National Suicide Prevention Week

2014nspwgraphicinstaSo this post is going to be a little different than the majority of how I do posts on here.

As the title suggests, this week is suicide prevention week. I feel like the topic of suicide is still highly under the radar on the social issues topic lists. The truth is that suicide (whether successful, attempted or seriously contemplated) effects more people than anyone would probably guess it to.

Because reports are lagging in time, the last estimated suicide data is from 2011 (which is insane if you think about it). Research shows that as of 2011 there was a reported 39,518 suicides.

The AFSP (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention) had this to say:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collects data about mortality in the U.S., including deaths by suicide. In 2011 (the most recent year for which data are available), 39,518 suicides were reported, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death for Americans (Figure 1). In that year, someone in the country died by suicide every 13.3 minutes (http://www.afsp.org/understanding-suicide/facts-and-figures).

With statistics like those, is it any wonder weeks like this exist? It’s weeks like this where attention to issues such as this is brought out in social media. So instead of reading posts about Jimmy dumping Sue and how she will be “#foreveralone” because no one will ever fill that hole in her 16 year old heart; how Ramona hates her parents because she received a samsung galaxy tablet instead of the iPad; how Anastasia is having “the worst week ever” or is “sick yet again.. ugh!”, the opportunity to post something meaningful that could help someone out there gets to happen.

I guess the whole point of this post is to give information and a message. I already gave brief information so here’s the message to those reading this who are struggling with suicidal thoughts, not just this week but every day you are alive.

I know a level of your pain that consumes your every day life. I know what it’s like to not want to get out of bed in the morning. I know the demon voices inside your head screaming their taunts, showing you the evil of the world instead of the good. I know that even these words seem so pointless to you who are trapped in that ever consuming darkness called depression/ hopelessness. I know that I’m just a stranger behind a key board typing out words to a world that I will never meet the majority of; but I care about lives. 

I care about those who feel like the only way out is to leave. I care about those who see friends or family who try and help, as enemies. 

If you’re reading this and feeling any of these things, know this: 

It gets better. It takes time. It takes faith that the sun will rise sooner than we believe it will. The voice taunting you with these thoughts are lying. People love you, you just need to let them. What you want to end your life over is not your fault. They say time heals all wounds, and I’ve been finding it to be true in the long run; and believe it or not but you have so much more to offer in your life than you can see right now, you just have to fight. 

That’s Life: Labels

“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
William Shakespeare

We as humans seem to need everything we know compartmentalized into tiny little boxes in which we can keep everything in their right places. On the daily we use labels, but when it comes to labeling others or ourselves even we dive into dangerous territory.

Labels come along with an annotation that people too belong in specific categories. We see it come into play, especially in places like high school and even college. I believe it’s part of our learning process as our frontal lobe continues to mature and develop until we hit the sweet old age of 25 (did my psych nerd show there?). Placing labels on people is problematic, especially when that label of an acquaintance differs from the label placed on you.

We becomes cliques, which unfortunately in most high schools (and depending on the maturity of co-workers) our work environment can turn from something meant to bring people together or at least to meet new people, into an isolating and even toxic place.

Nerd (I’m self-classified and proud!)/Geek
Loner
Weirdo
Redneck/Hick
Jock
Outcast
Goth/Punk/Emo… etc.
Prep/Beauty Queen/High Maintenance

There’s so many more labels I’m sure are out there but my mind is coming up short (thanks college!). Then there’s the labels we put on ourselves, which can come as a result as the societal labels placed on us.

Not good enough
Worthless
Failure
Average
Outcast
Alone

Again, that list could go on and on as well.

My point being that if we’re not careful, the labels we place on either ourselves or peers as naive kids or adolescents can have lasting effects on the psychological processes we could possibly face as adults. I mean, you see it all the time in regards to bullying (something I touched upon in a previous entry.. you can read it here: https://jessicasteinbach.wordpress.com/2014/08/21/maybe-its-just-me-sticks-stones/ 

I don’t mean to be all soap box preacher for this post, yet I know how labels can suck the life out of someone. They’re believable and unfortunately the most believable ones in our minds tend to be the negative ones.

But what about the positive ones? I wish I could take my own advise here when I say that it’s about time (no matter your age) to start putting more faith in the positive labels instead of focusing on the negative ones. It sounds cheesy but I have cards on my bedroom mirror with some inspirational labels. Some may call them affirmation cards, others may not. No matter the preferred name, I have found that when I take the time to really stop and let the words soak in, I feel a little less crumby about myself in times where I may be struggling emotionally.

Try it out if you want, and I hope you remember the importance of positive labels, as well as the effects negative ones have.

Maybe It’s Just Me: Love

I’ve tried a few times over the past few days to write this post but when it comes to the topic of love, I find it hard to write about so here are some of my thoughts I have about the word.

1. It’s Conditional. 
Everyone dreams of a love that is unconditional, but I don’t believe a love such as this exists within the reach of human beings. I’m not getting spiritual or religious here but I cannot believe that an unconditional love between two people can truly exist. People fall in and out of love on a daily basis, friends become enemies or distant from a fight or other circumstances, families can fall apart in a matter of months from quarreling.

I know I’m only 24 but I’ve both experienced and observed so many instances where these things occur that it makes me doubt the idea of unconditional love between two people. Things occur that are difficult to forgive, let alone forget and this causes a gap in the relationship where the same level of love is no longer there.

2. It Comes & Goes

A lot of what I’m saying may come across as depressing, but I’m just expressing what I see as truth in my world. They say that nothing lasts forever and I believe the same thing can be said about love. Now I’m not just talking about romantic love for this post. A love between friends who grew close over the years and then one day look around and realize they went from close to acquaintance happens a lot in my own opinion. I believe it’s just a part of the human experience.

I have however on a more positive note come to realize that just because that love in a friendship has come and gone, does not mean it’s the end of the world. You know the old saying that when God closes a door it’s so He can open another one? Well that’s exactly what I believe happens in situations like this. One person plays a role in your life for a season and when that season comes to an end, another person or people can enter into your life whereas before they might not have gotten a chance to do so.

3. It Requires Trust.

I’ll be blunt here. I have trust issues all over the place, especially in regards to allowing people in. Something in me is telling me to trust no one, but what type of life would that be if I listened? I’d be a crazy, friendless and lonely cat lady by the time I hit 25. Trust is one of the most difficult things we as humans have to learn to do. From past mistakes we tend to not want to trust anyone from there on out; yet when you think about that, isn’t it completely unfair to place the blame on someone who was not even part of the reason your walls were built?

Here’s what I’ve learned about trust (a point inside a point?! You betcha!)
a) it takes time. It’s dangerous to be an open book all at once; normal people aren’t going to stick around for long if your way of trust is to throw your whole life at them in one conversation (unless it’s someone you’re paying.. but even then..)
b) it’s scary. There’s always that risk where the person you believe you can trust will turn out to use your words against you, spread rumors about you and so on.
c) It makes relationships more fulfilling. Being able to trust someone is key to a relationship (once again in my opinion). Trusting someone enough to discuss whatever is a way of giving them a piece of your heart even without saying those exact words.

I genuinely believe we’re all capable of love; however it may not and probably won’t be a Romeo & Juliet love or Tony & Maria type of love (because we all know how those 2 stories end… dun dun!). So to end this, I’ll leave you with one last point:

4) To love is to be alive

 

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
Lau Tzu