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If there is someone reading this who is in that dark place of having a plan -- a plan of how they want to exit this life and when they want to exit it. Please wait and listen to me when I tell you that these thoughts are not with you forever. I know they are excruciatingly painful, but they do pass. I promise you they pass. I promise you are worthy, and that you are not alone. You are loved. You are strong. You are beautiful. You are brave.
There is so much pressure on these kids to not only thrive and compete but to be perfect. And our sense of balance is gone. Competition and excelling is good but what about having fun? Commitments are skewed. Genuine, quality family time is compromised because parents are stressed, pressured and rushing to get their kids to and from programs and to do too many things at the same time.
Suicide is hard. It is hard to even say the word let alone imagine that someone close to you might think that is the only path forward is to take their own life. It's hard to relate, surreal on many levels. But take a minute to imagine. Imagine losing one of the people you love the most by suicide. Does your stomach drop, your heart race, tears come to your eyes or even fear race through your bones?
The key to my mental health isn't just one thing. It's a combination of many factors all playing an important part in keeping me healthy. Contrary to popular belief, strong mental health isn't just "toughening up," "smiling more," or "staying positive." Let's give the brain a little more credit, it's a far more complex machine than something to solely run on cliché and ignorance.
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I had the honour of speaking with Catherine, and she listened intently as I answered her question about what I think is the most important message to share about mental health. She was incredibly down to earth, and the care and interest that she showed towards me made the situation all the more memorable. To see such high profile individuals -- real life royalty -- advocate for youth mental health... gave me great faith that they will have tremendous success in breaking down barriers.
In retrospect, I can say that on some level, I saw what was happening to me. I was just truly powerless to stop it. That's not to say I wasn't in control. No, each hunger pang I endured proved I was in control. Each starving hour that passed between four o'clock and bedtime made me feel focused, disciplined. It was all the fuel I needed to resist another meal. The truth is, anorexics feel a lack of control in their lives, so they take control of one aspect -- food. Alas, this illusion of control can only last so long.
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Why didn't you answer our calls that night? We couldn't figure out why you hadn't come home for dinner. When did you last think about your family that terrible night? Did you consider, even for a moment, that our lives would be a living hell after you were gone? Why didn't you tell us that you hated who you had become? You had lost hope. Despite all of the good in your life, I think there was a layer of fear and uncertainty that left you adrift.
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When living with a mental illness, you feel scared and alone. You might have the best support system around you but you still feel like there is no one. It feels like nobody understands what is going through your mind and you are living in this dark scary world. You end up pushing away your family and friends. You become selfish and you don't care how you treat other people and how your actions affect them.
When I was going through it, and if I'm being honest, I still am, I felt utterly alone. The symptoms of depression sometimes present themselves as flaws. I kept thinking if I adjusted my attitude or if I weren't such a bad person then I would feel better. Because we think it's something we've done or that it's our fault, we don't seek treatment. Too many of us aren't reaching out for help when we're experiencing these things.
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Our daughter was born on March 2, 1990 and died on March 15, 2014. Just 24 years old. She died from an accidental OxyContin overdose... We decided to tell her story to make people aware of the problems that could result from untreated mental health issues.
Please, whatever you do, don't be afraid of talking about your symptoms or feelings with friends, family, or peers. This can be a great first step in addressing your own mental health needs and possibly identify any issues that you may be having in your life that may require psychiatric or therapeutic attention... Believe in yourself and your own internal strength.
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Our lives have been irrevocably impacted by the loss of our son; a grief that is almost impossible to put into words. Stigma in part prevented our son from seeking support which would have perhaps led him to understand that his depression was the result of many factors. We cannot change our history but as survivors of suicide loss we can channel our grief into changing lives. We can be part of ending stigma forever and be a force in the evolving suicide prevention conversation. As a country we can move from awareness to action and saving lives. In my son's honour I will continue to advocate for youth suicide prevention so other families' understand what our family could not.
If you remove all of life's unpleasantries, what are you really teaching your child about the world? Doing so will only result in giving your child a false sense of reality. Resilience, being able to get back up after you fall down, is what adults must instill in children. Allow your child to face uncomfortable circumstances even if it makes you uncomfortable. This will teach them about overcoming adversity.
Every parent's worst and unimaginable nightmare is losing their child...On the surface many think how could this intelligent, beautiful, popular teenager take her own life. The reality is life can change in a moment and that decision making can never be reversed. What drives me crazy are the parents that look at Madeline's situation as an anomaly and think that this could never happen to my child... It's an irreversible decision that can shatter your family and alter your life forever.