For my church newsletter, they want to feature artists. I talked to the editor, and she wants a 700-900 word thing on how growing up in a family of artists shaped me and affected my faith. Now, I grew up in a family of addicted mentally ill/depressed artists, and they gave me a lot, both good and bad. I have to decide what angle I want to take on this. Any suggestions? What would you want to read about?
It was exactly a year ago when I wrote about my sick doggie and his cancer treatment. The cancer is bad now, and there’s only one more (affordable) treatment to try. He’s having trouble walking and if the new medication doesn’t work, and quickly, i”m going to have to make a decision that I am just not ready to make. He’s been my family for almost eleven years now and been the reason why I got out of bed and kept eating sometimes. I’m not ready to live without this pup and I don’t know how to deal with this kind of sadness without falling apart.
Yesterday morning, I got up at 5:00 am to walk around a lake and raise money for suicide prevention.
The thing that I’ve noticed about having people I love kill themselves (an uncle and a friend) is that, besides being horribly hurtful and tragic and guilt-inducing, it also makes it seem more like a real option. At least for me. I’ve been thinking about that lately with the slew of gay teenagers who have killed themselves. It’s not just copycatting, it’s more of a feeling that this horrible unthinkable action must be an option, because other people chose it. It can slowly start to feel like a very valid option as someone is in more and more pain. It’s selfish, of course, but it does no good to talk to a depressed or suicidal person about how other people will feel – when you’re in that much pain and despair, you can’t possibly think about anyone else.
I hope that the money this organization raises does two things: makes suicide not feel like a valid option, and make it not feel like a necessity. Let’s help people understand that depression is not shameful and is treatable. And that they don’t have to deal with it alone. That will make more of a difference than you might think.
The email I sent when raising support:
Some of you know that I have been affected on a personal level by suicide. It’s not something I really want to share in a mass email, but I would be willing to talk about it on a personal level.
I will be joining with thousands of people nationwide to walk in AFSP’s Out of the Darkness Community Walk to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide. If you knew me a few years ago when I did a 20-mile overnight walk, it’s the same cause but a shorter walk. 🙂 The walks are located all over the US and take place before sunrise to have the “out of the darkness” symbolism. They’re meant to bring awareness and funds to suicide prevention.
Over 33,000 people commit suicide in the US alone each year (it’s thought to be one million worldwide each year), and the signs are often missed, or the people suffering don’t think it’s possible to be helped. This group does a lot of work with education, which is needed because the stigma of depression and other mental illness is so strong.
I know a lot of you are feeling the economic downturn, so I totally understand if you can’t support me, but I just want to ask if you’ll think about financially supporting, coming and walking with me (you don’t have to raise money) or praying for the cause. Everything’s tax-deductible. Well, the financial contributions, anyway.
To make an online donation please search for my name on www.outofthedarkness.org and then click “support this participant”. If you would rather donate by check please make the check out to AFSP and mail it in with the offline donation form.
Thanks for taking the time to consider a cause that is, tragically, very close to my heart.
As I’ve had longer stretches of being depression-free (or at least being adequately treated for it), I find myself forgetting what it’s like. I start thinking things like “Oh, it wasn’t that bad,” and “maybe I really could have snapped out of it.” Just like I never remember how much something hurt physically or how uncomfortable nausea actually is, I can’t remember how deep the emotional pain was. That has its good and bad points. None of us who have ever experienced severe depression want to feel like that for one minute longer than we already have. I want to be better and never look back, most of the time.
There’s a part of me, though, that wants to remember. I’m not sure I understand why, completely, but I think it has to do with validating my experience. As much as I want to forget how bad it was, I also want to know that I’m a strong person who got through it. That I’m a survivor. That I had the ability (by the grace of God) to make it through something really really horrendous. The problem seems to be that to remember, I have to remember. Every once in a while, I do really remember, or at least come close. When this happens, I feel like I can’t catch my breath. I’m overwhelmed by the hopelessness of the situation, and even though I feel better, I feel like I’ll never feel any better. Even though it’s already happened, it feels impossible. I don’t know if that makes any sense to anyone, and I’m not entirely sure it makes sense to me. How can something retroactively seem impossible? If I’ve already survived it, shouldn’t I be done feeling like I can’t survive it?
One year ago: Feeling Better
I’ve watched a couple of TV shows lately where there’s someone being threatened and they say “But I have a family!” as a reason to not get shot. (They’re not horribly violent shows, just happened to both have this type of scene.)
I don’t think it’s that uncommon of a sentiment. Not just when someone’s pointing a gun at you but also at work. Someone might beg off a responsibility because they have a family. I’ve heard that and I’ve also heard people saying they shouldn’t be laid off because “I have a family.”
So, as a single 35-year old woman, how am I supposed to take this? It seems that I’m worth less because I don’t have a family. The worst part is that I already thought that about myself. I am fighting this uphill battle to believe I am worthwhile even if someone hasn’t chosen me to marry and even if I don’t have children, and everything around me is reinforcing that I’m not. Even stupid TV shows are reinforcing that for me. American Christian culture is telling me the same thing. Sometimes it feels like too much to fight and I just want to give up and admit I’m not good enough, I’m a failure, and I’m unlovable. Because if those things weren’t true, someone would have chosen me by now.