Forgiveness

June 1, 2016

“This journey is so long and tiring. I am overwhelmed at times but my mood is stable. My medications are helping so much. I think we finally found a great combination of medication. My fatigue comes and goes. I am finally spending more time with the kids. I am so glad.

Hunter’s autopsy report came back. I only read the summary. I decided to wait on reading the full report. It was traumatizing for Brian and my family to read. I don’t want to retraumatize myself. On Sunday, at church, I finally got to the place where I forgive the doctors and nurses who were responsible for Hunter’s death. The reason being a report from one of our missionaries in the Philippines. The missionary shared that little girls who had been sold by their parents to do sexual favors for men in the Philippines. The very men who were supposed to be helping them. These girls were forgiving these men. If these precious girls could forgive someone that brutalized them, I can forgive the people that killed my brother. I suspected, however, I may change my mind after reading the autopsy. So, I decided not to read it.”

Learning more details about Hunter’s death was what I believed held the key to my healing. I thought the more facts I had, the better off I would be. The more time that passed, I realized that the answers weren’t the key to my recovery. It was my forgiveness of these people and the forgiveness of God that would lead to that freedom. Others have forgiven people for far worse. Forgiveness, I also realized, wasn’t something that would happen all at once. Forgiveness would be more progressive. It would come in bits and pieces. Honestly, it wasn’t based on others at all. I used to think I could forgive, if I knew that these people were sorry. In the end, it wasn’t true, it was me. My ability to forgive was intrinsic. It was a letting go, a trusting.  It was ultimately between me and the Lord. I had to trust him that his plan was perfect and better than my own. As well, I was forgiven. I received my salvation and freedom through forgiveness. My sins were blotted out as far as the East is from the West. It wasn’t based on how well I performed or a list of qualifications. My forgiveness was based totally on my heavenly father’s unconditional love for me. If I was forgiven much, I must forgive others much. Someday, I hope to see some of the people that killed my brother and to be able to forgive them to their faces. I want them to walk in freedom and to experiences the peace that comes with that. If they ever read these, I want them to know they are forgiven completely. 

My Puzzle Piece

May 19, 2016

“Another time in the Ingles parking lot with a Starbucks Caramel Macchiato. Today is Maddox’s Creek Stomp field trip.  I am so grateful I feel well enough to go today. Praise be to God! I hope and pray that this continues and that Latuda continues to work well. I am so thankful for the time to spend with the Lord. Time for healing that my husband and family has been a part of. I am worried about Judah. He has been fussy compared to usual. Two days ago he vomited three times. He fusses with his formula but drinks lots of pedialyte. It leads me to think he may be intolerant. I want him to feel well again and I am praying for healing. 

I am grateful, today, for life and the love of my Savior.”

May 23, 2016

“Dear Hunter,

I miss you more than I have missed anything in my whole life. I feel like I fell asleep and woke up to half of my body missing. It is traumatizing, hard to understand, painful. I am loosing you. I can’t feel you. It is like the movie, Back to the Future. I feel like Marty McFly looking at the picture of his siblings in childhood and they are slowly fading away. You feel just beyond reach. My love for you is just as big as ever. 

I love you everyday, every moment. Everything reminds me of you. I am scared of the future without you. I wish you were here so we could grow old together. I love you so deeply, in a way I see others don’t understand. I am torn between being grateful for that love and aching from the pain of that love. I hate that getting to see you again means never being a part of this world again. The trade is not right. I am still needed here. But, so are you. What do you think about what is happening? Do you agree with the trial over medical malpractice? How can we gain from your loss? I wish I could understand God’s plan the way you do now. I wish I could embrace you one last time. I know I will recover but not seeing you one last time will haunt me until the end of my days. 

I wear you now. You travel with me. I have to be your now. I represent you to our family. We are like two puzzle pieces. I cant be you but my edges match you. You are seen because I am marked with your form.”

Getting better and improving on my medication was a breath of fresh air. It gave me hope that there was a future for me. Transitioning away from breastfeeding to formula was hard. It was emotionally hard on me and physically hard on Judah. My kids all have significant dairy intolerance. I felt robbed. I felt angry. It was another way the doctor’s and medical staffs mistakes took from me. In their mind it was a singular mistake. They couldn’t see the ripple. The way their mistakes spread like a toxin, hurting everything in its path. It would take forever to come to grips with my grief and anger. I knew I had to forgive the people that contributed to his death, but I was not yet there. I will say the anger gained me nothing. Forgiveness would be freedom, freedom to move forward and heal. That still, however, felt like a betrayal of Hunter. I owed him that anger, as irrational as it sounds because he wasn’t here to be angry for what was taken from him. I was trapped by my pain, I would have to let it go.

The abyss inside my soul was still there. I wasn’t carrying his memory. I was consumed with it. My life drastically changed. I felt like I took on a  new roll with his death. I was, now, an only child. All of my parents hopes, dreams, and fears fell on me. I longed for another sibling to confide in. People often forget about the sibling. Everyone was consumed with my parents grief and my sister-in-laws grief. People note it, address it. Rarely do people think about the siblings. They sit on the side, in the shadows. Broken, never the same. They take on the weight of their lost siblings identity. It is such a pressure. Their grief hurts their parents. So, they feel the burden of needing to act like everything is okay. They feel the need to put on a brave face, when they are breaking inside. The stress and pressure to be all things to all people to fill in the void left by their sibling is suffocating. 

I am glad I chose to feel my pain. So many push their pain aside. They try to move forward because others think that they should. They feel pressure to be okay or to grieve the right way. I grieved terribly. It was all consuming and life taking but it was my way. I didn’t act how I believed I should, but I felt every aching moment. I am not glad for all that I went through but I am glad I grieved my best way. I can look back at the journey and see the fingerprints of God, sitting with in my pain all along the way.

A Starbucks Employee

May 12, 2016

 “I am doing horribly. My mood has dipped from anxiety into depression. Brian has become short with me and I can not take it. I don’t want to do this to my family again. I don’t want to go through inpatient again.  The thought literally takes my breath from my lungs. The pain and darkness sneaks up so quickly. I really thought I was going to be healed. Now I feel hopeless. I don’t want to go through this again. I am upset because I was doing well, then we changed my meds. Now, I am worse. I am angry. Why wont God heal me now?”

May 18, 2016 

“I am just sitting here and writing in the Ingles parking lot. I got myself Starbucks. It is so crazy that the Starbucks employee named Hunter is gone. I first noticed him on my first night of Grief Share, when I stopped going to Grief Share, he was no longer an employee. 

I have switched to a new medicine called Latuda. I feel a lot better and more like myself. I started it on Saturday night. My taste has returned. I can taste sweet things again. My body feels more calm again. I don’t feel as anxious. My weight gain is under control again. 

I am able to pray and begin growing in my relationship with God again. I am so glad. I am in a place where I feel God molding me into a better version of myself. I feel more peaceful, emotionally invested, and desiring to focus on others. It is a good place.”

What a difference a week and some new medication can make. It demonstrates the effect of being on the wrong medications. Trust yourself, when your medications aren’t making you feel the way you know you should. There are different drugs and better ones. No one can predict what medication will work for what person and how. Only time and trial and error will help. Make sure you are with a psychiatrist who understands this and is willing to work with you.  Latuda was such a great medication for me. I knew I needed a mood stabilizing medicine after such an improvement when starting Risperdal. Saphris was an absolute disaster. Latuda became my drug of choice. I would remain on it for the duration of my treatment.

Grief Share was such a great experience. The first night was so scary for me. I drove to the church and turned around. I decided I wasn’t ready and went to Starbucks for a coffee. My barista’s name was Hunter. He even looked like a high school version of my brother. I don’t believe in coincidence. So, I took it as a sign that Hunter was with me and drove back to Grief Share. Grief Share is a program that can be found in many churches across the country. The curriculum was written by a couple that lost three of their children.  The now run retreats across the country to help parents that have lost a child. I didn’t fit in well at Grief Share. It was mostly widows with a few parents who lost older children. However, my story gripped these people. A few precious widows drew around me and gave me such great support. It was such a blessing. However, as my mental illness developed I found  that I couldn’t keep going. I wanted to withdraw from social situations. So, I stopped going. The last night I went, Hunter was no longer an employee of Starbucks. He had worked every shift during my time at Grief Share. It felt like my journey with Grief Share was over, at least for a season. So, I said goodbye and moved along on my journey. 

A Misplaced Zero

May 11, 2016

“The past few days have gone well. I feel like I am starting to get back to myself. We went to church on Sunday. It was wonderful. I do feel healing is coming. It will take time. My heart aches over Hunter’s death. I still cant believe he is gone. It feels more tangible now that I am recovering. It makes me want to push back. The void is too great. 

We found out there was a mistake in Hunter’s chart. Hunter was receiving 2 mg of Dilaudid instead of 0.2mg. The doctor didn’t write the “0” first. They, also, pushed it all at once, instead of over 5-10 minutes. His BP was dropping in the hours before he died, but they ignored it. Heartbreaking.

Symptoms: 

10lbs. weight gain since starting Saphris

loss of taste (as it dissolves orally)

memory trouble

constantly thinking of new projects

racing thoughts

increased anxiety

wanting to work out for hours

wanting to buy everything

I am stressed out, anxious, and not doing well. After I got home from the Griffith’s (dropping off the kids), I was not doing well. All day, I had been working on tasks around the house, moving busily from one thing to the next, not wanting to think obsessively about projects, vacations, or financial needs. Right before Brian got home I weighed myself. I had gained almost 10 lbs. in a week and a half. I tipped my mood. I was anxious and wanting to stop eating and go exercise. I don’t want to stay on a medicine that damages my ability to taste and causes weight gain. I decided to use the elliptical for 30 minutes, after an hour and a half of yoga. Then, I went to take care of the baby. I can feel my mood tipping from anxiety to depression. I am fearing going back to UNC. I am afraid I might not get better, though I feel like the Lord revealed to me heal me.”

Changing medications and finding the right combinations is incredibly stressful and anxiety provoking. Each one giving hope of feeling better than on the last but also waiting until it reveals what side effects it will give you. Psychiatric medication prescribing is not a science. It is not as cut and dry as other specialties. There is so much trial and error. As well, the medication is chemically changing your brain. This leads to your entire body reacting. The side effects are sometimes tolerable and other times distressing. Saphris was horrible for me. It was more distressing than tremors and not being able to walk. Uncontrolled weight gain with loss of taste and not enjoying food was terrifying. I couldn’t wait to get off of it. Luckily, my psychiatrist saw how it was affecting me and changed my medication immediately.  To anyone trying to find the right combination of medications. Be patient, document symptoms and side effects so you can really see how things are affecting you. Be honest with your psychiatrist or medical provider about how these medications make you feel. Their job is to help you find the right combination so you can begin healing. I know it can feel so distressing that you actually feel worse than before you started, but the right combination will give you the life you dream of, push through.

Finding out some of the truth about Hunter was both refreshing and crippling. In the months to come, we would find out details that would let us know that the perfect storm of events had taken place to lead to Hunter’s death, However, it was sickening to find out the misplaced zero was all it took to take my brother’s life. As a nurse, they give you tests where all you have to do is write in a zero to remind you how important it is. That someone could be so careless when writing the prescription and reading the results led me to such frustration. As well, his blood pressure was decreasing and they ignored it. It confirmed what we had thought, his death was preventable. If you still have more questions about what happened, you should. It would take months for us to find out all of the details. 

The Canaanite Woman

May 8, 2016

“Today was Mother’s Day! My gift was some friends of ours coming over and giving our back deck a makeover. They put pads on our chairs and bench, added flowers and planters, and an outdoor rug. It is gorgeous! This morning we went to church and dedicated Judah. It was wonderful. Church was on the Cannanite woman. She begged Jesus to just give her the tinniest amount of attention, though she did not deserve it. I have been her. I have begged God for help and desired just the scraps of his healing love. I felt the pull on my heart, as I approached the altar to weep and pray. I felt God say, “That is why the journey had to be so long and so painful. I needed the pain and severity to be so great that event the greatest doubter wouldn’t be able to explain the restoration of your life. It is complete and now begins the healing.” I believe. I believe that now restoration will come.”

It was such a blessing to have friends draw around me and give me something I couldn’t give myself. Having this gift of a nice outdoor space to go and get away was wonderful. So many people, during this season, just abandon us. They didn’t call and check in. They weren’t in the messy days. They simply went back to their own lives, when our lives became messy. It really broke my heart and made me angry with The Church as a whole. Christians were supposed to emulate Christ and get down in the trenches with the broken and hurting. However, we so often want to stay in the comfortable. We don’t want to be inconvenienced by other people’s struggles. We want to stay in our ivory towers where things look easier and prettier. Those, however, weren’t the people that brought healing to my life. They weren’t the people who showed me the love of Christ. The people who saw my pain and responded with authentic love. Those were the hands and feet of Christ that reached into the dark places of my heart and shined light. They were the ones that gave me hope that I wasn’t broken beyond repair. They were the ones who helped bring me out of the pit. To them, I am grateful.

Mother’s Day was, also, a hard day. I felt like such a failure. I was sick and making life harder for my own mother and my children. I felt unbelievable guilt. But I tried to push it aside, to go to church and truly hear the message that day. I could relate to the Canaanite woman. She believed in Jesus’s power. She didn’t come front and center demanding it. She was humble, begging for even the crumbs. She knew that anything Jesus could give would heal her demon possessed daughter. I have been there. In the hopeless state of illness, believing there would never be healing. However, the crumbs gave me hope. I knew it wouldn’t take a lot to heal me, even Jesus crumbs would be enough. I would sit and wait for the crumbs of his light and love to fall down upon me. He gave them to me that day. Hope. I would forget about this day, overtime. As he didn’t tell me he had healed me that day. That day was later. Much later. There would be more struggle to come before being released from my pain. It would be almost two years to the day before the healing came. But that day, I was given hope that this might now last forever. I held onto my crumbs, grateful for every one.

A Hole In My Heart

May 6, 2016

“There is a hole that cant be filled. It resides in my heart and my soul. It is Hunter’s place. All I have left are my memories, pictures, and movies. I can’t fathom that I don’t get to see him again until I die. What a joyous day that will be. Suicide is hard to let go of. The pain is there. There is no escape. I know I am needed here and I want to stay, just without the pain. God has a purpose to all of this. However, I still feel blind. I can not see.”

In the early days after coming home, things were such a roller coaster. I never knew, when I woke up, whether today would be a good day or bad. It was so hard to surrender to the fact Hunter was gone. I fought against it with every bone in my body. I didn’t want to accept it because it made it real, true. I held onto the pain so I wasn’t moving on. I felt that to be a betrayal of my brother. I felt that, if I didn’t get better, I was betraying my family on Earth. I felt that if I let go and moved forward, I was betraying my brother. The not getting to say goodbye was what haunted me most. I never got to say those final words. I never got to know that he was aware he was dying and was okay. I didn’t know what his last moments were like. It haunted me not knowing if he was in pain or scared. I blamed myself for not knowing what was going on with his medical care and not intervening. The words “If I had only known….” haunted me. That and the fact that days before he died I begged him not to have the surgery. I told him that he didn’t really need his tonsils removed. I reminded him of the risks of anesthesia. As usual, he reminded me that I was over reacting and he would be fine. If we had only known.

Suicide was something that was so hard to give up. It was like an addiction, it was something I cringed to for dear life. Ironic, I know. Knowing it was an option kept me going. I knew that if things got too bad, I could make it all stop. It was a source of control. After the hospital, it was used against me. I knew that if I tried again, it was likely I would go back to the psychiatric hospital. I knew if I cut, I would loose my family’s trust and they would continue to view me as broken. So there was this inner turmoil, always at the back of my mind. The back and forth and stress was maddening. My mind was a whir of thought at all moments of the day. I had started to loose track of what was sane and what was not. The days ahead would be long and hard.

May the Fourth Be With You

May 3, 2016

“The morning has been really hard. We changed my medicine last night. I doubled my Saphris (which I had changed to eliminate my symptoms on Risperdal). I dropped my morning Lithium. I was doing well and then started becoming agitated. I, then, became tired and went back to sleep. I am feeling a bit better now. I am journaling, did yoga, and prayed. I am feeling a bit foggy. 

Hunter’s birthday is tomorrow. I am a little nervous about how the day will be. I miss him so much. I want to hug him tomorrow. I hate the firsts we have to go through without him. It reminds me that I will keep aging and he will not. I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want to get older without a sibling. It takes my breath away to think about it. I want a moment for us on his birthday. To feel our bond and know he is okay. 

Psalm 139:11-12 – “If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

Reminds me of how limited my perception is to God. He doesn’t see my circumstances as I do. He sees the whole picture. I may feel I am in such pain and darkness but he sees through it all.

Psalm 135:3-4 – “Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant. For the Lord has chosen Jacob to be his own, Israel to be his treasured possession.”

The Lord chose Jacob. He knew Essau would trade his birthright for food. He knew Jacob would capitalize on his brother’s weakness. He knows what will happen to me. The Lord vindicates us and has compassion on us.

May 5, 2016

“Today has been a good day. Yesterday was harder. It was Hunter’s Birthday. We went to yoga class. I bit off too much with the class I chose. Brian and I kept looking at each others with each new pose. We all wore Star Wars shirts, released white balloons with letters tied to them, and ate dirt dessert. To cap it off we watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

Changing medications to try and reduce side effects was exhausting. Each one would change how I felt, possibly bringing on new or worse side effects. It was a constant rollercoaster. Each change gave me hope we were about to find the right combination. However, I had no understanding of how long this would take. 

Hunter’s Birthday was May 4. It was so hard to face that day. I couldn’t handle the fact that I was aging and he had stopped. I kept seeing visions of myself looking in the mirror as an old woman and his picture sitting there with his twenty five year old image. Never getting a single day older, never getting wrinkles, never having more children or growing a family. I mourned aging, not for myself but knowing he couldn’t.

I wanted to do things, that day,  that reminded me of him, but had to be careful not to overwhelm myself with grief. Yoga was super helpful, but I decided to increase our intensity level. That is a pitfall of my personality, when something is enjoyable, I have to crank it up a level. Sometimes this gets me in trouble. 

We went to Disney Store to get everyone Star Wars shirts. It was so fitting, as Hunter loved Star Wars. He was born on May the Fourth, so what can you expect. Reaching back for good memories from happier times was a positive experience. It was great to write him a letter and explain how I was feeling. The kids and I tied the letters to the balloons and took them outside to release them. When we let them go, a huge gust of wind came. The balloons we lifted up along the roofline and went down the backside of the house. When we got to the back of the house to see them float away, they were gone. We never found a single one of the balloons. It was as if they really did go directly to him. The Lord was faithful to provide me comfort during these days and to remind me that he saw me right where I was, in the midst of my suffering. I was not there by accident. He had placed in that exact moment at that exact time. 

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When For Better Becomes For Worse

April 30, 2016

“ I am back at home and times are hard. Brian treats me a lot like a child. He questions most things I do. He is always filtering what I say because I could be manic. I had a date planned and had a babysitter. Brian wanted me to cancel, so I did. He wants me in bed early. That fanned the anxiety flame and put me in the process of shutting down. I worry people will treat me like this broken person forever. It is devastating. Sometimes I just want to give up and be the person everyone thinks I am. It is hard to be making progress and to have people treating me this way.”

Dealing with mental illness is hard enough on its own, but dealing with a marriage in the midst of mental illness is extremely trying.  My husband and I were in a really good place before my brother passed away. We were tired but excited to welcome our fourth child. My health, however, immediately began to fail after Hunter died.  It was scared for Brian. He would tell me that I had lost my brother but he had lost his wife. When my mental illness started, I went to a very dark place very quickly. I became incompetent. I couldn’t take care of my children or myself. I needed someone with me at all times, to keep me from hurting myself. I essentially became a fifth child for my husband. He was alone. 

When I first became sick, he didn’t want to see it. It was too painful. He didn’t want to believe I needed help. I persisted, however, in asking for treatment. I knew something was wrong. Once I went into the hospital, I felt like I lost all dignity. I was no longer a wife but felt viewed as a child. The respect we once had was lost. My decisions and things I said were no longer trusted. When I returned home,  he didn’t trust me to watch the kids or be alone. He required that I complete all of my self-care activities or he feared I would fall apart. He kept inventory of what I did and how I did it. Always watching for signs of another spiral. I had to have eight hours of sleep, three meals a day, read my Bible, exercise, color my mandalas, and use my Emwave. 

I no longer felt like a wife, it was so painful. The pinnacle of this was when I scheduled a date night for us and he made me cancel so I could be in bed on time. I felt like a shadow of my former self. It was so trying. It actually made my sickness worse, in some ways. I further diminished my hope and gave me a reason to live. It made me fearful life would never be the same. I longed to be the Nurse Practitioner, wife, mother, and sister I had been. From where I sat, then, it looked like it may never happen again. I said  goodbye to a future self and became completely engrossed in my current circumstances. Only time would begin to heal these broken places.

What I Wish People Knew About Suicide

Suicide is something that scares people. You friend, mother, brother, colleague slips into depression. The next thing you know, they are suicidal. It seems so intimidating, unknown. You feel you don’t have the words to say or you are worried you will say or do the wrong thing. I want to share some insight from my time struggling with suicidal thoughts to help give you some information that may help someone you know.

Don’t abandon your loved one – The worst thing you can do to someone struggling with suicidal thoughts is to abandon them, withdraw. People don’t usually commit suicide when other people are present. Your abandon just makes their shame and pain greater. It reinforces that no one cares and people wouldn’t miss them if they were gone. Go sit with them, watch a movie, just let them talk. 

Don’t try to tell them why they shouldn’t commit suicide – When someone is in that dark and deep a place, telling them not to will go in one ear and out the other. Stay away from things like, “how could you think about doing this to your family, don’t you care about us, suicide is selfish.” These common comments do not register because this person’s brain is no longer thinking rationally. Let them know that you don’t know what they are going through but you see their pain and you are here for them no matter what.

If you suspect someone is suicidal, talk to them directly before you go behind their back – Not everyone who is self harming is suicidal. These are two totally different situations. Some people cut themselves to release pain or to allow themselves to feel something, as the numbness sets in. You can simply ask the person if they are suicidal. If they say no, you can ask them to explain how they are feeling. If they say yes, you can ask if they have a plan. Having a plan makes it much more likely the person will carry out their suicide. At that point, you need to encourage that person to seek a professional counselor and a psychiatrist. A general practitioner is not specialized enough to handle the significant nuances of severe mental illness.

You asking a person whether or not they are suicidal is not going to make someone carry out their plan – If anything, it will give the person an outlet to share their pain and no that someone cares. You need to be ready for whatever they and react without judgement. It can feel painful to hear a loved one wants to leave this life and you behind. However, with the significance of the illness in this moment, you can not make the situation about yourself and your feelings. This individual needs all the love and support you have to give.

Don’t try to fix the problem – Unless you are a trained professional with experience with mental illness and suicide, do not offer solutions. This is an area where people over step and can lead to hurting the person instead of helping. Seek professional counsel and advice. While a pastor may be a good support person, they do not have the medical treatment knowledge to give sound medical advice. 

Don’t tell the person to have more faith or pray harder, this is a measurable observable illness – Just as you wouldn’t tell a diabetic not to take their insulin or a person with vision impairment to take off their glasses while driving, mental illness of this severity needs chemical intervention. The brain neurotransmitter imbalances that lead to suicidal thoughts are measurable and observable on scans of the time. Their brain is not making enough of the chemicals needed to feel hope and joy. They are likely lacking in serotonin and dopamine. They may even need medication for mood stabilizing, if rapid changes in mood are triggering suicidal thoughts. Encourage medical intervention while continuing faith practices the person has always followed. They should not be abandoned but should also not be used to replace proper medical care. This illness is the same as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other illnesses that we take medications for. Just because you can’t see the problem, doesn’t mean it is “all in their head.”

This person is not feeling pain and sadness like you are, you are not stronger than they are – Anyone is capable of feelings of suicide with the right combination of life events and chemical imbalances in the brain. When are trauma or significant life event occurs, the brain reroutes its pathways for preservation. Suicide is an extreme version of fight or flight. In this case, the brain is experiencing so much pain and anxiety it can not process it. Therefore, the brain tells the person to run but to an extreme. Death may feel like the only way to escape the unbearable hurt and their brain is reinforcing this belief. Your loved ones body is literally propelling them towards this option and it may consume their thoughts. 

You do not understand unless you have been there – Even the best psychiatrist has only read about the experience of suicidality and has only observed patients. Unless you are a survivor of a suicide attempt or a thought disorder that led to suicidal ideation, do not share what you think you know. It may lead to more harm than good. Sharing about another persons experience you read about does not help. Telling the person a story about someone that “had it worse” only leads to feelings of greater pain and frustration. It makes the individual feel like you are invalidating their experience.

If encourage you to share this today. You never know who may be experiencing pain and suicidal thoughts. You never know who may have a loved one who is struggling. This person is not selfish. They are sick, as you can be sick. Their illness is real and needs treatment. Do not abandon people suffering with mental illness or stigmatize them, it only makes them worse. Don’t try to fix them. That is not your job. Lay aside your feelings and judgments and try to approach them with love and acceptance. Validate their pain and be there for them in whatever capacity they will allow. If you loved one has attempted or is currently planning a suicide attempt and hasn’t received medical help. Get it for them today, you just may save their life.