#EndTheStigma – But Will It Ever End?

Screenshot_20180609-142434~2I don’t apologize in advance if this is a long ass blog, fore things need to be said. Everybody is more focused on mental health when a public figure is found dead in their home or hotel room,  rather than when a veteran or regular civilian is taking their lives due to the lack of resources and education provided to help these individuals.

Even so, the pattern is the same. We all mourn for a week or so, and move on, while the families of these public figures continue to ask, “Why?” -OR- loved ones are stained in survivor’s guilt or guilt in general for not speaking up sooner about these individuals’ problems.

In the past week we have lost two more very successful figures, Kate Spade & Anthony Bourdain. In the past week, we’ve shared sadness as fans, but also ignorant opinions arise again for those who have passed:

“He/She had all the money in the world.”

“Why would he/she leave their families behind?”

“He/she seemed so happy, they had everything.”

etc..

etc..

When will we wake up to the fact that mental health is an actual plague? It doesn’t matter what skin color you are, what sexual orientation you prefer, what identity you go by, or probably the most segregated label, what class you fall in. Rich and poor are victims of mental health, but until we all come together about this issue, fight over who has it worse on this Earth, and end the stigma.

What bothers me more than my own personal battle with mental health, this society lacks compassion and understanding for one another. It’s selfish. That in itself, is truly depressing.

I may not have followed Kate Spade much, but Anthony Bourdain was and still a favorite of mine as a writer, traveler, and foodie. He’s the reason I became a huge fan of the Travel Channel and started with culinary first at the beginning of my blogging career. He is also one of my main inspires for traveling.

This past weekend, while I was reflecting on the news, these amazing artists also made me realize, it doesn’t matter what your passions are or what you do in this lifetime. When someone stoops so low that the only answer they see is suicide, are we even able to prevent it when most of us don’t even see it coming until it’s too late? My insight, it’s fucking scary. Especially for artists’ who are consumed or battle darkness daily.

Regardless of my revelations and questions in this blog post, I want to keep fighting and educating people on mental health. I’ve been down that road and I am pretty open about it. We all go through shit in life, but it’s how well we skill ourselves towards resilience and self-care. KNOW OUR LIMITS! KNOW OUR BOUNDARIES! KNOW OUR TRIGGERS! Most importantly, know that we are not alone in this world and that we are flares for change.

If you are feeling that low currently, I want to give you a reminder; a poem I wrote in 2011 for suicide awareness called, “Not The Answer”:

“Not The Answer” (Suicidal Awareness)

To the victims,
I wish I could show you,
The beautiful side of life,
You relentlessly walked away from.

To the silent ones,
I wish you would speak up for,
The ones suffering in strife,
Reach out to the ones feeling succumb.

Don’t just turn your heads,
It could be your own kid!
Don’t be afraid to tread,
Don’t fear the worst, hope for the best.

How can I convince you?
The ones that try to run your life,
Are not your master.

How can I convince you?
That suicide is not the only escape route,
It’s really not the answer.

There shouldn’t be secrecy,
If you need help,
Find the courage to ask.

Let this poem
be your mercy.
When you’re overwhelmed,
And remove the mask.

My friends call me brave
Very few have seen
where I’ve been,
Compared to where I am now.

My main motivation,
Is my own ambition, my own talents,
So you can show the world
your own endowments.

How can I convince you?
The ones that try to run your life,
Are not your master.

How can I convince you?
That suicide is not the only escape route,
It’s really not the answer.

This poem isn’t just directed,
To those bullied in high school,
~Or~ those who dare to be different.

I also want to make a special shout out,
To the combat veterans who struggle with PTSD,
Traumatic brain injury, or depressed
for missing a limb or a few.

I’m not trying to make it all about me,
But my whole life is far from a fantasy,
Most the things I’ve listed,
I’ve been through.

I pray you see my stories as inspirations,
To find the desire and affections,
survive Lucifer’s fire.
How can I convince you?

So, how can I relate? Why did I write this poem back in the day? As an advocate for PTSD/MST, I am not afraid to share my shit. Some people fear my story, others are inspired. My name is Heather Marie and I have chronic post-traumatic stress and attention-deficit disorder. I take Zoloft & Ritalin every day and it’s sometimes a challenge to balance the two medications. Even though I first experienced trauma at the age of four and struggled years on end with school and home, as well as, deployed to Iraq at 20 years old, I was not diagnosed until the age of 23.

The past nine years was a roller coaster, but it is starting to smooth out with the knowledge I’ve gathered over the years and the boundaries I’ve set for most people and the triggers in my life. Writing has been my main outlet with years of oppressed memories and emotions. I still have my bad days when therapy gets intense with washed up memories coming back to the forefront. I also lean on music and film to distress my symptoms and express myself. I don’t drink anymore due to my past of carelessness with alcohol and medication abuse in the past. I know what my triggers are, so I avoid them to the best of my ability. I also have alternative therapies that assist me medically.

I know I’m here for a purpose. That keeps me moving forward, never backwards. I hope we don’t just toss this subject aside until the next public figure decides it’s the only answer to escape the pain in this world. We need to end the stigma for ALL who suffer or strive with mental health.

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