It's April 14, 2018.
I step outside. I try to catch my breath, but I can’t.
“This can’t be happening!” I want to scream, but I don’t because I don’t want to be viewed as weak, and because I don’t want others to worry.
My whole body hurts as I try to move forward. I feel the moisture on my cheeks. I try to hide my face, to protect myself in some small way. I don’t feel prepared for this. I didn’t plan for this. Who could have actually thought this would be our reality?
I’m far from home and feeling grateful that my husband is here with me. All I want is to be back home, to pretend that this isn’t happening. But first, we must get to our car. A simple task one might think, but not today … today is different. I can’t see where I’m going. I feel lost in the chaos around me. My husband takes my arm and he guides me in the right direction.
We get in the car. I sit there, in shock, in disbelief. My thoughts are running wild. I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to acknowledge this reality. I love my life, but I don’t love this.
I call my children who are home. They’re waiting for our return, wondering what’s taking so long. They’re old enough to know what’s going on, but not quite old enough to fully comprehend the magnitude of the situation. They don’t understand the dangers and uncertainty that lie ahead.
I speak to my daughter. It’s the first time I’ve spoken to her today. I ask a series of questions, questions I’m sure I already know the answers to, but I ask anyway. “Are you alright? Have you eaten? You’re sure you’re good?”
We hang up. I quietly let my husband know that the girls are good. I lay my head back on the seat and close my eyes. The emotions of the day are catching up to me. I’m lost in my thoughts until I feel myself drifting off.
I don’t sleep long before something jolts me awake again. I look around me. I know there are others who are struggling, who are in need of help. I can’t get to them … and even if I could, do I have the tools to really help them?
I’m now home. Grateful to be here. I hug each one of my girls. I tell them I love them. I look outside, and I feel empty. I feel overwhelmed and frustrated. I don’t want to be angry, but if I’m being honest, I’m furious. It’s not supposed to be like this!
I get texts from friends who are checking in, but they’re apprehensive to actually get together. Others are posting to Facebook. Those who are close to me are also in shock. None of us can believe it. The people far away post messages of sympathy, but they’re too far removed to feel the full impact. Some say, “give it a few weeks and it’ll get better, you’ll see.” I appreciate their outlook, but I can’t help but question it. At this point, I must admit that I don’t know when it’s really going to get better.
People are continuing with life as usual. While it may be a reality none of us want to live in, the world around us doesn’t stop. People still have jobs, kids still have homework, dinners still need to be made.
I normally try to find the good in difficult situations, but not today. Today I just want to take the day off. All I want to do is curl up and not be expected to function. I’m torn because I want to spend time with my family, but at the same time, I’m tired … too tired to try to engage with anyone.
I escape to my bedroom where I turn off my phone and crawl into bed. The silence is torture because my thoughts take over. I turn on the tv in order to offer my mind a distraction. It’s not long before I fall asleep.
Inspiration for this piece:
I spent the morning at a Suicide Awareness Memorial where I had the honor to be one of the guest speakers. It was a beautiful service with many heartfelt and emotional moments. The service ended, we prepared to leave, and we quite literally stepped outside and into a blizzard.
As we were driving home, the roads were covered in snow, making it hard to know where one lane ended, and another began. Most of our drive was spent following the cars ahead of us because they had provided a path. At times I noticed that we were not actually driving in the designated lanes of the road. In the center of the path, I could see the dashed line that would normally indicate a lane division.
Suddenly it hit me. This is the perfect imagery for it is to be a leader in the world of psychology, suicide prevention, and grief. I shared this thought with my husband and then went on to explain.
“There is a path that’s been created by the cars up ahead. They’re leading the way, but it doesn’t mean that they’re always correct. Because we’re approaching this path later, after many cars have driven in front of us, there are sections of the road where we can actually see the lane designations. We can see that at times the cars leading the way were correct, but there are also areas where they were not. The cars leading the way have a dangerous task and they’re making the best out of a difficult situation, but just because it's their best, it doesn’t mean it’s always correct.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for trailblazers and people thinking outside of the box. What I struggle with is when leaders in any field use their title as an expert to dictate to others how something must be done and that any deviation from the path they’ve created is wrong. When in reality, we’re all just trying to find our way out of the storm.
If you or someone you know have struggled in your journey with depression or grief, and you're interested in learning about Authentic Healing, click HERE.
I wrote this post the day after we drove home through a blizzard. The metaphor of trying to navigate through a snowstorm was so profound for me that I had to put it into writing. For this piece, I channeled memories from what it felt like when I first lost my dad as well as the emotions I feel from those I work with who are currently still in the most extreme and difficult phase of grief.
The emotions and thoughts I struggled with on that day were not about grief from losing my dad. The grief I was experiencing was from the ongoing stigma associated with mental illness, and how the stigma is preventing people from accessing all possible options to assist them in their healing.
For those of you who read this post and felt concern for my well-being, thank you. Thank you for the sweet messages of concern and support. I appreciate you reaching out to me. I'm blessed by the love you show me.
I've learned that writing is incredibly therapeutic for me. I'm feeling balanced, healthy, and reinvigorated to keep finding ways to help those who need it most.
Blessed │ Wife │ Mom │ Friend │ Founder of GOOD │ Author │ Public Speaker │ Golf Fanatic
It took me years to find my voice and even longer to learn how to use it so that I’m creating GOOD rather than just fighting the bad. Now I use my voice to heal myself and hopefully others along the way.
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Sending love to all those who struggle with mental health and/or have lost a loved one to suicide.
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