It is a hot topic among the many school counselors that I talked to over the past few days. One person even suggested that I write a children’s book on the topic. I of course explained to her that I already did!
John O'Leary spoke about “The Power of One”. He challenged us to think of the one person who inspires us to become the best version of ourselves. He also realized that he was speaking to a room full of people that often put others before themselves. That is such a slippery slope for all who work in helping professions.
My friend, Bobbe White, Try Laughter Inc., also spoke at the conference. Her topic, “I Said I’m Doing the Best I Can!” She too realizes how we are all spread so thin trying to save those around us, often times at the expense of our own health. It was a pleasure for me to see people come up to her after her session. They needed to hear her words! She was even told she should be a Keynote speaker at next year’s conference. I would agree.
After my brother’s suicide I spent a lot of time sitting across from Mika Ross. We spent hours and hours and hours…. hacking our way through the topic. What did it mean about me? What did it mean about him? What did it mean about our family? How does a tragic loss such as this happen to any of us? The pain, the guilt, and the sadness were almost unbearable over that first year. Mika was my “Power of One”! I didn’t want to burden my family and friends with such deep emotions. During that time I soaked her words up like a sponge and she was very consistent with her message. “Everyone is responsible for their own Happy!” EVEN ME! She had also lost a cousin to suicide and she wrote a blog on the one-year anniversary of his death. I studied it like a textbook! I am pretty sure I have it mostly memorized by now. Here are some of the key pieces that resonated so deeply inside of me:
“Maybe the way you're killing yourself won't be as quick as the means my cousin chose, but for some reason the way he did it is easier to judge.”
“Maybe you're slowly and secretly killing yourself or depriving yourself of your best with self-abusive talk? or you're unconsciously killing yourself with beliefs you have about yourself that color your entire experience and you're not sure how to identify them or are too scared to do so?; maybe it's just easier to blame others for your life's circumstances instead of taking responsibility for your part?; maybe you're ignoring your feelings that "something's off" and pressing on in circumstances that don't feel right?; maybe you're eating too much or not moving enough or disrespecting yourself in other ways?”
“In dealing with the guilt and the grief of the loss of her loved one she's had an unexpected epiphany and become aware of the ways in which she unconsciously but intentionally takes her own life in a not-so-immediately-lethal, but still soulfully damaging way.
Since this awareness she's reported consciously working to change her intent towards herself and can see how these insidious beliefs she's held about who and how she is have impacted many facets of her life in negative ways.”
The Book: Eden and Her Happy. "Your Happy can never leave you"; the message that I share with young children and with you. What has come to me from tragic circumstances? YOUR FIRST RESPONSIBILITY IS YOU! That is not selfish. Pray, meditate, eat the best you can, move your body, respect yourself! Then share the light that you will find within yourself with those around you. That is your Happy light! And if your light starts to go dim, turn to the person next to you and ask for what you need. The best gift you can give to those you love is to have a bright and shining Happy. It takes a lot of work and practice; you will fall and fail and find your way back up over and over again!
How can WE slow down the escalating number of suicides? WE can get the help that WE need, when WE need it! WE can model self-care! But, WE can’t love someone more than they love themselves, only God can do that!
If you are having suicidal thoughts, please find someone to talk to. If you have lost someone to suicide – it is not your fault, it isn’t anyone’s fault. Death is death; and death by suicide is the same as death by cancer! Cancer eats our body in the same way that our emotions eat our body!
John O’Leary says, “If you don’t take a stand for something you will fall.”
If I didn’t take a stand for sharing the message that I learned from Mika, I would have surely fallen! As I talk to children, teachers, counselors, and anyone that asks, I pray that they hear what have now become my words, “Your Happy can never leave you.” Trust me it is there, you just have to dig for it!