Sunday, March 22, 2009
She ended it. A finality that shook family and friends to the core. While most everyone reels from the impact, the "how could she," or "what could I have done," my focus goes to her. What drives someone to that point? How far can someone fall before they are unable to get up? Where is the line beyond which there is no help?
While some are quick to fault, I feel a sadness. I've only known a couple of people who have taken their own lives but there's a part of me that totally understands how they could reach that point. There was a time in my life where I thought about it... a lot, but I was fortunate enough to have family close by... or perhaps it was some inner strength that drove me to find a way through my own personal despair.
I'm not saying that the ones who take their own lives are weak. We all have our own crosses to bear and we all need help in one way or another. Maybe sometimes there IS no other way... for them. When the end of the rope is reached and all options have been tried and there is no one to turn to or authority denies proper help, what does one do? When one falls so far into the chasm that they cannot get out or accept what is available and all strength and desire are gone... what then?
I believe there is a point of no return... or no return without desperate measures like hospitalization and all. But how can someone be "saved" before that point? Then, too, that person has to want to be helped and they have to do the work. Sometimes, people are unwilling or they just... can't. If you are in that position of witnessing another's downward spiral, there's only so much you can do. Mostly, it is up to that person to help themself.
A good friend of mine explained mental health as chemical reactions in the brain and when there's an imbalance, the person afflicted cannot help themselves. My friend told me that in these cases, people need medical intervention. It seems to me that in today's society this is becoming a huge issue and I struggle to understand why so many people are quick to get the drugs. There are even commercials on tv now to convince people that if they are unhappy and depressed, that they can get these magic pills. (Well, you know my magic pill theory.)
Perhaps...evidently... I wasn't really suicidal when I was younger even though I was terribly unhappy and planned ways of doing it. Maybe there was just a strong will to live within me that kept me from doing it. It could simply be that I decided that I wanted to be happy and was going to find a way to accomplish that. Perhaps there are no real reasons why some people have to end their lives by their own hands, but it is a part of life and something that makes us take stock of our own.
When I've talked to people who are depressed, I've noticed they are often stuck. They reach a point where they are unwilling to listen to advice. Sometimes it even seems there's a part of them that LIKES being miserable. Misery does feed on itself and will keep doing so until you say STOP!!!
Deciding on happiness or despair is a choice; it can be a hard choice, but still a choice. It takes practice and it is work! If bad luck seems to be your friend, it's time to find new ones. When the mind's patterns are always keyed in on everything that goes wrong, it's time to change the way you think. We are so willing to do physical exercises to keep the body in shape, but mental exercises to keep you mentally vibrant and alive are just as important.
I decided I wanted to be happy and began researching and experimenting. I read books, took seminars, changed careers and have tried to simplify my life. I found out that if I want to be happy, I had to MAKE myself happy. I had to focus on the things I liked to do and stop relying on someone else to tell me who I was and what to do or be. It hasn't been easy and there are times when I feel like I am kicking and screaming but I know the direction I am going is for my own good. And I am happy.
One of the things I began working with early on is writing and the use of words. If one word didn't quite fit, what other word could I use. For instance, in the beginning, I wasn't sure that I could ever say I was "happy," but what I could let myself feel was joy, simple joy. When I took a walk on the beach after a miserable day at work ... the feel of the sand beneath my feet, the sound of the waves rolling across the rocks, or the fresh smell of the salt air...my heart would be filled with such joy. I could live with that joy.
And so I grew mentally and spiritually. Through the books, seminars, and other training, I had to go outside myself to find my way back into myself. Then finding that I had to be IN myself to find true happiness. During a Tai Chi class the other day, someone asked if in focusing so much on the self might it cause you to be selfish and narrow minded.
There's a big difference between being self-centered and focusing on the self for health. With meditations, yoga, Tai Chi or other healing techniques, the focusing into self also creates a greater openness and compassion for all life. Selfishness is not genuine self-love, but is fear based, whereas centering and grounding in the self is a love and acceptance that radiates outward to all other things. Simply put, "You have to love yourself before you can truly and totally love others." Then your heart will be so full of love that it bubbles over. You will love with great joy and it will be a love you WANT to give and not one you feel you have to.
Attitude, attitude, attitude... and I'm not talking about people who "have an attitude"... but it's about having a positive, healthy attitidue. For instance, every day when I get up, I tell myself, "What a beautiful day!" and I let myself see it as such no matter what the weather or what is planned for the day. When I look in the mirror, I won't allow myself to go "ugh" but will allow that I have a beauty about me. If something upsets me, as soon as I can get calm, I will tell myself something like, "Isn't that interesting that I had that reaction..." and if someone pushes my buttons, I will turn it into, "wow, he must be really unhappy to want to make someone else feel bad." At the end of the day, I say gratitude prayers for my life and for those around me.
Now, I'm not saying I'm perfect. Oh, no no no. I have my moments of impatience and orneriness (I like the word, ornery.) I get angry and feel like throwing temper tantrums (I can visualize that little girl inside of me stamping her foot with her arms crossed in front of her chest and screaming "I won't.") I want everything to go MY way, of course, and when it doesn't, my feelings are often hurt. And I could go on...
But after my bouts of ... my mother calls it normal-ness... I am able to focus on centering and grounding and peace returns to my heart.
Because I have all this... knowledge... within me now, I can view despair and misery with an open heart. I feel more compassion for those who do not know what true happiness is. I've been there and once in awhile still go there but at least I know the way out. I count my blessings every day. My heart cries for those who are lost.
Check out www.poetrypoem.com/sashapoems for the one I wrote this morning about suicide.
May you walk in beauty today and everyday.