World Suicide Prevention Day has arrived, but my WSPD pack has not. It’s okay though, at least I can feel good about donating to the cause! Some may recall that I shared my own story last year as well as my mother’s. The response was amazing and I am beyond grateful for that! I know first hand how hard it is to take the first step in talking about it, but it is well worth it. As I wrote, I worried that I wouldn’t be taken seriously, or that my words would come across as whiny and even self absorbed. I felt a hint of regret as soon as I published it, but was not about to back out. It wasn’t long before I received feedback and none of it was bad. I even received messages assuring me that my story helped people the same way others helped me. I knew then that I had done the right thing.
I’m not going to lie, my year has not been great (I even had to take a break from blogging) and my journey is far from over. But as for suicide? I don’t consider it an option — ever. Trust me, that is a huge leap forward. I want others to see it this way as well. There is no upside to ending a life. You cannot be replaced and you are loved. Believe that.
To those who have also shared your experiences, I just want you to know you are brave. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If you come across someone who thinks you must be fine (or even lying) because you can talk about it, then they are at a loss. Don’t be discouraged, keep sharing. You are helping.
And to those who seek help, but aren’t sure where to look, I highly recommend To Write Love on Her Arms and Love is Louder. Becoming a part of the movement has helped me immensely — hopefully you will be able to say the same someday.
I had planned on wearing my new tee today, but since it didn’t arrive, I will be wearing this unisex tank in ‘Heather Neon Orange’….
Also available in indigo (above) and black. You can get one just like it here: http://store.twloha.com
It seems like winter is never going to end here. It gets warm and melts for a few days and then more snow dumps on us. It’s supposed to be Spring! I normally don’t get like this over the weather, but I am completely drained. I can’t find inspiration anywhere or in anything, so I think I’m going to take a break for a couple of weeks. Back when I wrote [poetry] more often, I found that a break was the best way to fix writer’s block and I think the same goes for photography. As for all these other glum feelings… I don’t know, maybe I’ll get more vitamins and try to worry less.
Bye for now! Maybe I’ll have something new for you when I come back.
Earlier this week, on World Suicide Prevention Day, I opened up and shared my own story for the first time. In that post I briefly mentioned my uncle’s suicide three years ago and how it affected my mother’s health. Well today I decided to elaborate a bit on that..
The relationship between my mother and uncle was one of dependence, but I don’t think she realized until after he was gone that it wasn’t as one-sided as it seemed. Honestly, he often took advantage of her and even told her on many occasions that she was his new mom and had to take care of him. Sometimes it seemed like a joke, but it wasn’t. In return, she really felt like she had to take care of him, which looked like enabling to everyone else. After his death, she felt like it was her fault, that she had failed and she could have (or should have) talked him out of it. Essentially, she made herself sick over it. She has an auto-immune disease that the doctors told her was either caused by cancer (which it isn’t) or stress and that her immune system is attacking itself. It’s strange how giving yourself a mental beating can lead to your own body attacking itself. Anyway, she is gradually getting better, taking less medication and is in a better mental state. Whether she still blames herself, I can’t really say. She still mentions him a lot, surrounds herself with reminders of him and wears his ring every day. Which brings me to the significance of this post and today’s photo…
This photo is now about two years old and was taken when Love is Louder was first formed. This is after I convinced her to let me write on her hand and take pictures. It’s actually one of my favourite love is louder shots to this day, and I have taken quite a few now. I think that you can really tell that she’s been through a lot, even though the photo only shows the back of her hand. It’s tough, the lighting is slightly harsh and it even includes the ring. Maybe I think so, because I’ve seen her through the struggle, but I think the traits that I see in this photo could easily be seen by someone who knows nothing about her (except maybe the ring part). In this shot, I see the aftermath of suicide.
What do you see in this photo?
Today I decided that it is time to talk. It’s time to tell the story of my off-and-on depression. To be honest, I feel rather sick as I type this and I’m sure I’ll have to stop a few times along the way, but I know it will be good for me to share this. I’ll try to make the story short, but I guess we’ll see how it goes.
It started after the death of my grandmother when I was 10 years old. Actually, it may have began sooner than that, but my memory isn’t quite that clear. She was diagnosed with cancer, the kind with a name that was hard to pronounce and for me, even harder to remember. All I knew was that it was cancer. I remember her going through chemo and losing her hair, having a nose bleed that seemed it would never end, and one seizure out of many. All of this I didn’t understand, but it terrified me nonetheless. I knew when she looked in my eyes, pills rendering her unable to speak, she was saying a desperate goodbye. This was the last time I saw my grandmother. This was Death’s entry into my life.
At the end of that summer, I entered grade 5. I seemed to be coping fine and I was back to waking up in the morning, going to school, trying to pay attention in class and being a kid with my friends at recess. That is until my friends turned to bullies. My routine changed to waking up in the morning, but wishing I hadn’t; walking to school as if walking to hell; trying to pay attention to the teacher, instead of the stomach that seemed to be crawling up my throat; and being cornered by my former friends at recess. This was the beginning of a string of doctor visits to find cures for ailments that never really existed. This was Anxiety’s entry into my life and when I first thought I’d be better off dead.
Time went on, things got better, my friends were friends again. Until they weren’t. And then they were again… and then they weren’t. And were again? I’m not sure how many times this repeated, but it went on for a couple of years.
Grade 7. I went to school on the first day and befriended the new girl who sat in front of me. She became my best friend, and even though we have since drifted apart, I am thankful to have met her (I genuinely think her friendship was crucial during those years). Soon enough we were all friends and no one was plotting to steal anyone away from anyone else. I remember it being a good year as far as school was concerned, definitely one of the best. But at the same time, it was one of the worst years of my life. It was the year my remaining grandparents (my favourite people) passed away within one month of each other. And even though my school life wasn’t bad, I found myself struggling to laugh or even just smile, but somehow I managed to fool a great deal of people. The next year was the same. Though laughing and smiling came easier, I found myself living two lives. I would wake up in the morning, go to school, try to pay attention in class and be a regular preteen with my friends at recess. But then I would go home and walk into a room that I didn’t just share with my little sister, but with Death as well. Like someone who lurked at my side, waiting for the go-ahead. At home it was always on my mind.
For years I lingered in that same routine. Even though I was changing as an individual, making new friends (some that would come and go and others that would become irreplaceable) and discovering who I wanted to be, the emptiness remained within me. I became more and more self aware and my home life certainly didn’t improve. Now I was a teenager, which meant that I was automatically up to no good (I was actually the opposite — someone at school once told me he thought I was a goody-goody… though I wasn’t that either). Most of the time I wanted to disappear and I felt like I was a coward for not being able to make it happen. At some point I heard of To Write Love on Her Arms through a friend and I had found my escape. By reading the the experiences of others, I realized that it is brave to live. And it was even more brave of these people to share their stories. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to tell mine. This was when I began seeing myself as a coward for keeping quiet.
Near the end of grade 12, I was back in a bad place. Suicide was back on my mind and I was dreaming of Death every night. But still I tried to pretend I was ok. Luckily, there was one person who saw through me and instead of asking me how I was feeling or if I was ok, he told me a story about himself that seemed to magically make me feel better. Even though I had read many stories of depression and I was aware I was not alone, I couldn’t fully relate to any of them. But this story I could relate to. I began thinking of ways I could help myself, and I tried to tell my mom there was something seriously wrong with me. I couldn’t handle stress and was failing a class that was undoubtedly contributing to my situation, so after consulting many times with the guidance counselor and getting a letter from my mom to the principal, I dropped it and made plans to come back the next year. I told myself the next step was to tell my close friends what was going on, except I left suicide out of it. One was understanding and the other two told me I was stupid. Surprisingly, I didn’t let that bother me much. I explained that I didn’t care that I’d have to go back the next year, they said nothing and that was that. Sometime during that summer, when I was feeling quite a bit better, I finally told a friend that I had thought of killing myself. I felt like she was uncomfortable and didn’t know what to say and I immediately regretted telling her. But only for a minute. After that minute of regret, I felt that it was ok that she didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what I wanted to hear anyway.
I have been up and down ever since, but it has never gotten as bad as it was in the spring of 2007. I have only ever told a few people just how much I have hated myself, but at least I’ve been able to say it. I have never seen a doctor about it, even though I know I should and tell myself I will all the time. I have since been diagnosed with hypothyroidism (lazy thyroid) which does contribute to depression and mood swings, but I know my problem is worse than that.
Three years ago, my uncle who suffered from bipolar disorder, committed suicide. Soon after, the stress of being left behind made my mother sick with an auto-immune disease. Two years ago Love is Louder was started by Brittany Snow and I became even more passionate about suicide prevention. 18 months ago I held a tiny Odin and thought “I’m happy” with 100% sincerity for the first time in my life. And again in February when I first met tiny Haakon. Today I am sharing my story, also for the first time. Soon, I promise, I will tell my doctor.
So there you have it. It’s not as intense as some might expect depression stories to be, but it is real nonetheless. I guess it just goes to show that this can happen to anyone.
Thank you for reading,
Okay so this is a bit late, but these are the photos I took on September 30th to celebrate Love is Louder‘s first anniversary and help spread the word.
I had also planned on putting some of my old pictures on bulletin boards in the city, but I only made it to one place that day. I’ll do it one day 🙂
On September 30th, the lovely organization Love is Louder will have its 1 year anniversary! Brittany Snow, The Jed Foundation and MTV are celebrating by making it a day of action. Anyone, anywhere can join the movement by turning up the volume in their community. You can do whatever you want, take photos, draw, write, make posters, make videos, anything you can think of. Click here to see Brittany Snow’s video about Love is Louder’s birthday. I already know what I’m going to do, what about you??
It is the last day of 7 Days of Love is Louder! Today you can CELEBRATE by incorporating Love is Louder into your holiday decorations. Its not great, but this is what I made today..
Day 5 is the day for LOVE!
“We have to give ourselves love by taking care of ourselves and focusing on the positive. Today, make a resolution for the coming year on how you will make love louder in your own life.” (7 Days of Love is Louder)
It is day 3 of 7 Days of Love is Louder! Today’s goal is to APPRECIATE, make a list of the things you are grateful for. I am grateful for my friends, pets and of course, family. I am especially grateful for the day I discovered To Write Love on Her Arms, because it led me to these other organizations that I feel I need in my life. I honestly don’t know where I would be without them! This is a photo of my arms from last year’s TWLOHA Day..
Canadian stars (ie. Dan Levy of MTV Canada and Denys Drozdyuk, winner of So You Think You Can Dance CA) are getting loud with the help of CTV and I love it!! This is what I’ve been waiting for and I am extremely excited. Please, everybody, pass on the love! Click here to go behind the scenes of the CTV shoot. And here to see the MTV #loveislouder promo videos.
This is Empty Space by Air Traffic. Please listen, and if it reminds you of someone you know or yourself, maybe you will understand why organizations like #loveislouder are so important.