Hope by John Seeley
when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became
a butterfly “
As I sat on a plane going to Atlanta, I felt the sadness that has been welling up inside of me thinking about the funeral of my dear niece Sara. I just spoke to her less than a week before on the phone. We actually had a longer than normal conversation, lasting almost a half hour. I detected nothing in her voice to lead me to worry about her. She seemed to be dealing with her life and the recent surgery removing her appendix, and getting back to work. I heard nothing that sounded an alarm. That’s the thing about suicide. There often is no outward sign that something is wrong. I’ve dealt with suicide before. My best friend Bob was the first really close person to me that left this planet by his own hand. I felt helpless then, and I feel helpless now. The difference is that this time, I knew what to do to help, and I still wasn’t able to.
A friend of mine wrote to me after hearing about my niece, telling me that she too had had suicidal thoughts in her past and how she didn’t reach out either. Luckily for her something inside her kept her from completing her attempt. We all have different strengths inside of us. The problem is that sometimes things can feel overwhelming. I certainly have felt that way, but there’s always been something that kept me here.
To anyone that reads this, and ever feels alone and hopeless, know that there is always hope. You may not be able to see it, but reach out for help and someone else will be able to see it for you. Sometimes professionals have limiting beliefs and pass them on to others. Like a doctor that says there’s nothing we can do. The correct wording would be there’s nothing more I know how to do. But don’t give up! Hope is what creates miracles. It’s a belief, that no matter how things look, there can be something done, or something created to change what might be fact or truth as we now know it. Miracles indeed happen every day.
I have to say that suicide is never the answer. I have to think that once the person crosses over, they realize that there was another way, but it’s too late, at least this time. The effect that suicide has is so much more than most people could realize. We affect so many people that if we choose suicide, we never see the wide ripple effect it causes. I was caught in a tidal wave effect when my friend Bob died. I was in tremendous pain. I cried for days. I cried for years. Jimmy Stewart in “It’s a Wonderful Life” found out what difference he made to all the people around him. He got a second chance. Unfortunately we don’t usually get that in life. It has to be known, by each of us. Dustin Hoffman in “Hero” found out he made a difference in lives, even though before that his life wasn’t about contributing to others.
We all contribute to others in different ways. I try to contribute to others with my work, my writing, my speaking. But everybody contributes to the world one way or another. We touch many people in our lives. Many we never know about, and of course the ones we do. When suicide is chosen, many more people are affected and hurt that the person could possibly realize. I don’t pretend to have the answers to everyone’s problems, but I do know that they do, and perhaps can’t see them because of their depression.
The key is to reach out to someone. If they don’t have the answer, or aren’t supportive, find someone else that is. There are suicide hotlines all over the country. (1 800 SUICIDE 1 800 784-2433, or 1 800 273-TALK.1 800 273-8255) There are friends, family, ministers, therapists, books, etc. Reach out! Don’t give up! Pray for guidance. Talk to someone, anyone. Let someone know that you are in pain. Hold on. It will get better. That’s a guarantee. Believe me.
What to do when you feel stuck?
One of the first things to do is to slow down and center yourself if you can. Do this by taking a deep breath. Literally take a couple of deep breaths letting them out slowly. Breathing is powerful in calming you down and allowing better thought processes to occur.
Look into someone’s eyes, or if alone, look into a mirror. This eye to eye connection helps also to calm and center you.
Reach out for help. Help is always available and knowing that there is a way out even if you can’t see it is extremely important. Believe that you can be helped and you do deserve help no matter what. Sometimes you’re too close to the picture to be able to see the big picture and therefore the solution to the problem. Einstein said “You can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it.” In other words either you have to shift your thinking or have someone else help you to find the solution. Talk to someone that you know will support you, and not add to your stress level. Sometimes a good friend or family member fills this roll. Other times a coach, minister or therapist can offer not only a sympathetic ear, but also techniques and advice to guide you through your challenge. Tell them if you just want them to listen, or if you want them to listen and then offer advice.
Remember you do have your own answers. Sometimes you can’t see them without shifting or having support.
Take a time-out for yourself. Place a little distance between you and your problem. This sometimes is physical distance, other times just closing your eyes and deep breathing, creating a safe space for you to balance yourself. Take a walk. This simple act often allows you to clear your head, and regain your perspective.
Sometimes you need to express yourself. You can do this several ways. Sometimes you can write your feelings down, like in journaling. Putting your thoughts on paper is powerful and often releases them so your mind can clear. Sometimes a guided writing format helps. I use what I call the Soul Letter technique to guide me through the 7 steps of the emotional ladder. I find it helps to keep me balanced in my expression of my feelings and emotions. (See Get Unstuck! Chapter 9)
If writing it’s not a practical solution or it isn’t going to do it at the time, you may want to try blowing off a little steam with some loud expression. This often can be challenging to shout your feelings, and not disturb others. One way to do this is to stack several pillows on a bed or couch and place your head deep into them and shout away! If you’re near nature where there aren’t a lot of people around, you can shout and only the squirrels or seagulls will hear you. Once you’ve expressed yourself, you’ll feel a release and then hopefully you will more balanced.
Whatever combination you use, there is always a way out. Know that there is and you will find it. Now take a deep breath, and face your day!
"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a
spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with
deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us." ~Albert
5 Things to do to help a friend in need.
Friends often reach out for help when they are in need. Here’s what to do when your friend reaches out to you.
First try to calm them down a little by asking them to take a couple of deep breaths. Literally get them to pause for just a moment and breathe. Often times this will bring them more into a balanced state of mind.
The second thing to do is to listen, really listen to them. Sometimes you need to make a “safe space” for them to open up. This can be accomplished by giving them your full attention. Even on the phone, they can sense whether you are giving them only part of your attention. If you’re physically with them, look at them, look in their eyes. Have an empathetic attitude and make sure it reflects in your face. Don’t make any judgments about what you hear. Come from a place of neutrality.
Ask them if they want your advice or if they just want you to listen. Men often make the mistake of trying to “fix” a problem when they see it. That’s why a new problem may be created if advice is offered and not wanted. Sometimes you may have some advice that fits for you, but might not be the best for them. So first ask them what they see as a solution. People have their own answers, but often times are too involved to see them. Other times with a little reflection they will figure out what needs to be done.
If you do offer advice, make sure it is balanced. Sometimes we have our own agenda when we offer advice. It’s always best to frame your advice with something like well if I were in your situation, I might such and such. Remember they are looking for support, but you need to be their balance to help them to see what makes sense to them. Remember that if you say throw the bum out, and they decide they want to stay with him; you are setting yourself up for a problem of your own.
Finally make sure they feel heard. Often that’s the real need they have. You can perception check with them by asking “If I hear you right, you are feeling such and such.” Then see if you are accurate. Once they really feel that they’ve expressed their feelings and emotions and feel heard, the problem will seem handleable. Just knowing that they have support can make them feel better and have hope. Pass this on, you may be saving someone you love.