Tag Archives: Suicide

How Love Leads The Way When Shit Hits The Fan

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Love

How would our world look different if love led the way??

Love. It’s almost like a four letter word. Oh wait…

In a perfect world, love would be the first thought, the forefront of everything we say or do.  When life is painful – when life isn’t fair, I just wish love led the way.

The bigger picture, in the great big world we live in…

In a world where love led the way, small children wouldn’t have to hide from daddy because he might hurt them again today. In that same world, the terrified wife wouldn’t have to cover up her bruises or hide in the shadows because of domestic violence. Husbands wouldn’t have to feel less of a man because he is the victim of domestic abuse. Men wouldn’t feel the need to “man up” and “grow a pair” because of their pain and brokenness. The sexual predator wouldn’t set out to destroy lives. Rape wouldn’t control destinies. When husbands and wives are more of a partnership than a dictatorship, love is allowed to lead the way. If love led the way, broken marriages and families would be a thing of the past.

In the perfect world, there would be much less pain, and much more love.

In that aforementioned perfect world, suicide also wouldn’t be a thing that tears apart lives, hearts, families and generations.  Love would lead the way. People would be loved, and love others. People would know others, and be unafraid of being known. People could live and love, hurt and cry – and just be in the world where love led the way. When people hurt, and saw no way out of their pain, love would surround them, and messy grace would hold them up. People would sit with them when their pain is blinding.

In my little corner of the world, I wish these same things on a smaller scale, I guess. When life hurts like hell, and all I see is pain, I wish love led the way more often. What does that look like, exactly? It can vary from day to day – from moment to moment.

Just one example. When my daughter died, if love truly led the way, people would be less afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing (and thus doing nothing) and would still be standing and walking with me. The people who drew close, and who were welcomed close like family, wouldn’t cease contact almost within days or weeks of her death. They would still be there. I need them differently now, but I still desperately need them.

When love leads the way, little threads of hope and strength are found – giving way to glances at peace unlike any other. When people come alongside others in their time(s) of need, grief, or sometimes insurmountable pain – this is how love leads the way. With love leading the way, people wouldn’t shy away from pain, and wouldn’t greet pain with awkward silence.

Let’s stop treating love like it’s an evil four letter word. Let’s be love. Let’s strive to let others see the meaning of love by looking at our lives. There’s enough hate and pain in the world. Let’s meet that with love. Can we let love spread like wildfire? Let’s let love lead the way!

Mental Illness Is Screaming – Church, Do You Hear Her? 

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Dear Church, 

I need you to listen. Right now. Please put on your listening ears and hear what I have to say. 

Mental health is important. 

Mental illness is real. It is no joke. You cannot simply pray it away. While prayer is powerful, and works tremendously – it is not always the kind of healing that’s needed. 

My best friend almost died today. She may not pull through. Her suicidal thoughts won the battle raging between her heart and head. You see, she has been diagnosed with mental illness, and lives this roller coaster every day. She felt she could no longer handle all the ups, downs, twists and turns. 

She is a person of deep rooted faith. 

But, even still, she is unwell. 

She often wonders if life will ever be okay again, let alone good. The pain cuts so deeply, into the very fabric of her being. Today, emotional lies convinced her that it was time to give up. She could hold on no longer. She was ashamed, angry, and wanted to die. 

How does this have anything to do with you? 

She is a faithful member of your church. You know her. You are placated by her feeble smile. 

She has come to you for help. 

You were all she knew she could trust. You did what you knew to do. You told her you would pray – and even offered to pray with her then and there. You even told her that God never gives people more than they can handle. This is the place, the exact instant, that she started distancing herself from a God who would “give” her all this. 

She takes medication to help fix a chemical imbalance. She feels like less than a person, and like she’s broken. 

She questions her faith,  and asks you for help. 

With compassion, you tell her how much Jesus loves her – that He died for her, and wants her to be healed of this sickness. You share that you believe medication isn’t always needed, that Jesus blood, and God’s healing power will meet her needs. 

But you weren’t 100% correct. 

God does love her, but He hasn’t healed her. She feels like a disappointment to this God you speak of. She knows she must be unworthy of His love because, after all, her faith isn’t good enough to get healed. She took your words to heart. And they broke her. She looked in the mirror and saw someone that even God couldn’t love. 

She called to tell you a final goodbye. Secretly, she hoped you’d talk her out of it. She wanted to be talked down, but felt this was impossible. You heard the pain in her voice, and her shaky voice as tears streamed down her face like a monsoon. You asked her to breathe, and to calm down. You told her that everything would be okay – that she can survive this moment. She took a few deep breaths, and calmed down temporarily. You were appeased. You prayed for her. She thanked you and, after a bit of small talk, ended the phone call. That may have been the last time you would hear her voice. 

You did great things. Truly. But, they were not enough. This may not be your fault, but things need to change. 

Instead of trying to placate her in matters you may not understand, please familiarize yourself with all mental health – including mental illness. Know warning signs. Take them seriously. 

You don’t have to have all the answers. 

If you don’t know how to handle her situation, take time to explain that to her. Tell her how much Jesus loves her, and tell her you do too. You can explain that you are unfamiliar with medications in her situation, but see to it that she isn’t led to feel ashamed for needing and taking them. Assure her that God loves her, exactly where she is. She is worthy of His love, and His grace is a free gift. Remind her that God can and does heal people, but it isn’t a strike on her character – or a lack of faith – if He doesn’t take her illness from her completely. Keep showing her love, and let her know you’re with her, care about her, and will sit with her in her pain. Offer to be there during the painfully brokenness. Mean it. 

But, there’s more. 

Tell her about resources outside of your church. Ask her if she’s willing to talk with a counselor or therapist. Remind her that there is no shame on needing help – that it’s okay to not always be okay. 

Loving her well includes pointing her towards help – even if that help is not inside the four walls of your church. Explain that mental health professionals are there, and can also be trusted. Remind her that you’re not turning your back on her, but rather adding layers of helping hands able to assist her. 

It’s okay that she needs help that you can’t adequately provide. 

You can still be a safe place, and talk to her when she needs. Give her heart a voice. But, in so doing, make sure psychological help or mental health resources are available. Point her on that direction while doing life alongside her.

Have you heard me? Did you listen? Please pray for her, and the multitude of others like her. Help her not walk through the journey of life alone. Learn how to see her through eyes of grace – while also pointing her to help. 

Church, you can change the world. 

Painfully Broken – When All You Know And Believe Comes Into Question

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*******Trigger Warning*******
This blog post will speak mostly of depression, but also suicidal thoughts. If this is a struggle for you, please reach out – but I also understand if you are unable to read further.
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I actually wrote this post a few days ago, and true to form, I’m in a slightly different, and much better place currently / mentally. It’s still on my heart to share because I am not alone. If I believe this, then there must be others who will stumble upon today’s blog post, and need to know there IS hope, even when the silence seems deafening. This is also a little longer than normal, so you may want to take it in parts!
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There are days and there are times that life seems shattered. Unbearable. It is almost as if nothing is real – like all I ever knew was a lie. In those moments, I feel so broken – where all my thought processes, beliefs, and even faith is so unsure. I question myself, trying to figure out who I even am. It’s that moment where the person staring back as I look at the mirror is a stranger. I often feel like a stranger in my own skin.

You might wonder how I handle those times. Simple – I don’t. Just kidding. It is imperative that I remember (like with roller coaster style depression) that the person I fear is lost or hiding – or why just plain feels unfamiliar – is really still there. Maybe, just maybe, the person looking back from the mirror is a culmination of all many of life’s experiences, all bundled into one. Maybe I don’t recognize those eyes staring back at me because I choose to avoid the reality packed away, deep inside.

I also mentioned my faith. Yes, it still exists. I still believe in God, and give Him credit where credit is due. However, I’m not going to lie. I have moments where I wonder if any of it is even real, or if it matters at all. I question a God who seems so passive sometimes. My daughter battled cancer for three out of her seven years of life. She has beautiful, innocent childlike faith. She still died. Based on the faith I have, He COULD have miraculously healed her – but he chose to silently not lift a finger. He sat by, unable to be bothered. But yet – all of this is so far from the truth.

You see, I simply must continuously commit to memory, and make a place in my heart for the knowledge that, before she was my daughter, she was His. I don’t know why some are healed – and I don’t believe I ever will on this side of Heaven. And I’m learning that this truly is okay.

On the days where hope is shattered, and where my heart is also – seemingly just broken, beyond repair — it is then that I must somehow remember the vital nature that hope still exists, even when I can’t see it.

Right now, I freely admit that I need help – that I’m not where I need or want to be emotionally. Of course, that comes and goes – and seems capable of changing moment by moment.

Please allow me to share a snippet or two from a post I made in a community that prides itself on being a safe place for ALL human beings – regardless of their status in life, marital situation, sexual orientation, or any defining characteristic they may identify with — all without expectation or requirement to even be okay. They welcome people, exactly where they are. They offer love and friendship, coupled with a grace that it’s so often times messy. Messy grace. Anyway, these are part of the words I shared openly in that safe place. Now I need to also share with you. Need may be a strong word, and that’s okay. This is a strong and messy situation – one I’m realizing I’m far from alone in.

I want to start by saying this is a safe place. That’s why I’m here – about to say what I have to say. What I don’t need or want is your pity. What I do need is your love. I need you to hear me. And those of you who pray – I need you to do that. Though, not gonna lie – not sure how I feel about that. Oh, I also need to tell you to stop reading now if the occasional “bad word” is going to offend you. I don’t intend many – but I also don’t pretend I will be perfect in that area right now. No one even has to reply – cause I just want to say these words. Feel these feelings and either find a way through it, or not.

Oh, and as a side note. I am a Christ follower. I do go to counseling / therapy, and my primary doc is aware of all that I’m about to say. I am not suicidal, but sure as shit, I am definitely having suicidal thoughts. (yes, also known by my medical team, and church leadership.) So, to say I’m overwhelmed – that would be an understatement of fairly epic proportions. I wish I could honestly tell you that I care anymore. I do but I don’t. I am so damn tired of people who don’t mean what they say, say what they mean, and have actions that match their words. I’m tired of trusting people and expecting their words to be honest and true. I’m tired of people telling me they’ll be here any time, and that being bullshit. I’m tired of life. I’m just done. I’m not talking about killing myself – I’m just feeling so over it all. I’m finally realizing that I can’t keep believing that it’s ever going to change. How I’m able to believe that for others, and not myself – I have no idea. But it’s true. My heart is shattered – just so broken. And I know it always will be. Here’s the God’s honest truth. I wish I wanted to be alive – that I wanted to live because life is good. But, friends, that’s just not the case. I want to live so I my death doesn’t cause other people pain. But it will, and I hate that. So, here’s I am. Living for others. But – I’m guessing that living for any reason beats dying for none. While my heart is shattered, my faith seems to be crumbling. I don’t say that lightly. I want to believe that my faith is as real as it every has been. But, if I’m being honest – that just isn’t true right now. My hearts desire is to fall in love with the heart of God again. I want to believe all the things I tell each of you (or anyone with ears) every day – that God is good, that He is still God, and that He’s in control (even when we’re not)… But I don’t know who I am anymore – let alone what I believe. I guess I still believe the things I always have, since coming to know Christ. I just don’t care. I have missed the previous 4 or 5 of the previous 6 weeks of church. Since I started faithfully attending church, this has never happened. At first, it really bothered me. Until it didn’t. The first 3 weeks, I was sick. I finally get over that mid week to find myself in the ER Friday night, a week and a half ago. 7 hours later, went home. Sick or some other valid reason, I didn’t attend. I think it really made me sad and miss the place — till I realized the place didn’t actually miss me back. I could count the fingers on less than a full hand, the number of people who carried enough to be the body of Christ – who reached out and asked if I was okay, or simply told me that they missed me. Yeah I know, it’s not all about me. Trust me, I know. I say that, but I care deeply. But I think I’ve just been walking a path where I’ve been slowly giving up. Praying for the faith and hope that says keep going. And clearly – whether I realize it or not – I’ve found that faith and hope time and time again. Cause I’m still here. I have breath in my lungs, and my heart still beats. See guys, I don’t really need anything. I guess I just wanted a safe place to write all this out – the safe haven this community is. What I don’t know is why. Why I felt compelled to share this. Please don’t feel pressured to reply. I mean, feel free – but ya don’t have to. I guess writing is therapeutic for me. Cause, fun

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So, as I mentioned before, I am not currently suicidal – and not having suicidal thoughts at the moment either. I’ll share more of recent / current events in the coming days.

To anyone who is hurting – and to anyone having suicidal thoughts – you ate not ever alone. Know this. Not ever do you need to walk this earth (as messed up as is on some days) alone. If you’re struggling, please reach out.  You can post here, or reach out via my contact me page. I may not be able to physically do anything – but I’m more than willing to listen – to hear you, and to simply – even virtually just sit with you in this pain.

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WORLDWIDE SUICIDE HOTLINES

When Perpetually Suicidal Thoughts Become More

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Take a good look at that picture. You can’t see everything there – but what I want you to see is what a potentially lethal dose of medication looks like. Let that sink in. The meds are legal, and for in the palm of your hand. They are common meds – when used properly, save lives. When not – well the opposite is true. This one small handful of meds could take your life.

You might wonder how I have stumbled upon such information!? Simple. I looked it up. I asked the knowledge whale known as google for a little guidance. I was curious what completed suicides were as a result of specific medications. Medications I have easily within my disposal. I honestly wondered what that looked like. Why the picture/meme then!?  Again, a picture tells a story, and this one tells so many people’s story. As I looked at the picture, I realized two things – 1) it scared me and 2) the thought of “how easy it would be” made entirely too much sense. The next morning, I created that meme. I recognized the need to seek help was very real.

I may circle back around to that whole “seeking help” thought process in a moment. However, I’m going to just tell it like it is. Open up the window called transparency and let you see a glimpse inside.

Let’s talk about suicide and suicidal thoughts. You do know there’s a difference, right!? See, a person can have suicidal thoughts and not actually be suicidal. A person walks over the line between the two when a plan starts being concocted. People think about suicide all the time. People think about the meaning of life every day and wish it weren’t so painful. Neither thought makes them suicidal.

On the flip side, people also create plans to carry out suicides – to find a way to escape whatever painful reality they desperately seek relief from – every day as well. This, though, is a game changer. This is that moment where reaching out is vital. The suicidal person cannot see beyond the here and now. They cannot grasp the concept or even possibility of hope being real. People sometimes experience whatever makes up their own personal hell, and simply feel as if they cannot take the pain any longer.

At this point – or perhaps immediately upon reading the title – you might be wondering where this is coming from, or why now. My next question is why NOT now. Suicide is not a pretty word. It conjures up some (quite likely) painful thoughts. The stigma that surrounds mental health topics (suicide being only one in a vast ocean of others) cannot diminish if we cannot talk about it. It may be hard, but the conversation will be worth it.

Ask me how I know.

I want you to know something. First and foremost, I want you to know that I am not suicidal. Note my language again. I’m not suicidal. I do, however, have suicidal thoughts. I think much of the population would – if they’re being honest – admit having had suicidal thoughts at one point or another. I want to circle back to stigma again. What’s sad is that someone currently having, or having had suicidal thoughts IS NOT a secret needing to be hidden. It’s not something people should have to ADMIT TO, as if it’s a dirty little sin.

Okay, so back to my breaking the silence about my own suicidal thoughts. Yes, they happen. Yes, they’re real. No, they’re not happy. No, they’re not fun. They’re scary at times. However, I am able to separate myself from the thoughts. I can look at the thoughts, and I can know they exist. There have been moments where it’s been difficult to grasp onto the reality that things will ever be okay again – let alone good. In those moments, it is vital to remember that, though currently elusive, hope is most definitely real. Though the clouds in a dark and gloomy sky may hide that hope, all hope is not lost. I have to remember that the sun will break through the clouds, and it will shine again. Maybe not today, but tomorrow brings with it the potential of sunshine – of hope.

There are times where I feel like my heart is shattered. Times where I feel broken, almost beyond repair. I’m not though.

And neither are you.

Now, let me take a moment and address you. Yes, you. That person who knows nothing other than how to hide behind a mask. That person who believes that hope is a good theoretical topic, but isn’t for them. That person who looks I’m the mirror and doesn’t know or like the person starting back.

That person. I want to talk to them. And so should you. Take a moment and look for signs. I know you’re busy, but someone’s life is worth it.

If you ARE that person, welcome. Welcome to the conversation you never saw yourself having, but are going to be grateful that someone cared enough to have. Buckle up, and hold on. I will tell you things that you need to hear, but may not be inclined to believe. Your eyes may be clouded by the depression that catches your gaze instead. In that case, I simply want you to hear my words. You’re listening – really listening, yes?

Okay, these things I need you to hear. You are a living, breathing story. The Storm you are walking through will not last forever. It may be painful, even seemingly unbearable, as you walk the path. Though, soon, the eye of the storm will pass by. It’ll be scary, and it’ll teach you the meaning of living through pain. However, you’ll soon just look around and realize that you made it. You’re still alive. As time and distance come between you and the storm, you’ll be fascinated by the fact that you’re actually GRATEFUL that you made it – that you’re alive. You’ll look down at your scars, and you’ll immediately think of that scary storm – but, much to your surprise – you’ll see the scars for what they are. Your scars tell a story. They tell your story. They show the very real pain associated with your storm. They’ll also remind you that where there is a scar, there is some form of healing also present. You’ll look at those scars and see that they represent healing and strength. You’ll be able to see them for what they are – a reminder of that storm, but also a reminder of the strength and healing.

You know, you might have just laughed as you kept reading. I know that you may chuckle when someone is amusing enough to actually write out such words. You believe that those words might be great for other people, but can’t hold onto them as truth for yourself. You see, I understand how you think. I AM you.

However, I am also hopeful. I am hopeful that you can take a break from your thoughts, and be gentle with yourself. Know that your story matters. Know that YOU matter. It may hurt right now, but it won’t hurt forever. You may not be able to see beyond the pain, but please allow me to be a voice that speaks hope. Let that hope be fueled by love and wrap itself around you like a hug.

You and I. Maybe we are broken, but no one is telling us we can’t be broken together. Take my hand. Look me in the eye and see the hope in mine. When you can’t find yours, please borrow some of mine. I guarantee there will be times I will return the favor. Please know how much you mean to me. Please don’t go anywhere. Please stay. I need you to be my voice of hope during the moments I feel like I can’t hold on.

Hear my words. I need you and you need me. We need each other, you and I. As we walk along this path called life, take my hand. Help me walk – one for in front of the other – when I’m not even sure I can breathe. Let me do the same for you.

Together.

Let’s be broken together.

What It Looks Like To Lose Your Identity – From Bipolar To Cancer Mom To…

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As this title might elude to, I’m about to share a little bit about what it looks like inside my head. Buckle up. This is going to be a fun ride.

My blog has not been active in some time. I’m not going to make some promises to post a certain amount a week or month, or anything really. I am going to write from my heart. It may be multiple times a day, and it may be only once in a blue moon. What I can tell you is that I have been struggling – not for words, but to figure out who I am. Let me explain.

As you know, or may not know, my five year old daughter has been fighting cancer. She had a brain tumor removed from her head. She had daily radiation for six weeks, and she then had a high dose chemo therapy regimen. To make a long story short, they threw all they had at it, with the hopes that something was the right answer. You see, the cancer she had growing was literally thought to be one of a kind. Her tumor and info was sent all over the place, in search of second, third or tenth opinions. We’re talking worldwide experts. No name for this unique thing. As such, we held our breath, and above all else, prayed. This past January, she completed treatment! Thank God! In February, her scans showed no evidence of the disease. It showed the cancer didn’t appear to have even ever been there! Again, thanking God!! Then, in May, her scans showed spots on her spine. Those spots were consistent with drop metastasis. In other words, it looked like a cancer that had metastasized and spread to her spine. But, there was a silver lining – it also might NOT be that. It could just be enlarged blood vessel(s) and we had no way of knowing for sure at that point. Even if it WAS cancer, it would have been too small to do anything with, or biopsy, etc. So, we wait. Three months, and we wait. Tomorrow, actually, she will have more scans to look and see what we are dealing with – which, obviously, we hope is nothing. In fact, our prayer is to have the scans, and see NONE of the spots previously seen.

That was the back and lead up explanation to what I am about to share with you. I can pretty much say that I am a picture perfect example of what it looks like to lose your identity.

One more back story. Many of you know, and some of you don’t. However, instead of hiding behind a mask of “everything is okay all the time” I want to be transparent about something. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Okay, fine. Go look it up. No, wait…it’s best you don’t. That said, it’s something – just the diagnosis – that I struggled with for a very long time. Years. Until recent history that I really figured out that it was just a diagnosis. It was not me. It is part of who I am, but not my identity. At least I thought. I do struggle with depression. I have also learned that I’m not alone in that. Depression is a real thing. It affects more people than you’d realize, or even care to think about. It hurts. Again, it became my identity for some time.

So, through these two examples alone, you can see that my life is definitely not boring. There are times, I long for a much more boring time.

The issue and problem is that we often will allow life’s circumstances – those curveballs that life tosses our direction – we often allow those things to define us. They become who we are. They become our identity. Then, when life changes, or circumstances take on a different shape, we tend to lose a part of ourselves. At least, it’s clear that I do. Let me explain.

When my daughter was diagnosed with cancer, I became a cancer mom. I became a cancer awareness fighter. I became a voice for children who battle childhood cancer. I became a person who spent more time in the hospital, even during holidays, than at home – at least it seemed at times. I realized that we had almost a second home away from home. Childhood cancer. It was who we became, and the fight we fought. We lived and breathed it (through all the tests, scans, hospital stays) with every breath. Then, THANK GOD, my daughter had clean scans. No evidence of the disease. No more daily / weekly / monthly tests, scans, radiation, chemo, etc. No more hospital stays. No more cancer, right now. Of course, I was elated. Beyond all measure. My daughter was free to live, breathe and run around and just well, be a kid! Yes, she would struggle with the aftermath of having had radiation and chemo, but she was HERE. She is alive!

But, now what!? Now where do I go? Now, who am I? These are all questions I never actually ASKED, but realized were present – asking themselves. I have come to realize that my identity was set in those things. It, rightfully so, consumed my days. Now, though – now that she is not fighting this disease, what’s a girl to do? I have to embrace this “new normal” as life again. I have to figure out what our current “normal” is and go from there. I won’t lie. It’s not easy. It is, however necessary.

I have, just in the past couple of days, sat down. With myself, and with my thoughts. I dug deep, and thought clearly – back to a time where I felt okay, good even. What I came to realize wasn’t shocking, but it was good to remember. I was the happiest when I was reaching out to others. When I took my own time, and gave it to others. When I took time, became a volunteer, and just reached out to others – helping THEM smile, it helped me. My hurting heart was calm again. It would bring me joy to see joy in someone else’s face. To know I had made a difference – that made a difference in ME.

So, two days ago, I went back to one place where I have felt me. I went to the YMCA. We have long since (over a year) not had a membership. Recently, my husband lost his job, and so a YMCA membership was something we couldn’t fathom, let alone afford. Still, though, I had to connect. I asked if I could volunteer again. I asked if I could just reach out, even during times that I might be hurting, because people (myself included) need people. I mentioned that I know God created us as community people, and I need that too. So, I turned in a volunteer application packet, and will soon be able to volunteer. I guess, to some, it may seem odd to be so excited about the ability to donate my time to make a difference in this community, and in other people’s lives. But, it isn’t at all silly. It’s real. I firmly believe that the heart of a hurting person can be brought so much joy from reaching out and serving others in such a way that life becomes about someone other than themselves.

I’ve learned that I may not have a rock solid identity, but I do know that there are things that make a difference. My purpose, through it all, however, remains. My purpose is to share smiles, and to share hope. It is to realize that in my not being alone, NO ONE in the world needs to feel alone. People – every person alive or dead – is or has a story. Every person alive is a living breathing story. Their story matters. Their life matters. THEY matter. That, and their story isn’t finished being written yet! The current chapter is JUST ONE chapter in a much larger – yet to be completed – book.

If you made it this far in reading this blog post, know that you have my gratitude. If you are hurting and not sure what your purpose in life is or where to find your identity, hold on. You’re still there. You’re still you. Don’t give up. YOUR life matters. Your hopes and dreams matter. Your story isn’t finished. Don’t give up! If you are hurting, or just want to chat, please don’t hesitate to seek help. Know, also, that I’m happy to talk it out if you’d like to post below or send me a message via my “contact me” page. I am grateful to not do life alone, and would be honored to walk alongside you in your journey as well!

September Is _______ Awareness Month!!

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If you turn on your computer, do a random search about causes, you’ll find it’s an awareness month for different things. This month, September is known to be a month to bring awareness to two very important things. You see, September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, but it is also Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month.

I wrote the following on Facebook last night:

What’s on my mind. Awareness. As you all know, or have come to read from my cover photo, September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. Clearly, this is a cause near but not so dear to my heart. It affects so many people, our family included. I never, in a million years, saw myself making that statement. Let’s remember all those affected in some way, shape or form by this. Do what you can to raise awareness, and also to take action on behalf/honor of those who have lost battles, but also for those fighting, and those yet to fight this battle. Each child is precious.

Something else on my mind is awareness for something else. Suicide. As you may know from previous cover photos and many status updates – suicide is also something not unfamiliar to me. Did you know that September is also Suicide Prevention Month. Suicide is something else that holds way too many statistics. As you know, this is another topic that is near but again, not so dear to my heart. What I can tell you is that suicide is a real problem, and is a problem needing to be talked about. We need to do our parts as individuals and as groups to erase the stigma attached to this. Mental illness is very real, and is no laughing matter. Again, something I’m familiar with. If you know someone who is struggling, do NOT let them struggle in silence. Don’t let them tell you they’re okay when you know they’re not. Don’t let that fake smile be enough to say they’re okay. Dig deeper. Grow friendships more than skin deep. Be the friend you need in others.

No matter what your battle, or what you are struggling with, please KNOW that you are NOT alone. There is not a human being alive that needs to walk through life alone – through cancer, depression, etc. Don’t do it. Let others in. You are loved. Hope is real.

That is EXACTLY how I feel. This life is full of so many uncertainties. Nothing is guaranteed, and tomorrow isn’t promised. However, no matter WHAT curveballs life throws your way – NEVER lose hope. You are absolutely NOT alone!

If you’d like to connect and discuss either of these topics, you can feel free to contact me directly via “contact me” page, or you can post in comments. I look forward to continued dialog.