Blank Stare & Nod

My brain has been fried hard and served up on a stale piece of toast. The last five months have a re-reoccurring theme; lack of control and this constant wake up call has flared up my anxiety about an upcoming girl’s trip to Seattle. Is the universe teaching me to let go of control so that when my plane goes down at the end of March, I’ll be at peace? Anxiety is a bitch.

If I had to sum up the last four-ish/five months it would be placed in a folder labeled, Are You Fucking Kidding Me! The short of it is multiple car accidents, one less car, Hubs out of work for 7-weeks due to injury from said accident which equals limited dough, to family turmoil, some more family turmoil, and if I continue it would no longer be “the short of it.”

Point being, I’m going through some shit and it’s been hard to stay positive, which is super relatable because we’ve all been there, feeling like someone took out our brains and scrambled them up while we watched with no idea how to take the spatula away.

And because I have anxiety and panic attacks, what do I do? Think, think, and think some more, because that’s what I can control and what feels ‘routine’ for my brain to do. And of course, it’s not the healthy thinking it’s the let’s think about the worst possible scenario and keep thinking about the worst that can happen until I can feel it tightening my chest and wah-lah, panic!

The upside? I’m still here, practicing gratitude and trying my best. This is what matters. I am trying my best.

How do I combat my anxiety and panic? What has worked for me is taking deep breaths and focusing on each inhale and exhale, when I was younger I used to count them but now the simple in and out of breath calms me.

Why don’t I get a prescription? Addiction runs in my family, both with alcohol and pills, so I don’t want to tempt the beast.

What has also helped me in more recent times is focusing on my own health both physically and mentally, and that I don’t need to learn how to conquer my anxiety, just know how to live with it and how to give myself grace when I can’t keep a handle on it because sometimes…

The only thing I can muster is a blank stare and a nod, and that’s okay.

Everything you have ever wanted, is sitting on the other side of fear. (7).png

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Give Yourself A Break – Strive For Imperfection, Instead

This morning on my drive to work I was catching up on one of my favorite podcasts, Jen Gotch Is Okay…Sometimes. It’s described as a podcast that “is weird and original and funny and honest—just like me.  Each week I’m going to get in your ear, tell you about my fears, my pain, my triumphs and hopefully in the process help you become more self-aware, build your own emotional intelligence, and more than anything else, FEEL LESS ALONE.”

It drops every Tuesday and has become one of my favorite listens on the drive to work. I missed this Tuesday’s episode so I caught up this morning and wow, did it hit home and put into perspective what I was blogging about yesterday that I didn’t know at the time I was blogging about. Does that make sense? 

If you missed it, yesterday’s blog Cutting Loose Ends talked about how I’ve been struggling with carrying the thoughts and opinions of others while trying to fight the urge to self-isolate and block out. Let’s not get it twisted, it’s still annoying how much people dump on unsuspecting souls. The trick is to not let it stick and define you.

Yesterday I think was I was blogging about (but didn’t know it at the time) struggling with perfectionism and after this morning’s episode about striving for IMPERFECTION, it gave me some perspective on what I wrote about yesterday, weird right?

Here’s why letting go of perfectionism will help me let go of other people’s actions:

Trying to ‘live up’ to other people’s expectations is a waste of damn time. I want to be successful both personally and professionally. This need to excel at excellence means trying to do everything to the best of my ability, a.k.a. as close to perfect and efficient as possible and I don’t want to let anyone down so I put a lot of value in what others think and say about me (which pains me to write because ew, I wish this wasn’t true) and forget I do this, hence yesterday’s frustration.

This does nothing but distracts me from my own inner voice. I know me, so I should listen to her more often because when I’m constantly filling my head with what others have put on me, it stifles my inner thoughts and feelings. So fuck that shit, I need to be more self-aware so I can internally combat this.

She continues on to say:

“What if we just decided to be imperfect?”

Being comfortable with being imperfect actually helps us achieve more since we’re not overwhelming ourselves with undue pressure. “Let’s not worry so much,” Jen says. “Let’s not try and strive for something that actually isn’t achievable because you just end up feeling awful all the time.”

“We still need to have aspirations, but what if what we aspired to was to be better than great and less than perfect? I think we could manage that.”

She lists three sweet spots to focus on while striving for imperfection, here they are:

  1. Say no to the ‘having it all’ culture – this doesn’t help you focus on the now. When you focus on the ‘having it now’ aspect of life, it forces you to dismiss the achievements of today and yesterday and leaves you feeling never enough or satisfied. Let’s collectively agree to knock this behavior off!
  2. It’s okay to fail – all I have to say about this one is if you never fail how are you supposed to learn? Growth comes from standing up after falling and learning from your mistakes. Let’s all agree to fail a little harder!
  3. Done is better than perfect mentality – I suck at this one, it was even hard to write, but I can acknowledge what it’s trying to convey. If you get tied up in all the little details nothing will ever move forward. This isn’t promoting laziness, it’s promoting to take a breath in the middle of that big project and acknowledge the fact it’s not going to be perfect no matter how hard you strive for it (project, relationship, the dream) to be. Focus on completing it, not all the little tiny ways it’s going to be a shitshow.

Hopefully, this helps you in the same way it helped me peel back the foggy layer that was suffocating my brain yesterday. Gotch ended the episode by asking her listeners to ditch perfectionism and do ‘all of the things you’re waiting to be perfect, to do.” Challenge accepted, and I hope you join me.

Now to keep up with my promise to practice gratitude to fight my tendency to forbode joy: Currently feeling gratitude about seeing my brother-in-law tonight and having a cookout! What are you feeling gratitude towards? Let me know in the comment section, below. 

Cultivate it.

play better on Instagram than Facebook but regardless, be my friend online. RamblinRandol is my quest for true belonging. 

 

Speak Truth To Bullshit

I find myself shrinking away from political debates because there is too much misinformation being slung around that it’s nearly impossible to have a decent conversation.

The amount of “drive-by” online journalists is appalling. These individuals haven’t been trained, or understand the basic rules regarding what’s considered news and how important it is to share only credible sources.

If you’re confused, these are the people who spend way too much time on the internet fighting with strangers in the comment section and share every article from every online ‘source’ that is geared with like-minded people and then spout off information after only reading the header and by-line.

But, I digress. This is only a small portion of the problem and admittedly, I’m biased against these random peeps because I did go to school for journalism. This isn’t the main topic of today’s post, so I’ll get on with it.

If you haven’t heard what’s going on at our borders then you might have been under a rock the past week/month, and if it’s a nice beautiful rock on Cabo, do you mind sharing some space with me?

Just kidding, kinda.

Here is what I constantly hear being thrown around half-hazard. “Separating families at the border is the law, everyone must follow the rules! All you Dems just hate Trump and are looking for an excuse to pile on the hate, this has been going on for years! If Republicans wanted to change it they could, they’ve got the majority! Trump to the press – if this was such a terrible law, why didn’t the Dems outlaw it decades ago, it’s their faults!

All of this is bullshit and here’s why.

  1. Separating families at the border isn’t a federal law, never has been. There is a policy that was put in place back when Clinton was president and has been used by border patrol at their discretion for the last two decades, and they didn’t participate in the family separation until last month when Jeff Sessions and Trump stated this ‘zero tolerance’ policy.
  2. There is a distinct difference between policy and law, stop using them interchangeably. The difference between a policy and a law. A policy outlines what a government ministry hopes to achieve and the methods and principles it will use to achieve them. It states the goals of the ministry. Laws set out standards, procedures, and principles that must be followed.
  3. Yes, the Republicans hold the majority but you still need 3/5ths vote to pass anything and not all Republicans and Democrats will vote according to their party. I think John McCain is a perfect example within the last year. So while shouting they hold the majority is true, it doesn’t mean anything will easily pass, even if every Republican voted similarly there’s still a need for the Dems to vote similarly, too.
  4. Trump blaming the Democrats is also utter bullshit. He signed so many damn executive orders the first six months of his presidency, why the hell the sudden urge to wait for the legislature? Because this is a stunt (in my personal opinion). We have a president who is a reality star and hasn’t worked for a damn thing in his life, living out his ‘biggest role casted’ on a world stage, and it’s fucking embarrassing.

Fact Checker: Separating families at the border isn’t family law, here. The distinct difference between policy and law, here. Understanding the ‘Republican majority,’ here. Trump blaming the Dems for what’s happening while plugging his mission to build a wall and why I think it’s all a big fat stunt, here

Trump has embellished since his inauguration when he stated it was the most attended precision in history! So how come there are still those refusing to wade through the bullshit to find the truth? Is it because it’s easier to follow than lead?

Bottom line: what’s happening at the border is traumatic for both the officers and families. If we’re the world police and responsible for setting an example for the rest of the country, lets’s act like it. We all know this isn’t the best solution, those children don’t deserve to experience any more trauma.

Shout all day about, “it’s the parent’s fault and they are the ones that put their kids in this position.” Nobody got anywhere pointing the finger at everyone else and displacing blame. Take responsibility,  rise above the bullshit and let’s set the example for how to treat those desperate enough to risk everything to live in a country that isn’t a living nightmare.

Now to keep up with my promise to practice gratitude to fight my tendency to forbode joy: Currently feeling gratitude for the luck I was given to be born in this country.

Cultivate it.

I play better on Instagram than Facebook but regardless, be my friend online. RamblinRandol is my quest for true belonging. 

What Are Ten Wonderful Things About You? Gratitude Wants To Know.

Happy Monday fraands, hope everyone’s weekend was good, decent, and uneventful in the best way. This moring’s blog is going to be quick because I forgot to write it last night and I’ve got twenty minutes before I really need to get ready for work. This might be my best blog yet because I won’t (can’t) allow myself to overthink each sentence and thought.

It isn’t always easy to remember our strengths or the good things about ourselves. Personally, I find it a helluva lot easier to call out my negatives than praise myself when this question is asked: What do you love about yourself?

When asked my hands usually go dry, heart palpitations increase and my brain literally freezes. The world goes in slow motion and I begin to stutter. My mind repeating one phrase, “what do I like about myself? What do I like about myself? What do I like about myself?”

Nothing ever comes to mind.

But this morning my gratitude journal asked me to name 10 wonderful things about myself and something about using the word wonderful helped me consider what I do think is wonderful about myself.

The word love is confusing for me so it throws off my way of understanding the question. So for the first time ever, I tried to consider 10 whole things I thought was wonderful about myself.

We each have personality traits that are really awesome, so I challenge you to answer the same question. I’ll share mine but I double-dog dare you to share your own answers in the comments.

Let’s do this together!

Ten wonderful things about me:

  1. My laugh is loudly sincere and wholeheartedly expressive of the joy I’m feeling in the moment.
  2. I’m a seeker of knowledge. I want to truly understand the why, meaning and perspective of any and all given situations, a.k.a staying curious.
  3. My want to be the change I wish to see in the world, nothing excites me more than giving back and helping make this world a better place.
  4. I love to cook and trying new recipes. A gift passed down to me from my Pops.
  5. Despite being armored up on the outside, any kind of unnecessary suffering truly bothers me.
  6. I am brave.
  7. I’m creative.
  8. Book smart and street smart.
  9. Incredibly strong, especially in the face of adversity.
  10. Fearlessly authentic.

This did me more good than I thought it would. It felt ridiculous and absurd when I spent (what I felt) too much time contemplating my wonderful parts, and then physically having to write them down.

There’s something solidifying to writing them down. I actually believe what I wrote, so I encourage you to write yours down and share them with me in the comments. This might be the best way to start off your Monday.

Don’t worry, it’ll feel silly at first, but I promise you it’s more rewarding than not.

Now to keep up with my promise to practice gratitude to fight my tendency to forbode joy: Currently feeling gratitude for my spin class tonight. It’s going to kick my ass back into taking care of myself. 

Cultivate it.

I play better on Instagram than Facebook but regardless, be my friend online. RamblinRandol is my quest for true belonging. 

The Difference Between True Belonging & Fitting In

School was out for the next couple days because a snowstorm blew through upstate New York and I was excited to have the day off to play in the snow. After getting bundled up and prepared to be in the frigid temperatures until exhausted from fun, I went outside to find my two siblings to play.

After searching the front and backyard, checking the neighbor’s yard and woods behind both our houses, I found them hiding behind a snowbank across the street. They were making snowballs and giggling.

When I went to jump into the ditch with them, they both scowled before letting me know I wasn’t invited. “Go away, you’ll tell on us. You’re no fun.”

“You’re no fun,” was a phrase I was familiar with, both my parents used it to fling it at me when I didn’t laugh at their jokes or understand what they thought was so funny. My siblings and parents shared this and no matter how hard I tried to fit in with the jokes and fun, it never worked.

I tried to be fun for years and then succumbed to believing I wasn’t fun and lived out their truth.

After reading through the first half of Braving The Wilderness by Brene Brown I finally felt like someone understood how I felt when it came to family.

She speaks about the moment she didn’t feel like she belonged in her family and how it affected her until she was in her mid-forties.

“Even in the context of suffering–poverty, violence, human rights violations–not belonging in our families is still one of the most dangerous hurts. That’s because it has the power to break our heart, our spirit, and our sense of self-worth. It broke all three for me”

– Braving The Wilderness, page 14

And when our heart, spirit, and sense of self-worth breaks, there are only three outcomes according to Brown’s research data…

  1. You live in constant pain and seek relief by numbing it/and or inflicting it on others;
  2. You deny your pain, and your denial ensures that you pass it on to those around you and down to your children; or
  3. You find the courage to own the pain and develop a level of empath and compassion for yourself and others that allow you to spot hurt in the world in a unique way.

The pain I feel is deep, so deep I don’t even know where the roots are to rip them out of my being. While I’m no expert, I will honestly tell you I’m extremely good at doing numbers one and two.

For years I tried to fit-in and for years got rejected, but I continually knocked on that door hoping it’d open and the outcome would change (not just with family).

Constantly setting myself up for disappointment made me the expert at numbers one and two. Anger has been my shield for MANY years and honestly, I’m still fucking angry.

I’m afraid of losing my anger armor. If I don’t have anger protecting me, then who am I and what will happen to me if I leave myself vulnerable and open to other emotions?

In Braving The Wilderness, Brene defines the difference between fitting-in and true belonging which sounds simple because on face value who doesn’t know the difference between fitting in and belonging? It’s in the word.

Her clarification between the two words was the flashlight I needed to start navigating my way out of the cave.

“Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal, we often try to acquire it by fitting in an by seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitues for belonging, but often barriers to it. Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”

She goes on to add true belonging also includes having the courage to stand alone when it’s needed, and feel comfortable with that decision. i.e. standing up for what you believe in wholeheartedly, even when you’re surrounded by different opinions.

I’ve been trying to fit into family and friend relationships for my entire life, basing my worth off what they’d give me in return. You get told throughout life that ‘family is everything’ and ‘all you have is your family,’ so it’s a confusing message when you don’t feel like you’ve ever belonged which makes it even more difficult to stop knocking at the door.

This new understanding of true belonging has lifted a burden off my shoulders I didn’t know was there. True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are, therefore freeing me of the responsibility to feel like I need to fit in.

“You are only free when you realize you belong no place–you belong every place–no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.” — Maya Angelou

Now to keep up with my promise to practice gratitude to fight my tendency to forbode joy: Currently feeling gratitude for the relationships I have at my office. 

Cultivate it.

I play better on Instagram than Facebook but regardless, come be my friend online. RamblinRandol is my quest for true belonging. 

It’s A Shame; He Was Doing So Well With His Shoveling

“When you have depression it’s like it snows every day.

Some days it’s only a couple of inches. It’s a pain in the ass, but you still make it to work, the grocery store. Sure, maybe you skip the gym or your friend’s birthday party, but it IS still snowing and who knows how bad it might get tonight. Probably better to just head home. Your friend notices, but probably just thinks you are flaky now, or kind of an asshole.

Some days it snows a foot. You spend an hour shoveling out your driveway and are late to work. Your back and hands hurt from shoveling. You leave early because it’s really coming down out there. Your boss notices.

Some days it snows four feet. You shovel all morning but your street never gets plowed. You are not making it to work, or anywhere else for that matter. You are so sore and tired you just get back in the bed. By the time you wake up, all your shoveling has filled back in with snow. Looks like your phone rang; people are wondering where you are. You don’t feel like calling them back, too tired from all the shoveling. Plus they don’t get this much snow at their house so they don’t understand why you’re still stuck at home. They just think you’re lazy or weak, although they rarely come out and say it.

Some weeks it’s a full-blown blizzard. When you open your door, it’s to a wall of snow. The power flickers then goes out. It’s too cold to sit in the living room anymore, so you get back into bed with all your clothes on. The stove and microwave won’t work so you eat a cold Pop Tart and call that dinner. You haven’t taken a shower in three days, but how could you at this point? You’re too cold to do anything except sleep.

Sometimes people get snowed in for the winter. The cold seeps in. No communication in or out. The food runs out. What can you even do, tunnel out of a forty-foot snow bank with your hands? How far away is help? Can you even get there in a blizzard? If you do, can they even help you at this point? Maybe it’s death to stay here, but it’s death to go out there too.

The thing is, when it snows all the time, you get worn all the way down. You get tired of being cold. You get tired of hurting all the time from shoveling, but if you don’t shovel on the light days, it builds up to something unmanageable on the heavy days. You resent the hell out of the snow, but it doesn’t care, it’s just blind chemistry, an act of nature. It carries on regardless, unconcerned and unaware if it buries you or the whole world.

Also, the snow builds up in other areas, places you can’t shovel sometimes places you can’t even see. Maybe it’s on the roof. Maybe it’s on the mountain behind the house. Sometimes, there’s an avalanche that blows the house right off its foundation and takes you with it. A veritable Act of God, nothing can be done. The neighbors say it’s a shame and they can’t understand it; he was doing so well with his shoveling.”

This was an explanation of depression shared anonymously on a Reddit thread and went viral. I’m sharing because mental health issues are still taboo in our first-world country and my wish is society as a whole would be more welcoming to those struggling with this ‘invisible’ disease.

Every year the foundation I work for hosts an annual fundraiser called Fight Night and splits half of the night’s net proceeds with another local at-risk children’s charity. This year we’re partnering with CHOC Children’s and its pediatric mental health initiative.

Here are some facts based on CHOC Children’s research:

  • Half of the children who struggle with a lifetime mental illness had symptoms before age 14 but received no help.
  • Only about 1/3 of children with mental health problems today receive any treatment.
  • Children with chronic medical conditions like asthma or diabetes are 2-5 times more likely than their healthier peers to have mental health problems.
  • Stigma, denial, and lack of access to care are barriers to healing.
  • The earlier a child receives high-quality, evidence-based care, while the brain is rapidly developing, the greater the possibility of a positive outcome.
  • Effective treatment in partnership with the family can change the trajectory of a life.
  • Suicide is the second highest cause of death with young people between the ages 10 – 24.

Clinical depression [1] is a “whole-body” illness that affects your mood, thoughts, body, and behavior. Many factors can contribute to clinical depression, including cognitive issues (e.g., negative thinking patterns); biological and genetic factors; gender (it affects more women than men); other medications; other illnesses; and situational factors.

For some, a number of these factors seem to be involved, while for others a single factor can cause the illness. Often, people become depressed for no apparent reason. In an effort to cope with the emotional pain caused by depression, some people try to “self-medicate” through the abuse of alcohol or illegal drugs, which only leads to more problems.

I was also made aware African Americans are even more less likely to seek treatment for mental health issues. The following [2] statements reflect some common misconceptions about African Americans and depression: “Why are you depressed? If our people could make it through slavery, we can make it through anything.” “When a black woman suffers from a mental disorder, the opinion is that she is weak. And weakness in black women is intolerable.” “You should take your troubles to Jesus, not some stranger/psychiatrist.” 

The truth is that getting help is a sign of strength. People with depression can’t just “snap out of it.” Also, spiritual support can be an important part of healing, but the care of a qualified mental health professional is essential. And the earlier treatment begins, the more effective it can be.

So…stop the stigma. Talk about it. Mental health matters. We need each other.

Everything you have ever wanted, is sitting on the other side of fear.-9

 

 

 

I Know Suicide

I’ve had two friends try to commit suicide and another one succeed. Once when I was seventeen, and twice within one month when I was twenty. These experiences are why I have zero tolerance for those feigning ignorance regarding suicide and mental illness, and why 1-800-273-8255 Your Life Matters might’ve sounded like a rant…

Two days ago I wanted to write this blog instead but chickened out because I didn’t want to come across as insensitive or bragging…I don’t know, my anxiety was telling me I’d fuck up the delivery and I didn’t want to disrespect anyone.

What’s changed? I believe understanding mental illness and all of its tangled branches is important to our growth as a population AND community. We need to do the work, together, and how does that happen? By talking about it.

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We were seventeen and extremely close. Every night after school we’d meet under the street light, sit on the curb and talk about our day, our future goals and what our parents did to piss us off.

After months and months of spending time together, we tried to date. It only lasted a week. It just didn’t feel right, we were SO close. The day after we broke up he skipped class and hung out with a mutual friend.

At the end of the day, that same friend came running to my house after dropping him off to ask, “what the fuck did you do? He said he wanted to try the 24 pills in the 24-hours thing, he’s been out of it all day and I don’t know how many, if any, he’s already taken.”

Before he could finish his sentence I had sprinted off towards his house in just my socks. My heart was pounding louder than I was pounding on his front door. His two sisters answered, the youngest one in tears begging me to not call the police (he was on probation for drugs).

He was laid up on the couch, unconscious. His face didn’t look normal and I freaked out, jumped on top of him and shook him while screaming his name until one of his eyes opened and then rolled to the back of his head.

I was shouting questions to keep him awake while his youngest sister was shouting, “please don’t call the cops, mom will be home soon. He can’t go back to juvie!”

So I didn’t.

Instead, I went back home and waited, and waited, and waited. Deep down I knew I should’ve called 911. I fucked up, he was going to die. I sat on the front porch waiting and waiting.

Finally, sirens came.

All I remember is running out to the front yard and losing it in the lawn. He spent two days in the hospital, got his stomach pumped and the story his mother told was, “she had hidden her muscle relaxers in her migraine medicine bottle. It was her fault he had taken the wrong pills.”

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We were closing together and it had been a long night. We both had gotten our ass kicked with the late dinner rush and per usual, I was behind the grill helping push tickets out. It was stressful but my coworker was feeling the pressure more so than me.

For the past couple of weeks, he had been living life medication free and not by choice. A problem with insurance refusing to cover its portion of the payment for his meds left him powerless and unable to afford his stabilizer.

He suffered from schizophrenia. When he was on his meds you’d never know, but when he was off them, you knew.

This night hadn’t been his night. He had lost his temper on an elder couple when they spilled their drink and demanded he clean it up and bring them another. Instead of letting it go he walked out with a child’s sippy cup and told them, “this might suit you better.”

The couple complained and he got reprimanded by the manager on duty. After the scolding, it went south fast. We got our ass kicked, food wasn’t coming out quick enough and when I jumped on the grill to help he lashed out.

“Where the fuck is my food!” he shouted while launching the stack of grill trays toward me on the other side. I responded with an equal amount of anger and chucked a plate in his direction.

He disappeared.

Me and one other server were stuck trying to play clean up and catch up.

I found him later mumbling in the breakroom, pacing and unable to sit still. All I remember is he kept repeating, “tell my mom I love her.” When I pushed for him to explain he bolted out of the breakroom.

He had been writing suicide notes and had only managed to grab two of three he had written. After finding and reading the note I brought it to my manager’s attention. My manager claimed, “he’s doing it for attention, forget about it and go home.”

I called the cops anyways.

They put him in holding, got him his meds and he now lives in South Florida.

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She didn’t have a stable schedule at work. She’d work for months and then I wouldn’t see her for weeks. Sometimes she was the life of the shift, made the hustle fun, had a joke for every moment and was full of life. 

Other times you couldn’t approach her. She was silent, deadpanned, and unresponsive no matter how hard you tried to make her smile.

“Not today Shannon,” my coworker (who had been around awhile and knew her the best) would tell me. “Today isn’t her day.”

She suffered from depression and bipolar. She was in her late forties, still lived with her mother and didn’t have any family of her own.

After a couple of years knowing her and honestly being pleasantly surprised each time my shift coincided with hers, one day she didn’t show up.

The next day we found out she had committed suicide, Mom found her. The hardest part was working the next week knowing when she was supposed to be there and having to pretend like it didn’t happen. Nobody wanted to talk about it, not the managers or a majority of coworkers.

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The first story I shared is mostly why I didn’t want to write this post. I carried guilt for many years, even despite the fact we were still friends for a while after this instance. It felt like his family and our mutual friends blamed me.

For the few who knew, his overdose was never mentioned without noting I had broken up with him.

I now know this wasn’t fair. He had been struggling for many months with hard drugs, pills and staying in school. Me breaking up with him wasn’t mean or “the ultimate friend zone” jab. The relationship didn’t feel right when after I was expected to kiss him, and I couldn’t pretend because it wouldn’t be fair to either one of us.

He was depressed and struggling to fit in at home. He had his own issues to sort out with no information or help from the adults in his life. Bottom line, he (and everyone else) is responsible for his own actions. He popped the pills.

The second story opened my eyes to the importance of having affordable access to medication and truly understanding a person with mental illness is powerless to their disease when left without meds.

He couldn’t help it how he acted off his meds. If he had a choice I’m sure he would’ve chosen to not manage life with schizophrenia.

And for the third story, I don’t think I ever grieved her death. Whenever her name got brought up it fell quiet, so we all pretended like it didn’t happen and never let ourselves go there. It’s like she never existed, and that makes me extremely sad because she was an incredible lady.

There’s a bit of information or understanding to be learned from all three narratives, and I hope it further drives home my point that mental health matters. You’re life matters and may we all remember, everyone is fighting their own daily secret battles, so be kind.

Now to keep up with my promise to practice gratitude to fight my tendency to forbode joy: Currently feeling gratitude for these three difficult life experiences that opened my eyes to a whole other (semi) understanding of the importance of mental health. What are you feeling grateful for?

Cultivate it.

I play better on Instagram than Facebook but regardless, come be my friend online. RamblinRandol is my personal journey about understanding myself more with the hopes it’ll help someone else in the twenty-something/pushing thirty struggles.

1-800-273-8255 – Your Life Matters

We are way behind the bell curve when it comes to understanding mental illness and it grinds my gears when there is no compassion or tried understanding. And I get it, not everyone is capable of understanding or compassion but what the hell is everyone else’s excuse?

Yesterday my husband and I ate a late lunch at our favorite sushi restaurant here in Orange County (Minato Sushi in case you’re wondering), and I overheard the table behind us discussing the recent suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain.

The adult son claimed, “Kate Spade’s suicide was more of a shock than Bourdain’s, at least he had a long history with substance abuse.”

I tried not to glare. How can one suicide be more shocking than another? Isn’t all suicide terribly shocking? And to me, it sounds like he’s trying to justify one suicide over the other by understanding the public personas each person put on while out in the public, which leads me to the next two questions…

How come we have to assess “who is more broken” in order to determine our own emotions about someone else committing suicide? Since when does suicide make sense? And PS: just because you feel like you know celebrities, TV personas, etc. doesn’t mean you have the full story.

Let’s talk about mental health. Did you know that suicide is the leading cause of death in the United States? According to the CDC, it is now the number one fatal injury across the states, surpassing automobile accidents.

In this same report, the data shows men (in every age group compared with women) kill themselves at a higher rate than women. See that diagram, here.

This stat shook me, too. How come men are more prone to suicide? Is it because of the societal pressure to be a strong figure who provides, never cries, and will always come swooping in to save the day on their white horse for the family?

It’s impossible nowadays to have a one-family income support the family. So let’s let this ideal die with the same notion woman aren’t as valuable as men in the workplace and everywhere else.

I proudly stand with the women’s movement, chant for equal pay, and felt relieved when the #metoo campaign caught fire. And I also have that same passion forward thinking in regards to how we’re raising our young men. This ain’t 1950, boys can cry if they want to, too.

Suicide is defined (like I’m sure you know) as a death caused by self-directed injurious behavior with intent to die as a result of the behavior. Suicidal ideation refers to thinking about, considering or planning suicide.

Suicide is a MAJOR public health concern.

Logic made a hit record about suicide prevention. Jada Pickett Smith and others in the spotlight made a statement about their own personal struggle with mental health issues. Conversations are happening; let’s collectively continue improving our understanding of mental health.

What’s the first step? Does anyone have any ideas?

I think misusing the term mentally ill is a good starting point. We’re in a culture where words don’t matter because they can be slung anonymously over the web. We self-diagnose and label others easily and incorrectly. Not everyone is a narcissist. Mom’s an asshole but she’s not mentally ill. Not every school shooter is mentally ill.

Words matter and we should be careful with them.

Once we regain the word maybe then we can begin to redefine it in a way everyone can understand. Mental health is the umbrella word like marketing is to communications. Mental illness includes everything from panic attacks and anxiety to bipolar and schizophrenia.

Suicide is complicated and sad regardless of who commits the act. May no one reading ever know what it feels like to truly believe family, friends, and children, would be better off without you in their lives. If you’ve had suicidal thoughts or are having suicidal thoughts call 1-800-273-8255 for help.

It’s okay to not be okay and ask for help. Your life matters.

Now to keep up with my promise to practice gratitude to fight my tendency to forbode joy: Currently feeling gratitude for everyone sharing their own personal mental health story to help spread the awareness. What are you feeling grateful for?

Cultivate it.

I play better on Instagram than Facebook but regardless, come be my friend online. RamblinRandol is my personal journey about understanding myself more with the hopes it’ll help someone else in the twenty-something/pushing thirty struggles.

 

 

 

What Do You Want & What Do You Need

Have you ever asked yourself what do you want people to know about you and what do you need from them? I’ve never asked myself outright but my friend Brené Brown asked me in Chapter Six: Disruptive Engagement. So here we go, friends…

Q: What do you want people to know about you? 

A1: I want people to know that respect is extremely important to me and that I firmly believe its something earned and not given. And because it’s so important to me, I strive to show the same respect I’m given. Respect is a two-way street, like I said, it’s earned not given.

To answer Aretha Franklin’s burning “R-E-S-P-E-C-T find out what it means to me” question, to me respect means you care enough about me that you’re not going to disrespect my boundaries after I took the time to voice them to you.

Respect means a lot to me personally and professionally. If I don’t respect you it’s incredibly difficult to deal with or connecting with you.

It’s also why I give Momma’s out there a shit ton of credit because I don’t know how you all do it with as much ‘free advice’ that’s given or blatant disregard for your wishes when it comes to your kid(s). My least favorite statement from folks is, “ya know what you should be doing” or “what you ‘outta do is..”

It’s not that I think I know everything or that I can’t learn from my elders, but ninety percent of the time it’s coming from someone who is speaking to me as if I’m the child and they’re the parents, which leads me to my next point…

A2: Do not speak to me like I am less than or as if I’m a child. My second least favorite activity is when people try to speak to me like a child because let me tell you, I haven’t been a child for a long time and I could probably argue I never got to be a child.

The person who has been taking care of me the longest is myself. I’ve had a lot of life for the short amount of time I’ve been around, so show me some respect and speak to me as an equal, not a youngin’ who doesn’t know her ass from her anus.

I’m smart, strong, and enough.

Q: What do you need from people?

A1: I need to be heard. There is nothing more frustrating to me than not being heard, and I mean actually heard. Not what you think I meant, what you were saying to yourself while I was talking, or what you think is better for me.

When I take the time out to communicate, I need you to actually listen and understand my perspective.

“When people talk, completley listen.” — Ernest Hemingway

Here’s a handy-dandy listening flowchart if you’re confused what I mean by listening wholeheartedly. Thanks, Hubspot! 

good-listener-infographic.png

So how’d ya do on the flowchart?

If I am heard, then I feel respected.

Now, ask yourself (and possibly leave it in the comment section below. Sharing is caring!), what do you want people to know about you and what do you need from those people?

Now to keep up with my promise to practice gratitude to fight my tendency to forbode joy: Currently feeling grateful for the time I had with my Husband this weekend. We saw A Quiet Place on Friday, Saturday he took me out for Date Night and Sunday we did a few air museum tours and cuddled on the couch. What are you grateful for today?

Cultivate it.

I play better on Instagram than Facebook but regardless, come be my friend online. RamblinRandol is my personal journey about understanding myself more with the hopes it’ll help someone else in the twenty-something/pushing thirty struggles.

Starved for Joy and Hungry for Gratitude

If you starve yourself of joy, the best way to combat this tendency is to practice gratitude. Here’s what I learned in chapter 4: The Vulnerability Armor of Daring Greatly.

In a culture of deep scarcity–of never feeling safe, certain, and sure enough–joy can feel like a setup. Everyone in the family is healthy. No major crises are happening. The house is still standing. i’m working out and feeling good, Oh, shit. This is bad, disaster is right around the corner. 

Hold the phone. Other people do this, too? You mean my secret (subconscious?) way of dealing with the too good vibes isn’t an original plan? You’re telling me this is one of the three ways people evade vulnerability and I fit into one of those damn boxes!?

To be honest, I don’t know if I’m more annoyed that a STRANGER is calling my shit out or that I’m becoming an annoying Brene Brown Superfan. Ooh! Or that I’m not as original or skilled at dodging emotions as I thought an hour ago.

So here are the three types of ways people shield vulnerability.

  1. Foreboding Joy – never allowing yourself to feel joyful because you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop.
  2. Perfectionism – the belief that if you look and act perfectly it will help you avoid pain and /or shame.
  3. Numbing – dulling our emotions, personal feelings, and being a busy-holic to avoid what’s at the root of your own personal problems.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who has figured out how to shield vulnerability by foreboding joy.  Except I didn’t know that’s what I was doing until page 119 in Daring Greatly. #smdh

Do you do this, too? The second you feel too happy, too joyful, or too good, you immediately stop, drop, and let your imagination run to all the worst possible scenarios that could jeopardize the joy your feeling moments before your head takes over?

You can’t see me, but I’m raising my hand in solidarity (actually I’m raising both damn hands) because I’m so suspect of good vibes I believe I’m actually un-jinxing it by worrying about all the potential bad.

Never do I ever want to be unprepared for ‘what’s the worst that could happen?” Hands down my number one fear. Well, it’s tied for first apparently. Vulnerability is trying to take the trophy.

What makes you feel vulnerable? Give yourself a second to think about it…then scroll to hear mine.

ramblin randol blog image
Photo by Sven Scheuermeier

Love makes me feel vulnerable. I don’t want to love anyone or anyone to love me, that way if something bad happens (divorce, death) it’s easier to recover.

Being pregnant. You’re not out running danger or anyone trying to harm you while 8-months preggers. And it’s quite obvious you’re vulnerable, no hiding it.

Too many good occurrences happening all at once or systematically. Shit like that doesn’t happen to me, the shoe always drops so don’t enjoy it for too long because when it does hit the fan, it’ll be harder to recover.

I used to think the best way to go through life was to expect the worst. That way, if it happened, you were prepared, and if it didn’t happen, you were pleasantly surprised. Then I was in a car accident and my wife was killed. Needless to say, ecpecting the worst didn’t repare me at all. And worse, I still grieve for all those wonderful moments we shared, that I didn’t fully enjoy.

– A man in his early sixties, Daring Greatly pg. 120

I don’t want to starve myself of joy and according to my boo Brown, the best way to turn the tables on foreboding joy is by practicing gratitude.

When I first read the bolded title, I snorted. Like, I am grateful. I don’t live on the streets, in a third-world country or in Russia, so how the hell else am I’m going to be grateful?

Nope, missed the point.

This is how I interpreted it: Yes, there are others in worse situations than you, but you are ENOUGH and deserve to feel gratitude for your own life. She recommends keeping a gratitude journal and making an entry once a day. This way you practice appreciating all of life’s big and small moments.

There are only two days in my entire life that I can whole-heartily say nothing could touch me because I was on cloud nine and truly enjoying the joy. Those two days were my wedding day and when I graduated college.

I don’t want to die and only be able to actually feel only two days of joy out of my entire life. So as ridiculous as it sounds to me, I’m going to start a gratitude journal (better than a food journal, right?) and acknowledge gratitude at the end of each blog.

Keep me accountable 😉

Currently feeling grateful for: the hot tub at my apartment. 
It's the only place the Hubs and I can communicate effectively 
with no distractions.

What are you grateful for today?

Cultivate it.

I play better on Instagram than Facebook but regardless, come be my friend online.