In today’s world full of social media, it’s easy to think everyone has a picture-perfect life. Every day, we are inundated with pictures and videos of everyone else’s BFF (Best Friend Forever), friends, families, vacations, dogs & cats, babies, and of course selfies. Everyone (and everything) seems to be smiling and laughing. But what if you don’t feel like smiling and laughing? What if you don’t feel like getting out of bed? What if nothing brings you joy anymore? Looking at and hearing about everyone else’s picture-perfect life can make you feel even worse. It can make you feel like your life doesn’t measure up, regardless of all the things you have to be thankful for.
Sometimes, your brain tells you lies...and it’s hard to function. I know…I’ve been there…recently.
In July, John and I said goodbye to our dog Bodie. It was the most heartbreaking experience I've ever had and left holes in both our hearts. Bodie was 16 years old and for 15 of those years, he was a core part of our family, our constant companion, and gave us unconditional love daily. John called him ‘Bodie the Wonder Dog’ because he surpassed the life expectancy for dogs his size by 2-4 years. And in dog years, that's a lot.
We are thankful for every moment we had with Bodie, but losing him sent me into a grief I hadn’t experienced before and didn't expect. Then, it began to turn into darkness and depression.
Why am I telling you this? Not so you feel sorry for me, but so that you know that there are people out there…close to you…on social media, sending emails, sending texts, even seeing and talking to you...that aren’t as OK and happy as all of this portrays. I’m telling you this because I want you to know that if you feel this way, you are not alone. I’m telling you this so maybe, you will be more aware of a friend or family member you haven’t heard from (on social media or otherwise), or that is suddenly reclusive and disconnected. I'm telling you this so that even if your friend is putting on a good face, maybe she is struggling. And maybe he needs someone to reach out to him. I’m telling you this so maybe, you will reach out to them. And if you are the one feeling the darkness of depression, maybe you will reach out.
During my own struggles these past 2 months, I've reached out to family, friends (old and new), and a therapist to help me. And my friends and family have reached out to me. From the bottom of my heart, thank you all who heard me or just knew I needed you. These connections have made all the difference.
Last year, I wrote and talked about my experience with depression quite a bit, and created my art series and book, when darkness comes, about exactly this. I was even featured in the National Alliance for Mental Illness Advocate magazine in a piece called Arfully Showing Life With Depression written by NAMI Oregon Outreach Manager Michelle Madison.
Because I have been so open, I’ve been asked many times if it was difficult for me to remember those feelings and talk about them. Because I was not in an episode at that time, it wasn’t as painful. Talking and creating art about my depression made me feel stronger, like somehow I could keep myself from going there again; or somehow if I did, I would be able to 'easily' pull myself out.
But in the midst of these feelings, reaching out is not easy for for me. I realize now that when that darkness is consuming me, reaching out and talking about it makes me feel vulnerable … and weak. No matter what family, friends, or therapist say.
Then today, totally out of the blue, I read this quote, and it’s perfect. Now, I just need to keep telling myself this…
Daring greatly means the courage to be vulnerable. It means to show up and be seen. To ask for what you need. To talk about how you’re feeling. To have the hard conversations.
With this email, and every conversation I’ve had, I realize now that I have been daring greatly. And if you are struggling, I hope you will too.
So, what can you do? What can we do? Reach out to that friend you haven’t heard from, or haven’t connected with recently.
Call her, send him a text or an email. If they don’t respond, keep trying. Reach out to your family member who has had a difficult change in her life, or that friend who has struggled with depression before...even if it seems like she is fine.
Reach out to him and say “hi, I’m here and will listen," or "I'll just be with you”.
Tell them “you will make it through this” or “we will make it through this”. Reach out and connect with them.
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
a semicolon is used when the author could have ended the sentence, but chose not to.
-- Project Semicolon
We've heard a lot about celebrity suicides in the news. For every celebrity who commits suicide, there countless others, who are friends and family, who end their lives and never make it to the news.
Here are some resources for information, help if you need it, and ways you can help others and the cause...
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Crisis Text Line – text the word TALK to 741741
Suicide Prevention Lifeline: www.SuicidePreventionLifeline.org
National Alliance on Mental Illness: www.NAMI.org
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: www.AFSP.org
Project Semicolon: www.ProjectSemicolon.com
I know this blog is a bit personal, but this is a disease and issue that is very personal to me ... and to many others. I hope this email helps make a difference.
thanks for listening,
and thanks for just being here.