Friday, May 6, 2016

What are you afraid of?

As a mother, I want to share her story.  I want someone to allow me to share the loss our community has endured. This was not just a lost soul or a lost cause-she was my child, my baby, my everything and she saved my life. She was the reason to live and to better myself in life.  Unless you were close to our family, the loss only seems like another sad event. It’s hard to perceive or understand or even grasp the utter catastrophic magnitude of what suicide loss really is yet this is becoming so many families’ realities. My circle of family has grown two fold because of one single act that links us all. We share the magnitude of our loss and the method is suicide.  In a moment you have everything and in a flash it’s all gone with just a blink of an eye.  That Thursday morning was like any other morning before. I got up, got ready and went to work. Around 1pm, Sara text me and I replied. Nothing and I mean NOTHING indicated trouble. Nothing out of the normal teenager behavior such as playing on iphone and listening to music or staying up late because it was the summer.  After all, I had lived through some of the worst times in my life. I lost my father to mental illness when I was 8 years old. The disease killed him in less than a year and yes the method was suicide. It destroyed my mother and my family. My mother tried to save him but it was too late.  Our family divided fought to stay together but ended in shattered relationships still to this day broken.
Fast forward 27 years. We had it all.   I had a great new career, amazing friends, loving family, beautiful and smart daughter,  married the love of my life, had the blessing of becoming a bonus mom to an adorable little boy, Sara had an amazing dad and now a bonus dad as well. Life couldn’t have been any better.  You won’t find two separated parents who got along better than Sara’s dad and me. We really had everything we wanted. Our life was what I would call “perfectly imperfect” In the turning of a door handle, my world shattered, crumbled to nothing. Everything I ever knew was gone and I was frozen in time. It was like I was watching this horror movie from the front row. I could tell that it was me but I couldn’t change any of the outcomes. My voice that used to be loud, powerful, and command attention was now this little soft voice of a child…screaming and crying for this nightmare to stop.  I can still hear the screams, my screams to this day in my mind. This day, this moment will forever be burned into my soul, the very essence of who I am now.  I will never forget that moment.

After months of therapy and EMDR treatment, I have given myself permission to cloud that last memory I have of my precious angel. At first, I felt like I had to hold on to this memory for dear life. After all I was the only one who had found her that day, I was the one who couldn’t save her.  Even if it would eat away at whatever pieces of my former self were left, I felt like I had to cling to this last memory of her. I had this thought that if I forgot that moment, then people would forget her and if they forgot her…I would not survive. How could I survive the loss of the only thing that gave my life purpose? Sometimes the image flashes into my head without permission and without resistance, I find myself crippled as if it was that exact moment all over again. Frozen between what is real and what is past.  I have spent months training my brain to allow my picture perfect memory I have, to be altered.  I often find myself shaking my head as the memory lingers in my thoughts. It’s like shaking me back to reality that this is real but I am not trapped in that moment. I try to keep from allowing myself to relive that exact moment and instead I try to focus on a moment that she lived or a moment that she laughed.  The magnitude of the loss will never change, I will forever have part of who I am destroyed…shattered into a million of unrecognizable pieces. The pieces of who I am now are transformed. Some pieces died that day, some pieces of who I am are lost forever and some pieces are so badly damaged that only death will pull them back from the depths of hell.  The people who are closest to me cling to the person I was, all while learning to love the person I have morphed into.  
For the most part, change is a good even if we don’t see the reason right at the beginning. However, this type of alteration is something that you never adapt to. I am 280 days since the last time I saw my daughter breathing and not a day goes by that every essence of who I am doesn’t beg the universe that this is not my reality. Not a day goes by that I don’t ask myself what I could have done to save her.  With every day that comes and passes, I remind myself of how she lived and I find hope in that her story will change the course of someone else’s battle.  Sara had the ability to do anything she wanted in life.  Sara was going to change the world. Her kind heart, infectious smile and her ability to touch your soul was astounding at the young age of 16.  Sara was my only daughter, my best friend and my entire world. She is my only. Sara was a gifted child who spoke many languages, excelled in anything that had to do with school. She had a 4.7 GPA when she passed suddenly in July. She spent her life making others laugh and smile. She would make you cookies just to brighten your day. She never got in trouble. She wasn’t into boys or drugs. She came from a good home.  She had family who adored and loved her to no end. This is seen now in our fight to save others like Sara.  She wanted for nothing. When you saw Sara, she looked as though she had it all. What I didn’t see as her mother was that some of the struggles a teenager goes through hid the dark depression and anxiety that she was facing. She was a perfectionists but I saw this as a strength.  She died suddenly from a disease called mental illness but the method was suicide. What I didn’t see was the silent disease that ate away at her every essence of who she was. I have suffered the greatest loss a mother can go through but I still find hope in the world. Since her death, I have spent every moment of my time to save others by educating. I helped form a non-profit that brings awareness and education to teens, parents and teachers it’s called Speak Up. I created a blog to share my journey in hopes that it will help others have the conversation because what I would give to be able to ask Sara if she has ever thought about killing herself. I have testified in front of the Senate/House of Reps to get laws changed to bring mandatory suicide training to educators. I search for hope in this dark deep world that she left me in. I try to give others hope that they can find their peace after such a tragedy. Some days I get out of bed to change the world she left me in. Other days, I hide my head from the world because the reality that she is gone forever is all too much. I give myself permission to have a bad day yet I don’t stay there forever.  Every 12 minutes, we lose another to suicide. It’s an epidemic. 2nd leading cause in death ages 10-24. What are you doing to change the world? What are you doing to save your children? What are you afraid of? Speak Up and break the silence. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Six Months Since

They say it takes three weeks to change a habit or circumstance. One would logically think that six months of time passing, one would be able to tell you that some things are OK. In reality losing somebody you love and losing them to suicide will never feel okay.  Sara lost her battle to an illness that was in her case fatal. The method may have been suicide. It doesn't have to be. Losing a child to suicide is unnatural and the questions that we are left with attack our very soul. Some days its like time stands still. You are frozen in that last memory of your loved one...echoing in your mind. The day plays in repeat in my head...I should have done this or I should have done that or I could have done this...the if only's that I pray night and night again that no one else will have to face. After six months, there is no overcoming, there is no going back to normal. There is before and after her death. I see videos of me before her death and it feels like a 100 years since that moment. I cant remember the last time I felt complete and happy with the world, let alone myself.  After six months, the pain is just as bad as it was the day that I found her. After six months, the sorrow empty feelings have just grown bigger, larger and more intense. I can barely listen to music. I don't find it soothing or helpful like before. Instead it tears up my soul thinking of all the songs we used to sing together when we drove home from school. I can hear her in my mind singing "I'll pray for you". She hated country music but would listen with me. Doing things like getting ready in the morning are often debilitating because for 16 years every morning was filled with our routine. We would get ready together in the same bathroom and prepare for our day. She was my best friend. I would be putting on my make up and she would be brushing her was moments like that  I would take the opportunity to brush her hair for her. It was our moment that she reminded me she was my little girl. God what I would do to be able to brush her hair again just one more time. Every morning when my alarm goes off, I'm reminded that my life keeps going and hers has ended. People ask how I get up in the be honest I am not sure.  Some days...I just wish my heart would stop because the pain is so intense. Missing her...There is no tap tap tap on my shoulder from a very sleepy teenager, there is no fighting over who would take the shower first. There isn't one moment that she isn't on my mind. Before Sara's death, I would've told you that I was a survivor and that I was handed every challenge you could possibly handle and that I had overcome them one by one. I wore my scars like medals...proudly standing my ground. I don't see myself as a survivor. In my world-You don't survive suicide loss. You don't survive losing a child. I'm a warrior and I fight like hell every day to continue living and breathing without my child. There are some days when all you do is pray to God or whoever you believe in that the pain that is taking over you STOPS. After losing a child to suicide, I can say that my faith was tested to the breaking point. I hold no judgement for anyone's beliefs. 
Six months ago doesn't feel like a long time when you think about, six months...think of how many things you do in that time. I'm just six months into a lifetime of living without her...I have been forced a walk down death row inside my own body, mind and heart. I wonder sometimes if this is how she felt. I wonder if her pain was anything like I long had she fought the pain inside without reaching for help. How long would I last if I didn't seek help?  When I look back in my mind retrospectively it has felt like an eternity of walking through hell and the worst horror you could ever imagine. Every day I wake up and its like my life is on repeat, same hell, same sorrow, same nightmare, over and over. You think at night...please please please let me wake up from this nightmare. Please let this be just a bad dream. Please let this not be my life. I would not wish this nightmare on my worst enemy. Nothing will ever be the same. That is the hardest thing to grasp because I believe that we have the power to change things around us. I believe that we have the power and the ability to make a difference. I showed my daughter that she could change the world if she wanted to. In this case, there is nothing that I can do to change the outcome of the death of my daughter. I find myself in between this fog of disbelief and despair...the waves come faster and faster, one minute you're maintaining the screams in your head; the next minute, you're on your knees, no ability to hold on sucker punch right to the core of you. I feel like I am in a constant battle within my own mind. I miss who I once was living my perfect life, with my perfect family, with my perfect child, yeah we had our imperfect things but that is what made us perfect in my eyes. I didn't really need perfect, I had it already. When you lose a child, it changes you in ways you never thought possible. I see pictures of me and I see the sadness that has taken over. I am broken but I am climbing through the depths of hell. My fight will  not be over until my last breath, I will continue to try to help others. 

Please like and share our facebook page-we will be giving out a Speak Up Hoodie and T-Shirt randomly to 2 of our supporters when we hit 1000 likes!!!

We also have hoodies, bands, car decals and t shirts for purchase(limited sizes) 
if you just want to make a donation. ***All donations are used in the community. Send me a message for orders to Subject line:SPEAK UP or select the link below just to make a donation.

Need help? United States:
1 (800) 273-8255

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline


TEXT “GO” TO 741-741


Thursday, February 18, 2016



I speak for others but not for myself.
I can share their stories with everyone else.
So why do I hide behind my own pain?
So afraid of the backlash, whispers and shame.
People see an image of me,
Happy, alive, outgoing and carefree.
But, if the only knew what was lurking inside,
If the heard the demons I try to hide.
What would they think of the struggles in my brain?
Would they laugh at me? Hate me? Call me insane?
People think my life is perfect, a picture from a book.
But they might see so much more if they took a closer look.
I have much to be thankful for the blessings are great,
But under the image is doubt, inferiority and self hate.
I smile for others, it’s what they want to see.
I put on my show, pretending everyone wants to be me.
But when all is said and done and I am all alone,
The darkness comes creeping in, weighing my heart like a stone.
I want to shout out for someone to hear.
I want someone to take away all these fears.
But I cant let anyone know the thoughts in my head ,
The feelings of fear, doubt and dread.
If I reached out what would they say?
Would they say its for attention and walk away?
Would they say get over yourself you have nothing to worry about?
Your life is perfect, stand up, shut up, figure it out.
So many suffer with much greater ordeals.
Your just selfish, hormonal, go take a pill.
And they are right, so many struggle far worse then I.
So I hide it all away and I lie, lie lie.
But the demons don’t care who you pretend to be.
They creep in and taunt you, make you see what they see.
You are worthless, you fail at all you try.
You hurt everyone who loves you, maybe you should die.
The world wouldn’t miss you if you went away.
It would go on turning, so why bother to stay.
You cant do anything right, you fail at all you do.
How could you really expect anyone to love you?
Soon the words become images in my head.
Examples in my life to support the fear and dread.
I am suffocated with pain, alone in the night.
Struggling in my own hell, trying not to lose the fight.
I reach through the oppressive sadness,
Turning my back, running from the madness.
Why cant I find my own voice?
I am sinking, drowning, and its not a choice.
I want to shout out, to share the hurt inside.
But who would understand me, in  who could I confide?
I stand quite and frozen, by my fears I am confined.
I am all alone, dying, tortured by my own mind.
I sink deeper and deeper, over come with despair.
Panic squeezing my chest, leaving me without air.
Who could I turn to, who could I make see?
Is there anyone who will listen without judging me?
I feel so alone, everyone has turned away.
What is wrong with me, why doesn’t anyone stay?
Just when I think the demons have won the war,
That I can fall no further and can take no more.
I choose to stand up and fight back instead.
Screaming out to drown the voices in my head.
I wont let them win, not this time.
I put on a smile and pretend I am fine.
Back to the beginning the cycle repeats.

No one must know, this is my secret to keep.

Author: Delilah 

Written in memory of Sara "Bob" and all those who suffer. 

Please do not keep secrets!
Speak Up, Reach Out!
Break The Silence!
End The Stigma!
Tell Someone!
U Matter!

Please like and share our facebook page-we will be giving out a Speak Up Hoodie and T-Shirt randomly to 2 of our supporters when we hit 1000 likes!!!

We also have hoodies, bands, and t shirts for purchase(limited sizes) 
if you just want to make a donation. ***All donations are used in the community. Send me a message for orders to Subject line:SPEAK UP or select the link below just to make a donation.

Need help? United States:
1 (800) 273-8255

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline


TEXT “GO” TO 741-741


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Signs Symptoms Hindsight Theories

Signs Symptoms Hindsight Theories...that is what I am left to think about the rest of my breathing life, just to name a few of the things that torture me throughout my days into my nights...I have learned a lot about myself in the last 6 months. One thing is that I had this image of what a suicidal person looked like…after all I had lost my father to suicide in 1989. I was taught a hard lesson about suicide at a very young age. He was hospitalized and showed many signs that he was “at risk.” My mother tried everything she could to save him.  He had anger issues and suffered for many years with his own brain lies. He lost the battle when he over dosed on his medication the VA gave him one week after they sent him home from the mental hospital saying "He was fine" ...I still wonder to this day how life would be if he was able to find his way...He ended his life forcing my mother to raise two children on her own in a world where the stigma behind suicide was awful and unspoken. Forcing my life into a lifelong battle of questions and torture.  Being a child from a shattered home, I too suffered with thoughts of ending my life. I knew what I went through as a kid. So when I became a mom out of high school, I made damn sure that my own child would never struggle, she would never feel pain like I had, and she would never feel unloved and alone.  She would be loved and protected by all those who loved her. I overcame it all to save her from repeating my past mistakes, choices, and struggles.   Before suicide took my daughter, in my mind a suicidal person would be someone who “looked a certain way”. They came from a broken home, someone who had no support, and someone who didn’t take care of themselves, someone that society deemed as depressed or someone who was into drugs and alcohol, or someone who was bullied for being different. They would have this look and society would just “know” that person is in need of help.  Yes I too was once this stupid judgmental person. I was once that person who said this wouldn't, couldn’t happen to my perfect little happy family. I was once that person who is like many of the people I meet now that would have asked “Oh was it drugs?” or “Oh was she bullied?” or “Oh did she get in trouble?” NO NO NO-she didn’t do anything. She was a great daughter. She never got in trouble. She was always getting great grades. She was always my angel. Unfortunately, Sara’s signs were discovered after her death.  It’s a little too late now...Its hindsight that we look back and now say well yes she had this or that. So what I have learned is that trying to identify the signs can be very difficult. I do not believe that there is only one way to solve this epidemic.   There is not checklist that will cover everything. The only thing that you can do is to ask the hard questions and hope that a repeated open conversation will allow your children to share open and honestly. Then you need to take the appropriate actions which include giving them the tools on how to respond if they have a peer who talks about death or being depressed.  We need to arm our children with tools on how to help their peers as well as arm ourselves with the proper tools.  Parenting didn’t come with a tool kit on how to survive it and get through it so we must adapt and conquer the obstacles that arise. While there were no highlighted red flags that I can say well shit I missed this or why didn’t I see that…what I can say is that when I look back at some of the signs to look for Sara had some of them but then I google PMS and half the signs for teenage PMS are the exact same.  Heck half the signs for suicide half the people I know have or show from one time or another. So there is more than just looking for signs. We as people need to start having the hard conversations. Some things that I share about Sara’s struggles I learned after she passed when people came forward to tell me that they wished they would have known more about depression and suicide or they thought that she was just being a normal teen…well our children are killing themselves. It’s the 2nd leading cause and it’s only getting worse. There is not one tell tell reason to look for.   We need to give our teachers who are in the prime position to see signs, symptoms, or red flags more tools to identify at risk students or moments in a classroom. Senate Bill 363 does just that!  Suicide doesn’t pick the person or family. It’s an epidemic that is taking our youth. There is no magic serum to save our youth but just like cancer. When someone I loved was given a cancer diagnosis, we fought back and we fought back with all hell we could bring down. We didn’t judge them for having it and instead we rallied around them to life them up. Just like cancer, we have to try everything and anything to save them. With cancer we do surgery, chemo, radiation, and sometimes exploratory procedures…why because we want to give that person the best chance at life that we can give them so look at your conversation like this…you are giving your child different treatments options until you find the one that allows them to heal, grow, and cope.  What I would give to have the conversation with my daughter again….Recently someone shared with me that they took my advice and asked their child if they ever thought about hurting themselves….the used Sara’s story and her picture to help them start the conversation which I loved.  The child who is a young girl said “No but I have thought about killing myself.” As I am sure that parent was as taken back as I was when I heard this.  It was strange to me that the child would put those two things in different categories. To me hurting yourself and killing yourself would be in the same area of conversations. To kill yourself is to harm yourself but it’s clear that kids don’t think like we do.  It was heartbreaking that she had thought about killing herself. This small conversation turned into a larger conversation that is now allowing the child and mother to seek out different options on how to help this young girl heal, grow and cope. Again, what I would give to be able to have that conversation with my daughter. While we had conversations about my father’s death and how far I had come in my life losing him at a young age, I never thought I should worry about losing her too. Sara was a quiet and reserved child.  She was comfortable at being one of those smart nerdy kids. She loved being a nerd. She liked to play on her phone. She loved listening to music all the time. She didn’t like to be the center of attention but seemed very comfortable and confident in whom she was becoming. She was always trying to make others smile. She had a sassy personality that I am proud to claim. Sara weeks before her death had pushed off summer homework until 2 weeks before school. She had recently gotten a test score back from the prior year that she wasn’t happy with. She was going to have her wisdom teeth removed the following day. She had been to Spain in June with her class where she experienced being away from home alone for the first time. She had just come back from Tennessee the week before she died.  During the summer she was very busy but that was nothing new.  Looking back now she seemed to have more headaches than usually but I thought it was just girl stuff. She complained about her legs hurting but seemed to be nothing at the time. Looking back I can see where she was less active in family things but I figured it was because she was coming back from two very busy trips. I remember telling my husband that she seems really different like she is finally found her groove. She seemed all in all pretty happy. I had no clue that she was in a state of despair and hopelessness. I had no clue that she was facing the “perfect storm” The storm that she wouldn’t come out alive from…I no longer get to watch her grow and become an adult…instead I have to face each day without her…living in my own hell…walking through fire everyday….only to dream and wonder about the person she would have become…to walk in these shoes is unbearable.  At times it feels like the world is closing in on you and the last thing you think about is how you as a parent failed…it’s the ultimate failure for me. It’s the one thing, I can never fix. I can’t take back time and I can’t change the outcome but what I can do is make sure that she is not remember for her one action because Sara was more than that one choice. Sara’s Silence will be heard. So as I take a stand, I will be her voice. I will not be silent. 27 years after losing my father you would think that our world would have changed to allow those who suffer the ability to find hope, support, and more ways to cope...6 months since suicide ripped my family apart....

Look at this picture...does this person look like what society has been teaching us over the last decade...

She was just a normal child who suffered in silence. 
She didn't have to!
Don't let my nightmares become yours...

Monday, February 1, 2016

Our Testimony before the Kansas Senate 1.26.16

Senate Bill 323
Proponent for the bill hearing Tuesday January 26th, 2016
My name is Allison Doss. I am a proponent for senate Bill 323. In July 2015 my daughter Sara Prideaux ended her life by suicide. She was going into her junior year at Shawnee Mission South in Overland Park Kansas. She was a vibrant, smart and loving 16 year old. Sara was involved in anything school oriented. She was in the top of her class speaking multiple languages fluently. She was a member of student council and enjoyed helping in the theater department. Her entire world was school. Sara was always helping others. She had the kindest heart. Her smile was Infectious. She had spent time over the summer in Spain with her classmates and teachers. After she passed away I noticed, Sara showed many signs that she was struggling yet no one saw them because no one was trained to know the signs. I looked for the basic flags you look for as someone who has had a suicide in her life before. She told people she was depressed but no one knew how to take action. Suicide prevention needs to be in the schools for the teacher and the parents. We have to be able to give our children the tools to succeed which also means we need to give the teachers the tools to succeed and helping our children with not just their education needs but their emotional needs as well. Senate Bill 323 does just that. Senate Bill 323 will allow the additional training to be provided for the education staff for free without costing the school money. This bill could save other children where my daughter was not able to be saved. Help give the tools to the people who are spending over 40 hours with our children every week. Help lower the second leading cause in death among ages of 10 to 24. Help keep this tragedy that has happened to many of us in this room, from happening to anyone else. I will continue to SPEAK UP for those who have lost their voice.  I Allison Doss am a proponent for Senate Bill 323. I will be the Martin Luther King of mental illness... I have a dream where our children are not judged by the things in their head and instead lifted up and carried when the burden becomes too much to bear.

Allison Doss
Mother of Sara "Bob" Prideaux

As Sara's mom, I didn't see that she was hurting but what if the teachers could. I know the signs of someone who is suicidal and would have never guessed she was thinking of ending her life. I thought her behavior was just normal teenager behavior. We all know that children act different around there parents than they do others. What if the teachers had additional training and could have noticed something that I contributed to normal teenage angst. What if the signs that I didn't see until she was dead could have been picked up on by a teacher. We want to teach our children how to protect them from drunk driving, getting pregnant, STD's, texting driving, but what about there mental health. What about the 2nd leading cause in death in our youth. This bill is just another tool to help the teachers. We teach medical professional new techniques as science changes, why not change things in school as things change as well. We cant teach the children if they are not in there seats. The teachers are in a prime position to help, why not give them the tools to help.  

Senate Bill 323
Proponent for the bill hearing Tuesday January 26th, 2016
Good Afternoon State Senators. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to talk with you today. My name is Helen Rentz grandmother of Sara Prideaux. Sara was a student at SMS with a 4.7 GPA,a student council representative which she joined to try to make a difference. She could sing, draw ,paint and play the piano. She loved making cookies for her peers at school who were having a bad day. She had lots of friends and loved baking. On July 30,2015 she made the choice that life was not  worth living and killed herself. No note was left just lots of unanswered questions remain. What was so wrong in her life that she felt no one could fix it for her. I don't have that answer but I do know that when she left us the world lost a precious child. She showed no signs she was struggling. I would know signs because this is my third suicide I have been left to grieve. Two of my military husbands killed themselves several years ago. I am here to ask you to please pass this bill to help the remaining teenagers who are still alive and struggling. I was aware of suicide but not of how many teenagers we are losing daily nation wide . When Sara died I couldn't believe how my family was being treated by the ignorance of people about suicide. One person called my grand daughter a contagion which means a disease which would cause other people to commit suicide. My Sara would not have wanted anybody else to do what she did. But in my searching for answers over the past 6 months I find that the school districts teachers and counselors have not been trained how to help teens that are struggling or to watch for signs of suicide. I also wonder why we are not trying to fix or at least reduce the 2nd leading cause of death among teenagers but the third leading cause for teens we raise and donate to cancer research. My daughter has been trying to make a difference in her daughters school and has been met with great resistance because a few parents don't want it talked about because they are themselves uncomfortable with talking about suicide. We are losing very intelligent teenagers to suicide. I would never had thought I would lose my grand daughter to suicide because I knew all the signs and watched for them. Voting yes to this bill will help every teenager in this state. The teachers have our children 40 hours a week which is more time then we have with our children. Since I have been telling my story I can't tell you how many adults, teenagers have asked to please keep fighting for mental health awareness. No family is immune to teen suicide. I was shocked by how many families have admitted to me that their teen was struggling but they couldn't come forward to talk about for fear of repercussions with their jobs or they were so over ran with grief they had no fight left in them to try to help. I will not stop talking or appearing before committees to try to change mental health awareness. I plan on visiting other states that are doing it right to see what ideas I can bring back to our state to help with this cause of mental health awareness. We can't improve the statistics if we don't change what we are doing. Losing a child for any reasons is devastating but losing a child to suicide is the worst because you don't always get a chance to try to fix what's wrong. Time does not make it better . In my case I lost a grand daughter and basically my daughter because everyday she wakes up is another day she would rather not be here because her only child is gone. I pray that you will pass this bill and make it mandatory for all educators to have this training . I know teachers have a demanding job but in order for me to keep my license to practice in the medical field I have to keep my skills and education up. I pay for my continuing education credits.They are not free and I spend my own time doing them. This bill will only require their time. It's free training and it will save lives. One last thing I keep hearing how mental health budgets are being cut more and more. I don't understand if health insurance companies cover diabetes why they are not mandated to provide mental health coverage for the same co-pay or hospital stay. Please pass this bill quickly and make it mandatory sooner than later. Everyday this bill is not passed we lose teenagers. I would not want you to live in my world. We owe this to these teens who are born with an illness no one wants to understand or do anything about it. Please save our future adults. Thank you for allowing me to speak. Please do the right thing here. Start the solution instead of being part of the issue. Have a nice afternoon.  

Helen Rentz
Grandmother of Sara "Bob" Prideaux…/government…/article56682448.html

Now you take the next step-see how you can make a difference in the lives of our children. 

Jason Flatt Act Background Info

State Laws on Suicide Prevention Training for School Personnel Overview: According to the latest (2013) data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people ages 10-24 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015). According to the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, more than 1 in 6 high school students in the U.S. reported having seriously considered attempting suicide in the 12 months preceding the survey, and 8% of students (about 1 in 12) reported having attempted suicide in the preceding 12 months (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013). As children and teens spend a significant amount of their young lives in school, the personnel that interact with them on a daily basis are in a prime position to recognize the signs of suicide and make the appropriate referrals for help. To be able to do this, they will need effective training to acquire the necessary skills and confidence to intervene with youth at-risk, and mandated training is one way to ensure that all school personnel have a baseline understanding of suicide risk and the referral process. Suicide prevention training for school personnel is targeted within the updated 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (NSSP), which includes 4 strategic directives and a set of 13 goals and corresponding 60 objectives that recommend a variety of organizations and individuals become involved in suicide prevention. Specifically, Goal 7 of the revised NSSP is to “Provide training to community and clinical service providers on the prevention of suicide and related behaviors.” These community-based and clinical prevention professionals include educators and school personnel, as their “work brings them into contact with persons with suicide risk,” and they should therefore be “trained on how to address suicidal thoughts and behaviors and on how to respond to those who have been affected by suicide.” Corresponding Objective 7.1 specifically indicates school counselors as persons “on the frontlines of suicide prevention” that should receive training, and recommends that schools, colleges, and universities “train relevant school staff to recognize students at potential risk of suicide and refer to appropriate services.” Several other objectives within the NSSP (Objectives 1.1, 3.1, and 5.2 specifically) also assert that suicide prevention should be integrated into the values, culture, leadership, and work of educational institutions, and that schools, colleges, and universities have a role to play in “training personnel who are in contact with individuals with suicide risk, and providing support to individuals in crisis,” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Surgeon General and National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention [U.S. Dept. of HHS & Action Alliance], 2012). Teachers and other school personnel must not only be well-equipped to identify and communicate with their students about suicidal behaviors, but they must also be able to accurately discuss these issues with each other. While school staff and faculty should not be expected to make clinical diagnoses, they should be able to recognize developing signs and symptoms associated with suicide risk, mental disorders, and substance abuse. Providing these professionals with the skills, vocabulary, and techniques to be comfortable with these issues through specific training “could enhance these providers’ ability to provide support to individuals at risk and make appropriate referrals,” (U.S. Dept. of HHS & Action Alliance, 2012). Updated 9/29/2015 School Personnel Training Laws Overview Page 2 of 7 Current State Laws: State Mandated Annual Training (9 states) There are currently nine states (Alaska, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas) that mandate annual suicide prevention training for school personnel. In Alaska, Georgia, Louisiana, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas, this mandate is titled the Jason Flatt Act.  Alaska requires 2 hours of training each year for teachers, administrators, counselors, and specialists who provide services to students in grades 7-12 [adopted 2012]  Delaware requires public school employees to receive 90 minutes of training each year; training materials must be evidence based and developed/approved by the Departments of Health and Social Services, Services for Children Youth and their Families, and Education [adopted 2015]  Georgia requires annual training for all certificated public school personnel; the training must be provided within the framework of existing in-service training programs offered by the department of education or as part of required professional development offered by a local school system [adopted 2015]  Kentucky requires 2 hours of “self-study review of suicide prevention materials” each year for high school and middle school principals, guidance counselors, and teachers [adopted 2010]  Louisiana requires 2 hours of in-service training each year for teachers, school counselors, principals, and other administrators “for whom such training is deemed beneficial” [adopted 2008]  Nebraska requires at least 1 hour of training each year for all public school nurses, teachers, counselors, school psychologists, administrators, school social workers, and other “appropriate personnel”; also requires the department of education to collaborate with others in the state to develop a list of approved training materials that identify available mental health services and instruct on when and how to refer youth and their families to those services [adopted 2014]  North Dakota requires that middle and high school teachers, administrators, and instructional staff receive at least 2 hours of professional development annually in youth suicide risk indicators, appropriate responses, and referral sources [initially adopted 2013, added annual requirement 2015]  Tennessee requires 2 hours of in-service training each year for teachers and principals [adopted 2007]  Texas: o Requires annual staff development for educators in suicide prevention; training must be based on best practice recommended by the Department of State Health Services in coordination with the Texas Education Agency and may be completed via independent online review [adopted 2015]; o Requires that minimum academic qualifications for certified educators also require instruction regarding mental health, substance abuse, and youth suicide, provided through a program selected from the list of recommended best practice-based programs established under §161.325 Health and Safety Code, and including effective strategies for teaching and intervening with students with mental or emotional Updated 9/29/2015 School Personnel Training Laws Overview Page 3 of 7 disorders, including de-escalation techniques and positive behavioral interventions and supports [initially adopted 2013, amended 2015] State Mandated Training, Not Annual (16 states) There are currently sixteen states (Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming) that mandate training in suicide prevention for school personnel but do not specify that the training must be annual. In Arkansas, Mississippi, Ohio, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming, the law is titled the Jason Flatt Act.  Arkansas requires 2 hours of training every 5 years for licensed personnel [adopted 2011]  Connecticut requires (an unspecified duration of) training once, as a condition of initial certification for beginning teachers; local boards of education must also provide an in-service training program for teachers, administrators, and pupil personnel that includes information on youth suicide prevention and response [adopted 2011]  Illinois requires school guidance counselors, teachers, school social workers, and other personnel who work with pupils in grades 7-12 to be trained (unspecified duration) and taught various intervention techniques; the training must be provided within the framework of existing in-service training programs or required professional development activities [adopted 2009]  Indiana requires (an unspecified duration of) training as a requirement for initial teaching licensure, for applicants for initial teaching license at any grade level [adopted 2011]  In Maine, beginning in the 2014-2015 school year for high schools and in the 2015-2016 school year for middle and elementary schools, all school personnel will be required to receive a 1-2 hour in-service training module in suicide prevention awareness every 5 years, and at least two personnel in each school will be required to take a more intensive one-day course in suicide prevention and intervention training every 5 years [adopted 2013]  Maryland now requires certified school counselors, on or before July 1, 2016, to have obtained the knowledge and skills required to understand and respond to the social, emotional, and personal development of students, including (1) knowledge and skills relating to the recognition of indicators of mental illness and behavioral distress, including depression, trauma, violence, youth suicide, and substance abuse; and (2) The identification of professional resources to help students in crisis [adopted 2015]  Massachusetts requires that all licensed school personnel receive at least 2 hours of training every three years [adopted 2014]  Mississippi requires (an unspecified duration of) training only once, for all newly employed licensed teachers and principals [adopted 2009]  New Jersey requires 2 hours of training to be completed in each professional development period for public school teaching staff members; New Jersey is unique in that it specifies that a qualified trainer in the mental health community must administer the training [adopted 2006]  Ohio requires that training in youth suicide, awareness, and prevention be incorporated into existing in-service training required for nurses, teachers, counselors, school psychologists, administrators, and any other “appropriate” personnel every 5 years [adopted 2012] Updated 9/29/2015 School Personnel Training Laws Overview Page 4 of 7  Pennsylvania, beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, will require at least 4 hours of training every 5 years for professional educators in school buildings serving students in grades 6-12 [adopted 2014]  South Carolina requires 2 hours of training every 5 years (consistent with the state’s existing licensure cycle) [adopted 2012]  Utah requires 2 hours of training consistent with the state’s licensure cycle [adopted 2012]  In Washington, school social workers, school nurses, school psychologists, and school counselors are required to receive at least 3 hours of training as a condition of professional certification [adopted 2013]  West Virginia requires “routine education” for professional educators, including principals, administrators, and those service personnel having direct contact with students [adopted 2012]  Wyoming requires at least 8 hours of suicide prevention education every 4 school years for all teachers and administrators using “suitable materials reviewed and recommended” by the state superintendent and the director of the department of education (beginning in the 2014-2015 school year) [adopted 2014] State Encourages Training (14 states) There are fourteen states (Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Wisconsin) with laws in place that encourage suicide prevention training for school personnel. In some states this means the provision of access to training as an option for professional development. In others, structures are put in place by the legislature to provide for the training, but school personnel are not required to make use of those training options. Or, the state allows grant funding to be used for suicide prevention training, but does not require it. Other (Unique) School Suicide Prevention Statutes  Eight states (Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Washington) require school suicide prevention policies and or programming statewide; nine other states (Alabama, Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia) encourage school suicide prevention policies and or programming  Idaho encourages the inclusion of teen early intervention specialists in schools to provide suicide prevention counseling services  Iowa encourages early intervention programs for students at-risk for suicide  North Carolina requires at least one employee within the local school administrative unit be trained in the unique needs of children who have immediate family members in the military, including training on suicide risks  Oklahoma requires teachers, counselors, principals, administrators, and other school personnel to immediately notify the parents or legal guardians of students determined to be at risk for attempting suicide  Utah requires schools to notify a parent or guardian if their student threatens to complete suicide or is involved in a bullying incident and maintain a record of that notification; school boards are required to adopt a policy regarding the process for parent/guardian notification Updated 9/29/2015 School Personnel Training Laws Overview Page 5 of 7  Virginia requires all licensed administrative or instructional personnel to contact a student’s parent “as soon as practicable” should they have reason to believe, as a result of direct communication from a student, that such student is at imminent risk of suicide Current Advocacy Efforts: The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) recognizes that the training of school personnel is a crucial step toward reducing the rate of suicide among young people in the U.S., and has therefore made mandated suicide prevention training for these key gatekeepers a public policy priority. Many states that currently mandate suicide prevention training for school personnel achieved this through adopting a bill titled The Jason Flatt Act, the hallmark piece of legislation for the not-for-profit organization, the Jason Foundation, Inc. (JFI). In most states, the Jason Flatt Act mandates 2 hours of suicide prevention training for school personnel, although in each state the requirements vary slightly. Recognizing this accomplishment, and to better address this public policy priority, AFSP joined efforts with JFI in 2011-2015 to actively support passage of the Jason Flatt Act in Alaska, Georgia, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Utah, and Wyoming. AFSP Model Legislation on Suicide Prevention in Schools: After working with JFI on several states in 2011-2012, AFSP wanted to promote this type of advocacy work in additional states where JFI has not introduced the Jason Flatt Act. For these states, AFSP has developed model legislation for use by AFSP Field Advocate volunteers, AFSP Chapter volunteers, and members of the general public who would like to propose this type of legislation to their own state lawmakers. In development of the model legislation, AFSP public policy staff consulted with members of AFSP’s national Public Policy Council, referenced current empirical research and existing state laws, and incorporated feedback from staff and volunteers who were involved in the passage of suicide prevention training laws in their state. The model legislation is intended to serve as an ideal starting point with elected officials who are willing to consider sponsoring a suicide prevention in schools bill. See page 7 of this document for the full model legislation. Training Resources: Every state has some form of suicide prevention training or awareness program available. However, the availability and accessibility of these programs vary. The appeal of AFSP’s Model Legislation on Suicide Prevention in Schools, and of the Jason Flatt Act, is that their language is worded to allow flexibility within states to choose the training programs that will best fit the educational environment(s) within their state. AFSP offers several resources for schools that may be used to implement existing laws or to offset the cost of proposed legislation (fiscal note). Details can be found online at All are offered either as a free download online or through local AFSP chapters. Seventy-five (75) AFSP chapters currently serve 43 states across the U.S. Find your local chapter online at Updated 9/29/2015 School Personnel Training Laws Overview Page 6 of 7 References: The following resources were consulted for statistics and background information for this overview: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). National Center for Injury Prevention and Control: WISQARS Leading Causes of Death Reports, National and Regional, 1999-2008. Retrieved January 30, 2015 from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Available at: Accessed on June 30, 2014. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Surgeon General and National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. (September 2012). 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention: Goals and Objectives for Action. Washington, DC: HHS. Retrieved September 11, 2012 from Updated 9/29/2015 School Personnel Training Laws Overview Page 7 of 7 AFSP Model Legislation: Suicide Prevention in Schools (1) Beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, the State Board/Department of Education shall adopt rules to require that all public school personnel receive at least 2 hours of suicide awareness and prevention training each year*. This training shall be provided within the framework of existing inservice training programs offered by the State Board/Department of Education or as part of required professional development activities. (2) The State Board/Department of Education shall, in consultation with state agency/coalition charged with coordinating state suicide prevention activities, other stakeholders, and suicide prevention experts, develop a list of approved training materials to fulfill the requirements of this Section. (a) Approved materials shall include training on how to identify appropriate mental health services both within the school and also within the larger community, and when and how to refer youth and their families to those services. (b) Approved materials may include programs that can be completed through self-review of suitable suicide prevention materials. (3) (a) Each public school district shall adopt a policy on student suicide prevention. Such policies shall be developed in consultation with school and community stakeholders, school employed mental health professionals, and suicide prevention experts, and shall, at a minimum, address procedures relating to suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention. (b) To assist school districts in developing policies for student suicide prevention, the Department of Education shall develop and maintain a model policy to serve as a guide for school districts in accordance with this section. (4) (a) No person shall have a cause of action for any loss or damage caused by any act or omission resulting from the implementation of the provisions of this Section or resulting from any training, or lack thereof, required by this Section. (b) The training, or lack thereof, required by the provisions of this Section shall not be construed to impose any specific duty of care. *In those states where the legislature must amend section (1) to require training less often, for example, once every 5 years, or that remove a frequency requirement entirely, a new section will be added that states: The State Board/Department of Education shall adopt rules to require that all newly employed public school personnel receive at least 2 hours of suicide awareness and prevention training within 12 months of their date of hire.

How to contact your local congress in MO. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Can't Stop

Part of my grief journey as Sara’s mom has to be to make a difference in people’s lives and in mine. Our children are worth the every tear and heart break. Sara was my life, we grew up together. She was more than my daughter. She was my best friend. She was the yin to my yang. She was what I had given heaven and earth to protect over the last 16 years from all the bad out in the world. She was the one person who has been there through anything and everything with me. We had our own stories together. We had our own jokes and inside funnies.  I never thought my role would change to telling her story of just 16 short years. I must find some good in this nightmare that I walk in every day. Sara did a great job of hiding that she was suicidal and depressed to her family.  She didn’t want to burden us with anything. She worried all the time about things. She was a perfectionist even though, no one expected perfection. Failure was supported in our house.
        Since they ruled her death a suicide, it has been my mission to change the world that she left us in. As some of you know, we have created  the Speak Up foundation; partnering with another family who lost a beloved son just a few months before we lost Sara. His name is Jason Arkin.  He loved video games and making people laugh. He also liked penguins when he was younger. He was a bright 20 year old college student who like Sara had the world at his fingertips. Sara and Jason were very similar. His parents want to flip mental illness on its side and bring awareness to the community in honor of Jason and Sara. While I think every parents dream is that their children decide what their message to the world will be, we are left suffering to figure it out. The Speak Up foundation was created to bring mental health education, awareness and prevention in suicides in our community and country. SPEAK UP stands for Suicide Prevention Education Awareness for Kids United As Partners. We chose “Partners” because we all have a responsibility to partner up and make a change in this world. 
        Speak Up Foundation website is still in the works.  The URL will be  however it’s still in progress. We are working with a few people who have agreed to donate their time in getting it up and running and looking for a few more volunteers. We are hoping to have it moving forward in the next few months however until then we have the community Facebook page for Speak Up which is  It’s a non-profit organization. If you think you could contribute in any way, please message me personally as we can always use the help.
             Since Sara’s passing we have been able to do a few things in her honor with the help of some pretty amazing contributions/donations. Sara had a love for animals especially penguins. Her entire room at my house is covered in penguins. We thought a way to remember and honor her would be to do something at the zoo in Kansas City and at the Tennessee Aquarium with penguins. She spent every summer in Tennessee with her uncle “Pony” (Tony) and aunt “Bookie’ (Brooke).  At the KC Zoo, on her behalf Cinderella the Gentoo penguin was adopted and we had a plague made in her honor that is placed on the Helzburg Penguin Tower outside the main penguin building. Both of these are here in KC to celebrate her life and honor our little girl. At the TN Aquarium, we were able to do a little more with the help of the fantastic team. We were able to help name a baby Gentoo penguin in her honor. Sara who went by “Bob” to her close friends got to become  “Bobber” the penguin. It was named after over 10,000 votes were placed.  We were able to do a penguin room for back stage tours for children and adults who want to have that once in a life time experience with penguins. There will be a bench with a wall mounted plague with the words “In loving memory Sara “Bob” Prideaux SPEAK UP” as it’s important for the message to be heard and seen. 
          Also, with the help and donation from the Arkin’s, we were able to partner up with Kevin Hines to bring a world known quest speaker to the Shawnee Mission School districts that has dealt with depression and attempting to take his own life multiple times. Countless teenagers reached out to Kevin and wanted to seek help for the struggles in their brain. I watched as they were empowered to tell someone that they too had suicidal ideations or they knew someone else who did. In just 5 short months, we have taken a few steps towards breaking the silence and ending the stigma associated with suicide and mental illness. We continue to raise funds so that our prevention efforts do not have to stop.  We are officially associated with a 501c3 because we are serious about making a difference through the Greater Kansas City Mental Health Collation. We want you to be serious as well. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause in death ages 10-24. The statistics are not getting better, they are getting worse...No one is exempt from suicide.

 What are you going to do to make a difference?
You can be a voice, you can share my blog, you can make a donation through


  • buy one of the many SPEAK items that we have available. Just remember that EVERY bit counts and every little bit helps. Every part of the donation goes towards prevention in the community. No donation is too small.   
    • We have awesome SPEAK UP super soft T-shirts sizes Small-3XL. Cost with shipping is $25
    • We have amazing SPEAK UP zip up hoodies sizes Small-3XL Cost with shipping is $35
    • We have wristbands that have a secret message on the inside encouraging to reach out when in doubt. Cost with shipping is $3 or 2 for $5
    • We have decals to put on your car. Cost with shipping is $15

Or you can simply just make a donation in honor of someone through one of the many links provided.  

The efforts cannot stop here!  We must continue to take steps towards making a difference. We must continue to have the conversation. You would be surprised by how many people suffer from the loss of a family member due to suicide. Until it happens to you, people live in this magically world of “it won’t happen to me” trust me when I think every mother who is like me thought this same thing at some point in their life. We wouldn’t wish this life on our worst enemy.  My dream is to be able to talk to parents, kids, and educators about mental health and suicide. I want to be a guest speaker at events around mental health and suicide. I want to join arms in this fight.  I will be the Martin Luther King of mental health. I have a dream where we are not judged by the brain lies in our head but lifted up and supported when the weight becomes too much to endure. I will not back down! I will continue to speak. I will continue to fight to stay present! I will hold steady when the brain lies take over and attack me over and over. 

Thank you for reading and thank you for sharing my blog. You never know when sharing something so simple can show someone else they are not alone. 

Special shout out to GOEX for the shirts and Nickerstickers for the decals. Both companies have been amazing at working with Speak Up.

Friday, January 8, 2016


You keep living until you feel alive again that is what I keep telling myself as the holidays passed. There has been so much going on that sometimes you have to stop and just breathe. Stop and just maintain your current position so that you are not compromising the rest of what you have left. During the holidays, I found it to be such a wave of emotion. I wasn’t sure what the next moment would bring. Sometimes it was easy to put on my smile face for my family and other times it was like trying to lift the Empire state building all by yourself with a fucking spoon…feeling like such a failure when you don’t make any change to the current situation. I never in a million years would have guessed that I would be in the place that I am in my life. I had already lived through hell. I lost my dad, my grandma, my best friends…I had nothing left to lose….at least that is what I thought….I had it all….struggles and accomplishments…I had people tell me that they wanted to be like me…I was a rock and a woman who worked through struggles and overcame them… I was a walking statistic in regards to overcoming shit and crap in your life…I was unstoppable in what I wanted in my life. It all came crashing down that July day…Sara was a beautiful 16 year old girl who really had a great and easy life from what her father and I provided for her. There was nothing that she didn’t have. Outside looking in…we had it all. Perfect life shattered in an instant…with whom to blame? No one said that they blamed me, yet I blame myself for not seeing that she was hurting so bad… I thought it was just normal teenage shit… sometimes “collateral damage survivors” experience things where the brain tells you it’s your fault…”you weren’t enough to save her”.  I call these brain lies…the last five months since her death we have experience a lot of firsts without her…one of the toughest was the first holiday’s without my baby girl…She should have been here to get new presents that she didn’t need and drive me crazy with ignoring my text or helping me make Christmas cinnamon rolls like the last 15 fucking years.  This holiday was more than different. This holiday wasn’t going to ever be the same. Every year on Christmas Eve we would spend the days prior preparing for the evening festivities. We had matching plates and d├ęcor. All planned out and perfected to the letter.  We would prepare a huge meal for all our family. We had the cutest decorations that we would pick out. Santa would even come say Hi to the kids. 15 years of traditions all flipped up because of just one bad day that turned our lives into a living nightmare. This holiday posed to be more difficult than I could possibly prepare for. I wanted something to go right but instead everything was going horrible. 
            A week before Christmas I had mouth surgery and got dry socket. The medicine they put me on made me mentally unstable. I was angry one minute and crying the next and fake happy the next. It was a roller coaster of emotions that I couldn’t get a handle on.  Christmas Eve was spent working while a huge hole in my heart felt like it was bleeding. It feels like an open wound that will never heal.  We didn’t do anything that night which poured into the next morning. I found myself laying her in bed with tears running down my face…bawling uncontrollable. I couldn’t get out…I kept telling myself that I have to get out of bed but I couldn’t. I felt helpless and hopeless…nothing was worth getting out of bed for…so I kept laying there wishing to be with her…wishing to see her face…wishing to hug her one more time. What I would have given at that moment to be with her…after many hours of just complete and total meltdown…my husband helped get me up and moving. I would have probably laid there forever if I was allowed. We had to get things ready cuz my bonus (step) son was coming over to the house to celebrate Christmas with us. It was something different this year and I could handle it if I just keep moving. This was for him. He was alive and needed me to pull my shit together but even the living couldn’t pull me away from feeling dead. Even the living, didn’t help me from what demons attacked my mind.  That is what grief/depression/anxiety does to you. Your brain lies to you. Your mind lies to you.  While my husband went to go pick him up, I sat and prayed to all above that I could get through the next few hours without ruining the entire day for everyone. I just needed to find enough power inside to sustain for a few hours. I found myself breathing over and over. Focusing on anything that I could see and feel. I have been working on coping skills in therapy for many weeks and why couldn’t I figure out how to tap in to those damn things now…brain lies again. “You’re not enough to handle this” played inside my mind over and over. The garage door opened and I am taken back to reality…back to center….breathing…breathing…hold steady I kept telling myself…hold steady…don’t move until you find your footing…I center myself again and rush to the living room to see his face light up when he sees the presents under the tree… (It wasn’t our tree; it was a different tree the grandma’s put up. I couldn’t stand to look at the 15 years of ornaments and memories attacking my soul so the family tree stayed in the basement…I couldn’t wrap presents this year so my mom wrapped them for me, Jason and I didn’t do anything for each other this year….we just couldn’t…between the therapy bills and the medical bills there was very little left over to do much with. So we only bought for the kids. Austin got presents Legos mostly and Sara got a donation made in her honor to the Tennessee aquarium for Bobber and his friends) Austin gives me a hug…brain lies again… “you’re not enough”…I find my mind twirling inside…I can feel the taste of anger on my tongue at the thought that she is missing this moment with us…how can I possibly celebrate anything right now…how can I possibly enjoy anything while my child that I carried for 9 months is no longer here…brain lies… “you weren’t enough”…I shake my head as if shaking it will shake the lies out…I do this a lot actually and often…it’s like my own defense to shake the images out of my head or shake the thoughts out of my head…brain lies to me all the times…telling me that I am not enough…its part of the battle I now face losing my child. I suffer from PTSD, acute anxiety disorder and a list of other things.  
So I muster enough to get through opening some presents while we wait for some family to arrive. I kept telling myself just a few more hours until you can find solace in your sleep…as if sleep provides any comfort. We had asked a few friends who have walked this horrible path how they did the first holiday and after talking and talking we decided leaving was a good plan. We decided to travel on Christmas so that we could change things up from the last 15 years. We rented a van which was a pain in the ass. I may never rent from Hertz again. They gave me a dirty van with broken windshield, and no window washing fluid which was good since the van had a broken window I guess. We wanted to go see my brother and sister in law in Tennessee. This was harder than I anticipated it being. I thought that getting away from the house the held me captive would be a great thing. It was hard because I had never made the trip without her. I was either picking her up or taking her back. Never was there a time in Tennessee without her. When we arrived I expected her to be there lying on the sofa sleeping. When that was not the case and the days went by that she was not there the brain lies attacked over and over…by day 4 I couldn’t fight them off…”you were not enough”…I found myself crying at the sight of a bench…a bench that the year prior we had sat on to take pictures. I found myself unable to smile at the living moments. I was in her favorite place on Earth and I couldn’t be there with her…why was life so unfair…is this how she felt all the time? hopeless…afraid of falling apart…scared…exhausted at fighting the brain lies off all the time…this battle would not be possible if I didn’t have the support, love and guidance from my family, friends, group family, supporters, therapist and those who tragically walk in the same nasty horrible, no refund shoes that I wear every minute of every day. You can never undo suicide. You can never unsee things. You can only learn to carry yourself through the fire each and each day… taking one step at a time.  Sometimes I take a step forward and some days I take a step back…each day I just try to keep living until I can feel alive again.  Each day I fight to be present and to be her voice. Each day I keep moving and sharing her story in hopes to save someone else from this horrible path. We have made T-shirts, hoodies and car decals to share her story so that others find the courage to SPEAK UP. We make sure our kids eat well and get plenty of sleep…why not check on their mental state as well. Have the conversation…even if it’s a difficult one. Keep having it until it’s no longer difficult. Someone recently asked me “Are you suicidal?” “Are you in danger of hurting yourself?” While my answer was “No I am not. I am in a good place right now but I am having a tough day. Can you just talk to me for a while?” I was thankful that they did because it gave me the chance to talk about what things were attacking my head. It opened the door that I knew was there but didn’t remember because sometimes those “brain lies” are so loud and abusive that you forget. So remember that if you are struggling through life to be nice to yourself. Hold Steady! SPEAK UP!!!!!!!

Please share this post so that it may help others. You never know when a simple action can make a difference in someone’s life. I know it does mine! Thank you for your support.