CW: Suicide

So. You probably expected I might have something to say after the latest rash of celebrity suicides.

Hotlines, chats, even Facebook has prevention tools that are supposed to help reach out to those that might be contemplating ending their lives. These resources are great and I am so grateful to the people that man those hotlines — goodness the strength it takes to man those phones. (Aside: I worked as an insurance CSR and got a suicide call. They happen. We aren’t trained for them, not really. But my psychology degree and Priestess/pastoral training kicked in and I was able to do the right work while the supervisors worked to get the police in the town to do a welfare check on the person. I never did find out whether or not he lived through his attempt.)

My point, however, is that people deep in the throes of a suicide attempt don’t reach out. I’ve said (written) this before. We don’t. I didn’t. I was in therapy, on medication, and wasn’t even having suicidal ideation. (I’m not really going to talk about my attempt — I’ve written about it before. You can find it elsewhere). So often people are already in therapy and doing all the “right things”, taking their meds, and still struggling. YOU have to reach out to THEM.

  • And even if and when you do — they still might do it. 

It’s not your fault. You didn’t fail them if they succeed and kill themselves after you tried to stop them.

  • It’s not your decision. It’s theirs.

I know I’m going in a different direction on this than a lot of folks. I think I have a different perspective because I’ve quite literally been there, done that, and have lived to tell about it. Suicide is HARD to do correctly that’s for damned sure. I’m still here so I did it WRONG….*y’all don’t worry, I’m good. Not in any danger.* People who are doing “all the things” and still struggling, when they make the decision to end it — most of the time they’ve really thought things through and gotten their shit together to do it and how. They’ve been thinking about it for a long time, how they’re going to do it, and finally the right time presents itself and it’s done. They are not going to call a hotline or friend for help. They’re just not. I didn’t. (OK. For honesty’s sake, I had a moment there when I thought “hey, maybe I should try to stop this train” but it was really fleeting. I still wasn’t going to call anyone. I was on the ride chose.) That fleeting moment…if they manage to climb out of the abyss long enough to breathe…they might make the call. But so often, we don’t. The abyss’s hold is strong.

Is it selfish? You’re damned right it is. No one knows the internal struggle a person is going through – heck, even the therapist likely doesn’t know 100% what’s really happening because so often we can’t put it into words. Depression lies. It tricks even the person suffering into thinking we’re OK until all of a sudden, we’re not.

So now we’ve had two celebrity suicides. The media is going to talk about them with reverence and the spotlight will again be on mental illness and people will say, “Oh, we need to treat depression and mental illness like any other illness and End the Stigma™. ” That’ll last for a few weeks until the next big story and it’s forgotten. But suicides happen every day by non-famous people, and I’m going to hazard a guess that the rise in suicide in the US is going to up due to the crazy and toxic political climate. It’s terrifying, especially for marginalized communities.

And for those left behind? It’s not your fault even if you reached out and tried to help. But YOU have to reach out. YOU HAVE TO REACH OUT. YOU. 

And if you’re struggling yourself I know it’s hard. It’s so hard. Keep trying. Keep going. Gods, I know it’s hard. All that stuff I wrote above is for those other people that post trite “oh my god, Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade, boo hoo, they had everything!!” crap. Depression lies. Keep fighting, keep going just a little longer…and then a little longer than that. I’m here. I AM HERE for YOU. FOR YOU. Talk to me: My Facebook My Twitter

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Is there more than one way to skin a squirrel?

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I have no idea. I’ve never done it before today. I’ve seen it done in movies, most notably “Winter’s Bone” where Jennifer Lawrence teaches her younger siblings how to do it – and quite graphically – so I followed what she did. Why? Because my dog killed one. But wait, I’m jumping ahead of myself, let me back up.

Yesterday, I let my big dogs out in the backyard. Shortly afterward I heard an unusual commotion, so I ran out to see Joker, my pit bull, at the side fence and Gypsy, my mutt running around upset. Panthera, the neighbor dog was also making a lot more noise than usual at this one junction in the fence. Then I notice that Joker is bleeding from his snout. Gypsy also has blood on her. THEN, I see the squirrel in between the fence and the tree that has grown around it. A-ha. I start to check Joker’s wounds and get him cleaned up, trying to determine whether he was punctured by chain link or squirrel and said squirrel shakily scurries up the tree with some major wounds of his own to tend to. Gypsy is fine, the blood isn’t hers.  Both dogs got a bath while the foster puppies cried outside the bathroom.

Oh yeah, foster puppies. They want to know why they can’t do everything the big dogs do. BECAUSE YOU’RE PUPPIES and only here for the week. Thank Gods.

Later that night, I have to kill a GIANT SPIDER IN MY KITCHEN. I have arachnophobia. It was awful. And the size of a spoon. OMG.

This morning I let everyone out, and everyone but Gypsy came back in. She’s focused on the squirrels. Fine. A couple of hours later I open the door to take laundry out to dry and look to see my garden shoes are covered in drops of fresh blood. The same garden shoes I’d worn the day before, hosed off all the mud and left to dry on the steps. WHOSE BLOOD IS THIS???? Gypsy isn’t bleeding. But why are flies all over her? WHAT? I start looking for the squirrel, it HAS to be the squirrel. Joker and Gypsy are now digging at another part of the fence by the alley. So I open the gate and go out into the alley and then I see it, covered in flies but not dead yet. Oh dear gods. All dogs go back inside but Gypsy. This is her kill. She has to finish what she started.  I put her on a leash and take her to it.

And this is where I discover that Gypsy most likely ISN’T the killer of the animals I’ve found dead in my yard. She’s likely the one that catches them, but Joker is most likely the finisher. I had to encourage her to finish, to kill, to strike the killing blow. I didn’t want the squirrel to suffer for however long it was going to take for it to die — I wanted her to do what a dog does: swiftly break a neck/back/skull — whatever.  And then I remembered what my neighbor said happened while I was on vacation. The dogs had caught one of the feral cats and killed it. He tried to get them off of it, and Gypsy let go as soon as he yelled out, but Joker was the one that held on and mauled until it was dead. Joker isn’t as fast or agile, he can’t jump as high (nor climb a tree the way Gypsy does). But they do team up and hunt as a pack (they ARE dogs) and I’ve watched Gypsy lead the hunt. So she catches, and he kills. Makes sense. She is the gentler of the two but has the stronger prey instinct — she enjoys the chase part, but once that is over, she’s lost interest.

AND NO ONE wanted it after I skinned it, either. My raw fed dogs turned their noses up to fresh meat. Fresh, bloody, warm squirrel meat. Now that’s just rude. Ungrateful beasts. So I had to put the body parts (and it’s parts. Skin, organs, ripped apart limbs…I offered all pieces to five dogs, puppies included and no one wanted any part of it – although the puppies licked up some of the blood) in some bags and store it in my chest freezer until next garbage pickup because rotting squirrel in Alabama heat is just stinky grossness.

AND THEN I HAD TO KILL A GIANT COCKROACH.

Can I be done being Madame Death now? Please?

 

All is as it should be.

A year ago, I was headed to DC to march against the incoming administration and EXACTLY the kind of crap that’s happened. Let’s shut the government down because we’re not going to fund children’s healthcare or keep DREAMers unless the WALL is built *among other things*.
 
Today — not one march planned in my city, Birmingham. I’d have to travel to attend one and after being sick with the flu for too long, that’s not going to happen.
 
That doesn’t mean the #resist movement or women’s march is over. Or that I’m done and have given in. I’m still resisting, writing, calling, etc. But I’ve also come to realize something:
 
All is as it should be. 
As horrible, painful, heartrending and downright dangerous as it all seems — there is hope underneath it all.
  1. Sexual harassment and predation is finally being taken seriously and the discussion, while triggering to many, will hopefully lead to changes in how we treat each other as human beings. That is good. But change hurts.
  2. Racism and white supremacy is no longer hidden in the shadows or 4chan chatrooms. It’s out in the open where we can see it, address it face on and come to terms with what we thought we had moved beyond. Even if a lot of white people weren’t outright racist, they were likely complicit in their behavior and they are learning now. That is good. But change hurts.
  3. Same for LGBTQ rights, disability rights, {insert marginalized community here} rights. (I should state that I am part of many of these marginalized communities…being on the LGBTQ spectrum, disabled, of Jewish descent, Pagan, Latinx, but also white as the fucking snow.) I admit to not even knowing about certain things as it related to disability, and I’m learning more every day. And sometimes — I feel a twinge when I realize that I have been complicit or judgemental. But it’s good, and change hurts. It’s supposed to. 

We as a nation are being shocked and shaken out of our complacency. I’m not pleased about our administration — far from it. I voted against it. I think what’s happening is absolutely horrible and fight against it as often as I can but at the same time: It is what it is. We do as we can. Keep on keepin’ on and all those pithy sayings. They all boil down to what my therapist called “radical acceptance”. I (and the country but I can only speak for myself and my perspective) am in a terrible position and while I am pretty terrified of the future, I narrow my focus down to “what can I do now?” and “what have I learned from the past?” in order to deal with the now.

I have hope that we as a society and a species will pull out of this downward spiral, but I may not even see it in my lifetime. Rather than letting that thought dishearten me, I put myself out into the world as a beacon of light and hope to those that will turn things around. Acting with compassion and kindness and love, even when all is awful and terrible and scary (and I’m just as scared and angry — and oh, believe me — I’m angry. I yelled at Trump on the TV the other day, scaring my dogs *again*) is hard. 

Forcing myself to say, “No, I will not give in to hate” when I say to to the TV, “You motherfucker, I hate you. Go to hell.” or some other hateful words is hard. Instead I take a moment, let the feelings wash over me, breathe and move on to focus on making positive change. Which is good. And hard. And sometimes it hurts.

And personally … I now have come to realize that my entire life … as difficult, and full of strife and hardship and loneliness and whoo boy — some major shit …. is as it should be. Hard. The lessons I’ve learned and am learning, are as they should be. Doesn’t mean I like it, that I’m happy or that I think all is well. (There’s a difference between “all is well” and “all is as it should be”.)

Radical acceptance. Because change is good. And it really, really hurts.

Morning Battles

I lie on my side, cradling the fragile little being I love

To protect her from the battle going on behind me.

Listening to the noise, cringing as they clash

Hoping they don’t hit me, or her.

But if they come close, I’m here to protect her from harm

My strong body will shield her.

It’s quieting down. They’re slowing the attacks.

One by one, the aggressors are retreating

Each one lies back down, panting, chests heaving with effort

The puppy has been appeased. The dogs are ready to go back to sleep.

And my old fragile chihuahua has been protected from the morning melee.

I agree, Pix. It’s way too early for this shit.

Three Years Later

 

CW: suicide talk

It’s been three years since my rebirthday and this is what I’ve learned:

Today is the 3rd anniversary of my re-birth. My FB memories for this day are deactivated because I don’t want to remember what I said or did — but it’s still an important reminder to me to LIVE every day. I faced the abyss 3 years ago — dived in…and got spit back out. “Not now”. So now I live and celebrate each day as best I can.

November is a weird month because of this — I’m aware of the encroaching “here we go — it’s THAT day but also holidays and …” And every November since, unconsciously, I seem to go and do something life-affirming. The first year after, I helped Ralph with Bandit and LadyBug and gained a new family. The second year, I adopted Pix. This year, I’m fostering Amada. So I’m alive, thriving (so to speak) and sharing it with others.

Thanksgiving has become a lightning rod holiday not unlike Columbus Day due to the mistreatment of Native Americans, both historically and just last year at the pipeline protests. But for me it’s personal. I am TRULY THANKFUL because I am still here. I’m not always — it’s true. Sometimes I’m still fucking pissed off that I have to watch my world implode and all the fires around me. I couldn’t just go out the way *I* chose. But still, I have now chosen the path of compassion and love and am doing the very best I can. One day, one life, one heartbeat at a time.

Love and life. Namaste and peace. These things have true and serious meaning to me. They are not fluffy buffy unicorn fart concepts. They are what my life is for and why I was pulled back from the abyss.

They are why I am here.

I just came back from a session with my therapist (talk about a coincidental appointment scheduling, huh? I didn’t MEAN to accept this date — I moved the original one due to having my wisdom teeth removed the day before my original appointment).

And when she asked how I was, I answered, “Well, kinda weird. I can’t really explain how I feel today because it’s both my death day, and my rebirth-day.” And then I showed her my FB post from which this blog post is based.

I’ve learned not to attach to others. Or attach to their perception of me. To live my life with as much kindness and love as I can put out, not worrying whether I’ll get it back (I won’t) because that’s not the point. To strive to leave every person feeling better for having talked with me, even if only for a brief moment.

To breathe. Fully and deeply. To love with the entirety of my soul. And to forgive those that have hurt me (still working on that — that’s a tough one because oh…i’ve been hurt so deeply and i’m human and get so mad).

That humans are deeply and fundamentally flawed. And yet we are some of the most creative and purposeful beings to have ever graced this planet. As disappointed as I am in the human race as of late — I still have hope that someday we will rise above our baser instincts and find the loving purpose of which we were put here to achieve. There has to be one, else why would we have evolved to be able to create such beautiful music and art?

There’s probably a lot more I could say — but the dogs are looking at me to play — and they are the purest souls and while I love y’all — I do love them more. Namaste.

 

 

Own Your Crazy, Help Your Friends

I commented earlier on a friend’s post: “Rein in your crazy, it’s hurting other people.” and realized that a lot of folks don’t or won’t tell their friends when their crazy slip is showing.

Why? We’ll tell people when they have spinach in their teeth or if their shoelace is untied. We’ll point out dirt on their face, or any other matter of embarrassing, offensive or potentially dangerous situation. But when they are behaving in manner that you know is related to their mental health problem, no one says anything. “Oh, that’s just Joe being Joe.” No…that’s Joe being manic and possibly off his meds and maybe someone that knows Joe really well ought to go talk to him and see what’s up for real.

Yeah, it’s hard. It can be as hard as having an intervention for an addict at times, depending on the mental illness. But do you care about your friend or loved one? If you do… speak up.

Knowing HOW to speak to the person is key. I’ve posted in the past about the very wrong thing to say to someone in the throes of a fragile episode. The post I referenced above is someone being obnoxious and offensive and doesn’t see it — because that’s THEIR brand of crazy. If you’re close to someone with a mental illness, you should know what it is, and how to deal with it. If not — approach with caution and care. Letting the person know that YOU CARE is the most important part. “Hey, I’ve noticed you’re not quite yourself. Is there anything I can do?” Just those few words can do so much more good than you’d know.

If you’re the one with the illness, own it. Don’t be ashamed. “Oh I’m just kidding. I’m just playing.” No, you don’t understand social cues. Or you have borderline personality disorder so you blurt out things without thinking. Or….whatever. Own it. At least then the people in your life know that you’re not just an asshole. You’re crazy — and it’s OK. You’re THEIR Crazy Asshole, and they’ll love you just the same. *mwah*