Keep getting back up

sunglasses

So, an embarrassing thing happened to me at school pick up yesterday. Fortunately most parents had gone home already so there weren’t many witnesses.
I fell… and not gracefully – full on fell on my face – that I have included pictures of the sunglasses sitting on my face that protected my eye as I fell.
Ugh.

First… I’ll state the obvious… falling sucks.

Thankfully – nothing super serious happened. The sunglasses protected my eye. My palm is bruised badly (but no broken wrist).
I have had a lot on my mind lately – paying bills, a personal disappointment, and another test that I have to be checked into hospital for tomorrow. So my mind was elsewhere and I was distracting myself (according to my last post).

So as I was home yesterday evening – sipping on wine, relaxing the nerves after the fall, I couldn’t help but think about how sorry I felt for myself. Memories of falls I have had in the past (thanks to a weak ankle) went through my head.
I couldn’t help but think of a particular saying that goes through my head…

“It’s not about how many times you fall down, but how many times you get back up”

And boy – have I had to get back up A LOT.

How many times have you had to pick yourself up?

 

If you are like me and need protection from falling, here are some climbing harnesses that may help šŸ˜‰

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Distraction techniques

bed blanket female girl
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I am tired of doctors – You know what I am talking about…

I have to undergo more tests in preparation for yet another procedure. I am usually pretty cool and calm about these types of things, but I find myself feeling depressed when I’m just asked for a blood test. I’m tired of being a human pin cushion, and not making decisions about my own body.

How am I coping? Distraction. Yes – sometimes when Reality gets too much (and it does) that sometimes it’s best to temporarily distract yourself.Ā  I rarely use this method but I am trying to put my effort and thoughts into anything else but upcoming tests to help my anxiety. Thursday This week is a day procedure in seeing what may or may not need to be done.

Here have been some distraction techniques

  1. reading a book on anything else – especially ones on future goals that help me look at the “long term” goals instead of short term. One of my specifics is reading The Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape. Why? Well we need a way to save every penny we can.
  2. Engaging with my children – this is delightful and distracting and EDUCATIONAL. I usually have them read to me or we make quizzes or play games. It’s the best.
  3. Yesterday I went on a walk on a beautiful mountain with my sisters. I let them do most of the talking – it was nice hearing about their lives.
  4. cleaning

Please add to my list – what areĀ  your distraction techniques?
Hope you are having a better week than me!

Perspective: It changes everything

children

I have never seen how obvious how two different perspectives could change how you approach life until I took both of my children rollerskating a few weeks back.

My daughter… took one step with the rollerskate onto the rink… .and stepped back off and sat on the side pouting – she did this for a good 20 minutes while I tried everything to get her back in the rink.

My son went off on his own… thwap – fall, get up… skate skate skate thwap fall…. get up again and so on.

My daughter was close to tears sitting there – saying that it was too hard. I said “Of course it’s too hard, you barely tried!” She said “If I skate – I will fall”Ā  I said “So? What if you do? Look at all the other kids in the rink – they are falling and getting up and trying again”. She said “But I’m not good”, I said “Yes, that’s because it takes practice”, She wasn’t buying it.

I was exhausted from trying to encourage her (as she gets her stubbornness from me) that I just decided to skate around on my own – reliving my childhood and watching my son fall… get up – and skate for a few steps and fall again.

The best moment came when my daughter’s friend from school happened to show up (unplanned) and was equally as bad as my daughter. I said “Look, your friend can’t skate either but she’s still trying – you should at least try together”. My daughter rolled her eyes and got up and decided to “try to skate” with her friend who was also trying (but failing).
My daughter gradually got better but still not very confident as the day went on – and as she could see herself improve (and she never fell until right before we left) she was proud of herself… even though she was quite shaky.

MY son decided he was good enough to go in the big rink – I filmed him while giggling to myself – he fell a couple of times with the big-league skaters but I was proud of him for not being afraid to fail (or fall).
MY daughter – only fell once in the end – said it was a great day – but it took her the whole time to let go of the side because she was so afraid to fall.
My Son – Skated the whole time – anywhere he wanted to go, he went. He fell – got back up and kept going. MY son’s comment was “Did you see how good I was? It was my first time skating and I only fell 17 times!! That was awesome!!”

My son had not put pressure on himself to be perfect and kept persisting and achieved his goals for the day. My daughter – still felt proud of herself but took the whole time we were there to finally let go because she was so afraid to fall.

How do you approach life?
rollerskates
Read more about perspective with Carol S. Dweck’s Book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

A True Leader…

 

adult beard board boy
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My dad is one of the most gentle people I know. This is no thanks to his upbringing, in which he had very limited places to go and not much gentleness shown to him – but he, as a parent has been quiet, patient and gentle.

I have watched him over the years, and now as a parent I look back and I am in awe of his patience, rarely raising his voice – but doing a lot of listening. He jokes that one of his best accomplishments in life is that he raised three, very independent, opinionated and smart women (He has two sons – my brothers as well… but he mentions his daughters first). My dad also leads quietly with his work. He allows people to make their own mistakes, and only corrects if he absolutely has to.
To the smart person, who will ask him what he thinks, he will share many interesting tactics and observations – but he never shares unless asked.
Several years ago there was something happening with his work environment that I was aware of – and I asked him about it. I knew he was upset because he raised his voice and said “Jenny!! Someday I’m not going to be around and you need to think for yourself, You can’t rely on what I think!! Don’t ask what I think about it!!”.

I had never been so insulted by my dad in my life. I, never having raised my voice to my dad like this ever, said “DAD, YOU RAISED ME!! YOU of all people know I can think for myself with how much I have disagreed with you!! But I am still interested in your opinion!!”.
<Silence>
THEN my dad laughed like I had never heard him laugh, and said “Well, yes… of course I knew that” and laughed and laughed.
I was scared that I had yelled back at him but surprised with his response. The thing is, my dad always says that he wants people to not rely on him, that he isn’t going to be around forever. Nothing makes him happier than when he sees someone become completely capable without his help.
I could never put my finger on what makes my dad so different when I have observed other people in leadership positions. I noticed that when people started telling me how smart they were or all of their qualifications they have gotten I tend to just smile and tune out. It just turns me off… and many times I think “don’t tell me, show me!”. Why did it bother me so much?
IT wasn’t until I heard a quote today that said this:

“True Leaders don’t spend time convincing you to believe in them, True leaders spend time convincing you to believe in yourself”.

*Lighbulb*
I love my dad’s leadership style because he is constantly telling people what they are capable of, and their potential, and ways of tapping into that potential. Other leaders I have seen just talk about what to learn from them, and how amazing they are, and try to make people dependent on their leadership and knowledge. They want you to think like them.

Sometimes I get frustrated when I blog because I tell myself “What qualifications do I have, why would anyone want to read what I have to say?” I guess – if I share what I have been through it is only to encourage that if I can do it – you can too (and probably better). Also though, I realize that I have taken on board my outlook that my father has, and that is, I want people to realize they can overcome anything and accomplish their dreams. I cannot do that in a work environment (although I would do it if given the opportunity), so I do it through blogging. So I hope you are working at accomplishing your goals…

I hope you all have had a magnificent week so far…
Jen

 

You are the special occasion

yellow pink and blue party balloons
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If you are anything like me, and having surgery after surgery or illness after illness or maybe you have mishap after mishap. Maybe you are going through rejection, or a divorce and you are feeling a little like “why am I here?”

Did you know the probability of you being you (and being born) is over 400 quadrillion? That’s just the probability of the right sperm and the right egg to make you! That doesn’t include the probability of your father and mother getting together to make you, or even the probability of all your ancestors living long enough to successfully reproduce. There is a whole lot of math involved and I am not sure if I could really explain it clearly but I think 400 quadrillion (which is only taking into consideration one aspect of the probability), is a large enough number to help you understand how amazing (and miraculous) your presence is.

You were meant to be here! Even if you were told you were a “surprise” or “an accident” (Hopefully no one tells you this), the probability of you being here – reading this blog is quite the miracle (maybe the fact that you are reading this blog is my miracle – ha ha). So what am I asking you do with this information?
Well, don’t save the fine china for the Queen to arrive at your home. Use the good glasses at the back of the cupboard. Use the fancy shampoo, sleep in your fancy bedsheets, and use your good towels (don’t save them for guests).
Basically – don’t save things for a special occasion when YOU ARE THE SPECIAL OCCASION.
So take care of yourself because there is only one of you – and treat yourself like the king or queen that you are!

Don’t have anything special?Find what you are looking for below.
Fine China
Fancy glasses
Fancy bedsheets
Fancy Bath Towels

How to pick the right doctor…

doctor pointing at tablet laptop
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Sometimes it’s hard to explain this to someone – especially when they are desperately in need of help but it’s you as the patient who gets to be choosy! For you to choose the right doctor you need guts to stand up for yourself.
One of my favorite doctors would say “Jenny, doctors may be experts in textbook cases and what they have experienced – but only you are the expert of you.” He went on to explain why it’s important to listen to the patient… so If I could choose the first criteria for the right doctor:
1. The doctor must listen to you – They must listen respectfully, and they must be more interested in your voice over hearing their “own expert voice”.
The right doctor realizes they don’t know everything and there may be things they have never encountered or understood. In fact, I was explaining in my last most recent checkup to my surgeon – that I have been told a lot of my symptoms (now explained) was all in my head by previous doctors. He cringed as he had proof and and offered to send them proof (ha ha) but then he said “Try not to be too hard on them Jenny, you have a very VERY unique case – most doctors wouldn’t know what to do with you.” My response… in which he seemed to agree with a nod was “Well, don’t tell me it’s in my head tell me you don’t know. A good doctor will not be so concerned about his ego that he/she that they would rather tell you it’s in your head than explain that all their many many years of training hasn’t prepared them for you. So my second criteria to look for:
2. A good doctor wont be afraid to tell you that they don’t know – This also goes for multiple times you might be misdiagnosed. It is so easy to diagnose someone that might fit “most” of the categories instead of thinking that maybe it’s something different. For years I was diagnosed with “ANA negative Lupus”. Then one day a doctor told me “don’t be silly – do your research! There is no such thing – they just told you that because they couldn’t figure out what you had”. This doctor didn’t stay with the clinic for long – but I liked that she gave me a bit of a kick in the right direction – and realizing that I had been misdiagnosed.
3. Don’t have a doctor who is always going to think worst case scenario – sure – it’s their job to THINK of the worst case scenario but if that’s the ONLY scenario they are telling you – you don’t want that. Run away. Your doctor needs to be aware of risks (if you are going through surgery etc..) but also stay positive in what good could come out of it. My surgeon kept telling me that the odds were not in my favor but he kept saying “if you can keep thinking about – if you get through this – that you will feel better than you have ever felt in your entire life, then that would be a good thing to focus on”. (Robin Roberts talks about this in her book link here and below)
AND MOST OF ALL – most favorite one is:
4. A good doctor wont tell you it’s all in your head. A good doctor actually gets distressed when they have patients who come in and tell them this is what they have been told. A good doctor will see your pain as valid. I had a horrific incident where I was having seizures and the doctor who saw me tried to tell me that I was under a lot of stress and that I just needed to see a psychologist. She then said I could walk to the CT room myself if I was determined to get one. I was so desperate to get some help I tried walking (they had separated my husband from me – in case it was a “case of abuse”) and with no help or even anyone watching me – I remember running into the wall and not able to see straight. DIS. GUS. TING. I wish I knew then what I know now, I would have told the doctor to shove it. You see when you are desperate – some (horrible narcissistic) doctors will see that as a sign that you have to do everything they say – YOU DO NOT. She could have told me to bark like a dog and I probably would have done it – and that is a serious abuse of power. I kept asking people for her name (after I got better and had energy to fight for myself) as I was going to write a complaint – but all I got told was that she was a doctor in training etc etc and she was no longer here at the hospital.Ā  I shudder to think that there are doctors out there lose in the world out there treating patients like that. The only thing that saved me that day was a man who was working with her, he bent down and whispered in my ear “get help somewhere else”. He was afraid to stand up to her – he could lose his job but he had this look of absolute pain of seeing the way I was treated and helped me realize I had a choice. Doctors like that should be locked up. ANYONE – including animals – deserve better than that treatment. I saw a similar doctor in a different hospital – who quite literally treated the woman in the bed next to me horribly. The woman next to me was suffering a miscarriage (and it obviously wasn’t her first by what the doctor said next). The female doctor came in and said to the patient “Do you get this emotional with all your miscarriages or is it just this one?” Don’t get me started….

The other problem is – there is sexism – as a woman you are several times more likely to be told it’s in your head, also, doctors are willing to downplay your symptoms more especially if it’s related to the female illnesses. Science has proven this bias (although it is improving) – but please…. Please know that you deserve to fight for yourself and only you are the expert of you. YOU have a choice.

Want to read more about someone who had to be choosy with her doctors? I love Everybody’s Got Something by Robin Roberts.

When you are “too white”…

kids

Yes, you read that right. I’m taking about being too white.
This blog entry is dedicated to those that understand the comments you get if you are super-pale.
Once again the subject of my children’s skin color came up in conversation today. It happens. One shade whiter and I’m sure they could be mistaken for being albino.
I had an Asian man who would work in my house a couple of years ago and he would stop and stare at the pictures of my kids andĀ  I would say “What?” and he would say “your kids are so white! I have never seen kids so white before”.
Umm.. so that’s a conversation starter.
He had to mention how he has never seen children that white every single time he was in our house. So I got used to it… and learned not to take it personally.
My daughter also passes out every once in a while and we don’t know what the cause is – but every time she has ended up at the hospital they look at her and say “Oh, she is super white, is she always this white?” Uhh… yes. That’s how white my kids are – so white they look sick. In fact doctors are always sure my daughter has undiagnosed anemia as she is so pale… and they are always shocked she isn’t anemic. That’s how white my daughter is – “We’re shocked she isn’t anemic” white (see how many shades of white there are?).

Anyway, once again today it was discussed… “Wow, I could tell your daughter was sick today – she looked even whiter than normal… is that even possible?? I thought she was pretty white already, but I guess she can get whiter”.

And with that I’m done… if anyone else has hilarious white comments to share (I don’t take these personally and they are pretty funny to tell friends over a beer or wine) please write them in the comments.

Either way – if you can tan, my family is in awe that you don’t blend in with a white-painted wall and we kind of envy that there is a bit of color to your skin.

Hope I was able to make you giggle at the start of your week.
Jen

Tired of blending into a white wall? Buy yourself a dark T shirt so people can spot you.

Writing should make you feel like Royalty…

art carving close up crown
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I love to write and itĀ  has been my first love since I can remember.
I have a friend who is obsessed with pens and paper more than I am (which is hard to believe).
Being part American he asked me why Americans have yellow pencils with yellow legal pads. After responding with “because they have yellow school busses?” I explained that this isn’t knowledge I carried around with me about my home country.
After doing a bit of research we discovered there are many theories behind the legal yellow pad but no real facts about why legal pads are yellow. The pencils, however, had definite thought put into it (Have I lost you as a reader already?? I can’t believe this – surely this information has you on the edge of your seat).
The first pencils had Chinese lead, and YELLOW was the color associated with royalty in China. The idea was, that when you use a pencil, you were meant to feel like royalty.
Gives a whole different meaning to that beautiful pencil quote from “You’ve got Mail”:
pencils

As we talked about pencils (I know… thrilling isn’t it?) it hit me that there are feelings I wish we could feel for the first time again. One of them was the innocence of getting excited about the “technology” of a mechanical pencil – and how you can carry .05 or .07 lead around in that pencil with replaceable erasers. I remember thinking how sophisticated I was when I got my first mechanical pencil. This feeling just doesn’t exist anymore…
Times have changed where we are in the age of the internet. MySpace was a huge NEW concept – that changed the world for writers and now it is a common thing for many people to have a blog.

The thing is, I still get a smile on my face when I see a sharpened pencil – maybe because I think of all the possibilities of what I could write or draw with it. It’s the idea of possibility that comes into my mind when I see a pencil of unspoken words and thoughts and ideas. I certainly don’t get that feeling when I text someone.

Anyway, the humble little yellow pencil may not mean or be worth as much as an iPad or iPhone these days – it’s still lovely to remember that when pencils was all we had (before all this amazing technology), that the intention of a yellow was to make you feel as special as royalty when you used it. What could make you feel more rich than the possibility of communicating your ideas and thoughts onto paper?
Happy Blogging…

(Get yourself a set of Yellow Pencils here)

Stress isn’t actually bad for you…

man in red crew neck sweatshirt photography
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One of my favorite shows is Todd Sampson’s show Body Hack 2.0. Todd (in all of his shows) displays how amazing the body really is – and really showcases how much the brain has control over. I wasn’t a huge fan of the episode in India – but the most intense and amazing show I have seen to date is the episode where Todd Sampson spends time in the most dangerous part of the world with the Iraqi Army. He shows how the soldiers’ bodies have become used to stress and how his body responded differently to that stress. He sites a study supporting the level of stress the soldiers endure explaining that stress isn’tĀ  bad for you unless you think it is.

This agreed with part of the philosophy I have had in life – which is telling myself “I can handle it”, and “stress will only bother my health if I let it”. When it registered to me I was going through a stressful situation (i.e. when doctors warned me I probably wouldn’t survive very long), I told myself “to bring it on” and that I would get through it because I believe I will. I changed my perception of the situation by telling myself that when I overcame the odds given to me and LIVED that it would be a great story to tell my friends at a pub with a beer…

I found this study published in Forbes, and theĀ statistics linked to it with further examples of the power of the mind. I loved this because I really cannot change the stress that is in my life – I am not sure even if there is a way to cut a lot of stress out. There are just stresses that are so high that I just have to accept or I would be abandoning everyone – including myself. That isn’t an option. So for me to cope, I’ve had to accept that life is stressful – and I just have to think differently about it – and change my perception.

I find this study so encouraging because a lot of us cannot get away – we have to look after an ailing parent or a disabled child, or a death of a loved one. However if we BELIEVE that stress isn’t going to hurt us – that we welcome it and accept it and learn to live with the perception that stress is helpful (which it can be), then this changes the game for us.

I, for one, am so exhausted of hearing how stress can shorten one’s life, with their immune system or toxicity etc etc.Ā  The understanding that my brain actually has control over whether stress hurts me or not gives me freedom – and I hope it does for you too.

You can find out more about your control of the perception of stress in the book The Upside of Stress by Dr Kelly McGonigal. I hope your week is not stressful, but if it is… I hope you have the chance to welcome it.

Have a great week.

Change of Attitude

background balance beach boulder
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A huge revelation came when I was working through writers block:
I often talk about how we need to change ourselves to change our world, and I often do challenge myself with changing when I set goals and figure out how to do better and be better.
There are times when a situation can trigger an “old tape” that plays in our head that feeds on the insecurity or hurt of a memory. This happened without me being aware, that resulted in writers block.
Having had to deal with health problems since I can remember, I have felt at times a burden. I have people literally tell me when I have taken on a new project “You can’t do that, you are sick!” It hits me that some people who have never really dealt with real health issues may not be able to express empathy to those who have health challenges. They also cannot view those with health challenges clearly or see what they can offer and treat those people with limitations as limited. This is a challenge on top of physical and/or mental health issues.

Recently a poorly organised project actually saw me being excluded with helping someone who I know and care about. The thing is, it wasn’t personal, there were a few people who wanted to be included in the project that didn’t even get asked (I was at least asked – just asked at the very last hour in which it was too late). Even though logically I knew it wasn’t personal, it really fed on the insecurity of being overlooked or being perceived as “too sick” to help and serve others and started edging to the insecurity of feeling like a burden.

Serving others is a privilege. It is absolutely necessary for mental health to know you can do something for other people. When you are physically unable to help others – you can start feeling like a burden which is the number one red-flag feeling that causes people to fall into depression and suicidal thoughts.

One of the most interesting suggestions for people who deal with depression is to start doing things for other people.

As I started realizing that I was more upset about this than I should be, because it triggered thoughts of not being helpful and being a burden – I was able to tackle these feelings head on. I, for one, am quite sick those insecurities – and I was determined that a situation in which I had no control of was not going to control me.

I remembered times when I felt like I was giving back, even when I am not financially able to help people out in the way that I would like. I used to write more cards, call people, or visit those that can’t get out of their house or nursing home. Sometimes just sending a text saying I was thinking of them was enough. I had stopped because of the recent procedure and all the hospital stuff I had to go through. I had stopped because I was the one who was in need and I needed to take care of myself, but you can only be in need for so long before you have to change that attitude and realize it’s time to change. It’s time to find ways of giving back, and no matter what our limitations – to help others.

One of the most amazing women I have ever met who is no longer living, had severe MS. It was So bad that she had nurses around the clock to do everything for her. She would make her nurses sit down and write cards for her while she dictated them. I have a couple of her cards. They would say how she was praying for me and I was in her thoughts. Some of the most thoughtful people are the sickest people. Why? They can’t do anything there but sit and think about everyone else. It was humbling to think that a woman who was bedridden would still find a way to make the effort to encourage others.

So with giving myself a good kick (you know where), I realized I don’t need to wait to find out if I am included on “big giving projects”. Depending on your ability (and financial situation)- you can use your skills to organize your own projects – big or small, to help others. It takes your mind off of whatever your brain is telling you what you can’t do… and reminds you of what you CAN do.
So my challenge to you is to find a way to brighten up someone else’s day! Please let me know how you go!

Writers Block

design desk display eyewear
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So, Lately I’ve been writing blogs and then deleting them. I don’t feel right, and I don’t feel genuine about my work. It just doesn’t feel good to publish. Which is a weird thing for me, I love publishing my work, I love just writing, even if no one reads it. It’s soothing to me to write everything on my mind.

However, lately I have been kept awake at night, my mind racing with words as I have not written them out or even found a way I feel comfortable with expressing them at the moment.

I usually can think of 2-5 different blogs in one day, but lately if I think of anything I become seriously in doubt with myself. I have been silent on here a while – not wanting to write a mediocre blog – and yet when I publish – within minutes to hours of publishing I press the trash button as I have convinced myself that what I have written is stupid.

I don’t like feeling this way, but I am sure most of the actual readers (not the spambots) will relate and I just wanted to be honest with my readers.

Please share in the comments section if you have any thoughts on how you deal with writers block and ways you have gotten yourself out of it.

Thanks for still being loyal.
Jen

The strongest people are the loneliest..

person in black hoodie sitting on train bench
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This is one of the most honest blogs I will ever write:

One thing that my family and friends have observed about me over the years was that in the face of trauma and drama I appear like I have it together. One of my thought processes is “I’ll take care of the people around me first, and then someone can take care of me when things calm down. The problem is, by the time I think everyone around me is okay and it’s my turn to lean on someone – people have already assumed the crisis is over and long passed.

I don’t know when this started, maybe before I can remember. I do remember specifically being aware of it when a family friend took his life when I was 13 years old and I knew that my parents had many people to attend to, including the family of the man. There were so many people around me affected by this, that I thought it was my role to comfort. Later, when I felt like the situation had calmed down a little… I waited. I thought “okay, someone will ask me how I am now…”. No one ever asked. I remember years later asking my parents and family, how come they never checked on me? They replied “you seemed like you were doing fine”.

I actually remember in that same week that I was beat up by a bunch of guys (yup, true – they are all such brave boys – beating up a girl as a group). I came home to a lonely house. My family gone because I knew they were at the man’s house comforting that family. It wasn’t until many years later that I told my family about being beat up. They asked me why I hadn’t told them at the time. I assumed that me mentioning that I got beat up at school would have added to the problems that had accumulated around the suicide. I had been beat up – I hadn’t died.

The thing is, the people who seem the bravest, and the strongest, are still suffering but they are looking at the bigger picture – of helping others until they are safe to have their breakdown. The problem is, most people have forgotten by then, and assume those that provided comfort are okay. News flash is: THEY ARE NOT OKAY.

The people who seem the strongest feel like they cannot unload their burden after they have comforted others. Those are the people that are most at risk. They turn to ways of self-medicating.
I believe this to be true, because the people I know who have taken their lives are all people who made others laugh, thought about others and tried to comfort people around them and make them happy. That was definitely true of the man I knew who took his life during this time. If you ask MOST people if they saw any signs in someone who took their life they always mention how funny they were and how they helped others, and USUALLY they never saw any signs.
We need to talk about loneliness, depression, suicide, and addiction in a different format. Mental health isn’t something that is easy to notice. We need to check on each other, no matter how weak, or how strong they seem and sometimes months and years after a trauma.

Hope you are having a good beginning of the week… God bless.

Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14
National Suicide Hotline (USA) 1800 273 8255