Little Ricky – My Personal Story of Suicide

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So, I don’t think I have ever admitted this before – my brother took his own life.

The story surrounding my brother’s death is anything but simple. For years I thought my brother had been murdered – I couldn’t fathom that he actually took his own life. I didn’t want to accept that as reality. I was extremely mad and I wanted JUSTICE! My family & I flooded the sheriff’s office convinced that my brother had been murdered, I am not even sure my family doesn’t still consider him murdered.

His death certificate lists suicide as cause of death.

If I could tell someone who is contemplating suicide one thing, it would be that suicide does not stop the pain. In fact, it magnifies the pain by 120%. I will never forget standing by the wood line and watching as they brought my brother’s body out in a body bag. I will never forget hearing my mom scream. She was on the ground rocking back and forth saying “I can hear him calling for momma. I can hear him calling for me.” I connected with her on a different level that day. I too am a momma, and I realized she was crying out for her baby.

Want to hear something even crazier? I have also contemplated the same thing, suicide. It was right after my divorce and about 3 years after my brother’s death. That was the darkest and scariest time of my life. Who would imagine someone like me who knows how selfish suicide was actually considering it?! It’s easy to say don’t do it when your life isn’t dark, but completely different when you are down in the valley of despair.

The only thing that saved me was reaching out to someone and letting them know what shape I was in. I had a friend that would allow me to call them even at 3 A.M.  just so I wouldn’t get to that low point again. Thank God for angels here on this earth.

If you find yourself at a point in your life where you really don’t care about going on, reach out for help. Nobody will think you’re weak or just wanting attention. Suicide is a real thing that happens to a lot of people, there is nothing embarrassing about it. Look at me, I am a pretty smart girl with a great job and I too have been there. Lots of people have been there. YOU CAN AND YOU WILL MAKE IT THROUGH.

If you are ever in a situation to help someone who is depressed and thinking about suicide then you have been given an opportunity to become a saving grace in someone’s life. Just be there and listen to them. Sacrifice 30 minutes of sleep so they can call you at 3 A.M. when the silence is just too much to bear. Encourage them and offer to join them in going to a support group. NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness, has groups in lots of cities that discuss things like depression, suicide, etc. FIND SUPPORT|NAMI

It’s my mission to help people who have dealt with depression, anxiety, PTSD and suicide. There is this stigma that if you deal with any of these issues that you’re broken or not stable. I have a strong faith in God, three wonderful kids, amazing friends, a great career and overall good life. It takes lots of prayer and positive self talk, but I am able to lead a productive and healthy life. You can too, I promise.

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2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV   

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

 

 

Growing Up Without a Father – A Story of Survival

bog-silhouetteI had a great daddy, or at least that’s what they told me. When I was about 6 years old he went off to Desert Storm, he was in the Navy. I remember getting  letters that my mom would read me. I remember walking into my classroom after he left and a newspaper article with my dad’s picture was on the board. It said “Father of five deploys.”

I utterly lost it in the classroom. I cried for hours underneath a table in the back, I do remember that. My teacher let me do that for days. I’d go climb underneath my designated table and let the tears fall.

I almost died while he was on deployment. I had contracted Hepatitis A from some infected strawberries the school fed me. I guess Momma was distracted by stress of being a “single” momma, etc. By the time I received medical attention I was yellow, unable to move, and extremely dehydrated. I was in ICU for a while…all without my daddy.

When my father “came back” he wasn’t really back. He was different. He packed his bags and put them in the back of his truck. I climbed up and threw everything on the ground. “I just got you back,” I shouted. He left anyhow.

He never really came back. Momma got a check and that was about it. I grew up without a dad.

I use to fantasize what it must be like to have a father. I spent most of my childhood extremely fixated on wanting my dad, a dad. My birthday is Christmas Day and I use to always cry on my birthday over him. I figured if he would ever want me it would be on my birthday. That day had to mean something to him, right?!

My dad was changed when he deployed, and I suffered as a result. Sometimes we forget how much the military families have to endure as well. I never served, but I did give to my country.

Growing up without a dad can have some major impacts on a person’s life. I read this article, “In the Absence of Fathers: A Story of Elephants and Men.”  In this article, the author speaks of an interesting study that Wade Horn, Ph.D., President of the National Fatherhood Initiative, did focusing on the correlation between herds of elephants without a father and children raised without father figures.

As you can imagine, there was a increase of violence within both groups. This study just goes to show how important the role of a father is. Statistics show that being raised without a father increases risks of: dropping out of school, getting married/pregnant as a teenager, and an increase in likelihood of going to prison. Statistics | The Fatherless Generation

THERE IS A POSITIVE SIDE!

‘Fatherless daughters often develop determined spirits and survival very early on. They are loyal friends and can love like no other–ultimately, they just want to give love and be loved.’ – Karin Luise, Ph.D. and Denna Babul, RN. Advice for Fatherless Daughters – Girls Who Grow Up Without Fathers

I have always had a drive that most couldn’t explain. Even though I was in a home with a single momma of five kids, I always seemed to excel. When my siblings were playing outside, I was typically playing librarian by myself. I loved to get lost in books just to escape my reality.

I was the first and only to graduate High School. After getting married and while having kids, I was going to college full time while also working a full-time job. My kids would go to sleep and I would study. For six longs years I barely slept and could hardly ever go anywhere as I always had homework or housework to do, but WE MADE IT!

I graduated college and then landed a good job. My level of determination has served me well. I drew strength from what was suppose to hold me back. Do I still suffer from the loss of my father? Yes. I have a hard time feeling equal in a room full of people. I still get envious when people speak of their fathers, but I also realize that I have an amazing drive to succeed and will to survive that most don’t have.

Moral of the story is that you have to change your mindset from that of a victim. You have to always try to find strength in that which was suppose to hurt you. By doing that, you take control and power back. It’s okay to feel the pain from time-to-time but what’s not okay is to live in your own sorrow. It happened and it’s okay to be sad. Focus on the positive – YOU ARE A SURVIVOR!

This is my story and I am proud of what I have become. – Krystal J.

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Being a single parent with depression – it’s going to be okay.

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When I was younger I imagined that one day I would meet my prince. He would sweep me off my feet and we would get married in an elaborate way. We would have little princes & princesses and live happily ever after in a beautiful, large home.

That didn’t happen.

Truth is, I met a guy and finally convinced him to marry me. He left me at the alter and eventually married me at the court house. I never even got a photo on my wedding day. Three kids followed as we struggled to make ends meet as we both worked really hard.

Ten years into the marriage, we divorced. Divorce, in case you don’t know, is like a living death. It was the hardest thing in the world and being  a single mother has proven even harder. Hardest part of being  a single parent? The loneliness – it consumes me at times, and at holidays it is even worse. Most depressing day of the year? Christmas Eve. Nothing like wrapping gifts all by yourself.

If you are going through a divorce, or have just went through a divorce, I wish I could tell you that it isn’t that bad or that you’ll be fine. That would be a lie and I like to think of myself as an honest person. Truth is, you’re going to cry, feel lonely, get mad and probably even want to scream at times. Divorce sucks!

A lot of people deal with situational depression when they divorce. The difference between that and clinical depression is that situational depression is typically caused by a loss, like death or divorce. It is part of the normal grieving process because of all the losses the end of the marriage brings. If not dealt with appropriately, situational depression can linger for much longer than it needs to.

Suffer from clinical depression? It’s going to be okay still. Divorce is  naturally a hard time in life and it’s okay to be sad about it.

Here are 5 ways to make being a divorced, single parent better:

  1. Maintain a daily routine – I have learned that if I try to keep to a routine that it seems easier to make it through my day. Get up at the same time, dinner at the same  time, baths at the same time, etc. It just makes it easier to get everything done that needs to be and kids respond better to it.
  2. Crock pot – Oh my goodness, what would I do without my crock pot? Seriously, give it a try. Take some time and write down some recipes. Crock Pot Recipes Kids Will Actually Eat!
  3. Map out finances – Take the time to sit down and write out your bills. Section the bills to match your paychecks. Get paid twice a month? Then pay bills twice a month, etc. Then look at what’s left. Take out your budgeted grocery money, gas money and spending money. The rest goes into your emergency fund.
  4. Put the kids to work – Teach your kids age appropriate chores they can do. Put down on a calendar who is responsible for what chore that day. Delegate those chores! Age-Appropriate Chores
  5. Pray – Even when you don’t feel like it, pray. Pray when you first get up in the morning and try to do it a few times a day. Sometimes just stopping and having a conversation with God can make all the difference. Praying doesn’t have to be done with fancy words and motions. Just close your eyes and talk to God. Let him know what you are dealing with and don’t be afraid to ask for help. You might be surprised!

You will get through this, I promise. Four years after divorce and I am still a single mother, but I have definitely gotten better at it. Become friends with other single parents so that they can share with you some tips that help them. Being a single parent isn’t ideal but it is possible!

Remember that the number one thing you can do is to not neglect your mental health. Mental health is just as important as physical health!

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Mental Health Day

img_0689Sometimes you just have to take a day to reclaim your sanity, and that’s okay!

Just a few weeks ago I had to take myself a mental health day. I woke up that morning and absolutely just did feel like going to work. My focus was gone, I felt disconnected from my job and I was just not feeling it.

I decided to call in sick and spend the day getting my life back in order so that I could lessen my stress level. I decided what was the most important to get done: laundry, sweep & mop the house, and a little me time in the afternoon before the kids got home (hour long soak in the tub). I got up and tackled the tasks I had set out for myself.

Outcome? It really did help my stress level. The next morning I woke up and felt so much better for getting that extra time in to get my chores caught up. You don’t necessarily have to spend your mental health day cleaning house, but I would recommend doing at least 1 or 2 things that will make the rest of the week easier on you.

I found a great article, “How to Know When to Take a Mental Health Day.” Did you know that the Federal Department of Health & Human Resources estimates that only 17% of the population is functioning at optimal mental health?! That should go to show you that how you’re feeling is perfectly normal, and the stigma surrounding mental health needs to be addressed.

You may need a mental health day if:

  1. You’re more anxious than usual – It’s hard to focus & put your all into your work when you feel on edge. This really puts a damper on your ability to stay focused.
  2. You can’t focus – Are your thoughts consuming your day, everyday? That’s a good indication that you need to take a day to recharge.
  3. You’re feeling down in the dumps – If you find yourself with your head down most of the day and just not able to get  yourself going, then you need a “you” day.
  4. You’re easily upset – The worst thing in the world is walking around feeling easily agitated. Your co-workers would probably benefit also from you taking some time to calm your thoughts & nerves.
  5. You are moving slow and are feeling disconnected – Much like the battery on your phone, you need to take time to recharge yourself. It is possible to run yourself out of power.

Tips on how to spend your mental health day:

  1. Get chores completed that you’ve been putting off – One of the fastest ways to get yourself feeling better is to be able to enjoy a clean home, to have clean laundry for the rest of the week or to have a freshly cleaned car. Has your yard work fell behind and its been bothering you? Then tackled it and see how quickly your mood changes.
  2. Create a budget and plan out your bills – Have you gotten behind on your finances and it has been consuming your thoughts and waking you up at night? Take time to sit down and map out your finances. Out of sight, out of mind does not apply in regards to this part of your life.  Face it head on and feel better for it.
  3. Exercise – Get out & get that blood pumping! We all know that exercise is the #1 key to better mental health. Take a nice walk & just clear your mind.
  4. Get some much needed sleep – Take an hour or two to nap during your mental heath day. Sometimes your body just needs to shut down so that your brain can recharge itself. Try not to sleep the entire day away. You need to be able to sleep later on that night.

One last tip, ENJOY YOUR DAY!

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Is Facebook Causing Your Depression?

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Facebook.  The magical place where everybody’s life is perfect. Oh look, Beth is celebrating her 10th wedding anniversary this weekend and still loves her husband like she did the day they married! That’s great, but why are you not that happy with your spouse? Apparently, Beth has a better marriage than you. Probably even a better life.

So, let’s look at this more closely. How did you decifer that Beth was happily married? Oh yeah, because that’s what Beth posted on Facebook. Have you ever stopped to realize that people typically only put their best face forward on their social media accounts? All relationships have ups & downs, but we typically don’t see the latter on Facebook.

Can Facebook intensify feelings of depression? 

Yes. According to a study in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, a psychological phenomenon known as Social Comparison can be to blame. Social comparisons is where we tend to make comparisons of our most dull moments to those of our friend’s “highlight reels.” This unrealistic comparison of lives can cause those prone to depression to experience Facebook envy.

Is Facebook all bad? No. It can be a wonderful way to share your life with loved ones & friends; and however,  if you find yourself validating your worth by the number of likes you get, it can be a huge problem. Ask yourself, how often do you check FB to look at your like count? How often are you scrolling FB and making comparisons of your life versus your “friends?”

Part of becoming a better you is to realize that life isn’t about the Facebook “highlight reels.” Life is more complex & beautiful than that. I encourage you to log out and take a FB break. Take a deep breath and take the time to notice the beautiful things in your own life that you take for granted.

1 Peter 3: 3-4

The Truth About Child Abuse

This is one of those topics that nobody ever wants to truly talk about. If you were a victim of child abuse you find yourself fighting an internal struggle once the topic comes up. Should I pipe up that I was a victim of this type of abuse? Will they look at me differently if I admit that I have first hand knowledge of what child abuse is and how it effects someone?

The truth about child abuse is that it’s affects follow the child into adulthood. Sometimes you find yourself wanting to share your experience but fear the stigma that comes with it. You find yourself constantly fighting with the internal voice that tells you that somehow you are not good enough, that you are broken. Your worth is below everyone else.

I have struggled with this so much in my life. I always believed that other people naturally deserved better than me. I mean, if my own parent doesn’t value me then how could anybody else? I honestly believe, sadly, that this is probably how most abused children feel in adulthood. So, relax. The way you feel is completely normal.

First step to having a better life is to fix that voice that says you are not good enough for that promotion, you’re not pretty enough for a good man or you’re not worthy of someone loving you. The power is in you to fix that and here’s how.

SIX ways to help overcome that negative internal voice:

  1. Positive Self Talk – You are a beautifully and wonderfully made child of God. Take time everyday to focus on the positive things about yourself. Take the negative thoughts and turn them around. Be a critic of the critic inside your head. Here is a great article to read: 7 Steps to Positive Self Talk
  2. Prayer – Pray even when you don’t feel like it. You will be amazed how quickly you will start to feel better if you just take the time a few times a day to just stop and pray. I think it’s really important and helpful to pray when you first get up in the morning, before your feet hit the floor. Prayers don’t have to be a production. A lot of times my prayers sound like this, “God, I need you to be with me today. Help keep me focused and heal my heart. I am somebody because of you and nobody can take that away. Amen.”
  3. You Time – We all get it, life can be so demanding. Take ten minutes, you can do it, and just focus on you. Take that extra time in the shower and do a good exfoliate scrub, or read a book. Take a walk while listening & singing to your favorite music. Be a friend to yourself. First step to a “happy” life is to like yourself.
  4. Get Physical – You have heard this a million times before, this isn’t brand new information. Exercise is the KEY to a healthy mind. It relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better and talk about a mood booster! Exercise has a positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD and more! Really want to dive into the benefits of exercise on mental health? Read this article: Exercise for Mental Health
  5. Clean – Wait, clean? Yes! Think about it, how much better do you feel after you have cleaned your house? How do you feel when someone pops over and your house is dirty? Now that we are on the same page, I am sure you understand why cleaning is such an important part of taming that negative voice in your head. Break it up into segments so it’s not the big of a deal. First thing in the morning make your bed. Maybe wash the dishes before you leave to go to work. You get the point. 5 Ways a Clean House Improves Your Thinking – Clean Home, Clear Mind
  6. Sleep – Oh my gosh, please sleep. Sleep is crucial to overcoming a negative internal voice, but sometimes that’s easier said then done. I struggle with this 3 to 4 a.m. wake up where I fight anxiety. “Did I pay this, did I do that, is what I said wrong?” You have to figure out what works for you to help you sleep. My secret combination is: fan, some kind of background noise, a clean & inviting bed and not allowing myself to lay down until I am actually ready to sleep. Do not treat your bed as a hang out spot to scroll Facebook, this is your place to rest.

Today is a great day to control that nasty voice in your head. Guess what? Nobody is better than you. Nobody is more special than you. It doesn’t matter what your circumstances were growing up, you’re still so valuable. Have you made mistakes in life and feel like that makes you worth less than everybody else, get over it. Today is a new day.

My best friend sums it up so well, “Today is a good day for a good day!”

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How to appear happy

Have you ever randomly googled something like, “How to be happy?” Yeah, me too.  A Wiki article was the first thing to pop up: 3 Ways to Be Happy

So this is what my life has come down to? I find myself at my desk at work googling how to be happy and how to fake that you’re happy. Is there something wrong with me? No. I am just in a rut, but then again, I find myself in this rut a lot. I am tired of this roller coaster that is literally taking me around in circles.

So, I hired a personal trainer. Three times a week I pay for him to whip my butt. MWF I go in at 6:30 a.m. and start with cardio. By 7 a.m. I am with my trainer doing “muscle training” for the next hour. Tuesday, Thursday & Friday you will find me at the gym twice a day for a grand total of 1.5 hours of cardio. Saturday is an hour solid & Sunday I rest.

This has been going on for 3 weeks now and I can tell a difference already. I wake up easier in the mornings and I tend to sleep more through the night now. 3 a.m. anxiety attacks were kicking my butt pretty hard.

So, as you can tell, I am on a quest to be happier. Let me give you some tips I have found to make an improvement in your quality of “happy.”

  1. Exercise. It’s better if you have something/someone keeping you accountable. It sure is hard to get started.
  2. Do not lay on your bed until it’s time to go to sleep. I was horrible about laying down and not getting back up. There’s an unending cycle leading straight to depression.
  3. Take that vitamin even though it tastes horrible. Suck it up buttercup.
  4. Make a list of what wakes you up at night. Force your self to get rid of what ever you are able to. One of mine was that I was behind on my student loans. I called and got it fixed.
  5. Water, yuck! Yeah I know, but try to increase your water, even if just by drinking one glass a day. Do whatever you can until you are able to do the 8oz glasses, 8 times a day (I’m not even there yet).
  6. Crazy as it sounds, make your bed in the morning before you leave your house. I watched this really cool video, check it out: Change the World by Making Your Bed
  7. Get in touch with God (saved best for last). I know that when you are down it is the hardest thing to feel connected to God. You feel blah, you just don’t feel it at all. I encourage you to make yourself stop, bow your head and just start a conversation with him. Do this 4 times a day to start. You will be surprised how quickly you start to feel better and reconnected with him. I love listening to Joyce Meyers on YouTube. I listen a lot while getting ready for work or while on the treadmill. Here is a good one to start with: Moving Beyond Worry and Anxiety

So, if life has you on a roller coaster, literally going around in a non-ending circle of not feeling “happy”, just try some of the tips above. What do you have to lose? Oh yeah, that sick feeling of depression. BTW, Wiki says you should stay “positive!” Good day you guys.
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