Monthly Archives: October 2013

A VIDEO SLIDESHOW – WALKING OUT OF THE DARKNESS

Misery loves company.

A miserable person likes to be around other miserables so they can all congregate and be miserable together, right?

The ailing and broken-hearted can assemble, share their horror stories, and dwell on their misfortunes as a collective rather than singularly, right?

Being of the strong-natured, private type, I never felt the need.

Sometimes those who need help the most, don’t even know it. And sometimes, we don’t know what we need, until we find it.

Or it finds us.

I’ve learned that it’s not that misery loves company; it’s the Alcoholics Anonymous thing. It’s the, “people just like you . . . helping you”, thing.

Because there is a healing that happens only when you gather with those who share your unique brand of suffering.

For those of us who have lost someone to suicide, our pain is difficult to explain. We don’t dwell on it; we live with it.

Last year I attended the “Out of the Darkness Community Walk” which raises funds and brings awareness to suicide prevention. And even though I lost my sister to suicide, I didn’t attend for any other purpose than to blog about it.

Oddly, I hadn’t anticipated the overwhelming emotions I’d feel. The moment I arrived, I wanted to leave. But I didn’t. I stayed but I was tightly wrapped. I didn’t speak to anyone. I didn’t share my story. I never said my sister’s name. I walked the walk, took my snaps, went home, and blogged it. Please read, “Out of the Darkness”, at: http://wp.me/p2ckKM-gC.

It didn’t touch me. Too much.

This year, I didn’t know that I was ready.

And on Sunday, October 13, 2013, at the AFSP Downriver “Out of the Darkness Walk”, I found out that I was. Ready . . . to be touched.

I had planned on my usual modus operandi of hiding behind my camera, but soon found that instead of it being my shield, it was providing an unintended gateway.

I took my photographs alright, but I was talking to people. And sharing. Repeatedly, I heard myself say, “I lost my sister, Chris, to suicide. I understand and I’m so sorry for your loss”.

There were hugs and tears, and names and laughter, and more hugs. There were strangers who became friends, and then as friends, we became a kind of special family.

We weren’t there to dwell on our misery.

We were there to feel the comfort of being with people who understand and know our pain. We didn’t need to explain anything. And no one here would say the wrong thing or fail to understand. Or tell us to just move on.

We did not gather to share our misery.

We gather with all of our grief, pain, and love, and with the life and power of a tsunami, and we walk. We walk to change.

We walk to honor those we’ve lost to suicide. And to bring suicide out of the closet’s icy darkness and into the warm light of day. The ugly stigma cannot live in the light.

Only hope lives there.

So we walk. And we find community. And we make new friends, who understand.

And Out of the Darkness . . . comes hope.

PLEASE WATCH MY VIDEO SLIDESHOW OF THIS YEAR’S “OUT OF THE DARKNESS WALK”:  http://youtu.be/7gkddRgN8Ug.

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“Thank you” to Event Coordinators Gerri Trager & Tanya Duffy, and their amazing volunteers for a truly healing event.

And to my dear friend, Pat Petroline, who knew what I needed even when I didn’t, and then got me there despite my excuses and all of my quirks. Thank you, girlie.

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*The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: http://www.afsp.org.

*Also see: http://www.outofthedarkness.org & survivoroutreachMI@gmail.

*Donations accepted at:

http://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=2358

*If you have lost someone to suicide:  http://www.afsp.org/survivingsuicideloss

*IF YOU ARE IN SUICIDAL CRISIS, CALL: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at:  1-800-273-TALK (8255)* 

*** BECAUSE EVERYONE MATTERS ***

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Categories: Downriver/Detroit, Michigan, Grief/Healing, Inspiration/Motivation, Suicide | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

CONTRADICTION IS CONFUSING

I have bipolar disorder, and if you are like me and suffer with a mental or physical condition that wreaks havoc on the inside without showing on the outside, then you know that its invisibility can cause issues; because people can’t see what we’re talking about.

As much as we try to explain, they will forget, misunderstand, and doubt. Sometimes, they will even judge.

What they seldom do . . . is ask.

So why do we want to talk about it all the time?

Imagine that we’re walking in the woods and you step on a stick that cuts through the bottom of your shoe and impales your foot.

“Omg! This stick just impaled my foot! This is so painful!” you scream.

“Oh, come on, you big baby, keep up.” I casually reply and keep walking.

“NO! STOP AND LOOK AT THIS!” you shriek.

And when I stop and see your mangled, blood-gushing foot with its protruding stick, I realize the gravity of your situation and the level of your pain. My expectations change. And so does my judgment.

Therein lays the problem. We can’t point to anything and show you our pain.

We have only our words.

So we talk.

We need you to know that we can function on some days, but not others, and we’re not hypochondriacs or whiney, and we’re not exaggerating, attention-seeking, or lazy and making excuses; no, we have a big sharp-ass stick in our foot that no one else can see.

The symptoms come and go, but the stick doesn’t. It is permanently lodged. We never know which days will hurt, so our entire lives we “play it by ear”.

“But you seem so normal”.

“What do you think, I’m going to meet you for coffee when I haven’t showered for a week and I can’t stop sobbing?”

Those of us suffering “invisibly” seem normal because you only sporadically and briefly see us at our best. At our worst, we stay home and isolate. You don’t know our endless struggles. And you can’t see when we lose hope.

How could you?

We’ve learned to hide it, fake it, and adjust to it in ways you’d never imagine.

When you see us looking confident and physically fit, it’s hard to reconcile what we say, with what you see.

With me, you’ll likely see the confident, positive, jokester with a passion for life, but rarely my depressed and troubled mind. When my symptoms are unmanageable, I stay home and ride it out for however long it takes.

It’s a double life.

We have the good life that people see; where we’re attending events and looking healthy and self-assured; and we have the other one, where we suffer secluded and controlled by symptoms that leave us helpless and homebound.

I never know which life I’m going to awaken to, so when it’s the good one, I will grab hold of it like a wet dishrag and wring it dry.

It’s no wonder folks get confused.

I say that I live a tormented and isolated life, but then you see me out in the world meeting people, blogging about shows, and posting photographs of parks and sunrises.

You don’t know that my attendance anywhere is rare and that I’m usually at home on my sofa; or that photography provides the only semblance of focus or peace, and is often my only saving grace from my own mind.

I say that I have issues with large groups of people, but then you see me at a class reunion, baby shower, or art show. You don’t know that being with a group of 12 causes more anxiety than the anonymity of being with 100; or that my ever-present camera acts as a protective shield against exposure to others and helps navigate my environment so that I’m challenged with fewer inquiries and intimate interactions.

This new realization came when a friend gently and bravely inquired about the contradiction . . . and inspired this blog. That’s when I realized that understanding invisibility isn’t always so easy and that conversation enlightens everyone.

Remember the last time you smacked your head and got a big nasty lump on it, and how you made your friends feel the lump even though they didn’t want to? You needed them to fully comprehend the measure of your pain; that lump was your proof of pain.

I have only my words.

I have bipolar disorder and this is how it feels.

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“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” Antoine de Saint Exupéry, ‘The Little Prince’.

(Read, “About Me & My Journey”: http://wp.me/p2ckKM-tM, “Being Bipolar”: http://wp.me/p2ckKM-hF, and “Sensitive Steel”: http://wp.me/p2ckKM-vY).

 

Categories: Bipolar/Depression | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

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