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Life's Little Lessons

"If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud." – Emile Zola

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courage

Be Brave

A couple weeks ago, I was bartending and as bartending goes, I was privy to hearing things. Two friends were talking about a friend they had in common whom had been struggling with depression and had recently been hospitalized for it. I heard “nut house” amongst other not nice things and it made me kind of grumpy as I finished my work. Sometimes you can’t unhear what you’ve heard despite all your best attempts to forget that you had.

Obviously, it wasn’t the kindest conversation. In fact, I felt they were rather brutal in talking about their so-called “friend” who had obviously been struggling and they appeared to have little to no sympathy for him. It broke my heart and made me think on the subject here weeks later. Here’s why.

All of us have probably received the news that someone that we loved, someone that we knew or someone that we knew of committed suicide. In my short forty-five years, I have had several acquaintances succumb to the depths of depression and lost their will to fight. And every time I hear of it, my thoughts are always the same: “I had no idea because they seemed like they had perfectly “normal” life. I wonder if they reached out for help. Did anyone know they were struggling?” Trying to wrap my head around such tragedies always throws me off-kilter, as it should.

And here I was again off-kilter as I listened to these friends make fun of and belittle someone for checking themselves into the hospital. It was taken lightly and ridiculed. I’m sure I would have been privy to a different conversation had their brave friend chosen not to get help. This needs to change.

There’s a stigma attached to reaching out for help, especially when it comes to mental health. No one should struggle. No one should have such thoughts or reach such depths. No one should fall a part and reach that level of vulnerability because when they do, they tend to be looked upon negatively in many different ways.

Weak.

Incompetent.

Crazy.

A danger not only to themselves but to others.

How do I know these things? I’ve been told these things by good and well-meaning people.

Personally.

A year ago today I got up on a Saturday morning and cleaned the house. I did the laundry and folded the towels. I made meals for my family and lined them into neat and tidy rows in the fridge and then I drove myself to the hospital, went straight to the ER and told the check-in nurse I needed to speak to someone in crisis.

Because I was in one.

I hadn’t harmed myself or anyone else but I was severely depressed, had stopped eating the week before and my thought life was a spiraling mess. I kept thinking I would get better on my own but the reality was I was scared that one day, in just one moment, I wouldn’t be able to fight the thoughts I had been having off any longer.

Looking back now, it was, without a doubt, one of the bravest decisions I’ve ever made and it showed me a lot about who I am. In all the right ways.

Since that day a year ago today, I’ve fought a hard battle but have persevered thanks to the love and support of my family and friends, particularly my children. I found a good therapist who helped me understand how and why I got to where I was and a good psychiatrist who did not think I was crazy or needed labeled with a permanent diagnosis, but rather realized how present day circumstances and our environment contributes to one’s mental health state. It’s been a year of hard work, taking ownership, assigning responsibility, establishing boundaries, accepting what is, letting go and looking to the future, but I’ve kicked some major ass and made it through. At the end of this week, I will be released from my doctors care. I did not take the chicken exit and am making it through to the other side. Happy Anniversary to me indeed.

But I have more to do.

God has been faithful and ever-present and for that, I am incredibly thankful. It’s been a humbling journey and I have learned a great deal about God, myself and others. If you ever find yourself sitting with a friend on the other side of the bar at a Beer Stube, remember your words and that everyone you meet is fighting a battle of some sort and sometimes, those battles are incredibly painful and hard. Once more, we need to do better. We have to. The ones that reach out for help are not weak, but brave. They need encouraged and supported. Not dismissed or jeered.

And if you’re like me and ever find yourself in a position where you need help of any kind, don’t go it alone. Don’t wake up day in and day out scared of your thoughts. I don’t care who you are or what you do. I don’t care of the title you hold or your position in the community, get the help you need. Don’t listen to the lies telling you you’ve failed or that’s it’s all your fault or if you were stronger or more this and less that, you would be better. Don’t listen to your Churches stance on medication and mental health. Pay no mind to what other people think or what they might say.

There is never ever shame in being brave and asking for help. Ever. I am with you.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

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Ask The Question

Recently I asked someone a question because I wanted to better understand what was happening in a situation *READ: in our relationship* with them, or more so, what wasn’t, and for the last few days, I have been mulling over their response.

TRYING TO UNDERSTAND IT. 

TRYING TO UNDERSTAND THEM. 

What I have been trying to do is apply their answer, their way of thinking and being and living TO ME. I’ve picked their response up in my hands and dropped it into a compartment in my brain that has been longing for an answer. I’ve attempted to absorb their words into my heart so I could begin to grasp the void that has taken place and in doing so, I’ve become increasingly unsettled.

There has been no reward for my sincere diligence in trying best to understand.

Not Fair.

So yesterday, in the midst of doing everyday random things, Jesus whispered, “Your question is a very good question, but you asked it to the wrong person.” I stopped. In my spirit I knew what He was talking about and soon my conscious mind knew as well.

Asking THEM the question was good. Seeking to understand is not wrong, in fact, communication is a good goal in any relationship, but I needed to start with ME. So the rest of the afternoon, I talked with Jesus about what a particular situation in my life looked like TO JESUS.

TO ME. 

I think it was the best starting point to move forward and to keep connection alone.

If you have a sense of wonder IN you, ask the question. Do not be afraid, like I was that day several weeks again, to come across eager or excited, scared or confused. Just ask the questions that need to be asked so you can better understand.

B-U-T…ask the question first to YOURSELF before you ask it to someone else. Often we (I) want to understand others ideas or their perspective before we’re willing to grapple with our own. I know if I would have asked myself, “What does this look like to ME” and then gave myself permission to be fully honest, I would have most likely rested in my identity and then asked the other person, “What does this look like to YOU?” so we could have moved forward further.

TOGETHER. 

But here we are, in my opinion, stuck. Each with a different idea of how things are to flow. We could have both went forward on the same page, at least in the same book, walking towards a common goal instead of things being left in a state of confusion where expectations take root and people fall short.

Disappointment.

And I have been filled with it. I realize now, it could have been better avoided if I would have just had the guts to ask the questions I really wanted to ask from the get go.

Don’t make assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. – Don Miguel Ruiz

So friends, before you seek to understand someone else and why they do what they do and think like they think, make the time to better understand yourself first. Ask yourself the questions, even the hard ones. I really do believe you can rest a lot easier, be more peace-filled, EVEN JOYFILLED, when YOU know that YOU know…

for YOU.

It turns out my idea of this situation is similar in parts but completely differently then the person I first asked the question to AND THAT IS OK. We all have these pictures in our head of what something looks like. Our lives are all shaped very differently so to say “I am right and you are wrong” serves no purpose. What does serve purpose is the asking, “What does this look like to me?”

This. 👆🏻

You were not created to grace this planet walking around in someone else’s shoes, making your life look like theirs with their thoughts as your own. You were uniquely created so go ahead and ask others the questions in order to better know and understand them. Trying to understand their WHY’S and WHAT’S is good and will help foster intimacy and connection.

Just remember to start with yourself first.

Ask the question.

 

 

 

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