10 Tips for Overcoming.

February 1st marks a hard and sad day every year. While I usually welcome the first day of a month with open arms and excitement, February 1st always instead brings floods of emotions – and not the exciting kind. On February 1, 2006, one of my best friends, Jeff took his own life. At the age of 17, I was slapped in the face with pain that no high schooler should experience. My friends and I went from thinking about ACT scores, basketball games and school dances to feeling shock, confusion numbness. All thoughts immediately focused on that terrible, sad and tragic day and then kept replaying the day over and over and over.

The overwhelming question for most people who lose a loved one to suicide is why? Why did this happen? Why me? Why was this the option? Why would he/she do this? Why now? Why wasn’t I a better friend? Why could someone who made everyone else so happy not feel happy himself? Why didn’t I do this or that differently? Why? 

Asking the same question over and over won’t make the situation any better or easier. I honestly don’t have the answer to what will make pain go away, but I did want to share ten tips for overcoming a hard and very sad situation – whatever that experience may be:

1. Talk to someone outside of your situation: 
Pour out your heart to them about what you’re going through. Speaking to a counselor was one key way that I learned to process what was going on and take proactive steps to moving forward with life after the shocking and terrible death. My counselor didn’t know my friend and wasn’t one of my peers and he was able to offer me advice that gave me a much-needed perspective.

2. Rest, relax, refuel, recharge:
Give your body, soul and mind time to process and heal. We live in a world that is go, go, go – but it’s vital to take time to step back from your situation and give yourself the R&R you need. Take time to simply be…rather than always being on the go.

3. Don’t force yourself to do or feel anything specific:
I was focused on maintaining my perky and cheerful self after my friend passed away and it took me much longer to accept what had happened. Not good. A surefire way to get stuck in a sad situation is to pretend like everything is normal. What happened is a BIG DEAL. You don’t have to proceed as you normally do. Give yourself a little leeway for your emotions and thoughts to catch up to the moment.

4. Everyone processes pain in very different ways:
You will process pain in a different way than your friends, parents, siblings, everyone. We are all unique individuals. Don’t get upset with other people when they don’t process pain like you do; don’t get upset with yourself when you don’t process pain like someone else.

5. Surround yourself with people who are simply there to listen, love:
The people who love you unconditionally are the ones that will make hard times even a little bit easier. I didn’t even have to talk to my mom – she just sat there and listened and held me. Instead of being alone, spend time with people that are always there for you to shower you with love and encouragement.

6. Find something to do:
Think about other things! The wonderful advice I was given was to pinpoint one thing to do every time I felt sad or upset. I began running whenever I feel weepy or hurt or confused and in time, this activity became a way for me to rebuild my strength {emotionally, mentally and physically of course!}.

7. Don’t “get over” it, but grow:
You won’t wake up one day and then SNAP* everything is back to normal. You won’t immediately just feel happy and wonderful and all thoughts of sadness will disappear. Instead of pushing yourself to “get over” what happened, channel that energy into personal growth. This is a process, not a quick fix.

8. Learn to be ruled by peace, rather than anger, sadness or confusion:
I’ll never know the answer to why my friend Jeff committed suicide. Being ruled and overwhelmed by thoughts of anger and confusion does not answer the “Why?” question or make moving forward any easier. Being ruled by peace, on the other hand, provides relief. Peace for me is when my body, mind and heart are calm and at rest. It’s being undisturbed by what is going on in the given moment. A key step in overcoming a struggle is simply trusting you will be okay.

9. Appreciate the moment you’re in and the people you are with:
It sounds cliche, but you really don’t know what will happen later today or tomorrow. Appreciate and soak up the moment you are in and the people you are with. Spend time with people who make you happy – and thank them for being such a lovely contribution to your life. Embrace their presence!

10. Do something:
Unfortunately, suicide wasn’t just a problem six years ago when I was in high school. It’s still a huge issue; too many teens are taking their lives because they feel like they have no other choice, too many people are left behind asking why, too many people are depressed and getting the help they needTo put things in perspective, in the past 40 years, suicide rates for Americans ages 15-24 has tripled, while the overall U.S. population suicide rate has remained constant. WOW. Here’s what you can do: donate to organizations like Suicide Prevention Action Networkconsider being a mentor to a local teen in a troubled situation or most importantly, always stay aware of suicidal warning signs. If you ever question whether a friend or family member is depressed, ask questions and get them help. 

Although I still think of Jeff and what happened on that terrible February 1st morning, I’ve learned to move forward in peace. Instead of being sappy about not having my friend around, I choose to remember the good times we spent together. Instead of living life in the past and refusing to move past pain, I embrace the exact moment I’m in.

Thanks for reading and I hope these tips prove to help and encourage you in whatever situation you may be in! xo

*Last year’s blog post about Jeff’s suicide can be found here.

 

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6 responses to “10 Tips for Overcoming.

  1. This is an excellent post. I think your first point – talking to someone – is key. Also, it’s important to remember that there’s nothing wrong or shameful in asking for help. I think a lot of people have that mindset, which is why many people with depression never say anything. After all, we’re only human – we need each other. Thank you for sharing.

    • Amy – thanks for your comment. I agree, too many people are under the false assumption that it’s embarrassing to be depressed and then, don’t end up getting help. Totally agree with all your points. Have a great day and start to February!

  2. I love this post. Thank you for being the ear I needed to pour my heart out to the other night. xo

  3. Love, love, love this post.
    So sorry for your loss – I know how hard something like that can be. But thank you for always making difficult situations a growing experience!

  4. Pingback: Seven Years Ago Today | Polish my Crown

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