I am not even sure where to begin this post, so I am just going to dive in.
Suicide and depression.
NO NOT ME!
It’s the topic swirling in my mind since I was asked if I knew someone who had died over the past few days. Someone who had been clinically depressed and had committed suicide.
She was not someone I knew personally, but she was one of the thousands of members of my gardening group. She loved gardens and gardening. I am so sorry that gardening and other joys in her life like her children couldn’t keep her on earth for the people who loved her.
Suicide is something that touched me for the first time as a teenager and freshman in college. A boy whom I knew (and who was actually a cousin if a high school classmate) jumped out a dorm window a couple of floors above me. I remember it was the night before parents weekend started.
I still can remember waking up in my dorm room on the first floor to all the flashing lights and sirens. He was there, on the grass, outside my window a little bit away from it. The dorm was in like an “L” shape back there, so there was this bit of an open grassy area back there. I remember the student led memorial service with Genesis song Follow You, Follow Me crackling on a stereo in the quad area where the service was. I can even remember where I was standing.
I didn’t understand why then, I don’t understand today. Have I thought about what it would be like to NOT be here? Yes, when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. I was newly diagnosed, not staged, and that combination of emotionally numb mingled with terrified. What I realized that fateful day was how badly I wanted to survive and live. So while I understand why suicide happens, I also don’t understand because I am not made that way.
I think of all of the women I know. Many I have known since early childhood. Some have had amazing and extraordinary lives and careers, others like myself, more regular lives. We have lived our lives. Sure we have all had regrets along the way, it’s what makes us human. Sorrow, joys, life in technicolor sometimes more black and white…but we live on. I am grateful for my friends.
Are our lives what we expected as children? Honestly? I don’t think so because I don’t think life is made that way. We have the paths we thought we would take, and they are often quite different from the paths we end up on. But we are alive and kicking.
As an adult, a friend from growing up lost their younger sister to suicide. It has been just two years since that horrible event. The younger sister left behind her own young family as well as her parents and sister and other relatives. To watch a family grieve like that was raw and awful. It breaks your heart.
So when I heard this recent news I was thinking about this topic no one wants to discuss. I am going to share something written by blogger Lynn Getz who blogs under Be Like a Mother. She also has a talk show type of a program called Mom to Mom on Radnor Studio 21. She had interviewed the person who died recently. Lynn’s words on Facebook this week were so heartfelt and eloquent so I am sharing the message she shared here, in the hopes it can help others to pay this forward:
One of my other projects was a local public television show called Mom to Mom with Lynne Getz, which focused on connecting local moms to local resources. The show gave me a chance to feature many of the wonderful women I met through networking and showcase their businesses in the hope of helping other local mothers connect with them.
On one show I interviewed a local mom, Heidi Diskin, who was finding power in her pain of dealing with depression and bipolar disorder by sharing her experience through her Silent No Longer Foundation. Heidi was passionate about ending the stigma around mental health, advocating for more focus on it as brain health, and giving help and hope to those affected by depression and anxiety.
Yesterday I learned that Heidi lost her battle with this disease.
When I learned of her passing, I went back and watched this episode, listening again to Heidi’s words of advice about being proactive, getting a “check-up from the neck-up”, and knowing the signs of depression in others so that you can reach out and help them.
Heidi’s mission was to #endthestigma and speak openly about mental health. We need to talk about depression, and how it affects brain chemistry, making people believe they are not worthy and not needed. YOU ARE! We need to talk about how it tells you that no one will miss you, or that your kids will be better off without you. IT’S LYING! We need to know that depression and anxiety aren’t character flaws, they are diseases and must be treated as such. We need more people to speak out like Heidi did.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. If you or someone you love is suicidal, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
And in honor of Heidi, and all the brave souls who fight so hard against their brain disease, please take the time to watch Heidi’s episode, share her story, and reach out to that friend who has been on your mind that you haven’t heard from in a while. Know the signs of depression, and do not be afraid to ask for help or help someone who may be fighting this battle silently. For Heidi, and the nearly 45,000 other Americans who die by suicide each year, we must be silent no longer. https://youtu.be/OmpnjSbPQHY
Again, I did not know Heidi personally. But I have known women like her. And I know they feel isolated and alone, even if they aren’t. We need to take the stigma out of depression and mental illness. Maybe if we can have more open community conversations about this, we can all be the better for it.
Malvern Library in Malvern Borough on September 24th is having a joint event with Daemion Counseling Center that comes highly recommended . Reservations are required. Here check it out and thanks for stopping by: