We Are All Warriors. Every Day.

Culture & Society

I was racking my brains for what to write for today. I wanted to write this glowing post to honor World Suicide Prevention Day.

And then I realized something.

The reason why I couldn’t write that glowing post wasn’t because I had writer’s block. It was because I felt like everything I had to say on the subject had already been said.

I am not at that point in my recovery where I can believe that no one else can play my part. I’m at that place where I’m struggling to find the balance with living life and relying on my story as fuel. I went from not sharing my story at all to sharing it very publicly. And now I’m trying to find that middle ground.  Recovery is a daily process. It’s battle we fight every day. Everyone goes through pain. Pain and disability do not make us special. We are ALL warriors.

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How To Help Your Loved Ones Deal With Mental Illness

Culture & Society

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Last week, I publicly thanked my friends for saving my life. Messages poured in from friends and fellow bloggers. While I loved seeing the response the post generated, the most interesting comment I got was a question from a friend. She wrote the following:

 

“What did (or didn’t) your friends say that made a difference to you when you felt that way? What advice can you give us for how to respond, or just be, with friends who are in a similar way?”

 

Depression can be a tricky subject. Not everyone wears their emotions on their sleeve, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help.

 

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Let Them Know That You’re There For Them

 

If you’re concerned about someone, or if you just want to say a quick hi, contact them. Text them. Call them. Sometimes a simple “Hi, how are you?” will be enough to save someone’s life.

You could say that it’s petty to care about little things like a text, but for some of us, the little things matter. They are proof that people care.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve held off on reaching out for help because I was afraid of judgment. I was afraid that my girlfriends wouldn’t be able to handle what I had to say.

A month ago, I got very close to hurting myself. I told a girlfriend about it the next day and broke down in her car. She made it clear that she was willing to listen to me, and she asked me to contact her if I ever felt that bad again.

 

There are no adequate words to describe how grateful I felt.

 

If a friend is suffering from depression, make it clear that you’re willing to listen. It means the world to those of us who are in a bad place to know that we have someone who’s willing to listen to us, someone who thinks that we’re worth something.

 

Just Listen

 

If you’re anything like me, sometimes it can be difficult to restrain yourself and refrain from interjecting an opinion into someone’s conversation. But there is a time and a place for everything. And when someone’s in the middle of pouring out his or her heart…well…you know where I’m going with this.

Sometimes we don’t want to hear other people’s opinions; we just want someone to lend an ear.

 

Do NOT (under ANY Circumstances) say, “Just get over it.”

 

I hate the word “just” in any sentence, but I particularly hate it when the next three words are “get over it.” Depression (or any mental illness is not something that you can “just get over.” It is a daily battle.

I can’t speak for everyone, but whenever I have heard those 4 words, it’s only made me feel more isolated. And it’s precisely because people have felt isolated, like no one cared that they’ve turned to suicide.

 

Just don’t say it. Please. There are better ways to respond.

 

Not Everyone Responds The Same Way

 

One of the best things to keep in mind is that people will respond to your advice in different ways. Tailor your advice depending on your friend’s history and personality.

 

The best way I can explain this is to use me as an example. My friends know that I have had an unimpressive track record with my attempts at therapy. They tend to offer me practical advice, like writing in a journal, or listening to music, things they know I will actually do instead of saying, “You should go into therapy.”

 

Some people respond well to things like, “Everything happens for a reason,” or “ The best is yet to come,” but I don’t. If you can’t tell, platitudes take the number 1 spot on my 10 Things I Hate The Most list (along with olives).

 

We’ve all heard about the power of words. When you have a loved one dealing with depression or any other mental illness, they become even more important. What you say can have a lasting effect on someone. I don’t care if the thing that bothers you was said a day ago or a decade ago.

 

We all respond to love, though. Just show us that we’re loved in the best way you know how.

 

What’s the most helpful thing someone has said to YOU when you hit rock bottom?

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The Truth Behind Depression & Suicide: My Thoughts On Robin Williams’ Passing

Culture & Society, Miscellaneous Musings, Re-framing Your Thinking

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I am not a numbers person. Contrary to my stereotype, I was horrible at math. But consider this:

 

With numbers like these, you would think that depression would have been more widely accepted as a real disease. Sure, people are talking about it a lot more (which is great), but how long will that discussion last?

Will people take Robin Williams’ passing as the final kick in the pants and continue the discussion after his unfortunate suicide fades from headlines? Or will we forget about it and go back to our merry lives until another celebrity lends their voice to the issue or passes away?

The choice is yours.

I know where I stand because I’ve been on the verge of ending my life before. I’m still battling the demons of depression.

The hardest part was not the swallowing of the pills. It was not sitting for hours on a therapist’s sticky leather couch. It was not suppressing the urge to cut every time the medicine hit my system.

The hardest part was staying.

Staying alive for my friends and family.

Staying alive and hearing things like “It will get better,” even though life kept giving me reasons to throw the towel in.

Sometimes letting go is easier than staying.

 

I know that I didn’t believe that my life could get better. All I saw was the reality in front of me. And that reality was that my life wasn’t fun.

You could argue that suicide only benefits one person and leaves so many hurt people in the wake of tragedy. But I know that when I was thinking about dying, I wasn’t thinking about how selfish I was. I was not thinking that suicide would be a free pass. I was thinking about how I would no longer be a burden to my family and friends.

You could call Robin Williams selfish, but I’d be willing to bet that he held on for as long as he did because of his loved ones.

 

My friends are the only reason I’ve held on for this long.

 

Robin Williams was the one who said that we are all given “a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”

What will you do with your one spark of madness?