“I Jumped Off the Golden Gate Bridge”

I found this amazing story about a man, named Kevin Hines, that shared his story with mental illness and a suicide attempt. He was one of few survivors to have jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and lived to tell his story.

I love how he made a point to say he felt like a burden. I don’t think that people who don’t have a mental illness understand that piece of it. Recovery is possible and this man is living proof.

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What this means.

To all my fellow mental health bloggers, please check out Inner Light Legion’s blog!! Here is his wonderful speech from last Thursday at Sac State University for the Out of the Darkness Walk to raise awareness for suicide prevention and mental illness. He did such an incredible job, I’m so proud of him. 🙂

INNER LIGHT LEGION

I was asked to speak this past week for a walk that brought awareness to mental heath, mental illness, and suicide prevention. When the coordinator asked me I jumped at the opportunity but I really didn’t know what to speak about. I asked her is there anything specific you want me to speak about, after a solid week of trying to come up with to talk about. She replied through email and said give a little description of what this means to you. She continued by saying what does suicide prevention mean to you? What does mental illness mean? Why is this important to you? I sat for another couple of days thinking this over. And I kept asking myself,”what does this mean”:

This means we have all come together. This means we have all come together as one. This means we have come together as one to bring light…

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Bullying

I’ve done things at the age of 23 that I’m not proud of, somewhat similar to Monica’s. I’ve had horrible names written on the bathroom stalls about me at work, the whispering, the shit talking, people looking directly into my eyes asking me how I can show my face at work and in public, some family members and friends have bullied me on Facebook and stopped inviting me around. Someone harassed me for months stalking my every move making me feel unsafe to walk to my car alone, texting me from four different untraceable phone numbers a day, knowing what I was wearing and what my plans were everyday and even talking about my children.

I was, at a time, left feeling completely alone wanting to end my life. To top it all off, during this time trying to seek help through therapy I was diagnosed with a mental illness that I was suffering with for years prior and the stigma associated with it didn’t help, people called me “crazy”, some people didn’t believe me, or said it’s just made up for attention.

The lack of support, compassion, and empathy from others at a time I was at my lowest was awful. I made mistakes, we all have but nobody deserves to be bullied online or offline. You have no idea what internal battles people are facing. All it can take is just one person, or in my case two little people, to help keep us moving forward. Please be kind to others.

It has taken me time and effort to accept the truth that my story is unparalleled and powerful. It has taken me time to finally forgive myself, to stand up for myself and to take back my narrative and to realize that I play a necessary character in the narrative of those around me, as do you.  This is my story, I’m not ashamed to share it.

“It’s time. It’s time to take back my narrative.”

Over-Thinking

8 Ways to Stop Over-Thinking and Find Peace in the Present Moment

on 9 September, 2014 at 05:05

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We all do our best to stay positive, but occasionally we can slip into negative thinking patterns that can wreak havoc on our lives. We might worry about our past mistakes or current stresses, and how these could lead to negative outcomes in the future. We might obsess about or over-analyze regular experiences and interactions, reading into them things that aren’t actually there. We might find that as soon as one bad thing happens, we associate it with all the other bad things that have happened in our lives and begin to feel miserable. We might feel anxious in the present, having a hard time getting out of our own heads as we worry and obsess about the things that could go wrong.If you find yourself in this place frequently, you are what psychologists call a ruminator, or, an over-thinker, and this way of thinking can be harmful to your health. Psychologists have found that over-thinking can be detrimental to human performance, and can lead to anxiety and depression, especially in women, who are much more likely than men to ruminate on stress and disappointments than men.

As a psychologist and recovering over-thinker myself, I have a lot of compassion for people who end up in these spiraling negative thought patterns. Many over-thinkers are lovely, intelligent, nurturing people who value relationships and care deeply for the people in their lives. Unfortunately, they often push away the very people that they are worrying about or seeking support and reassurance from, because they can become obsessive, anxious, depressed, negative and difficult to be around. This is not a switch in the brain that can be easily flipped off, but rather, a pattern from which it requires dedication and work to recover. Based on research in psychology and my personal experiences, here is my advice for how to stop over-thinking and find peace in the present moment:

1) Accept that You Have a Problem with Over-Thinking.

The first step to healing is acknowledging that you have a problem. If you feel like you can’t get out of your own head and over-thinking is stopping you from living a happy life, making decisions, getting things done, or forming meaningful relationships, then you have a problem. If you find yourself spiraling into negativity and depression when a bad thing happens, you have a problem. If your anxiety about the future is stopping you from enjoying the present, you have a problem. Burying your head in the sand or denying this reality will only make the situation worse. If you are not sure if you have a problem, ask your friends and loved ones to be honest with you, because they are usually the ones who will see it even if you cannot.

2) Forgive Yourself: Our Brains are Hardwired This Way

Once you can admit that you are an over-thinker, forgive yourself, because the brain is actually wired to make over-thinking a natural tendency. According to Psychologist Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, the leading expert in this field, “the organization of our brains sets us up for over-thinking” because our thoughts and memories are intrinsically woven together, not compartmentalized. So when stressors are triggered or you get into a bad mood, it can unlock a ‘cascade’ of racing negative thoughts that have nothing to do with the original trigger for the bad mood. Nolen-Hoeksema gives the example of “when poor job performance causes you to think about your aunt who died last year.”

Furthermore, when something bad happens or someone is feeling negative, they are more likely to think negative things and also see connections (that may not actually exist) between all the bad events that have happened in their lives. The more frequently this happens, the more likely the individual is to engage in this over-thinking pattern in the future.

While the brain might be wired to make these associations, once you become aware you can begin to solve the problem.

3) Breathe More

If our brains are wired in this ‘interconnected spider web’ where one bad event can trigger a tidal wave of negative thought associations, how can we break this pattern?

The first and easiest thing you can do is BREATHE. Breathing will relax you, calm you, connect you to the present moment, and ground you to Mother Earth. It sounds so simple but often when our mind starts to race to bad places, we become manic and frantic when what we need to do is relax the body and mind.

The breathing technique that works for me involves lying down and taking a two-second long deep inhalation in through the nose, followed by a four-second long exhalation out through the mouth. This breathing pattern increases the CO2 in the bloodstream, which can relax the body and calm the adrenal system’s response to the obsessive thoughts. Do this for 10 minutes or until the excessive thinking slows down.

4) Talk Less

So many over-thinkers, especially those of us of the female persuasion, can’t help but want to ‘talk it out’ when we are feeling stressed and worried. While talking about the worries can sometimes help, it usually will make things worse, especially if the person you are talking to is also an over-thinker, and you spend the entire time over-analyzing and dissecting every detail of every negative problem in your lives. You might end up working yourself up into a frenzy of negativity and feeling even more upset after the conversation.

This type of co-rumination, where two ruminators get together to over-think about their lives together, can lead both people deeper into negativity and stress. For example, research has uncovered an association between co-rumination amongst female friends and increases in the stress hormone cortisol.

If you really feel the need to express your issues, you can always write them down, to clear them out of your mind and realize that your concerns might sound silly when you read them back to yourself. This type of free-association journaling has been incredibly beneficial for me.

5) Get Physical and Get Busy

What should you do instead of talking? Well, you already know to breathe to calm the body and mind, but sometimes you just want to let the energy out! In this case it can be incredibly beneficial to do something physical, whether it is going for a brisk walk, playing with a pet or children, doing yoga, playing sports, swimming, or running. Activities that are both mentally and physically engrossing are the best, because they require enough absorption to pull you out of obsessive thinking patterns and into a state of flow.

In addition to physical exercises, engrossing activities that stimulate the brain can also be effective for redirecting obsessive thought patterns. Playing cards, learning a language, or playing all different types of games can be great diversions or interrupters of these thoughts. Or you could always learn a new hobby, make art, draw, paint or take up crafting, such as making jewelry, clothes, dream catchers, hair extensions, really anything, You might actually discover a hidden talent you never knew you had, or be able to start a new career or meet new people as a result.

6) Practice Mindfulness

One of the big things that over-thinkers struggle with is the ability to live in the present moment. So consumed by the failures of the past and the worries over the future, the present moment does not get the attention and love it deserves. Lao Tzu said that “if you are depressed you are living in the past, if you are anxious you are living in the future, and if you are at peace you are living in the present.” So how can we live in peace in the present moment?

Well, we have already discussed some of the strategies that can help you quiet the mind and ground yourself to present moment, including breathing, talking less, getting physical and doing other activities that help redirect attention and bring the mind into flow. But one of the best things you can possibly do is practice mindfulness, a form of meditation where you focus on the present moment without judgment. As the obsessive, worrying thoughts come in, you acknowledge them, and then let them go, energetically releasing them and clearing your space. I strongly recommend learning mindful meditation techniques such as Transcendental Meditation, or if you are having trouble doing it yourself, seeking counseling from someone who practices Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy.

7)   Surrender to the Universe

When we worry, we are essentially hoping to control the flow of life because we are attached to the outcome of a situation. We want things to happen a certain way, and we are terrified that things could go wrong or that bad things could happen. In reality, we have little to no control over the unfolding of events in life, at least not from the conscious standpoint that our worrying will directly impact the outcome in the way we want. So, we can worry and obsess, or we can accept all that IS and let go of our attachment to the outcomes. The universe is way older and wiser than us, and instead of obsessively worrying, we can let go of control and with love and trust, surrender to the universe.

Surrender does not mean giving up; It just means you are willing to go with the flow of the current, instead of trying to swim against it and getting repeatedly bashed into the rocks. Surrender is a form of release and a form of peace, because it means you are willing to trust that everything will work out as it is supposed to: Trust that everything happens in its proper time and place and you are exactly where you are supposed to be. Even the concept of worrying about ‘good’ or ‘bad’ outcomes is flawed from this perspective and nothing more than a symptom of duality, which is only an illusion. As you zoom out to the grand scheme of the universe, there is no such thing as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – it is all ONE, two sides of the same coin.

8)   Remember, Your Thoughts Create Your Reality

Even though I just said that ‘we have no control over the unfolding of events in life,’ and this is true at least from the part of the conscious mind and its ability to dictate events, our thoughts do energetically shape and create our reality over time. Like attracts like, and so the more you worry about something, the more you will begin to attract exactly the energy you are worried about! If you still haven’t seen the wonderful online series Spirit Science, I strongly recommend you view Episode 1, which does an excellent job explaining how our thoughts create our reality.

We must be mindful of our thoughts because our thoughts have power, more than we realize. If you obsessively fear losing your job, you are actually INCREASING the likelihood of getting fired, not decreasing it. Same if you are worrying about contracting a life-threatening disease or medical condition: The more energy you send in that direction, the more likely you are to unknowingly give permission to your body to manifest this condition.

Your thoughts and feelings will energetically create your life, which is why my life partner, sound healer Jimmy Ohm always says, “Worrying is a misuse of creative energy.” Do you want to create a happy life, living at peace in the momentt? If so, you have all of the tools to make this a reality by being mindful and present in your thoughts. You also have all of the tools to create a life of worry and negativity, if you continue to over-think and obsess about negative events. The choice is yours and I lovingly hope that you choose wisely. Blessings and Love!

Recovering the Desire to Live

Recovering the Desire to Live

  • Posted on: 14 September 2014
  • By: Leah Harris

“Though my last suicide attempt was 20 years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the eve of my 18th birthday. I left the hospital bewildered, scared, and unsure of what would happen next.

At the time, I didn’t have much of a support system. I remember sitting on a ratty couch with my knees hugged up to my chest, trying to decide whether or not to keep on living. In those moments, something inexplicable inside of me shifted, and the part of me that wanted to live gained just the slightest advantage over the part that wanted to die.

I reached out to my family and begged them to let me come home. I began to complete my high school education. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I had something to hold on to, just a hint of solid ground beneath my feet.

Recovering the desire to live has been a long and uneven process since then. If recovery seems like an impossible concept to you as you read this, I understand. I had to take baby steps. I had to swallow my shame and ask for a lot of help. I had to find something, anything, to believe in, no matter how small. I had to work very hard, every day, to keep the part of me that wanted to live stronger than the part that wanted to die. I’ve found relief through cultivating a group of dedicated and supportive friends.

Don’t be ashamed or afraid to tell the truth of what you have known. By doing so, you break down the walls of silence and shame that surround suicide. You can use your own survival story, no matter how messy or uneven or imperfect it may be, to help someone else strengthen the part inside that wants to live. In this way, we can each make this world a safer place to fall apart, and to find ourselves again, in the healing space of supportive community.”

TWLOHA

World Suicide Prevention Day

WELCOME TO MIDNIGHT. WELCOME TO WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY.

Posted on: 9 September 2014
By: Jamie Tworkowski

“Welcome to Midnight. That’s what we say when the ball drops and a new year begins. I like that moment because beyond the fireworks and resolutions, beyond the kisses and celebration, is the quiet hope that something can be new. That it’s possible to leave the past behind and start again. There’s nothing extra special on television tonight, no clapping crowd in Times Square, no parade scheduled for the morning. But this midnight means World Suicide Prevention Day, and we would like to think this day can be significant. Not because the world needs another holiday, and not because we need a stage to stand on. We believe in World Suicide Prevention Day for the same reasons we love New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Because perhaps it’s possible to change. Perhaps it’s possible to start again. Perhaps it’s possible for things to be new. We know that change takes more than a moment, and we aren’t saying it will be easy, but we’re saying that it’s worth it. This life. This night. Your story. Your pain. Your hope. It matters. All of it matters. You’re loved. You matter to this world and you matter to the people who love you. So stay. Please stay. No one else can play your part.”

TWLOHA

Day 4 & 5: BPD Challenge (Suicide)

I am doing this 31 days of BPD challenge because of the stigma associated with Borderline Personality Disorder.  It is probably one of the last talked about (honestly) and explained from personal experience than any other mental illness.  All these prompts have to do with characteristics of BPD, whether to do with specific symptoms and criteria of the illness or vague questions about items that are related to the illness, ex questions about specific relationships.

  • Day 4: Have you ever attempted suicide?
  • Day 5: Have you ever written a suicide note?

I remember every detail of when I hit my level of rock bottom. It was 3 years ago, I had just left my husband and was living in my own apartment, I had never been on my own in my entire life. I had no idea how to handle finances, or how to be a single parent to my two kids. My ex-husband had me on a pedestal and took care of everything the 7 years we were together. Most of my family disowned me for a few minutes there for cheating and leaving my husband instead of trying to make the marriage work, but I was in love with someone else and didn’t think the marriage could be repaired at the time. I was selfish, dumb and acted on impulse. This new man that I had fallen so head over heals with was supposedly head over heals for me, but was leading both his ex wife and myself on. I didn’t know who he wanted to be with, and the fact that I had to even question that is pretty pathetic, but like I said, I was dumb. I fell in love with the wrong man, but he was the only man I wanted to spend my life with. After a few long months of him leading us both on, and people whispering in my ear about how dumb I was, I had enough. I couldn’t function anymore, I was losing my fight, my battle to win him over. I was slowly slipping into depression. To top it all off, I racked up my credit cards and was living paycheck to paycheck. Shortly after, received an eviction notice on my front door. I was falling apart. I felt terrified, alone, sad, heart broken. I felt like a horrible mother. I was in the ER with panic attacks, stayed up late at night having trouble breathing.  It was the worst feeling in the world.

It was 11am on a Saturday morning when I was lying on the floor of my apartment shaking, and crying.  I thought to myself, I can’t move. I can’t do this, I want out. I’m done. Then a few minutes of thinking, it hit me. My kids. Oh my God, I don’t want them to struggle, I don’t want them to not have a mother, they were so little. Just thinking about my kids made me instantly sit up and seek some serious help. I don’t think I left my couch all weekend, but that Monday morning I was making an emergency therapy appointment. I needed to talk to someone, anyone. That first session with my therapist, he diagnosed me with Borderline Personality Disorder based on my history and stories and from there, I slowly started picking up the pieces and getting through everything one day at a time.

No, I have never attempted suicide, or written a suicide letter. This was my rock bottom moment, but even at my worst, I couldn’t handle the thought of suicide because of my two beautiful kids. They mean the world to me, they are why I get out of bed every morning.

 If you are having thoughts of suicide, or know someone struggling with suicide, please call 1-800-273- 8255 or visit: www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

 

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