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 30 – 30 Day Writing Challenge

It’s the final day of the 30 Day Writing Challenge and today’s topic is more than appropriate.

Topic: Your highs and lows for the month

The highs have been incredible. I’ve been so elated by everyone’s encouragement. I have spent a great deal of time in my life keeping my emotions in. I never revealed too much about myself.  Now, I am able to not just write about my thoughts and feelings, but I actually publish them on this blog.  People read and tell me that they enjoy my writing.

I’m so very grateful that people kept up with me throughout this month. It takes 30 days to develop a habit. This month, I started two habits: drinking one cup of decaffeinated coffee and writing every day.

This month I’ve written so much. I was excited to see the topic of the day. The blog gained a few new followers. I’ve been so inspired to keep going.

I felt challenged like my adult students do. They have to write every time we meet for class. Some days they have a hard time their writing short paragraphs. With my help, they expand and edit their work. I may start using some of their writing prompts on days I don’t know what to write. I don’t want to lose this newly found momentum

The lows were the days I couldn’t write due to a migraine and days where I fought through body pain to just get anything done. I have to see so many doctors in a week it can be a bit daunting and discouraging. I realize that this is my fight in life. How I react to all of it is what counts. I surrender on the days, I realize I won’t win a battle. But, in this war I am fighting with chronic illness, I will be victorious. It may take some time, but I’m sure I will win. My Buddhist faith helps me every day to gain courage, wisdom, and strength.

SGI President Daisaku Ikeda writes, “Life is best lived by being bold and daring. People tend to grow fearful when they taste failure, face a daunting challenge or fall ill. Yet that is precisely the time to become even bolder. Those who are victors at heart are the greatest of all champions.”

This month has made me very reflective and introspective. It has been an overall positive experience. I learned a few things about myself.

I’m so happy I was able to share this month with all of you. I’m determined to share more of my thoughts and musings. I suggest trying this challenge, you may learn a few things about yourself. I know I did.

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.

30 Day Writing Challenge Day 1

Today marks the first day of April and the first of a 30 Day Writing Challenge. I haven’t had the energy or inclination to write in some time. The world is topsy turvy and so negative some days. This winter was also very hard on my health. I decided this was a perfect way to refresh my brain, renew my skills and be accountable to write everyday. I can’t promise I’ll blog everyday, but I will write. Here we go….

30 Day Writing Challenge

Day 1

List 10 things that really make you happy.

1. Listening to my favorite songs that span all the decades of my 52 years and earlier. I like just about every genre of music. Sometimes I DJ a concert and “sing” (my version of singing) or lip sync, in my bedroom with my headphones on. I create playlists depending on my mood.

Don’t get me started on Lionel Richie, Gloria Estefan, Gladys Knight,The King Of Pop Michael Jackson, Diana Ross or Prince. I could go on for a long time with those artists. I also do this with YouTube videos and post them to Facebook.

I also really find it funny when I see the lyrics of songs and realize I’ve been singing them wrong forever.

2. Whenever I can get a good nights sleep without waking up too many times. It’s like winning the lottery.

3. When I prepare a meal that tastes exactly the way I imagined it would taste, with all the seasonings just right.

4. Getting up and realizing I have minimal pain, discomfort and have some energy. Fibromyalgia and all the other ailments are in the background of that day. I’m alive and breathing. Yay!

5. Watching entertaining television shows and sometimes watching online and discussing plot points with my friends. Empire and Scandal are really good shows to share with other people.

6. Reflecting fondly on past good times with family who have now passed away, especially holidays, inside jokes and the food we ate.

7. Knowing that I’m still able to create value with my life, helping others reach their greatest potential. I look forward to seeing them reach their goals. I get to keep my mind sharp. It’s a win win situation. Chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo every day helps to remind me; I still have a lot to

offer the world and a mission to accomplish.

8. Catching up and laughing with my family and good faithful friends realizing its best to keep my circle small. My small circle has many wonderful, generous, smart, witty and true people inside of it.

9. Getting out to a movie, concert, play or musical or restaurant. I don’t get to do them often, but when I do, I make sure I have maximum enjoyment.

10. Sitting down with a good book where I’m transfixed by the plot, wrapped in a blanket and drinking a hot cup of tea.

10a. Sharing a funny joke or video that has made me cry laughing.

I am attaching the 30 Day Writing Challenge I am using that I found online. Feel free to join me at anytime this month.

What a Year It Has Been!

A year ago today, I had a near fatal heart attack. I survived what’s called a fluke heart attack. It wasn’t supposed to happen. It stumped the doctors. 3 stents, lots of medications, cardiac physical therapy and lots of chanting and praying Nam Myoho Renge. Today is my second birthday. My actual birthday is in a few weeks.

This year I’ve learned a lot about myself and love who I’m still growing into. I’ve gained courage and wisdom. I have learned how to unselfishly put myself first. I’ve struggled with my health for over 20 years, living with chronic pain everyday. I have a handful of health conditions. I don’t look like what I’ve been through.

However, when you feel your life slipping away from your body, you can not live as you always did. Big changes are necessary. I’m making them and living my best life and helping others to do the same.

I walk the treadmill (slowly and never letting go) with poor balance, but I do it. I ride the stationary bike and am developing leg muscles that I lost long ago. I’ve continued what I started in cardiac rehab.

I’ve been going to Zumba class. I may not look as graceful as some other participants but I try my best. I stay on the side of the room with the people who are slower, older and not as sexy in their movements. It’s Okay. We still have fun!

I’ve re-evaluated relationships, including my relationship with myself. I’ve been a people pleaser most of my life and it hasn’t benefited me. I’ve taken a hard look at my relationships and my responsibilities and realized where changes needed to be made for my own good. You cannot force what no longer fits. You can’t help others, if you don’t help yourself first.

Due to family and friends who care about and love me I’ve had some good times. They decided to share their good fortune with me. I’ve been fortunate.

To my doctors, cardiologists, nurses, cardiac physical therapists and nurse practitioner, my debt can never be repaid. I will just do all I can to help others.

The physical therapists recommended I get a rollator walker to help me walk longer distances and always have a place to sit. My vanity said no way, but I relented and I’m glad I did. I have some freedom and can now take a walk (or roll) to attend my tutoring sessions.

Tutoring adults is so rewarding. You see how much they want the knowledge and understanding most of us take for granted. One of my students had to leave the program recently. He left a card for me. He thanked me for helping him believe in himself and becoming a better man. He said he was honored to have me as his tutor. I had to hold in some tears when I read it .

This is why I fought so hard to get stronger. I have a mission to accomplish. The payoff isn’t financial. It’s changing lives, building self esteem, providing knowledge. When they understand something, I get excited. This wasn’t the path I chose for myself. It’s the road I had to ease on down.

Challenges will happen because that’s just how life works. Life is not perfect but you can be happy and appreciative despite the challenges. Chanting and studying Buddhism and attending and hosting Buddhist activities gives me the tools to be courageous, be more confident and be unafraid no matter what’s happening.

As I look forward to turning 52 in a couple of weeks, I appreciate my life so much more.  I’m mindful to take better care of myself. I pray for myself and for others.  My prayer is to win over my health and my finances and to be happy everyday.

SGI President Daisaku Ikeda said, “The faith and practice of Nichiren Buddhism enables us to absolutely triumph. The Mystic Law enables us to “change poison into medicine. Advance with the great conviction that no prayer will go unanswered.”

The Universe is hearing my prayers. I have no doubt.

Doing My Work

I have been MIA on the blogosphere, but as Iyanla says, “I’ve been doing my work.”

I have been working hard to get physically stronger. I’ve been attending cardiac physical therapy sessions for a few months now, in an effort to build strength and endurance. When you have already have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, it becomes more difficult to maintain stamina.

Now, add to that mix, a heart attack. The exhaustion is almost unbearable some days. My therapy sessions are still going on because some days I couldn’t get it together to attend. My therapists tell me I am making progress. Slow and steady wins the race. I will win!

I’m learning how to pace myself, so the fatigue doesn’t knock me out for days at a time.  It’s not an easy task.

I am improving on the plant based diet I had already begun. Let me tell you, reducing cheese is HARD  for me to do. I’ve been told the serving size should be the length of a fingertip. Ugggh! Really??

My recommended diet is eating more fruits and vegetables, beans, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fish and lean meats. I drink tons of water. Eliminating or having less salt, sugar and processed food was something I had already started doing. Over time, it’s getting easier.  I’ve lost a few pounds and really hoping to shed more.

I’ve cut my locs which I’m still getting used to.

I loved my locs but were not as healthy as they should have been.  I’m giving my hair plenty of TLC to get it in great shape. My  5 year old locs and I went through alot together.

I suffered severe pain and stress and lost my job. I went on disability and faced financial difficulties. I coped with anger about all the aforementioned. I sought out a therapist to deal with depression (I’m great now, no more depression or medication but I still see the therapist, Everyone could use a neutral party to talk to.)

Then I had a heart attack and had to ingest lots of medications with side effects. The energy around me needed to be different. I will re grow them healthier and stronger than before.

I’m working on getting out more. My cousin and I have had lunch a few times and it’s been good. It’s nice to have conversations and laughter with people in my age group. I have family that call me all the time to check on me , give support and update me on their lives. It means so much.  I hope to see friends who have stood by me, checked on me regularly ,very soon. They think about me as a person, not a “sick person”.

I am working on not letting the radical changes in our country send me into a tail spin. The disregard for others is hard to comprehend as is the stupidity. I’m a news junkie but I now limit myself to just a few hours a week of television news.  I get ticked off and that’s no good.

I read The NY Times and Washington Post online. It’s real news. I can discern fake news. and alternative facts. I am a Librarian, Fact Detective.

I’m still cant comprehend Prince is gone and it’s been a year.  We still have the music to soothe our broken hearts. purpleprince

I’m catching up on television watching Timeless, a historical time travel show on NBC. I’m  hoping it’s renewed for season 2. Please watch it OnDemand, it’s so good! William Shatner and the Smithsonian Museum love it too.

I’ve also been watching Underground, Greenleaf and Feud. I like old Hollywood movies so watching Feud, a story about Bette Davis and Joan Crawford as they  filmed, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. It was a guilty pleasure.  On Netflix, I binge watched The Get Down and missed it when it was over. Season 2 please?

I’ve been working on my life.

I’ve been on a quest for happiness and positive change for quite a while.

13 years ago today, with just some of my family members and a family friend present, I began my Buddhist practice by receiving my Gohonzon. A true renewal began in my life. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo has been a lifesaver.

I cannot begin to explain all the benefits I have received and the personal growth I have achieved since then. I am truly not the person I used to be. I fight for myself. It’s been my tool to be more courageous. I am more confident and outspoken. I don’t accept blame for everything. I do take personal responsibility for what I do.

It’s helped me lessen my own suffering and allows me to work towards building my individual happiness. I pray for the happiness of others as well as myself. I pray for the betterment of our world. I am able to look within and not outside of myself to become my best self. I see things, situations and people more clearly. 

When people are happy within, we are all on the road towards world peace.

I live with the never give up spirit of an SGI Nichiren Buddhist. My mentor is SGI’s third President Daisaku Ikeda who has spread this practice, with faith and courage to 12 million members in 192 countries and territories worldwide. He took faith at 19 and was told he would only live to the age of 30 due to tuberculosis. In 2018 he will be 90 years old. He encouraged the Japanese members here in the United States to widely spread our movement for peace and they surely did.

I continue to fight for victorious days, every day. No matter what assails me, I will win. My mentor is actual proof of the benefits of the practice. When I read his writings, I become encouraged, every time, no matter what he’s written.

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Nichiren writes ” When once we chant Myoho-Renge-Kyo, with just that single sound we summon forth and manifest the Buddha nature of all… living beings. This blessing is immeasurable and boundless” (Those Initially Aspiring to the Way, WND-1, 887)

 

I will keep doing my work, receive immeasurable blessings and happiness. I will encourage others to the best of my abilities. My work is not done. In fact it’s just beginning.

Grateful for Life

2016 has been out here like a beast taking the gifted, talented, courageous, unsuspecting and everyone in between. It almost got me too. 

I’m even more appreciative of this birthday, than I thought I would be. 

Earlier this month, after going to the hospital (I was not feeling well with a rapid heartbeat and some light chest pain, for a few days) I ignored it. (having chronic pain can make you ignore pain) My heart rate became so rapid, I knew I couldn’t ignore it anymore due to my family heart history. 

I had a test done in the hospital on the second day after my admittance. It seemed to go very well. I was rolled into the recovery room. 
 Moments later, I had a heart attack (a pain that can only be described as elephants sitting on my chest), requiring stents to be placed in an artery to keep it open. 

I felt myself dying, unable to breathe or swallow. Without the immediate interventions, my doctor said, had this occurred in the elevator going up to my room, The results would have been very different. 

We so often take our lives for granted thinking there is always the one chance for tomorrow. Sometimes we don’t get a tomorrow. I was protected by all the benelovent forces in the universe (shoten zenjin). I was in the right place at the exact, right moment. It was detected by my screams of pain and my vital signs. It was remedied immediately by the medical team. 

 The nurses took such good care of me assuring me that the 6 IV drips of medications (after surgery, I wasn’t allowed to move my leg or raise my head for 48 hrs) were giving me the chance to live) A big high five to nurses everywhere for their dedication to patients.

 If I been at home, I wouldn’t have been able to call 911 quickly enough to save myself.  
For the past year, I have prayed and chanted, so I could create value with and for my life. I started doing more service for others, including tutoring adults to read and write better. I’ve worked hard to the best of my ability within my local Buddhist district supporting and encouraging my fellow members.

 I see now, that through those efforts and chanting I’ve changed my karma. 

My mother died at 51 from a heart attack. I turn 51 today and survived a near fatal heart attack. I have a second chance at life. What will I do with this opportunity? I’m not sure right now what the future holds for me First, I’ll be healing my exhausted body and taking life saving medications daily. I will regain strength, endurance and stamina. 

I know my life’s mission has shifted. There’s something I’m here to do, that only I can do. I’m elated to still be here to find out what that something else is. I’m so very grateful for another year, another day, another moment. Later today I’ll be with a friend who has been here with me through thick and thin and has been the definition of a good friend through good and bad times. I will enjoy this very special day and raise the roof softly and gently. 🎈💃🏼 🎂🍾🎉❤️️🎁