Do you agree about how hard it is for teenagers to share their issues with adults? What do you think would need to change in order for it to be easier?
I heard a story yesterday that made me proud of you. After hearing a health discussion on the topic of suicide, a boy confessed to his friend that he had tried committing suicide twice in the past. The friend, after arriving home later that day, proceeded to tell his mother. "I know from our health discussion I need to tell a trusted adult," he explained, "so that's what I'm doing."
His mom nodded, and then this young man did something great. He checked to make sure his mother was going to do something. "You're going to do something, right?" he inquired, "I need to make sure; because if you aren't, I'm going to find someone else." His mom assured him she would talk to the school counselor the next day. When she warned him of a possible fallout with his friend, he said, "That's okay, because the option of not doing anything would have a worse ending."
At school the next day, this friend was confronted by the depressed teen who asked if he was the one who had told. The friend shook his head yes. Then the hurting teen said it was okay. "It's for the best," he said, "I think it's going to help me."
It may feel awkward, but finding support for your friend is one of the most heroic, kind things you can do. And accepting that help is one of the bravest. Bravo to these two boys and all the rest of you who are reaching out and supporting one another. You make us proud.
by Emily Krueger
Today marks the day of the end of my challenge. This challenge was to go one month without social media, meaning: no Snapchat, no Instagram, no Facebook, no Twitter, and even no Pinterest. Some of you may be wondering why Pinterest or what’s so wrong with Pinterest? Well, I wanted to challenge myself to deleting all of the ‘time consuming’ apps from my smart- phone. I wanted to test out all of the negative rumors that follow social media. Most likely, many of you have heard the complaints on how social media negatively affects our relationships or how it is time consuming and even the talk of how it is so called addicting. So I put it to the test.
The first day was easy. It was the start of the challenge, so this called for deleting the apps and setting an alarm on the calendar for one month from that day. Luckily, a good friend joined in too. This helped immensely because we often talked about what we did with our time or how our bodies were reacting to it. We even came up with a ‘consequence’ if we gave in before our challenge was up and a reward at the end of the challenge. This made it fun be- cause neither of us wanted to be ‘losers.’
As few days passed and the realization of how social media affected me started to occur. Every time I sat down whether it be at my work desk, couch, dinner table, bed, nearly every ‘relaxing’ moment, my hand reached for the phone automatically and my mind subconsciously went straight to a social media app out of habit. However, because they were no longer on my phone, it hit me how often I ‘automatically’ relied on social media to occupy my time. This was a little alarming especially because after that moment this thought crossed my mind, “Oh, well what shall I do now?”
That’s when ‘plan b’ came into play. When this happened, I need something to do to occupy my time. This came pretty easy given that I am in school full-time and have children, so I have a truckload of things to do. When the to-do list was caught up, all of a sudden there was all this free time whereas before my “no social media” challenge, there was no such things as ‘free-time.’ This is when the hunt for hobbies came next. So I downloaded ‘audible’ and started listening to books and found a some new favorites. Then every other day an hour was spent at the gym. Next, my spiritual life; praying, reading, going to church grew stronger and family activities were happening more often than they used to.
Last but not least, my most favorite part about this challenge is the reward at the end of it. This realization didn’t happen till the very end; every single day for a month, my self-esteem went from being at its lowest point to head- ing in the right direction of being comfortable with myself. There was no more scrolling through watching idols or acquaintances live an exotic life anymore and no more comparing my life to theirs. Since I wasn’t doing that anymore, I was living my own life and enjoying it more. There was no focus on what I don’t have and if I had that I would be happier.
After this challenge it took me a few days before I went on social media again. In all honesty, fear of feeling low again from looking at the glamorous lives of others worried me. I didn’t want to go back. There wasn’t even the slightest desire. But because I felt so strongly about sharing my experience with others, I wanted to be able to write about the experience I had with ‘plugging back in’ after the challenge was over. When I say this, I mean it with every ounce of energy I have, I absolutely hated it. In result, those apps are deleted once again and I wont ever go back.
Social media isn’t a terrible thing if you are able to find a fine and healthy balance with it, but if you do this challenge and you realize that you had some problems with it, that’s when it’s a problem. Today, I challenge you to go one month without it and see what you learn about yourself.
I don’t own a scale, and I’m not going to buy one in 2019. I’m not going to purchase a gym membership, begin a skin regimen that’s supposed to make me look like a Hollywood Starlet, or strive to make more money.
I guess you could say I’m a resolution rebel, and you’d be right. After all, I’m not choosing one of the common resolutions for my new year. Instead, I’m choosing to work on being the best me I can be ─ and by “best me” I mean the person I am on the inside.
I’ll begin by determining what I value. I’ll look at a list of values and pick three or four that really resonate with me, and then I’ll write them down as follows:
Integrity, Love, Faith, Generosity
Next, I’ll use this list to guide me in every situation. I’ll ask myself, “Am I acting with integrity? Am I demonstrating love? Do my actions fit with my faith? Is there a way I can be more generous?
Yes, 2019 will not be a year of “cutting out” for me. Instead, it will be a year of adding more of what I value. Maybe you’ll also want a year of "adding more." In that case, rebel, I’ll attached a list of values to help you in your quest.
May we both become the best version of ourselves this year, and may we find a year of happiness waiting for us. Blessings, my friend.
It’s the day after Christmas, and although many of you may not celebrate this holiday, I’m aware that there are other family celebrations happening around this time; and I know what that means. It means many of you are nursing some deep wounds today, afflicted by members of your family. Members you thought would give you love, but gave hate instead.
Perhaps it was an aunt who brought up the mistakes of your past, mistakes she can never forgive you for committing. Or maybe it was a grandparent who greeted other members of the family warmly and then barely acknowledged you. It might have been a group of cousins who chose to ignore and ostracize you from the family, letting you know they find you unworthy of their time or conversation.
Whatever the grievance, you are hurting and wondering why you are receiving such nasty treatment from people who are supposed to accept and encourage you. I want you to know that I’m thinking of you today, and I don’t have easy answers. Quite frankly, it makes me sick to see people act this way. You may wonder if it will ever get better. I can’t say. However, I do have a little piece of truth for you to hang onto in this moment, one you can repeat when the pangs of hurt come crashing over you:
“It reflects badly on them.”
Regardless of their reasons for being upset, their choosing to treat you badly instead of trying to solve their issue and repair a family connection reflects badly on their character - not yours. Remind yourself of this fact every time those nasty scenes replay in your mind. Then set some boundaries for yourself.
You do not have to allow people to bully you, even if they are family. Respect them? Yes. Retaliate? No. Give yourself space from them? By all means, yes! And if they decide to repair the relationship? Should we forgive them, even after the years of hurt they’ve caused? Yes. Let’s offer them the grace they should have been showing us. They are family, after all. Until then, friends, keep being yourselves. You are worthy of love just as you are, even when you’re different from your family.
I have a confession to make. In five months I’ll be thirty and my life is nowhere near what I had imagined it to be. Of course I imagined something like the all-American Dream: being successful, getting married, and owning a house. But here I am - not married and sadly living in a wallet-draining apartment. I'm not trying to be negative, I'm just stating facts.
In the last year of my twenties, I’ve wasted countless days listening to the harassment of negative thoughts and allowing them to continue to haunt me and ruin my every day.
"He won't marry me."
"I am not worthy."
"I am not successful."
"I will never graduate from college."
" I am not smart enough."
" I will never make enough money to own my own home."
" I AM JUST NOT good enough to successfully complete such dreams."
Yes, I have spent the last year of my twenties battling these thoughts EVERY SINGLE DAY. These thoughts have done nothing for me besides keep me from successfully fulfilling my dreams, so much so, that I haven’t been to school in the last 6 months and I’ve reconsidered why I am even going to school. I've lost touch with the hope of getting married and owning a home. I've settled for just the idea of living in an apartment for the rest of my life.
Worst of all, I've stopped seeing the beauty in life and enjoying how little things such as sunshine, rainbows, and flowers can be so big and exciting to someone like my daughter. Why am I not optimistic like my 9 year old child? When this little sweetie had a really bad cold and couldn’t smell or taste anything, she said to me with eyes full of tears, “Mom, I can’t even smell the flowers!”
Why can’t I be like that? It's not like my daughter doesn't have difficulties in her life. She has some real challenges to overcome. But she doesn't focus on those things. She focuses on the good in her life. Imagine, what it would be like if we lived our lives like she does, and our worst worry was not being able to smell the flowers or enjoy sunshine and rainbows?
Soon enough I’ll be turning 30, and today I am saying NO and refusing to waste another day listening to my negative thoughts. My life story may be written a little differently than others, but I won't let it stop me from continuing to pursue my dreams. It may take a little longer, I may not be where I dreamed I'd be by now, but I am still continuing its course. I won't give up. I'm choosing to focus on the good.
What about you? I know you don't want to waste another day spinning in negativity. You, too, can change your thinking. I dare you to make a change. Say NO to those negative thoughts. Say YES to being optimistic. And tomorrow... how about we both wake up and smell some flowers.?
Someone once told me, "It's ok to grieve. Grieving is normal."
What do they know?
My heart is overwhelmed with emotions today. Facebook reminded me that exactly one year ago my grandpa passed away.
My grandpa died of Alzheimers disease. It's a really hideous disease.
I wont go on about every single detail of his passing but I will share with you something I experienced during and after.
I had just gotten off work when I was told he only had a few days left to live. It was a long time coming, however, it felt so sudden. My family and I immediately put our lives on hold and fastened our seat-belts for a long road trip to California.
When we arrived, I promptly searched for grandpa. My eyes met his. He looked frail, malnourished, and withered, although, I recognized him. I found him curled up in a hospital bed in his living room where his recliner usually sits. I gently touched his hand and whispered "I love you grandpa" in hopes that somehow wherever life takes us when we pass, he will always remember how much he is loved. I saw that he recognized me but he didn’t remember my name. That was hard. But he still knew that I was someone, someone special to him.
There was a good handful of us family members that spent every waking and sleeping hours supporting each other and caring for grandpa. During these days, we reminisced on old memories, laughed, cried, sang, prayed and most importantly, put aside anything that may have caused conflict in the past.
This was the first death in my family and I felt afraid for how his death would effect everyone. A death in the family is scary and hard to imagine how life can go on without this special person that meant so much to so many people.
After he passed, I drove 11.5 hours home by myself. I spent lots of time collecting thoughts on how I wish I had more time with grandpa and if I had the choice, I would live close to all of my family. One thing I am certain is the love we had for grandpa brought us together and shed light on what family really means.
As life goes on, I’ve gone back and forth with feelings of being ok and then feeling sadness and grief over grandpa. I don’t think anyone ever “gets over” grief over the loss of a loved one, but I do know that everyone can keep putting one foot forward everyday. Maybe this is what people mean when they say, “It’s ok to grieve. Grieving is normal.”
I can’t forget the suffering my grandpa went through before his passing, but I certainly don’t remember him by that. When I think of my grandpa I always remember his loud deep singing voice and his silly high pitched giggle. I am just happy to have this memory and that I feel like I can still hear it when I imagine it. Even that’s motivation to keep moving forward. I will forever miss you grandpa and I will forever smile in your memory.
Recently, I was sitting in a meeting, listening to someone share their story and—WHAM! I was triggered. My breathing slowed, my hands got sweaty, and I began to panic.
Suddenly, memories (and the intense feelings that went with them) came flooding back. It happened in a matter of seconds, and I found myself wanting to flee those old traumatic experiences once more.
When triggers hit, it's hard because they make us feel out of control. They remind us of hurtful things— things we don't want to relive. We can find ourselves reacting in ways we don't want to react, such as lashing out at our friends or pulling away from loved ones. Reacting to triggers in this way doesn't mean we're crazy or that something is wrong with us. It means we're human, and it's a normal response to trauma.
Fortunately, if we're aware of our triggers, we can learn how to respond appropriately. I know when I go to my meeting tomorrow, I am going to face a situation that will trigger those memories again. This time, however, I'm going in prepared. I'm going to take a short walk ahead of time, so I can burn off some of my anxiety. I'm going to take a warm, comforting drink with me and have something in my hand I can fiddle with. These are some of the things that help me stay calm.
Knowing which things help soothe our nerves is helpful in situations such as these. It's also helpful to know our triggers and how they make us respond. Self-regulating can help us avoid the intense feelings and behaviors, and help us choose healthier and more constructive responses.
Some days will be hard. You'll be angry, scared, anxious and lonely. You'll wonder if you'll ever be happy. If you'll ever be loved. If you'll ever be worthy.
Then good days will come, and you'll forget about those worries. Life will feel good. You'll have small successes, and you'll feel happy.
And you know what? That's okay. It's how life rolls with it's mixture of pain and pleasure. We are all a work in progress, trying our best to navigate the waves life sends us...trying our best to figure out who we are.
Your roller coaster of emotions doesn't make you different or alone—they make you human. They make you just like the rest of us.
Keep being strong. Keep being brave. Keep pushing forward. But most of all, keep believing.
"We cannot control mental illness or suicide. We can only control how we support and treat the people who have it... This support can mean the difference between someone ending their life or finally gaining the courage to reach out and change it." Amanda Southworth
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