I LOVE this quote by Leo Buscaglia about loving oneself which goes as follows, “Love yourself—accept yourself—forgive yourself—and be good to yourself, because without you the rest of us are without a source of many wonderful and amazing things.”
Suicide is claiming the lives of at least 700 or more people each year in Ireland. Also a recent Europe-wide report found that Ireland has the highest rate of suicide in young females in Europe with the second highest rate of suicide in young males. It’s important for everyone of us to know that “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem”. It’s important for all of us to know that there is help out there with various Charities, Churches and HSE programmes.
It’s important for all of us to know that we can go to our GP for appropriate assessment and treatment or to trained counsellors and professionals provided by the many schools, work places, colleges/universities and various charities if we are in need of help and support. People and I mean me and you, all of us need to have a chat, to have a conversation, to have a walk and talk with ourselves and with each other!
Let me be honest with you as I write this thought for the week, which I always do after I have lit a candle and said a prayer for everyone and anyone that may read it into the future. I am definitely not okay at times. At times I need help. I need support. I need care. I need love. At times I feel wrecked. There I said it!! We should all say it and have a good honest to God chat about how we feel at times. At times I am not okay. I am totally stressed out at times and sometimes a lot of the time although no one would ever even notice. I’m worried and I am a total worrier. I worry about my family. I worry about my friends.
I worry about my work colleagues. At times I am sad. I am confused. I can be distant. At times I feel I don’t know how I am going to continue to help my family through the journey of life. I feel alone and lost at times. I get upset about things in life, in our country and in our world at times. At times I am not okay. At times we are all not okay. And you know what. That’s okay. Because I know I won’t always feel this way. As my good friend David says to me regularly during our weekly get togethers, “This too shall pass.” Giving myself time, I will figure things out. I will discover or rediscover my purpose or focus in life. I will be okay. I won’t be sad or down forever. Nor will I be stressed, worried or unloveable forever. I won’t always be lost. I will be okay, even if I’m not right now.
What I have found out since I turned 51 recently and over the past number of years, is that sometimes society isn’t too keen on showing weakness. We are expected to be the picture of health, fitness, beauty and knowledge. There is a lot of pressure on each of us. We must be strong and determined. We put pressure on ourselves to be perfect all the time although that pressure at times comes from others, a family member, a friend , a colleague although they might not even know they are doing it, but you know and you feel it and you feel it inside your ear’s, inside your head and inside your brain!
I personally find it exhausting trying to live up to that expectation. At times I don’t know why I keep trying. As well as that, I have always been self-critical. I beat myself up over tiny things, the smallest mistakes. I have a large blackthorn stick as my friend David would say to me, that although it’s imaginary I beat myself up with it daily. I’ll over analyse conversations and events, wondering if I said the wrong thing and what the other person thinks of me now. I lose sleep over decisions even the one’s I made years ago, wondering what I could have done differently or said differently.
I have let people down especially those closest to me at times and I have hurt people even though they don’t know I have hurt them and I have soulfully wounded myself in doing so. I then at times get wrapped up in trying to be perfect, in trying to please everyone around me except those who mean the world to me, my family and close friends. Because it’s difficult to remember that it’s a fruitless cause.
Perfection doesn’t exist although at times you try to convince yourself it does. You can’t make everyone happy all the time. And I’m learning that that’s okay even if I have already spent over 50 years in this world of ours on this journey called Life trying to do exactly that!! I am learning to forgive myself for not being perfect. And I’m learning to forgive myself for not always being okay. Because right now as I write this thought for the week, I’m not. But I also know that I have the ability to change that and that who I am makes a difference for good in our world.
Who I am makes a Difference
“A teacher in a school decided to honor each of her Leaving Cert students by telling them the difference they each made. First she told them how each student made a difference to her and the class. Then she presented each of them with a blue ribbon imprinted on it, “Who I Am Makes a Difference.” Afterwards the teacher decided to do a class project to see what kind of impact, ‘recognition’ would have on a community. She gave each of the students three more ribbons and instructed them to go out and spread this acknowledgment recognition ceremony. One of the boys in the class went to a junior executive in a nearby company and honored him for helping him with his career planning. He gave him a blue ribbon. Then he gave him two extra blue ribbons, and said, “We’re doing a class project on recognition, and we’d like you to go out, find somebody to honor, give them a blue ribbon, then give them the extra blue ribbon so they can acknowledge a third person to keep this acknowledgment recognition ceremony going.”
Later that day the junior executive went in to see his boss, who had been noted as being kind of a grouchy fellow. He told his boss that he deeply admired him for being a creative genius. The boss seemed very surprised. The junior executive asked him if he would accept the gift of the blue ribbon. His surprised boss said, “Well, sure.” The junior executive placed the blue ribbon on his boss’s jacket. As he gave him the last extra ribbon, he said, “Would you take this extra ribbon and pass it on by honoring somebody else? The young boy who first gave me the ribbons is doing a project in school and we want to keep this recognition ceremony going and find out how it affects people.” That night the boss came home to his young daughter and sat her down.
He said, “The most incredible thing happened to me today. I was in my office and one of the junior executives came in and told me he admired me and gave me a blue ribbon for being a creative genius. Imagine. He thinks I’m a creative genius.” Then he put this blue ribbon that says “Who I Am Makes a Difference” on my jacket. He gave me an extra ribbon and asked me to find somebody else to honor. As I was driving home tonight, I started thinking about whom I would honor with this ribbon and I thought about you. “My days are really hectic and when I come home I don’t pay a lot of attention to you. Sometimes I scream at you for not getting good enough marks in school and for your bedroom being a mess, but somehow tonight, I just wanted to sit here and, well, just let you know that you do make a difference to me. Besides your mother, you are the most important person in my life. You’re a great child and I love you so much!”
The startled girl couldn’t stop crying. Her whole body shook. She looked up at her father and said through her tears, “I was planning on doing something really bad to myself tomorrow, Dad, because I didn’t think you loved me. Now I don’t need to because I know you truly do.”
I have found out over time that it is so important to acknowledge how you’re truly feeling where possible. To also check how your family, friends and colleagues are really feeling also at times. It is so important to not only identify, but also to verify our feelings. Be honest about how you feel even if you don’t think people will understand or relate or care. I can’t count the number of times someone has asked me how I am and I respond with “I am good” or “I am the finest” when I’m really not. It’s my automatic response to that type of question. And it doesn’t do me any good. It doesn’t make me feel better, sometimes I feel worse for not being honest. I try to go to my local church mass most evenings and it is there that I have some good chats with God! Honest, offloading and as relieving as it comes. I learn to acknowledge the negative feelings and offer them up. I have learned not to be afraid to admit that I am having a bad day or a rough week, or a hard month. It’s okay. We all have them at some point. That’s life as they say. What I’m still learning to do though, is not sink into the feeling.
That’s when it becomes difficult for me to get out of the situation or rut that I might find myself in. I remind myself that I will feel better at some point and my personal faith in God through prayer helps me get myself back out of the dark place that I might be in and out into the light again. A few other things that help me is, a good night sleep usually does the trick. Or going for a walk or a run. Or writing things out on paper or doing what I am doing now, writing a thought for the week. Sometimes I call one of my closest friend’s Paul, because I know he will tell me jokes or how we are going to audition for Louis Walsh for Ireland’s Got Talent!! It’s important, I think, well in my case anyway to find something that works for you so you don’t get stuck in the “not okayness” for too long.
As I said or should I say the motto of the “Cycle against Suicide” Charity says, “It’s okay to not be okay”, just remember that you will be okay eventually. You and I can do this. I have found during this journey of life that it’s alright to reach out to people and say, “hey I’m kind of in a bad way here right now and I was wondering if you could say an extra prayer for me or light a candle for me or give me one of your great hug’s or I need your ear for a few hours can you listen?” It’s okay for us to answer to the question, “How are things?” to say “not so good, can you help me out?”. It’s okay to let people see you cry, it doesn’t mean you are weak, it means you have enough courage to not need to hide who you are. It’s okay to need someone to sit with you in silence for awhile just because you can’t be alone.
It’s okay to have those days where you don’t accomplish anything because you just don’t want to go out the front door. What’s not okay is not wanting it to change. What’s not okay is not asking for help and support. So please reach out for help, say a prayer, light a candle, sing out loud to your favourite song, enjoy some coffee or tea with a good and close friend, read one of your favourite book’s, call a friend and don’t be afraid to get help from a charity or from a professional body. A problem shared can be a problem halved when we share it with someone who truly cares about us or who has a professional qualification and who knows how to really help and support you. Then go take on the world because, you know you can do it. “Love yourself—accept yourself—forgive yourself—and be good to yourself, because without you the rest of us are without a source of many wonderful and amazing things.”
Thought for the week
As your thought for the week, remember, everything will be okay if we love and believe in ourselves, and understand that hope floats around us and when we can we should always spread that hope and love with others especially those who mean the most to us. The great charity Pieta House has its “DARKNESS INTO LIGHT” walk on Saturday morning May 12th. The walk is usually around 5km circuit starting at 4.15am in Ennis and in many other places in Co. Clare such as Doolin, Ennis, Killaloe/Ballina, Miltown Malbay and Shannon.and many other places countrywide. See http://dil.pieta.ie/ for details about The Darkness into Light venues close to you. It’a good place to start your “walk and talk” journey through life!
Get out there if you can and be well and take care of one another! Also know that the best of help can be got from contacting some of Ireland’s best charities and organisations in the Samaritans, Pieta House, Aware, Jigsaw, St. Vincent de Paul, your local GP’s, your local religious, Chaplain’s, HSE groups and various qualified counsellors. Do not be afraid to look for help when you need it!