the perspective, sharing promotes healing and understanding. I’ve heard from people who lost loved ones to suicide and even those who were in my shoes, but found their way out. You have to know that offering these perspectives is crucial to igniting hope and inspiring change. Doing so can, not only save lives, but also lend itself to improving the quality of life for those who are just getting by.
“I believe that life is a prize, but to live doesn’t mean you’re alive.”
Second, I want to add, as I humbly climb down off my high horse, that listening is as important as sharing. I told my experience, because I wanted to contribute an often unheard perspective, but I want to make it clear that listening is just as, if not more, crucial. I’ve been so angry at people for not listening over the years, but lately I’ve started to realize that listening is like respect… if you want it from someone else, you have to give it to them. I want to hear your stories as much as I want you to listen to mine.
“A friend is someone who helps you up when you are down, and if they cannot, they lay down beside you and listen.”
I want to thank everyone who has shared, and supported me.
I also want to offer my tools, the things that get me through my darkest of hours.
Tools, like flashlights, that can get me through the darkness:
I am a writer, and more specifically a poet. As much as writing helps, hearing or reading poetry that expresses things that I cannot, is so inspirational, and constantly reminds me that I’m not alone. I have the beginning of two different poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay tattooed on my flesh. I recently discovered a performance/spoken word/slam poet who has touched me in ways that are beyond my capacity of expression. His name is Buddy Wakefield. Nothing I can say will convey his God-given power, so I’ll just share video of him performing one of his poems:
Music, to me, is like poetry that you can dance to. Genius! I have an ever-growing hope/faith/love/survival soundtrack. One day I’ll share the playlist so you know all the songs I’ve collected. For today, I’ll share the one that has helped me most recently. It is my current anthem. Nicki Minaj’s “Fly” featuring Rihanna:
I love my pops, and I’m so blessed to have a dad who is worth a shit, because I know so many people do not. He has been my rock. I did not realize how much he loved me until after my second suicide attempt. When I started to bottom out 6 months later, I had to make a decision that was just as terrifying as the decision to end it: I asked for help. He was the person I called. He dropped everything, and drove me 3 hours to a hospital that I preferred for several reasons, and put down $5,300 for me to be admitted without insurance.
I believe dogs are cute, furry, messengers of God. My dog conveys unconditional love in a way I have never experienced from any other living being I’ve encountered. My opinion is that my dog is a daily reminder, a glimpse at God’s enduring love. I owe my life to her. At my LOWEST, she was the one thing that made me reach out to someone else. I didn’t want her to be uncared for, or left behind after I was gone, uncertain of how long it’d be before someone found us. She dances at the sight of me, which makes me laugh. Sometimes she smiles. She likes to curl up on top of me when I’m on the sofa, and we nap together. She needs me as much as I need her.
My Siblings, and Especially, My Sister:
I have 3 half brothers and 1 sister. My brothers have helped keep me grounded, because they’ve been where I am with my parents. They have experience and advice; and they relate. Today, my brother and I talked about his summer wedding plans. I was actually really excited to venture to San Diego to see him get married. Unfortunately, his wedding is the same weekend as the overnight walk that the American Foundation for Suicide prevention is doing (www.theovernight.org). Because he understands my struggle, and how close this issue is to my heart, he gave me his blessing to miss the wedding in order to do the walk. Love!
My sister is a psychologist. I have no doubt that her family experience drove her to this profession. She has offered honest advice, and has asked for mine. Both are so important. Her perspectives help, but knowing she trusts my input fertilizes my self-worth. I would do ANYTHING for her. We didn’t always get along. As kids we fought… a lot. She is the core of my life. When I look back on the most important moments and relationships in my life, she is at the top of the list. No one has gotten as close to my heart as she has.
This is my sis:
Friends have come and gone. Even the ones who left for good have left their proverbial footprints. There have certainly been times when I had no friends, but I’ve spent just as much time with friends by my side. I wouldn’t be here without the humor, support, perspective of my closest friends.
Sometimes it is so important for me to make small steps for pushing myself into another day, despite my uncertainty that the sun will rise again. Manicures, movies, walks in the park, staying up to watch the sunrise, going for a drive with windows down and music blasting, getting a new hairdo, making a nice meal, pretty much anything can help.
Honestly, prayer has been a consistent, though underused tool in my life. I think I use it as a last resort too much. I believe deeply in the power of prayer, and yet I turn to it far too little. Whether you believe in God, or not prayer helps. It may be God answering those prayers, but I also believe that putting positivity out into the world and focusing on recovery is healing. A friend of mine posted this as her Facebook status recently: “Instead of asking God for something, how about giving Him something this week? A great place to start is your heart.” That helped me so much because I realized that I can’t expect good things to constantly roll in, and never express my gratitude.
I’ve heard it said that prayer is talking to God and meditation is listening to God’s response. Meditation is powerful like prayer. It is so powerful to stop in silence, and allow your mind to empty while your heart fills.
One of my favorite quotations about prayer-
“Everybody prays whether you think of it as praying or not. The odd silence you fall into when something very beautiful is happening or something very good or very bad. The ah-h-h-h! that sometimes floats up out of you as out of a Fourth of July crowd when the sky-rocket bursts over the water. The stammer of pain at somebody else’s pain. The stammer of joy at somebody else’s joy. Whatever words or sounds you use for sighing with over your own life. These are all prayers in their way. These are all spoken not just to yourself but to something even more familiar than yourself and even more strange than the world.”
The Shawshank Redemption, The Bridge, Amelie, Magnolia, What Dreams May Come, Crash, Amazing Grace… these films have inspired me. Though, some may find most of the movies I listed to be very dark. It is what I relate to, I can’t help it.
A week or two ago, after coming out of my darkness, I got some clippers and turquoise hair dye. I had not taken on such a task in quite some time, mainly because doctors had managed to convince me that such behavior was “manic.” I realize that may be true for some people, but for me, I sometimes need to express myself. Sometimes I want to do something that makes me feel special, and expresses my individuality. Making that effort is actually a good sign for me. I have gotten so depressed at times, that I didn’t want to do something so drastic, for fear of what I’d look like in my coffin. Expressing myself, through words, through art, through music, through hair or clothes… all of these things remind me of who I am and why it matters. My hair has since initiated a few dirty looks from old people, but has mostly started conversations with strangers. Turquoise hair is not something you see everyday. It throws people off. And whether they’re laughing at me, or inspired by my “gumption” (that’s how my neighbor described it), at least it stirs something within them all the same.
I seek out groups of people like me. AA is a good example. Having people you can relate to is very important, and as you can see on my “About the Author” page, I fit into a lot of labels, so there are plenty of groups getting together out there that I could easily fit into. I suggest meetup.com.
I can often have a very politically incorrect sense of humor. At the same time, I’m often extremely sensitive about social issues. I think it is possible to have a healthy balance of both.
I think Philip DeFranco conveys this best. Last Friday’s post was heartfelt, and yesterday’s was intense. Most of them are a good balance of sincerity and hilarity. Check him out.
This show cracks me up more than anything ever… EVER:
I’m not at the point where I feel qualified to shove my beliefs down the throats of others. That being said, whether you believe in God or not, there is consistent evidence that spirituality can be an intense support in difficult times. Prayer, meditation, and God, though often vague, fluid, or altogether undefined, have been consistent supports in my life. If you see representatives of spirituality in your life who drain you of your hope, you’re probably looking at the wrong representatives. A lot of people claim God, while simultaneously having no clue what “God” means. As much as I respect atheists and agnostics, I do not feel, at my core, that believing in nothing, or denying the proof of God (as it has manifested in my life) is helpful or hopeful, for me. I have seen how deep the darkness goes, so I have to believe that the light reaches just as far.
When I had no answers, When I suspected God had abandoned me, When my loved ones came up empty, When I couldn’t keep myself safe; there were still places for me to turn. I have worked with A LOT of counselors, doctors, and even some support groups. Some have helped, some have not, but all were willing to try to help me get through, even when I had nothing. I know these things are not available to everyone because of the pathetic state of health care in our country. For that, I’ll default back to prayer. There are a lot of resources out there for people in crisis, who lack the funding or the insurance to get help. That is when churches, friends, google, and community are so important. I’ve actually discovered many other resources from people at church or in AA.
Listening. Being there. Helping find resources. Volunteering. Fundraising. Sharing your story. These are just a few examples of the numerous ways that helping others has actually helped me. I definitely believe in karma, or what goes around comes around, or putting in what you want to get out. Lending a hand to someone builds confidence. It makes you feel worthy, and like you matter. I know there are so many people out there who are going through, have gone through, or will go through, the same things. I believe that we’re on this earth together for a reason, so that no one has to suffer alone. As hard as I know it is for most of us, let us not forget that none amongst us are immune to horrible things happening to us, or are completely incapable of doing horrible things ourselves. I think Gandhi said it best:
”All humanity is one undivided and indivisible family. I cannot detach myself from the wickedest soul.”
If nothing else, begin by offering your assistance to others, to reassure yourself that someone will do the same for you in hours of darkness. Eventually, you will forget that motivation and you will act, not in hopes reciprocation, but the expression of true empathy.
If I didn’t believe there was a purpose, I couldn’t go on another day:
“Out of suffering has emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”