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GUEST BLOGGER: My Darkest Hour: Helping Others Find the Light – by Finding Inspiration in the Chaos

A huge thank you to Lana for sharing this with all my readers and especially me. You go girl; you’re better than you know. I respect and love that people are sharing their stories with me and being 100% honest and true about them, even if they have never told another soul. You can find her blog here for more information and storytelling. 
TRIGGER WARNING: This post talks about the attempted suicide of a teenager. Please be aware and choose wisely before you continue.
 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

“Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.” -Lucius Annaeus Seneca

“When people kill themselves, they think they’re ending the pain, but all they’re doing is passing it on to those they leave behind.” -Jeannette Walls

“The bravest thing I ever did was continuing my life when I wanted to die.” -Juliette Lewis

**I want to start by saying this post is not easy for me to write. My anxiety was triggered by this post multiple times while writing, but I kept coming back around to the feeling that it needs to be shared. Honestly, some of my friends and family are unaware of this and it has been 17 years, but I guess they will find out now. But this post is not just about me. It is so much bigger than me. I pray this reaches someone and makes them, at the very least, reconsider or reach out for help. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. 

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It was September 7, 2001, I still remember it like it was yesterday. I was 15 years old and I felt like my life was over. I look back now and I can see that my life was not horrible. I was blessed more than some kids my age. I had a roof over my head, lots of people that loved me, a good relationship with my mom and dad, and I wasn’t being abused in any way. However, we had just moved and my world felt like it had been twisted upside down. I had to quit Varsity cheerleading and leave all my friends behind. We were only moving about an hour away, but I wasn’t driving yet so it wasn’t going to be easy to see my friends on a regular basis. The new school I was attending didn’t have cheerleading and I just felt like an outsider. I never felt like I fit in there.

Like I said it was September 7, 2001, and my family and I had just gotten back from a football game in the town we had just moved from. I was so excited to get to see some of my friends and a friend of my moms even offered to let me move in with her to finish school, but my parents said no. I think seeing everyone that night actually made it harder. I still missed everyone there, but at the same time, I felt like I didn’t fit in there anymore either. I felt lost and defeated. I felt completely alone. I’m a believer in Christ, and with that belief comes the belief in evil. I believe that Satan took advantage of my loneliness and tried to steal me away from God and my family that night. I remember getting back to the house that night, after crying the entire way home, and I went up to my room and I literally hit my knees and prayed, “LORD, take me home. I don’t want to be here anymore.”

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Later that night, my mom asked me if I was going to bed and I told her that I was going to stay up a little while and watch TV downstairs in the living room. She has since told me that she wished she would have followed her “mom gut” that night and stayed up with me. She just felt wrong about me staying up alone that night.

After my parents went to bed, I went to the kitchen and got 3 water bottles out of the refrigerator and I climbed on top of the counter and proceeded to pull the Zoloft, Tylenol, and IBProfen out of the medicine cabinet. I remember this night in detail, but it was almost like an out of body experience. It was like I was watching myself from above doing all this and part of me wanted to scream out, “NO! NO! What are you doing?!?! STOP!” I felt robotic. I felt numb. I had made my decision and I was going forward with it. Let me just state, I had not been planning this. This was a split decision that came from a very dark, dark night of loneliness. I went back to the couch in our living room and as I watched Three’s Company on TVLand, I began to take one pill at a time. From there, it begins to get a little foggy, but I remember something very, very clearly. God was watching out for me that night. I remember looking over to the other side of the room, and leaning up against the wall was my grandmother, my step mom’s mother that had recently passed away. She looked at me and shook her finger, almost like she was telling me, “no, Lana. It is not your time yet.”

The next morning, I vaguely remember my mom coming down the stairs, seeing me, and then yelling up the stairs to my dad, “Lana tried to kill herself. Call 911.” I was in and out of consciousness at this point. My dad carried me to the car and we drove to meet the ambulance on the main road because we lived about 10 minutes out of town. Come to find out later on, I must have thrown up during the night at some point, and that was the only thing that saved my life. The doctors said I took enough medicine that I shouldn’t have survived. I do remember getting a tummy ache and feeling very full. I think it was because I drank so much water to get all the pills down, but whatever it was it saved my life.

I won’t go into detail about the next few days. I was in the ICU in San Antonio for a few nights. I will say this, I am loved. I had grandparents from all over Texas drive all night to get to me. I even had a grandpa from Louisiana drive 10 hours to get to the hospital to see me. No one made me feel like I had failed. No one made me feel like I was a disappointment. They slept in chairs in the ICU waiting room and took turns coming in to sit with me through the night because only one person was allowed in at a time. I was reminded that I wasn’t alone, that I was loved, and that no matter what I had a family that would love me unconditionally.

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How did I heal? Well, strangely enough, my little brother, who was 9 at the time, had a lot to do with my healing process. He and I had always been close growing up and I took solace in that. I slept in his room for the first two or three months after I got out of the hospital. We would stay up and watch movies on nights that he didn’t have to go to school, I would read to him, and we would play make-believe with his cars and horses. I will never forget how my little brother would watch over me, even when I moved back to my room, I would wake up some mornings and he would be curled up at the foot of my bed or on a blanket on the floor next to my bed. To this day we have never talked about my attempted suicide, but he did tell my mom a few weeks after it happened, “Mom, I am so glad my sister didn’t die.” Love really can heal all wounds, especially love from your little brother.

I stayed home from school for a couple of months, taking part in a home-bound program. I had a teacher come to my house daily and we did my lessons. My mom and I got to spend a lot of time together during those days before I started back to school. We made a point to laugh every day. I started seeing a counselor and open-communication became even more mandatory in our house.

I lived that night because God wasn’t finished with me on earth. A few days after my attempt, my mom told me that her sister and my grandmother had woken up that night and felt like something was wrong and they felt an urgency to say a prayer for me. I truly believe that Satan reached into my darkness and whispered in my ear “this is the only way.” But Satan is a liar and I am here to tell you that God still has the ability to perform miracles and spit in the face of Satan because I am still here today. I vowed from that day forward to do something with my second chance. That is why I am writing this blog. I hope that I can change the life of some lonely child or adult out there that is contemplating taking their own life. Stop for just one moment. Breathe. Ask for help.

There is light at the end of the dark tunnel. You can make it through this. You can fight out the darkness. As a parent of two boys, I also want to speak to the parents out there. I can’t imagine losing a child. I asked my parents if I had given any signs. They both, sadly, said I didn’t. I was still smiling. My teachers were shocked because I was “always smiling” at school. My dad did say that you need to remain connected with your children. That sometimes we get caught up in the day to day of trying to provide for our families that we forget to check in with them. Be vigilant of your children if they are dealing with huge changes, like a move. My mom said, “trust your gut.” She felt like something was off that night and she didn’t feel comfortable about me staying up alone to watch TV, even though I did it all the time.

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According to the CDC website, ” Suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 10 and 24 and results in approximately 4,600 lives lost each year.” Here are some things to look for in your children:

  • Thinking or talking about or threatening suicide
  • Feelings of purposelessness, anxiety, being trapped, or hopeless
  • Withdrawing from people and activities
  • Expressing unusual anger, recklessness, or mood changes

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This to shall pass. Have faith that you are stronger than the situation you are currently in.

YOU ARE LOVED. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Send me a message if you ever feel like talking to someone. I will always answer.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

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National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255   https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

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Lessons From Anxiety – Marvelously Miranda

It’s Wednesday! And you know what that means – guest blogger number one!

I want to give a big thanks to Miranda for being the first person to get a blog over to me and so quickly.

Check out her story in my previous post and her Lessons From Anxiety.

Despite having symptoms years earlier, I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder at the age of 20.  I am now 24 and I can tell you that I have learned a lot by living with anxiety.  I would like to share with you 5 things living with anxiety has taught me in the hopes that they will help you as you strive to be victorious in the battlefield of your mind.

  1. THE VOICE INSIDE MY MIND, lies.  I am sure you know the voice I am talking about….it tells you that you’re worthless, that you are a failure, that you have let everyone down.  The voice that’s heard desires to haunt during the night and remind of every little mistake made.  That voice that speaks so harshly to me, he is full of lies.  Anxiety will make everything bigger than it is.  I may read a text and forget to respond for a while.  Suddenly, I’m hearing I’m a failure, I’m proving how unworthy of love and devotion I am.  I know that this is not true, this is anxiety speaking to me and I just have to remember the voice I hear, lies.
  2. BOUNDARIES ARE IMPORTANT: If you have anxiety, then you know how easy it can be to worry about everyone around you.  Sometimes, we can worry about someone so much, we make ourselves sick (oh dear, ask me how I know…).  Unfortunately, there are people in the world who prey on those with anxiety and who like to “befriend” those of us with anxiety because our fear of conflict can be a reason to avoid saying “no” at all cost.  One thing I’ve learned is that setting boundaries are important both for my mental health and my overall safety and well-being.  Does setting a boundary and sticking to it make me nervous? You bet! but it’s something I have got to do even if it costs me some relationships.
  3. ANXIETY CAN BE USED AS MOTIVATION:This post is proof.  If I didn’t have anxiety myself, I wouldn’t be as motivated to write about my experience and try to help someone else in the same predicament. I try to let anxiety fuel my fire and passion for mental health.
  4. IF YOU HAVE TO DO THINGS AFRAID, THAT’S OK!: As mentioned above, anxiety can be a good tool to motivate an individual.  But, if you’re like me you may decide to allow the anxiety to motivate you to do something and then once you begin the process of doing what it is you’ve set your mind to, you become more anxious and begin to doubt whether or not you’re capable of what you’re trying to accomplish.  Sometimes, venturing out of your comfort zone can fill you with fear and dread but that’s ok.  If you’re afraid to write, write anyway.  If you’re afraid to change careers but have always had a burning desire to do so, then change.  You may still feel the fear while you’re working on your goals but that’s ok.  You can do whatever it is you desire to do even if you’re afraid.
  5. IT IS IMPORTANT TO SEEK HELP IF YOU NEED IT: I suffered with anxiety for years before finally seeking help.  Waiting to reach out cost me relationships with friends, family, and quality of life.  I was so sure that I could overcome anxiety on my own if I just kept exercising, eating right, and spending time doing activities I enjoyed.  My biggest regret about getting help is the fact that I did not do it sooner.  If you are struggling with anxiety and are desperate for relief, reach out.  Talk to a trusted friend, family member, etc…it may be that you need to access your support system more.  It may even be that you could benefit from medication (please talk with your doctor before trying any supplement or prescription).  If you do find that you need medication (as I do), there is no shame in utilizing it.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Anxiety can be difficult to manage but one thing I know is this, overcoming the challenges that come with living with anxiety is possible.  You have a talent that you need to show the world so do what you can to overcome the anxiety, ignore the voice in your head that lies to you, and do whatever it is you are motivated to do.  Even if you have to do it afraid.
Thanks for reading and head on over to Marvelously Miranda for more!

The Phoenix

2017 was a big year for me. Let’s run through some highlights:

  1. I re-found my best friend and we started dating back in May of this year. It was perhaps by accident and totally not planned but it took him awhile to decide if thats what we truly were supposed to be. Turns out, it was.
  2. We got engaged in the very end of September at our favorite place and where we had our first official date nearly 3.5 years ago at the Bloomsburg Fair in PA.
  3. I got a major promotion with the company I worked for at the time in July, and became a work from home person starting August 1. I now am a #bossbitch and work for the government creating content and social media copy for the Defense Health Agency and Department of Defense.
  4. That job landed me (and the fiancé) in Washington State for December 1 working on Joint Base Lewis-McChord for DHA Connected Health. The Pacific Northwest is great, so far. Even though we have MUCH to explore and things to be seen come spring and summer. I’m very excited.
  5. We were fortunate enough to drive across the country from PA to WA in November right after Thanksgiving and made it in 4 days, with enough time to stop at House On The Rock in Wisconsin even and spend some time there to gawk and the insanity that it is. While on the way out, I got to meet some of his family in Montana, and my god, that state is the prettiest state I’ve ever been in. #BigSkyCountry is the place to drive through in fall and summer.
  6. I can now mark quite a few states off my list that I’ve visited and they aren’t all on the east coast anymore. Hooray! An updated list of states I’ve visited so far: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, New Hampshire, Delaware, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Florida, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Montana, Nevada, Washington, Idaho, Washington DC, Virginia, Maryland, Louisiana and Minnesota. 
  7. Mom came and visited (already!) for Christmas and had a great few days with her. It was great to see someone, even though I wasn’t away for that long from my friends and family. I can’t wait until she brings me my kitties in the spring… I think thats part of the reason I am semi depressed.

Things are going pretty good. Helping my partner get passion back in his life is the hardest part right now. We’re both a bit under the weather and depressed and thought maybe this would help with the move, but so far, it’s just remained the same and maybe even potentially gotten a bit worse. I’m not too worried though. We’re still in the beginning and we have a lot to get done still including finishing setting up the apartment and finding him a job yet. I’m also in the market for a car, so I’m hoping that falls into place soon. Sadly, I sold Hannah at the end of December, but it was time for an upgrade and possibly a more adult car… (like I said, possibly.)

Things have a way of working out. Even though I miss my friends and family, I know some of them will be out in time to see me (and us) its just a matter of when. I feel that if I keep those close to me, I’ll slowly break from the depression I might be feeling these days. I’ll get used to it out here… soon.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned is sometimes a part of you must die. It’s what separates the newer version of us from the old. If you have ever been in the limbo of death and rebirth you know how hard it can be. To let go and say goodbye to a part of you, so a new and better part can grow.

We should strive to be like the Phoenix when we need to. To die and rise from the ashes of what we once were. We must say Goodbye, so we can say Hello.

Love Always,

Koral Dawn