Let the conversation begin.
Heartfelt thanks to Megan Banning, an amazing volunteer mental health advocate for Hope Xchange, for sharing her personal story on her life growing up and living with, and accepting, her borderline personality disorder diagnosis. We wish you nothing but sunlight and smiles.
I’ve been borderline for as long as I can remember. In kindergarten, I recall standing under great white oak trees on the playground thinking, there’s something different about me. I don’t belong here. In middle school, I felt a deep depression that none of my friends understood. And, I spent my years in high school living with a burning anger towards the world.
It Felt Like My Life Was Over. This Was It.
Our gratitude to Brandi Douglas, a volunteer LGBTQIA mental health advocate and blogger for Hope Xchange, who also is a member of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, for her guest post this week.
Suicide Among Young Native Americans Nearly Double National Rate
For many individuals, envisioning what the Native American population is up to nowadays seems like a hazy, uneducated discussion. Are they riding along the plains on their horses, war cries being hollered, as characterized in the black and white movies of past? Are they huddled around a fire, passing around a peace pipe and telling creation stories? Or are they relaxing, feet kicked up, reaping the benefits of their tribe’s casino revenue? They simply must be thriving, right?
However romanticized and often skewed the idea around the Native American’s current experience is, there is one that not many Non-Native individuals are talking about: the Native community and suicide. According to Santhanam and Krigger (2015), research by the Center for Disease control indicates a staggering 22.5% of every 100,000 deaths in the Native American community is attributed to suicide, which is practically double the national average. Among those suicides, young men between the ages of 15-24 are the most affected.
As Someone Born Into This Community, I See The Trauma
Our gratitude to Kristin Molinaro, the Volunteer Program Coordinator for our Hope for Mentally Ill mental health advocacy program and proud mum of three beautiful children for her guest post this week.
Summer is coming to a close and my children already have their schedules for the year. Check. I’ve brought them new school supplies. Check. I’ve got them new clothes. Check. I’ve devised a plan to talk to them about bullying and suicide. Check. I've warned them about the Blue Whale Challenge. Have you?
Have You Talked to Your Kids About Suicide And Bullying?
Not so many of us are comfortable broaching the subject of suicide with our children, but as the school year begins, now is the time to sit your kids down and have that conversation. With cyber bullying on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, and the Blue Whale challenge in full effect, our children are at an increased risk of depression and suicide. Suicide is now the third leading cause of death in adolescents and second among college students. Most people think suicide cannot happen in their families, but it can.
Back-to-School Blues Growing Phenomenon
Studies have shown that teens between the ages of 14 to 18 have a greater risk of suicide in the fall months than in summer. School can be difficult as children and teens struggle to find their place in the world, try to obtain perfect grades to get into the college of their dreams, and grapple with peer pressure. It is no secret that heading back to school in September brings on many difficult emotions.
1 in 4 Chance of Being Cyberbullied If Child Owns SmartPhone
My Response to Chester Bennington’s Suicide - Volunteer for Hope Xchange to Prevent Others From Following In His Footsteps
We extend our heartfelt thanks to Brandi Douglas, a new volunteer LGBTQIA Mental Health Advocate & Blogger for Hope Xchange, for sharing her response to the passing of Chester Bennington and how that lead her to join our family.
Chester Bennington Dead. Possible Suicide?
It was a good day. No wait, it had been a wonderful day. I had caught up on my work, was getting a bit ahead for the next week when I clicked on my internet browser’s home screen and saw the news. This couldn’t be real.
Chester Bennington dead. Possible suicide?
Instantly, any work I was pondering slipped out of my thoughts and onto the floor. Convinced it was yet another celebrity internet hoax, I began to research. Outlet after outlet. Chester Bennington dies. Linkin Park lead singer dies, suicide. Lead singer of Linkin Park commits suicide on fellow singer and friend Chris Cornell’s birthday. One page after the other, the same news, the same ending. My heart fell into a place I did not know existed.
In that moment I didn’t quite know what to do, so I switched on some live streaming music of Linkin Park. I juggled between that and YouTube videos. YouTube videos and texts to my friends. Texts to friends, texts to my mother (whom I had introduced to Linkin Park) and then, back to my own thoughts. In a moment’s notice, I was frantic over the news and didn’t know quite how to process it.
When a Celebrity’s Suicide Hits Home
Given summer is rapidly drawing to a close - ugh - we thought it would be fun to bring you our top 10 most read blog posts so far this year. Which post impacted you the most and why? Please post in the comment's section below.
Note: posts are separated by category, not popularity.
Advocacy Posts on Behalf of our Community
We extend our heartfelt thanks to Kaitlyn Fischer, a volunteer LGBTQA+ Mental Health Advocate & Blogger for Hope Xchange, for bravely sharing her story about her own mental illnesses and the symptoms she experiences.
As someone who lives with numerous mental illnesses — Anxiety, Depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) — for me, the hidden symptoms of my mental illnesses are often worse than the obvious ones. This is because the noticeable symptoms are just that: noticeable.
People compile these symptoms in a list and assign a label to them without a second thought. They are easily identified. But, the symptoms that my mind and body hide are the most dangerous for me because they aren't talked about as often. They are overlooked, dismissed, mislabeled, and not taken seriously. Yet, these symptoms eat away at me, affecting every minute of my day. These symptoms are ones that need to be spoken about and viewed as just as valid as any obvious symptoms are.
Symptom #1: Forgetfulness
Hope Xchange extends its heartfelt gratitude to Rebecca Lombardo, a volunteer mentor in our Hope for Bipolar's program, for sharing her story on how she found her life purpose after her suicide attempt in 2013. Rebecca is also a published author, Huffington Post blogger, contributor for The Mighty, and Voices for Change 2.0 podcast host. You can learn more about Rebecca and her mental health advocacy work on her website at rebeccalombardo.com.
My Suicide Attempt Radically Changes My Perspective
I’ve often struggled with finding my true purpose. It wasn’t until I truly hit rock bottom that I started to become more self aware. In June of 2013, I succumbed to the symptoms of my illness, a bipolar diagnosis I've been battling since 19.
I firmly believed that I was not capable of doing anything worthwhile in this lifetime. I decided that my family and friends would be better off without me around and I attempted suicide.
I will never forget the look on my husband’s face while they worked on me in the ER. Even thinking about it now gets me extremely emotional. I’m incredibly lucky that I wasn’t successful that day as it has allowed me to put my life into the proper perspective.
With a great deal of time to reflect, I came to the realization that I had a voice. With that voice, I would try to change the way people perceive mental illness. I would begin my journey of trying to end the stigma.
My Journey to End Mental Health Stigma Begins
Cultural Stereotypes Impact Mental Health in our Asian-American Community — A Personal Perspective from a Hope Xchange Intern
Hope Xchange extends its heartfelt thanks to Danni Yang, our amazing social media and marketing intern, for sharing her story of growing up in the Asian-American community and her perspective on the interplay between cultural stereotypes, stigma and reaching out for help during minority mental health awareness month.
In the popular Broadway hit “Hamilton,”Lin Manuel champions immigrants with the popular lyric “immigrants, we get the job done.” No one exemplified this notion more in my life than my mother, who came to this country at the age of 35 after living her entire life in China.
She barely spoke the language, needed to re-start her medical training, and had a three-year old baby at home. I would watch her study for her boards after working 8-10 hours a day, yet still manage to send me to school in the mornings. Her story comes to mind every time I am reviewing for a test until 3 AM, when I think about my future life plans, and when I am frustrated at the way my life is going. If she can achieve all of this, then certainly I have no excuse to give up.
What Happens When You Are In Middle School and You Think You’re Not Asian Enough?
The Mental Health Community is Failing the Black Community - We Simply Must Do More To Save Black Lives
Our gratitude to our guest writers, Patricia Hanson, en route to a PhD in School Psychology, and Nia Jones, en route to an MA in Counseling Psychology and the New Programs and Volunteer Manager for Hope Xchange, for today’s article on why those in the black community who are struggling with mental health issues are not reaching out for help and what can be done. Yesterday’s post is one account of why and today’s is another, a deeply-moving perspective from those living within in the community.
Let Us Start With Historical Community Values
Since the beginning of time, blacks have had to be strong and resilient. Stigma exists within the community because throughout history blacks have taken pride in overcoming any and everything thrown our way.
Slaves did not have therapists or SSRIs. During slavery, we could not show our weakness in any way. We had to hold onto strength in the face of adversity. We could not afford to stick out like a sore thumb. Civil rights activists were not able to go seek counseling when faced with anxiety about their next protest, and blacks today are almost never referred to as mentally ill in the media.
Today, Nothing Has Changed. When Someone in Our Community is Shot, We Are Expected to Maintain Our Cool.
Heartfelt gratitude to our guest writer this week, Mark Jones, the proud father of Nia Jones, our New Programs and Volunteer Manager, for reminiscing on a painful time in his past and sharing his story during Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Mark shares his personal experiences and reflective insight on growing up as an African-American, struggling with depression, homelessness, and discrimination and how he overcame the many challenges far too many confront due to prejudice, stereotyping and stigma (read ignorance).
I Have Faced Pain, Pressure, and Stigma Because of the Color of My Skin
As an ordained minister, I’ve been dealing with community and societal issues for over 30 years. I have occupied the role of Father, Husband, Ordained Preacher/Pastor, Single Dad, Public School Teacher, and High School Track Coach.
In all of these roles, I’ve faced pain, pressure, and stigma because of the color of my skin.
Some Say the World Was a Different Place When I Was Born. 63 Years Later, Nothing Has Changed.
Blog post by Hope Xchange's #130ReasonsWhyNot social media team, Renee Stewart, Lucia Martínez Rojas, Diana Good and Kerry Martin.
In response to the Netflix series "13 Reasons Why," a fictional drama about a 17-year-old who leaves behind audio recordings explaining why she committed suicide, we launched a daily social media campaign, #130ReasonsWhyNot, to share 130 reasons why not to take your own life.
The driving force was our concern for the teens across the country struggling after watching it and the real potential for copy-cat suicides (which unfortunately did occur). The show also touched close to home, triggering some we mentor in a very negative way and detrimentally impacting our Hope Xchange family.
We are now almost midway through our campaign, with 70 reasons to go. And, while we have hundreds of more reasons we could share, we wanted to ask YOU for your reason!
By entering our contest you can win a fun prize if your reason is chosen to be one of our last five. As an added benefit, you can lift someone up who may be struggling and perhaps even save a life.
How to Enter Our Contest and Win!
1. Check out our previous reasons for the #130ReasonsWhyNot Campaign below as repeated reasons will NOT be selected. Also be sure to follow and like us on Instagram, Twitter and/or Facebook to make sure you're up to date on our latest reasons!
Heartfelt gratitude to our guest writer this week, Erin Macauley, Chief Operations Officer of Suicide Shatters Families, an Australian-based nonprofit raising awareness for mental health and suicide prevention and providing support to suicide survivors. Erin and her organization are also actively involved in Australia's inspiring Challenge 4 Change, a collaborative effort to take action to support mental wellbeing at challenge4change.com.au.
First, a disclaimer: I am 36 years old and I don’t date. Ever. Everyone I know is getting married or pregnant. Meanwhile, all I am doing is buying extra iCloud storage so I can take more photos of my dog.
Mental Illness Consumes My Life and My Brain
As Field of Psychiatry Grapples with Diagnosing Early-Onset Bipolar Disorder, Our Children and Their Parents Pay the Price
Post by Kerry Martin, CEO and Founder, Hope Xchange Nonprofit.
On Tuesday, June 27, Kristian Keefer-McNeil, mother of two children with special needs and mental health advocate, shared the details of her fight to obtain mental health care for her daughter on a guest blog on our site, Why Does My Suicidal 11-Year Old’s Mental Illness Matter Less Than Another Child's Physical Illness?
In our post, Julie A. Fast and I asked kindred spirits to open their hearts and wallets and join us in donating to Kristian's GoFundMe campaign to raise the needed $400 to cover out-of-pocket costs for a needed psychological evaluation denied by Medicaid. Thanks to generous donations, we were able to do so and Kristian has now shut down the campaign so we can help raise funds for another family in need. Kristian, Julie and I would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to those who donated.
Because of the outpouring of support, Kristian and I would like to bring you an update on her daughter. What is happening with her now, just a few days after our post, further frustrates and baffles us both in regards to the state of the mental health care system particularly in more rural areas, and how our children with mental illnesses and their parents are suffering as a result.
A Note from Kristian On Her Daughter’s CRNP Mental Health Appointment The Day After Our Post: "Diagnosis Du Jour"
Heartfelt thanks to our guest author, Patricia Hanson, for sharing with us her truly inspiring story about coming out as a lesbian after 20 years of battling against the “straight agenda.” She now is out, living her life with pride and we couldn’t be more proud.
The Hardest Part - Coming Out to Yourself
The first person you come out to is yourself. This is the hardest part. It’s so hard that some people don’t do it until they’re married to a person of the wrong gender for years, with kids. Most people don’t understand how hard it really is. Others cannot truly accept you until you accept yourself. For me, it took twenty years. Twenty years for me to utter the phrase “I’m a lesbian” without wanting to burst into tears. Twenty years where I was not my true authentic self.
Some people say being gay is a choice. I never wanted to be a lesbian, but the day I finally came to terms with it was the most freeing day of my life. I tried so hard for so long to fit into what society expected of me and it was beyond tiring. I was afraid of not being normal, but since coming out, this is the first time that I have actually felt normal.
Why Does My Suicidal 11-Year Old’s Mental Illness Matter Less Than Another Child's Physical Illness?
Guest post by Kristian Keefer-McNeil, mother of two children with special needs and mental health advocate at specialneedskids101.com with a personal request from Kerry Martin, CEO and Founder of Hope Xchange, and Julie A. Fast, fellow mental health advocate, bestselling author, speaker and coach.
There are extensive awareness campaigns for many childhood illnesses. There are hospitals that will not turn sick children away even if a family cannot pay. And yet my eleven-year old daughter has an illness for which there is not nearly as much support, awareness or help.
She has bipolar disorder and several severe anxiety disorders.
When my friend’s six-year old boy was diagnosed with leukemia, I wept. When my neighbor found out her son had childhood diabetes, I prayed. When my former classmate prematurely gave birth to her daughter, I donated a few dollars even though I couldn't afford it.
Why Does Society View Mental Illness So Differently?
When confiding in my friends about my daughter, they say little or nothing at all. I try to explain to well-meaning friends what a day can be like for my daughter and those of us who love her and are trying so desperately to help her. I try to explain how difficult it is for her younger brother — who is on the autism spectrum — to understand that when his sister says hurtful words or does things that worry him, it is the disease speaking.
A few try to relate by saying things like “oh my kids did not get along either when they were little” or “all kids do that sometimes” or “it's just a phase.”
Would they say the same thing to our neighbor whose son has cancer? Would they say to her “I know how you feel because my daughter had a bad case of the flu last week?” Would they tell her that her child will "outgrow his cancer because it's just a phase.”
I certainly hope they would not say these things. But it still leaves me asking myself: why is it different for mental illness?
Like Physical Illness, Mental Illness Wreaks Havoc On Both the Individual and Caregivers
Heartfelt gratitude to Daisy Mox, one of Hope Xchange's amazing youth bipolar mentors, for daring greatly and sharing her personal battle with depression and bipolar disorder, which started at the age of eight, and her words of encouragement for others who may be struggling.
Even Eight-Year Old Me Had a Rough Time
I don’t remember when I noticed it for the first time, but I know I was young. Some of my first memories consist of my wishing I was more excited about recess or birthday parties or, well, anything, really. Even eight year-old me had a rough time getting out of bed in the morning. Maybe, I thought, I’m just lazy.
They told me to talk episodically, but, neither do I like to think about it like that, nor do I think it’s the best way to address my situation. “Episode” sounds as though my actions aren’t my own. The term causes me to forget that when I’m high, when I’m low, or in any state, I’m still me. I will not credit the mood swings to some higher power or an inner demon. This is me. This is my brain chemistry. This is my body. This is me.
Because It Is Easier, I Allow Them To Believe It Is My Mother's Death that Causes My Existential Sadness
I think I’d like to go about this in a more general manner. Too many events in this life have brought me to my position today, and I’ve only got 800 words, my friends.
My dominating battle is currently depression. At 14, I watched my mother deteriorate in the bony hands of Melanoma, which is the world’s assumption as to the origin of this existential sadness. And, because it’s easier as humans to have a reason, I allow them to believe it.
But, as aforementioned, I’ve lived in this state for as long as I can remember.
The Sadness Physically Eats Me Up From the Inside Out
Heartfelt thanks to Hope Xchange's mentor, Kevin Goldman, for guest blogging this week and sharing with us his definition of happiness and what makes his life meaningful.
In general, I am not a happy person.
What exactly does that mean? I know varying factors. Personally, I am diagnosed clinically depressed with mild PTSD, over anxious and “crème de la crème”, socially anxious. I tell people about my depression and they suggest “I’m unhappy,” “it’s a phase,” “you’ll get over it” and “it’s all in your head.”
I’ll address one now. Just because “it’s in my head," doesn’t make it not REAL. It is, in fact, very, very real.
I’m a programmer and developer by trade, so I know ones and zeros. It’s called binary. Depression is not binary nor black and white. I’m never truly happy or unhappy. I have felt varying degrees of the concepts of happiness: joy, bliss, ecstasy.
Happy implies a permanent state of being. For example, I’ve completed A, B, C and now D. I’M HAPPY!!! Like, when playing Mario Brothers and we beat Bowser, we feel as if we’ve made it. We’re superb. We’re the best. It makes us a, single serving, whole.
I remember my brother going on a journey to “find himself”. It thoroughly confused me. WHY do you need to wander (physically or metaphysically) to “find” yourself? As if it’s “the journey” they all suggest we’re taking.
Why not MAKE a life and BE the person by executing continual trial and error? By ACTUALLY LIVING?
YES, we need an endpoint, but it doesn’t have to be stationary. There doesn’t HAVE to be an end to the journey. So travel on. With the idea that you’re not searching. You’re adventuring. You’re experimenting. You’re dog damn LIVING!
Before his journey, I gave him a small piece of paper that simply ready, “YOU, are MICHAEL GOLDMAN“. I, perhaps, found him before he did.
Yes, I know it’s all a seemingly large, vast space to explore and we need milestones.
Remember when we “knew” the limitations of our galaxy? We knew that there was this bounded (albeit boundless) concept of a space. Does it matter if a planet is a planet? Scientifically, mathematically, systematically and historically, YES… it does. However, Pluto was. Now she’s not. Then she was again and then, again, perhaps not.
Black and white, my loves. It’s the very definition of the words. I’m okay. Sometimes I’m not. This is all, however, about the definition of happy. It's slowly becoming a filler word. In the meantime, it’s a very static word to describe a very complicated array of emotions.
Take, for example, asking someone if they are happy or not. There is a delicate web encapsulating those words. You may as well ask if happiness exists or not. It makes no difference, the subject. The answer will, nearly, ALWAYS be different. However, most people will suggest “I’m ‘okay’ “ before, “yes, I am happy”.
Maybe, just maybe, I am constructed a little obscurely.
I might be in pain and “unhappy” all the bloody time.
Maybe everyone else is feeling pure ecstasy. Or maybe they’re full of shit.
WHAT, TRULY, DOES IT MATTER? I – AM – NOT – HAPPY. Nor will I ever pretend to be.
In Honor of Gay Pride, a Hope Xchange Volunteer Shares Her Story About Battling Depression and the Closet
Hope Xchange extends its heartfelt thanks to Diana Good, our beautiful marketing and instructional design volunteer, for "coming out" and sharing her story. The path to courage is paved with vulnerability.
I am gay and struggle with depression. Although the latter surfaced my freshmen year in college, my sexual orientation did not reveal itself until my fifth year of marriage.
All I Ever Wanted Was a "Normal" Life
All I ever wanted was a “normal life” – a typical marriage, a house, stability, a good job. When I finally had that at age 31, I thought I was set. I tried to be happy and content, but something was missing. I was taking my meds and seeing a therapist, but couldn’t figure out what was wrong.
Yes, I had some isolated experiences with girls in college, but didn’t everyone? I just thought I was “trying it out” and honestly didn’t have any second thoughts when I walked down the aisle to marry my husband.
Although I Seemed Happy, I was Dying Inside
In Honor of Gay Pride, A Hope Xchange Volunteer Sends a Heartfelt Message to Youth: Stay True to Yourself
Hope Xchange thanks Destiny DeJesus, our marketing and social media intern, for sharing what it takes to thrive as a gay Latina in the south. We love you girl!
When I hear the word pride four things come to mind.
First, I am proud to be a woman. Second, I am proud to be a lesbian woman. Third, I am proud to be a lesbian woman of color. Lastly, I am proud to be a lesbian woman of color from The Bronx.
Yup. That pretty much defines me. Whenever I get the chance to write an “About Me” bio these are the only things I hold on to dearly because in my eyes, these are the only things that no one can take from me.
A WTF Moment But I Did It Anyway
How Do You Advocate to Ensure School Success If Your Child Has Special Needs? A Recipe for Obtaining a Comprehensive IEP
Heartfelt gratitude to Kristian Keefer-McNeil, our guest writer this week, a mother of two children with special needs and a mental health and IEP advocate. Kristian also has a website, specialneedskids101.com, that offers valuable parenting information and advice as well as a Facebook page where parents can come together and learn from each other.
An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a legal document that describes the learning needs of your special needs child. The document also outlines the specific services the school will provide to help your child succeed academically.
While the IEP process isn't an easy one to navigate, developing this document gives you the assurance that your child will receive special education and/or support services so educational goals can be met. However, it's important to know what's involved, how you can help the process along, and what action you can take if you're not satisfied with the outcome of the evaluation.
Requesting an IEP Evaluation for Your Child
Voices from the Bipolar Community: By Coming Out of the Shadows of Mental Illness, He Not Only Helps Himself But Others Too
Hope Xchange extends our heartfelt gratitude to Frank Pomata for sharing his personal story of coming to terms with and managing his mental illness. He originally submitted this to Share Your Story and has graciously allowed us to publish his submission as a guest blog in hopes of empowering others.
The Price of My Fervent Denial: Tattered Relationships, Embarrassing Episodes and Jobs Left in Haste
For most of my life, I lived in the shadow of a mental illness that I wanted to fervently deny. I figured if I did not acknowledge it or name it, then others wouldn’t know about my horrible secret and I wouldn’t be perceived as ill or crazy or any of the other labels people might project upon me.
I witnessed my paternal grandmother and my father's struggles with bipolar and I was frightened of my own frequent inexplicable changes in mood. Throughout my adolescence and later in my 20’s and 30’s, these shifting currents of happiness alternating with deep doldrums, kept me off balance and not only affected school and intimate relationships, but also led to disastrous consequences with my jobs.
Often times I was not fully aware of my own emotional landscape and felt very discouraged by the unexpected highs and lows that intruded without warning, giving rise to words and deeds I often regretted and leaving a wake of tattered relationships, embarrassing episodes and jobs left in haste.
I Managed my Highs and Lows as a Serotonin Surfer Dude
Stigma of Mental Illness in Small Town USA Results in Firing Due to Unfounded Community Fabrications and Fears
Post by Tosha Maaks, Volunteer Program Coordinator for Hope for Bipolars and Hope for Bipolar Loved Ones, Hope Xchange.
The Depression Was Back And It Was Hitting Hard Core
It was cold out. That’s all I really remember. I had on a stocking cap and I was wearing a sweatshirt. This was my common attire for my then-position as a bus monitor for the school district I live in. The depression was back and it was hitting hard core. I had lost faith in my current psychiatrist and getting in to see a new one proved to be a challenge. I had an appointment, but it was a month away. I was going to see a doctor who was newly out of school, young, and hopefully wouldn’t, as I called it, “cookie cut” me when it came to medications.
I had just found the webcam feature on my new mac, hit record, and “Ramblings of a Bipolar Mom” started to flow from my mouth. After I was done speaking I thought, I am going to use this for good. Maybe someone else needs to hear it. I posted it on Facebook without a second thought. I did a video about every other day, talking about having bipolar illness and how it made me feel and some of the things that it did to me. I got some positive and supportive feedback from friends: “Good for you Tosh, maybe this can help someone else,” one friend said. I felt good about the video blogs.
The Post I Thought Was Helping That Started It All
Suicide Survivor Chronicles Part 2 by Hope Xchange’s Bipolar Mentoring Team: "The Aftermath of a Decision on One Day"
Post by Grace Taylor, volunteer mentor in Hope Xchange's free Hope for Bipolars program. This is the second in a series of posts by Hope Xchange’s mentors who have attempted to take their own lives. It is our hope that by sharing our stories we can give others the courage to ask for help.
If you are in need of help now, please reach out. Call the National Suicide Prevention Line open 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK. Please do it now. Other hotline options can be found here.
TRIGGER WARNING: This blog contains information about suicide which may be triggering to some individuals.
On Day 2, It Hits Me. A Situation I Had Sworn Would Never Come Has And My Heart Sinks.
I wake up in a hospital bed, attached to an IV, eyes bleary, head fuzzy. My vision is doubled, my speech garbled, and I’m overwhelmingly tired. I see my husband sitting beside me. He looks relieved but also furious.
What happened? I’ve lost the past 36 hours and remember only fractured visions. I recall a policeman coming to the door, but beyond that, my brain fades out again and my memory fails. I don’t recall what happens over the next 12 hours.
When my mind returns, it hits me and my heart sinks. I had sworn that this situation would never come. I knew it would devastate my family. I still can’t understand why the self-destructive impulse had the power to override any logic, love, and sense that I had.
It was like coming out of a terrible dream and waking to a new reality. I had attempted suicide at home. I was found by my husband and my three young children.
After being taken to a emergency room, I was evaluated by a doctor and then sent to a psychiatric facility. Coming to in a psychiatric hospital bed is excruciating to a degree that cannot be captured with words.
I remember sitting cross legged, holding my head in my hands, and looking at the bare walls. I saw a man standing in the hallway looking at me. I knew I had been in a mixed mood and had attempted to take my own life. I recall being in a hospital bed and looking at my husband and friend, but remember nothing else.
On Day 3, I Wake Up Feeling Sick, Guilty and Hollow.
Suicide Survivor Chronicles Part 1 by Hope Xchange’s Bipolar Mentoring Team: "I Got A Second Chance At Life"
Post by Tosha Maaks, Volunteer Program Coordinator for Hope for Bipolar and Hope for Bipolar Loved Ones, Hope Xchange. This is the first in a series of posts by Hope Xchange’s bipolar peer mentors who have attempted to take their own lives. It is our hope that by sharing our stories we can give others the courage to ask for help.
If you are in need of help now, please reach out. Call the National Suicide Prevention Line open 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK. Please do it now. Other hotline options can be found here.
TRIGGER WARNING: This blog contains information about suicide which may be triggering to some individuals.
I Never Felt Like I Fit In.
I always craved the nightlife. However, being a bigger girl the majority of my life I was never very good at being a part of it. As I now know, the bipolar was bad at allowing this aspect of my life to happen. The bipolar delusions were strong and I was struggling very hard internally with the paranoid thoughts that flooded my mind day in and day out.
The thought of being talked about behind my back, and people not liking me, was never far from my mind. I never felt like I fit in wherever I was. I never stayed at a job for much longer than six months because I would get overwhelmed with the feelings that my coworkers were out to get me. The struggle had me in full force by 2008 when I had lost all the weight after my gastric bypass surgery.
I had hoped that the thoughts would go away because I was finally pretty. After all the years of being 355 lbs, I was finally a size small, and 142 lbs. A feat I thought I would never achieve. I was sadly mistaken. By this time I realized that the nightlife, no matter how much I enjoyed the flirting, was not where I needed to be. It could really make me feel pretty downright lousy about myself and the person I was trying to be.
I always wanted to do something that I thought only the pretty girls could do. When you are bipolar you can be hypersexual. I married young, but I loved to flirt, the type of innocent flirting that didn’t mean anything other than the fact that a guy found me attractive. I wasn’t going to let it go anywhere and my husband wasn’t the jealous type.
I knew I couldn’t be a stripper; one, I have no rhythm, so dancing was out. Two, since I did have gastric bypass and couldn’t afford the skin removal surgery, I had a ton of extra skin. However with a sweater, corset, skirt and panty hose, I could hide that skin, so I waited tables. The money was awesome, and for a while I was having the time of my life.
I was working crazy hours though, 13 to 14 hours a day. My boys were playing football every night. If I wasn’t working, I was sleeping at practice in the car, which I am sure didn’t look good to the other parents. I slept all day. I missed most of their life for about 6 to 8 months while I was doing this job. I worked most nights from 3 pm till 6 am. The drive was 40 minutes from my house. I was having fun though. I saw my doctor. I was taking Ambien to sleep. I was on ADHD meds during the day. As well as anxiety meds.
I thought I was doing okay. Then slowly the thoughts started to creep in.
I Wanted It To Be Over.
Compassion Aside, Taxpayer Cost Ramifications from A Broken Mental Health Care System Devoid of Common Sense
Post by Kerry Martin, CEO and Founder, Hope Xchange Nonprofit.
Last week, we published a post, A Hope Xchange Bipolar Mentoring and Advocacy Case Exposes a Complete Lack of Compassion by Healthcare Professionals for a Mentally-Ill Young Woman In Desperate Need of Help, speaking to the fact that mental health care system today is completely devoid of compassion.
Instead of Taking Five Minutes to Refill a Clonazepam Prescription, State-Funded "Full Service" Health Behavioral Organization Tells Me to Send Her to ER for Her Meds
But, let’s put compassion on the back burner and talk about the other “C” -- cost -- that comes to mind when a mental health care system is broken. On the same day we published the post above, I was sent the following message by someone I’ve been mentoring for the past six months in our Hope for Bipolars program:
“I still have not heard anything from HBI about my clonazepam. I am starting to freak out. This is what the system does so well: go on like a dumb machine claiming to be working, but if there's someone having trouble, someone falling through the cracks, they calmly watch them fall and go right on
Here’s a snapshot of the complete absurdity of our system: a complete lack of common sense and the resulting cost implications for taxpayers; and, how my team and I spent the rest of our day.
How Hard Do We Need to Fight to Keep Woman Diagnosed with Bipolar at Highest Risk for Suicide from Possible Psychotic Breakdown and Another Psychiatric Hold?