When People Judge


We’ve all been judged by others, all of us. We know how it feels, yet we still keep on doing it. I often wonder why it’s ‘okay’ for us to judge others but hate it when it happens to us. I suspect we can add this to another one of life’s little ironies, idiocies and hypocrisies.

The other day, my partner’s best friend’s daughter ran away. It turns out she’s been into various substances and is stealing. She’s all of 13 and this has been an ongoing issue. Thankfully they found her the following day but this isn’t going to be an easy journey for them.

I suspect it’s not one, but many factors at play that contribute to this issue. I don’t think she’s a terrible person. I don’t think her parents are terrible people, either. Life deals us shit sandwiches, now and then, and we have to understand how we’re going to eat them. What I’m getting at is that this isn’t a problem that’s limited to bad parenting, evil children or broken homes.

It could happen to you.

I was sharing a bit of this information with a certain co-worker and his response was the following: You need to get find yourself much better company, Carrie.

In other words, the company you keep is BAD NEWS.

What exactly did he mean by that? He doesn’t know my boyfriend, he doesn’t know these people and I suspect the underlying tone was directed at the fact my late boyfriend took his life.

Did this make him a BAD person? Fuck, no. It made him a person who was in an immeasurable amount of pain, one that fought mental illness and one that lost to it.

Is this little runaway a rotten kid? Again. NO. She’s a CHILD and unlike children of my generation, she has unlimited access to high-end technology that didn’t exist when I was 13. Like, the internet, cell phones, instant video and a plethora of (again instant) communication and easy transportation at her fingertips.

We have made it really simple for kids to access all sorts of stuff. In fact, it’s scary what they can do in the blink of an eye…like text a dealer for drugs and meet them very quickly with cash on hand due the handy-dandy bank card with the TAP feature. I suspect all she had to do was to go a store that had a cash-back option, buy something under $100 and ask for money back. No one would have questioned her.

I’m not sure if this was the situation but it could easily happen.

So how does this relate to why a middle-aged grown woman should chose better people in her life? I suspect this person put on his judge hat and thought that because a confused and easily manipulated little girl made some very bad choices, that the chain link up to her parents and my partner was littered with BAD people.

Because we ALL know that’s the case right?

I’m being facetious.

It has nothing to do with anything and I took a moment to decide NOT to find out if he was implying that Brian was less-than-worthy company because he chose to end his life. Nothing could be further from the truth and even remotely implying that to someone is not only judgmental, but sadly ignorant and plainly mislead by un-empowering beliefs.

So, I say to you, before you cast the first stone, turn around and make sure your support wall isn’t made of glass. Because life can take a turn for the worst in a matter of seconds…and this could be your child, your partner and when that glass breaks…it’s very, very, sharp.

Bad things happen to good people all the time. It’s just that the good people aren’t always being dramatic about it and drawing attention to themselves; we’ve got better things to do, like find our broken, yet much loved, child…and get on the road to recovery.

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Dealing with Grief 101 – Part II


I really should proof-read at least 10 times before hitting the “post” button. It would seem I double copied some of my previous post and well…that’s just never fun to read, is it?

Most sorry about that and all fixed now. 🙂

Aright – onwards and upwards.

I’ll list 5 more little known (or maybe you DO know them) items one may want to think on when going through any type of sorrow.

  1. Create a safe space for yourself to ‘do’ the grieving. Crying is just part of it. You may want to yell, scream, throw things or simply curl up into a little ball and whimper. All of this is OKAY. You’re going through trauma and shoving all that raw emotion down into yourself will make it worse. Let it out.

Think about what happens when you put on a pot of water to boil with a tight lid on it. What happens, eventually, when the water boils? It’s all about the pressure. At some point, we will boil over as there will be a tremendous amount of pressure building inside us and it needs out.

Again, let it all out. If you’re not comfortable doing this in front of anyone, make sure you’re alone. If you have someone who can be there with and for you, tell them exactly what you need to do. It’s less scary that way. If you need to scream while someone is holding you – do it.

It’s okay to be angry and sad. In fact, it’s completely normal. Remember, your life has just been turned upside down and all the contents that were YOU have been dumped out. You’ve now got the task of collecting yourself and reassembling YOU. It’s not an easy job.

  1. Be ready for the waves. I’ve heard the analogy plenty of times and it’s such an accurate one. My counsellor told me that there will be massive tsunamis and small swells. You just don’t know when they’ll be coming because they’re stealthy little shits.

You may be in the middle of a meeting and suddenly “WHAM!” you remind yourself that you should call someone about something funny that just happened in said meeting and then the very next thought is: “Oh yeah, so-and-so is DEAD.”

And just like that it’s game over. You’re reliving everything and preventing tears is extremely difficult. I believe this is a good example of why just getting on with your life and keeping yourself busy may not work so well.

So how do you deal with that? I would say any way you can. I’ve feigned having to use the ladies and excused myself. I’ve sucked it back, finished the meeting and then allowed myself to have a complete breakdown in my car, afterwards. There is just no easy answer as that elephant in the room that you’re trying to ignore comes over and steps on you, every once in a while.

It’s not like you can say: “Sorry, my wife just asked me for a divorce out of the blue so I need to take a moment and cry; is that alright with you?”

But hey, wouldn’t it be nice if we lived in a world where that WAS okay to do? Where people were so compassionate that they’d understand completely?

  1. People will avoid you. Well, most people will when they find out. That’s because, as humans, we’re not good with seeing others grieve. We’re uncomfortable and we really don’t know what’s expected of us. Some, will reach out briefly to offer condolences but then disappear back into the abyss. Your true friends, however, will be there and they will check in on you regularly.

Typically these are the people who have been through some sort of traumatic grief, themselves. My best friend battled (and won!) against breast cancer but it took its toll on her and she went through hell.

SHE, got it. We were there for each other and it didn’t matter how often I needed to talk about it, she listened, and listened and listened some more. I can still talk to her any time. And she knows she can talk to me, anytime, about everything she is still going through. She lives on the other side of the planet but we’re thick as thieves.

  1. It’s okay to let those people who ARE there for you, know when you need some space. Sometimes you need to be by yourself to process everything. It’s understandable, as you desperately try and make sense of what happened. In the case of suicide bereavement, you may never make sense of it because, to the ones left living, we can’t ever comprehend what was going on in their minds and hearts.

Know that you’ll learn to live with this. If you need some solitude, take it. Always be kind to yourself.

  1. For a long time, it will be like you’re walking in a fog. You will go through a torrent of emotions and no, they won’t be in a nice little package labeled: The Five (and I’ve seen seven) Stages of Grief. Yes, those emotions will be knocking at your door, but there are no neat little ‘stages’ where you can tick off each one as they come and go. NOPE, it doesn’t work that way. In fact there are a ton of emotions to get to know.

I’d  like to point out that I never went through denial. I also didn’t go through bargaining. I am, though, quite good friends with depression and anger. Each visit me, frequently, and we get on quite well. Sometimes they show up for tea at the same time and we have a big ‘ole party.

Now, guilt. Guilt and I are practically best buds. This is such a fun emotion (not) and even though I know full well I could not have saved Brian, some part of me still likes to think I could have and that if I’d only done this or that (like not forget my damn phone) he’d still be alive. The fact is: he made a choice then and there and it’s already happened. I cannot change the outcome.

And just like that it was all over and my whole world changed. Yours will change, too. It’s maneuvering those changes that I can help you with.

I think this is a better representation but we’re all unique and going through grief is different for every person.

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World Suicide Prevention Day


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I think it no coincidence that today is the day I end up taking Brian’s ashes to scatter them on a beach he played on, as a child. I was supposed to go, last week, but seeing as it was the Saturday before the last long weekend before School is back in, my sister and I thought better of it. Long and busy ferry lineups are not our thing.

I didn’t even clue in that we’d re-worked our plans for THIS day. There are no coincidences…this was meant to be.

I miss him. Every day, I miss him.

For new readers, my late boyfriend, Brian, took his life on May 11th, 2015. It is a day that I’ll never forget and one that changed me for the remainder of this life.

Every blog post I read about those who have lost someone that they love, to suicide, tells a similar story. Gut wrenching pain and all too stupid and insensitive comments; platitudes that are tossed out there to us like left over scraps thrown towards a starving street dog.

I’ve heard it all and if you’ve gone through it, so have you.

Mental illness is not treated like other diseases and can you imagine if someone came up to you and said: “Well that was very selfish of him to die of cancer that way!”

That’s the trash we get from friends, family, people who should know better as well as strangers.

One of my all time favourites: “Why aren’t you over it, yet?”

They don’t know any better. We’ve been taught to be uncomfortable around the word: SUICIDE. Why? Because, in our culture, it’s an unacceptable way to die. We’re not supposed to choose to leave on our own. If we spoke about this out in the open, discussed it with our children and loved ones, early on, so it wasn’t a taboo and unholy subject, I believe less people would die.

For those who are battling depression, anxiety and have ever thought of taking their life or who have attempted it, ignorance and societal judgments, as well as, misunderstandings are just the norm. It’s sad and it makes everything SO much worse and I dare say contributes to the rising rate of suicide and suicide attempts.

Those that are so desperate to end their emotional pain that they are willing to end their lives are treated like criminals and outcasts, and that is the worst crime of all.

Let me share this: what suicide attempt survivors wish you to know.

I’ve met others who’ve had a brush with suicidal thoughts; it’s far more common than you think. I know a suicide attempt survivor who is a good friend of mine. One thing that was said was: “thoughts of ending your life never leave you, they are always at the back of your mind. I’d decided that if I ever needed to attempt it, again, that this time I was going to get it right.”

Brian’s story isn’t new. His isn’t unique although his reasons and pain are unique to HIM. How many other people out there are suffering in silence, afraid to ask for help because we criminalize their pain, lock them up like a common killer, and take away every shred of their dignity and all of the things that make them feel human and provide a sense of belonging?

We can do a better job and we have to. In a future blog post I’ll describe the initial PAU (psychiatric assessment unit) that Brian was put into. I will say, now, that it was frightening and he was very scared. I would be too. I’m sure there is a way to fund some sort of community temporary home that allows safe personal items as well as protects people from themselves in a more loving environment. I strongly suspect that family would be willing to help. I would have been.

One issue that is brought to our attention is that our youth are greatly at risk. One in 5 teens have considered suicide, last year according to this article.

One.

In, Five, teenagers…children, for God’s sake.

What is it going to take for us to be comfortable to talk about this in the open? When are we going to let suicide out of it’s closet, because it’s bloody well banging on the door.

Take your religion out of the picture. Take your presumptuous thoughts and set them aside. IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU. It could be your best friend, your spouse, your daughter or your dad. It could be your uncle, your cousin, someone you work with, someone you go to school or the gym with. You could save a life. We could all saves lives if we brought this out into the open and just talked about it.

It could be you. You need to know that it’s safe to talk about.

So, let’s do it. Right here. Open up the door and let it out because if you don’t, it could destroy you.

My goal is to help, to council and to coach. My path is to assist in your healing and guide you to your next steps on your journey. Remember, your soul wants to be here. You chose to be here and everyone has everything to live for.

; None of our life stories are over, yet.

 

 

 

 

Helping Suicide Out of the Closet


I’ve wanted to write about this for a while and I believe I’ve attempted it, many times, and in various forms. The fact is: Suicide is a problem and the biggest part of the problem is that it’s kept in the closet.

It’s not only kept their by people who have either attempted it, who are thinking about it or have successfully (and most tragically) succeeded at it. But it’s sent into the closet by everyone else. For the most part, the reason is that our culture not only doesn’t really understand this off limits subject, they don’t want to deal with it at all. I’ve personally experience this. In hushed tones, odd looks and behind closed doors – that’s where the topic of suicide lurks.

Nobody wants to fucking talk about it.

At least, not many, unless you’re exceptionally brave and have been battling it. Or…you’ve been touched by it in the worst way. Most religions not only frown upon it but many outright tell you you’ll wind up in HELL (that’s eternal damnation, fire and brimstone for those who are not familiar with this myth). In essence, if you do this, you’re a VERY BAD PERSON. No wonder people don’t seek help. They’re shamed and looked down upon.

This does nothing to help or heal those that are battling this terrible struggle. Quite the opposite, it promotes self-oppression and wrongly points a finger at someone who is deeply in pain and suffering. What element of humanity promotes the condemnation of the mentally ill, those that battle depression and those that are bullied? We do it all the time. Shame on us.

I’d like to point out there have been great strides towards recognizing mental health issues such as depression, bullying, etc., that can lead to suicide. Project Semicolon is one of them and I’m SO, SO, happy for this. It’s incredible but it’s not enough. Many are completely unaware of it and as a survivor of suicide grief, I can tell you most people (including members of my own family) still don’t get it and really don’t want to talk about it.

So. How do we get people talking about it?

This is what I’m all about. This is what part of my new life-focus will become. We need to help. We need to help those that are battling themselves and those that are in terrible sorrow and struggling with the aftermath. It’s hellish. In fact, it’s beyond hellish.

Do you know that suicide grief survivors are 10x more likely to take their own life? I betting you didn’t.

Did you know that even very young children have thoughts about suicide? Think about that…think about what would drive a 6-year old to want to take their own life.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for all ages. Yup. An estimated quarter of a million people per year, become suicide bereavement survivors just in the US.

Suicide among males is 4x higher than females but more females have suicidal thoughts and their attempts are 3x’s as often.

1 in 100,000 children aged 10-14 die from suicide every year. Did that grab your attention?

This is mostly based on US statistics but I’ll assume that Canadians are close behind based on POP variables. Now, we don’t have a lot of guns, here, and firearms are the most common method of suicide among males but that won’t stop someone who is serious about it. Trust me on this.

Here’s an interesting STAT. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in the WORLD for those aged 15-44 years. THE THIRD. In 2012, it was the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year old’s. SECOND.

Over 800,000 die due to suicide every year and that doesn’t count those that attempt it.

Yet, we don’t want to talk about it.

It’s embarrassing. It’s thought to be selfish. You’re told to ‘get over it’. Did you know that when my late boyfriend took his life, last year, I received one card of sympathy?

One. Just….one.

Thank you, Debb. I appreciated that more than you know. Now, had Brian died from cancer or had been killed in an auto accident there would have been an outpouring of support from co-workers, family, friends and whatnot. It would have been talked about and NO ONE would have told me to get over it.

But he didn’t. He quietly hung himself on a beautiful spring, May evening.

We need to talk about it.

I’m betting (and I’m not a betting woman) that there will be some who read this who’ve either thought about suicide, have been touched by it or have even attempted it. But they’ve told no one.

We need to talk about it.

This is preventable, if we educate ourselves, our children and – TALK ABOUT IT.

There is one death by suicide in this world about every 40 seconds.

For your sake, for your loved one’s sake, for all of our sake; let’s talk about it.

Please.

I will continue my plight in bringing this subject to the surface, out of the closet and out in the open.

Until then.

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Three Pounds of Brian


I wondered what was really inside the bag,
Inside the other brown paper bag all non-descript looking, even slightly humble

There it sat up high beside the poem I’d written for you, forever framed in time
Beside your picture; it looked rather out of place and lost

I removed what used to be part of YOU, in that little paper bag, placed it tenderly on the floor

I stared at it.
I walked over and touched it
I picked it up

Gently took out the contents inside clear plastic, all tightly sealed
They looked harmless enough

I saw ashes, bone fragments and I cried

I held what was once a man I loved (or part of…) and washed my face with salty tears as a plastic bag filled with YOU sat in my lap

I imagined that part of those 3 lbs. contains your heart
I imagined you’d want it that way but I know it’s all mixed up

All shoveled together into one spot to be later separated so that you were shared

I’m taking that approx. 3lbs of you home to the Island
To where I grew up and you spent endless summers on the beach with your folks

I wish we’d gone back there, being both Island people, and walked on that beach
Remembering our pasts, contemplating possible crossed paths

We’re going to make that journey, 3 lbs. of you – and all of me
It’s taken us a while, but we’ll walk that beach and share

Share a past we could have known but never did
And I’ll let you go, there; among the sand, the shells, and the Pacific Sea

Setting you free in Qualicum Beach.

Beached 2

Lessons I’ve Learned


About 150 years ago, okay – it is slightly less than that, when I was a teenager…I was painfully shy. I didn’t want to be but always marched to the beat of my own drum. I wasn’t a follower and I never have been.

Teenagers judge, as teens do, and I was judged to be a snob. I’m not sure how that prognoses came about but that is what was conveyed to me, years later. Had they known about the abusive, broken (and very unhappy) home I lived in, perhaps they’d have been kinder…but I doubt it. Kids can be mean no matter what the circumstances are.

“We all thought you were a snob.” I was told at my 10-year GRAD reunion. I haven’t been to one, since.

Perhaps it’s because I didn’t try very hard to ‘fit’ in to any particular group; I still don’t but people think I do. I just…be. I’m there. If you like me, cool, if not, that’s cool, too.

But you know, I USED to care. It used to bother me that I was the last one picked in gym class or for any group project. It USED to bother me that the cliquey groups talked about me behind my back and that I had all of two friends, at the time, in the entire world.

I was and am different and what I’ve learned over the years is that my difference makes me super cool to more people than I thought. I was (and am still to some degree) very sensitive and I can’t relate to people who are surface dwellers. What I mean by that is – many folks are shallow and can’t possibly understand anyone who swims in the deep end. That’s okay; difference strokes, right? Pun intended.

My point is- if you’re that young person who is shy, maybe a little depressed because of things happening at home, misunderstood, picked on, etc. I’m here to tell you that it’s all going to be okay if you don’t get caught up in the bullshit. I get it. Like Bilbo, I’ve been there and back again. In fact, I did the journey a few times. There were dragons, too!

If you believe in yourself even a little bit, you’ll make it. Know that I believe in you. I was you.

If you’re that different person, I want to tell you to celebrate! You are some of the chosen few who are able to not only swim in the deep in but live there. You’re incredibly special. These are fantastic survival techniques. Should one of the shallow-ended people be tossed into the drink where you are, they always end up drowning.

But YOU.

YOU are the survivor. You were made for this, baby!

I’m not going to tell you to NOT let things bother you because they still will. Work through it; you can do it. You’ve got this. I’m here to let you know that it’s this very process that makes you strong and teaches you that at the end of the day, you don’t need to let it bother you. Once you get that, once you lose your dependence on what others think:

Then…you will let it go.

Let it.

Go.

You’ll find at some point you don’t need it anymore and what has taken its place, well…that would be confidence coupled with a lot of humility and gratitude that you weathered the storm. Be proud, you brave and beautiful warrior.

You did it. You made it and if you’re still in the thick of it, you’re GOING to make it. I’m sure of it.Don’t doubt yourself and if you do, look in the mirror and picture yourself at 40 or 50 and see the amazing human who is living the dream in your eyes. He is there. She is waiting for you.

You are the people who are the teachers, the entrepreneurs, the givers and believers, the lovers and dreamers. You are the future of change and change is inevitable. So, keep on fighting the good fight and when someone doesn’t like you or ignores you for whatever reason. Know that it’s because they’re making room for others (the right people for you) to come into your life. Those that understand.

Like me!

Go get ‘em tiger. I’m in your corner. Dare to be different.

xo

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What do you see?


11 days.

I seem to have begun a countdown to that tragic day, a year ago, when that really bad thing happened.

I’m not sure why I’m doing it but part of me wishes I wouldn’t torture myself with it. Yet…here I am, being some sort of masochist – reliving every moment.

I asked him, once: What did he see when he looked at me?

This was during his time in the PAU (psychiatric assessment unit) and all he could think about was “Her” – the woman who crushed his heart, the one from whom the only escape from pain, he believed, was death.

He looked at me completely dumbfounded and stuttered, shaking his head as he stared in disbelief at my question.

I wanted to know just what I meant to him at that point because here I was giving 1000% of myself to someone who was still lost in another relationship from his past. The woman in question was ignoring him and really didn’t want anything to do with him. Had she, I suspect I may have been tossed aside, but I can’t confirm that for sure.

I was feeling like quite the third wheel, yet I was also very much in love and trying with all my might to save this man’s life. I wasn’t about to abandon him and I swore to him that I’d never leave him during what would be the worst time in his life.

I kept that promise.

He could never tell me what he saw when he looked at me and I’m convinced he never really saw me for who I was or realized just what I had to offer. I think on the last day he may have had an idea but it wasn’t enough to keep him here.

I’m not complaining because I understand he was coming from a place of complete darkness and depression. His headspace wasn’t like anything a normal person would understand. His perception of the world was so skewed that I’m not even sure he was functioning to full capacity even though he put on an amazingly brave facade.

He was lost, and for him, there was no way out of the labyrinth he’d built for himself. There was simply no escape and seeing her – yet again, was a sign for him that his pain was never going to end unless he ENDED it.

So, he did.

I’m not angry at him for not seeing me as he was seeing everything through eyes that were not seeing the world as it truly was.

Mental illness is so very misunderstood. It is so often unnoticed and swept under the carpet. There are those that live and function with it for years without anyone knowing any better. This is what he did. He kept it all on the down-low; nobody really knew. Even when it became very evident something was very, very wrong, it was only the two of us that he let in on his little secret.

So…what do you see when you look at someone? Are you really seeing them for who they are, their struggles and pain?

Look again. Look more closely. You may find they’re living in a dark jungle of half truths and terrible secrets. They do this because society is harsh. They are judged, ridiculed and not taken seriously.

It’s time we really looked at ourselves and the ones we love, a little more clearly.

It’s time we were aware that too many suffer alone.

Eye in the Jungle