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MENTAL HEALTH: Getting Well is Possible.

Hello Friends,

Over the last few days I have been deciding how I plan to deal with my brother’s suicide and how I would like to be involved in a large community near where I live.  I met with a woman on Tuesday at the open house for a new mental health facility that opened in Redding, Ca.  Here is a link to the article:   http://anewscafe.com/2017/05/25/county-officials-mental-health-professionals-and-public-attend-open-house-of-new-mental-health-facility-in-redding/

It was exciting for me to hear about all of the many services this group of people is going to offer to Shasta County.  I knew then that God was showing me how my life is going to change real soon.  I signed up to be a volunteer.  I will start out doing simple things at first such as answering phones or e-mails or helping with mailings.  I also plan to begin attending meetings facilitated by the woman I met with.  She facilitates meetings for friends and family members of people who completed suicide.  It has been many years since I went to any kind of open recovery meetings such as this, but I am looking forward to it.  I remember back in 1988 when I went to my first recovery meetings after I stopped drinking and using drugs.  I felt very nervous and afraid.  However, I am not that person anymore; I know what I need to deal with, I have good boundaries, and there is no pressure to share.  I think just meeting new people and hearing other people’s stories will help me begin to deal with the unfortunate choice my brother made.  I will have no problem sharing or talking, though, so I am sure I will.  The next meeting isn’t until June 5th so I have some time to process all of it some more before then.

I have my first counseling meeting set up for June 2nd with a therapist I met a couple of months ago.  I am also looking forward to talking with her.  It has been a very long time since I went to a woman counselor which will be different.  When I first went to counseling in 1988, I went to a woman.  However, after several months, I felt really uncomfortable with her for some reason.  So I stopped.  I kept going to the ACA meetings, and then found a male counselor at the church I was attending at the time.  I went to him for several years, and he was encouraging, safe, and the first man I ever felt connected with emotionally whom I knew I could trust.  I grew a lot in those years, and he helped me through the transition of entering a second marriage which has been healthy and loving.  My husband and I have been together since December of 1994.  It has been quite a journey!  And now we are looking toward the future when our nest is empty and he retires someday.

So as far as working with Hill Country Care Center, I am planning to take some time to get to know people, get a good feel of all of their services to the community, then possibly go through their Shasta Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Academy which is a “FREE 65-hour certificate training program…designed to help people prepare for entry-level positions within the public mental health field and/or prepare them to become Peer Mentors.”  (That is a quote from their brochure.)

It has been many years since I have taken any kind of classes, but I had already been thinking about something along these lines for the last year or so. I just had no idea I would find out about this wonderful care facility this way.  So hopefully, as I said in my last post about my brother, something good will come from his death.    It is possible that I may eventually get to use my writing and art to contribute to the creating of flyers, etc.  So that is exciting for me, too.

Thank you to all of you who read my last post about the suicide of my brother.  I appreciate all of your support, prayers, and comments more than you know.  I am planning on keeping you updated on what I will be doing and learning as a volunteer in the mental health community.

I am still doing art and still plan to keep working on the picture books I’d like to write and illustrate, but for now it is just for fun.  I am feeling like this other work is going to become more important to me for the time being, but the facility does also have a program where they train people to go into elementary schools and talk about suicide.  Who knows?  Maybe somehow, all of this will meld together into something beautiful.  I sure hope so.

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

 

 

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SUICIDE: Don’t Make That Choice!

Hello Friends,

I have been feeling a little reluctant to write about this, but honestly, I don’t see how I can NOT write about it.  This will be long; bear with me, please.

On the morning of May 5th, I learned that one of my brothers committed suicide on May 4th.  In a way, I wasn’t surprised when I thought back on the last time I had spoken with him.  He called me out of the blue about a month before this and asked me if I knew where his daughter was.  I thought this was a strange question since I have not seen her since she was three years old!  She and her mom left California in the early ’80’s when her mom and my brother divorced.  Anyway, I asked him why he needed to find her.  I asked him if he was sick.  He said he wasn’t sick, but he couldn’t hardly walk anymore. He said he wanted her to be able to have all of his part of the financial investments that our parents left us “just in case something happens to me.”  In the back of my mind I had a flash of what he may have been planning.  However, I did not ask him if he was feeling suicidal.  I wish I had.   I was actually surprised that he even called me.

My brother and I had a very rocky relationship for most of our lives.  I never really understood why.  I am the youngest.  He was the middle sibling.  We were four and a half years apart.  He would have been 61 this July.  He always seemed closer to our other brother.  However, throughout our lives we all really went our separate ways.  The closest I ever felt to either of them was when we went through the death of our mother in 2006.  Our father died three years later.  So our eldest brother had to handle all of the inheritance stuff.  It was a very stressful time for all of us.  Since then, we have all lived separately; my oldest brother left the area and my other brother and I never knew where he was until about three years ago.

That was when my middle brother decided to call me and apologize for everything he had ever done to hurt me.  He was crying and truly sorry.  This was something I had been praying for since 1987 when God had turned my life around.  I had tried many times to make amends with him, but he was just not ready.  Needless to say, I was thankful for that call.  I told him I had forgiven him many years ago and had been praying we might be able to have that conversation someday.  I told him I had always wanted to know him and I loved him.  I asked him if we could just start to have a relationship then, but he said he didn’t want to.  He was addicted to drugs and couldn’t get clean.  He was living in a trailer park where he had been for the last 20 years.  He didn’t know how to change, and he didn’t ask anyone for help that I know of.  I felt helpless, but I let him be.  I called him a few times just to see how he was doing, but he just didn’t know how to connect with me.

I believe he suffered from mental illness his whole life; most likely anxiety and depression, just as I have since I was at least 15.  Looking back on my childhood, I now believe my dad suffered from depression and this was why he drank.  I also think my mom had anxiety issues not just because of his drinking, but because of her own chemical make-up.  She was always worrying about everything and everyone.

I went through my drug and alcohol abuse days from about 1980 to 1987.  That was the year I quit everything and got help through counseling and an ACA (adult children of alcoholics) meeting every week for a couple of years. However, both of my brothers kept using drugs and alcohol for the rest of their lives.  My brother who died was hurt on a job many years ago and was getting pain medicine through the veterans hospital.  He was in the Navy for four years when he was right out of high school.   Apparently, though, his back became so bad, he could hardly walk anymore.  I believe that he just chose to die to escape the pain that was consuming him.

I have been that low many, many times myself emotionally.  However, I am thankful to have a loving husband and two children who love me and would never ever want me to make that choice just to escape any pain I may go through in my life.  It doesn’t solve anything, and it leaves those whom the person left behind in shock, angry, and sad.

When I learned of my brother’s suicide, I was definitely shocked.  Then I was angry for a few days.  Then I had to begin dealing with the aftermath of what would happen to him and his stuff.  At the time I didn’t have a clue as to where his daughter was.  Then his best friend found my brother’s ex-wife’s phone number.  She was contacted and then my niece was.  Yesterday I spent most of the day on the phone with my 37-year-old niece whom I do not even know.  It was strange, but good.

Hopefully, just getting in touch with her will be the blessing that comes out of his sad choice.  My brother and his daughter were estranged from each other for most of their lives as well.  I always felt sad about that, but hopefully she and I can build a relationship with one another now even though we live very far apart.

To this day I have no clue as to where my other brother lives.  We became estranged after our parents were both gone eight years ago.  He left the area and has never wanted to come back.  However, our brother who died did have a best friend who knew where our oldest brother was.  So the same month that my brother called and apologized to me, he also went and found our other brother to make amends with him as well.  However, I have no way to find our eldest brother to try and do the same.  He is living off the grid which is what he always wanted.

I know this has been a very long post; if you stayed with me, thank you.  I wrote this to encourage anyone who is thinking about suicide or knows anyone who is, to tell you to please reach out for help.  There is lots of help to be found!  First, try to talk to someone you know.  If that doesn’t help, call a local suicide hotline.  Or call 1-800-273-8255.  This is the number for Suicide Prevention Services of America.  Their website is http://www.spsamerica.org if you want more information.  I have never used their services, but I am sure there would be someone there to talk to.

Well, friends, I am definitely going to be reaching out for some help myself in dealing with this.  I have talked with someone locally whom I am planning to meet this afternoon.  Perhaps this is going to be the start of something good.

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

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