Suicide: A Follow Up to Yesterday’s Post

ErinSurvivalLeave a Comment

By talking about suicide we can help others who are struggling. I want to follow up on yesterday’s post, Suicide Brings No Relief to Anyone, because I wrote it with a lot of emotion. Even twelve years after my friend Darlene’s suicide, I still feel angry, scared, guilty, and perplexed by her choice to end her life.

I also want to acknowledge that when someone is suicidal, they most often aren’t thinking about how much their death will hurt others. Before each of my suicide attempts, I felt like my emotions were screaming at me. I felt so hopeless I could not stand it. I felt so afraid that I literally couldn’t reach out to a friend for help. I really did think the world would be better off without me because I didn’t matter at all.

I felt like a drowning person surrounded by mirrors. Each second my thoughts screamed SAVE ME I felt my reflection staring back at me. There were no lifeboats in sight, only my own frightened eyes.

What breaks my heart the most about Darlene’s suicide is that she had attempted suicide many times before. She had reached out for help in the past, but found that help inadequate. She needed more help than she could find.

Each of my suicide attempts almost killed me; I have been blessed with second, third, and fourth chances at life. So many chances, actually, that I can’t put a number on them. I want to use this current “extra” chance at life to bridge life and death together. I can speak up and Darlene can’t. I want to speak for both of us.

Whenever I post about suicide, I feel like Harry Potter saying the name, “Voldemort.” In those books, everyone around Harry calls Voldemort “he who should not be named” or “The Dark Lord” or some other euphemism. By saying the word “suicide” I’m naming something that many many people do not want to hear, but not naming the issue won’t make it go away. Leaving an issue in the dark helps no one. We live in a day and age where communication is easier and faster than any other time in history. We talk about cancer, despite the pain associated with it. Suicide shouldn’t be different.

Remember that suicide is complex and everyone’s struggle is unique. If you think a friend might be struggling, do not hesitate to ask them if they think about suicide. You won’t put the idea in their head! The idea is already there. By bringing up the topic of suicide, you give permission to your friend to talk about their thoughts.

No matter how alone you feel, it is not too late for help to come, I promise you. You need to stay alive to get that help. Please do.

Visit my Help page for resources to help you or a loved one who is experiencing suicidal feelings.

ErinSuicide: A Follow Up to Yesterday’s Post

Suicide Brings No Relief to Anyone

ErinSurvival6 Comments

My friend committed suicide 12 years ago today and suicide brought her no relief because she isn't around to feel it. **This post may be triggering because I talk openly about suicide. Visit my Help page for resources to help you or a loved one who is experiencing suicidal feelings.** Twelve years ago today my friend Darlene committed suicide. It was violent and horrible. I knew she was suicidal that night, but she had always taken herself to the hospital when she’d felt impulsive in the past. I was seventeen and didn’t know what to do to help her; I thought she’d be okay. I left her to go to my first job, serving ice cream. I left her alone. I was the last person to see her alive, except perhaps the train conductor, though he saw her too late. Darlene’s funeral made me feel the full impact of her decision. Her friends and family stood around me in a speechless cloud of disbelief. The hole she had left in the lives of those who loved her was bigger than she’d ever imagined it could be. I felt this screaming pit of quicksand-like terror well up inside me. I saw how Darlene had not ended her pain, she had multiplied it and passed it on to everyone she’d ever met. I’m not that different now, twelve years later. I still think about suicide a lot. I still struggle, still question my place in this world. Depression still has a firm grip on me, yet I keep going. I have faith in something better than this. I know that there is a chance that things can get better. When someone commits suicide, they give up their chance of ever feeling better. Darlene never felt relief from her decision to end her life. She never will feel relief. If she’d stayed alive, she could have had decades upon decades of change. Moments of sunshine on her face. Hours of laughter. She loved music, but now she’ll never hear her favourite songs again. If I could go back in time to tell her something to give her hope, I would tell her this: None of us have our shit figured out. None of us are immune to pain. We are all on this planet, lost together. We are never as alone as we feel. We are all here together to help each other live. You would have felt the sun on your face. You would have enjoyed another cigarette. You might even have quit smoking, like you talked about. You would have had long talks on your balcony with me. You wouldn’t have been alone. But Darlene is gone so I can’t ever tell her those things. I’ll tell you: If you think the planet really would be better without you, then you wouldn’t have been born in the first place. I’m serious. You are here because you are meant to be. This world needs you, even if you can’t see it. We fucking need YOU. Yes, life sucks sometimes, even a lot of the time, but it isn’t hopeless, I promise. Every single day things have the potential of getting better. They will get better. Pain hurts so much because the opposite, joy and love, are out there too. When I get happy now, as rare as it is, I feel it deeper than most people. I feel it in its full intensity because I know what it’s like to be in excruciating pain. Joy is a gift. Even if I only get to experience it a handful of times in my life, I want to squeeze every drop from it. It is real. The things that stress me out matter, but they aren’t everything. Yes, I’m broke. Yes, I’m in pain, but dammit, the sun is out today. I am breathing. I can run if I want to. I can hide under the covers and snuggle with my dog. I can eat fresh chocolate. I can laugh. I can cry. No emotion lasts forever. Last night I read a new comment on my How to Survive the Impulse to Hurt Yourself post:

“Thank you so much for this. I Googled ‘Help me’ and this came up. I have been fighting with not hurting myself for so long and tonight I decided to give up. I couldn’t cry and wanted to hurt myself badly. Reading this though helped me let go. The tears came and I feel so much calmer. Thank you. You quite literally saved me tonight. Thank you.”

That beats a million days underground. In my choice to live I can help people. I can make their lives easier, and in turn, they make my life easier. Yesterday was a really hard day for me but man, that comment, it just made me feel so thankful to be alive. Darlene, you have no idea what you’re missing. Your death taught me just how much I want to fucking live. I wish I could share it with you.  

Visit my Help page for resources to help you or a loved one who is experiencing suicidal feelings.

ErinSuicide Brings No Relief to Anyone

Art Show Inspiration

ErinLocal Events, Uncategorized4 Comments

indigoloveMy critical writer voice gets louder and harsher as the dates pile up between my entries on Daisies and Bruises. The less I write, the more ideas I have, and the more I reprimand myself for not writing.

There are so many rules I’m learning about writing an effective blog, but sometimes I feel like the most important part of writing a blog is simply allowing yourself to be human. Make mistakes. Connect with people, not Google stats.

Here’s a human story for you:

I was so inspired to make art last week that I tried breaking into my apartment after I locked myself out.

I live on the second floor. After buzzing my neighbours in my building to no avail, marching to my sister’s empty apartment and back, my desperate eyes glimpsed a lifeless ladder at the side of my house. It was unsturdy as fuck (see me letting go of my writer rules here!) but I laughed out loud and then climbed up the side of my house. Well, I went up the ladder halfway and then went down. Then I went back up and stood, half-hanging from my window ledge.

Digby barked at me from below, indignant that I’d simply tied his leash to a pipe and dared to reach heights I’d never reached at before.

I seriously considered ripping my window screen apart with my fingernails, but then stopped myself. I knew that would only ensure a night full of mosquitoes feeding on my flesh as I collaged past my bedtime.

So I climbed down and interrupted my intensely busy work-at-home neighbours.

“Sorry!” I whispered. “I tried breaking into my apartment and it didn’t work!”

I showed off my blackened palms and arms. Who knew the side of a house could be so dirty?

They let me take their portable phone outside (so not to interrupt their clients) and I called my dad to come to my rescue.

Here’s the outcome of that night:

 

KnowHope by Erin Schulthies

These pieces are going to be in a gallery starting tomorrow and lasting until August 2nd.

Please come for the reception this Friday at 7:30, at the Westland Gallery’s Square Foot Show! I’ll be there, as well as a bunch of rad local artists. It’s going to be awesome!

What can you do to express yourself today instead of self-destructing? I never ever thought my art would hang in a gallery but I’ve lived to see the day come. What are you living for? Take a baby step in that direction today, right now. Life is waiting.

Love Erin

ErinArt Show Inspiration

PTSD and Canada Day Fireworks Don’t Mix

ErinSymptoms and Side-Effects1 Comment

PTSD and Canada Day Fireworks Don't Mix

Excuse the crappy art due to me trembling in fear.

Fireworks are being set off all around my apartment and I am freaking jumping out of my skin. They echo against buildings and I feel like my walls are exploding with the sound.

It’s Canada Day, aka Canada’s birthday, and so I knew fireworks were in order for tonight. I didn’t know someone would be setting them off in my parking lot.

My startle response varies in intensity depending on the day, but on bad days even the sound of a bird tweeting will make me jump. I think I had too much caffeine today, so my anxiety is through the roof. Post-traumatic stress disorder and caffeine do not mix well. PTSD and fireworks do not mix well. I had to take some Ativan tonight to keep from having a heart attack with every explosion tonight. It hasn’t helped much.

Call me a party pooper, but I don’t see how setting off explosions is celebratory in our culture. Playing with fire is danger every day of the year, no matter whose birthday it is. We’re scared of this shit for a reason. I’m scared of this shit for a reason!

I honestly don’t know how war veterans get through nights like these. I have the utmost respect for them.

Now the fireworks seem to have ceased, but there are sirens going off in every direction as police, the fire department, and ambulances all rush off to clean up the mess of stupid human beings.

Next year, I’m getting earplugs and taking cover in the basement.

 

ErinPTSD and Canada Day Fireworks Don’t Mix

Change is Hard When You Have Depression

ErinReader QuestionsLeave a Comment

It's normal to feel scared of change when you're recovering from depression.

Photo from Pixabay

Monica from Australia emailed me a great question about change when recovering from depression.

Here’s a quote from her email (with permission) that sums it up:

“Even though I am in so much pain and that the world is so awful and heavy, a lot of the time I don’t have any desire to fight that, to make change or try, because the sadness and pain is just so familiar that it has almost become a friend or safety blanket. It’s almost relieving to wallow in it, to hurt myself, to carry on with all the destructive thoughts and behaviours because I know where I stand with depression yet happiness is so foreign it terrifies me. However I also hate it at the same time. Isn’t it curious that I can both love something and hate it with so much passion simultaneously?”

Change is scary for everyone, depressed or not. Whether it’s a haircut, a change of schools or beginning a new relationship, we all prefer to stick to what we know because it’s familiar and involves little risk. When we know what to expect, we feel safe.

I remember hearing a long time ago that it’s the unhappiest people who most fear change. And on the surface, that doesn’t seem to make much sense because no one wants to be unhappy. My understanding of this is that if you’re unhappy, it’s very likely that you’re aware of the potential for bad things to happen in this world.

My depression really took hold after some deaths in my extended family (read my full story). Death is the biggest change of all. The losses in my family felt so ominous and overbearing that everything felt out of my control. I became so aware of how impermanent everything is, how everything ends, and it made me want to give up on life. That way, I would be in control of the good-byes.

For years and years I resisted getting better from my depression because it felt like it was the only real truth that wouldn’t let me down. Negative thinking patterns felt comforting because I thought they’d keep me from being hurt again. I’d been hurt enough and I was afraid that I simply couldn’t take any more hurt.

After over a decade of hanging on to my negative thinking patterns, isolating myself, and generally saying FUCK IT to everything, I finally realized it wasn’t getting me anywhere. I wasn’t feeling better, I was feeling worse. Plus I wasn’t able to protect myself from further harm or bad things happening.

To be one hundred perfect honest, I feel ambivalent about getting better every day, probably a hundred times a day. So if you feel like you’re the only person who is confused or scared about getting better from depression, you certainly aren’t! It’s completely normal to be scared or unsure. It’s normal to take one step forward and two steps back, to try something new and then go, “Okay, that’s enough!” and go back to what’s familiar.

Something that comforts me is knowing that change doesn’t happen over night. Getting better from depression is like having the sun rise. It happens gradually so that our eyes get used to the change in light. If the sun just popped on and off like the world’s biggest lightbulb we’d all get in car crashes and walk into lamp poles when the light suddenly went out.

It’s normal to go slow, try things out, and change your mind. It’s normal to both hate being depressed and also feel some comfort in it because it’s what you know. The best thing about getting better is that we never forget the lessons we learned from our pain and years of strife. We grow and change but we don’t forget.

Honour your feelings, no matter what you’re feeling. Write them down, express them, and when you feel sad or scared about getting better, look at your old art and say, “Yes, this is how I felt, but it’s okay to feel better now. I will never forget what I’ve been through.”

Monica, thank you so much for reaching out and sharing your questions and concerns with us! I hope this post helped to answer some of your questions. You are most definitely not alone! Please don’t hesitate to write me and ask me more questions about recovery or depression or whatever crosses your mind. Change is such a huge part of recovering from depression that you can expect to read more about it in future posts on Daisiesandbruises.com.

I also recommend checking out this awesome post on LifeHacker:  Why You’re So Afraid of Change (and What You can Do About it).

Do you have a mental health question you’d like me to answer on the blog? Send me an email at daisiesnbruises@gmail.com.

♥ Erin

ErinChange is Hard When You Have Depression

Macaroni: Spotted in Real Life

ErinLocal Events, The Big Picture12 Comments

auditt

It happened. Just like a dream, except real. The Universe delivered me a pearl of hope in my favourite sports car.

No one has approached me since my recent post where I asked you to say hello if you saw me in public. The incentive for you to say hello was an offer of a free Daisies and Bruises button from my Etsy shop. I figured the likelihood of someone both reading my blog and then recognizing me in little London Ontario was pretty small. I thought at least someone might buy a button to support the blog, even if they didn’t ever run into me.

Neither thing happened. Sometimes I wanted to take down that post of mine, where I went out on a limb and offered my hand to the world. Instead, I pressed on, redesigning our layout and holding my chin up anyway. It hasn’t been easy.

Today after therapy I thought, “Who really would care if I self-harmed again? What difference does it make? What difference do I make?”

Then, about half an hour ago, I walked Digby despite the cool cloudy weather. I’d changed up our walking route lately, venturing North instead so I could dream about living in one of those pretty houses one day.

As I finished crossing Oxford Street at the light, a car pulled up beside me. An Audi TT, the exact car I would buy in a heartbeat had I the money.

I thought maybe the driver was about to reverse his car to turn around, but instead he rolled down his passenger-side window and yelled, “Hey!”

I crouched at bit to see inside the car, ready to give directions to this man who seemed lost. Then I heard, “MACARONI!!”

I stood there dumbfounded and then my jaw slowly dropped. I looked into this stranger’s face; he smiled confidently. I smiled back and said, “YOU JUST MADE MY LIFE!”

“I know you from your blog!”

I told him that I didn’t have my purse with me or else I’d be giving him a free button. He brushed it off and said he just wanted to say hello and that he’d recognized me. After he drove away, I looked down at Digby and said, “That just happened, right?”

I started to laugh and just kept smiling my face off. I wondered how often people actually see me smile anymore.

And then I ran. Sprinting down the sidewalk, Digby kicked his four little legs off the ground at my pace, finally thrilled that I let him move as fast as he wants to when he’s really happy.

I didn’t feel dumb running down the sidewalk in my skate shoes. I didn’t feel too weighed down to move beyond a walking pace. I had the energy to run toward life, instead of away from it. And I could breathe for the first time in ages.

When I got back home, I cried. I cried in the way a person crawling through the desert cries when he discovers not a mirage, but real oasis. I let the tears fall, splashing onto my cheekbones.

When I was done crying, I opened up my laptop and got back to work, securing my place in this incredible world.

ErinMacaroni: Spotted in Real Life

Our New Blog Layout is Live

ErinBlog MaintenanceLeave a Comment

PrettyGoodLooking copy

The new Daisies and Bruises layout is live! If you aren’t reading via the homepage, come check it out.

I forgot how much I love web design; I poured far more time into this new design than I ever anticipated. The homepage is pretty much complete but I still plan on tinkering with it, and then updating the various pages from our menu so they look at great as they can.

Like me and my mental health, Daisies and Bruises will remain a work in progress. Are any of us ever completely happy with our design as we are, in this moment? Of course not. That’s the fun in living.

Wow, I just used “fun” and “living” in the same sentence. There’s a first time for everything!

Keep reading, supporting, and sharing. Daisies and Bruises 2.0 is going to be bring more concise content, more frequent posts, alternate formats, and lots of art. Plus there’s going to be a new email list and zines for you to purchase from my Etsy shop!

I’m back. :)

Love Erin

ErinOur New Blog Layout is Live

Exciting Blog Changes

ErinBlog Maintenance2 Comments

Exciting Blog Changes

Hi lovely readers!
I just wanted to put a quick post up to let you know that you’re going to find some layout changes on the blog for the next little while. I’ve recently moved Daisies and Bruises from WordPress.com to WordPress.org, allowing me to really get my hands into the structure of the website.

Hosting my own site is completely new to me, with new challenges popping up with every move I make. So if you haven’t heard from me for a bit or are concerned that parts of Daisiesandbruises.com are being glitchy, don’t worry! We will be back up and running shortly, with a really cool new appearance to the blog you love.

I will post when the layout change is complete and then you can come and take a full look around. It will be bigger and better than ever before.

Itching to read a new post? Check out my latest posts on HealthyPlace.com for both some writing and video content.

Share Your Depression Story to Heal

Doing What You Love Beats Depression

In upcoming posts here on Daisies and Bruises, you can look forward to me responding to a question from a friend about how scary it can be to think about getting better, let alone get better.

But first, I have to work on our layout. Stay tuned!

ErinExciting Blog Changes

Daisies and Bruises Named a Top Depression Blog of 2014

ErinBlog Maintenance12 Comments

Daisies and Bruises wins a spot in the top depression blogs of 2014 chosen by HealthlineHealthline has chosen Daisies and Bruises as one of the Best Depression Blogs of 2014!

They’ve also chosen my other blog, HealthyPlace’s Coping With Depression blog as a contender in the top 11. Win win!

Check out their rotation of the other winners here. If you can’t see it (I couldn’t at first), turn off your ad blocker temporarily.

Healthline is a great site full of health information, covering everything from cancer to addiction and beyond. Go check it out!

Thanks for the double recognition, Healthline!

After you’re done checking out the other winners, zip on over to HealthyPlace to read my two latest posts since I haven’t linked you in a while:

Dogs Help Depression (complete with a video of Digby!)

You Can’t Hate Your Way Out of Depression

And as always, follow me everywhere because I like you lots!

Daisies and Bruises on Twitter
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Please show support for Daisies and Bruises through visiting my Etsy shop and/or donating directly to my PayPal:

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All proceeds go right back to you in blog content and features.

I’m also looking to migrate this site to its own server to rev up its layout. Details to come! :)

ErinDaisies and Bruises Named a Top Depression Blog of 2014

Can it be Healthy to Hate Your Life Sometimes?

ErinThe Big Picture11 Comments

Can it be Healthy to Hate Your Life Sometimes?On Monday I wrote about changing your negative self-talk so that instead of hating your life you can focus on the things you like about your life. And rephrasing your thinking is important, but since writing that post I’ve started to wonder if maybe sometimes it’s actually healthy to hate your life.

After writing that post I sat on my couch, unsure of whether to scream or cry. I picked up my journal and decided to write down what I want from life. Instead I filled six pages full of sentences all starting with, “I’m sick of _____.”

Usually I don’t let myself complain for long in my journal, because I’m worried I’m digging myself into a deeper hole. But letting the floodgates open and just spilling about everything that was bugging me really helped. And if it helped, how can it be bad? Sure, I sounded like a grouch for all of those pages, but who fucking cares? No one reads my journal anyway, and in all fairness it probably kept me from blowing up at some innocent person in my life about the tiniest thing because I just had so much negativity in me that I had to get out.

Today a friend told me that I need to focus on what I love. Which is a pretty obvious statement if you ask me, but I thought, “No, no I don’t because I am not happy.”

What if someone was in a house that’s on fire and they said, “Help me, I hate this place!” and you said, “Oh, but don’t you like the colour you painted your bedroom?”

What if someone was in an abusive relationship and you said, “Sure, you hate living with this person but you do like their table manners?”

In either of those situations, it would be totally appropriate for that person in distress to reply, “Oh, fuck off!” to your suggestions. Right?

Yeah, I can sit here and focus on what I like and pretend that I don’t hate my life, but there’s only so much denying you can do before you are in serious denial and denial means you’re stuck.

So maybe hating your life means you need to change what you hate into something that you like better. Depression may still be clutching me and making me feel dead and sad all the time, but if I have to live with those feelings, maybe there’s some better way to do it. Some way to make things easier.

So how about changing things until I love them?

If you have depression like I do, it means that we have to try harder than the average person to be happy. It’s a shitty situation but just because it’s hard doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. We can’t just give up. If we have to try harder, let’s try harder. Let’s aim to change the things we can change.

Life can be awful but we have to keep going. Amanda Palmer’s “Bigger on the Inside” song is really giving me courage these days, especially these lines:

You took my hand when you woke upI had been crying in the darknessWe all die alone but I am so, so gladThat you are hereYou whispered “We are so much bigger on the inside,You, me, everybodySome day when you’re lying where I amYou’ll finally get it truly”We are so much biggerThan another one can ever seeTrying is the point of lifeSo don’t stop tryingPromise me.

Watch the video if you want. Trigger warning for mentions of death, sexual abuse, and everything else that makes life really hard. It’s as real as you can get. (Thanks, Amanda!)

So in addition to trying to rephrase my negative self-talk, I’m also going to get real about what I hate about my life. Is there anything I can do to make my life something I enjoy more? If so, I’m going to find it.

ErinCan it be Healthy to Hate Your Life Sometimes?