Why Suicide?

The question is always, Why? Why suicide? The answer is different for each person. The commonality is pain. Imagine, the worst day of your life. Imagine living that day every single day. That’s what depression and anxiety feel like.

It feels like everyone is living in the light, but your switch has turned off. You are all alone in the dark. You are moving in slow motion. You are confused, but you don’t know why. People say to you, ”You seem depressed.” Your answer is always, No I’m fine. The problem is you aren’t fine and you won’t be fine unless you seek help.

I understand this too well. I believe I suffered from depression and anxiety for many years before I finally got professional help. Every time I had a physical problem, I was told by doctors that it was in my head. I was really physically ill with several ailments. I still am.

Doctors said I was just depressed. It had a negative connotation. I insisted I wasn’t. The first time I listened to a doctor, I was given Prozac. I didn’t sleep for a week. I threw them away, called the doctor. He said keep taking them. I told him, I was worse on the medication and didn’t go back to him.

Having any type of mental illness carries a societal stigma that you would rather not deal with. People think you are weak, don’t pray enough and need Jesus (Since I was Buddhist, I need to go back to Jesus) or think you are strange and they avoid you.

Since childhood, I always felt something was unlikeable or unloveable about me. This began with my parents and feeling abandoned by both of them. I felt that no one truly loved or understood me. I felt inadequate, despite all the other successes I was having in life. I never addressed my feelings.

I had been raised by family members and never wanted to upset or seem ungrateful to the people who reared me. I just followed directions and did what was asked of me at home, at school and at work. Admitting I had low self-esteem would just bring unwanted opinions. I would hear how fortunate I was and how other people had it harder. I needed to be stronger. I didn’t see things that way.

I lived through and survived several traumatic experiences, back to back, in a short space of time. I was harmed by the actions and lack of compassion of others. I kept in my feelings, as I always did and never really noticed the sadness was increasing. Nothing brought me joy, but I kept moving through life every day.

I reached a point where I didn’t see the point of going through life feeling the way I did. It was draining physically and emotionally. I stopped attending Buddhist activites. I stopped chanting. I reacted badly to everything and everyone. I was physically ill with a myriad of ailments. Was this all my life was and would be? I was dealing with major depression and anxiety, but I didn’t know that.

After days of not sleeping, I took a handful of sleeping pills, instead of one. I didn’t care if I woke up or not. I woke up angry that I was still here, suffering and unhappy. I ended up admitting myself to a psychiatric ward for a few weeks after someone convinced me to seek help. I couldn’t stop sobbing. I finally relented. I knew I couldn’t continue living this way.

Medication and psychotherapy brought me peace. It didn’t happen overnight. For the first time, I openly discussed my pain with my therapist. I was stronger by speaking up and out. I was finally brave enough to face my life and my demons.

That was almost 10 years ago. I still go to therapy every two weeks. Having someone neutral listening to you is so beneficial. At times, I still feel a bit depressed but I have learned to see the signs. I’m no longer taking medication, but if I ever start to feel the darkness creeping back, I won’t hesitate to take what I need.

I can say that despite all the illnesses I still suffer from, I’m a happier person. I’ve stopped holding everything in. It’s harmful to my health. When I resumed chanting, I became spiritually stronger too. I’ve never stopped.

I say to people all the time that therapy is needed and necessary. In our country, mental health is not taken seriously enough. There are never enough resources for something so critical to the well-being of our citizens. Regularly seeing psychologists, counselors and psychiatrists should be seen as normal. You are not crazy. It is self-help and self-love.

We all have times when life can feel absolutely unbearable. We may never know what led Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain to take their own lives. We may never know if they sought help or had a support system. Just know they were in a level of pain that they couldn’t see the end of. They wanted peace.

The darkness consumes you. There is no light at the end of the tunnel.

The tunnel just seems to go on and on. Don’t brush it off when people say they are sad or depressed. If they deny being depressed, just be available and listen to them. A subtle remark could be their cry for help. Be the lantern for people in the dark. Be kind. Be their friend. You could help save a life.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline ‘1-800-273-TALK (8255)’ is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Do not suffer in silence. Seek help.

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Day 29 – 30 Day Writing Challenge

I can’t believe this 30 Day Challenge is almost over. The days really flew by.

Today’s topic- What are your goals for the next 30 days?

This challenge has shown me, I can be more consistent with my writing. I know I can write off the cuff and within an hour if I have to.  Writing more often is one of my goals. I will post as often as I can. Thanks to everyone who has offered encouragement and began following the blog during this month.

Since spring has decided to show up and stay around, I’ve gone back to tutoring adults twice a week. It’s fulfilling and gets me out the house for four hours every week. I really like my students and want to help them reach their personal goals of getting their high school equivalency diplomas, getting better jobs or just being able to read to their kids. I’ll do my best to assist them. Juggling multiple health conditions can be a challenge but my goal is to tutor everyday that I’m scheduled to be there.

I recently re- joined Weight Watchers to keep my weight under control. I’ve eaten healthy but I gained back some pounds I lost last year.  I’m not happy about it. Taking medications with side effects of weight gain and not moving enough has been an issue. Tracking what I eat allows me to see when I’m about to overindulge. I can also see when I can give myself a treat. Over the next 30 days, I plan to adhere to the program.

Winter was rough on my body and I didn’t physically feel good or pain free enough to exercise. Yesterday, I got myself back in the gym and rode on the incumbent bike for awhile. I’m taking it slowly. I hope to get there twice a week over the next 30 days. I also walk 9 city blocks each way when I tutor. That’s a bit more exercise. I rest half way there, drink water and then start again.

Another goal is to meet up with a few people and catch up. It’s been awhile. I have also lined up a few “out of my box “ adventures that I’ll do by myself. I’m trying to have some fun, with little expense.

I joined a women’s study group in SGI-USA where we will be studying the history of our lay Buddhist organization as written by our mentor and SGI President Daisaku Ikeda. There so much to learn and so much guidance on how to handle situations and life in general. I’ve been part of this group before and it’s always rewarding at the end to see how in-depth study can change your perspective and understanding. We meet once a month, in addition to the other monthly activities that we have in the SGI-USA.

My practice of Buddhism has helped me learn and understand how to make myself better and how to help others. President Ikeda writes, “Altruism is the most effective means of self-realization and self-perfection. Doing good for others is the best way to develop one’s own character and find greater happiness for oneself.”

With this in mind I’ll do by best this month to attain my own goals and do good for others at the same time.

Tomorrow is the end of the 30 Day Challenge, the start of new goals and the continuation of challenging myself everyday.

Day 27 of the 30 Day Writing Challenge

This is a follow up topic from yesterday’s which was write about an area in your life you would like to improve on.

Today’s topic is – Conversely write about something that is kicking ass right now.

So, what am I doing great in my life, right now? I’m living knowing who I am and understanding my worth.

I have never placed enough value on myself. I now honor myself, even when others don’t understand my thoughts and actions.

I truly believe that you become enlightened to different parts of yourself as you mature and grow. Your twenties are for discovery and learning what you like. By your fifties, you know what you like. You definitely know what you dislike. You are sure that you want to live true to yourself. You realize what makes you happy and what behaviors you will not tolerate from others.

I’m more confident to say no to things, no to people and yes to me and my feelings. Therapy has helped me become more respectful of my feelings.

Oprah always says, what do you know for sure? I know for sure that I’m much better at judging people and realizing who should be in my space.

There have been many times when I would compromise my feelings when I felt uncomfortable, hurt or disrespected.

I never wanted to upset anyone. I didn’t complain. I would accept my discomfort. That left me filled with self doubt and confusion. I would rationalize why people acted or treated me a certain way. I won’t do that to myself anymore. It’s not psychologically healthy.

My fifth decade has allowed me to finally free my mind, like that En Vogue song. At 52, I’m putting myself and my needs first. My happiness and comfort are important.

It took me a long time to come to these realizations. This may sound selfish to some. However, I’m no longer forcing relationships, situations or keeping what doesn’t give me joy in my life anymore.

I’ve won and I’ve lost. I’ve learned some things the hardest way possible. I’ve released people and negativity. I let go of unhappiness. I’m now turning the compassion I’ve extended to others, inward and loving me the way I deserve to be loved. Better days are ahead.

At one time, these are the things I sought to improve upon. I have learned many lessons. I know more will follow until the end of my days.

I feel that I am kicking ass, being true to myself. This is me. I’m living with confidence and I’m not second guessing myself anymore. I am happy with who I am and who I continue to grow into.

Day 22- 30 Day Writing Challenge

The challenge continues… Today’s topic called for 10 songs but, I added a few more. Why not? You will discover my tastes run the gamut of everything.

Put your music on shuffle and post the first 10 songs 

1. Simply Beautiful-  Leela James  https://youtu.be/BxTn1om6sWE
2. Versace on the Floor-Bruno Mars
3. Cry Me A River- Justin Timberlake and Timberland
4. Under the Moon and Over the Sky-
Angela Bofill
5. If Only For One Night-  Luther Vandross
6. Juicy Fruit-  Mtume
7. Be Ever Wonderful-  Earth Wind and Fire
8. I Want Candy-  Bow Wow Wow
9. Method of Modern Love- Daryl Hall and John Oates
10. Far Away- Kindred the Family Soul
11.All At Once- Jeffery Osborne
12. As You Like It- Euge Groove
13. Misled- Kool and the Gang
14. Since I Lost My Baby-  Michael McDonald
15.Blue Bayou – Linda Ronstandt
16. Love Takes Time- Mariah Carey
17. You Mean More to Me- Lionel Richie
18. Rock With You-  Michael Jackson
19. Home-  Stephanie Mills
20. Firework-  Katy Perry
21. Diamonds-  Rihanna
Listen and enjoy. I should have posted this about 30 minutes ago but, I listened in full to all of the songs. I couldn’t help myself  😉

Day 18- 30 Day Writing Challenge

I’ve been writing, but haven’t posted for awhile during the challenge. Today’s topic is making me think a lot about myself.

 Post 30 Facts About Yourself

1. Books and music are my first loves. I can read and listen to music at the same time, ever since I was a kid.

2. I can read 2 or 3 books at a time and not confuse the plots. I read fiction and non-fiction books simultaneously.

3. Writing compositions in elementary school helped me to see I was a good, creative writer.

4. I don’t think I have ever written a poem.

5. I could write my name before I started school at age 3.

6. I stayed in the house a majority of the time when I was as a child. I always had homework, it came first and I always did it. I guess it prepared me well for all the days that I now have to stay inside due to chronic pain and illnesses.

7. I don’t remember ever having a set bedtime.

8. I’ve always had insomnia.

9. I watched The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, The Honeymooners and I Love Lucy reruns very often as a kid. I enjoyed the conversations Johnny had with all his guests. I noticed that they chain smoked the entire show which they couldn’t do today. I  know the dialogue to the Original 39 Honeymooners episodes by heart and which Lucy episode is coming on within a few minutes.

10. Every Saturday night, I watched The Carol Burnett Show. To this day, I love anything Carol Burnett related.

11. Michael Jackson played a big part in my life. He was my first celebrity crush as a girl. I loved every stage of his illustrious career.  I wish I had seen him perform live in concert.

12. Prince and Michael’s sudden passings really hit me hard. It felt like a part of my childhood was gone. I did see Prince live in concert. It was incredible.

13. I love to cook. The aromas and flavors make me happy. For many years, I had so many digestive issues, I didn’t eat much. The issues have improved. I have lots of cookbooks that I haven’t used yet.

14. I’ve never met a piece of cake or bread I didn’t like.

15. The first time my writing was published was in high school in our school newspaper.

16. There are  places in my own state I keep saying I want to see and haven’t made it there yet.

17. I hate the cold.

18. I love the sun and the beach

19. I can’t recall the last time I went to the beach.

20. If I had the money, I would see as many  Broadway musicals as I could, when they opened.

21. I think I am addicted to social media. I know I suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out)

22. I’m really fine being by myself.  (I’m a natural introvert)  but, sometimes I like being around other people, laughing, eating and catching up.

23. I have never played spades.

24. I’m sick of being sick. Illness has changed my entire life.

25. I want to travel but my bank account says I could only make it to my front door and no further.

26. I chant a lot for the world to be at peace. I  want us all to live long lives without threats of  a nuclear war that would destroy the planet and mankind.

27. I’m still hopeful that I will have one great reciprocal love in my life before I die. As I get older, it’s harder to hold on to that feeling. Something tells me I shouldn’t give up.

28. I’m naturally nosy. I think that’s why librarianship suited me. We are detectives of facts.

29. I love makeup. I seldom leave home with a bare face. I like color.

30. I like to watch wedding planning shows and weddings on televison.  I woke up early in the 80’s for Princess Diana’s wedding. I did it for William and Kate and will be doing the same for Prince Harry and Megan Markle.

It is harder than you think to come up with 30 facts about yourself. See if you can do it.

Day 7- 30 Day Writing Challenge

List 10 songs That You Are Loving Right Now 

1. Rocket – En Vogue

Its their first album in 14 years. The harmonies are still tight with 3 members instead of 4.

2. Beautiful Trauma- Pink

I have liked most of Pink’s music since her debut. This one just sounds so good.

3. Make Me Feel- Janelle Monae’
You can hear the influence of Prince in this cut. Janelle’s music career just keeps getting stronger.

4. All The Stars-Kendrick Lamar & SZA

If you saw Black Panther,  you know the soundtrack was fantastic and this was the star in the closing credits.

5. A Good Night – John Legend featuring BloodPop

We usually hear ballads from John Legend so this was a nice change of pace.

6. I Don’t Think About You- Kelly Clarkson

The first American Idol keeps proving to us that she deserved that win. Her subsequent career has been filled with many highs, including this one.

7. Finesse- Bruno Mars featuring Cardi B

Funky 90’s sounds from Bruno with a feature from Cardi B. Bruno is still on a roll after his big wins at this year’s Grammys.

8. This Is Me- Soundtrack of The Greatest Showman

This song is a real anthem for people who feel different. The vocals are strong. The performance of this song during The Academy Awards was a highlight of the evening.

9. Pray For Me- The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar

Another song from The Black Panther soundtrack. It feels like I am in Wakanda when I hear it.

10. Long As I Live- Toni Braxton

This comes from Toni Braxton’s newest solo album. We last heard from her on the duets album with Babyface.  It’s good to hear new material from her.

Day 6- 30 Day Writing Challenge

It’s Day 6 and I’m pushing on. This is truly a challenge.  I’m being inspired to get those creative juices flowing once again.

Today’s topic is:

5 ways to win your heart

1. Entertain me. Choose a play, movie, concert or comedy show. My senses of sight and hearing will be thankful. My emotions will be heightened.

2. Feed me. I mean a full plate of food and dessert with beautiful presentation. My senses of smell, taste, touch, and sight will be fulfilled.

3. Make me laugh. Life can be so difficult and complex. Its great to just be loose and laugh really hard. The kind of laugh that makes you cry at the same time. You don’t have to be a professional clown. Having a good sense of humor is essential.

4. Be kind and generous. What is in your heart? Let me see how you treat people. From the smallest child to an elder, how do you relate and communicate with the people around you? Are you genuine or trying too hard to look good in someone else’s eyes? Over time, I have discovered how to spot insincerity.

5. Have an open mind. How do you think? We are all different. We all like various things or carry ourselves in the world differently. Can you be accepting of people being true to themselves? Can you watch them be free to create their happiness and not be negative or judging.? Can you give constructive criticism and not be a soul or dream crusher? Can you see the value in other people and in yourself?

The prompt only asked for 5. There’s more, however, I can’t give all my secrets away.

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