Category Archives: Stigma Fighters

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Jesse S. Smith

A Mental Health Autobiography

I’m never certain how much of my own experiences are unique to me, and how much of my experiences are universal, shared by everyone: a part of the human condition. Sometimes I think that our feelings are all more or less the same. Sometimes I think it’s just me. Sometimes I tell myself not to be such an egomaniac, because after all I’m not that different from anyone else. But then sometimes I open my mouth, and people give me this look that suggests perhaps my experiences are not entirely universal after all.
When I was very young, no more than six years old, my father told me a sort of a fable. I think he had heard it from his own father; but for all I know, it was something that actually happened to him when he was a child. The story went like this: A young boy is standing on a high place, on top of a piece of furniture or something. The boy’s father says, “Go ahead and jump off, I’ll catch you.” The boy says, “It’s too high, Daddy, I’m scared.” The father says, “It’s all right, I’m right here.” So the boy jumps, and the father steps aside, allowing the boy to plummet to the ground, where he lands with an agonizing face-plant. And while the boy is lying on the ground, crying in miserable pain and betrayal, his father leans over him and says, “Remember this, son. Never trust anyone.”
We live in a society that continuously repeats the obvious lie, that anyone can pull themselves up by their bootstraps if only they work hard enough.
My first job was at McDonald’s. One of my co-workers was a Mexican immigrant. This man worked full time at a chicken farm, and he had a 35-hour-a-week second job flipping burgers on the line with me. I will never meet anybody who worked harder than that man, and I promise you, he never managed to pull himself up by his bootstraps.
The “bootstraps” lie is just an excuse for intolerance. And part of the intolerance fostered by the “bootstraps” lie, is the intolerance for people who have had bad things happen to them. Uncaring society says, “Get over it.” Uncaring society says, “That’s your problem, not mine.” Uncaring society uses the “bootstraps” lie as an excuse, to make up a reason why the bad thing was, in fact, the victim’s own fault in the first place. When a person finds themselves in an impossible situation, uncaring society blames that person for being unable to magically transcend the impossible.
I no longer think the people who say these things even believe themselves. They know they’re lying, and they just don’t care. The point is to use their power to harm others for their own gain. I’m speaking now of politics, but the principle applies broadly to our society as a whole.
On the outside, I came from a good middle-class family, and had every middle-class advantage. But I had a dark place in my head that I just couldn’t get past. My father told me (in writing!) that it was the way I was born; but I think it’s more likely, it was related to the things my father said and did over the years. When I was in eighth grade, I was suicidally depressed. After that, I saw a counselor for a while. That was a complete waste of time and money. All I learned from those sessions, was how to lie to a counselor. Later, I saw a second counselor. After months of visits, I finally opened up to him with the dark truth about my family life. He didn’t believe me. He thought I was making it all up as a sympathy ploy. The one person whose actual job it was to make a real difference in my life, blew it off as a fantasy, and essentially told me to get over myself. I will never respect counselors again.
A few years later, I went to an excellent college; but I partied too much and refused to take anything seriously. I graduated with a decent degree but no job prospects, and found myself still working the same kind of pointless minimum wage jobs I’d been working in high school. Then my father died, suddenly and unexpectedly, and his death threw the family into turmoil. Shortly afterwards, I lost my paltry life savings on an auto accident (my insurance company said it wasn’t covered, because I was on a bicycle when I collided with the car). This is just an example of how bad experiences tend to snowball and build on each other.
My struggles with depression led to a series of bad choices. I pushed away my long-term girlfriend, the one I should have married. I probably would have managed to get myself fired from a decent job, but I avoided that when an unexpected opportunity came up, and with less than three weeks’ notice, I left the country to go teach in Egypt for a year, along with my younger sister and several of our friends from college. It was an amazing opportunity, but it was also very stressful. I was unprepared for the experience. For one thing, my sister was the constant recipient of really awful sexual harassment from all the men around us, and I was powerless to do anything about it. For another thing, it was very difficult for me to adapt to the local culture and the work environment. One day my impatience got the better of me, and rather than wait for the bus, I decided to walk home to my apartment after work. I got lost, and wandered miles out of my way. After dark, I found myself in a lonely and deserted place, where some local hoodlums attacked me and beat me over the head. I still have the scars. I managed to get away, but I sprained my ankle on a rock as I ran away in the dark. The hoodlums chased me all the way back to a populated district, where the local residents called the police. The police let the hoodlums go, and detained me all night instead, peppering me with questions and refusing to believe my answers. This is the world we live in. It is a world that lets the hoodlums go, and blames the victim, seeking against reason for any explanation why the incident must have been the victim’s fault.
I returned from Egypt just in time for 9-11. Despite some of my experiences there, I had grown fond of my Muslim host country, and I took the terrorist attacks and their hateful aftermath personally.
I think it’s safe to say that, between my childhood, the car accident, the attack from the hoodlums, and of course 9-11 itself, I was suffering from some degree of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I was often angry and impatient. I often began the day with rum in my coffee, or sometimes just rum straight out of the bottle.
Meanwhile, I lived in a barn. It was a nice barn, in a remote location. For years I had dreamed of an opportunity like this, to devote myself to solitary pursuits, writing and playing music. I accomplished a lot during that time, but I turned out to feel incredibly lonely as well, and ended up driving ridiculous distances to meet with girlfriends. Also, there was no work to be had in that remote location; and even living in a barn, I needed some income. So I would drive two hours to work in Portland, where I often slept in my car, or crashed on my friend’s couch, rather than drive back. Technically, a person who either sleeps in their car on on their friend’s couch, for weeks at a time, is considered homeless. I was homeless. This is a story of how a promising boy from what looked like a good middle-class family turned into an angry homeless alcoholic.
Society regards a story like this as an “excuse.” Society tells us that we should just “get over” whatever bad things have happened to us. Society regards our difficulties in “getting over” those bad experiences as a kind of moral failing.
Fuck society.
Well, after this, I watched all my hopes and dreams crumble. I put all my energy into starting a rock band: but it was nearly impossible to land paying gigs; the band never attracted a following; and eventually it all fell apart. I had always wanted to be a writer, and had majored in English for that purpose: but I was unable to figure out how to get published; and I lost money on my multiple attempts at self-publication.
Despite myself, I got married; and due to economic considerations, I ended up being the primary childcare provider for our children. That arrangement was meant to be temporary; but then the recession came; and it turns out it’s difficult for a stay-at-home parent to reenter the workforce at even the best of times, and it’s essentially impossible during or in the immediate aftermath of an economic downturn.
But life goes on, and I did my best to put on a brave face and power through.
I have never repeated my father’s story to my own children. It ends here.
A few years ago, I spoke with my physician, and he prescribed me medication. The medication is not a complete fix; but since going on it, I have had fewer mood swings; and when my mood takes a downturn, it doesn’t go as deep, or last as long. I drink less, and I rarely touch hard liquor any more.
I still struggle, as people who have seen my somewhat random Twitter posts may be aware. Some days are better than others; and this must be true for most people. But since I got on medication, my world has brightened, my outlook has generally improved, and I have learned to have hope for the future. I have even returned to believing it’s possible I will someday soon become not just a self-published author, but an actual published author. That’s a kind of optimism I haven’t felt for a long time. I just hope it holds.
So, to all of you out there, feeling stress, and anxiety, and mood swings, and depression: you are not alone. The world sucks! There is medication that can help to a certain extent, and if you need it, I recommend taking it. No prescription will ever fix your life completely, and sometimes we just have to put on a brave face and power through. But if anyone ever tells you to “get over it” or to “pull yourself up by your bootstraps,” you hereby have my permission to punch them in the face.
Thank you.

mangled-selfie-crop-2Jesse S. Smith is a self-published author living in Oregon. Smith is a former musician and world traveler turned husband and Dad.

 

 

 

 

 

Find him on Twitter.

Alpha Males Don’t Talk About Feelings, Right?

For a bizarre fucking reason growing up, I was taught to bottle my feelings so that I could reserve my place in ‘real-man’ heaven.

I always believed that crying was an expression of inner weakness which I needed to contain so I could keep up the appearance of this red-meat eating, lumberjack who was impervious to pain: both physically and mentally.

Pride was the driving force behind my attempt to create this seemingly herculean-like man on the outside whilst protecting the frailty and fragility which I knew existed on the inside.

I was trying hard to substantiate my position of alpha male.

What a load of shit that was.

As a teenage boy, school was a confusing time. You fall in love for the first time, you hate your parents for something new every week and everything is a popularity contest. In addition to this: kids are dicks. I don’t care what you’ve heard, teenagers are savages who have zero regard for the well-being of others.

In this environment, you have two options: become a victim or avoid it entirely and act as if none of it exists. Well, I did the latter. I hated waking up on a school day knowing that I’d have to suffer through another 7 hours of cliché personalities and so, I refused to participate.

But, as time passed, it wasn’t just waking up that bothered me anymore. It was walking to school, being in class, taking lunch and walking home that bothered me.

I didn’t have the energy to continue to mould this sculpture of strength and courage out of the little I had left to offer.

I hid away from the world so that people wouldn’t notice my weaknesses breaking through the surface. Isolation was where I repaired the seams and where I sewed together my brave face for the next morning.

This process continued for 3 years. I was gradually scratching out the canvas which once showed a normal, happy young-man and, instead, painted this dark cloud which consumed everything in its path.

This dark cloud was around all of the time and I couldn’t figure out why.

I always thought to myself: ‘Is this normal?‘ or ‘I suppose most teenagers go through this’.

This constant state of denial and ‘mental dysmorphia’, caused me to experience my first panic attack.

Not being in control of my body’s actions cemented my decision to finally speak to somebody about this. It was at this time that I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder with a side-dish of Social Anxiety just to really spice shit up.

I was enrolled in CBT sessions which I persisted with for 6 months and made little progression.

Why? Because I was still so damn stubborn that I refused to truly open up.

What did that do for me? Jack-shit.

All the years of hiding my emotions and pretending to be okay, ironically, were the main ingredients in this diet of destruction.

I refused to let this be it for me. I knew I was in a bad condition but, I was the one who put myself there: I’ll be the one who drags myself out of it again.

I completely reversed my thinking. I spoke when I could about my feelings to people that I trusted, I wasn’t ashamed to admit that I was having a bad day: I constantly pushed my boundaries for 18-months, every single day without fail.

Did I have bad days? Of course. That’s completely fucking normal. But, and this is super important, the bad days I had, NEVER changed into bad weeks or months. I fought the supple grip of anxiety with every ounce of my fibre.

That is what truly makes a strong person.

View it this way: if you shake a bottle filled with coke and leave the lid on, you can feel how tight the plastic is as it tries desperately to deal with all of the pressure. Now, what happens when you take the lid off?

All fucking hell breaks loose but, at least you relieved that pressure.

Now imagine what would happen if you did the exact same thing but with the bottle half-full. Sure, there will still be pressure but it’s manageable once you twist the cap. You can stop it from overspilling by releasing the pressure little-by-little.

Treat your mind in the same way. If you keep your thoughts, emotions and fears locked in the dark, one day, when you do decide to talk about them (or forced to), you will splurt out years worth of pain: which will be completely unbearable.

You need to realise that your ego needs to take a fucking seat for one minute. Speaking about your problems does not make you weak: it makes you incredibly strong. Hiding from the bullshit is easy: everybody can do that.

It’s the real bad-assess who embrace the sacrifices which need to be made. The real Rambo-type motherfuckers are the people who understand that things need to change.

I’m here to remind you that anxiety (and any mental illness for that matter) couldn’t care less how much of a man you think you are: it will still break you down. Pulling pieces from your health, confidence, and ability to function day-by-day like an eternal game of human Jenga.

The stigma around men speaking up about their mental health needs to be abolished. I, for one, will shout at the top of my lungs about my accomplishments and my flaws. I’m not ashamed of either.

As long as you are being true to yourself – fuck what everybody else thinks. If you don’t commit, you won’t change shit.

IMG_1261Ryan is a mental health advocate and writer who has been kicking anxiety’s ass since 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ryan Ritchie can be found on his Twitter

 

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John Kaniecki

MORE THAN THE MADNESS
My name is John Kaniecki and I suffer from bipolar disorder. Please allow me to present my credentials. I have been hospitalized nine times three of them being committed. I have spent over a year locked away. I even spent a night in jail. When I first started taking the medicine I needed to get blood tests every week. Now I get them once every month. I had a pretty violent childhood. Not to the extreme as some but I’ve probably been in at least two dozen fights. Sometimes I would walk up to another child and simply punch them. The neighborhood where I grew up in was in the affluent part of town but the children were extremely hostile. I was a victim of bullying and name calling. My parents didn’t get along and my mother was constantly screaming. My father was selfish spending time working on his career or pursuing whatever his pleasures were. He really didn’t play an active part in my upbringing but he was around.
In high school I was very paranoid. I didn’t function well socially. As the shortest male child in my class I felt physically intimidated. It seemed like I didn’t fit in anywhere. Having the nickname “Myron” didn’t help. I did have a small group of friends. I did well academically. I think my dad put a lot of emphasis on education as he had a PhD. But he was a very distant individual. I remember after my grandmother’s funeral he was starting to cry. I went to embrace him and he pushed me away. That was the sum of our relationship cold and sterile. To his credit he always put food on the table and paid the expenses for my psychiatric care.
After high school I went away to engineering school. I studied very hard and did well my first semester. I pledged a fraternity and got involved with drugs and alcohol. In hindsight I may have been self medicating myself. Life was very dark and grim. I was drinking alcohol every day. I got interested in Christianity and it motivated me to stop drinking and drugging. I eventually became a Christian. At this point it seemed like I had everything in life I could want. I was a member of a very popular fraternity. I had of course my new found faith. There was a nice young lady in my life that I had romantic hopes for. I thought I had a host of friends as well.
Enjoying my new found faith I took off on a cross country trip hitchhiking and riding Greyhound buses. I made it from New York City, to Texas all the way to Washington State and back to New York. It was the best thirty days of my life. My horizons opened up immensely. Returning to my junior year I dropped out of engineering school. I wanted to go to Bible College and become an evangelist. I had experienced a period of prolonged depression and now I was to learn about the mania. I nearly got arrested going to the United Nations in Manhattan and telling them I had a message from God. A couple of weeks later I was committed and thrust into a psychiatric hospital. It was a traumatic and frightening experience.
By the grace of God and help of others I got through the first episode. So many whom I thought loved me simply vanished like dust in the wind. My ego had taken a tremendous blow. I had become something dirty and unclean. I was anathema. I had an awful doctor in that first hospital that literally spent no time talking to me at all. So when I got out I refused to see him as an outpatient. I didn’t like the environment at home so I cut out back to the fraternity. There was a lot of drinking and drugging going on there so I didn’t want to be there. I moved into a small room from a fellow from church. I spent most of my time lying on bed thinking about how I could kill myself. There were some books in the room and I started to read which lifted my spirits. I got a job in a pizza place and than one driving cabs. It seemed like I was getting a handle once more on my life.
Unfortunately I got a real stupid notion that God would cure my mental illness. So to prove my faith I stopped taking my medicine. In several weeks I was committed and back to the hospital. I could go on and on and on. My book is a story of hope and inspiration and takes a hefty swipe at fighting the stigma involved with mental illness showing that mental illness does not define my existence but rather is just part of a complex and human whole.
Hospitalizations are a very trying experience if one has never been there personally than it is hard to describe. There are long extensive periods of boredom with rushes of excitement. Group therapy, a meal or some other event becomes a rush activity. Visiting time is always a highlight. Even if you don’t have visitors yourself the influx of new faces is exhilarating. One thing I used to do in the hospital was write poetry. I wrote poems for the patients, staff and visitors. Also I always tried to write song lyrics. This was due to my fear that I would never be able to work in my life. Terrified that I would never be able to support myself I hoped for the miracle of having a hit song.
It has been thirty years later and finally my writing career has begun to take root. It is going painstakingly slow but it is doing well in its infant state. Of course between here and there has been a whole lot of living. I have had about twelve years in the business world working three different jobs. I bring up my writing because I want to show how good things happen from bad. This is the primary testimony I want to make about mental illness. It is a miserable and terrible thing to go through. The downside is immense. But if you allow yourself to be transformed by its harsh lessons there is a bounty to reap. Mental illness will humble a person and that is a good thing. Being psychiatrically sick will make you acutely sensitive of the feelings of other people. Overall if you don’t let the illness take over your life the results will be something wonderful.
Finally my mental illness has prepared me for the greatest task in my life. My wife suffers with dementia. From my experiences I can relate to the hardships she is going through and be more compassionate to her. I have seen so many of my kindred fellows fall into the surrender of suffering. I have seen the goliath of mental illness pulverize the foe to the point where they have abandoned all hope in life. It is my testimony that this does not have to be the case. As long as you can struggle, even if just a tiny bit, you can achieve and win the victory. The trial of a man is not marked alone by the distance he travels rather the road must be examined as well. Mental illness is a journey on a mountainside path slippery and full of obstacles. It will take all that you have on your trek to navigate the pitfalls but it will be worth it just for the view.

John-Funky-Photo-2I am a full time caregiver for my wife Sylvia from lovely Grenada. I volunteer as a missionary with the Church of Christ at Chancellor Avenue in the South Ward of Newark, New Jersey. I have served in this capacity for about eight years. I am a volunteer at New Jersey Peace Action serving as political action coordinator for the organization. I am a member of Woman’s International League Of Peace And Freedom. As a member of the mentally ill community I am an advocate for those who suffer in like manner.

John Kaniecki in an author and poet. He has four poetry books “Murmurings of a Mad Man” ,”Poet to the Poor, Poems of Hope to the Bottom One Percent,” “A Day’s Weather” and “Sunset Sonnets”. In addition he has a science fiction collection entitled “Words of the Future” and a horror novella “Scarecrow Scarecrow”. John’s poem Tea With Joe Hill won the Joe Hill Labor Poetry Prize. John’s work has been published in over seventy outlets. John resides with his lovely wife Sylvia in Montclair, New Jersey. John hopes one day his writing will have a positive impact on the world.

Also of particular note is John’s memoirs, “More Than The Madness”. This tells his story of dealing with bipolar disorder. It fights against the stigma of mental illness.

John Kaniecki can be found on his blog, Facebook, and Twitter

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Chad Hubbard

Hello again,

This is a companion to a piece that I penned on October 27, 2016. I would like to thank The Mighty for publishing my original post. The editors give a much-needed voice to the voiceless. The publishers at The Mighty have given a lost soul like myself a forum to tell my own private horror story. Thank you to all who read this. Remember, you just never know what is spiraling around in a person’s head,

I swore to myself that I would never share this with another living soul. Honestly, I still feel like I am right there, right where I was. It is a place that I never want to see again, but the sad reality is that it is just a matter of time before the demons return. I am definitely not a clairvoyant, but I am fairly certain of my own fate. Someday. It is coming. I hope that sharing this with all of you somehow sheds a thin ray of light onto an otherwise taboo subject. Suicide.

As I write, the tears are streaming down my face. I think about this everyday. It is maddening. It is heartbreaking. It is true pain. True suffering. Undeniable sadness. Writing this is going to be incredibly difficult. Reading this won’t be easy. Some of you may look at me differently when this story is over. I am okay with that.

My name is Chad and I am Bipolar. This is the story of my suicide.

My life had totally spiraled out of control. I was in the hospital where a doctor recommended Electroshock Therapy. Medication was no longer effective. I was at rock bottom. Or so I thought. I agreed to the fourteen treatments. The ECT had a profound effect on me. I was no longer able to continue with my medications. Whether it was real or somewhere hidden deep in my subconscious the medication began to make my skin crawl. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I was barely alive. I can honestly look anyone in the eye and tell him or her that I literally have no memory of the months of May through October. I went places, did things, had conversations, lived life but I wasn’t actually inside me. I was gone and nobody knew it. Not my family, not my coworkers, not my closest friends. I was a ghost who was slowly dying an incredibly painful death.

As the pain and suffering consumed my brain, I slept less and less. I quit eating. I lost forty pounds in three months. I was empty and after years of suffering I decided that I had been through enough. My brain was telling me how much I despised myself, my very being, my soul was gone. I looked in the mirror and hated who was looking back at me. I still do. “You are a disappointment to everyone.” “You are ugly.” “You are a failure.” “You are nothing.” “You are worthless.” “You are all alone.” These are the words that bombard my brain when I look at myself in the mirror. Everyday I go through this. Sadly, I know there are others out there who say the same thing each morning and night, just like I do. It is living in hell inside your own mind. It is devastating. It is never ending pain.

I had decided that I couldn’t do it anymore. It was time. I tried before with booze and pills. It almost worked, yet all that I saw was just another failure. When I was in the hospital in Arizona I decided right then and there, next time I am going to use a gun. Next time I wouldn’t fail. I knew then there would be a next time. I just didn’t know when.
I started writing my goodbye letters. My sisters, my mom, my friends. One by one I wrote to them. Everyone’s goodbye was different. I said different things to everyone. I unearthed different stories and happy memories. I made each one special. It took days. There was however one person that got a video goodbye. She was my love, my light, and my life. She deserved more than a note. I tried not to cry, but I couldn’t hold back the tears. I was saying goodbye to her all over again. It was excruciating. I was relieved when it was over. I was totally exhausted. In many ways I was already dead, I just hadn’t pulled the trigger yet.

As the day got closer I became more at ease with what was about to happen. My only real concern was for my kids, but I outlined my desires in the goodbye messages to family and friends. The people that know me the best know that my kids mean everything to me. I knew that the people that loved me would make sure that my kids would know nothing but love from them forever. It was very hard knowing that the day that I was going to say goodbye to all of them was coming. I cried every time I saw them. I truly believe that they knew something was happening.

The day finally arrived. This was going to be my last on earth. I was so far gone that I honestly did not even care. I woke up, watched some television, then music, then silence. I brought the kids to the park one last time. We played like we had never played before. I played like I was never going to play again. When we were all worn out we walked home. I jumped in the shower, got ready and then it dawned on me. What do I want to be found in? Crazy, right? Not at all. After much deliberation I decided that my most comfortable pair of ripped jeans and my white Under Armor sweatshirt with my Cheech and Chong T underneath would be the perfect outfit to die in. There I was, hating myself, waiting to kill myself, but at least I looked half way decent.

The moments that I feared the most were here, right now. It was time to say goodbye to the kids. This was real. This was happening. Right now. I went to Slinky first. He was lying peacefully on the bed. I scratched his head and kissed his nose. He purred and stretched out a leg to let me know he was enjoying it. Tigger was next. After a kiss and a quick scratch I moved on to Shiloh. My baby girl. I was sobbing uncontrollably at this point. She was smiling at me, wagging her tail. I placed her on her side and rubbed her tummy. I kissed her nose and said goodbye. The pain was unbearable but I had one more. Sampson was sitting in his chair watching me. I walked over and knelt down in front of him and put my hands behind his ears and scratched. I kissed his nose and he licked my face one last time.

That was it. The time had come to end all the pain and suffering. It was my time. My death was finally going to bring much needed peace and calm to my embattled brain. The peace was my reward. It was my Medal of Honor. I had been fighting a war within my own mind for my entire life. It was finally over. I was going home. The war was finally over.

I walked to my father’s old library table and opened the drawer. There it was, just waiting for me to pick it up. Black matte, nothing shiny, nothing fancy. It was an instrument that I had never played, and would only play once. I held it in my hands, it was cold, and it was heavy. It didn’t scare me. I welcomed the weight.

CLICK – CLICK. The sound of the hammer cocking back readying the bullet pierced through the silence. It startled me. My kids were all looking at me. I wiped the tears from my eyes and then took a deep breath. My final breathe. I shut my eyes and raised the gun to my head. I slowly opened my mouth and rested the barrel on my lower jaw. I had done my research. I knew the angle that the barrel needed to be at to create maximum devastation. I was not going to fail again.

My finger caressed the trigger and I tensed up to pull it and end it all when I suddenly felt something touch my leg. I quickly opened my eyes and looked down and it was Sampson, sitting at my feet, looking up at me, his left paw resting on my leg. You may not believe this but he had a look in his eyes that I had never seen. I would have never imagined, I would have never thought possible, I will never forget it as long as I live.

I instantly burst into tears and collapsed to the ground. As I hugged him and sobbed the others joined him. After that I couldn’t do it. I was exhausted. Done. Every ounce of energy was drained from me. I just layed there for the rest of the day, in and out of consciousness. They never left my side.

I would like to introduce you all to Sampson. He is my Pitbull. He is my baby boy. I love to tell the story about the day I saved Sampson’s life. Today I am telling you the story about the day he saved my life. Who really saved whom?

Thank you for reading this. Share this. People are suffering. We all can do better. Help someone in need. It will change your life.

My name is Chad and I am Bipolar

IMG_0311My name is Chad. I am Bipolar. I love animals. I love to write. I have decided that I am here to share my story to help others with Bipolar Disorder. The conversation about Mental Illness needs to be on the forefront of the American conversation. Mental illness is everywhere. It is especially where you would least expect it. I am your friend, your husband, your neighbor, your brother. I am everywhere. Reach out and make a difference in someone’s life. Thank you. Chad Hubbard

Chad Hubbard can be found Twitter and blog

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Michael Deady

The voice, the confusion, the hurt.
There’s days you get ready for the week ahead and you spring up out of bed and just cannot wait to get on with your day. Then there’s days where someone is telling you how shit your life really is. There’s someone telling you that your fucked, you made a bad choice, everything is going horrible and you struggle from the off, you cry and you look at yourself and wonder.
You have people telling you that you’re a legend or that you’ll be ok, you do so much, we are here for you, yes that’s grand I appreciate every single thing you do for me, but can you fight these demons for me by any chance? I only keep myself occupied by doing things to see can I get this voice in my head off for a few hours but it keeps coming back to affect every bit of my life.
Not many people understand my decision or believe me for that matter. Things get inside your head, its negative, it’s hard, but it’s equally as hard to get rid of, I just need to learn how to manage it.
Here’s how to explain it in my way, Imagine winning the 100m sprint in the Olympics and having the best time of your life, you’re a beast an utter beast and then the next day this figure comes along and kills you inside saying you are lying, you cheated and leaves you crying for days because your achievement is taken away. You try to progress but you keep taking hits.
Thinking I can get rid of the past by changing my appearance thinking this might work but it doesn’t, it’s not who I am, and it doesn’t help things.
That’s what it’s like for me, now, one day I’m on top of the world and the next I’m being told by this voice and you are terrible. It’s confusing as hell it’s effecting my life, left right and centre and only for the people who believe in me and try to get inside my head and overlap my thoughts I’m still here battling on.
Trying to fill that gap in my life, having nobody personal to turn too when alone because I’m like this, sometimes is hard, telling your friends about your personal life is a tough one but this is where I am at, I don’t like bothering people, I don’t but if people weren’t there I don’t know where I would be.
Imagine trying to explain to a girl about all this? You can’t even imagine how tough it is to be honest with someone I like. Nine times out of ten it is driving them away and that’s proving more and more difficult for me to be honest and open. Yes my life is full of bloody problems, but it’s for the right reasons There’s a stigma still behind people with mental health, its seen as a burden or a problem, it’s always going to be there, it’s how you manage it that makes you how can I say this “normal”.
Imagine being afraid to do the sport you love? Imagine not wanting to turn up at the local athletics track or gym because you feel you are being watched. This is what it is like sometimes.
This voice, this manner in which my life is lived is how I have lived most my life, it’s not the person I am by no means, some saw it others haven’t. I’m lucky I have good friends. It’s how I always saw life. I understand people running off from my life, it’s understandable, why would you want some fool looking worried about who’s going to be where or what’s going on? I’m not relaxed most of the time, I get into ruts of being in my bedroom doing nothing at all because of negative thoughts.
Imagine waking up in the middle of the night because you think something or someone is hitting you or because someone is inside your head, every morning trying to get rid of the voice, imagine having flash backs to the negative things in your past because of this. It’s horrible. I put pillows over my head singing trying to make it stop, banging my head against a wall, anything to make this noise stop, I’ll admit it’s bloody dreadful. I sometimes feel like I’m being watched, to be honest I think I am, and this is how I feel all my life, trying to remove myself from the circle of pain but I still feel this way.
At the start it had impacted so much, it was driving negative thoughts into my head and made me a completely different person, I put on weight, I was unmotivated as a result, I had no interest in anything, which saw my decline in athletics and my lifestyle in general. I kept trying to get myself back but I kept having those days and I turned too staying in bed, away from people. Ill keep trying until I see myself training properly even with setbacks, I think I know how to deal with them now, hopefully I’ll be that athlete again someday and ill wake up thinking I’m ready.
Going out on the street where you know people pacing around the place trying to avoid any contact with certain people you know, then other days you stroll around and not a care. It’s unimaginable what is next. Going into a shop, seeing someone you know that heard about your problems and you walk out of the shop before they notice you, you don’t want to be sussed out because let’s face it, some people are so nosey. Being honest, It’s my main goal to get away from it all eventually.
Sometimes people try and understand or make judgements of they know what’s going on with me, but I guess this is the best way I can describe it, nobody knows, only me. In writing, for me, it is much more understanding, speaking about how it is to be me is tough, I’ll speak about anything bar that, talking is tough, but sometimes my emotions pour out as some of my close friends and others have seen.
I must be thankful for anybody involved or associated with the sport of athletics. I’ll be bluntly honest here, without you I’m a goner.
I try different things like writing, driving or training to control myself. Nine times out of ten this works for me, but not always.
I look at myself and keep worrying about sport and other important things in my life, where I am going to live next, work, my car, I ended up on my own, it is scary, how well I used to be in comparing to how I am now, heavier, more negative, less relaxed, I’m battling on because without it, I know its failure, I won’t always be like this if I just keep trying and keep telling myself, I will, instead of, I can.
Hello? are you there? I hope not.

12063760_10153242791326818_105141351955383857_nMichael Deady
23
Irish Athlete and Care Assistant

Michael Deady can be found on Facebook and Twitter

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Kip Shubert – Safety from Stigma

Safety from Stigma

Learning how recovery, addiction, and mental illness are so intertwined has been eye-opening in my three years of sobriety. Being able to see how my depression opened the door to the depths of addiction in my life now makes perfect sense. The stigma that comes with both addiction and mental illness is a double whammy for most in recovery or those searching for their answer. There is a stigma in recovery circles as well as with the general public. We must begin to bring these issues to life by the telling of our stories.

Before this week my life has been void of being personally affected by a death due to addiction and mental illness. On Monday that changed. My best friend from college, who was also my roommate and best man at my wedding, lost his son to mental illness and drug use. It is a pain and grief that I cannot fathom. Having battled mental illness and addiction, as well as, having four children I have great empathy for him and his family.

My friend is a well-known food critic for a major publication. His son, who was 19, worked closely with him in the kitchen from a young age and was following a passion of cooking and culinary arts. I do not know much about his son as his father and I have not kept in close contact over the years. I can only imagine the devastation this has left him but he already is trying to make sense of it all by speaking out about depression and opioid use. I know that he will not let his son’s life fade away but he will instead use the legacy of his son to bring awareness to the deadly dangers of mental illness and drug use.

This death has brought me a new perspective on just how deadly the issues of mental health and addiction are in our society. It has forced me to search my feelings on the effects of the stigma so many of us face. Not only are addicts and those suffering from mental illness shamed into silence but so are the families that love and care for them. Our society feels compassion for a sickness such as cancer yet looks down upon things like depression and addiction. One is not more self-inflicted than the other. We addicts know this and it is something that ones who have not experienced it probably will ever understand.

We must fight the stigma. But the best way in my opinion to do that is to reach out to communities across our nation and let them know that they are not alone and there is help. We cannot force others to understand or be compassionate about something that has never touched them in any way. But we can provide a voice of security and trust to those who have been afflicted. We must continue to spread our stories so that they realize there are many just like them and their suffering does not have to be in secrecy.

We must be proud and not anonymous. We must put a healthy face on the options of recovery. We must make sure people feel a sense of belonging and a safe place to turn in times of trouble. They must see us not being afraid of who we are and what we battle. I am not afraid of my past, my addiction, and my fight against depression. In my fight, I will make sure that I bring a light into what has been darkness for those who are struggling or love someone who is struggling. As warriors on purpose, they will see that we can and do recover, that life can be more than we imagine, and that through the storms we come out on the other side, strong and empowered.

 

Personal-Pic I am Kip Shubert and founder of Warriors on Purpose. I am a 48 yr old father of four beautiful children. I have been an educator, coach, and motivational speaker for over two decades. A decorated middle school teacher, Oklahoma All-State Coach, and an award-winning collegiate athlete. I am also a recovering alcoholic. Throughout most of my life, I constantly wondered where my life was going. I never felt worthy or good enough. I spiraled into a darkness I had never dreamed could affect me. Homeless and clinging to my teaching career I hit my bottom. Through my struggles, I learned to fight for the life I knew was there for me. My battles and my addiction helped me to overcome the emotional issues and fear that had always held me back. Through God and my experiences in life, I have come to find and fulfill my purpose.

Kip can be found on his website, Twitter, and Facebook.

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Sparklle Rainne

Me Vs. My Eating Disorder: How I realized that I was sick and learned to differentiate myself from my sickness

By Sparklle Rainne

My eating disorder began when I was only eight years old. It began with bulimia, but my diagnosis has changed multiple times throughout my life – I’ve been diagnosed with bulimia, anorexia, and EDNOS/OSFED at separate times during the span of my treatment. By the time that I was eighteen, I was binging and purging all day every day. It never ended. I felt like a hopeless case. I had attempted to recover many times at that point.

Since I was so young when it started, I grew up feeling that my eating disorder behaviors were simply a part of me. I didn’t know what an eating disorder was, so my eating disorder was just “a thing” that I did. Many people with eating disorders have a co-morbid illness, and growing up with a severe anxiety disorder, that was certainly the case for me. The first time that I made myself throw up, I was overwhelmingly anxious – you know that feeling when you’re so nervous that it makes you feel like you’re going to puke? I lived with that feeling 24/7 because of my anxiety disorder. The first time that I purged, I just did it to make that feeling go away. I got addicted to it.
Even though I didn’t know what an eating disorder was when I was eight years old, I had definitely heard of them by the time that I was ten. I was already devouring books about eating disorders like “The Best Little Girl In The World,” but somehow, it didn’t really resonate with me that I had an eating disorder myself. Despite this, living with my eating disorder was hell. I had enough of an inkling that I was doing something that I wasn’t supposed to do to know that I had to hide it, but it took me a very long time to recognize it as something that I needed and deserved to get help for. There are two major reasons for this:

1. No one told me that eating disorders can affect people of any size. I identified with the people in the books that I read, I had the same behaviors, but because there was so much stigma around what someone with an eating disorder looks like, I didn’t see myself as “skinny enough to be sick.” This is a problematic misconception because eating disorders affect people of all shapes, sizes, genders, races, backgrounds, income levels, genders, etc. Eating disorders are mental illnesses that do not discriminate.

2. On a similar note, I didn’t feel that I was sick enough because, well…I wasn’t dead. This is very common for people with eating disorders. I was in denial – even when the physical repercussions came along, which for me included fainting, thinning hair, blood in my vomit, amenorrhea, broken blood capillaries, weak bones, and more, I didn’t feel that I was sick enough to be taken seriously because, well…I was alive, and again, I didn’t see myself as thin enough. Most people don’t realize how sick they are until they’ve already done irreversible damage.

We need to change how we talk about eating disorders in the media. We need to continue to raise awareness and debunk myths about eating disorders.

I finally recognized that I definitely had a problem and definitely wanted help for it around the time that I was fifteen. Bulimia had turned into anorexia for me at that point and I was so sick of how much power it had over me. I felt that I had no control over any of my behaviors. I felt like I was possessed by a demon and since I had lived with it for so long, it was very hard for me to differentiate the demon from myself. In order to recover, I had to do just that: differentiate the eating disorder from myself and figure out who I was without it.

Obviously, that isn’t a fast process or an easy one. This is why early intervention is so important if it’s at all possible – the longer that you have an eating disorder, the more the line blurs between you and your eating disorder. For me, there was hardly a line. I grew up with my eating disorder. Unfortunately, the first time that I reached out for help on my own, I was paired with a therapist who had no experience with eating disorders. Looking back, I understand that she made a mistake – she should have referred me to a therapist that had experience with my issues. Seeing her made me feel even more hopeless. I stopped going to my sessions with her and sank even deeper into my eating disorder. By the time that I was eighteen, my bulimic behaviors had returned full-force and I was binging and purging 24/7.
I had been in therapy again with a great treatment team for about a year at that point, but obviously, my eating disorder was deep-rooted by then. My psychiatrist was looking for an inpatient facility for me. Oddly enough, that was my turning point. I realized that I had to recover, and more importantly that I wanted to. It has been a long road with one relapse in between, but I have been on the path to recovery for four years now. Trust me when I say that it is worth it and that everyone with an eating disorder needs and deserves to get help.

I’ve decided to end this article by listing a couple of resources that I have found helpful during my recovery:

NEDA (nationaleatingdisorders.org) – the official website of The National Eating Disorder Association. Their website offers information about eating disorders, a confidential online screening, contact information for their helpline, and more.

Proud2BMe (proud2bme.org) – an organization that is dedicated to promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

IMG_20170225_215156_224I am so thankful to have been able to write this article during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. I am a singer/songwriter and an eating disorder recovery advocate. My social media pages, my music, my businesses, etc. (read: anything that I create, own, or run) will always serve as safe spaces for people who are recovering from eating disorders. This is a topic that I am very passionate about and I am so thankful that Stigma Fighters had me back to write about it!

Sparklle Rainne can be found on Twitter and Facebook

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Shauna Dinsart

Lips are moving. Mouths: opening and closing. Food being broken into digestible pieces.

Smack. Smack. Smack.

The noise gets louder. It can’t just be in my head. Someone is turning up the volume—someone is out to get me.

My steady heartbeat begins pounding; harder and faster as the noise becomes louder and louder. Sweat drips down my face and soaks my shirt. My breathing feels blocked. Are my lungs giving out? I try to fight it. It will be over soon.

This is the breaking point.

I have persisted beyond the abuse—the neglect. Somehow I have moved through those times without cracking, and now a subtle and repetitive noise is breaking me.

The straw that broke the camel’s back? Or the child with depleting anxiety, unable to persist any further?

Composed on the outside, I stand up and walk to my room. My bowl of cereal remains on the table untouched; soggy.

When I push open the door to my bedroom I collapse to the ground again. This is the only place I can lose myself. No one will ever know. The door is shut and the world left outside.

My skin breaks open easily, but there have become too many marks. I pull on my hair—entire handfuls, grasping with all of my might. My muscles are flexed as I force the pain.

Tears fall onto the floor below me.

I can still hear the sound. Smack. Smack Smack.

It’s not possible, I think. The sound is stuck in my ears, rattling inside my head. It won’t go away.

My head drops forward and I release my hair—it’s not working this time.

As hard as I can, I whip my head backwards. Smack: against the wall.

I see stars, but the sound remains.

I’m still there. I can’t escape myself.

My first debilitating panic attack happened when I was twelve years old.

Anxiety came to me disguised in self-hatred, so I fought it with self-destruction.

Anxiety came to me disguised in body dysmorphia, so I fought it with an eating disorder.

Anxiety came to me wearing many masks, so I fought it with many weapons.

The only problem was that the anxiety was inside of me and the weapons I was using were against me.

I fought myself most of my life, trying desperately to separate myself from the twelve-year-old girl stunted by her inner turmoil. There had to be a way to get rid of the pain. There had to be a way to drown out the memories.

There were entire years I wished that a bus would take me out—quick and painless.

At twenty-eight years old, I have found myself to be relatively stable: relative to the girl nestled inside abusive relationships; relative to the girl seeking revenge on herself; relative to the girl who woke up every morning crying, simply because she woke up another day.

I’ve been in and out of psychiatric care for almost half of my life now. I have been professionally diagnosed with Anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Major Depression. Personally, from my studies of Psychology and experience living with myself for my entire life, I think all of these diagnoses blend together and the symptoms manifest similarly with each. I also believe that each diagnoses fuels the others—they feed off of each other like a pool of unwelcome parasites.

My mental health is not great today. I’m not sure it ever will be. I still cry more days than I don’t. I still suffer from insomnia, which is managed in part by medication. I still look down at my stomach and wish I could shave off a couple of inches. I still have nightmares almost every night, and flashbacks of the abuse. I still have panic attacks, regularly; but I’ve stopped harming myself entirely, and I’ll take that for now.

heron-island-washington-elopement-ryan-flynn-photography-shauna-michael-00019Shauna Dinsart is a twenty-something Corporate Manager turned Freelance Artist, currently living in Paris, France. She is a proud feminist and lover of all animals. When she isn’t writing or working on other creative projects, you can find her nose buried in a good novel or out enjoying an eclectic restaurant with her husband.

Shauna Dinsart can be found on Twitter.

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James D. Creviston

Living with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Every October since as long as I can remember I have been sad, angry, confused, upset, and illogical. What about October made me upset? Was October just a weird month thanks to Halloween?

Many people have feelings of depression, mood swings, and less energy during fall and winter. Some people even have these symptoms during spring and summer though it is less common. Many people call it “winter blues” and some people don’t even know such a disorder occurs. Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is a type of depression related to the seasons.

Every fall like clockwork many people including myself have mental breakdowns, quit jobs, destroy relationships and even take their lives because of this form of depression. I myself have had thoughts of suicide during bouts with SAD. I cried myself to sleep, fought with my spouse, yelled at coworkers, quit jobs, and even threatened harm to others during my bouts with SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder is just as destructive as any other type of depression. Sleeplessness, weight gains, feeling worthless or hopeless are other symptoms of SAD.

I never knew what caused my depression. It wasn’t until two years ago that I realized there was a real problem. I quit my job as an Executive Assistant to become a Police Officer. The training was hard, but no harder than I had been through in the military. I worked hard everyday, but a few times during training I broke down into tears. Since the training was in winter I was going through Seasonal Affective Disorder. I was working out two to three hours a day, being stressed out, studying late and getting about 6 hours of sleep a night. I was stressed out from the academy and the training while also going through severe depression. During training I wanted to run into traffic on our runs, die in a car crash to or from training or just never wake up. I did not know what was wrong and neither did my instructors. During to my training difficulties as well as an injury I ended up leaving the academy. At that point I was even more depressed. The SAD combined with failing at a dream put me on the road to suicide. Many days I thought about killing myself.. I tried to explain my depression but I could not ever figure out what I was truly upset about. I had not enjoyed the academy, I had missed my old job, and I was actually happy to have time with my family and get sleep.

My wife recommended I make a lit of goals. Things in my life I had wanted to accomplish but had not. The list was not long. I had done much in my life and seeing my accomplishments. After a rise in elation the depression hit me again. After years of going through these downward spirals my wife recommended I speak to someone.

I spoke to doctors, to therapists, and finally my chiropractor. He suggested I might have Seasonal Affective Disorder. Doctors thought that my time in the service had possibly led me to have a form of PSTD. Having grown up in an abusive home had also led to the theory that PTSD may be creating an environment for depression. My time at the police academy solidified the time period during which my depression manifested itself. After dropping out and returning to my previous employer I was still depressed. The next year was better but once again the October time frame lined up with depression. It was the final straw. One more year and one more season of this could be the last year or season if I did not do something.

I reached out to my chiropractor and he gave me some ideas. Via the Internet I looked for every possible way to work through my Seasonal Affective Disorder. There is not much information however the Mayo Clinic covers the disorder in detail even labeling some symptoms as well as offering some ideas as to what steps you can take to limit the impact Season Affective Disorder on your life. Getting tested for Vitamin D deficiency is a good idea. Many Americans suffer from Vitamin D deficiency due to our poor diet.

It has been almost two years since I found out I had SAD. I take many steps to help combat SAD during the winter months by taking Vitamin D, St. Johns Wart, Omega-3’s and using a Happy Light for light therapy. I do stand up comedy, I write scripts, a blog, and try to stay active in my church and community. I found that making sure my diet fits me, as the standard American diet does not. I eat Ketogenic with days where I eat whatever I want. I work out three days a week with a kettlebell which gives me the workout I need and not over stressing my body and mind. Many people recommend exercise to counteract depression but too much exercise can over tax your system and lead you back into depression after initial rise in endorphins.

SAD does not define who I am but it is a part of who I am. I find that some people don’t understand how a time of the year can have such a dramatic shift in your mind and body. It is only through education and understanding that we can help ourselves and others overcome the stigma of mental health. I know that others out there may not even be aware of the shift in mindset during the year but it is important to be honest with yourself when you notice the differences or when others notice differences. Are you just having a bad day/week/month or are you on a path that can harm you in long run? Asking for help does not make you weak. It makes you human. Grow, learn, and love. There is no greater power in the world than love and understanding.

JamesCreviston_HiResJames D. Creviston was born in Fairbanks, Alaska and raised by Huskies. He grew up in Texas and finished High School in Las Vegas. He served a four-year enlistment in the United States Navy and supported Operation Iraqi Freedom and the War on Terror. He met his wife, Krystal, while serving in the Navy in San Diego, CA. They have two daughters. James has a Masters in Military History as well as an M.B.A. His hobbies include CrossFit, reading, and wearing dunce caps.

James can be found on his website and Twitter. 

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Taylor Nicole

I remember driving over the Gold Star bridge as a child (the summer before the fifth grade), on the way to an art fair with my mom, and seeing him. He appeared to be standing on the opposite side of the fence of the bridge, and if I remember correctly he was wearing shorts. My mom tried to quickly divert my attention, but it burned in my memory, and I couldn’t stop talking about it. I came up with a million reasons that day that he was on and on the bridge like that; maybe his friend fell over,maybe he was a spy, maybe he was a bungee jumper, maybe he was repairing the fence. I never had confirmation about what he was doing, or what he did. Eventually I found out the truth, and discovered the word “suicidal.” It hit me like a ton of bricks. I never thought a fifth grader and a man on the ledge would have so much in common.

For years leading up to seeing the man on the ledge I had been suicidal, without even knowing it. The thoughts started back to my adoptive mom passing when I was three, and finding out she was dead two years later. I didn’t quite understand what my social worker was telling me, and my foster family didn’t provide the most comfort, but I remember thinking how I wished more than anything I could join her, and be with her again. I vividly remember my foster dad watching Star Trek, and seeing a shooting scene, an over dramatized death, and wishing it could be me, passing on.

Even after I was adopted into my new, loving home, I couldn’t get the thoughts to go away. For a while they were passive. I didn’t really fit in with the children in my school, and that made me want to die a lot. Sometimes I thought about walking out of my classroom in elementary school, and running into the busy street our school was on. I thought about jumping off the top of the swings and breaking my neck, or sometimes leaping from a classroom window. This continued for years, until the week of my senior year of high school, when I started planning my suicide actively. I had opened up to my mother about my feelings, and she brought me to the hospital. The doctor asked if I had ever thought about killing myself. Immediately I said yes. He asked how, and I watched my mother’s face of disbelief as I listed off the countless ways I had considered hurting myself, as if listing off my favorite songs. I didn’t know that this wasn’t how everyone else was feeling, I didn’t know there was anything wrong with wanting to kill yourself. It was my comfort. That’s when my mother discovered a huge truth about being suicidal; children who are so young can think about thoughts this dark.

The thoughts came again when I had started college. They slowly creeped into my mind, like a familiar stranger. Again, the ideations were very passive; I could jump out my dorm window, what if I stepped into traffic, what if I took too many pills and just didn’t wake up? Depression got the worst of me in college, and I dropped out after one semester, at the age of seventeen. That’s when suicide really took a hold of me. I started cutting, not deep, but enough to punish myself and feel the pain. I engaged in fights with strangers, and sometimes even my boyfriend, in hopes I’d be beat to death. I would take a cocktail of pills, only to wake up with a medical hangover the next day. Nothing seemed to do the trick; I was constantly putting myself in harms way, and constantly trying to die, but still woke up. I finally sought out medical treatment, and again, I thought I was cured.

Time passed; I became a mother and a wife. I became a responsible adult. Dropping out of college and my reckless behavior was behind me. However, the suicidal thoughts weren’t. To this day I live with a dark shadow, always following me; my suicidal thoughts. They might just be whispers some days, a daydream of ending my life. Other days they might be screams, and wanting to start planning or relapse into pass behaviors. I’m medicated still, and I have a great treatment plan, but the suicidal thoughts still linger.

I think being suicidal is a taboo subject, and is often not touched upon. It’s seen in the media often, but rarely is accurately displayed (I honestly think the use of suicide in most media is a sales tactic for a shock factor versus bringing light to a very painful, very real subject). We often see suicide in cases such as Romeo and Juliet; two star crossed lovers not getting their ways, and killing themselves. While yes, events can trigger suicidal thoughts/actions, often times it’s a feeling that has lasted a lot longer than a few hours. It’s rarely a spur of the moment feeling. Suicide starts with ideations; the thoughts of, I could not wake up today, and that would be okay with me. It develops into intent, which is self harming behaviors, which leads into actions; the actual act of suicide. A lot of people live with suicidal thoughts for years before making a move. You don’t have to be harming yourself to be suicidal. Being suicidal is a state of mind, and one not a lot of us can escape.

I’m openly living with suicidal ideation; and while I may not be actively harming myself, it is still a very real, scary, and dangerous state of mind, that needs to be talked about. I have become the man on the ledge; and while I may not be standing on a bridge, I’m constantly in between a state of stability and insanity.

16807056_2224686771089221_107796558172569169_n1Taylor Nicole is a young author and mother based out of New England. Taylor is a foster care advocate, as well as a mental health advocate. She is a frequent blogger, and her memoir “Free Tayco” is set to be released April 7, 2017!

Taylor can be found on her website, Twitter, and Facebook.