May is Mental Health Awareness Month. There are many versions of what mental health looks like and everyone has thoughts and ideas on what mental health means to them. But, one thing for certain is that there is a very imminent need for more resources to help both men and women to find what they need for their peace, wellness & health of mind, body AND soul because they are, after all, related.
Thankfully, awareness is increasing & the stigma that mental health challenges mean weakness is decreasing. But, we must all be brave to tell our stories of mental health challenges and that there is HOPE so that others know that they are not alone. If we are honest with ourselves and talk openly as a society, hopefully, more of us, our friends and loved ones, can get the help so commonly needed. Particularly with regard to suicide prevention.
I am, Leanne. I’m the Founder of Project We Society, a female community for growth-oriented women and I, myself, have struggled with mental health challenges in my past. I am also a suicide attempt survivor. So, this topic is very real for me. Today, I will use this platform, my voice and my experiences to help shed light on the large need for support in our world, sometimes even in our families & backyards, for support with mental health and suicide prevention. It’s a topic that has touched every single one of us in some way. The recent loss of my neighbor is a daily reminder that even the most “accomplished” of us can be hurting. The words to follow are from my own heart the day I learned about the passing of my neighbor. Please don’t leave.
This is NOT a post about me. But, today I am sad.
We just learned about the passing of a neighbor. Perhaps it is here say, but apparently she chose to take her own life.
The situation makes me just stand and stare at her house out of our apartment window. And feel absolutely horrible.
It’s not my business to tell about or share, but I feel compelled to write words. Because we never ever know what we can say or do to help someone else when they are struggling.
I knew my neighbor, but I don’t know that I would say we were friends. She was always friendly, we joked, chatted about yard work and such. She seemed a bit private to me & I respected her seeming to want to stay in her own space as a neighbor. I relate.
She had 2 little dogs that she loved. Two daughters that she seemed proud of. Was an accomplished medical professional. Fit and enjoyed exercising. Starting a new chapter of her life. Had even just done some new construction on her house.
From the door next to hers, she seemed like she was doing ok. Apparently, she was not ok.
I can’t ever nor, should I deserve to know, what was going on in her life. And sometimes, no matter how many times you ask someone how they are, they may not reveal to you that they are struggling.
I repeat that this is NOT about me. But this situation grabs me and shakes me and brings up familiar emotions. I very openly share my challenges with my mental health when I was younger. I tried to take my own life 3 times. I, thankfully, was unsuccessful. The mental recall, however, of how I felt when I wanted to die will never leave me.
Depression, sadness, loneliness, desperation are all things that can sink their talons into you & hold on for dear life. Sometimes you are so in your head that you don’t even know these things are going on.
I’m not saying that this is what happened to our neighbor. I am simply taking a moment to breathe and speak words that if you are in a situation that you feel you would rather die …
Please don’t leave.
I promise you, promise you, promise you that people and your pets love you. People and your pets see you. People and your pets want to and will help you. People and your pets will hold you up & help you to get through.
Again, I can’t speak for my neighbor or anyone else, but I can speak up to anyone who may benefit from my words. If you are considering suicide…PLEASE DON’T LEAVE.
Tell someone how you are feeling. Ask for help so that you can learn how many people truly love and value you.
And ladies and gents, let’s remember to be KIND. Life is so hard. It sounds cliché, but we truly don’t know what others are going through.
I’m off to wander mindlessly through the grocery store to buy bananas carrying both sadness and gratitude in my heart.
If you are struggling with your mental health & don’t know where to turn, you are welcome to start with me.
Leanne Shafner is the CEO of Project We Society, LLC, a Holistic Health Coach at Holistic Me Wellness and a Suicide Prevention Advocate for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
If you have thoughts of suicide or are considering taking your own life, AFSP is there to help you. You are not alone, please reach out to talk with people who understand. Call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), the Crisis Text Line (text TALK to 741741), or afsp.org.
You are loved.