If there’s one thing I hope this blog does for all who stumble across it is, to offer a sense of hope. To bring light to conversations, emotions, thoughts and struggles that so many of us face on a daily basis, but are often too fearful to bring up at the supper table. This is many people’s real life, whether it’s disease, finances, addiction, divorce, or death – these topics are too many people’s traumas and tragedies. While some have been able to triumph over these road blocks, there are still many stuck, unable to see outside of their current circumstances. These are conversations, that until we start having them – aren’t going to go away. Every change must first begin with awareness. I am hoping that this will shed some light and awareness on many different topics and emotions that I think more people will be able to resonate with, at some point in their life, then not. My hope is that this is the beginning of many more conversations to come within your life, ones with rawness, vulnerability, empathy and compassion. May this be the planting of new seeds of awareness, as well as hope in each persons life that comes across this, may you know you aren’t alone in your struggles and that the light always follows the darkness, so please – hold on.
I had the to opportunity to speak at our community walk this weekend, Out of the Darkness. This walk is to promote awareness and education, as well as support to the conversation of mental illness and suicide. This is something that no matter what – is just a heavy event, it’s really hard for it not to be, as these are heavy topics that come with heavy feelings and emotions surrounded by them. I really wanted this years talk to be different then I had done in years’ past, I wanted it to be general but specific, acknowledging all who were there and their stories, honoring whatever current stage they were in on their journey – but also bringing forth a lighter note as well.
This is something that I want to include as an entry because for most of us standing at this event, we already knew all too well what standing on the other side of this hell feels like, carrying the guilt of not seeing the signs or being more proactive, the heart wrenching fact that they felt so isolated, empty and sad to be able to continue on is something we know all too well and it’s something that brings us to tears every time we think of what they endured and what it took for them to follow through. But the point isn’t just for those of us that now fit under the category of ‘suicide survivor’, it’s something that people need to be aware BEFORE they hit that point. It’s something that needs to be talked about MORE in homes around the supper table, no matter how uncomfortable that can be. The words “suicide” and “depression” need to be used more often, so that they roll off the tongue as easily as “pizza” and “sunshine”.
I’d like to share my story, to hopefully shine some light on this subject, as well as promote more light on such a dark and heavy subject. And I hope you’re willing to share this, to bring forth light to others as well – for you never who many stumble across it that may be in need of it.
” I, like most of you here, am a survivor of suicide after losing my sister Josie to a losing battle of clinical depression in 2007. It wasn’t until after that day that I was forced to feel the depths of the valleys in which she, and many others have walked. Through those years of darkness and fog I endured the sobering truth of what standing on this side of not only mental illness feels like, but what carrying the heaviest burden of all feels like – guilt.
We all stand here in different parts of our journey, ranging from months to years, with different stories. From veterans unable to co-exist in a world that had become foreign to them upon returning from the damage that couldn’t be undone, to those who had side effects to medications that forced them in the opposite direction of the intent of that medication, to an impulsive decision with what may have seemed like the only last piece to the puzzle, to just being sick and tired of attempting to fight what seemed like a losing battle through the darkness.
The details that go along with our loved one’s story, the aftermath for all of us standing here, is one we wouldn’t wish upon anyone. The reverberation that suicide generates, despite your stage in the grieving process, is all too familiar. To feel as if there were no other way out aside from this, to be so enveloped and suffocated in a deep and dark place is something that no individual should ever have to endure.
There isn’t a prerequisite needed in order to fall under this hush hush category, as we have seen that money nor fame can buy happiness or make you invisible from this crippling disease. From famous people such as Kurt Cobain and Robin Williams, to the ever growing numbers, especially in teens, due to the pressures of the world around them, to adults due to financial, work, home and relationship stressors and lack of facilities and treatment options. Simply being unable to talk about it in public, even in our own homes because we have made it taboo and an uncomfortable topic, and some just honestly not knowing how to respond. It almost always comes back to feeling of being isolated and alone.
A large contributing factor for this being the third leading cause of death is the sheer lack of hope in so many. The feeling that others can’t relate, or that you’re the only one enduring these thought processes. We are in a time where electronics have silenced us even more, tearing us away from human connection and compassion. We have entered into an era where the world around us seems to get crazier by the day, full of noise and static, opinions, debate and fog – it can be hard to find that light of hope to focus on.
It took me a long time to see beyond those first years of darkness, to gain a different perspective, but I honestly believe that it is up to those of us that have endured the pain of losing someone to this terrible cause of death because we are needed to be the beacon of light through the darkness.
When we begin to break down these barriers of fear and hopelessness, allowing light to stream in through the concrete walls that have barricaded us from each other, we can begin to see that healing can be possible. Perhaps it is then that our loved ones stories can begin to affect and shift the masses in a new way, letting others know that this isn’t the end, that they are supported and loved and that we’re here to help, educate and facilitate. Perhaps it is then that we can help them see through a new lens, one that brightens instead of dims, educates instead of criticizes and one that comforts instead of torments. Although this event is held with heavy hearts as a reminder to those who have taken their own lives, I hope today can also be about remembering to carry on their story, that despite our age, from young to old alike, reminding ourselves that we all have the ability to reach out in ways big and small to help others, to bring awareness to a conversation that has been silenced for far too long and to bring light to others around us, in whatever manner possible. May today be about more than just a reminder of the guilt and sadness that many carry inside, but may it be about reigniting hope and a light into a world that needs it more now than ever. “
**If this resonates with you, please feel free to share on social media in the hopes of helping any who may stumble across it.”