Thursday, January 21, 2016

First, stop the bleeding.

Your house is on fire.

The basement's a mess, the dishes overflow in the sink, and the toilet's broken.

BUT...your house is on fire.  Soooo….what do you do first?

On any ordinary day, a broken toilet could be an all-out crisis. You wouldn't want to put off dealing with THAT for too long.  The dishes?  Meh.  They can sit around for a few days.  And the basement....well....that can always wait until next year.

But if you don't run screaming out of the house and call the fire department, none of those other little problems will be of any consequence, because your home will have smoldered into a pile of ashes.

So this is a lesson in priorities. Because right now, you're worrying about seventy-nine different things: some critical...most of minute importance. If you're anything like the majority of the procrastinating masses, you're tackling all of those tiny little problems first...and flat-out ignoring that your house is on fire!

Is it reeeeally possible to live in that much denial? 


I suspect that we do it because it (seems) easier.  We don't like the dishes, but we know how to do them.  We can push out of mind those great big glaring problems that we're not really sure how to fix, in exchange for the tiny victory of accomplishing something menial.  It deludes us into feeling "in control."  Yay, we are doing the work it takes to pass for functional!

Meanwhile, all the little crackles and pops we ignored suddenly erupt into flames, and we feign ignorance. 

How could this possibly have happened?!

Perhaps because we covered our eyes and ears to all of the little signs. There is a book brilliantly entitled, Your Body Is Talking, Are You Listening?  The truth is, most of the time we aren't. 

Our culture practically boasts that we are all overworking ourselves to exhaustion, eating ourselves sick, and drinking ourselves into oblivion.  Is there anything so fundamental as our health, our bodies, the one vehicle we're given to get through life?  And yet, we act like we'll be given a thousand second chances to stop treating ourselves like crap.  Well, guess what.  There’s no trade-in after we drive this car into the ground.  We’re stuck with whatever we do to it.

I myself recently began to have the irritating suspicion that I was going to have to change my life in order to change my life. I know; how annoying.

My body had been screaming at me for - not days - but years.  I knew what I needed to do.  I knew what I "should" do.  I even knew what I wanted to do. 

But somehow, none of that was enough.  I was perfectly content with my escapism.  It took a major health eruption and immense pain from SI joint dysfunction and Piriformis Syndrome for me to get it.  7 years of not being able to sit, sleep, walk, or drive without my muscles and joints screaming at me. 

And that is why Tony Robbins said, "Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change."

Unless, of course, you decide to, "Change before you have to."  - Jack Welch 

So.  My advice to you?

First, stop the bleeding. 

This mantra has been reverberating inside my head for the past 2 and a half years since I started writing this post.  How’s that for crazy?  Speaking of denial… 

At first I didn’t finish it because I hadn’t figured out how to stop the bleeding myself.  My “house” – in Jungian terms, my psyche  - my very own body was literally on fire with screaming pain.  From a shoulder injury that never healed, to a diagnosis of SIBO and Fructose Malabsorption, to nerve damage from a dental implant, a never-ending cascade of appointments and surgeries took a toll on my ability to manage anything but daily survival.    

I thought I wasn’t writing because the priority was to put out the fire.  If you're hemorrhaging blood, it doesn't much matter if your thighs are too big or you haven't dusted the house in 6 months. 

I thought I wasn’t writing because I would do practically anything BUT face my addiction: sugar.  I went to physical therapy for months, lost another chunk of weight, overhauled my entire diet from vegan to Paleo, and begrudgingly gave up my favorite FODMAP’s…but couldn’t give up my gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate.  Or, as I tend to view it, the one food without which life is not worth living.

Then I didn’t finish it because, well, how hypocritical is it to throw up some post about facing all your crap when I am so clearly *not doing that. 

I thought I had to:

a) figure it out,
b) fix it
c) THEN, and only then, write my success story.

If I can’t even get a tourniquet around my arm, what have I learned at all, was my logic.  Then I realized how much easier it would be to write this post once I could wrap it all up in a shiny little bow like everyone else does.  How much prettier everyone’s story is once the ugly part is over, and they make it through to the other side.  That’s the only valid time to share your struggles, isn’t it? 
This is going to sound weird, but I haven’t figured out how to fix all of my problems in the past 30 months.  I don’t even know if I’ll figure it out in the next 30 years, or if any of us will.  We just have to do the best we can. We hose down the house, it bursts into flames again.  In the meantime, no one has shown up to do our dishes or train us for less stressful careers. 

I’ve realized a couple of things recently.  For one, it’s a whole lot easier to say I can’t give up sugar than to admit that I can’t deal with my feelings.  It’s a whole lot easier to cram chocolate in my face than to face the fact that I may have to manage chronic pain, anxiety, and depression the rest of my life.

I used go on walks and ask myself what it was going to take to let go of the pain that I was in, my rage at people that hurt me, the suffering I had caused my family, and the shame I felt from brushing dangerously close to suicide

I haven’t finished this post, or written much of anything really, because I don’t know what it’s going to take, or if those feelings will ever fully subside.  I funneled my energy into living and giving and doing and fixing and trying to solve emotional problems by intellectualizing, avoiding, and pretending the past didn’t exist.

I think some part of me believed that having some distance from my blog would help me to separate from the despair that I’d gone through so that I could create a new life for myself.  The truth is, I shut myself off from the one person I can be honest with: myself. 

To not write is to not heal. 

What major issue are you turning a blind eye to in your life? 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

When Suicide Hits Close to Home


....while you were busy posting selfies on Facebook, someone chose to leave this world. you were counting up the reasons why you were too busy to be there for anybody else, someone went out and bought a gun.

....when you weren't looking, your best friend was counting up pills to see if there were enough yet. between tweets you twatted and texts you thumbed out to people you barely see in the flesh, someone else was writing our their will. 

In January I lost my cousin to suicide.  It didn't escape me that it could have been me, could have been my family reacting to the loss.  I don't think my uncle has spoken to anyone in the family about it to this day.  It brought back all the guilt of my own father's panic attacks that began the night he didn't know if I was alive or dead. 

Six months ago, one of my best friends tried to shoot herself after she was brutally raped and nearly killed.   I am the only person she's told about her attempt.  She is the only friend I've ever talked about any of my suicidal past with.  But despite what she has so bravely shared with me, I cannot bring myself to trust (her? me?) or to let out any more than about 5% of my own story.  I cannot figure out how to swallow the stigma or to own that portion of my life.

And it doesn't end there: Several months ago, my dad lost a coworker to suicide.  Today, someone at my agency shared that they'd survived multiple suicide attempts as a teenager.  Over the past couple of years, several kids in our community have ended their own lives.

Sometimes it just feels like it's everywhere, and all the time, and too much.  Sometimes I feel less alone and less ashamed of the secrets I hide when I realize how many other people have struggled (or are struggling).  And then other times I just want to flat-out disown my past and figure out how to have some magic do-over. 

It infuriates me when people remark that suicide is a "selfish" choice.  Only someone so self-absorbed as to be primarily concerned with how another's death affects THEM would pick that word out of all the possible adjectives to describe a self-annihilating act.  Those are the kind of people who lack the empathy required to imagine what it is like to feel undeserving of life.  They are the same people who would've never seen it coming....because they aren't really tuned into anyone else's pain to begin with.

And is suicide an accusation?  "You were not there for me."

Or a statement?  "I do not matter."

A question?  "Will this finally end my pain?"

Or an answer, when there are none.

And each time, and forever, each death will be mine.

And always, a question: what have I done with the life I chose to keep living?

And beneath that...the lingering twinge of envy...for their battle is over. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

99 Problems...And Gluten Caused Them All?

Christmas came early for me this year.  December 12th, to be exact. 

That was the first day that I woke up without pain.  I couldn't figure out why at first; I thought it was just a REALLY good adjustment at the chiro the day before.  Why else would my hip and back suddenly hurt so little?!   I didn't tell anybody at first, for fear that it was either my imagination or I would jinx it.

A couple more days went by, and the wrenching abdominal pain I've endured for the past year disappeared.  As in gone. This had happened a couple of other times for a day or two when I completely eliminated grains from my diet, but I wasn't able to maintain that strict of eating for long because it still wasn't clear what specifically the problem food was.

Then I started looking closer at what had changed in my diet (frankly, that was pretty easy since there are so few things I can eat at this point).  I realized I had eaten some grains - amaranth, quinoa - but hadn't eaten so much as a cracker or a slice of bread in the past week.  Wheat?  Gluten?  Are you friggin' kidding me?! 

Mind you, I thought gluten wasn't even a possibility after blood testing for food intolerance showed only eggs and dairy to be the culprits, so I never even bothered eliminating it.  I've since come to learn that blood testing can yield false negatives.  I am also learning more and more about the role of gluten in joint pain, postnasal drip, chemical sensitivities, and other strange phenomenon I have been experiencing for quite some time. 

Still, I knew it was SOMETHING I was eating.  Your intestines shouldn't be twisted into knots day and night for no reason.  However, two chiropractors and my physical therapist had confirmed that my Ileocecal Valve was frequently out/spasming, so I had been cutting out seeds, nuts, spicy foods, and other supposed triggers for months on no avail. 

Then I came across two amazing interviews with Curt Chaffee and Aimee Shunney over at Fascia Freedom Fighters about the role of food in chronic pain.  Curt detailed several symptoms that were eerily similar  to my own recent shoulder problems, and I felt as though I may be on the verge of finding an answer....

Back in May I was rear-ended; no damage to my car, didn't think much of it.  Then I started having trouble lifting and typing, never making the connection.  I thought I had aggravated my shoulder lifting weights and doing side planks in physical therpay for my hip.  When things tipped over the edge in September and I could barely pull on a pair of pants or brush my teeth, I finally got some help from an awesome new physical therapist and chiropractor.  

It's been a long, slow journey gaining strength back in my dominant hand and shoulder.  My right hand continues to turn blue at times, but most of the rotator cuff issues and radiating pain down my arm have gone away.  Since the elimination of gluten, the constant achiness in my shoulder and other joints has gradually dissipated more and more.

How much of a role gluten has played in any or all of this remains to be determined with further testing. The transformation in two short weeks has been nothing short of incredible, however!

Plus...I can finally type a post without my shoulder spasming!  Yaay for small steps. 

For the first time in six years, I feel pure, unadulterated hope about the (seemingly more likely) possibility of getting my life back.  I honestly feared that I might be dealing with chronic pain for the rest of my life.  Maybe something will change and I'll be right back to that place, but for now I'm going to enjoy driving, lying down, walking, sitting, breathing, and sleeping without pain. 

As an added bonus, I'm down almost 60 pounds, back to my 2006 weight.  Thank you, gluten, for the inability to absorb nutrients!  I highly recommend intolerance-induced starvation as an effective dieting strategy.  Since there are only about 20 foods known to mankind that don't have either eggs, milk, or gluten, it shouldn't be much of a problem keeping it off.  Soon I shall closer to the ideal of a waif-like vegan, rather than the fat vegetarian I was a few short months ago, lol.  People literally thought I might have cancer, the lbs. were falling off so fast. 

So yeah.  You now know why I've fallen off the face of the earth for the past 6 months! 

Cheers and Merry Christmas=)


Monday, August 5, 2013

10 Ways To Tell Depression to F*** Off

Please don't ask me how I cured my depression. 

For one, I'm not cured, I'm just learning to manage it better.  And secondly, I couldn't tell you exactly when I came out of it, or whether it might befall me tomorrow. 

What I can do is share ten changes I've made in my life to put myself back in control.  Learned helplessness is the trap of depression.  You try everything, and it doesn't work, so you give up.  There is no feeling more powerless than lacking the hope of things getting better. 

This list isn't a compilation of research, advice, or suggestions. It is simply 10 things that have worked for me.  I hope that, a year from now, you've put together your own list of personal anti-depressants. 

1.  I downed herbs.

St. John's Wort to ward off depression's crying jags.  Passion Flower to calm the jitters of anxiety.  Bioavailable turmeric to simmer my body's inflammation.  Omega-3 Fish Oil to regulate brain chemistry (now used by many hopsitals, by the way). 

You may be skeptical of alternative medicicine, and that's fine.  We each have to find what works - or doesn't - for ourselves. 

I tried the medical route of managing depression for 12 years, and I was left with more problems than were fixed.  It's not just the side effects like night sweats, or that fact that some pills actually GAVE me anxiety or paralyzed me.  It's the fact that, in every single instance where I was suicidal, I was either taking an antidepressant or coming off of one.  I learned to trust myself and my body more than I trust some "all-knowing" doctor.  It took me almost a year to come out of the fog of my last antidepressant.  There is a cost to everything.  And let me just say, you will raaaaaaarely be told of those potential costs up-front.

2. I slept...and then I slept some more.

"Oh boy, I can do this one!" you are thinking, "I already sleep 14 hours a (day) night!"  Well, I used to, too, and each day day I was more exhausted than the last.  For the first time in my entire life, I finally feel rested when I wake up after 8 hours of sleep.  The tough part was breaking the pattern of staying up till 2 or 3 in the morning, then sleeping away the whole next day.  When I was depressed, that was preferable, because I could avoid both physical pain and a life I felt helpless to master.  But I couldn't function.

The key for me was to lean into this change, because my inner rebel wants to stay up until all hours.  My goal was to go to bed a little earlier each night, try to stick to a general waking and sleeping time, and not expect perfection. 

Part of my issue is an aversion to actually going to bed.  Maybe you also lay there for hours trying to finally drift off amidst a barrage of anxious thoughts.  The only way around this is to be too tired to think.  Here's what saved me: 
  • I got a Spoonk acupressure mat.  I am not kidding you, this thing is effing awesome.  All you have to do is lay on it for 30-40 minutes before bedtime to release endorphins and other feel-good chemicals that will relax you right into sleep.  Yes, the points are sharp.  Yes, it will scrape the crap out of you if you run your hand across it.  That is why you sloooooowly ease yourself onto it, and quit being a whiny baby! 
  • I take two 350 mg capsules of Passionflower (not on an empty stomach!) to de-stress from the day and they usually put me right to sleep.  I've never tried Melatonin myself, but many doctors are now prescribing this naturally occurring hormone that helps to regulate sleep cycles.   
3. I found a J-O-B. 

This is the tricky item on the list for me.  In a way, finding my current job - which is moreso a place where I can contribute something meaningful - has been the foundation for everything else on this list.  If I had done every other thing on here, but still wasn't working, I'm not so sure I would be writing this post.  THAT is how important it is to be of value. 

In no way whatsoever am I implying that our worth comes from our work.  I can only say that being unemployed is so dehumanizing as to nullify many of the other self-care tools a person might try.  I have never felt so useless in my life, and it sucked.  Right or wrong, I honestly don't know where I would be if I didn't have the dignity afforded to me by returning to productive society.  It is what it is.

4. I got quiet.

This one was a real stretch for me, being an introvert (well, actually it was, because I'm a neurotic introvert)!

For me, getting still takes one of two forms: a long bath in epsom salts - my personal form of meditation (given my lack of tolerance for all things slow) - and constructive rest.  Constructive rest is my most recent discovery.  Not only does it do wonders for my hip pain, it changes my ability to remember what calm is throughout the stressful workweek.  If you can't seem to turn off the noise in your brain, this might be something to try.

Shutting down is next to impossible for me.  I likely appear calm from the outside, but my mind is always racing, and my jaw is always clenching.  You likely have your own anxiety holding pattern, the result of our fight-or-flight society.  No one is going to give you permission to turn off the noise and stop pushing yourself past your limits.  You are going to have to choose this for yourself...IF you want it badly enough.

5.  I moved my ass. 

The research on exercise and depression is so prevalent that I won't bother quoting it here.  Suffice it to say: someone's already said it to you, and you've already been annoyed by it. 

Here is what I know for me: exercise does not fix my depression.  I have always exercised, even when I was depressed, and it wasn't enough to bring me out of it.  However, I would be MORE depressed if I weren't exercising.  I feel *better* afterwards.  Brain chemistry, baby.  It's one of those few things we have control over, and it doesn't cost a thing to get outside and go for a walk.

6. I stopped isolating myself.


Let's not get crazy here; I'm still an introvert, and I like my peace and quiet.  I can't relax with a bunch of people around.  I'll never love being in a big group of people.  BUT.  I've gone out and done things and made new friends....and I don't feel lonely when I'm alone.  That's the difference.

It is only too easy for me to, not just pull away from people, but all the way into myself. I found out that living by myself is not good for me, and so I don't put myself in that position anymore.

The Suicide Epidemic talks more about loneliness as the real killer. 

7.  I put my health above all else.
I made health my absolute priority this year.  If you don't feel good physically, you won't feel good mentally.  And vice versa. 
Now, it may well be the chicken and egg dilemma, but nothing is so fundamental as what we put into our bodies and how much we move (or don't).  When I eat clean, I feel clean; it's as simple as that.  Due to recent allergy discoveries, I am now borderline vegan.  Giving up nearly every food I've ever loved has been crazy hard.  But I feel better.  And I'm even starting to like my physical therapy exercises; how nuts is that? 
8.  I changed my environment.  

There are two things I know for sure don't work for me: one is living in chaos, the other is living in isolation.

I grew up in chaos - with a family always in crisis - and it overwhelms me.  I can spot chaotic people a mile away, and I stay away from them. 

To me, peace = home.  I finally have that.  There is no yelling, no mess, no constant negativty.  I like being around low-key people who aren't trying to suck the life out of me.  Is that too much to ask?

9. I went outside. 
Nature heals.  Sunshine heals.  A chaise lounge reclined back far enough to examine the drifting clouds as they fall together, then apart, then heals. 
I have a few favorite spots - a bench by my favorite lake; a trail tucked away from the rest of the city - where I can go to just exist for a while.  We spend our days pretending we feel whatever way the situation calls for; there has to be a counterpoint where we can just be who we are and feel what we feel.
10.  I self-cared the shit out of myself. 
I no longer leave the house - or take phonecalls - on Sundays.  I work out, I take a bath, I chop vegetables and cook for the week, then I sit on my blessed ass and do whatever the hell I want for the night.  Actually, there are a couple of hours EVERY night where I allow myself to only do what I want.  From my waking moment, every other hour of the day is a task to be done.  Well, I finally decided that I haven't become a better person by accomplishing any more crap in a day. 

I have now decided that I only like Sundays, and I want a whole week of them. 

I experimented with different doctors, massage therapists, physical therapists, and even a Rolfer, until I found my own little circle of healers.  The problem is that you may have to try 3 or 4 (or 10) idiots until you find the right ones for you.  Just find your people. 

The lesson here? 

There is always one more counselor or herb or remedy to try.  And if you try all of those and every single one them fails, there is still no telling what the next day will bring if you're alive to see it. 

The other thing to remember is that this is MY list.  I would have never guessed that half of these items would be on here.  Ask any person on the street, and they may tell you 10 completely different things that worked for them.

Healing is a personal - and sometimes lifelong - journey, one that no one can take for us.  I wish you well on yours. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What it means to have a priority.

What would you be willing to do to truly make something a priority in your life?

How many hours a day would you invest?   

Would you be willing to do things other people didn't agree with?  That people around you thought were weird or crazy or wasteful?  

And much would you be willing to pay if that's what it took?

Thirty dollars?  
A hundred?  
Ten thousand?  

What if it required sacrificing other things you like or value for a short while - or even a long while?  

Like this blog.  No, I haven't posted in 3 months.  Yes, I still write in my head every day anyway.  

But when it gets down to it, I have a singular focus.  And that is: getting better.  Healing.

Sometimes that means choosing 8 hours of sleep a night over staying up till 2 AM writing a post (as seems to be my pattern).

Are the two - healing and blogging - mutually exclusive?  No.  In many ways, this blog HAS been my source of healing.  I vomit out things onto this page that I can't let out anywhere else in my life, and that's been huge.  

But when yet another injury struck me this winter, it cemented for me that I cannot go on like this.  Weeks of suffering turned into months, then years (now almost SIX) of endless pain.  

If I don't have my physical health, nothing else matters.  That's the bottom line.  

Because If I don't fix this now, when will I?  

How many more years will I be able to go on like this?  

How many more re-injuries will thrust me back into hopelessness and helplessness?  

We all hear people claiming to have priorities all the time.  But they don't need to say a word.  All we have to do is look at how they spend their time, who they spend it with, and where their money goes.  Usually it will be in direct contradiction to what comes out of their mouths.  

So I guess what all this means is that, for now, my priority is me. Nobody else is going to take care of me, or make me better, or do the work for me.  "No one is coming" to save me, as Nathaniel Branden might say...

Whatever alternative treatments I have to try, whatever amount I have to pay for physical therapy, however long I have to spend with laborious daily exercises that I would trade a 20-mile bikeride for any day, my decision has been made.

It's time.  In fact, it's long past time.  

"Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change."
-Tony Robbins

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Taking Stock: Where Were You 1 Year Ago?

"Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday, and all is well." - John T. Tindsley

1 year ago....

I wasn't sure I was going to be able to get out of bed and get to my new job every day.

I wasn't sure I was going to be able to fake it well enough to get by in the company of other Homo sapiens.

Would I randomly burst into tears and humiliate myself?

Would everyone see right through to my broken insides?

Underneath it all, the overarching fear: This will all end in one more failure.

But it didn't.

As I was moving through Module 2 of my friend Therese's Unlost E-Course, I started to realize that things weren't as bad as I seemed to be telling myself they were.  Therese had us compare six key dimensions of our lives from a year ago to now.  What dawned on me is how the life-and-death worries that plagued me then are not even on my radar today.  For the most part;)

1. Relationships

Ugh.  Why not start here?  For sure, for sure I have a loooooooooooong way to go in this realm.  I didn't trust people a year ago, and I don't trust them now.  But I'm starting to.  I'm letting (some) people INTO my life, instead of cutting them all out.  I'm going out instead of shutting myself in, and that's really all I can ask of myself at this point.  When you've been let down, and lied to, and trampled on by so many, it's not necessarily a good thing to let any idiot into your life willy-nilly.

I'm in a happy living situtation instead of chaos-filled negativity.  I have healthy boundaries between me and toxic family members.  Is it perfect?  No.  It never WILL be.  But you start somewhere, because ANYwhere is better than letting things go on the way they have.

2. Health

I lost 40 pounds this past year.  That has to be the first thing I write, because it freaking amazes me. I still can't jog, and there are a lot of days I can't walk over 20 minutes without problems.  But I've maintained a vegetarian lifestyle, started my days with raspberry-spinach-chia smoothies instead of processed cereal, and made other gradual changes that added up over a year's time.

And pain.  I couldn't tolerate stairs or driving, nor could I sit in a chair all day last year.  I wasn't sure how that was all gonna go down with a new job!  I had some really, really bad times.  But I made it through one day at a time.  When I injured my back on top of everything else, I made "getting better" an absolute priority above all else, including this blog.  I went back into Physical Therapy, started Rolfing, found an herbal anti-inflammatory that miraculously works, and took a week off work to purge built-up stress.

Shit doesn't get better on its own.  Sometimes the first or second (or thirtieth) things you try don't help, and you have to dig deep to keep seeking out alternatives.

3. Career

Ouch.  This was a sore subject not so long ago. Anyone who has suffered through unemployment, financial ruin, and fruitless job interviews knows how hard it is to maintain hope in the face of what's been lost.  You hold on one more day because tomorrow could be the day it all turns around...and sometimes, that actually happens.

I just had my 1-year anniversary at a job that gives me a sense of purpose, along with decent pay and hours.  I could still be filled with bitter resentment over the career I lost, but instead I am happy to have -A- job, because I remember what it's like to be endlessly job-hunting.

4. Financial

Let's just say I was still sleeping on an air mattress last year because I was too afraid of buying a bed and having to move it again.  If that doesn't tell you everything about how precarious my financial situation was, I don't know what will!

Having a nice balance in the savings account is a huge relief.  So is having a big girl bed.

5. Spiritual

This one isn't easy for me, because I can't feel the hopelessness that enveloped me a year ago.  What's more, I don't want to try to remember.  The simple fact that I am not in complete and utter despair every waking moment says it all.

I know what it's like to have every single one of these 6 domains come crashing down at once, and I'm sure many of you have been there as well.  Grasping to find something - anything - worth getting out of bed for is a shitty place to be in.

I haven't found any answers, and I haven't found God.  But I have found meaning again through helping other people who are in the place I was.

6. Personal Development/Hobbies

Thanks to A.R.T. treatments, I was able to get back on the bike a little bit last summer.  I can only hope that my leg continues to progress.

And blogging...I'm writing this post, aren't I?  I bought a domain, spiced up the look of DFTL, and increased my posts to an average of twice a month.  Have I done all I set out to do with this space?  Ab-so-lute-ly NOT!  And yes, I could easily focus on how far I have yet to go.  But now, just for the moment, I have to be grateful for what steps I've taken.

Think back to your biggest problems 1 year ago today....

What questions were you grappling with?  Undoubtedly, some of your fears are still nagging you, many problems have since been resolved, and others .... are in process.

That's the real message here; there IS no endpoint.  You may be further along than you thought you'd be, or even miles off track, but it's pretty unlikely that you're exACTLY where you were a year ago.

We all know the "life is a journey" cliches; we comprehend that "the trail is the thing, not the end of the trail."  But beneath that?  We secretly long for that day when we've got our shit figured out so we can sit on our rears, put our feet up, and quit worrying about every little thing.

That day is not going to come.

That being said, you'd better start giving yourself a little credit for how far you've come.

What is the point of racking up accomplishments if you never take a breath and acknowledge how effing awesome it is that you pulled it off?

Since you're never going to get "THERE" - that magic destination - what are some ways you can begin to relax into whereever you're at right now, today, and be at peace with that?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

On the Suicide of Mindy McCready

I hadn't really planned on posting tonight.  But when it comes to suicide, the only one planning on it is the one that's gone.

As morbid proof of that very fact, one of the first news reports I saw tonight stated:

"There is cause to find that there is clear and convincing evidence that Respondent is in imminent danger of harm to herself or others, suicidal or gravely disabled....
...But just a day later McCready was released to undergo outpatient treatment instead."
-Chicago Tribune 

Every day in this world, there are psychiatrists and nurses and therapists charged with the burden of determining whether someone "means it."  Whether they're just looking for attention, or whether a secret plan lies behind their eyes.

I guarantee you that no one likes having to be that person.  I have BEEN that person, and let me tell you, the weight of the whole world is on your shoulders for that judgment call.

And sometimes people get it wrong.  Really wrong.

Sometimes the best actors are the people who are dead serious.  Who have already decided, and who know what to tell the people in charge of those decisions.

Should I have been released by the crisis counselors in Nashville when I had a 3-fold plan, and had already started carrying out half the damn thing?  I should think not.  But I was.

Would I have said anything it took in order to avoid being locked up?  I would, and I did.

And so I was driven by a police officer back to my hotel, where my luggage containing a dozen pill bottles and a shard of glass remained, the day after sending suicide notes to two people.

I put someone in the godawful position of gambling with my life.  Thankfully they were right, and I was wrong.

So tonight is just a reminder that every suicide I hear about for the rest of my life will take me back to that place, and that week, and the people who made me feel that I was nothing to nobody.

And tonight is also a reminder that EVERYbody is somebody to someone.  Everyone who dies by suicide is someone's best friend, or mother, or colleague, or son.

Sometimes it's somebody "special," like a celebrity.  But to those left behind, it doesn't matter if you had a million fans...or just one.

I remember cleaning the house on Saturday mornings as a teenager, belting out "Have a Nice Day," my all-time favorite song of Mindy's.

Now I read the words to another of her songs, so devastating in light of today's news:

"I'm still hereThere was darkness, all around meThere were times I was sure I was drowningThere were people, who tried to reach meBut no matter how they loved me, I kept sinkingI got tired of my own hell, I reached inside and I saved myself"

Many of us will fight the battle.  Some will lose.

Some will never find the love, the hope, or the strength to keep a self-destructive mind at bay.

And it doesn't matter if you're a famous blond with a beautiful voice....or a random person milling about the streets of any town.

At the end of the day, we are left with our thoughts, and our pasts, and our traumas that are ours alone to deal with.

And the truth is, until you've walked in someone's shoes, you could never possibly know the kind of pain that would push someone to that choice.

The truth is, if we all had a little more compassion - and a little less judgment - for those among us who are fading before our very eyes, we might possibly end up being the one who made all the difference.

So take a look around you at the people in your life that are still here.  Who you're ignoring.  Or neglecting.  Who you see struggling and never know what to say, so you stop speaking to.  Who are putting on a happy face for you because they know you cannot tolerate their real feelings.

You don't need.  To say.  Anything.  
You don't need.  To have.  Any answers.

"When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.  The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares."  
~Henri Nouwen