Reach In #reachin



This is a very sweet story about Anthony Bourdain that I ran across this morning. It’s about his championing for, not just people in parts unknown, but in our very heart of America.

I know I’m not the only one out there who is still very rattled by his suicide and this former Psychiatric RN, sister of a schizophrenic brother, and daughter of an often depressed father, has some things to say.

The continued posting of these “reaching out” memes and comments, although may be helpful to some, is a superficial response to this complicated issue of suicide. And, in some cases, it can make things worse for some people.

Depression with suicidal ideation has its own set of complex symptoms. Like a heart attack does–and, similarly, many of them are universal and identifiable. As heart attacks have warning signs like chest pain and pain down the left arm, so does suicidal depression.

One symptom of that kind of deep despair is that people have a clouded set of thoughts–that they truly start to believe that the world is conspiring against them and that their presence is detrimental, not only to themselves, but the world at large including their own loved ones. These symptoms become very real in their minds. They are not excuses or weaknesses or made up stories. THEY ARE SYMPTOMS OF THIS DISEASE.

One thing that can help ground a suicidal person is reminding them of this. That these thoughts are not who they are, but symptoms, just like chest pain is a symptom of a heart attack. SYMPTOMS THAT CAN PASS. Another symptom also being, that these symptoms will never pass. Do you see the drain they circle in?

One reality check I have given, even to myself, is “you are likely feeling that this is never going to end, and that is a symptom of the disease process you are immersed in right now, and even that set of thoughts is going to pass.” This helps to distance somewhat from the pervasiveness of it. Even for a second, a shift can begin, a life raft can be seen in the distance.

 Encourage them to look for change, even a change in a momentary thought or feeling–even if the change is a different kind of pain, but still pain. Change can equal movement out of what feels like a devastating stuck pit that will remain forever. The slightest change, can signal to the deep psyche that evolution is possible even when it has not registered yet to the conscious mind.

Expecting someone experiencing the throes of that kind of immobilized, pervasive symptomology–to rail against it completely and be able to reach out– is akin to asking someone in the throes of a full blown myocardial infarction to begin CPR on themself.

There is so much more than these trite “reminders” or “admonitions” to suicidal people to “reach out”. I think more has to be educated to THE REST OF US, to reach in. How to do it, what to say, when to intervene, how to intervene.

I’ve had to do it with my own family acutely for the last several years. Identify those moments when it is time to take over for them–get them in the hospital or to a doctor for medication. Not to “encourage them” but to simply sweep them up and say “we are going, now”. For both my brother and my father. Psychosis and depression have plagued my family my entire adult life. I know this world intimately. I have had to find and realize the strength to sit right there in a hospital or doctor’s office and say the words for them that they cannot say. Words like “he is hearing lots of voices telling him to harm himself” or “he is experiencing significant depression right now”. Words they were unable to utter, again, because they were consumed with the actual disease (or embarrassed, or in denial, or…).

So what if you get someone to be evaluated who ends up not hospitalized or deemed in need of that? It’s the same as if you take someone to the hospital who, may be having a heart attack, but in reality is experiencing indigestion. Ok, now you know. Now you’ve done something. Now you’ve communicated to them that they are not going to have to manage this distress alone.

And, yes, there are the Histrionics who cry wolf and have a whole different kind of mental illness issue going on, but don’t let them inhibit us and let the rest slip through the cracks. It’s pretty easy to discern these things when we are honest with ourselves.

People are often afraid to take action when mental illness is involved. I moved my brother to Arizona for that very reason–people where he was living were not taking action and he was drowning. He would not have survived it, and I could see that clearly. I could see it because I was not suffering in the ways he was. He is thriving so well right now, because he has a coalition of caring people watching him, every day. But that took years to craft and is still always being crafted.

None of us are afraid to step in and call 911 or start CPR with a person who is choking or having an obvious medical emergency. We need to get better with this when it comes to mental health. This responsibility should not solely rest on the acutely ill patient–I believe it rests more on the rest of us. We need to know more and have more encouragement to act. I’ve yet to see the memes instructing loved ones to call a suicide help line for someone they may be worried about.

Don’t get me wrong–no one is responsible for the devastating choice of suicide of another, just like no one is responsible for another person’s heart attack.. YET we need to understand it better and have deeper and more global interventions and take more steps to unburden our loved ones who are suffering before this becomes their only option. We need to find more oxygen masks, and use them. To unabashedly be unafraid to slap that right on their face and tell them to inhale. Then find people to take care of them, until they can breathe on their own again.


fosse fosse fosse



I went to a small movie theatre in my town today/this evening to see two Robin Williams movies back to back:  Good Morning Vietnam and The Birdcage.  Tomorrow Alfonse and I go to Dead Poet’s Society and if I’m still up for it I’ll see Good Will Hunting afterward.  It’s so great seeing these movies again on the big screen and of course, bittersweet.

The whole movie theatre applauded after both films–maybe more for The Birdcage.

I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who clapped after this scene which, to me, is quintessential Robin Williams.

He leaves us with the legacy that mental illness is for real, serious and claims lives.


With that being said, Alfonse and I have a 15 minute consult tomorrow with a Naturopath I found locally who specializes in mental illness.  I’m thinking maybe she can help balance the depression that he’s been struggling with using natural approaches that augment his meds.  It’s worth an investigation.  And thankfully he’s open to it as he is most of my suggestions.  Although his depression seems much better these last couple of weeks, today he reported the worst moments being a 3 and when I talked to him later, a 1.  This is very very good.

Rest in Peace Robin Williams and thank you for all of the brilliance that keeps shining on.

And reminding us there is comedy in tragedy and tragedy in comedy.  No hard lines.

Forever young, forever in our hearts.







Every single person in my family, that I’m aware of, has dealt with depression at some time in their life.  To varying degrees.

I’m thinking all three of us are dealing with it at some level at the moment.

I just feel like I’m slogging through a swamp most of these last few days.  It just is what it is.  Sometimes my life just backs up on me.


I jokingly told my friend Amy on Saturday that I felt like I was a walking in retrograde person.

I tried pumping gas and the pump just wouldn’t process my card so had to drive over to another pump while pressing the wrong button lifting my hatch while I was driving and not opening my gas door.

I later went to pick up frozen yogurt for us and four of the flavors were out including every single chocolate flavor.  Seriously?

I am rolling my eyes now even typing that like it’s some sort of serious problem but she did request chocolate and mint and mint isn’t the same without chocolate.  It just seemed like everything I attempted to accomplish was met with resistance.

Now that I write those stupid examples they seem so petty and they are.  It’s also a symptom of depression that irritations are exaggerated and small things get washed with a paintbrush of everything sucks.

Or I’m just failing at everything I try to do.

And/or I really shouldn’t be out in the world right now coupled with debilitating loneliness staying at home alone.


Yet at the end of the day I reviewed my accomplishments for the day and realized I did drive around paying two bills and did recon on my new flooring project and found what I needed to for that.  Not a lost day entirely.


And I followed through on my latest plan for when I’m in a funk:

Resist the urge to do some retail therapy and do some decluttering therapy instead.  Meaning instead of bringing something new in to the house, get rid of something old.  That feels so much better honestly.


On another note, my Dad leaves on Wednesday for about a month.  He’s driving across the country again…sigh.  Not my first choice for transportation for him but he wants to do what he prefers so that’s that.  I support him.  I’m planning though on meeting him on the way back and driving most of the way back to AZ with him in April which should be an adventure.  😉

And yet another note, I did talk to Cindy’s old friend who wrote me that letter and it was a very heartfelt conversation.  He broke down in tears over the phone with me after harboring twenty five years of guilt.  He wrote me a second letter (it’s kind of touching he’s writing snail mail letters, kind of a blast from the past from 1988) and I’m looking forward to seeing him soon.  I think once I see him in person I’ll remember him.  He’s clearly met me on several occasions but I don’t place his name. He’s definitely legit as he remembers so many minute details of Cindy’s life.   It will be good to make that reconnection.


Alfonse isn’t doing that great right now.  Not terrible but the depression is just consistently high.  Thankfully he has lots of support around him in terms of his Dr., advocate, peer support person and the program which seems to be working out really well, thank God.  His Psychiatrist is seeing him weekly and always trying new strategies to help him. That is just about the best you can hope for and we sure do appreciate him.

I’m headed to Sedona Wed. to take a class (which will help my funk and a large reason why I’m taking it) and he will likely join me up there over the weekend.  I may move him in to my house for awhile after my Dad leaves.   We’ll just have to see how it goes.


I wish this was a more sunshiney kind of post as it’s just absolutely gorgeous weather here in AZ.

But it just is what it is.

I think I’ll go back upstairs now and dredge through my closet again and get rid of some more stuff.

I think that will help me feel better.


I just ran in to this poem online and am adding it here because I just want to end this post on this note:


Hokusai says Look carefully.
He says pay attention, notice.
He says keep looking, stay curious.
He says there is no end to seeing.

He says Look Forward to getting old.
He says keep changing,
you just get more who you really are.
He says get stuck, accept it, repeat yourself
as long as it’s interesting.

He says keep doing what you love.
He says keep praying.
He says every one of us is a child,

every one of us is ancient,
every one of us has a body.
He says every one of us is frightened.
He says every one of us has to find a way to live with fear.

He says everything is alive –
shells, buildings, people, fish, mountains, trees.
Wood is alive.
Water is alive.
Everything has its own life.
Everything lives inside us.
He says live with the world inside you.

He says it doesn’t matter if you draw, or write books.
It doesn’t matter if you saw wood, or catch fish.
It doesn’t matter if you sit at home
and stare at the ants on your verandah or the shadows of the trees
and grasses in your garden.

It matters that you care.
It matters that you feel.
It matters that you notice.
It matters that life lives through you.

Contentment is life living through you.
Joy is life living through you.
Satisfaction and strength
are life living through you.
Peace is life living through you.

He says don’t be afraid.
Don’t be afraid.
Look, feel, let life take you by the hand.
Let life live through you.

-Roger Keyes