As a young child I enjoyed dressing up in my mom’s high-heeled shoes, jewellery and any piece of fancy clothing that I could get my hands on. It was like being transported to a magical land of make-believe. I would spend hours pretending to be a fairy princess or a celebrity! It was great, but at some point, the make-believe would end, the clothes, shoes and jewellery would go back in their proper places and I would once again go back to being Crystal, the little girl, that lived on West 6th Street.
Even as a teenager and young adult I would spend hours getting lost between the pages of a romance novel. I would spend hours reading about and dreaming about love everlasting, moonlight kisses and magical romances. Again, this was enjoyable, but there would yet again come a time when I had to return to reality and embrace my life for what is was. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, but most of all tangible and real!
Still today as a wife, mother and mental health clinician I still find myself getting lost from time to time in a great day-dream. The key word however is dream and the reality that it is just that a series of thoughts, images and sensations that are occurring in my mind, not in my reality.
So often, however, it is hard for many to accept the everyday realities of life. This leads them to hide behind their titles, careers, money, marital status and so on. Many of us on the outside looking in buy into the mask, engage in the superficial conversation and walk away with the belief that because everything looks good it is good. This is so far from the truth!
With the recent tragic deaths of Fashion Designer, Kate Spade and Celebrity Chef and TV Personality, Anthony Bourdain, it has become all to clear that we must pause as a society and take the time to look behind the façade that so many put forth. We must begin today to ask the uncomfortable questions of those we love and often of those we have chance encounters with. Questions like:
• How are you doing spiritually?
• How is your marriage really going?
• How are you doing with your finances?
• How are you doing with your purity? In both thought and action.
• How are your private thoughts about yourself?
• What do you need most right now?
We can no longer accept the standard polite “I am good” or “things are fine” responses. If we claim to love someone we must be OK with maintaining eye contact during those few moments of awkward silence that often come when we ask the tough stuff.
We must begin to look past materialism and titles when we feel in our gut that something is just not right. Feelings of hopelessness are real. People are hurting. People are dying because of the stigma associated with Mental Illness. We no longer have the luxury of keeping it safely tucked away in the shadows only to be discussed in secret discreet whispers during family gatherings.
According to a 2016 Center for Disease Control Report, suicide claimed the lives of nearly 45,000 people and was listed as the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States. However, suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34 and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 54. In 2016 there were twice as many suicides (44,965) in the United States as there were homicides (19, 362).
When you feel something is not right 9 times out of 10 something is not right. Below are a few warning signs that someone may be having suicidal thoughts:
• Unusual Focus on death – talking openly, dwelling on the topic or researching ways to kill themselves
• Making plans for death – updating their will, giving stuff away, saying goodbye, writing a suicide note
• Becoming withdrawn – avoiding close friends and family, losing interest in activities & social events, becoming isolated
• Showing signs of despair – talking openly about unbearable pain or feeling like a burden to others
• Changes in mood or sleep patterns – depressed, anxious, sad, or angry. They may also be very irritable, moody, or aggressive. They can also suddenly become calm once they have decided to go through with it. They may also sleep a lot more or a lot less
Proverbs 20:5 says “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out”. We must start today to be that man or woman who will take the time draw out what is really going on within a person.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255). It’s always open, and you can speak to a trained counselor.
Dr. Crystal is a Certified Faith Based Clinical Counselor located in Marietta, GA. To learn more about Dr. Crystal and the services she provides please visit her website at http://www.k-scopesolutions.com
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