Friday, September 13, 2013

Myths About Suicide

Dr. Thomas Joiner is a psychologist at the University of Florida and he has studied suicide all of his professional career. The article is really informative and has really given me a new perspective. I highly encourage you read the whole thing 

He lost his father to suicide but instead of saying his father killed himself he says "this thing killed my father"

 "He did kill himself, and there's no denying that. People who kill themselves, though, are influenced in doing so by mental illnesses, and these illnesses themselves are widely misunderstood, subject to many myths. But make no mistake, they're forces of nature. They're grave. They're severe, just like heart disease, cancer and stroke."

For suicide to take place there are two things that need to develop within a person :
1. Death is inherently fearsome and daunting. Therefore, it requires a kind of fearlessness, a fearlessness specifically about physical pain, physical injury and death, in order to enact it

2. A mindset having to do with two ideas. One being that you are a burden to others and that you being around makes their lives less enjoyable. And the other is that you are hopelessly alienated. 

When you lose the fear of death and then develop the feeling of being a burden and being alienated, that is when the catastrophe occurs.

It is often said that suicide is selfish, but that is people trying to reason with the suicidal mind coming from a non-suicidal place. When you look at it from their point of view - that the people I care about will have better lives once I'm gone - then you can see that its not actually selfish at all. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

National Suicide Prevention Week 2013 - My Story

So today I'm going to share my story because its important for society to realize that its ok to have mental health problems, and its ok to talk about them. And that it is also more than ok to receive treatment when its needed.

If you've followed my blog, (or know about this part of my life) then you know that my freshman year of high school was really difficult for me. Well in 8th grade my parents took me to a psychiatrist and I was diagnosed with A.D.D but also they found that I had another problem. I had what is called Oppositional Defiant Disorder (O.D.D). It is kind of hard to wrap your mind around it unless you've really studied it or have experienced it. But basically you are stubborn but you don't have a choice in it. You HAVE to be stubborn. You HAVE to object to what authority figures tell you.

At first my mom thought it was just normal "teenager rebellion" behavior. But then it got really bad. And nobody else seemed to have as big of a problem with their kids as my family was having with me.
Every single day was a battle. Everyday we fought. And it was all because of me. But I wasn't aware of it.

So I would continue going to the psychiatrist and when I started having hardships in high school, I was then diagnosed with clinical depression. And I was really really depressed.

And for some reason when all my high school drama started, I began to to see that I was this difficult child. And I started to feel guilty for how I had been treating people. I still had some O.D.D - I couldn't control it, but I hated what I was doing to my family.

I have never once had thoughts of self harm, and I have never been suicidal. But I have had an overwhelming feeling that I was a burden to the people around me. That maybe my family would be better off if I wasn't around. I didn't want to make it so I wasn't around, but I did acknowledge that I was causing struggle within my family.

So with depression you aren't always depressed.  You can have phases. Sometimes, yes you will just be depressed for no reason. Other times, its just when sad things happen and you just get really really sad. Ive cried to the point that I threw up. I had days where I just couldn't stop crying. All I wanted to do was sit and cry and be sad about life.

Over time when you have depression you learn ways to help yourself out. It doesn't mean that you aren't as effected by the hard times that life brings, it just means you know how to get yourself out of you black hole of sadness.

Eventually I wasn't allowed to be in my room unless I was sleeping. My mom realized that I would go in my room and just cry. All day long. And when she figured that out my room became off limits. Because I needed someone to hold me accountable - someone to tell me to pull myself together and calm down. And left to my own devices, I would just dwell on things and become more and more depressed.

My O.D.D went away - it tends to do that as you grow up, and with some behavior therapy.

I took medicine for clinical depression up until my Junior year of high school, and then reduced the dose so now it is only treating anxiety. (Ive probably had anxiety since I was in elementary school, because I remember having times where I would be sick from worrying so much; but I only started getting it treated in high school.)

As of right now I am on a 30mg dosage. My junior year  in high school it was at 20mg. And when high school ended and I started college the dosage was at 40mg. All of those are considered anxiety dosages, when it goes up to 60mg that is considered a depression dose.

My freshman year of college was hard. And I probably did get depressed. But it wasn't clinical. I started having sessions with my psychiatrist more often, but I wasn't re-diagnosed because I had learned a lot through my past experience with it.

When I was most recently broken up with, I spent three days crying on the couch at my parents place. But that was it. Just 3 days. After that I forced myself to be bigger than the sadness. I knew life would go on, and that I was wasting away the precious time we are given to live our lives.

I know I was made to be happy. I am a very happy person when life is going right. But when it gets hard, I change. I am visible sad. And I know that it effects the people who care about me, so I have decided that I need to hold my self accountable so I don't make the people around me sad.

I am not ashamed or embarrassed by it. I am proud to be who I am and I am forever grateful for the treatment I have received and continue to receive.

Your Story is Important

This week is national suicide prevention week. To Write Love on Her Arms has made a schedule of what each day will be devoted to this week and today is "Your Story is Important"

Before I start this long post (which is 100% worth reading) I want you to know that if you would like to talk to me about this, I am here for you to talk to. My email is on the right hand side under my picture. And I will be here for you to talk to. I want to help in any way that I can.

Suicide used to be the leading cause of death among people ages 15-24 but now it has changed to the leading cause of death for people 15-49.

 “[Suicide] now takes more lives than war, murder, and natural disasters combined" (TWLOHA - Newsweek Covers Suicide).

Unfortunately the society we live in has come up with many lies about people who are effected by mental illness and people who are suicidal. This stigma keeps us from sharing our struggles and seeking treatment when we really need it.

   "Perhaps it is the lie that suicide only affects people who are “messed up,” the idea that depression only reaches those who are weak, or even the belief that if we share our struggles with someone, they will not understand or care.  We have to learn that issues like depression, addiction, and suicide are not partial to weak people, but are struggles any of us may walk through, simply because we are human 
   It is within our society and culture that the effects of stigma are felt. These effects range from the silence and shame surrounding mental health issues to the oppressive attitudes toward those struggling, even influencing the way treatment options such as therapy and medication are viewed. The powerful stigma attached to mental health communicates an illusion of separation between those who struggle and those who don't—a false dichotomy between the healthy and the sick." (TWLOHA- Challenging Stigma). 

This all needs to change. We need to learn to be accepting of people who have mental illness. We need to understand that it is very dangerous when people go without treatment for depression and other mental health problems. It is ok to talk about your problems. Its actually not ok when you don't talk about them.

There are a lot of excuses you can come up with as to why you don't want/shouldn't go to/don't need treatment
  •  Even if you cannot afford to go to a psychiatrist or counselor, there are other avenues. At my university they offer counseling to students, and your first session is free. And after that, if you cannot afford to pay the fee for additional counseling session, they can refer you to a counselor training program where you go and see a PhD student and you pay $20 one time and you can go to 1 session a week for an entire semester. Go to a church and ask to speak with a pastor. You don't have to "be a Christian" to go. They are they to help you. They might know someone in the church who can help you out free of charge. 
  • Your family doesn't "acknowledge mental health problems." Wanna know what I have to say about that? Who cares. You've acknowledged that something isn't right, and you need help. When peoples families don't acknowledge mental health problems (or the person thinks that their family doesn't acknowledge it/they don't care) things like school shootings happen. People are bullied and hurt and don't have anyone to confide in and then innocent people die. I'm not saying that happens in every situation, but it can happen and it will continue to happen as long as our society views depression and other things along the lines of that as taboo. 
  • You think you're problems aren't that bad and its dumb that you're sad because there are people who have it way worse than you. Its not about other people. Its about you. There is something in your brain that is off, and that is why you are depressed. Sometimes it has to do with your situation, but everyone who has depression has a chemical imbalance in their brain. You might not have anything really to complain about, yet still have depression. And guess what. Your depression is just as important as someone who has depression and is in an abusive relationship.
  •  You think that you will still be in a crappy situation even if you aren't depressed, and that will cause you to be depressed again. When you get treated for depression, you also get somebody to talk to. Someone to give you advise. When you aren't so down and out about life all the time, you can concentrate on ways to get out of your crappy situation, and go on enjoying life.
  • You think you don't deserve to be happy. And this one is the biggest lie of all. Everyone deserves happiness. Some people think they just weren't meant to be happy. When someone tells me that I laugh at them because they are so wrong. We are all made to be happy. We are all also given hardships, and depression might be one of yours. But we are given these hardships to help us grow, and so we can help others around us who are fighting the same fight. Happiness is easy to find when you want to find it. But when you are depressed, you don't want to leave your room, so you don't find anything to be happy about. Its insane how many things there are to smile about. If you cant think of anything go find a puppy and I'm sure you'll be able to find happiness there. 
  • You don't have time because you have more important things to deal with. No. Absolutely nothing is more important than this. School might be something you need to dedicate your time to so you can have a successful career in the future. Guess what. If your depression gets so bad that you are suicidal, and you end up killing yourself, then your future is gone. When you get treated for depression you are making the biggest investment in your future that you possibly can make. And school work gets easier after that. You aren't spending so much time thinking about how miserable you are, and it becomes so much easier to accomplish the things that are important to you.