I was asked by my therapist recently who my support system is. I stared blankly at her for a good 12 seconds, not because I don’t know what a support system is but because I don’t have one. I have no family and one parent whose depth of conversation usually involves my dogs and work. I know plenty of people but have no good friends ( I had several childhood and close friends but we are no longer in contact). I’ve heard the saying we can get used to anything but hadn’t truly grasped how real that was for me. I am alone. Not out of choice but out of circumstance. Truly alone. And I’m so used to this I barely noticed it. I could say support isn’t really necessary, look how far I’ve made it. Look how strong I am but that would be false. I am in fact so without support that I am paying someone to be there for me (insert laughter, because I find humor in everything). I pride myself on being able to outlast anyone and live through anything but I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. We need support, friendships, relationships to go. To learn. When all you have is yourself you become a different kind of tough and it’s not always for the best but it’s because you have no other choice.
Lately, I’ve been reflecting on the difference between being critical of oneself, actions or changes that need to be made and being judgemental. I believe for growth and betterment of ourselves we need to be critical. We need to think about how our thoughts, actions and goals affect our future, and how we are connecting these things with changes we need to make. Too often however we judge ourselves from an emotional bias and become angry, stressed, upset and or give up. Learning to distinguish between these two can create a much less stressful process of growth and change. Be critical. Think critically. Act critically. Do not however attach emotional judgements and labels or put yourself down when trying to change a behavior or process. Accepting our shortcomings and failures while seeing their value is being critical of how we change them in the future. This the difference between staying in the same self defeating loop and breaking free to a new path.
I wanted to start the week off talking about the moment. What moment are you in? Where in space are you living? I recently made the choice to be more aware of how I’m living my life and realized most of my thoughts and therefore energy are either in the past or in the future. I am therefore creating a predictable present. Learning to control my thoughts and my emotions connected to those thoughts has been difficult, to say the least. I am someone who likes control because I often feel like I have none. Trying to become more aware of myself has made me see that I indeed do not have much control over myself only because I haven’t been training my body and mind to stop creating chaos at all times. I like to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Nothing about this process is known or sure. Instead, you’re trying to live solely as much in the unknown as possible. Create the life you want from the present moment. I am always off in a thousand places, as I’m working, driving, shopping. I’m never truly here. Becoming aware of this has been scary. No wonder I live in a state of stress and fear. A quote I often see is “The past is past, let it go” and that is true. I worry most about the past and thus let it create my future and then I wonder why the future is as I predicted. Change your thoughts and change your life has become a cliche notion in the mainstream media in the last few years but it is true. Don’t just change your thoughts, change your attachments and your feelings to those thoughts. If I want to live a different life with different outcomes I have to change how I live right now, I have to be a little uncomfortable all the time. None of this is easy or even satisfying in the moment. It’s frustrating and scary but I think it’s a necessary talk we need to start having since we live in such a fast-paced and futuristic world and thus are missing out on the moments of joy and change we can create right now.
PSA-this post deals with suicide and depression and may not be suitable for everyone.
In light of the two recent celebrity suicides-Kate Spate and now Anthony Bourdain I thought a lot about the past few years and how many celebrities from all artistic genres have committed suicide. These people are our heroes. We look to them for inspiration and want to believe we can be just like them. And it’s this idea-that a great career, talent and passion for something are supposed to sustain everything that gets shattered when we find out one of them has committed suicide.
I myself have struggled with the idea of suicide my whole life for multiple reasons and have attempted it as well. I think once a person allows that thought into their existence as an option it becomes insidious. It affects every aspect of your being and it never really goes away. It hides in the recesses of your mind and you take it down from the shelf when you’re bored, or sad, or think you are just too tired to continue “the fight”.
I am sure I am not alone in this thought. It’s angering and confusing for so many people who have attempted suicide or just thought about it but instead stuck with trying out the whole “living life to the fullest” and trudging through to see other people, these people give up. You hate them because they’re weak, they’re weak for you leaving you (even if you didn’t know them) and they’re weak for not getting help or not trying hard enough because that’s what we always hear-“they just didn’t try hard enough.” But what if they did try hard enough? These famous top of their industry people had every opportunity, everything we are told we need to fix ourselves so what if it just didn’t work? And now you’re scared. Now doubt sets in because you’re trying and you’ve always been told you can’t give up, it’ll get better or in plain terms-you have to struggle through life like everyone else and not be a coward. So now you’re jealous of them. Now you think God, that must be nice to just be able to give up. Sure I’m here trying to spite everyone but that little (or big) piece of me just wants it all to be over and what is the point? If all these famous amazing, inspiring, larger than life artists end up killing themselves…what have you missed…where did you maybe go wrong because none of it adds up.
Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. We have all heard this but I think it’s insulting. It’s insulting because mental illness is not a temporary problem for many of us. Mental illness is a lifelong battle and seeing people be defeated by it in whatever stage reminds us of that. I AM IN NO WAY ADVOCATING SUICIDE. And I think that needs to be said but I am also saying that to tell people to just keep going or to ignore a huge part of what they are feeling will do more damage and in the long run may actually lead them to what you’re telling them to avoid. Suicide is so simple and yet so complex. The act is simple but the theory, the why, is something we cannot understand. We can empathize because maybe we feel that way too but how could we understand these legends, these heros if even with all of the doors open to them they decided that only one was worth shutting. We need to not only talk about suicide, about mental illness but we need to listen. We need to hear what people are saying even when they are silent.
Are you able to make a 180-degree change and go in the opposite direction?
Are you able to say no to certainty and face fear and failure instead?
If the answer is yes, then you can pivot. Learning to the make the necessary adjustments and redefine your direction means you will last and survive. People who get stuck on one track or sink into the comfort of certainty may for a short while find the means to their end but then the end comes.
Be willing to give up on one path and trust that although you can’t see the path you’re turning around for it’s there and it will be solid under your feet if you choose to take the step.