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...
SPEAK UP
BREAK THE SILENCE

8 comments:

  1. love you allie stay Sara Strong please

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  2. Thanks for your evident bravery in sharing your/her story.

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    1. Thank you. I am trying. Every day is a new challenge and a new journey. Obstacles seem to change all the time and new ones appear. Many blessing to you as well

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  3. Hi... I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your story. The more people who tell their story the sooner the silence will end. I am not sure where you are located. I am Vice President of the small non-profit Stand Against Suicide. We are based in Elbridge, NY. SAS was founded in 2011 and has been growing by leaps and bounds. Please feel free to look us up & see the support programs that are available. We too are pushing to end the stigma ��

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  4. Thank you so much for posting this. As a teenager, I struggled in high school. Despite therapy and a supportive family and friends, I attempted to OD on prescription drugs (note: as an escape route-- I did not otherwise misuse drugs.) Fortunately, the attempt failed, and I was able to turn myself around.

    Now, as a mother of two tween boys, I'm constantly on the lookout for signs... but you are right; it is hard to know them, and our best protection is having frequent, open conversations with our kids and not accepting face value. My sincerest condolences for your loss.

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  5. I'm very sorry for your loss. ❤️

    As a mother now I'm happy I didn't take my life the many times I thought about it. It's a mind thing, pretty hard to get over. Once it's in your head it become the "easy" way out even though there is nothing easy about it.

    Now that I have a daughter I just hope she knows I'm here. Even though my mother has always been a very nice person, loving and caring. I never went to her for things like that. I felt like if I went to her she would feel like she failed me in someway but it wasn't her fault. So I never mentioned it to her, I still haven't mentioned it to her 10 years later.

    I'm scared though. As I was always close to my mother, I'm scared that no matter how close I am to my daughter she still won't come to me. I just hope she never finds herself where I was.

    Mothers like you inspire me. You are strong, keeping your daughters story alive is the strongest and most beautiful thing you can do. ❤️

    Maria

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