TALKING ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH AND SUICIDE – WENDY BLANCHARD, M.S., CHHC, CPS

The other day a friend shared with me that he experienced a tragic loss in his family of a family member who died by suicide. I was so saddened to hear this news, and it reminds me of how many of us are living with so much in our hearts and on our minds that we don’t speak about. It also reminds me why I do the work that I do in raising awareness and working on eliminating stigma on mental health and wellness.

We do know that those who die by suicide, or attempted suicide, were living with a diagnosable and treatable mental illness at the time of death or attempt. We must continue to have an ongoing dialogue about mental health and about suicide. This is how we raise awareness and eliminate the stigma so that those living with mental health disorders feel safe enough to step up and tell someone when they are feeling unwell. WE ALL HAVE MENTAL HEALTH…our mental health, just like our physical health, is on a continuum, and depending upon what is going on within us, and what is going on around us, we fluctuate in our feelings and emotions. These feelings and emotions are directly related to our physical health. If we are practicing self care, daily, and we know what it is that makes us feel “well,” and helps us when we are feeling things such as anxiety, sadness, depression, we are able to self direct to implement these tools that we know have worked in the past. And, sometimes our tools just aren’t working for us and we MUST practice the most important type of self care which is asking for direct support and guidance from a professional.

When I feel unwell and all of my natural and organic tools aren’t bringing me back to wellness, I pick up the phone to make an appointment to speak with either my life transitions coach, or with my therapist. I always feel validated afterwards, and things seem less serious once I talk it out with someone else. Talking with someone else, even someone that we know and trust, can offer a whole new perspective, and hope, in what may seem like a hopeless situation.

This news has been weighing heavily on my mind and heart, and in addition, it reminds me of how blessed I am. I want to remind my loved ones each and every day that they are loved in words, and in actions. We truly never know what someone else is going through, and I want to always be open to conversation and solutions if my loved ones choose to ask me for support and guidance. There isn’t anything that I would not do for any one of my loved ones to help to support them in getting back to wellness.

We must put the same importance on our mental health as we do on our physical health.

I love my “friend” deeply, and he knows this. Hearing news of such a tragic event makes me want to spend more time with him, and with my loved ones, intimately, yet, some people would rather live “solo” and not take a chance on love. They allow their fear, and past experience, (which can be changed with mindful action, deep love and committment) to influence the present, and their future. It is heartbreaking, especially in light of the fact that in a split second, any one of us can experience a sudden loss, or make a decision that changes the trajectory of ones life, and that of ones loved ones.

As this wise man used to remind me all the time early in my recovery, “There are always solutions.” He also promised to be my “witness” throughout my journey. We all need a witness to validate our lives, and yes, there are always solutions, and suicide is NOT AN OPTION.

If you want more information on how to help someone living with a mental illness, or with suicide ideation, you can contact your local Mental Health Association, and/or NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness), as well as AFSP (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.)

You are NEVER alone, and I promise there are always options.

Once again, I am sending my deepest and heartfelt condolences to my “friend” and his family, wrapped in all of my love.

Love and blessings always,

Wendy

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