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Human In Recovery – The Magnificence of Lifting Our Voices Together

Note from Ruby:  Pro football, Dr. Martin Luther King, a rock anthem by Queen, and a story from the Bible?  Kind of an unexpected combination for a piece about mental health.  But Kina of Human In Recovery somehow manages to put all of these things together and come up with a very evocative post.

There is power in lifting our voices together, especially when those voices are in agreement. Have you ever attended a concert, conference, or some other stadium event where the people in the audience were invited to sing the words to a song or anthem they had in common together?

When voices are raised in unison and harmony, it doesn’t matter if each individual voice is pitch perfect. The combined power of shared emotion, meaning, and experience unifies and transforms the disparate, individual voices into a singular, powerful, and magnificent voice that lifts and carries the hearts, minds, and imaginations of all who are participating. . .

Today, in the USA, we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. A flawed and human man who had a dream to end the prejudice and stigma separating and oppressing people because of the differences in the color of their skin and their genetic origins. There is still a very long way to go in achieving that dream. Fifty-one years ago, he raised his voice to share his dream for us to not walk alone but to march ahead in unity to overcome oppression, prejudice, and injustice. . .

I can’t stress the importance of using our voices to share our experiences enough. I don’t know what the true statistics are, but for generations people have been taught to suppress the “crazy,” ignore the “down,” to hide the “different,” and to be ashamed of being weak and wounded. We are increasingly criminalizing and marginalizing those who are experiencing cognitive, developmental, and psychological impairments and damage, criticizing them for not being able to pick up and put together their broken pieces. For every individual who speaks up and shares his or her story, hope, strength, courage, and truth is shared with others who do not yet have a voice. If we raise our voices of experience together, we can drown out the voices of stigma, ignorance, and hate.

Read the rest of the story by visiting The Magnificence of Lifting Our Voices Together | Human In Recovery.

Not a Punk Rocker – The Year That Almost Wasn’t

Note from Ruby:  This post is part two of two posts that Sheena, of Not a Punk Rocker, shared with BFMH.  The first part was posted here just two hours ago.  In case you missed it, it can be found by clicking this link: Not a Punk Rocker – Teenage Depression: The Kid, Part 1 | The Official Blog For Mental Health Project.

Trigger Warning: Suicide

A year ago today, my son tried to end his life.  It didn’t work.

If it had worked, I would have gone right after him.  I have no doubt about that.

Depression is something I deal with every day.  I have had major setbacks recently, mainly due to the timing of several things falling apart at once, but I am working  on them.   This time last year I was also in a bad state, though not as low as I am now.

Matthew, on the other hand is the opposite of where he was in February 2013.  Thank God, god or whoever you choose for that. . .

[M]edication is an integral part of his routine.  If he is late taking it, such as sleeping in on weekends, he notices he is crankier than normal.  It helps him feel better.  He likes to feel better, so he takes it without complaint.  Just part of his day:  Wake up, take pill, make coffee, play tunes, walk to school.  Medication is only part of the puzzle, which he understands.  That’s where therapy comes into play. . .

I held my breath a lot during that time, and several times since. I would worry about coming home and finding him gone, one way or the other.  I would worry about him going back into the spiral of depression and me missing the signs, like I had before.  Everything had me worried, and scared, and anxious.  My psychiatrist worked with me during this time to get my meds straight so that I could deal with the situation better. . .

He is open about his struggles, though he has decided he doesn’t want to write them up at this time.  More than once I would hear him discussing depression or medication with friends while on a video game.  They asked questions, he would answer.  He was helping in his own way to break the stigma among his peers .  The vision his friends had of the “emo” kid being the one who gets that low was shattered when the easy-going class clown, with no enemies and seemingly friends with everyone, decided one day that life wasn’t worth living. . .

Matthew inspires me to want to get better myself.  Not just in my role as his parent/caretaker  but seeing where he has come from to now.  If he is able to come back from where he was and do the work needed to face his mental health head on at 16 and 17,  then why shouldn’t I keep trying too?  There is still a long road ahead for him, and it may not always be easy, yet he still goes forward rather than stop out of fear or failure.

Read the rest of the story by visiting The Year That Almost Wasn’t | Not a Punk Rocker.

Not a Punk Rocker – Teenage Depression: The Kid, Part 1

Note from Ruby:  This piece is part one of two posts that Sheena, of Not a Punk Rocker, shared with BFMH.  The second part is scheduled to go live on this site two hours from now.

Trigger Warning: Suicide

Tuesday, February 26, 12:45 PM.  I am at my office, avoiding a staff birthday luncheon, when the phone rings.

It’s a number from [my son’s] school.

My first reaction was to sigh, my second was to pick up the receiver and get it over with.  What was it now?  Had he failed a test, not turned in homework, gotten caught on unauthorized websites or something else?  Was he sick?  If so, how bad?  Could he wait an hour for me to get there from work, or should I hire a cab?

All this was going through my mind as the Assistant Principal introduced herself.  That was the first sign it was not academic or illness.   Now I am thinking unauthorized websites, or something totally out of character like fighting. . .

I would never have been able to predict what the AP said next, even with hindsight of the last 18 hours.

“He texted that he had overdosed on pills and was planning on killing himself.”

His resting heart rate was at 136 and climbing and he was drowsy; they were calling to ask me which hospital I wanted him to go to. . .

Mental health is not a forbidden or “secret” subject in my house as it was when I grew up.  The details and the depth might not be shared all the time, as in my not knowing my son was feeling suicidal or him not knowing about my bulimia, but general depression and anxiety are discussed.  No, not every night at dinner, but the need to seek help or ask for it.  I like to think for a mother-son team where one of the parties is 16 years old, we do pretty well with communication.  Not perfect, but better than some relationships I had seen with his peers.

So why didn’t I see this coming?

. . .

If you search on my blog, you will see more recent updates on the kid, but as part of this blogging initiative I plan to reblog in order and provide more information as we hit the anniversary.  It will soon be one year since his attempt.

One year.  Hard to believe.  A year that he didn’t think he wanted to see and, for several hours, days and weeks, I wasn’t sure I was going to get to have with him.

Read the rest of the story by visiting Teenage Depression: The Kid, Part 1 | Not a Punk Rocker.

W.T.F. – Depression and Motherhood: This is My Truth

This subject feels a bit taboo for me.  It seems that we have come to a place in our society where it is safer to talk about living with a mental illness but when you admit to the effects of it while you are raising your children, it seems to make people uncomfortable and judgemental.  If that is you then please refrain from reading this post.  My truth about struggling with depression and being a mom is not pretty.  It’s not a feel good story and it’s a story that continues to evolve.  My intention in writing this is to have a little more peace in my own heart about what I go through and to hopefully get feedback from other mothers who want/need to share their story. . .

It seems like my depression has gotten more intense after each of my children have been born.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it is the added stress or the changes to my body’s chemistry.  Even though I am able to recognize that funk that seems to cling to me when I am sliding down hill, I can’t prevent it.  I have days where I busy the kids with some sort of something so that I can cry in another room where they don’t see me and ask questions.  I feel so unworthy of my children’s forgiving love some days. . .

Yes I have good days and No I’m not pretending to be happy.  I am a genuinely happy person by nature.  And here is a big one.  Please take note of this one because it is the worst thing you could ever say to someone like me…Don’t ever assume that a person can “snap out of it”.  It’s impossible and you’re being naïve and downright hateful if you think ANYONE would choose to feel the way I have attempted to describe.

Depression looks different to everyone that suffers from it.  However, I have learned through personal and professional experience that those that live with it have one thing in common – loneliness.  I wish people talked candidly about it.  I wish women felt more comfortable and less shame about admitting these type of thoughts and feelings.  I just hope that by sharing my story, someone will feel less alone and less shameful.

Read the rest of the story by visiting Depression and Motherhood: This is My Truth. | W.T.F.