Video

Teen Suicide

The heavy topic of suicide filled my 3 hour class last night. Rather a seasoned counselor or a new up-and-coming counselor, suicide is never an easy topic. There’s no cookie cutter response, and even though you may take all of the ethical, legal, and moral steps to keep a client from committing suicide, there’s not a 100% guarantee that your efforts will prevent a suicide. My heart lies in working with families and adolescents, and the hits teenagers take from adults makes me shudder. Somewhere along the line some adults lose reference of what it was like to be a teenager, and their “no one understands” remarks don’t seem to be far from the truth. A large number of teenagers may not have the responsibilities of adults, but I dare to say that the adolescent years are in fact much more chaotic and unstable than any other time of life. Yet I still hear things like:

“If I hear one more teenager talk about how hard life is…!”

A broken heart, friendship, not understanding your emotions or body, feeling somewhere between a child and an adult; even if teenagers brains were fully developed and they had the coping skills to deal with all of these changes they would still be facing backlash because they’re “different”. Parents, mentors, teachers, and adults from all walks of life – take the teens in your life serious, empathize with them, be there for them, and if they threaten, talk about, or show obvious or unobvious signs of contemplating suicide or show signs of depression, DON’T brush them off.

New Direction

“The two important things I did learn were that you are as powerful and strong as you allow yourself to be, and that the most difficult part of any endeavor is taking the first step, making the first decision.” -Robyn Davidson

In ‘The Last Bandage: Finding Healing‘, I talked about having finally reached more than just a temporary feel-good, but at the same time, finding this healing didn’t make life instantly magical.

Separating myself from abuse I imagined no more suffering, no more wanting to die, and no more fearing for my life. I pictured happiness and a sense of relief that only purging my burdens could bring. Quite the contrary, my life didn’t suddenly become some magical fairy tale where everything was just alright. I was determined to live a new life, and for me, that meant everything from my past would have to cease to exist.

And so it did, for a little over a year.

Continually fighting to keep the walls built up in my head, the memories were too much, and slowly busted through. Flickers of my past ran across my mind long enough to catch my attention. As fast as these sensory details flashed across my mind they disappeared from my memory until days later. Sitting at a computer in the library at my undergraduate university in 2011, the short, less than half a minute flickers that had flashed across my mind for months were combined together. In an open room filled with hundreds of students my past came to life as my twelve year old self flashed before my eyes. The same memory I had continuously pushed away came back to life as my hands clammed up and my eyes welled up. My clammy hands banged against the keyboard in front of me as I tried to continue working on my research paper. Head spinning and throat closing, I gasped for breath, overwhelmed with emotions. With everyone around me occupied on the computer, I sat in silence as I relived my past. The hurt I needed so badly to get away from was happening all over again, and with each passing day the hurt I hid away ran through my mind.

Despite what I was feeling, I stayed optimistic. I felt the safest I had in years and could see the future I never let go of. I was sure life had better things for me and somehow, my past would be worth it. Unwilling to open my heart in fear of not being believed all over again, I kept what I was going through to myself. I battled the tears, shame, self-blame and hate on my own. My emotions were all over the map and it took every bit of strength I had to stay on track. I hated remembering, but I hated the blanks in my memory that continued to exist even more. What I spent so much time and work on forgetting, I wanted to know. I needed to remember my life; I needed the control that knowing my own life could give me, even if it made me feel absolutely out of control.

After months of banging my head against the wall trying to go back and fill the empty spots and getting nowhere, more flickers flashed through my mind, only slower than before. The same motions played out: flicker, forget, same flicker, forget, same flicker, remember. As my mind played with this back and forth motion of memories a compilation of flickers eventually played like a film. As the memories got stronger, I felt like the life was being sucked out of me. I was too ashamed to tell, but my past felt as if it were starting to eat me alive. Getting out of bed became a chore and anything outside of school and work was too much to care about. I felt like a limp ragdoll that had its stuffing ripped out. The lies depression screams weighed me down, but glimmers of optimism and hope still managed to shine through. The stubbornness that had gotten me through so much stood firm; I refused to be a quitter. Even though I was hopefully, the lies people, myself, and society told me filled my head.

“You’ll never be whole; you’re too broken.”

“No one will ever want you.”

“You’re not worth saving.”

“You’re damaged goods.”

I compared myself to people around me and accepted these debilitating thoughts. My self worth didn’t change when I broke the chains my abusers had on me; I still believed the lies rather their physical presence was there or not.

My self thoughts, society, and my past were telling me I would always be a prisoner and I would always be broken. I was looking for answers to feel whole, but the world was telling me otherwise. Instead, I had to look at the only One who could heal me. The promise of a hope and a future that I held on to for so long was becoming more and more noticeable; I was certain if this was true there had to be more than accepting the lies if there really was any future for me.


 

I’m a true believer of “change your thoughts, change your world.” I’ve talked a lot about how powerful words are. Not only are they powerful in the moment, but they can literally be a life changer.

“Let go, and let God” is a powerful statement. One for me that I haven’t exactly mastered, even though I know how much easier it would be on me if I would just let go. Taking my hands off things means letting control slip away, and the thought of not having control still makes me edgy. But, when it comes down to it, do we really have control? Or do we just do things to try to make us feel like we have control? I wonder how life would look if everyone just took their hands off of their problems, worries, fears, et cetera, and trusted God to handle it. I want to get to the point where I not only trust God, but I trust Him to the point where I won’t worry, fear, or stress out when He’s pushing me in a direction that would make my flesh try to run away.

All of this probably sounds contradictory to my last post, but regardless of how you heal, it doesn’t happen over night. The difference between the me portrayed in this post verses earlier posts of my journey? I wasn’t alone. Although depression and ptsd plagued me, there wasn’t an emptiness within me anymore.