This article caught my eye and I wanted to blog about it because of its accurate description of an issue that many don’t want to address. You can read the article here. I don’t think that I’ve read an article that was so clear, honest. and straight forward about suicide. It’s a world that is foreign to a lot of people. Not because so few are affected, but because there’s little honest dialogue about it. The article reports that suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in the state for people ages 10 to 44. This is highly disturbing for a lack of a better word and it’s a world that I live and breathe in since it is so closely connected to my profession and current line of work. An interesting irony is that depression can make you feel as if you’re the only person in the world whose is struggling but in reality there are millions who share a similar struggle. The common thread that I observe in a lot of patients who have either attempted or are contemplating suicide is that they don’t want to be in pain anymore. This pain can be emotional, physical, or a combination of both. It can be related to stress or a situation that was out of their control that significantly affected them in a negative way. In some situations just being alone with their thoughts starts a downward spiral that can be hard to interrupt. Another reason why having empathy and compassion is important along with being supportive and knowing resources can be helpful. You don’t always know the internal struggles and battles of those around you.
A few weeks ago. the brake light came on in my car. It happened while I was driving but quickly turned off when I took my foot off the gas. I ignored it. As the weeks passed my brake light came on more and more often. I knew the brake wasn’t on and there wasn’t any weird noise happening so I continued to ignore it. In fact, I started to appreciate the extra light on my dashboard that came from the light being on. This continued to the point where the brake light was almost on all the time. It became almost constantly on from the time that I started the car until the time that I turned it off. Almost comforting in a way. I could have called my dad and asked about it (my usual plan of action on anything concerning my car) but I didn’t. I could have googled information about it and problem solved on my own but I didn’t do that either. Instead I just ignored it until it became comfortable. This past weekend my dad visited me in person and I finally told him about the brake light. Turns out it was a three minute solution. My car just needed more brake fluid. So now I drive around and my dashboard is strangely (or so it seems) dimmer because the bright red light isn’t on anymore. It makes me thing about all the times that we ignore things that are problems until we just become comfortable with it. People who are in abusive relationships to the point that it just becomes normal because they can’t clearly remember anything different. People who get caught up in negative cycles because they ignore red flags until the red flags are no longer important to them. Sometimes you have to learn to be uncomfortable with dysfunction because you’re so used to it that it has become normal. It’s a similar concept with people who are recovering from addictions of some sort. They have to re-learn how to live without the addictive behavior or substance because it has become such a way of life. However, the beginning step of this process is challenging the dysfunctional or “normal” reality that they have created and taking the necessary steps to create a new normal.
The quality of self-control is often disregarded nowadays. People offer numerous excuses for their actions and blame the circumstances on choices that they themselves have made. “I couldn’t help myself” or “I just could not say no” are two of the excuses and the reasons why many people miss out on opportunities for success. Self control and discipline can be similar but they are very different. You can exercise self-control without being a disciplined person. One example of this is the choice to not assault someone who says something rude to you even though in your head you imagine your fist connecting with their face. We all know people who have been sucked into the drama of their friends. This can manifest in many different ways and many times a plan of action is required in order to entangle oneself from the messy web. For some, that person is their weakness or their drug. They can have their whole lives together but that one chink in their armor sets them up for pain because they just can’t say no. They can’t ignore the phone call, text, or facebook message. The interesting thing is that the person did not always have the amount of power over them. At some point you gave them the ability to suck you in. Many times this happens in romantic relationships that have gone bad but emotions are still heavily involved. Sometimes it becomes necessary to put yourself on a no-contact order with this person. This order is self-mandated as opposed to the legal ramifications of a restraining order. It requires a firm choice and enough self control to follow through even on days that are rough. You are making the choice to go “cold turkey” in order to break some relational bonds that are no longer benefitting you in any way. This means that you might experience some sort of emotional withdrawals because you’re breaking a habit that has become almost second nature. You have to be honest with yourself and also realistic in making this a life decision and not a “for right now” choice. The thing about a self-imposed no contact order is that it doesn’t work unless you actually stick to it. You can’t afford to have a weak day and sometimes this even requires an accountability partner of sorts because you have to break the habit. A few years back I had a friend who I talked to every night for a MINIMUM of two hours that sometimes went to 7 hours. This nightly practice continued for about 5 or 6 months. When the friendship suddenly disintegrated one day, it took me almost 7 months to get back on a regular sleep schedule because this person had occupied such a prominent place in my life and suddenly they didn’t. No contact orders also work when you need to take a break and evaluate a friendship or relationship. You aren’t required to explain to the other person that you won’t be taking their calls, responding to texts, or talking to them for a certain period of time. You can let your actions speak for you. How the other person handles you taking time away from them will be very telling of their maturity level and the true nature of the relationship. No contact orders can also be good when you start to question your investment of time and energy in a relationship that does not appear to be reciprocated. When you’re always the one making the effort and giving, a no contact order can give you some clarity on your expectations and what needs to change in order for the relationship to be successful.
This article really caught my attention because it discusses a relationship between selfies and mental illness. There’s a story of a young man who actually attempted suicide because he could not take the perfect selfie The thing with social media and selfies is that you automatically get validation from all the likes and double taps. Therefore, when you post something that nobody “likes” or “double-taps” you feel some kind of way. There’s so much work that goes into getting into the right lighting and putting the camera at a certain angle to capture your “good” side. It’s the epitome of self-absorption. Especially in large doses. We’ve all known someone who is prone to post pics upon pics of their life and unless their life is actually interesting, it quickly becomes annoying. I would bet that pretty soon there will be a diagnosable “selfie disorder” that mental health professionals will be using in the next few years.
Kelly Price put out a song by this particular name and in this song she describes being in a relationship with a man who is addictive. She knows that he’s toxic but she goes through withdrawals when she isn’t around him. I know a LOT of people in a similar situation. They are a self-proclaimed “himaholic” or a “heraholic.” (Definitely just made up a word). But honestly, some people are just addictive–whether it’s in a good way or a bad way. It’s like you get so invested in them that you can’t get yourself back and it gets really hard to separate the two. If there was ever a Himaholics Anonymous it would be full of the stories of woe from women who got caught in vicious cycles of believing that they would change someone and then realizing that they could not but still returning to him because he was addictive. I remember someone once telling me that every human being is attracted to dysfunction on some level. While I won’t debate the truth of this statement, I can honestly say that I’ve seen a lot of examples. Himaholics and heraholics do exist. They are our friends, family, and sometimes even ourselves. There is not a tried and true proven way to get out of a relationship that isn’t good for you. Sometimes you just have to go cold turkey and tough it out until the addictive cycle is over. Not necessarily the most comfortable choice, but definitely a good decision in the long run.