Every word that follows has been written by a beautiful 20-year old woman who regularly struggles with thoughts of suicide. I have nothing to add to her words.
Scars are forever. And the thing about scars is that you can cover them up, layer them even. And you can walk around with all the confidence and happiness in the world until one day, someone or something tries to peel off those layers you’ve worked so hard to put on. And suddenly you’re aware again, and everything plummets to the floor, including that confidence you worked so hard to find.
Words are often that something that peels off those layers to reveal a nasty scar you thought would have been healed by now. Sometimes these words have nothing to do with whatever it was that cut you in the first place, but something triggers in your mind and in a split second everything comes crashing back down.
Like being cut by ice, you may not feel the pain at first. You’re too numb to your surroundings, and your outlook on life is very logical, unattached, and strong. Until you’re in a warm, nice place, maybe a place you didn’t even know could exist because you didn’t know so much warmth could exist. Then amidst the warmth you begin to feel that cut, and it’s deeper than you thought.”
These were the thoughts of the 15 year-old me.
American dies by suicide every 12.3 minutes.*
The first time I thought about suicide I was 15, but there wasn’t actually a thought. I just stood up and started walking through my tears toward the bathroom at 2AM. I remember trying to process what I was doing as I reached for the bottle of Advil and struggled to open it. I stared at the ingredients and thought, “I wonder what would happen if I took this whole bottle.” I didn’t want to end my life – it was an uncontrollable, unwanted response . A last resort. I got the bottle open and started to pour it into my hands, and I froze. Not because I was in danger, but because the thought of not waking up the next morning didn’t scare me.
90% of those who die by suicide had a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death.*
When people say that “suicide is selfish” or “why would you do that to your family,” I can only say one thing.
The first thing I thought about was my mom finding me the next day, then my sister, then all of the phone calls and screaming, the funeral, the lifetime of grief they would feel. And I knew they would miss me.
Saying “suicide is selfish” implies that I am gaining something from considering it, that I don’t know that I have people who love me, and that my experiences do not justify these thoughts. It’s a dismissal.
So I didn’t take it very seriously, until it happened again in my car when I was 16. Then again and again when I was 17, 18, 19.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and the 2nd leading cause of death for ages 44 and under.*
For me, I was running from my situation in the only way I knew how. I was trapped in a cycle of sexual abuse. I was blamed for what happened to me by some people who were supposed to protect me, then accused of lying about it. I started to become numb and my mind would wander so I didn’t have to feel – I stopped being present during the abuse. I didn’t “decide” to think about suicide – it just became another part of my being. “If they don’t care about what happens to me, why would they care if I just stopped existing?”
Sometimes the pain was so intense, so physically overwhelming, I just wanted it to end right then and there. After I left, sometimes my body would think I was being abused and my mind had no control over it, no way to grasp reality. How do you tell someone who constantly feels like their body is not their own that they should be strong and hold on? That they need to realize it’s not real. It’s not real.
But it was real. It is real.
Suicide is not selfish.
Suicide is real.
I share the words of this young women with her permission and because of her desire to bring awareness to the reality of suicide. You know her, or you know someone like her.
Is there a way today that we can reach out and love someone who is suffering so silently?
Please share your thoughts.
7 Questions Alex Trebek Never Read
I love Jeopardy, and I love Alex Trebek. But I hate those really smart contestants who seem to know everything about ancient history, literature, art, geography, and other stuff that most of us never learned in school.
As Americans, we should be well-equipped to understand what’s going on in our country, but I’m guessing that most of us are more knowledgeable about pop culture than some of the more “serious” topics.
Let’s see how you do with a bit of pop culture:
- Do you know who won the 2017 Super Bowl?
- Do you remember what famous country music star got her start on American Idol?
- Which music legend owned a place that he named Neverland?
- What color did Johnny Cash always wear?
- What famous professional basketball player was often recognized by his initials, M. J.?
- Which horror movie begins with the words, “Children of the ….?”
- Do you know which Nicholas Sparks book tells the life story of Noah and Allie?
- Can you give the names of two famous actors who were given the single name, “Brangelina?”
- Can you name three social media apps that people use nearly every day? The following are just a few: a, b, c, d.
- Which of Donald Trump’s daughters has the most public visibility?
- What type of music does Snoop Dogg perform?
Now let’s see how you do with other issues that affect us as Americans:
- How much has the rate of inflation increased/decreased in the last year?
- Do you know how many American soldiers died in the Vietnam War?
- How many NYC firemen died in 9-11?
- How many refugees have fled Aleppo?
- How many women die each day from domestic violence?
- What is FICA?
- Can you explain the electoral college?
- What percent of eligible citizens voted in the 2016 presidential election?
- How many countries have a U.S. military presence?
- Can you name four amendments to the United States Constitution?
- In what year did American women achieve suffrage?
I’m no Jeopardy whiz, and maybe you’re not either. That’s why I made sure you have all the Google links necessary to check things out for yourself.
But tell me, was I right? Were you able to answer more questions about pop culture? Or did you answer more of the Jeopardy-type questions? (If so, you might want to audition as a Jeopardy contestant!)
Things You Should Know
If the producers of Jeopardy let me create my own category, I would simply call it, “Things You Should Know.” It would sound like this:
Alex: More than 20,000 of these are placed each day in the United States.
Contestant: What are calls to domestic violence hotlines?
Alex: One out of three women will experience this in her lifetime.
Contestant: What is physical abuse?
Alex: Every year, more than 3,000 women do this because of domestic violence.
Contestant: What is lose their lives?
Alex: Domestic violence situations are the most dangerous type of calls for these public servants.
Contestant: Who are police officers?
Alex: Violent relationships are most likely to begin during this four-year age range.
Contestant: What is 19 – 22?
Alex: Only 34% of domestic violence victims ever do this.
Contestant: What is seek medical aid?
Alex: Women who leave a battering partner are this much more likely to be killed within two weeks after leaving the relationship than at any other time.
Contestant: What is 70 times more?
I doubt my Category, “Things You Should Know,” will clear the producer’s cut, but that doesn’t mean it’s not information worth knowing…and sharing.
It’s true. I am a business writer, and I am also a domestic violence survivor.
I write about things like printed electronics, fiduciary risk, robotics and additive manufacturing. I also write about domestic violence, abandonment, divorce, grief and emotional healing.
My business articles are published in regional and trade publications; sometimes they appear on client websites or marketing collateral.
My personal story is published in a book called Twice Broken: My Journey to Wholeness. Sometimes my blog content is posted on www.TwiceBroken.org, or on my new TwiceBroken.org LinkedIn and FaceBook pages.
My business articles address topics that are sometimes unfamiliar to my audiences such as: the pros and cons of the cracker plant, how realtime data helps companies become more productive, and how 3D printing is advancing medical research.
My personal story addresses topics that are sometimes uncomfortable for my audiences such as: what happens behind closed doors, how severe domestic violence is, and why victims don’t just leave.
I am very interested in sharing insights about the evolving world of business, and in particular the manufacturing, financial and healthcare sectors. I love writing about topics that impact the regional economy, the workforce and the future of business.
I am very passionate about sharing the reality, the prevalence and the severity of domestic violence. My heart is heavy when I write about topics that tear families apart, leave emotional scars, and create a lifetime of hurdles.
Time hasn’t changed the truth, but it has created an opportunity for my past, my present and my passion to become aligned. Now I can finally say in one sentence to one audience what I previously could whisper only to a handful of people:
I am a business writer. I am also a domestic violence survivor.
Dear Mother of My Abuser,
I just have to ask: “What were you thinking?”
I know that a mother cannot be held accountable for the actions of her children. We teach them the best we can, but ultimately they are responsible for their own actions and decisions. But you were a surrogate mother to me. I trusted you.
It all makes sense now though. It never was about me; that’s why it didn’t concern you when I finally divulged my ugly little secret. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by your reaction when you learned that your son was abusing me.
I will never forget the conversation, that day when I sensed a small, open window of reprieve. I was confident that you would back me if you knew that someone was hurting me. I forgot one important detail, though. That someone was your son.
I had waited two long years to speak the ugly truth. I had carried my burden alone, waiting for someone who could interrupt the abuse without inciting the anger of my abuser. That day had finally arrived!
“He hits me.”
I expected you to validate me. I thought you would say words that would give me a glimpse of hope. Words like: “I’m so sorry. This must be very hard for you. Let me talk to him. How often does this happen? Tell me about it. When does he hit you? Has he ever hurt you? How can I help? Maybe you two should see a counselor. I am here for you.”
But you said none of that. You summed up your worldview in one brief statement. “You must do something to make him hit you.”
We never talked about it again. I went back to carrying my shame alone. You went back to making your son happy.
It was a sad day when I realized that your happiness never was about me. It was always tied directly to the happiness of your son. When he was happy, you were happy. When he was unhappy, you did everything in your power to make him happy: money, a new car, even an obedient punching bag of a wife.
So I’ll ask you one more time. What were you thinking?