Sunday, September 10, 2023

Suicide Prevention Awareness

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day.
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Suicide is something that hits close to home for so many people, yet we often don't talk about it. There is a lot of shame, guilt, and stigma associated with mental health and suicide. 

We need to talk about our mental health. 

I've shared some about my experiences with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic attacks, grief, loss. It's all part of my journey and it's important to share so others know they're not alone. 

You're not alone.

My cousin died by suicide in 2020. It's a heartbreaking and complicated loss. The stigma around suicide affects how we process the loss and grieve. For me, I found that it's further complicated in light of experiencing deep depression and suicidal thoughts at various times in my own life. 

I do my best to speak about mental health, chronic illness, and suicide with honesty, vulnerability, and language that reduces the shame, guilt, and stigma associated with them. Life is hard enough without these piled on. 

You matter. You are enough. You are not alone.

*The following resources include additional information, support, and helplines*

  • The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) highlights the Talk Away the Dark campaign: "There are countless ways you can help Talk Away the Dark by initiating open conversations about mental health; speaking up and making sure more people know what research reveals about how we can help prevent suicide; lighting the way for those in distress to feel comfortable asking for help; and knowing what to say to support survivors of suicide loss and provide them the care they need." 
About Suicide
If you, or someone you know, is in suicidal crisis or emotional distress, please call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) at 988 or text TALK to 741741. For those that are deaf and hard of hearing, use your preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Depression: What Does It Feel Like?

This is a post I wrote six months ago exploring depression. At the time I wrote this one, I posted Depression: An Update.
Photo by micheile henderson on Unsplash
Depression is an insidious disease. Mental illness and pain are liars. I battle with multiple diseases, which has taught me that you can't always see the depth and intensity of pain another is going through.

The ways I've learned to cope with and survive depression, anxiety, pain further complicate things because one part of that is that I hide it. Not consciously, most of the time. But, I've become a master at hiding pain (of all kinds). It's so engrained in how I move through life, that it's mostly been through feedback from other people that I've really seen how "well" I do it.

For example, my therapist said that it was difficult for her when we first started meeting because my demeanor and my words weren't aligned. I was sitting in front of her, completely put together, while my words were filled with pain and despair.

Hearing that others typically don't see the chaos inside of me is bittersweet. I want to be seen and known. I think we all do. Yet, much of the pain I experience is invisible.

In an effort to pull back the curtain, both on depression as a disease and on my personal experience with it, I explored the question: What does depression feel like?

It's a question I wish there was a simple answer to, but the answer is as complex as the disease and people that face it. I've experienced depression in more ways than I can even recall. Here are some descriptions that come to mind.
  • Apathy
  • Nothing matters... yet everything matters (depression + anxiety)
  • Emptiness
  • Anguish
  • Despair
  • Heavy darkness
  • Weighted blanket over everything
  • Trying to walk in quicksand
  • Drowning in the depths of the ocean
  • Carrying a boulder
  • Fatigue and lack of motivation
  • Breathing takes everything you have
  • Spiraling into the abyss
  • Gasping for breath, while an elephant is on your chest
  • Moving in slow motion
  • Thoughts out of my control
  • Stuck in a nightmare or twilight zone
  • Sleepwalking
  • Endless blackness / darkness
  • Tunnel
  • Spiral
  • Deep dark pit
  • Perpetual 
What does depression feel like for you?

"That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious—and it compounds daily—making it impossible to ever see the end. That fog is like a cage without a key.” - Elizabeth Wurtzel

Monday, May 15, 2023

Welcome Back, Email Subscribers

I've made some changes to some behind the scenes aspects of the Chronic Migraine Warrior blog. For instance, I set up a new email service. 

If you're reading this in email, welcome back! You should be all set. 

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash
Note: For existing subscribers, there might be a line at the top of your email to confirm that you'd like to continue receiving emails. 

Here are a few blog posts that you've missed receiving via email over the past months: 

If you're reading this on the blog and would like to subscribe by email, that feature is available once again. You can also follow me on social media (Facebook, Instagram).

Friday, December 16, 2022

Depression: An Update

Depression is hard. 

Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash
That's true. And, yet, a huge understatement.

I can see ways that I've improved:
  • I can more readily spot the signs of depression worsening.
  • I have been growing my toolbox with ways to help me in battle.
  • I find myself reaching outside of myself more than I used to.
I'm trying to focus on those things, but the truth is that there's so much other stuff chattering in the background... that I'm right back where I've been time and time and time again. Like there's no way to not.

Over the years, I've experienced depression to varying degrees. It's always there, though the depth, intensity, and disruption vary. Each episode is a unique and ever-changing combination of depression, anxiety, and panic attacks... making it a moving target to identify and manage. 

I've been in a depressive cycle for nearly 4 years. There have been moments of sheer beauty and joy, but the lows have been just as impressive as the highs. 

Depression does its best to push those positive moments out of my memory, while latching on to the painful ones. I'm doing my best to allow the space to grieve the losses and experience the joys, both with the intensity that shows up.

I seem to have more recently turned a corner to experiencing the deep lows, but the highs feel dampened. This may be partly due to deep sadness and grief stacking atop the depression. It's too heavy. 

I'm so tired and weary. The daily battles feel like a permanent fixture in my life.

I'm not sure how to get through all of this... but, there is no other way but through. 

Update: I wrote the above some number of months ago. 

There have been ebbs and flows to my experience of depression. Sometimes, depression is in the background and things don't feel quite as heavy and dark. Other times, there's a sense of emptiness and it feels like there's a blanket over everything. It takes a lot of hard work and energy to try to allow and accept even the difficult moments. I'm trying.

"I’ve managed to live with and through Depression before and can do it again. And that is a truth Depression cannot dispel." - Marie Shanley (Mxiety)

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Allowing What I Need Right Now

I'm grateful for words that show up at the perfect moment and resonate.
Photo by Andreas Wagner on Unsplash

"Allow yourself the things you need right now. Whether that's space, rest, support, or something else, know that you are not a burden for taking care of yourself." - To Write Love On Her Arms
I'll admit that I don't always do the best at identifying or allowing myself what I need in the moment. It's something I've been intentionally working on... and it feels like life is giving me tons of opportunities to practice.

I have read the above quote at different moments over the past few months. It remains something I need reminded of, even though my responses to it have varied. 
  • I have no idea what I need right now or how to make it through this pain, this grief, this moment. None of those things will bring relief or reprieve. 
  • I am doing all the things I'm able to do for what I need right now, including, acknowledging that various pains (physical, mental, emotional) often team up with one another and have a propensity for telling lies. 
I'm fighting back with truths:
  • This moment is hard, and I will make it through.
  • The pain and grief are real, and I'm anchored to the One that will see me through each wave of every storm.
  • I am doing what I can to take care of myself, and that is always enough.️
I know that there's likely more I want to write and explore on the topic. I'm choosing to focus on getting through the current storm, jotting thoughts down as I'm able, and being ok with revisiting them when I'm better able to. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Pain Wraps Us Tightly Into Ourselves

Pain wraps us tightly into ourselves.
Photo by Erik Kroon on Unsplash

I wrote these words a couple years ago. They have proven to be so true. I have seen and felt it in me. I have seen and felt it in others.

Physical pain. Mental pain. Emotional pain. Spiritual pain. Relational pain. All pain. 

When pain is acute and deep, focus tends to draw inward. Toward the hurt, pain, chaos within. 

It sometimes feels like there's no way out of the protective walls that shoot up when the brain thinks we are in danger. The truth is that those walls often close off the very people that are willing to help. 

"I started to build a home with all the walls I was putting up for myself, but when I was finished, I realized I had built a cage and didn’t make a key." - Lidia Longorio

I have worked for years to recognize and intentionally act in ways that counter the closing off that feels natural when pain hits hard. 

One way I do this is to reach out, when I feel myself closing off and turning inward. I do this through prayer and connecting with a friend. It doesn't always make an immediate notable difference for me, but I can usually notice that it positively impacts the person I reach out to... and it ultimately impacts me, too, even if it's delayed. 

My goal in reaching out is to connect. This sometimes involves sharing about my current struggles, but not always. Oftentimes, it's simply to let them know that I'm thinking of them. This is likely related to me feeling alone in that moment and wanting others to know that they're not. I find that true connection helps both individuals feel less alone. 

"Knowing that you're not alone really does make all the difference in the world." - Normani Hamilton

Disclaimer: Nothing on this blog is intended as medical or legal advice.

What I write on this site is my own, and if it is someone else's, I take special care to attribute it to the original author. So, please don't use any of my material without proper attribution or permission. Thanks.