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Now that Christmas and New Year’s is over, many suicide survivors are breathing a sigh of relief. That’s because holidays are a time when the loss of a loved one to suicide is painfully put in your face. Everyone is gathered together – family, friends, loved ones – except there’s one person missing. That special someone who took his or her own life.

A suicide survivor has to come to terms with the fact that the reason for the suicide will never be understood. Depression can be fatal. A dear friend of mine lost her son seven years ago to suicide. She posted the following note on Facebook. It’s a Christian reflection on suicide by Father Charles Rubey.


A Christian Reflection on Suicide

Suicide will never make sense and survivors will always long for their loved ones but survivors can have their eyes opened more if they learn something about mental illness and come to the conclusion that this illness can be fatal.

The new year

As we begin a new year, the holidays are over and survivors of a completed suicide breathe a collective sigh of relief. The holidays very often are a very painful time. There are no more holiday gatherings where there is an aura of gaiety. Survivors no longer have to put on the happy face while inside there is a broken and heavy heart. Attending many of these gatherings is done under duress and not wanting to hurt the feelings of family and friends. The invitations are sent hoping that survivors will attend but there is understanding if the survivors just can’t get to the gathering. These understanding people are real gifts to the survivor. There is not the pressure or expectation that the invitation will be accepted and attendance is expected.

Not understanding the pain

One of the most vexing issues that survivors grapple with is the lack of understanding of the pain that their loved one was experiencing at the time of their death. No one can quite understand such pain unless they themselves have gone through the agonizing experience of unrelenting mental anguish. This pain literally was more than the person is able to bear. Years ago a grieving parent asked me what his daughter was thinking about as she walked across the parking lot to her garage where she turned on the car and died from carbon monoxide poisoning. I had the idea that this parent was expecting to hear that his child was thinking about the parents and other members of the family who were going to miss this person after they died.

My response to this parent was that this much-loved child was thinking that soon the pain would be over. During the final hours or days of this tortured person’s life, all that they could feel was the unending pain of their mind and soul. The pain could no longer be borne and suicide was the only answer. That is a very difficult concept for many of us to understand because many of us have never been in that desperate state.

The pain won’t stop

I knew a young woman who suffered from mental illness and during one of her bouts of depression, she was lying on the floor writhing in pain and just kept repeating that she just wanted to die. She was not acting or looking for attention or being overly dramatic. She wanted some relief from this inexorable pain. The pain would not stop. Her mind and her soul were breaking up and she was at a breaking point. There was no letting up of the pain. It just kept pounding at her and she was nearing a breaking point. She was very close to reaching the breaking point and if she could have she would have taken her life just to be rid of the pain.

It’s a decision, not a choice

People who complete suicide, cross over that bridge and are relieved of their pain. It is not something that they choose to do because choice connotes an either/or situation. This is rather a decision that they make. There is no other option except suicide because no other intervention is going to work. In their desperate state suicide makes all of the sense in the world. For those of us who look at the world through relatively healthy eyes, suicide never makes sense but for those people who are looking at the world through the jaundiced eyes of severe mental illness, suicide makes all of the sense in the world.

Tortured survivors

Survivors are tortured with the fact that maybe if their loved one had held on for another five minutes or another day the pain would have been diminished. That precious life would have been saved and the survivor would have been spared the pain of grief. That is very true but for these sick souls one minute seems like an eternity because the pain cannot be borne for another nanosecond. That might not make sense to survivors but it is the truth from the eyes of people who have experienced the horrors of mental illness.

No one knows why people keep pain to themselves

Many survivors do not know how long their loved ones have been suffering from this illness. It could be months or years or days. These loved ones suffered in silence or maybe were too confused about what was going on within their minds and souls. Maybe they were too embarrassed to bear their souls to their loved ones for fear that they would be misunderstood. No one knows the answer as to why people keep their pain to themselves and no one knows if the outcome would have been different if their loved one had shared the desperation that they were feeling at this time.

The more that survivors can learn about the ravages of mental illness the better they can understand why their loved ones took their lives. Suicide will never make sense and survivors will always long for their loved ones but survivors can have their eyes opened more if they learn something about mental illness and come to the conclusion that this illness can be fatal.

Depression kills. Mental illness kills. Unfortunately, acts of suicide continue to plague our society and people continue to end their lives prematurely. Each and every person who completes suicide is a tragic ending of a life. Society loses out. A family loses out. It didn’t have to end this way. That is one reason why suicide is such a tragic event because it did not have to end that way.

Mental illness is very treatable.

As with any illness there are degrees of severity and some forms of mental illness are more lethal than others. Some forms of mental illness have greater incidents of suicide than others. There are millions of people in our country who are walking around with some form of mental illness and not all of them complete suicide. Why did this loved one take their life and not some other loved one? That is a question that needs to be answered. That is one of the mysteries that is being grappled with somewhere. We can only hope that it is answered soon. All survivors would love to have other potential survivors spared the pain that survivors experience as they journey this path.

As always, I want to assure each and every member of the LOSS family of my thoughts and prayers on a daily basis during my quiet time and I encourage you to do the same for each other –especially for those survivors who have recently joined our family.

Rev. Charles T. Rubey is the Founder and Director of Loving Outreach to Survivors of Suicide (LOSS) a non-denominational program offered by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

start your day right | Beliefnet | Terezia Farkas | depression help

 

Want to know how to start your day the right way?

First, you need to know what the morning means to your brain. The morning really is the first event that your brain sees via your eyes and other senses. In this way, the morning sets the mood for the rest of your day for your brain!

When you wake up, your mind is slowly leaving the delta state. The delta state is a dream state. It’s slow brain activity. This means you’re easily influenced by mental suggestion. What thoughts you put in your brain will stay in it, until at least the end of the day. That’s why if you are awakened by a sound or a song, you’ll be able to easily recall it again and again throughout the day (even if it’s a song you cannot stand!).

Keep those negative thoughts out!

We all know its important to start your day off on the right side of the bed. Any negative thoughts from anxiety, or bad dreams, will shape your subconscious for the entire day. If you wake up and say “Wow. Today’s gonna suck…”, then it will suck!

This is basically the Law Of Attraction . The idea of ask and you will receive. Your brain is basically asking the Universe to send you bad or negative events. And you probably don’t even realize the sabotage!

Sometimes bad or negative events of one day will spill over into the next day. This is beyond your control. Wake up knowing the situation, but don’t add more negative thoughts to it. Your brain has digested, analyzed, and come up with a thousand outcomes of the situation. All you need to do is wake up, know what the reality of the day is, and not add any more negative thoughts to it.

The moment you wake, whatever you put into your mind sticks around. Your subconscious becomes filled with the belief that “today sucks”. Even if your day will turn out to be the most perfect day in your life, your brain wakes up with that negative thought as the first idea it hears. So its important to greet your awake brain with a positive thought first thing. It can be a pretty difficult task, especially if anxiety and depression have you in a choke hold. But here’s some ideas to help you.

Get up fast!

Yeah, get up fast! When you wake up, try to get out of bed as fast as you can. The longer you stay in bed procrastinating or thinking of why the day sucks, why things at work are going to be horrible, how you’re going to be bullied, the more your mind comes up with reasons and excuses to just stay in bed.

Some people put their alarm clocks on the other side of the room. That forces the sleeper to have to get out of bed to turn the alarm off. Other have a family member wake them up – sometimes forcibly.

The power of light.

The power of light is severely underestimated by most people. Light has profound effects upon body chemistry and energy levels. You circadian rhythm is based on light levels, and affects nearly all aspects of your physiology. The level and type of light that you receive affects your heart rate, digestion, emotions, immunity, sexual appetite,  just to name a few.

Bright, natural light is best for bringing the most energy to all your body systems. The more light you receive, the more serotonin your pineal gland produces. Serotonin is a feel good neurotransmitter. The less light received, the more melatonin your pineal gland produces, which is a depressant. Your body makes melatonin at night, and serotonin during the day. So, the sooner you turn on the lights, or open the blinds, the quicker your body will increase its energy levels.

Wake Up to a Clean Room

What would you rather see first thing in the morning? A room littered with pizza boxes and laundry piled into the corners, or a nice clean room?

Waking up to a clean, organized room has a positive first impression upon your mind. Waking up to clutter, dirty clothes, and piles of beer cans from the night before does not. Clutter acts like a barrier to positive vibrations of a room. It’s feng shui. Give it a try and you’ll realize this idea works. It’s easier to quickly leave a room when it’s clean and relatively organized, versus a room that’s piled up high with stuff.

Fresh Air

Open the window. No matter what season it is. Open the window even if it is just a crack.

Your bedroom sat stagnant all night, void of fresh air, especially if you leave your door closed as I do. When you open the window you create a cross draft to bring in fresh air. During the night while you where in your room, you lowered the oxygen level by rebreathing the same air in the room. However, as soon as you open the window, you bring in fresh air with high oxygen levels. This instantly raises your energy level.

Even if it is 10 degrees out, open the window just a tad. When it’s cold out, it will have even more of an effect – the cool, denser air will carry more oxygen, and the temperature alone will help you to awaken.

 Music

Music can be part of your morning wake up. Even if you are not musically motivated, music can shape your mornings. Make sure it is something positive and up lifting. Make sure you’re listening to something that pulls you up emotionally, not down.

If you’re not one for listening to radios or ipods in the morning, listen to nature’s music. Birds chirping, wind chimes, ect – all help awaken and sooth the mind.

Food

Water is the best ‘food’ to start your day with. Why?

Mucous has lined your throat and mouth (mucous causes morning breath). Water dissolves that mucous. After all you don’t really want that stuff coating your food when you eat, right?

Toxins have also built up in your tissues. Drink a full glass of water –and give it ten minutes. If you have an empty stomach, the toxins will be flushed down, and pass out with your urine, with no food to absorb them. Ten minutes later, you may eat your breakfast. At the same time, water rehydrates your tissues.

DO NOT SKIP BREAKFAST. And don’t just grab a quick sugary bite. Your body has been starving for eight hours or more. Breakfast jumpstarts your metabolism, ends your body’s “hoarding mode” from the night, and will actually help you lose weight and stay lean if you chose the proper foods. Choose to eat some fruit, some protein, and some carbs.

Make Your Bed

Making your bed sounds like a simple and easy idea. But many people ignore this one way to start your day right.

There’s the saying that an unmade bed foretells how you’ll spend your day. Basically scattered in thought. Making your bed can be a soothing morning ritual where your mind basically says all is well and organized in your world, even if the outside world is chaotic. A made bed is also a great sight when you come home at night. Your bed looks cozy, inviting, and comforting from a hard day of work.

Leaving your bed unmade kills your motivation. Not only does it appear messy, which drains your energy in its own right, but it also invites you back in repeatedly, when you usually cannot afford to.

Self talk

Self talk is one of the most important parts of any morning routine. In the morning, you need to load yourself with as much positive mental programming as possible. Your mind is most receptive to it in the morning, and it will shape the rest of your day.

Self talk has lots of help from the wellness industry. There are all types of motivational CDs that help you say the right positive things to yourself. You follow along with the CD and pretty soon you’ll be saying the mantras on your own. You might also want to leave stickies with positive quotes on your bathroom mirror, your bedroom door, or anywhere you will notice.

 

What do you think about these suggestions? Do you have any ideas of your own that you’d like to share? Feel free to let me know. Also, you can contact me with ideas of future articles you’d like to see on Depression Help.

Merry Christmas! ♥♥

Christmas depression | Terezia Farkas | Beliefnet

Why do we get depressed at Christmas? The answer is different for everyone.

For Christians, one of their most holy holidays has been taken over by greedy corporations and politically correct fringe groups. For others, Christmas is a hectic time of social interactions with family members who aren’t necessarily on the nice list. With anxiety levels sky rocketing and social expectations weighing heavily upon shoulders, Christmas day – that beloved 24 hours of joy – becomes a dark and dismal spot on the calendar.

The commercialization of Christmas is depressing to Christians.

Some people feel depressed at Christmas because its become too commercialized for what’s supposed to be a religious holiday. It’s like there’s no respect for the Christian faith. You don’t see Ramadan commercialized. Christians can feel that there’s too much emphasis on ‘the perfect gift’ instead of the Holy Family or Jesus. Everyone is expected to sing carols, attend festivals, celebrate with family. Some wonder what happened to Christ in Christmas.

Believing that you have to spend lots of money on gifts also makes people feel depressed. Spending money on gifts can become a competition. Who spends the most money. Who buys the biggest and best gift.

But you can’t buy love or happiness. True, you can buy an object that brings joy and happiness. But that joy and happiness is only short term. Once the novelty of the object wears off, or the joy in using the object wanes, the person starts searching for the next object to bring happiness and joy.

Christmas is supposed to be perfect.

Another reason people get depressed at Christmas is because there’s this idea that Christmas is a time when everyone is overflowing with love. You know, the Hallmark stuff, where everyone smiles and laughs together, and loves one another. In other words, a perfect day. Sure seems nice, but it doesn’t happen enough times in our lives. And for some of us, it doesn’t happen at all. So to expect love and joy to be automatically bestowed at Christmas, and then not have either, is the shattering of a dream. No one likes to have a dream crushed.

Then there are those who are grieving because someone died. Christmas becomes a reminder of that loss, of how much the person meant, of how deep the pain goes, and all the what ifs and missed moments in between.

 Negative people don’t change.

Negative people won’t stop being negative just because its Christmas. Negative people will continue being negative. In fact, Christmas may bring out the ‘victim’ mentality in a negative person. In other words, life sucks and is totally unfair against this one person.

It’s ruminating on the inadequacies of your life. Of self reflection and blaming your faults on everyone else. Everything that’s wrong in your life is someone else’s fault. Everyone is out to win, and they want to crush you. You work hard, but never get a break. And Christmas is another opportunity or time to crush you, take away your self esteem because others have more money to spend on gifts, and so on.

People who hate or dislike each other won’t change because its that one day of the year when there’s supposed to be Peace on Earth. Your Grandmother and Dad will keep hating each other even if the entire family gathers together to celebrate Christmas at Grandmother’s place. Some people dread Christmas because they’ll have to spend time with family, friends, and acquaintances they’d rather not spend time with.

Then there are other issues, like emotional trauma, SAD, etc that make some people depressed at Christmas. Whatever your reason for being depressed, remember – You Are Not Alone! Reach out to someone you trust. Or call a mental health crisis line. Christmas depression is not something you need to take on by yourself.

 

 

christmas depression | Beliefnet | Terezia Farkas | author

Christmas depression is real and it hurts. Christmas is supposed to be the happiest time on earth. But for many, its the saddest, loneliest time. That’s because most of us have this fantasy of what a perfect Christmas should look and feel like. But fantasy rarely is reality. And that feeds your anxiety and depression. 

For many the primary cause of Christmas depression is loneliness.

If it seems like everyone you know is getting together for the holiday, and couples are buying tokens of love for each other, you might easily feel left out from the love and romance if you’re not attached to anyone. Not everyone is coupled. Some people don’t even have families. Think of your uncle who isn’t married, never had kids, sits alone in the nursing home. Or the single guy who hangs out at his friends so he doesn’t have to go home to an empty condo.

We all know you can be in a room full of people and still feel lonely. If you feel like you have no connection to the people you’re with, you won’t want to be friendly or start a conversation. You’re probably going to wish you could go home, grab some drink and tuck into a blanket, and watch some Youtube.

We need to connect with each other.

Watch for friends and people who feel left out, or stand alone in the crowd. Make it a mission to go to that person and acknowledge his or her presence.

Don’t just say, “Nice to meet you.” Involve the person in some small chat. Anything to break the ice.

Don’t be fake. Make sure your conversation is real, and you’re expressing your real feelings and thoughts. If you feel like you really have nothing in common, don’t pretend you do.

The idea is to connect with the person who seems lonely. By acknowledging the person’s presence you’re saying, “I see you. You matter.”

Expect the Bad, Accept the Good. 

Expect bad emotional days, ugly relatives, stressed out dinners and shopping. Realize these things are beyond your control. When the bad things happen, step back or out of the situation as much as you can. It’s not your responsibility to fix that age old argument between your in-laws, or get your husband to like that turkey sauce which your mother swears is her special secret recipe. 

Accept any day or moment that’s good. If you usually cry every morning or don’t feel like getting up, accept that’s how you’ll be during the holidays. But don’t expect that’s how the rest of the day will go. Life can feel good so enjoy those moments and let yourself feel happy.

Avoid Family Drama. 

People don’t change who they are overnight. Nor are they going to suddenly have a change of heart and love you, or want to be your friend. The idea of a Christmas miracle is nice, but it rarely happens. 

Family drama is one constant of the universe when it comes to Christmas. Every family believes they are the best, most loving, closest group of people gathered together to celebrate Christmas. Unless, of course, if Uncle Barney drinks too much, or if Aunt Ellen tortures the family with stories of her unsuccessful marriages. Okay, these are big examples. Family irritants can be small things. Like the relative who keeps leaving the toilet cover up, wears that ugly sweater, is constantly texting, or smokes like a chimney outside your back door. 

Family drama doesn’t need a reason to exist. Its simply about people having to co-exist for 24 hours.

Love yourself.

You can’t feel good about Christmas if you don’t feel good about yourself.

Need alone time? Take it! Be gentle with yourself. Treat yourself first. Give yourself permission to feel miserable or to cry. Accept practical help when offered. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Let others lift some of the load off your shoulders. Whatever it takes to take some of the anxiety off your shoulders.

Follow Terezia Farkas on Twitter: @tereziafarkas

Heart of Love Evolution - Surviving Depression | Terezia Farkas | depression help

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