September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness month. While it’s great there’s a month dedicated to this, it should be 365-day year awareness.

I understand suicide can be a touchy subject especially for those who have struggled with it themselves or have lost a loved one to it.

I wanted to share my personal story with suicide because that was something I struggled with for a long time.

I was 14 years old when I started getting suicidal thoughts. I was in high school and was completely miserable. I was living in an abusive household suffering abuse from my mom on a daily basis. It was physical, verbal, & psychological abuse. Living in such a toxic environment and experiencing that abuse on a regular basis caused me to go into a severe depression.

I would spend hours locked in my room crying myself to sleep. I would always question God asking him “why me?”

“Why was this happening to me?”

“Why did I have to get a mom who treated me so terribly?”

It wasn’t much longer when I started to get suicidal thoughts on a regular basis.

My mom told me so many lies on a regular basis that it was hard for me to not believe them. She convinced me I was a burden to others & that I shouldn’t be on this earth. She told me things that no child or person should ever here. She told me she wished I were never born and that she wished she had me aborted when she had the chance. These are things I wish I could say never happened, but those were all lies she told me.

My thoughts started to become more negative and darker as the days went on. I started to lose feelings of happiness and forgot what happiness felt like. I started to feel numb & empty on the inside not feeling any emotions but sadness. I started to cope with self-harm when I was 14 years old. I believed it was the only way for me to feel something besides emptiness & sadness so I turned to self-harm.

That’s when the suicidal thoughts started to creep in and became more frequent. I started to believe the lies my mom and my depression told me. I believed I was a burden to others and that the world would be a better place without me in it. I wanted out of the world so bad that I came up with a plan when I was 15 years old to end my life. I had been prescribed pain medication from a dentist visit when I had to get a root canal and researched that medication and found that if I took all of the pills in the bottle I could never wake up again. That was my plan.

It was like playing tug o war in my mind though, there was that part of me that believed I was a burden and that I should just leave the world now, but there was another part of me that wanted to keep fighting. It told me to keep pushing through that those negative thoughts were lies and I could beat them.

I confided in my high school’s guidance counselor and he helped me push through the suicidal thoughts. I didn’t seek out treatment for my depression at the time even though I should have. Throughout high school I still struggled with depression and being active in sports helped me manage it.

After high school and when I went away to University the suicidal thoughts started to creep in again. I thought it was just homesickness since I was going to school on the other side of the country, but it was much deeper than that for me.

It was the summer of 2014 when I was home from University that I sought out treatment for my depression. I struggled with an alcohol addiction and one day when I had way too much to drink I couldn’t control the suicidal thoughts. I knew that if I didn’t seek out help that night, I would have harmed myself and may not be alive today. I had my best friend’s boyfriend drive me to the mental hospital and drop me off. He asked me if I was sure I wanted to do this and I told him yes I knew if I didn’t get help I was only going to get worse.

I spent three days in the crisis unit of the mental hospital. I was put on Zoloft and anxiety medication that helped ease my anxiety while I was there. I wish I could say going on Zoloft helped with my depression, but it actually made things worse for me. At the time I was diagnosed with depression and didn’t know I had bipolar disorder. When I was on Zoloft I felt like a zombie I was so out of it and numb, I hated it. I didn’t realize that for those who have bipolar disorder, anti-depressants could cause you to go into mania, which it did for me.

When I was back at University that semester I was a wreck. I was in and out of depressive episodes along with being in manic episodes. My alcohol problem was out of control and my behavior was reckless. I was failing all of my classes and was drinking on a daily basis. I started to struggle with self-harm again and the suicidal thoughts again. I knew that if I didn’t leave University and get myself out of that environment things were only going to get worse for me. That’s when I withdrew from University and moved back home to Florida.

I wish I could say everything got better for me when I got back home to Florida, but my depression grew worse. The psychiatrist I was seeing was no help at all to me and didn’t listen to my problems. He didn’t care to give me a proper psych evaluation and just wrote me a script for the next anti-depressant out there. I continued to struggle with self-harm and battled the suicidal thoughts daily.

I was empty & numb living in an endless cycle of my depression.

It wasn’t until the end of 2016 when I finally found a psychiatrist who gave me a proper psych evaluation and diagnosed me with bipolar disorder. Getting on the proper medication and changing my lifestyle to healthier habits, put an end to the suicidal thoughts. It was like the fog had finally been lifted and I could see clearly again. I started to see a therapist for a few months as well that helped me work through some of the issues from my past.

I’m happy to say that I am stable now and have not harmed myself in over three years now. I still find myself going into depressive episodes every now and then and will catch the suicidal thoughts creeping into my mind. I’ve become a lot stronger than I was three years ago and can fight off the thoughts much better than before.

I know living with a mental illness will be a life long battle for me. I’ve spent over ten years now fighting the demons and while it can be exhausting, I know I will survive the fight.

For those of you that have experienced something similar or going through a tough time please never hesitate to seek out help. There are so many resources available out there today and remember you are not a burden to others. Your life matters and you are never alone in this fight.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

The Voyage and Worthiness

I am worthy

even when I don’t feel like it.

There’s so much of my past self that I don’t

resonate with at all anymore, but I love her just the same.

She was growing.

She was doing her best.

She fought hard to get me here.

Thank you for being with me. Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind.

Angel love and rainbows.

Love, Francesca.

How an Emotional Support Animal Helped With my Healing

I got my cat Calypso five years ago when I had moved back home from University. That period of my life was when I was struggling badly with my mental health. I had withdrawn from University because I had been sexually assaulted and my mental health was on the decline.

 

Moving back home, I felt alone and was battling negative thoughts on a daily basis. I had a friend suggest to me that I look into getting an emotional support animal to keep me company and help with my healing. I did research on emotional support animals and found that some of the benefits were that it lowered stress & anxiety levels, reduced feelings of loneliness, and offered companionship. I was living with my grandparents at the time so it took some convincing for them to let me bring a cat into the home since they had a dog. When I shared with them the benefits of having an emotional support animal they quickly got on board with the idea.

 

I’ll always remember the day when I brought Calypso home. My best friend and I were out shopping for the day and figured we would stop by the pet store to look at the animals. I saw Calypso there and it was love at first sight. She was the cat I wanted to bring into my life.

 

The pet store was partnered with the local humane society so we gave the lady a call to meet us at the store so I could interact with Calypso. Like any cat meeting a new person she was a little skittish and apprehensive, but quickly took to me. The lady told me that another family had looked into adopting her, but she didn’t think they were a good fit. She saw the connection between Calypso and me and could tell it was going to be a good fit.

 

The first day I brought her home she immediately took to me. I’ve had cats before and sometimes they’ll spend a couple days in hiding getting used to their new surroundings, but that wasn’t the case with Calypso. She spent about maybe an hour in hiding and was already comfortable in her new surroundings.

 

Adopting Calypso to be my emotional support animal was the best decision I made. Even though she’s a cat she’s become my best friend and part of the family. During my healing with mental health she was there for me every step of the way. I had days where it was a struggle for me to get out of bed and find any motivation to do anything and she was always there to give me that extra push. She helped me keep a routine since I would have to feed her twice a day and it forced me to get out of bed every day.

 

They say animals can always pick up on people’s emotions and I believe that is true. I had days when I would spend hours crying and she would sit with me until I was feeling better. Whenever I was having a bad day, she would be glued to my side. She would follow me around the house like a little puppy dog and would let me pet her as much as I wanted. She would give me that extra motivation and push I needed to get through the day to get daily tasks done. She helped me feel not so alone and gave me that love I deeply craved and needed at that time.

 

I am forever grateful for having Calypso in my life. Even though she is a cat, she played a big part in my healing journey. She was there for me every step of the way and gave me that extra love and support I needed.

 

If you have considered adopting a pet for an emotional support animal, I highly encourage it. Having my cat a part of my life helped with my healing process and kept me motivated each and everyday.

Write for You

Creating is an outlet for emotions unspoken, passion untapped, or stories untold.

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Why do I write? Why do I spend countless hours spinning words and sentences into paragraphs attempting to make sense of whatever moment or idea has struck me that day? Why is it so important for me to express myself in a way I have never been able to do out loud to others or even to myself? Why is it when I unleash the pages of my truth do I feel fifty pounds lighter and as if I can conquer the world?

You ask any writer, musician, poet or artist for that matter why they do what they do, you will find that although each individual answer may sound different at the jump, as you peel back the layers, the foundation is usually the same. Creating is an outlet for emotions unspoken, passion untapped, or stories untold. It is a path to express oneself in a way that some may not be able to otherwise. Whether the reason stems from challenges to heartache or from excitement to success, the art of expressing oneself, in whatever manner it may be, is therapy for the soul.

For me, I write for me, it helps me to discover the truth about who I am and why I am here. I write words that sometimes are difficult to spell out and even more difficult to read; I write from a place that only I know is there until that moment my fingers dance across the keyboard; I write because the more I do, the more free I feel; and, I write for you, because even if it’s just one twisted tale or deep emotion shared, and a connection made, it is one less person believing they are alone in this journey of life.

There is no doubt I, along with my writing, has matured and shifted over the years, and while practice has helped, it is not where I place all the credit. In my growing up as a person and as a writer, I have found that the words are stronger and the meaning behind them deeper when they are honest, raw and real. I have learned this honesty by facing fears I didn’t even realize I had, extinguishing lies I have been telling myself, taking responsibility not for those around me, but for myself, and learning patience not just with others, but with me, and I have also found the more words I put out into the world (much like love, laughter, and kindness), the more I get back.

For me, writing is cleansing, challenging and can take me to places inside my head and my heart I never thought I would go, but has helped me carve my path to the real truth that lies within. Whatever your reason for creating, in whatever form that fits you best, do it for you. Write for you, paint for you, sing for you, and do it with raw honesty, that type of honesty that can be more difficult for you to admit than it is for people to hear. The fact is, the more honest you are with yourself, the more those around you will connect with your truth and the more you will realize you are not alone.

Much Love,

Lisa J