Posts Tagged With: suicide

Be Still, My Heart

“Dear Julia . . . there is no easy way to tell you this . . .”

.

On July 3rd, I learn of my friend’s suicide

.

The savage truth delivers a violent punch to my heart

and fractures my core

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For others, the days ahead bring fireworks, art fairs, and festivities . . . even The Rolling Stones

.

but I’m here still trying to get up off the floor

.

Reality comes in waves now; acid waves which leave me breathless

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I can’t talk about it yet, or say his name aloud, or share his wonderfulness with you

but I know that soon the grieving will begin and it will be better than this

.

In a single moment everything can change

your perspective . . . your world . . . even the person you are

.

To the muffled backdrop of exploding fireworks, I weep

for his pain

and my loss

and the tremendous tragedy of it all

.

It didn’t have to be

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This life . . .

is magnificent and beautiful

yet fragile, tentative, and temporary

and ever so bittersweet.

aFLOWER PANSY WET156WMD

*If you are in crisis, PLEASE call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-HELP (8255). They’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They really care and can help you.  Or visit http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org   .

Because you matter.

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

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

SENSITIVE STEEL

I have bipolar disorder.

I am constantly challenged by my own intense emotions.

I feel everything you feel . . . times a thousand.

The good, the bad, and the ugly . . . times a thousand.

The loneliness and depression can be devastating, and the endless and exhausting struggle to cope, pure torture.

The statistics confirm it. One out of every five people afflicted with bipolar disorder successfully takes their own life.

My life consists of agitated anxious thinking and tormented isolation, with brief intermittent bursts of joy.

Even the happiness is heartbreaking. So erratic. And fleeting.

When I feel a joyous moment, I try to grab hold of it and capture it like a lightning bug in a jar. I embrace it. I consume it and feed it to my hungry heart. I am a quiet little hoarder of happiness.

Because I don’t know when I’ll see another lightning bug again.

Maybe never.

When most of you meet new people, you get to know them and then you judge whether or not to trust them and let them into your heart.

I do the opposite.

I take people at face value, and after a quick scan of my instincts, I pretty much let everyone in. And then I judge, as they prove dramatic, unstable, or hurtful, which ones are unhealthy for me.

It’s an awful way to live, but I’ve tried being careful and guarded, and it’s just not my nature.

I love quickly and with a wide open heart.

I view everyone as being unique and magnificent, and I let them come in, and I celebrate them loudly. That’s how I am.

But I forget.

I forget that people don’t always say what they mean. And sometimes they’ll say what they mean all day long until you need them to, and then they won’t. People are funny like that.

I also forget that people misuse the word “love”, and when they hug me and say it, they mean it casually like, “It’s been nice to see you”. They don’t really love me.

And I forget that people don’t feel as intensely as I do.

And when I am reminded, it breaks my heart.

I am a constant victim . . . of my own brain.

So I strive to make better choices about people. Who I let in. Who I believe. And trust. And love.

And when I get hurt, as surely I will, because I will always love quickly and hugely, I will take the hit to my heart, lick my wounds, adjust, and then get right back out into the world.

But I will remember this pain.

For a little while anyway.

And then I’ll forget again.

Because that’s just my nature.

I love quickly. And I have a terrible memory. Sheesh.

The irony is, that as sensitive as I am . . .

I am as strong as you are . . .  times a thousand.

We bipolars are funny that way.

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(Read, “Being Bipolar” at: http://wp.me/p2ckKM-hF).

Categories: Bipolar/Depression, Friends, Inspiration/Motivation, Kindness & Compassion, Mental Health, Suicide | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

I’M GUEST BLOGGING!

Hey Friends!

On Monday, November 26th,  at 8:00 a.m. I’m guest blogging!

Cruise on over to LE CLOWN’S, “BLACK BOX WARNINGS”, at: http://wp.me/p2qxmy-do and pay us a visit!

I’ve reposted “Being Bipolar”,  and it’s been updated with TONS of additional pics, so please read it, repost it on your Fb page, and share it with everyone you know. Maybe it will help you to undertand an afflicted family member or friend. Or if that person is you, please know that you are not alone. There is help. And there is hope.

I wrote this right after the above piece:

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.” – Julia Kovach

NOTE:  While you are visiting LE CLOWN’S, “BLACK BOX WARNINGS”, at: http://wp.me/p2qxmy-do , please take a few minutes to check it out! Read some of his past posts and those of his talented guests. You will find them to be relevant, honest, and potent.

A special note to Monsieur Le Clown:  Thank you for allowing me a visit to your space! The information you share on your blog is beyond important; it not only informs, but can serve as an actual lifeline to those suffering silently and alone with mental illness.  You’re a real prince, dude! Blessings to you and those you love! xoJulia

Categories: Bipolar/Depression, Mental Health, Suicide | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

BEING BIPOLAR

I’m bipolar.

But, don’t worry. You can’t catch it.

Bipolar disorder is a psychiatric disorder (also called Manic Depressive Disorder), that causes my moods to swing between really high and really low, to a degree that interferes with my daily functioning and quality of life.

You might be thinking, “But everyone has their ups and downs.” For you, a high mood might entail a lot of laughter at a party, island hopping while on a vacation,  or even the rush of winning at the slot machines.

My high is manic. It is actually like being high and can feel quite wonderful. Euphoric even. It includes the aforementioned ups, but it goes way beyond that to obsessive-compulsive behaviors – like racing thoughts, the inability to stop thinking or to control the images in my mind, and irresponsibly impulsive spending, promiscuity, rapid rambling speech, little to no sleep, and illusions of grandeur.

Having bipolar disorder feels kind of like surfing. When I’m in a manic state it is fast, wild, and an adrenaline rush. But not something that can be sustained or controlled.


What you consider to be a down or depressed period might entail feeling disinterested, moody, quiet, annoyed, or sad and teary.

But my depression lasts from several weeks to several months and involves isolation, self-neglect, and suicidal thoughts. As low as I have ever been, I have gone lower. I’ve learned that suicidal people don’t want to die; we just want our pain to stop. We just run out of steam . . . and hope.

The crash of depression.

The most difficult thing about being bipolar?

The loneliness. My racing, tormented mind. Being dismissed. Not having someone in my life that is brave or patient enough to love me.

Bipolars require medication. Usually an anti-depressant coupled with a mood stabilizer. But other drugs work too. And the right one can change your life. I’ve had some bad reactions and side effects and have been unmedicated for quite some time. So my time between the surfing and the crashing consists of a constant struggle just to function and “stay even”. It means endless and exhausting paddling.

This disorder often manifests in destructive or violent behavior. The social stigma of bipolar violence stems primarily from the behaviors of those untreated and unmedicated. Just as with any disease, there are degrees of affliction and degrees of management.

Between my mania and depression lives an aggravated state that I call, “EXTREMELY ANNOYED”. I wrestle with it everyday. It can be brought on by many things; loud sounds, harsh smells, bright or flashing lights, pushy or bossy personalities, unexpected circumstances or disruptions, or even minor pain. Sometimes I just awaken annoyed with myself. Honestly.

When I’m triggered, it feels like an intense frustration that begins to build and build. If I do nothing, it will escalate, until it finally explodes into a loud exchange or outburst.

But I don’t do nothing.

I’ve learned that when my brain REACTS, I need to RECOGNIZE my prickly feelings, and RESPOND. I can’t control what people around me say or do. I can only control the way I respond to them. So I’ve learned a few tricks to navigating these bipolar waters; like breathing, visualization, distancing myself from someone, or if necessary, removing myself from an environment or situtation.

So, why haven’t I talked about my bipolar disorder before this?  

Because talking comes at a cost. I’ve been prejudged, discounted, and dismissed.

I’ve been embarrassed because of the social stigma and ridicule; like when I hear someone say, “She went bipolar on me.”

Admitting it, has cost me a date or two and a few friendships. People are scared by what they don’t understand.

And because people don’t understand what they can’t see and sometimes say stupid things; like I look so normal that I must be mistaken. I guess I don’t act crazy enough. Ha ha. And if they should get a glimpse? They run. Fast and far.

And why am I talking about it NOW?

Because in the U.S., six million people have it. And 1 out of every 5 bipolars will successfully commit suicide.

Because people who have it hide and suffer silently.

Because there is hope. Although there is no cure, the right medication and treatment can help us function better in our lives, and most importantly, prevent self-injury and suicide.

And because at this age, I just own who I am. It is what it is. But being bipolar isn’t who I am; it’s what I have. I am a fairly intelligent person who is not only funny, but also kind and compassionate. I’m a woman, writer, and a good friend, who happens to have bipolar disorder.

There are many celebrities and incredibly artistic people who have come out as bipolars.

“Creativity is closely associated with bipolar disorder. This condition is unique. Many famous historical figures and artists have had this. Yet they have led a full life and contributed so much to the society and world at large. See, you have a gift. People with bipolar disorder are very very sensitive. Much more than ordinary people. They are able to experience emotions in a very deep and intense way. It gives them a very different perspective of the world. It is not that they lose touch with reality. But the feelings of extreme intensity are manifested in creative things. They pour their emotions into either writing or whatever field they have chosen.” Preeti Shenoy, Life is What You Make It

 

This is the face of bipolar.

    ME SMILING

Me, Julia Kovach.

And here are a few of my famous friends who also suffer with bipolar disorder.*

*Information gathered from Google states that all of the above individuals were diagnosed, are self-confessing, or are believed to have suffered from bipolar disorder before it was medically recognized.  **All images from Google. Copyrights to their rightful owners.

Categories: Addiction, Bipolar/Depression, Inspiration/Motivation, Mental Health, Suicide | Tags: , , , , , , | 91 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

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