The notes for this post have grown – and found several unexpected turns – in the past few weeks as I’ve been wrapping up Spring Semester. It’s always a wild ride at the end of term – but this one especially since I had some pretty substantial hospital and sick time so I had projects galore to complete.
Oh my word.
But we made it.
I’ve just gotten everything in and have a few days off before Maymester begins.
In the midst of that, last week Sara and I had Miranda Lambert tickets at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheatre and we went and saw her put on just a fantastic show and had the BEST time.
One song she performed – that I was really hoping for – is my “Just Keep Swimming” song of hers, Bluebird.
I just love it so much – and it’s high on my playlist when life is kicking my ass.
Still, there have been some heavy heavy things going on in the world that need to be talked about – that can’t be fixed with a song – and they seem to keep rolling in.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month – and – in the past two months – five gifted young student athletes, Katie Meyer, Jayden Hill, Robert Martin, Sarah Shulze, and Lauren Bernett, have all been lost to suicide.
This was weighing on my heart to write about – when we all learned of the shocking loss of Naomi Judd, also to suicide, just a day before she was to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Then, even yesterday, I saw that Kailia Posey, the little girl from Toddlers and Tiaras who became this adorable meme we all love, died by suicide at 16 yesterday.
Having lost a young man who was dear to our family in this manner a few years ago, this just grieves my heart – and it seems that we are in a mental health crisis in this country.
As someone who deals with severe anxiety, I do understand living with mental health issues – and I believe we have to talk openly about them, about reaching out, about living with feeling the crazies sometimes, about medications, about safety plans.
So let’s talk.
Yesterday I got an email from a fellow writer I just love, Hannah Brencher, with links to some of her mental health blog posts as she has battled major depressive episodes that have just been ungodly at times.
Her five tips to keep going when hell breaks loose and depression strikes, to ride it out, until the light shines again are:
001: Eat foods that make you feel good. Avoid overly processed foods.
002: Get out and move. Get in a good sweat session or go outside for a walk.
003: At all costs, stay in the Word of God. Every day. Commit.
004: Be surrounded. Accept invitations. Do the things you don’t feel like doing.
005: Take your medication and your vitamins. Don’t miss a day.
I think these are all great pieces of advice when it’s hard to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
In thinking of things I do for my anxiety, here is what I’ve come up with so far:
001: For me at least, when my anxiety is really high, I’m best at home, in my spot, calm and quiet.
002: Music – I have several playlists that are soothing to me, some country, some worship, some a mix of all things.
003: Valor EO is still a go to for me. I am not a Young Living fan – but I have not been able to find a substitute for this so I still order it from Amazon. It’s a lifesaver.
004: Like HB with her meds, I never miss my daily meds. I don’t want to know how off the rails this could be without them.
005: Snoodling with my Henry and my Mickodemus. Fur baby therapy is the best. ❤
006: Talking with my precious family. I’m fortunate that my sweet daughter is almost always here and my wonderful husband is with me during the evenings too. ❤
007: Deep breathing. Yes, it’s on all the lists – for good reason.
008: Time in the Word and praying – I’m with HB. This is so important, especially when the wheels are coming off in our heads.
These are suggestions for managing symptoms of depression and anxiety and the like – and those are serious and life-altering illnesses.
Even more alarmingly though, suicidal ideation – and, terrifyingly, these thoughts acted on – is another great concern as well – and is something we MUST start talking openly about.
(In reading many interviews she gave prior to her death, Naomi Judd spoke about her battles with suicidal ideation. She fought so hard.)
In a book I recently read for a paper I was working on, the author, Kelsey Osgood, said something about suicidal ideation that stuck with me and I think we need to keep it in mind as we are considering how to engage with and help our loved ones who are struggling: “I often think of the explanation of suicidal thoughts offered by Susanna Kaysen in Girl, Interrupted. Kaysen writes that the real persistence of suicidal ideation is that suicide, once you have opened your mind to the possibility, becomes a potential solution to any and all problems. After you’ve considered it, you can never stop considering it.”
As someone who has done pretty extensive mental health nursing, I see this. We do well to understand that suicidal ideation is cunning – it lurks – we have to be watchful.
That’s not to say that a person should live in fear of it. I don’t believe that at all. It’s just that we must be aware of what we are dealing, be open about it, and have a plan to manage it.
First, I say to everyone – Check on your people. Don’t assume anything. Ask hard questions if you are concerned. Say I love you. Be a weirdo.
Then, I have some thoughts for my people who are struggling.
I would hope it goes without saying – but I know it doesn’t – if you are EVER having uncontrollable thoughts of self harm, call 911. If you cannot be safe, call 911. They will not be upset or fault you. That IS the right thing to do. You need that help. That IS an emergency. Call 911.
In a non-emergency situation, first know that help is available, even if you don’t have mental health coverage. Community mental health exists just for that purpose (that’s what I used to do).
Second, there are many options in terms of meds and therapies – don’t give up. If something is not working, keep telling your therapist and doctor. They will keep making adjustments until something does.
Also, talk to your people – in addition to your therapist and docs. Be forthcoming. Let them know what’s really going on. It’s the only way they can help.
Finally, if you haven’t yet made the initial step of reaching out for help, please do. This isn’t something to manage alone.
This is the link to my resources page here on the blog:
And, again, if you are in crisis, please present to the nearest ER or call 911. They will help you regardless of insurance status or anything else. You are worth it.
Be well, everybody. Take care of yourselves and each other.
Grace and Blessings.