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.
I’ve heard a saying that said you should never make a major decision when you’re very sad or very happy. While this sometimes can’t be avoided, I can’t help but think that there is some truth to the words of this picture. How many times have rash decisions been made in the heat of a moment that changed someone’s life. In lieu of the events and protests that have happened in the last few months, maybe it would be a good start to plan before pursuing and to work toward systemic change by engaging and creating dialogue between affected parties.
First off, I need to keep this post brief. Procrastination is a silent killer. Enough said. One of the things that I like to do in the month of February is to go to an event for Black History Month. Definitely easier said than done. At least out here where I live. Finding quality events that fit my schedule but also are interesting and don’t waste my time is something that I try to do. Last year, I went to a spoken word event and it was pretty decent. The best part was that it was only ten minutes away from my house. But I digress. While by no means am I someone who is qualified to give “the black perspective,” as I was often called upon in graduate school to do, I do think that there are certain challenges that come with being black in America. I’m going to make a quick detour and say that I really strongly dislike the term “African American.” It’s annoying. And quite frankly, I’m not from Africa and neither are my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. I have some theories about how this term is used as a social construct but that’s totally not the topic at hand. There are certain rare occasions where I get the opportunity to listen to a speaker that is genuine, engaging, young, ambitious, articulate, and has exceptional communication skills. MK Asante is one of those people. He’s one of the best speakers I’ve heard because he has the ability to paint exquisite skillful pictures with words. And he does it in a way that has the right combination of his education and life experiences that give him the ability to relate to his audience. The fact that he became a college professor at age 23 and is now tenured is amazing. Needless to say, it was great listening to him today. I bought his book, “Buck” and read it cover to cover in about two hours. I’m not easily impressed with books but after reading it I can honestly say that it’s one of the best memoirs that I’ve read. An honest depiction of the good, bad and ugly with moments of vulnerability and raw emotion is what makes this book so good. This book draws you in and keeps your attention because Asante walks you through his life in such a way that makes you feel as if you’re not only a silent observer, but that you have an invested interest in his success. Definitely a great read that was made even better by hearing the writer before I read the book.
I consider myself an undercover touchy feely person. I say undercover because in no way, shape, or form does it appear that way to many people that know me. I’m the person who would much rather sit by myself than be commanded to “turn to my neighbor” or “give my neighbor a hug.” Quite frankly, I find it awkward and extremely annoying. This often happens in church-like settings where apparently the leader of some sort is trying to break the ice and apparently build lifelong bonds between people in the audience. Call me mean, but that’s not my intention. I don’t mind meeting new people and I have a nosy personality that seeks to find out what makes someone tick. I like to hear life stories and get advice and direction from people with a different perspective. However, I’m not down (and may not ever be) with hugging perfect strangers and telling them that I love them because I was told to do so. I remember reading somewhere that giving or receiving hugs can help the body and improve mental health. While I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with this, in my case hugs with perfect strangers do not count towards my “daily hug quota.” I don’t usually even know the person’s name. But refusing a hug creates one of the most awkward moments–especially if you don’t know the person. I honestly think that a hug in this type of situation is a type of meaningless affection. It means nothing. Conveys nothing. Accomplishes nothing. Now I know that other people would disagree with me and I’m sure that there are plenty of people who hug perfect strangers because there is a legitimate purpose. But in this situation, hugging someone because you were told to do so does not count as a legitimate reason with an actual purpose. Humans can be so trained to do whatever someone tells them to do because they have some sort of title. Makes no sense to me. Will I ever sit next to someone and inform them that I don’t do hugs from strangers? Probably not. But will I continue to cringe in my head whenever I hear a “turn to your neighbor?” Yup. What can I say? I just feel more comfortable hugging people I actually know.