This month a personal tragedy inspired me to address the “elephant in the room.” Easter Sunday afternoon on the last leg of a 48 hour journey back to the United States from a 10 days international trip, an urgent text message informed me of the tragic loss of a close family friend that morning. I am reeling in shock, my emotions are chaotic, and questions are running amok in my head. This situation, the insensible loss is an epidemic that we are familiar with. This is the sixth time I am experiencing such a loss in my lifetime. What is happening to make us lose faith, hope and give up on life completely? What makes us so desperate that we want to end our lives? So many questions, no clear answers!
Understanding it is a deeper issue
I could never understand why our brain lets us down. A diagnostic test cannot diagnose the problem, what we are feeling or the depth of it. The brain is a mysterious complex organ responsible for many functions including our thoughts, emotions, and feelings. The brain like the rest of our body is regulated by hormones and neuro-chemicals. An imbalance in hormones plus the stresses of life combined with feeling at our worst and inadequate coping mechanisms makes for a critical situation. It is similar to the “Swiss cheese effect” when all the holes line up. All it takes is one moment of feeling hopeless, being alone and then acting upon it.
This emotional pain is like no other. The sheer force of the emotional hurt the pain takes your breath away when you least expect it, and can be crippling. Every day is a challenge because we suffer sleepless, restless nights, and are exhausted by morning. Waking up to start the day is torture getting out of bed and ready for work. We go through the motions, arrive at work and pretend all is well in the presence of others. We may present ourselves as outgoing, cheerful, positive, helping others, and perceived as the social butterfly but it is all a ruse to mask the true feelings in essence our broken minds. We try to keep busy to dull the pain. Often times we do a great job appearing to be fine, well-balanced, exhibiting no signs or symptoms of anything untoward in the presence of loved ones. But make no mistake behind this carefully crafted façade we are hurting inside really badly. One has to experience it to fully understand the magnitude of the broken human mind, the broken spirit.
We are living in a complex fast paced high technology world with many stresses and high societal expectations personally, professionally, and in some cases self-inflicted. The human to human interaction, the human caring touch is not enough or missing. Verbal communication is a lost art. The in-person conversation the human spirit connection is lacking. Our coping mechanisms are inadequate and talking about it is taboo. We are steeped in a culture where our feelings and emotions are repressed especially males fearing it will be perceived as a sign of weakness. So how do we fix this?
How can we reverse this growing trend?
How can we as parents, family, friends, healthcare providers, community leaders support those in their fragile state of mind, prevent this from happening? Can we do more? Of course, we can! We must go back to the basics. Relearn how to communicate, connect on a human being level. Disconnect from technology and indulge in activities that will foster human caring connections. Spend time connecting to others on a human caring level whether in groups or fun outings. Let the discourse begin and continue the conversation. It is not too late to start; it is not too late to change. Sharing is caring.
Give yourselves permission to have me time. Take time to nurture your mind, body, and soul. Do the things that you like to do that will stimulate the “happy” centers in your brain. There is no “one size fits all,” the strategy must be individualized, but you must make a conscious effort to talk, keep connected. Surround yourself with positivity, this does not necessarily mean ignoring issues or pretending all is well in the world. Find out what and who matters most to you – reach out for help if you are struggling, and if you know of someone who is struggling then be mindful, be observant, and be there. Slow down, live life mindfully and be your best authentic self.
When you see something, say something. When you hear about something, do something. When you know about something, do something. If you cannot, then reach out find a source of support, someone who can help. Start the conversation and keep the lines of communication open. No matter what the situation is we must continue to try our very best to be supportive as individuals, a support group, a community of family and/or friends. Use the same strategies as that of a sponsor support group such as alcohol anonymous and substance abuse. Suicide is never the answer. You are an important part of your family, community, and society. You matter. Every life matters. There is help for all of us. Each one of us can make a difference one person at a time, one day at a time.
As for my dear friend we may never know the answer why. The hurt and pain will never go away but in time the loved ones left behind will have to find a new normal after going through the grieving process. Healing will eventually take place in order to move forward. Your beacon of light may be extinguished but the impact of your presence in the world will forever be remembered by all, for you remain are in our hearts! You taught us many lessons. Rest in peace!
Dedicated to Alex Indar – July 27, 1996 – April 21, 2019
Live Not With Regrets
“Live for today, enjoy every moment for what we have and what we can be. We have the power within us to carve the future. Live not in the past for we cannot change that which is already done. Live not with regrets for we cannot change what is gone! Regrets keep us at a standstill torture our minds, permeate our souls, infiltrate our bodies manifesting in illness. Recognize, accept, reconcile and move on…Find something positive from that past, let it be the catalyst to propel us forward, to make the best of what God has given us. Be grateful, be thankful for every breath, every hour, every day, every week, everyone around us, all that is given to us, me. Change starts with me. Try to smile and the minute, hour, day will go by quicker. Keep positive! Have a blessed day!” ~ Dr. Reezena H. Malaska