|Posted on September 25, 2019 at 5:05 PM||comments (2)|
One year ago, I faced challenges which seemed to end my future of being a mental health advocate. Where could I volunteer, or be an advocate, if not first where I live? Those involved are well known and highly respected members of the mental health community. Individuals who are not only older and wiser than me, but whose collective reputation and connections far exceed my own. People whose past and present accomplishments dwarf anything I have ever done. Their hard work has helped a small percentage of this community's residents in ways that are priceless.
My "unwanted recovery story" cannot compare.
Yet, before each of the incidents those involved already knew I am a suicide attempt survivor. They knew "(Stigma) harms the 1 in 5 Americans affected by mental health conditions. It shames them into silence. It prevents them from seeking help. And in some cases, it takes lives." NAMI's Cure Stigma PSA Campaign Manifesto. "In 2017, there were an estimated 1,400,000 suicide attempts." AFSP.org Suicide Statistics.
On local social media, I have seen "Not being a part of the solution makes you part of the problem" rhetoric being posted. I disagree. I am part of the solution. NAMI certainly thinks so. My first two Blogs talk about being an advocate while in recovery and what to do if you face discrimination. To persist, on June 20th I self-published a stunning article on anti-bullying that NAMI Submissions had already first considered to publish earlier this year.
Entitled, "It Matters How People Are Treated", does not take a side. It takes a stand. Against youth and adult bullying that affect people every day even to suicide, my article takes a stand when it should. Not next week if you feel like being mean to someone. Not next year because of political differences. Now; when this life matters most. I am not a suicide victim. I am a human being seeking to be a "victor" instead.
Pick a side…
I have. It's called life.
Bullying behavior and stigma continue to affect people much like mental health conditions and suicide symptoms do: regardless of whom you are. In late 2016, I made the conscious decision to face my mental health, because I knew what th;s was like and all the lives at stake. I didn't stop with helping only myself. I accepted the challenges I knew I would face. I chose to help others even though I am still facing th;s worse now than before.
Su;cide is universal.
At the end of each day, suicide should bring most or all of us together with serious determination to resolve it. If you were to ask a suicide attempt or loss survivor just how important life actually is, you should get a very honest answer: life matters. Thanks so incredibly much to NAMI Submissions and Oryx Cohen of the National Empowerment Center, my published writing has helped me endure what I face in my community. Now I can focus on critical issues that need addressed as of yesterday.
"People keep telling survivors to move on. Some do, but not me.
Even if there's a small chance, I owe this to every moment of silence to try."
(adapted from Avengers: Endgame trailer #2).
If at first you do succeed, try, try and do more. Push yourself as far past what you once thought was nothing you could accomplish. Challenge your impossible. Own it: i'mpossible. Reach for the stars. Read my perfectly timed th;rd NAMI Blog to find out more about how suicide prevention is possible and imperative to take seriously.
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|Posted on November 2, 2018 at 6:20 PM||comments (1)|
Before I begin, I want to take this unique opportunity to share with you that, for the fourth year in a row, I am participating in No-Shave November. It was originally organized to generate awareness of cancer through the abstinence of shaving. Movember dually promotes men's health/cancer awareness during this month as well. As I'd done last year, I will continue the no shaving all through December to create additional awareness.
While in the previous blog entry I explained what brought about my urge to write (ultimately for NAMI), I also stressed a unique importance with the timing of their offer to publish as well. And for good reason...
Unfortunately, my rekindled determination to advocate for mental health acceptance was not first inspired by positive influence. Instead, there was a very negative factor involved that came to light at almost the same time as when I submitted my writing to NAMI. The trend of questionable treatment began roughly as far back as August of last year. However, during this summer two incidents made it clear I was intentionally singled out and stigmatized because of my mental health.
For years, I have repeatedly reminded myself of what other people have to live through, which is often much less fortunate than my own situation. Everyone who truly knows me, or has had the opportunity to read my blog writing, knows I put myself last when it comes to the wellbeing or prosperity at stake. Regardless, there was no reason for what has happened. Not to someone who is advocating for the necessity of mental health awareness at a time when acceptance is sorely needed for everyone.
As you read my second NAMI Blog, keep in mind the idea of making a negative into a positive. This will help put into perspective what I have gained from this challenging experience, and demonstrate the potential for so much more. I also humbly encourage you to keep those who do bully or discriminate against others close at heart, and offer the opportunity for forgiveness. Either one of us knows just as well as the next person how difficult life can be. Let us work together, instead of belittling ourselves, so that in a single lifetime we can have a chance to help end the stigma plaguing all of society.
Thank you so much for taking the time, making the effort to read and hopefully to share this second of two NAMI Blogs. Bless your hearts, each and every one of you. Now, I present to you:
(click on title for web URL)
As a result of having my first NAMI Blog published on the 11th, I had the privilege of being contacted by an enterprising health practitioner seeking to improve mental health through better grieving. Ms. Haley Harris-Bloom praised my awareness of triggers and bringing attention to the details of early warning signs in my writing. She reached out to me in hopes of sharing the Kickstarter for her GriefGuide app, developed from a year's worth of devoted research.
In her words from the original correspondence, Ms. Harris-Bloom states that "Grief, like other mental health topics, is often swept under the rug and treated as something to ?get over?. GriefGuide is made to let the user know they are not alone, they are not atypical, and to provide grief education and encouragement." I agree as I came to a similar conclusion, with regards to rushed grieving when it comes to victims of suicide loss, in one of my unpublished article drafts just last month.
I humbly encourage everyone to check out Ms. Harris-Bloom's GriefGuide Kickstarter page, at bit.ly/griefguide1. It is my pleasure to share this with all of you so that she has the opportunity to make a positive impact with mental health as I have thanks to NAMI.
Best of luck!
|Posted on October 18, 2018 at 4:35 PM||comments (0)|
Back in late June of this year, I thought to myself and wondered what would happen to me by my 37th birthday? Let alone in the days and months beyond. My future seemed dark and still rather foreboding. I can scarcely remember a time when perception of my life was hardly any different. Such honesty which I have already been rudely criticized for, I might add. I had not yet reached decisive treatment. Though, thanks to a dear friend, I discovered resource case management and my case manager had begun successfully guiding me towards financial assistance and treatment options that I now have. However, I had not been able to achieve my dearest goal of a definitive way to share what I have learned and reach many more people.
NAMI PA Blair County's "In Our Own Voice" program had failed to get off the ground, despite my having completed the re-training as a co-presenter in early May. No one in the mental health community was able or willing to mentor me. I had only touched the lives of a few hundred people through this website and my ongoing community volunteer work. Though, to my joy, I was able to reach people across the world. It had been roughly a year and a half since I made the brave decision to confront my mental illness, while being driven by a stubborn refusal to give up. All of this despite heightened stress and equally stubborn depression that happened to begin peaking during this summer. This summer, of all times to be under such pressure, was also the 15th anniversary of my suicide attempt. Challenging? Yes, but not a struggle.
Yet, here I am still advocating for mental health awareness and acceptance - anyway.
By the end of June, I felt compelled to write a detailed account of what I had learned up until that time. In fact, speaking of acceptance, I owe being bullied on social media by a former high school classmate for the urge to do the writing. It was a good example of taking a negative and making it a positive. In all, I wrote a total of ten pages in the form of questions and answers. This was my "aDvOcate onto others" blog series I posted back in mid-July. That was also when my suicide attempt was 15 years ago to the week; another negative to a positive. On a whim, I decided to submit the content to NAMI to see if they would be interested to publish any of it.
In no small amount of luck (remember, ten whole pages), NAMI Submissions was interested. More recently, I had also submitted a formal article which they then combined with my 'aDvOcate' content. Their interest was to publish not one, but two NAMI Blogs. NAMI; arguably the most renowned national non-profit resource on mental health. Wow! For NAMI to consider so much content - and - the timing of when they did so could not have been any more fortunate for me.
From all my heart, I personally want to thank Ms. Luna for taking the time and extraordinary effort to consider all that content. As well, the decision to offer me both opportunities of publishing national NAMI Blogs is an important accomplishment I cannot begin to express enough gratitude for. This will strengthen my resolve of continuing to advocate for mental health at a time when, as you will see in the second Blog, is very much in doubt here.
I also want to take this opportunity to dearly thank each and every relative, friend, and community service co-volunteer who is reading this right now supporting my efforts "to do more". As I had expressed to Ms. Luna at NAMI Submissions, thank you for making me possible. However, this is not for me...
This is for you.
All of you. I don't care who. Everyone. Close my eyes and point my finger. Blindfold and spin me around, until I'm dizzy and fall to the ground. Yes, everyone. Despite the challenges I face, now more than ever mental health acceptance is simply necessary. I am going to keep doing whatever it takes to live above my mental illness while striving to help inspire in others the same courage I now hold dear.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for taking the time and making the effort to read, and hopefully share this first of two NAMI Blogs. I now present to you:
(click on title for web URL)