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H is for the Hard Things

10 Apr

It’s been a rough week. Discovering that the thing I’d swept under the rug has created a PTSD panic in my life, waiting to erupt when least expected.

So like any sensible person, when that happened, I shoved down the emotions, endured the aching feeling in the pit of my stomach for several days until finally today I could spend some quality time with my SD.

SD stands for Stupid Doc because it’s an easier tag to give this individual than “Psychologist” or “Shrink” – as if putting her down with acronyms would somehow make me that much more sane than other people who don’t go to counseling once a week regular as clockwork. (I would never admit to being that regular. After all, some weeks I see her on Tuesdays and on the others on Wednesdays).

We hide that kind of thing in our society. No one likes to talk about getting help because that seems to imply that you need help after all. That there’s something wrong, and you weren’t big enough, strong enough, smart enough, or SOMETHING enough to handle it on your own like everyone else in the world.

The truth is I’ve got issues and I do need help and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Much. Ok, a lot. This is a hard post to type.

But I’m brave enough to make the effort to speak up. It’s when we hide things that everything spirals out of control and the bad stuff happens. You know THAT stuff. The person you read about in the newspaper that did a Terrible Thing. That story in your prayer group…you know the one…you were horrified when it was told when deep down you knew, KNEW that at one point in your life it could have been you. Or someone you love.

I was there too. Several years ago I suffered in silence and finally reached the point where the cutting wasn’t enough and I was going to end my life on the last night of a Writer’s Conference I was attending. Because after all, I couldn’t do that at home. And everyone would be so busy with packing up and leaving that I wouldn’t have disrupted a thing.

Yeah. Right.

Those were hard days back then. And the truth is, for those of us for suffer from depression it’s not something that goes away completely. Not always. Too many grey days, too much stress, too little sleep and not enough of the right kinds of foods…all that can trigger the sadness.

A crises can trigger a catastrophe in your thinking.

Thankfully I realized something not that long ago. I’ve learned something in all these years. I don’t have to deal with the bad thoughts alone. And honestly? That there’s nothing wrong with admitting you need help. And then seeking it out.

Yeah, today was a hard topic, but it needs to be talked about. You’re not less of a wife, mother, son, Christian, father, grandparent, whatever if you ask for help.

Honestly? To my way of thinking it makes you one awesome and amazing person.

Hold onto that thought, ok? As Red Green says, “Remember, I’m pulling for you. We’re all in this together.”

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Derailment

8 Jan

I had a plan for my day.

I woke up and thought, these are the things I’m going to do today. And I looked with pleasure upon those things, and even eager anticipation. It was Monday after all. The start of a new week. The start of easing myself into a little bit of WWC work again (15 minutes a day, just to read email…but still SOMETHING). I would then lose myself in Pride and Prejudice. And work on that sweater I keep putting off. Just a little. Not overdoing it.

But days don’t always go as planned. Mine certainly didn’t.

It started with hysteria, source my daughter. Her best friend had committed suicide.

So began a day of holding and comforting and praying and counseling. Crises mode, everything else forgotten. Everyone pulling together to help and while not provide answers (who can?) but to at least provide understanding and compassion.

Only…well it turned out to be a hoax. No one died. It was all…well that’s hard to say. Maybe a test to see who cared. Or maybe just pain and confusion and wanting to disappear that badly that she erased herself in such a disturbing manner as a cry for help. These things we don’t know. These are things for counselors to figure out. Professionals.

So relief came with..well..anger on my part. I will admit to it. After all my daughter was HURT by this action. Those tears, that grief was heartfelt. The guilt she felt over not being in the right place to say the right thing – to SAVE her friend was genuine. And painful.

Later came pity. Because people who are happy people – dare I even say well-adjusted people – don’t make this kind of statement. I feel for her. I am praying for her. And I hope she can find help and answers and everything she needs.

What does it say about us though? Because when I posted this news on Facebook I wasn’t seeing so much relief as anger – a lot of people were praying and upset and in fact THEIR day got derailed by this news. Good people. Friends and friends of friends and even strangers who stopped a moment and breathed a prayer and held their own daughters and sons a little closer.

We don’t react to derailment well. We like our days, for the most part, to be orderly. Not necessarily regimented with a routine figured down to the minute and carefully color-coded in a day planner (why are you looking at me like that? Ok FINE I have mine color coded. Online. And backed up on every electronic device I own) but we do have certain expectations for the day. Most of us have at least a vague idea what we’ll be doing tomorrow and even the day after that.

But it goes beyond that. Derailment is…painful. Because it’s a little reminder that our lives aren’t entirely in our control to begin with. That a moment can come that changes everything. For my daughter that moment came this morning when she read the horrible news. For me it came not long after. For my friends…when I posted it on FB.

We’re all so fragile when it comes down to it. Frightened of losing the things that matter most to us. Especially in such violent unexpected ways. At the same time, those fragile moments, also give rise to our greatest strengths. Like the moment (before my daughter knew her friend was actually ok) where my daughter lifted her chin and let me know that she was fine, that she was stronger than this, that she would make something good come out of today’s events.

We all bear such an awesome responsibility to each other, don’t we? We derail each other’s days by posting on social media with all the confidence and trust that sometimes it’s ok to do just that. I think sometimes we don’t realize just what an amazing and wonderful thing it is that in an instant we can be surrounded by an outpouring of global support when our day goes badly.

But was also can’t abuse that trust. I feel badly that I got so many people upset by this story. Before I deleted the original post there were 137 separate responses of heartbroken prayers and hugs from people whose days derailed just enough to give room to our own derailment. I regret this horribly. I can only imagine the regret that must come from creating this kind of derailment deliberately. How many lives a note along the lines of “xxx committed suicide last night” impacts.

And oh yes that note impacts lives. Never never think that you’re so alone that such a message would notĀ devastateĀ and untold number of people around you. And that those ripples won’t keep traveling outwards and hurting people that you’ve never in your life met or even heard of.

So perhaps this is a reminder to speak wisely. And a thankfulness that in a world filled with so much cynicism that people still love freely. And are there for us when our day derails in the most unexpected and awful ways.

And most of all, reminds us that we’re really not alone in this after all.

And please…if you’re so sad that you’re thinking about ending your life, there IS help. Please please please talk to someone – a parent, a teacher, a pastor…another adult that you trust. Don’t keep these kinds of feelings to yourself.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

[as a side note, the picture I’m using today is from a train derailment in Momence, IL back in 1999. I lived near Momence when this happened, only one week after the tragic Amtrak Crash only 7 miles from THIS derailment. What the picture doesn’t show is the the engine on the second train (two trains collided) actually went airborne, left the tracks, and landed in an empty lot right next to a house. It was an amazing sight, that big engine plowed into the dirt like that, only a hundred or so feet from a child’s swingset just on the other side of a picket fence. Even more amazing – no one was killed. The engineer of that train saw he was going to hit and leaped out of the cab before impact, saving his life.]