Kindness & Compassion

WALK OUT OF THE DARKNESS

This poem was inspired by last year’s experience at the “Out of The Darkness Community Walk”, which benefits The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, (see my blog: http://wp.me/p2ckKM-gC). FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THIS YEAR’S WALK (OCT 13th, 2013) OR TO MAKE A DONATION, PLEASE VISIT: http://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=2358. Thank you.

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You’re hurt and bruised, feeling empty and used

You think you’re lost and you know you’re confused

Your problems are different from mine

But if you need it, I’ll give you my time.

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You’ve found your voice, but you don’t know the words

You’re screaming for help, but you still feel unheard

You just want your pain to end

Come take my hand, my friend.

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And Out of The Darkness together we’ll walk

I’ll be the listener who hears when you talk

We’ll reach out for comfort and learn how to cope

We’ll walk Out of The Darkness . . . and into the hope.

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For more information on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, or the Out of the Darkness Community Walk, or to make a donation, visit: http://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=2358.

GERRI ASAM TRAGER, AFSP Board Member, AFSP Community Outreach Volunteer, Metro Detroit/Ann Arbor Chapter, Phone: 810-229-4266. The American Foundation For Suicide Prevention: www.afsp.org . Also see: www.outofthedarkness.org and survivoroutreachMI@gmail.

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

*IF YOU ARE IN SUICIDAL CRISIS, PLEASE CALL 1-800-273-TALK (8255)*

Because everyone matters.

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Categories: Bipolar/Depression, Downriver/Detroit, Michigan, Grief/Healing, Inspiration/Motivation, Kindness & Compassion, Mental Health, Photography, Poetry, Suicide | Tags: , , , , , | 13 Comments

THIS BIPOLAR’S FRIENDS

My greatest blessings are my friends. They are priceless.

They don’t walk on eggshells, and they aren’t saints who always understand exactly how I feel.

My friends are brave.

Although I may be cause for concern at times, they love me anyway.

They don’t give me exemptions; they give me allowances, just as I do for them.

I have found that the most secure people I know are also the ones who are the most patient and compassionate.

Maybe with the others, my unstable-ness scares their unstable-ness.

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(This was edited out of my piece, “Being Bipolar” a few weeks ago; please read it, if you haven’t already. And feel free to share it or post it on Facebook. It contains some information that you or others may find useful).

Categories: Bipolar/Depression, Friends, Kindness & Compassion, Mental Health | Tags: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

OUT OF THE DARKNESS

On Sunday, October 7, 2012, I attend a community walk called, “Out of the Darkness”, at Lake Erie Metro Park in Brownstown, Michigan.

“Proceeds from this event benefit the AMERICAN FOUNDATION FOR SUICIDE PREVENTION (AFSP), the leading national not-for-profit organization dedicated exclusively to the understanding and prevention of suicide through research, education, and advocacy, and to reaching out to those suffering with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.”


SUICIDE CLAIMS MORE THAN 38,000 LIVES A YEAR. Did you know that? Think about that number for a minute . . . 38,000 lives every year.

Every 14.2 minutes, a person successfully takes their own life. And every minute of the day, a person attempts to take their own life. It is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. And it is the 3rd leading cause of death among those 15-24 years old.

This event is personal to me because in 1996, my sister, Chris, took her own life. She was 38 years old. I still struggle with this loss, and the grief and torment that accompany it. And due to my struggles with bipolar disorder, I have come dangerously close to losing myself (1 of every 5 people suffering with bipolar disorder takes their own life).

From left: My sister, Chris, and me, as children.

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Intelligent and compassionate Gerri Asam Trager is the organizer of the “Out of the Darkness Community Walk” for the downriver area. She and her amazing band of beautiful volunteers are the primary reason for this event’s huge success.

Gerri Asam Trager, on right. (Photo taken from AFSP Downriver Out of the Darkness Walk, Facebook event page, by Bob Eccles).

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It is a cloudy, chilly day, but attendance is high, as are the spirits of the organizers, volunteers, and walkers.

  

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This beautiful woman, Jaqueline Worthey, a poetry reader, graces the stage by reading a special poem every year at this event.

 

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We are blessed with the kind and compassionate, former Detroit Lion’s football player, Eric Hipple, who speaks to us straight from the heart.

 

After losing his own 15-year-old son in 2000 to suicide, Hipple now travels the country and gives speeches to High Schools, Youth Groups, the U.S. Military, and Corporations, on suicide prevention and Mental Illness. His book, “Real Men Do Cry”, published in 2009, discusses his playing career with the Lions and his experiences with depression, grief, and suicide prevention.

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We are then introduced to the lovely and extremely talented, NEENUH. There are no words to describe her beautiful voice.

Connect with Neenuh on Facebook. She performs solo shows (vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica) around Downriver, MI. Search “Neenuh” on YouTube and you will find uploads of her videos.

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And we are delighted by the amazing talent of Fiddler, Mick Gavin, who plays onstage AND along our walking path. Wonderful!

Gavin was born in Co. Clare, Ireland. Since the 1970’s, he has performed concerts with many traditional Irish performers in the Chicago and Detroit areas. Mick now teaches Irish fiddle throughout the Detroit metropolitan area. Three of his students took 2nd at the All-Ireland in Listowel, Co. Kerry in 2002.

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The 3.5-mile walk begins on this gorgeous Autumn afternoon.

 

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Even the canines walk the walk!

  

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Afterwards, we are treated to hot food and refreshing beverages, and a safe place for good conversation. There is also a raffle which offers terrific prizes of food and services generously donated by some of our local restaurateurs and merchants.

We bond over our losses and experiences, but join together to celebrate life . . . and bring about change.

AND OUT OF THE DARKNESS . . .

. . . COMES HOPE.

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For information or to make a donation, (donations for walks can be made thru 12/31/12 for this year), contact:

GERRI ASAM TRAGER, AFSP Board Member, AFSP Community Outreach Volunteer, Metro Detroit/Ann Arbor Chapter. Phone: 810-229-4266. The American Foundation For Suicide Prevention: www.afsp.org . Also see: www.outofthedarkness.org and survivoroutreachMI@gmail.

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

*IF YOU ARE IN SUICIDAL CRISIS, PLEASE CALL 800-273-TALK 8255)*

Categories: Addiction, Bipolar/Depression, Downriver/Detroit, Michigan, Grief/Healing, Inspiration/Motivation, Kindness & Compassion, Mental Health, Photography, Physical Health, Suicide | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

LABOR DAY GIFTS

This week’s blog is dedicated with deep gratitude to my dear friend, Pat Petroline; aka Doc, Momma Patti, Miss Lu, LuLu Yang-Master Chef.

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Making a critical mistake is like getting bit in the butt by a dog . . . you don’t see it coming, you feel the shock of realization, the horrible pain upon infliction, and unless you’re simply unlucky enough to be a random target, you should probably limp away having learned a lesson.

We seldom get a do-over.

Saturday I took a three hour journey across the State of Michigan on a less-than-desirable emotional task of sorts. Without prompting, my friend, Patti, offered to accompany me. I cried during most of the drive.

We arrived, tended to my dreaded personal business, and began the three-hour drive home. I cried during most of the drive back too.

After a restless night, I awoke on Sunday morning in a terrible panic. I telephoned Patti and hysterically screamed that I had to return. I had made an awful mistake and had lost something very precious.

Fifteen minutes later we were on yet another three-hour trek.

We arrived on the western coast of Michigan, managed to un-do my previous day’s doings, and retrieved what I thought was priceless and forever lost.

Yet again, we took one final trip back to Southeastern Michigan. This time we laughed the whole way home.

Two days, twelve hours of driving, and 800 miles later, I walked away having learned two really amazing things:

ONE: Recognizing a mistake is the first step to learning from it. And sometimes, if you are quick enough and lucky enough, you get a do-over. But you have to try or you will never know.

TWO: My friend Patti is a one of a kind blessing.

When I called on her for help for the second time, she did NOT say that she was busy with weekend holiday plans, or that she was tired from her busy week at work. She did NOT say that she was needed at home with her family, or that she just couldn’t handle another six-hour trip. She did NOT complain once during the entire two-day fiasco, and she NEVER called me crazy or irrational or stupid for making the mistake that started it all.

No, when I called her, sobbing and screaming, “I have to go back now!  Can you come? Can you come, please? How soon can you get here?”

Her calm and simple reply was, “I’m on my way. All I have to do is put on my shoes.”

And that was that. No questions and no judgment.

I love her so much for that. I wish I could adequately show my gratitude by buying her something special . . . like a house! LoL.

Patti, thank you will never seem sufficient. And nothing you ask of me will ever be too big.

A do-over.

A rare and special friend.

And a labor of love . . .

Categories: Adventures, Friends, Kindness & Compassion, Love | Tags: , , , , , | 15 Comments

PLEASE, MISTER, CAN YOU SPARE SOME CHANGE?

My sister, Teri, was the eldest of six kids. She was popular, pretty, and had long, black hair that she used to iron on an ironing board to straighten, or sometimes she wrapped it around orange juice cans atop her head to achieve a perfect wave. She was beautiful, bold, and brave, and gosh, I loved her.

At the age of 17, rebellious and troubled, she hopped in her car and began her journey in search of herself and her place in the world. But after many years of wandering, some failed marriages, and an untreated mental illness, she ended up living in a drafty wooden shack, on a tiny patch of dirt, in an obscure little Texas town.

She forever struggled as a recovering alcoholic and was once a homeless panhandler. She was outside of the store begging for money the last time you went shopping; with dirty clothes, tangled hair, and a chipped, grey smile, she humbly asked you for spare change. That was my sister you turned your face from.

Most would judge her as a weak person. I do not.

She was one of the strongest people I’ve ever known. Because of many failures and misfortunes, she fell down often. But she would get up again . . . over and over and over. She just kept getting up. Imagine the kind of energy and tenacity that takes.

Teri passed away in 2006 of lung cancer. She was 52 years old and 34 days sober.

We are not all born equally into this world; some arrive with the odds already stacked against them; others are given no survival tools, or are beaten down by cruelty or bad luck.

So please, when you see a homeless person or someone asking for food or money, instead of judging and turning away, remember that they are someone’s child. And be kind. Be giving. Act like God is watching you.

Because HE is.

Categories: Addiction, Family, God/Spiritual, Grief/Healing, Inspiration/Motivation, Kindness & Compassion, Love, Mental Health | 15 Comments

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