Little Miracles

It is very early in the morning.  Or very late at night.  Time has lost all meaning to me over the past few days, if I’m honest.  I was sick again yesterday, and took another trip to the ER.  It was quick and I was home in my bed before I knew it, which was good, but then I pulled another night of wacky sleep.  So, here we are, nearly 4am and I am starting my blog instead of my coffee pot, hopeful that I can get another hour or two before taking Mark to work.  I don’t see it happening, though, as I am wide awake and also, a little scared to go to sleep.  It’s when I wake from sleeping that I get sick, so when I wake up well, I don’t want to go back and see what happens.  Sleeping at night alone makes me nervous…I don’t need that stress in the wee hours of the morning.  I would much rather embrace that time…I showered, I made tea, I watched my shows, and now I’m working on my blog.  I will go to bed early tonight, but I will not be sick today.

On Tuesday, something cool happened.  I posted my page for the AFSP out of the Darkness walk.  For the new reader, this is a charity that is very close to my heart.  I am pretty sure this year marks my tenth of participation.  I started going because my friend Beth was interested and asked me to come with her.  It was kind of weird at first…there were so many people who were sad, but they seemed to be celebrating as well.  It was a juxtaposition I became interested in.

Over the years, it grew from a few dozen folks to a few hundred, maybe even a thousand or more.  One thing they used to do was read a list of names of people who had committed suicide in the community.  They stopped once it got bigger.  That seemed sad, to me.  Last year, due to the pandemic, there was no walking.  Instead, Mark and I went down during an appointed time slot to pick up my t-shirt and some other goodies, and have our picture taken (below.)   I had raised 500$, in partial thanks to an anonymous donor.  Which brings me back to…Tuesday.

I posted all my info for my new fundraising page, and then took a little nap.  When I awoke, I had an email from the AFSP, saying that I had reached my goal of 500 bucks.  Um…what?

I set the bar high this year, because it was my tenth year.  Did I think someone would come through with the whole thing withing two hours of me posting?  No, I did not.

I sort of should have, though?  Like, this isn’t new.  Someone has been making large anonymous donations for years.  I don’t know if it’s the same person or different people, or what.  I have no idea who this mystery giver is.  But I love them.

I love them because I think they know me, and I think they know my struggle.  I can’t imagine anyone just donating large sums without knowing me, if I’m honest.  This person must be in my atmosphere, and I wish I knew who they were.  Alas, I respect the anonymity they want to keep, and I am forever grateful for their support.

Now, I’ve reached my goal, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still donate, of course.  I just won’t be pushing it much, which is good news for your social media feeds.  I am hopeful that this year there will be actual walking involved, too.  I try to stay positive with these thoughts, because someday everything will go back to normal.  In the meantime, there’s still little miracles, like anonymous donors and waking up feeling well.

Oh!  Also, in this time-suck of a week, I had a poem come out at Cabildo Quarterly that you should definitely check out!

World Suicide Prevention Day

I know I just updated yesterday, but today is World Suicide Prevention Day, so here we are.

In case you’re new and don’t know me, I am almost constantly trying to raise funds for suicide prevention through the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  Right now, I am on a 4-month hiatus, but be sure that come January sign-up I will be back, begging for your pocket change.  In the meantime, let’s talk about suicide, shall we?

Some people are scared of that word, due to the stigma that surrounds mental illness in pretty much all forms.  Suicide is scary, especially when you consider the fact that literally everyone has a chance of dying from it.  It has no requirements and can affect anyone at any time.  There are many reasons people commit suicide, but I’m not going to delve into speculation about the lives of other people.  I can only speak to myself. 

For me, suicide is the final and most tragic symptom of depression.  People who aren’t depressed simply do not kill themselves.  You may argue “what if said person has a terminal illness and decides to go out on their own terms?”  That person is depressed, fool.  You don’t get a terminal illness without a healthy dose of depression.  “What if said person was a drug addict and overdosed and didn’t MEAN to kill themselves?”  Drug addiction is a sign of depression.  Happy people don’t do drugs. 

Moral of the story?  Depression kills.

Close to 800,000 people die due to suicide every year.  That’s a body every 40 seconds.  Every 40 seconds, someone on the planet decided they have had enough, and ends it.  It’s a sad statistic, but one I remember.

Recently, I spoke to a friend who has had some suicidal moments in her life.  We both have Major Depressive Disorder and often talk frankly and openly about such things.  I asked her about fears, for my previous blog, and she couldn’t come up with anything that fit the scope of the article, but she did mention large bodies of water.  She fears them because she doesn’t trust herself.  I can understand that-I fear the bottle of Xanax I keep on the top shelf in the bathroom.  It’s the reason I don’t have guns in the house, for chrissake-fear that we will snap, and end it, is real and with us every day.

Many years ago, I went to the beach.  There was a pier that everyone was jumping off, maybe a 25-foot drop.  I’m a fairly strong swimmer and I don’t fear heights so I literally leapt at the chance to jump off this pier.  The problem is, as soon as I hit the water, the tide went out.  I started swimming back to shore, but felt my arms and legs get heavier.  I noticed that I wasn’t making much headway, and was drifting further out.  I tried to grab hold of the pier but only bashed my side against it as the waves picked up.  Finally, I was underwater, sinking, thinking “Gee, this is peaceful.  This would be a good way to go.  If I die right now, this isn’t so bad.”

But I didn’t die.  Someone grabbed my arm and pulled me up, and I saw my friend Mike, red-faced and huffing, dragging me up and out of the water. Eventually he got me back to shore, where I threw up a bunch of lake water and sputtered for air.  I remember thinking “Thank God he was here!” and, also, “So close.  So close to quiet.”  I wasn’t necessarily suicidal, but I was looking for a relief that seemed illuminated by possible death.  That’s not to say suicidal thoughts haven’t entered my mind.  In high school I was pretty much at my worst, and considering the easy way out, but a friend stopped me, showing me how much I had to live for.  In college, I spent twenty minutes standing on a bridge trying to decide if jumping was a good plan, until my mother showed up and the idea floated away.  So yes, these thoughts come to me, but they also leave, and I am happy to see them go.  The sad part is when they come for others. 

Not that there isn’t help, because there is.  There are suicide hotlines, counseling, medication, and all sorts of emotional tools to keep you from getting to that point.  Most people find the situation hopeless, and don’t look for help.  Well, it’s here, guys.  It exists.  And it’s worth it.

Do I know you?  Are you feeling depressed or suicidal?  Do you need to talk?  Get in touch.  Are you a stranger who needs help, but doesn’t know where to turn?  I don’t care.  Get in touch.  There are no judgments on my end, I assure you.  I can raise all the money in the world and write a million blog posts about it, but the only thing that really is going to stop suicide is people coming together and standing up to it, and being a support for those facing such unfathomable decisions.  It is my hope that all the depressed people in the world choose one more day, every day, because things do change.  Things do get better. Maybe not easier, but better.  I promise.

Walk to Fight Suicide

On the 7th I will be participating in the Out of the Darkness Walk sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. So naturally I’m hyping it all over social media. Please read my story below, and click here if you would like to donate!

I’m walking in the Out of the Darkness Buffalo Walk to fight suicide and support AFSP’s bold goal to reduce the suicide rate 20% by 2025.

Several years ago, my friend Beth asked me to walk with her in the AFSP’s Out of the Darkness walk.  I obliged, unaware of what this walk would come to mean to me.  I have struggled with mental illness since childhood, and have had moments in my life where suicide seemed like a viable option.  I found that I could never take my own life, mainly because of my sister, who is my bright spot in all things dark. However, I wanted to help others who haven’t found their bright spot yet, and help them move away from the destructive path of depression that often leads to suicide. 
 I started raising money and participating in the walk yearly.  I recruited friends and family to participate. I even suggested to my mother that her employer, a mental health organization, set up an information booth.  Next year, health providing, I hope to volunteer on the planning committee. It has become my pet charity, and has a mission statement I believe in.
 I want anyone reading this to know that they are not alone.   I want my friends and family to know that they can reach out to me at any time.  I want those suffering from depression, abuse, trauma, illness, and addiction to choose one more day. 
 I did.
 Keep choosing more. Keep hanging on. It may not get easier, but that doesn’t mean it can’t get better.  I can tell, from my experience, that it does indeed get better.

Please help me reach my goal by clicking the “Donate” button on this page. All donations are 100% tax deductible and benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), funding research, education, advocacy, and support for those affected by suicide.

Thank you for your support!

The Darkest Hours

Before posting some poems yesterday, I was toying with another topic.  I scrapped it, because my thoughts were unfocused. Then I woke up and checked twitter, and now I feel like I have to get my words together and write about what I meant to yesterday.

There is one topic that I did not touch on during my Breaking the Stigma series, and that is suicide.

I would never call myself suicidal, but in my youth I did have feelings of such despair that death seemed like a viable option.  However, I had an image in my head that kept me from making such stupid mistakes, and that is my grandmother, Lois. When she died, I found her, and while the cause of death was natural enough, none of it seemed natural to me.  The thought that, were I to kill myself, someone would have to find me-that was enough. So much of my pain came from that point in my life, because of that one little moment, so how could I inflict that pain on others? Furthermore, there’s the pain of losing a loved one, which I learned at an early age, and I could never impose that on my family. Ergo, I reasoned that suicide was stupid.

Don’t get me wrong.  There have been times I was so depressed that I begged God to just end it, but I would never do it myself.

Some people think suicide is selfish, and I’m not going to argue that, exactly.  You can have that opinion. I just think that there must be some deep well of pain that causes people to kill themselves that most of us will never experience.  

This week we lost two icons.  Kate Spade, whose bags brought joy and whimsy to my wardrobe, not to mention my favorite wallet that I intend to use until it falls apart.  And today, Anthony Bourdain, a personal hero of Mark’s and host of one of our favorite travel shows. I can’t imagine what issues they faced, but I am so sad that they have left us, and it reminds me that suicide is something that can affect anyone.

In September, I will be walking in the Out of Darkness walk for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  I participate in this event every year, in an effort to raise money to help those considering suicide. If you would like to donate,  there’s a link over to the right of the page. If you’re feeling like you need to talk to someone, there is the number below. If you want to talk to me, I’m right here.  There is no reason to leave this life…there is always a better moment coming. Stay strong.

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Out of the Darkness

Six years ago, my friend Beth told me about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s annual Out of the Darkness Walk, which raised money and awareness for mental health counseling and suicide hotlines.  We decided it would be a good thing for us to do, having both had a difficult year struggling with our own mental health issues.  The premise was simple; we would ask people to sponsor us, and then walk around Delaware Park on a nice day in early fall.  What it was, for me, was something more.  I had recently lost someone to suicide, and having suffered from depression since childhood, I was heartened to see so many people come together for a cause.  For a moment, I didn’t feel crazy.  I didn’t feel alone.  I felt like every person around me understood the pain depression could cause a person and those they loved.  It did my soul good.

I have participated every year since, with my family, my friends, and my husband by my side.  The one glitch was two years ago when I was stuck in a hospital bed, but I still raised some money.  It’s an important tradition for me that I look forward to every September.  Last year I dropped the ball a bit, registering late and coming nowhere near my goal, so this year I registered as soon as I got the email for the walk.  (So if you’re following me on social media, get ready to see the link for the next 7 months.)  I ask that you please consider donating, or if you’re local, joining us at Delaware Park on September 8th.  Every year the event gets bigger and better, and every year I still find that sense of hope I found the first time I walked, with my friend by my side.   

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