Tuesday, August 19, 2014

And Into the Light

The United Nations observes World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th every year. And September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in the U.S. which is ironic as it is the month George attempted.
30 days before attempt
This year, George and I are going to walk (and roll as my stamina is low) as a part of the Chicago Out of the Darkness Walk in Grant Park on September 20th. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) who puts on these walks describes the purpose for the walks:
"Suicide claims more than 38,000 lives each year in the United States alone, with someone dying by suicide every 13.7 minutes. A suicide attempt is made every minute of every day, resulting in nearly one million attempts made annually.  When you walk in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Out of the Darkness Walks, you join efforts with thousands of people nationwide to raise money for AFSP's vital research and education programs to prevent suicide and save lives. The walks raise awareness about depression and suicide, and provide comfort and assistance to those who have lost someone to suicide." 
25 days before attempt
We invite you to walk with us as a part of our team, to be a "virtual walker," to donate to support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, (AFSP) and or support us with your encouragement! Our team name is: "Wahle Warriors." Click HERE to connect to our page.  You can click the "Join Our Team" to walk in person with us or walk virtually. You can click on "Roster" where you can donate in support of our walk and roll for the AFSP. Please feel free to share our effort to support and create awareness for suicide prevention on social media/email!
23 days before attempt

George and I are walking and rolling in this walk because we feel very strongly about suicide prevention. As seen in the last week with the loss of Robbin Williams to depression, frequently questions are asked when someone attempts or completes suicide. "What could have been done to prevent this?"

12 days before attempt
What George and I learned from his attempt is that every single person should consider putting together a safety plan even if you aren't suicidal. We all have rough bumps along the road and those of us who have illness or are caregivers have even more reason to invest some time in some quick suicide prevention. George never would have thought he would have attempted to take his life and he still feels stunned that it occurred.  He also did not have any overt warning signs of being suicidal which happens more often than one might think.
11 days before attempt
Since his attempt, both George and I both have safety plans we wrote up for ourselves. We placed them in accessible locations in our house so if we are feeling hopeless we can access them quickly and easily. We used the safety plan template on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's website. Click HERE to check it out. It is basically a sheet meant for yourself where you write down what your possible warning signs of crisis might be; list things you can do on your own to cope; list people or activities that are distracting and healing; list people you can ask for help and their phone numbers; list professionals you can contact and things that make your environment safe. If you are in crisis, feeling suicidal or just need someone to talk with, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255. We have this number in our home and cell phones. You should too.

10 days before attempt
As we are walking to promote suicide prevention, George and I have talked a lot about how prevention measures could have helped him. In his particular case, George has an excellent "mask" that prevented himself and others from being aware of his severe depression.  He pushed through life  and without realizing it, stuffed his emotions away. My parents were with us on vacation as soon as four days before his attempt and they were completely shocked as he did not appear to be depressed at all and seemed quite happy.

Hindsight is 20/20. Before his attempt, George had been seeing a therapist individually and also with me to help us navigate life with chronic illness. George also attended my psychiatrist appointments with me and his depression was hidden so well that when I informed my psychiatrist of George's attempt, he was completely blown away. Calm, go with the flow, even keel George almost died from undiagnosed depression to suicide.
8 days before attempt

George's attempt is exactly why suicide prevention needs to be something that everyone addresses at some point. Yes, I am talking to you!!! George knew about the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) as he had been with me when I called it because I was concerned about a friend. We had discussed suicide and Migraine in depth as I wrote a series on it. I even wrote a post, which he had read, called "What are You Doing For Prevention?"  It can apply whether you have Migraine disease or not.

3 days before attempt
George probably knew more than the average person about suicide prevention. However, thinking about it when it relates to other people does not necessarily mean that any one of us internalizes it, especially if/when we feel that suicide would never be an option for us. In his wildest dreams, George never thought he would attempt suicide.

Please, take five minutes and empower yourself with knowledge. Check out Suicide Risk Factors & Suicide Protective Factors by clicking HERE so that you could recognize them in yourself, a loved one or friend.

Talking to a trained professional can often help us navigate life's rough patches. Psychology Today has an easy search by city for therapists HERE. HelpPRO has an advanced therapist search HERE that assists in finding a therapist based on items such as location, what they specialize in (i.e. suicidal thoughts, abuse, eating disorder, relationship issues ect.) and their expertise in treating certain groups (ie. adopted, caregiver, biracial, chronically ill, depression).

day of attempt
(at my dr appointment that morning)
I am walking in the Out of Darkness Walk for the man in that photograph on the right: the one who is feeling overwhelmed and having difficulty seeing a way out of his circumstances. I am walking for those he represents who need prevention and coping strategies. There IS hope. There IS help. There ARE people who care. There ARE ways to walk out of the darkness.  By a miracle, that man survived. With professional help and God's guidance, George has become a man who has committed himself to facing the depression head on, to getting treatment from a therapist who understands him, to getting prophylactic treatment for the depression, for meditating daily, for keeping up with prevention strategies, for bravely facing a life that overwhelms him, and for seeing the beautiful along with the hidden grime. George is in a better place than he has been in his whole life not because of the attempt, but despite it. HIS efforts with God's strength have brought him to a place where he is working on walking out of darkness and is walking into the light. I am thankful to have the opportunity and honor of walking with him.
We are Walking Out of Darkness and Into The Light.
Corolla, NC May 2014
*Every part of this post was approved by George from the photos to the captions to the content. He was an active participant in putting it together.  I would only ever share his story with his permission and with his guidance.

**Nothing in this blog is intended to be taken as medical advice. Please consult your medical health professional.

Take 5 Minutes 4 Suicide Prevention:
Excellent Suicide Prevention Resource: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Preventing Suicide Page

6 comments:

  1. So proud of you both. I'll be praying for you both (even more) during the walk. Thank you (and George) for sharing your experience with depression and suicide attempt. I know it can't be easy, but I truly believe it's helping guide others out of the darkness. Blessings!

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    1. Thanks, Jamie! Thank you for praying during the walk & roll!

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  2. Bless your hearts; I commend you, Kelly, for having the courage to type this post. Also, George, to you, I offer a special blessing for having the courage to allow Kelly to post your story, and for keeping up with an overwhelmingly hectic life as an employee and a full time caregiver to Kelly while managing depression expertly.
    I adore you both far more than words express. <3

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    1. Thanks sweetie. Your encouragement is treasured by both George and me. As you know, it is one day at a time. Love coming right back at you!

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  3. I am so behind in reading and writing. My inbox for my emails are so backlogged. I'm sorry I'm so behind in reading this. This post is so well written and thought provoking. You give so much good information.

    You and George have a lot of courage to tell your story. Thank you for sharing.

    I hope the walk went well. I think of you often.

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    1. Thanks so much Wendy! The walk is on September 20th! I'm hoping to post a follow-up. <3

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