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 www.speakup.us  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 https://www.facebook.com/speakup.us/?fref=ts  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

OR 

  • 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. 
http://goex.org/
www.NickerStickers.com

Friday, January 8, 2016

BRAIN LIES


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.