IT’S FINALY OCTOBER. This means many things: cooler weather is (hopefully) around the corner, we will look up from our phones saying “Happy New Year” only to notice that Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas have just gone by, pumpkin spice lattes are officially in (I don’t drink coffee, but was told it’s a thing), Michael Buble is starting his defrost, Halloween costumes are being prepped, grocery / wish lists are being made, decorations are being shuffled in and out of storage at an alarming rate, all your favorite themed movies are back in circulation, everyone is itching to wear their flannels, the Hallmark Network is LIT, calendars are booking up, the camouflage equipment will be dusted off, students are ready for the many school breaks (teachers too), I even put an orange phone case on for seasonal purposes, travel plans are being arranged, impromptu photo shoots are taking place for THE card, there will be a brief few weeks of full gratitude and full stomachs, and sooner than later we will all be wishing for warmer weather again. That is how fast life moves. That is the craziness this time of year brings! The excitement is in the air, you can almost feel it. However, before we get blissfully swept up in the magic that is October through December, take a second and hear me out.
September was National Suicide Awareness Month (ah, yes, this is where many stop reading because who wants to think about that at a time like this, right?). On the contrary, now is precisely the time to be talking about it and carrying it forward with us through the rest of the year and into 2020. There is this incredible spotlight shown on mental health and suicide during the month of September. Truly, this past month that light was really cool to see. It doesn’t have to stop now just because we have entered a new month.
During September, the day before World Suicide Awareness Day (September 10th) a famous Author and Pastor, Jarrid Wilson committed suicide. Jarrid was a husband and father to two young boys. In fact, he was very open about his struggles with depression, anxiety, addiction and suicide with his church that he went on to form his own non-profit, Anthem of Hope, a faith-centered organization dedicated to amplifying hope for those battling brokenness, depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction and suicide. This man, this bright light, who did all that, who no doubt inspired thousands of people, took is own life less one month ago. Tremendously heartbreaking. The worst part is that there are stories like this every single day. Some make the news, but way too many rarely get talked about. Just today, I saw a story about a young man, 16 years old from Tennessee, who took his own life after being bullied and outed by classmates. 800,000 people die by suicide worldwide every year. It is the 10th leading cause of death in the Unites States for all ages and the 2nd leading cause of death in the world for 15 to 24 year olds. If you think for one second that suicide and/or mental health will never effect your life in some way, you need a reality check.
Someone messaged me this out of nowhere on Instagram. I am going to keep the name private, but they gave me all the permission in the world to share this small story. Let this sink in:
I am in no way an expert on mental health / suicide, but I have been through my own personal experiences in the arena and I have found in speaking openly about them I have become a person people feel they can talk to. The amount of DM’s and personal messages I get from friends all the way to random strangers whenever I bring up the topic is always astonishing to me. Not only does it help me to talk about it, but I am learning that it opens up conversation for others. Therefore, in my journey of wellness, I am simultaneously helping others it seems.
Over the past few months I started a Youtube channel, which I am really excited about. It is like no other creative space I have used before. One of my very first videos was a suicide awareness project where I went up to random strangers in Downtown Little Rock and gave them some inspirational buttons. Check it out here:
If you like what you see, visit my channel and check out the other videos. Like, comment, subscribe… do whatever makes you happy! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAlYVMr0AIUxvuJoPHlUjWw
While we are on the topic of me, here’s a little personal example. I absolutely love this time of year, but at the same time it can be a trigger of sorts for me. I am full of nostalgia and as a result it is hard for me to not think about the past. There are certain dates, memories and experiences from my past that I associate with this time of year because they are forever ingrained into my mind. The faintest smell of harvest in the air transports me back to being in love as a teenager on a Friday night. Picking out Halloween costumes reminded me of certain people and moments of creativity. There are so many things that come along that try to trip me up. It’s sad and truthfully some days are not easy, but do you, reader, understand how normal that is? I’m just choosing to tell you about it. 41% of men who contemplated suicide felt they couldn’t talk about their feelings. This is why we shouldn’t mock men for being emotional. We need to be encouraged to open up. Not man up! The odds of you yourself having these same feelings are very high, but you just don’t want to admit or talk about it and that is also totally normal and very okay. It’s so easy for me to get stuck dwelling on the past for even a second and then as a result I find myself sad, overthinking and questioning the “what if’s”. I mean just this weekend I was really spending a lot of my mental energy dwelling on people in my past, mistakes I made, bridges I burned (or bridges I was on when they caught fire), questioning the reality of what would have happened had different circumstances transpired... then, out of nowhere a certain song came on and it snapped me back into my positive reality and head space, reminding me of my hope: may the past stay in the past bc that is precisely how I arrived so wondrously and brutally, by design or some violent, exquisite happenstance... here. & full of gratitude might I add.
As we move into a new season, let us not forget that behind all the pumpkins, turkey’s and Christmas lights, people are struggling. Just because there’s excitement in the air doesn’t mean things automatically change. If anything, I hope this inspires you to go the extra mile this holiday season. Make sure your friends are okay. Ask the important questions. Go beyond the surface. Make new memories. Introduce new people into your world. Love one another. Be kind no matter what circumstance you find yourself in. I cannot say this enough. Part of me is honestly writing this so that I can look back on it in the coming months for inspiration. Don’t get all freaked out and think something is wrong with me (tends to happen when I talk about my feelings lol but feel free to show me all the love you want..I can’t get enough of that). I’m doing well! I’m doing my part to make this type of conversation normal. I am doing the things I just listed above because those actions are going to make the greatest impact I pray.
I’m off to enjoy Soup Season and all the things that come with working hard in the final chapters of a year. Plus, I have a feeling my light is only going to grow brighter. What will you do next…?
Southern and Thankful
This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide please call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text TALK to 741741 or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.
Blessed is an understatement when it comes to my life. Each and every day I am amazed by God's steadfast love. In return, I have claimed this space to show my thanks and whatever else comes along the way. A recent graduate from Texas Christian University who loves any creative insta post, all donuts, and dress pants that make you do a double take. I pray God has a grand purpose for me and I plan to get there with a little Southern and a lot of Thanks! Join me!