My fight with invisible illness and suicide

Did you know that September is National Suicide Prevention month and this week is National Suicide Prevention Week?

I’ve written about my own struggles with suicide before and why my tattoo is so important to me. You can read about it and the significance behind my breathe tattoo here.

I meant to share this information with you on Sunday and then again on Monday, but I couldn’t hit the publish button. You would think it would be easy to share since the words are already out there but there is such a stigma tied to suicide. People still share how it is so selfish and I didn’t feel right putting more words out there regarding voluntarily ending my life when so many others are dealing with the heartache of losing loved ones and all of their possessions.

The truth is that while I think about it, right now it isn’t in the forefront of my mind. Right now my health is improving and my reasons for being here are plenty. But we need to talk about it and not hushed tones after someone has taken their life or with an air of annoyance because an acquaintance has truthfully shared how they are feeling on a social network.

We NEED to talk about it. People are uneducated about mental health issues and many feel that a walk in the woods will help with depression better than going to a therapist and getting life saving medication. Thankfully we don’t tell asthmatics that they shouldn’t use their life saving medications to help keep their airways open and that we should just breathe in a better and more productive way. As an asthmatic I have to take many different medications to keep my lungs open and functioning. When you are seeing the rescue inhaler it is because I am having problems, you may not see the tightness in my chest or my labored breathing because I recognize the signs and treat the problem. Please don’t shun someone for taking medications for their depression, anxiety or any other mental health issue.

People don’t think of suicide as their first choice. When they are seriously considering suicide they have tried so many other things to bring that spark back into their life. They aren’t being selfish, they just see no other way out. Thankfully if you are feeling this way there is an inhaler of sorts you can use, you can call the Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Unlike your doctor who may tell you that everyone in life has stress or that things can’t be that bad, the Suicide Prevention Hotline has trained professionals to talk to you and to help you connect with local crisis centers.

The dialogue is there, we need to talk about this epidemic where one person is dying by suicide every 11.9 minutes in our country. In 2015 that resulted in over 11,000 preventable deaths.

I am worth it and so are you.

39.9

Celebrating 40 seems like such a milestone and if I’m being quite honest, I didn’t really believe I would ever be here. I thought that my whys would have been exhausted by now and that at 40 I would just been a memory.

Thirty-nine has been rough.

Thirty-nine has me humming “The Song that Never Ends” but with altered lyrics.

This is the year that doesn’t end.
It just goes on and on my friend.
I started living it, not knowing what it was
And I’ll continue living it forever just because,
This is the year that doesn’t’ end….

Earlier today I was going through my Facebook memories and saw a comment from a friend that grew up in the area that I live in. We met through blogging when she was preparing for gastric bypass surgery. I decided to click over to her page to let her know I was thinking of her all the while cursing Facebook’s algorithms because I never see updates from her. And that is when I discovered that shew passed away over year ago. Leaving behind her two young children, her husband and her beloved cats.

Thanks for that one last memorable kick to the crotch, Thirty-nine.

Looking back thirty-nine was the first year without him, was filled with health issues, had me resigning from my full time job, and losing two friends that I thought would be around forever.

Thirty-nine had her good moments. I’m sure years from now I will remember thirty-nine fondly as the year I learned how to live off of the sidelines, started to plan The Chicken’s wedding, and realized that life without kids in the empty nest with The Husband is fun.

And since we are being completely honest about thirty-nine, I hope that she brings me a 2017 NBA Eastern Conference Championship.

For my 40th birthday I would love nothing more than to give back and Red Nose Day does just that. It is a cause that speaks to my heart because I can tell the kids that it benefits that I get what they are going through.

I grew up poor in NE Ohio where we sometimes get knee deep snow in the wintertime. Where on the last day of thirty-nine it is a cold and rainy 62 degrees. So poor in NE Ohio has you losing your pet fish because your dad thought it would thaw out after they took the heater from your room when you were gone for a week in the winter and when you question your parents they joke and say things like “we don’t like the gas company.”

I don’t tell you these things to embarrass my mama or have you feel sorry for me, things happen and my parents worked tirelessly to make ends meet. I tell you this so that you know that this is something that speaks to me.

If you would like to help me celebrate my 40th birthday you can purchase a red nose at Walgreens for $1 and post a photo on Instagram or Facebook. Fifty cents of each nose is donated to Red Nose

I know this got a bit wordy, but if you stuck with me until the end I am so thankful.

Do you have any causes that are near and dear to your heart? I would love to hear about them in the comments.

The death of a salesman

When I think of my father-in-law and his death, a death of a salesman always comes to mind. He was actually a meat cutter by profession. One that retired with all ten of his fingers that he would proudly and loudly proclaim to anyone when asked what he did for a living. I should also note that this fact was accompanied with him waiving all ten of fingers in front of your face jazz hands style. You know, in case you didn’t believe him.

The husband, my father-in-law, and myself in Jamaica.

My father-in-law wasn’t afraid to tell you exactly what he thought about you or the current situation. He didn’t reserve his loud opinions for family, if he didn’t like what you were doing he would loudly share it with you whether he knew you or not.

We won’t go into how those who drive golf carts at Put-in-Bay probably rejoiced when they heard of his passing.Or the time that one of the said golf cart drivers came up to us on the ferry boat to Put-in-Bay to give us a piece of their mind and we said that he was just some random guy we got a ride from.

One of the first times I met my father-in–law, my husband and I were dating; I was fifteen years old and we were all at Cedar Point for the day. We were eating lunch in his conversion van when a gust of wind came in through the open door and caused an open bag of cheese puffs to fly off of the table and scatter around the inside of the van.

While the bag was in mid-air, my father-in-law angrily screamed at my husband’s younger brother, “What kind of f***ing asshole are you?” As if my future brother-in-law had anything to do with the wind shifting and causing the cheese puffs to scatter throughout the van. Without missing a beat my brother-in-law turned to my husband, smiled and then looked at my father-in-law and asked, “I don’t know dad, how many kinds of assholes are there?”

This response, which I later learned was an inside joke between my husband and brother-in-law, sent my father-in-law into a tirade about my brother-in-law’s lack of respect for other people and their property. My husband and his brother were laughing hysterically at their father’s outburst while I just sat there with my mouth agape trying to process what in the heck just happened. As quickly as the tirade started, it was done and it was as if it never happened.

Why are you telling me this, Heather? Bear with me as I swear I am coming to a point and not just speaking ill of the dead.

I live my life overly cautious. I have often joked that my outlook on life is much like a “choose your own adventure book,” I am not a pessimist, but I don’t always do something because I see how it could go horribly wrong on page 74.

I know that I am the wet blanket of any group I am in. I have accepted that, so when I do things like jump off of a 40 foot cliff in Jamaica people wonder if my life was in danger.

Yes I totally jumped off of a 40 foot cliff in Jamaica, I swear I will tell you about it soon.

My father-in-law lived his life with reckless abandon and to the extreme. Towards the end, we all wished that he wouldn’t live as fully as he wanted, because living with reckless abandon has consequences that he didn’t concern himself with.

While he had the angry explosions at those around him, as soon as he got it off of his chest he was fine. He didn’t linger on the past, he always lived in the moment.

I admired that. Not the crazy emotional explosive outbursts where you were left with your mouth agape wondering what in the hell just happened. But the whole living in the moment. Not letting your past dictate what was happening in your present. Living each moment, not knowing if you will ever have one like that again.

The best salesmen aren’t the ones who tell you over and over about why you need something, you just get that vibe from them. They aren’t selling a product, but an experience.

I saw something in Jeff that I don’t have myself. That thirst to live life in the moment. I can do without the whole reckless abandon part, but the living life off of the sidelines. I want it, I need it. Thank you so for showing me how much fuller life can be when you just take that leap off of the cliff.

As I am hurtling toward my 40th birthday this Friday I am thankful for you peddling this thing called life and always encouraging me to get off of the sidelines. You were always encouraging me and supporting me. You would be quick to tell me what a good mother and wife I was, even when I didn’t see it in myself.

I miss our weekly chats and visits. I miss arguing with you about ‘the email’ or you calling me to tell me to ask my computer something like it was a crystal ball. I miss you telling me what great kids I have and how you are so proud of them. And how you joked that you always thought I could do better than your son. I am glad that you got to meet Vivien before you passed away. I see that same stubborn streak you had and we are hoping that she grows out of the crazy outbursts when she doesn’t get her way.

Until we meet again.