Life’s Lesson: Aim To Live


Digital StillCamera

It has been a long time since I posted on my blog, far too long actually.  It’s been a rough time but after listening to a video about Zach Sobiech, I’m here to let you know I’m improving – a promise I make to myself, my late husband, and my family of friends.

 

I’ve told you about my late husband suffering from depression, which nobody knew about.  And how he took his life May 4, 2010.  I found him, tried resuscitating him, however, it was too late.

 

It’s not too late for others though.  And while I’ve written about much information on suicide prevention, symptoms of depression and other information surrounding this growing epidemic, I’m now going to tell you something a bit more positive.

 

In grieving loss by suicide, you never have closure.  So many questions remain without answers and, of course, one becomes angry during the process of healing.  Anger for me was partly in the promise when we Martin and I married, until death do us part.  We promised to “always love each other.”

 

How does one do that really?  Don’t we all assume that ‘death’ is a very long time into the future?  I know that I certainly felt that way.  However, for me it was less than a year.  I felt angry and cheated.  Until today that is.  This young man, Zach, lived his life.  He didn’t take it sitting down.  He even spoke of dreaming and talking of plans with his girlfriend about how many kids they should have.  All this while knowing he had but a few months left to live.  That’s when it hit me.

 

Martin did make good on his promise.  He loved me until “death do us part.”  And most of all, he loved me the best he could.  I couldn’t ask for more.  It would be unfair.

 

Like Martin, those pondering suicide feel there is no way out of their black hole, the pit of life they often refer to.  He couldn’t handle it any longer and I, like most people, didn’t understand the signs and what he was going through.  He never spoke of such things – ever.  His family never even knew.

 

So my purpose of this writing?  To recognize that life is about living, not waiting to die.  And love is about doing just that – love the person the “best you can” while you can.  Martin loved me for three years, although we were married less than a year.  He brightened my world with happiness, laughter, and joy during those three years, up until the end.

 

In a way, he lived like he was dying – doing the best he could with the most love and interest and honor he could muster.  I loved him then and I love him now.

 

Please don’t wait until the right moment(s) … don’t use life as a springboard for the proverbial, “when life is more positive or we’re better off …” routines.  Live your life – truly live it.  Never hesitate to tell that certain someone, or family and friends, whomever … that you love them.  And don’t hesitate to engage in an activity you really enjoy or want to try.  Never let your last words or thoughts be, “I wish I had …”

 

In essence, live positively no matter what is occurring in your life.  This young man did.  He was a teenager and he died today, May 20 from Osteosarcoma.  And he was the most positive influence in the lives of his family, friends, and now those strangers who learn about his life through his songs, the video his family made, as well as the Fund created in his name.

 

For anyone out there who is dealing with depression, please seek all available help.  Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).  If you know someone, or suspect someone has difficulties in this area, talk gently with them and help them to seek help from medical professionals, therapists, psychologists, doctors, nurses.  There is help out there, and sometimes all we need is an ear, or a hand.   Never judge or dictate what that person should do.  But gently tell them you’re there for them and you will be through whatever methods they choose to get help.

 

And I hope everyone out there reading this remembers to LIVE life, don’t sit back and let anything pass you by!  And don’t forget to LOVE and let those you love know about it!

Don’t be afraid your life will end; be afraid it will never begin”

Grace Hansen

 

 

 

 

Has Suicide Affected Someone You Know? You Will Get Through This


Be Kind Fighting Hard Battle

Much has transpired since that fateful day back on May 4, 2010 when my husband took his own life through suicide.  And there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t try to reconcile with myself all of the things I’ve felt, actions I’ve taken, tears I’ve cried and important lessons I’ve learned.

Because people often ask me questions about suicide and depression, I’ve often thought about how to impart helpful information and help folks understand the dilemma facing those of us who are called “survivors” of suicide.

For the first six or seven months after the suicide, I cried.  Not just off and on during the days and nights but a steady stream of weeping and wailing as an expression of the grief I was experiencing.  Finally I asked Hospice and therapists, “When will I ever get over this?”  The answer may surprise you.  I was told, “You never get over it.  You learn to live through it.”

Don't lose hope

My life felt hopeless and was spiraling downward as suicidal thoughts took over my thinking.  In fact, I even purchased the items in order to go through with it.  I wasn’t proud of that but rather just wanted and needed the pain to stop and the darkness to end.  I was so fortunate that something inside my usually positive self raised up and I wept (again) but this time with a realization that I could not end my own life when I had yelled out all these months how could my husband do this to those who loved him.

Since I became reclusive, I began to read articles, stories, poems, and my journal aloud.  Partly because I was so lonely, and partly so the deafening silence wouldn’t frighten me so much.  That’s when it happened – I changed.

Reading my journal helped me to keep time a bit more functional for me and also helped remind me how I was coming along in very tiny baby steps.  I read aloud the answer to when I’d get over this.  And repeated it aloud and slowly, “You never get over it.  You learn to live through it.”  I wept unabashed for a long while that day.  And I believe fervently that this was the beginning of my reality to live through this.

I needed to find little bits of happiness in my life – daily if I could.  And thankfully I believe there is a God and I also believe in angels.  Whether they come directly from that place referred to as Heaven, or they are those around us – a friend, neighbor, co-worker or stranger – there are angels among us.  And I always remembered to pray at night … not the usual way, for it would make me weep incessantly and I was always so worn out from the tears and raw emotions.

Household duties were difficult at best as were outdoor gardening and pool cleaning.  But I began to be thankful that I had such things and not that I couldn’t care for them.  I began to realize there would come a day when things would improve.  In fact, for my personality, I found it was a necessity.

Girls closeup in office

With time, the tears lessened just a bit.  I was able to bring something new into my life.  I rescued two female dogs – or they rescued me – and opened my heart little by little.  I zealously believe that’s when my life began to change for the better.  It was now a year after Martin’s death and I was learning to live through it!

Often I’m asked so many questions because people are eager to learn.  It is amazing how many of us know someone, relatives, neighbors, co-workers etc. who have been affected from suicide in some way in their lives.  I’m making it something on my bucket list to continue to help educate and spread the correct information on mental illness, depression, and suicide.  These people aren’t crazy any more than I was in contemplating such an act.  They have an illness and need help – just as anyone would and should seek help for a physical illness.

This is Part 1 of what will become several parts, no doubt.  Truths need to be told, not false information given and I know that it takes time – baby steps – to understand and take it all in and learn from it.  If ever you have questions, please ask them.  I’ll do my best to honestly explain to you what I know from my experience and my research and learning experiences.  I do not claim to know it all – never think that.  However, I know that to “live through it” we must help one another to understand coping with this disease by gathering the tools you’ll need someday.  And if I can help, I’ll be pleased to do so.

Have yourself a great weekend.  Please come back to read more of my experiences “living through this.”

 JSpic

 

Suicide Prevention … The Problem and The Facts No One Talks About


Such sadness and tears I have discovering that troubled country singer Mindy McCready, only 37, has died of an apparent suicide, as the result of a single self-inflicted gunshot after also shooting her dog.

It brought back the memories I experienced when my own late husband, Martin, took his life in 2010.  I’ve come far as a ‘survivor’ of suicide (yes that’s what we are called, family and loved ones of those who took their lives via suicide).

The Associated Press reports that her body was found 4pm Sunday (2/18/2013) on the front porch of her home in Heber Springs, Arkansas, after neighbors heard gunshots and called the police.

McCready leaves behind two children, 6-year-old Zander and 9-month-old Zayne.  Her death also comes just a little more than a month after the suicide death of her boyfriend, songwriter David Wilson, age 34.

So many people have asked me for information in these past three years since Martin’s death.  My mission is to educate people about suicide and to enlighten those who have been left behind to grieve.  We who have been left behind need to be heard.  We can make a difference telling people how suicide can affect a family and hundreds of lives.

 

Depression

Depression is a common mental disorder, characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, feelings of tiredness, and poor concentration.

Depression can be long-lasting or recurrent, substantially impairing an individual’s ability to function at work or school or cope with daily life. At its most severe, depression can lead to suicide. When mild, people can be treated without medicines but when depression is moderate or severe they may need medication and professional talking treatments.

Depression is a disorder that can be reliably diagnosed and treated by non-specialists as part of primary health care. Specialist care is needed for a small proportion of individuals with complicated depression or those who do not respond to first-line treatments.

Facts Most People are Unaware

Suicide occurs when a person ends their life.  It is the 11th leading cause of death among Americans.  But suicide deaths are only part of the problem.  More people survive suicide attempts than actually die.  They are often seriously injured and need medical care.

Most people feel uncomfortable talking about suicide.  Often, victims are blamed.  Their friends, families, and communities are left devastated.

 

Warning Signs and Risk Factors

A   Person is at Critical Risk of Suicide if He or She:
  • Threatens or talks of wanting to hurt or kill him or herself; and/or,
  • Looks for ways to kill him or herself by seeking access to firearms, pills, or        other means; and/or
  • Talks or writes about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the  ordinary. If your friend somehow indicates or communicates suicidal thoughts, get help immediately from a mental health professional or a professional or a hospital emergency department, or call 911.

 

depression sad_sketch

 

If  someone shows or expresses any of the following behaviors or symptoms, they   may signal a suicidal crisis.  An evaluation by a mental health professional is essential to rule out the possibility of suicide and/or to initiate appropriate treatment.

  • Feelings of Hopelessness
  • Anxiety,  agitation, trouble sleeping or sleeping all the time
  • Talk of having no reason to live; no sense of purpose in life
  • Feelings of being trapped – like there’s no way out
  • Increase alcohol  and/or drug use
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and community
  • Rage, uncontrolled anger, expressions of wanting or seeking revenge
  • Reckless behavior or more risky activities, seemingly without thinking
  • Dramatic mood changes
  • Giving Away Prized Possessions

 

Get Help … 
… by contacting a mental health professional or calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). The staff can refer you to resources in your community.  Lifeline has trained counselors available 24/7.

 

Risk Factors for Suicide

Keep in mind events and circumstances that increase risk:

 

Having More Warning Signs
If   your friend has more than a couple of these warning signs for suicide in the near-term, do contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or a mental health professional: having more than one of these signs has been associated with greater risk of suicidal behavior.  Remember, if a person has critical warning signs like talking about killing him or herself or dying or looking for ways to kill him or herself, get immediate help.

 

Losses
Losses and other events- whether anticipated or actual – can lead to feelings   of shame, humiliation, or despair and may serve as triggering events for suicidal behavior.  Triggering events include events include losses, such as the breakup of a relationship or a death; academic failures; trouble with authorities, such as school suspensions or legal difficulties; bullying; or health problems.  This is especially true for youth already vulnerable because of low self-esteem or a mental disorder, such as depression.  Help is available and should be arranged.

 

Previous Suicide Attempts
If your friend has attempted suicide in the past, he or she is at increased   risk for another attempt or suicide. Many suicide attempts go unrecognized,   but if you are aware of a previous attempt, pay attention to the warning   signs. If your friend is expressing some thoughts about suicide, it’s okay to   ask, “have you ever had these thoughts before?” and if so, “have you ever done anything about them?”  This is especially important when conditions are similar to the prior attempt.

 Suicide - Candle lit

To Feel Love Again … Ditto


 

 

“Remember everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something and has lost something”

 

When you lose love in your life, there is a huge hole left, a gaping hole in your heart where love dwelt.  It doesn’t matter how that love was lost – natural causes, suicide, old age, accident … loss is painful.  Loss of love hangs over you as a black cloud, raining upon daily life.  And depending upon loss of whom – be it a parent, a child, a spouse, a friend – the damage to your heart can be long-term and feel endless.

“Real loss only occurs when you love something more than yourself.”

However, there is a glimpse of a positive aspect.  I know this first-hand after losing the love of my life, my sweet husband, due to suicide.  It has now been 28 months as of September 4th that he is gone from this world.  Too soon, too hurtful, too sad.  I faced so many unperceivable emotions during this time.  Yet there is happiness in my life now.  The light is brighter in my heart and my soul can breathe again.  It was a lesson in breathing which began to teach me I could live again and be truly alive through the sadness.

The term “light at the end of the tunnel” is something which makes you believe that a difficult or unpleasant situation will end.  I’ve lost love through several situations in my life.  Loss of husband, parents, siblings, friends all feel just a bit different; the loss of my husband being the worst ever.  Suicide is devastating and you never, ever get over it.  I have learned, however, that you can live through it and “yes” you can even allow happiness to shine on you again.

My writing back nearly two and one-half years ago was what I call black writing.  It was meaningful and important, yet bleak and dark.  My life was altered forever.  With the love of friends and what I believe are my angels surrounding me, I purposefully brought life back into my heart.  Life trailed along in the form of furry pets, my three beautiful girls.  These girls are three dogs I’ve rescued, or really who rescued me.

 

Fast forward to present day and I am profoundly happier and feel so much love through these lovable creatures from God.  Love shows through and takes hold in so many ways and not just from furry creatures.  My friends have been guiding beams of light as my ship sailed without a compass for a while.  Many a stormy night presented itself during these 28 months, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you that I still have “those days” or “those nights” when sadness consumes me.  After all, when you have real love and lose it in this world, is it forgotten one day?  Then again, I must ask you is that love you feel you’ve lost truly lost?

 

 

Many, if not most, reading this right now have seen the movie, “Ghost” when Patrick Swayze says to Demi Moore, “It’s amazing, Molly.  The love you have inside, you take it with you.”

 

 

That love is what I miss in the here and now.  But it’s NOT gone.  It’s still here in my heart and always will be.  And I believe Swayze’s quote – Martin did take his love and mine with him!  The part I miss is the physical Martin in this life.  He was gone all too soon.  Although in life, we are never guaranteed what forever means.  We have no guarantees other than to LIVE life.  And that, my dearest friends, is the key element to life.  We “must live life” in order to love and feel and be happy again.

“If you’re alone, I’ll be your shadow.  If you want to cry, I’ll be your shoulder.  If you want a hug, I’ll be your pillow.  If you need to be happy, I’ll be your smile.  But anytime you need a friend, I’ll just be me.”

 

Three’s Company … Also a Family


There’s a saying, “Who Rescued Who” referring to saving or adopting a pet which in my case are dogs. I wrote last April about my two white boxers in “We Are Family — My Dogs and Me!” Extra extra … now there is another dog saved. Or was I the one saved, again?

As I learn about dancing in the rain, May 4th is a reminder of the terrible tragedy that I encountered in 2010 – the horrible suicide of my husband. So tomorrow is the 2nd anniversary of that awful day. Sad, yes…angry still, can’t help but be a bit. However, this year I made a firm decision as to May 4th. Going forward, I wanted it to be not just a memory of sadness and grief. Oh no, I want to show progress and I need to find positive reasons for progressing with my life. This year on May 4th, I’m officially adopting my foster dog, Mabel.

I’ve learned quite a few lessons in two years’ time, about myself and my life, and about others around me. Your real friends will always be there for you no matter what you go through. The others … well, they were really only acquaintances anyway.  And what is family these days?  It’s very different than it once was in our parents’ era.  Broken homes, single parents, blended families – you name it.  It’s not homogeneous and uniform; it’s heterogeneous and different.  That is America today.  And I believe family is what and who you make it.  In my life, my little family is made up of three wonderful creatures who love me unconditionally.  They are always there for me, just like my real friends are.  And I couldn’t be happier with my family.  I wonder how many people feel this way.

And also I made some decisions.  I wanted to Speak Up about the tragedy to inform people about suicide, its statistics, and that there is help out there.  So many positives I felt could come about from such a dreadful situation.  And I’ve made further decisions, one important one is to make May 4th much more of a positive.

Now I had viewed many photos of dogs that need to be rescued.  But already having two, I had no feelings to have another.  When I saw Mabel’s photo and read about her, it all tugged at my heart.  She felt to me like some kindred spirit needing me.  Once I brought her home as my foster, she immediately made friends with my other two dogs, Miley and Casey, sisters.  Her timid demeanor, soft and gentle ways and she is the sweetest girl I’ve ever known.  Which leads me to the original quote above.  Who Saved Who here?  I think we saved each other.  What a wonderful way to help remember May 4th with new beginnings and a new life.

As I work from home now, the girls are here with me and seem to love it.  The Florida weather allows me to open the sliding doors to the living room and the girls go in and out, like little kids.  After playing outdoors for a while, they’ll trot inside for water and to check up on me.  Life is good!

So look into your hearts and see if maybe a pet needs your saving.  Or perhaps you could be helped a bit by “being saved” and becoming a family.