Self-Care and Suicide Prevention

Written by  in category 
June 18, 2018
bourdain spade

Note, this article contains discussion of suicide. If this may be triggering for you, please consider not reading.

If you or someone you know is in need of help, please call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

You may have noticed that we have taken a bit of a hiatus from posting articles on Challenge the Storm. If you want to know why, the reason is quite simple: I have been taking time to focus on myself. See, I have been working through some events of my past in therapy, and it has been very difficult. See, feelings and emotions which I had suppressed for 30 years began bubbling to the surface about three years ago. This, in addition to a number of ill-timed events, aided in the manifestation of dark thoughts, destructive actions, and an utter disregard for my own health, both physical and mental. It was not only challenging on me, but on those who loved me, as well. 

The past 12 months have been a welcomed period of progress, however. I am beginning to regain my footing and to rebuild the confidence I threw away over the preceding years. Finding myself in a good place, with a compassionate, intuitive, and (quite frankly) adept therapist, I was encouraged to begin exploring what was at the root of so much of the pain I had experienced. Though I am not comfortable going into detail about what I am working through, I will tell you this: a lack of self-care ultimately resulted in many of the struggles experienced throughout my life. And recognizing this, I decided to take a break to focus on me. 

Picking up the pen

So why am I deciding to pick the pen up now? Well, I was jarred by certain events. Events that hit harder than I expected. Many of you saw the news earlier this month (June, 2o18) about two major industry icons: fashion designer Kate Spade, and chef Anthony Bourdain. They each took their lives, leaving behind children, and a world of shocked onlookers. I don’t have the history behind their experiences with mental health, and would never dare venture into speculation about what may have led to the actions they took. They chose not to make their struggles public, and we should continue to respect that. We should, however, continue the openness of dialogue their actions spurred. More people are now talking about suicide prevention and mental health because of these tragic events. We need to learn from this and grow as a society.

When I first heard of the suicides, only days apart, I got choked up. When talking about it after the fact, I shed tears. And when digging into why I was affected so much, I sobbed. I don’t look at their suicides as actions of selfishness or selflessness. I look at their suicides as actions of believed necessity. While, again, I will not speculate about what precipitated these events or what kind of self-care was practiced by either of these two, I want to more broadly reiterate that self-care is a critical part of maintaining a healthy emotional state. 

Practice, Practice, Practice

What are a few habits you can adopt to begin practicing, or enhance your practice of self-care? 

  1. Don’t beat yourself up. Forgive yourself for any perceived mistakes you make. We are all human and all make mistakes. Don’t let it consume you.
  2. Leave time each day for you and only you. Many of us spend all day around other people. But we all need time for ourselves. Set aside 15 minutes, each morning, evening, or during the day (say, at lunch), to put what you’re doing aside, and just be with you. It could be while reading a book, writing, listening to music, or just letting your mind drift. Some call this meditation but don’t get stuck on that term.
  3. Practice saying “no”. In our over-committed lives, learning to say “no” helps create space for ourselves to focus on us, not on another task to complete.
  4. Create reasons to smile. Smiling causes the release of feel-good neurotransmitters — dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin. Find, create, or take advantage of reasons to smile each day. 

These are just a few of many things you can find on ways to practice self-care and compassion. Find what works for you. Nobody can better determine what works for you, than you. Try a few things out. Give them the good ol’ college try and stick with what works the best. 

The Frailty of Life

The recent deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain taught me, or perhaps reinforced in me, about the frailty of the life we all lead. Don’t put off taking care of yourself. Start now. Create space that allows you to practice empathy, love, and forgiveness. Rest in peace Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. You will be missed.

Image Credits: Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade | Matthew Eisman/Getty; Mark Sagliocco/Getty

If you or someone you know is in need of help, please call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

Alex Hanna

Alex Hanna

By day, Alex works as a technologist. By night, he runs Challenge the Storm. Suffering from depression and anxiety, himself, he dedicates every day to help one single person. Something as small as putting a smile on someone else's face may have a bigger impact than you think.

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