I do collections. What I’m doing for the company I work at is pretty much collecting payment for what most of the world sees as a luxury. For the most part, I’m not harassing people that are trying to decide if paying me is going to cost them groceries for the next week. But there was a call yesterday and it reminded me that I haven’t asked myself, “what’s my contribution?” in a while. I’m here to encourage you today. My inspired moment yesterday looked like a poorly planned Facebook Live. I had the sun glaring behind me and forgot to turn off my Waze app that was taking me home. There were lots of giggles but this is my follow up. Fewer giggles. Same insane amounts of love for people I may never see.
I get it. Life can be overwhelming and difficult. Bills pile up and it can be overwhelming. Relationships can feel one sided or draining. Or they can end before you want them to. Things we hope for or expect can fail us and fall through. It’s easy to get caught up in what we hoped for not being our reality and it can wear us down. I can tell you to shift your perspective, but it’s not an easy thing to do and sometimes you have to shift it every couple of minutes.
Who are you?
I want to remind you that you are not your debt. You are not your job. You are not your relationship. When you are gone, no one will remember the details of what you did for a living, or how extravagantly you lived. They’ll remember who you are. So, who are you?
I’m a brave, courageous, heart-led leader.
I’m a mom who will do whatever it takes for my kids.
I am a woman capable of giving love and one day I will comfortably say I can receive it too. (Battle scars.)
My identity is not tied up in my circumstances.
I am not the jobs that come and go.
I am no longer an abandoned wife. I’m here for me and I will not leave my side.
When we make regrettable choices in life, it’s so easy to take that moment and wear it as a punishing cloak of identity. This is a choice you don’t have to make.
I loved being a student, so I’m asking you to take a moment to think of finishing school. Once you graduate and are no longer a student that education is still able to serve you in knowledge as well as the habits that got you through it. But you are no longer a student.
It’s like looking at that miniskirt I used to wear in high school. I have the same legs, but my belly has held enough life to stretch it in ways that leave designers stumped (there really should be a market for c-section belly overhangs that just need a comfy belly bra). It might look like it could fit, but it really doesn’t and I see it every time I try. While it’s in my hands and not on my body, I’m imagining what could be, unable to release what doesn’t fit for the yoga pants that do. Let it go.
You are not alone.
I understand depression. I understand the inability to see beyond an immediate circumstance that has made me feel worthless.
My first real suicide attempt was when I was 14. I had to have my stomach pumped and stayed in the hospital for about a week with most of that time in Intensive Care. This was followed up in therapy. There were several other serious attempts, but I couldn’t give you a number. I got help though. I’ve had a therapist through the first event, the baby blues in 2001 and when my husband left me in 2015. I wasn’t counting the lows because it was a series of days that were too dark to see through. The most recent was probably around 2014. My depression was intense but I got help in the form of a prescription that time. The point is, I couldn’t handle things on my own and I got help. Repeatedly.
All I can say is I’m here today because I searched for help and didn’t stop searching until I felt I was safe.
I was never the type to tell people I wanted to kill myself. Not in anger or as a threat. My personality is much too implosive for that.
I’m very self-aware and have always been great at torturing myself with that pain in silence. But it has also forced me to advocate for myself in getting help.
When I started visualizing self-harm, I asked for help.
When I tried to imagine what death would do to my body, I asked for help.
When I sat alone in the dark, unable to get out of bed, I asked for help.
When insomnia was controlling my life, I asked for help.
When I couldn’t eat anything, or couldn’t’ stop myself from eating everything, I asked for help.
When I started cancelling plans with friends because I didn’t plan to be around, I asked for help.
When I held pills or something sharp in my hand, and couldn’t see myself getting past the next hour, I asked for help.
When my smile was painfully fake but no one could tell, I asked for help.
When I see that same smile on someone else’s face, I now offer help.
You will get through the next minute, hour, day.
You will learn to help yourself through hard days.
I sing out loud. I dance or walk (endorphins are amazing). I get lots of sunshine for Vitamin D. I write, and when I feel the people I reach out to are making things worse, I step back and know that self-care is not selfish. And I catch a sunset. Something about nature reminds me that I am tiny and as small as I am, my problems are smaller and just as the world does its thing without me, I don’t need to feel responsible for the world.
You’re not a tree. You don’t need to stay where you are. If you hate your job, get another. If a relationship isn’t working, end it. You don’t need to put a time goal on your life. There’s no need for “I’ll give it another couple of months.” Go get your life. Decide what you want to change or keep and work for it. Don’t settle for the same circumstances and hope time will fix things. If it’s meant to be done, you must get it done. No one can live this life for you. No one is to blame but you if you choose to settle in misery.
Again, get help.
Ask for help from your doctor. They have pills and facilities that are made to help you when it’s too much.
Ask for help from your pastor or church. There are religions built around helping others. Good stuff, really.
Ask for help from a therapist. They won’t fix you. They’ll help you learn to shift your perspective, address what is holding you back and break through to the next phase of your healing.
Ask for help from family and friends. I can’t remember a time I tried to kill myself with an audience. Don’t be alone if you don’t feel safe.
Know that saving your life is an inside job that no one can do but yourself.
Know that there is no shame in what you feel.
I won’t say you’re wrong in what you feel.
I won’t say you need to help me feel better about what you are going through.
I won’t guilt you for feeling bad.
It's okay to feel what you do.
If you’re hurting enough to want to hurt yourself or others, you are hurting enough to need support.
Ask for the support you need. Know you are worthy of a happy and fulfilling life. Know that depression isn’t a life sentence and there are always options and answers to questions we don’t always know to ask. Wait and the question will present itself. Help comes when you look for it because it never looks the way we expect it to.