Suicide & NLD

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again the issue of suicide has popped up again on the media radar. Both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain have managed to bring it to everyone’s plate and now we get to watch as social media spins out its version of “thoughts and prayers” in the form of “reach out.” Don’t get me wrong, it’s good advice. Completely useless to someone who is currently flirting with killing themselves but good advice. What happens, though when you add Nonverbal Learning Disorder to the mix? Are we NLD Superheroes more susceptible to suicide as someone once suggested to me? To be honest, I don’t know. All I can talk about is my own experience with suicide and suicidal ideation.

If I’m going to be completely transparent here, and I must for the sake of this conversation, I have to admit that I’ve attempted suicide. Suicide by fate, I call it. As a teen who survived abuse and found herself unwanted by her family (my sister was my abuser), I felt tired. Tired of fighting to survive. Tired of trying to reach out to my family again and again and being rejected. Tired of trying to figure out how to live in this confusing world. I was tired down to my soul and I just wanted to rest.

I was nothing if not creative so I decided to let fate decide if I should live or die. At this time I was involved in an evangelical Christian group and fate was another word for God. If God wanted me to live, He’d show me. So, I took to jaywalking.

Here’s what would happen. I’d need to get from one side of the road to another. Didn’t matter what road it was, a residential street or busy thoroughfare, I’d jaywalk. However, I never bothered to check for traffic. I don’t know if any gods had their hand in my survival but even though I came close many times, I was never hit by a car.

My life at that time was pure chaos. Evangelicals pretended to care about my soul while  they dictated how I should live while my family showed no interest in where I was or who I was with. At the time my Nonverbal Learning Disorder was undiagnosed and I may have had a celestial being or two looking out for me because I never wound up on the side of a milk carton, either. Despite many opportunities to end up there.

So what does any of this have to do with Nonverbal Learning Disorder?

As I stated earlier, post-celebrity suicide is when everyone on social media advises those with mental illness to “reach out.” If you have NLD, that’s a whole new level of WTF.

Those of us who have to live with NLD are the proverbial odd shaped pegs trying to fit in a square peg world. We pretzel ourselves into being something we’re not just so we can be seen as high functioning. This places an unbelievable amount of pressure on us and only makes the existing anxiety and depression that are NLD’s sidekicks that much harder to control.

Having NLD means functioning in a different vibration from the rest of the world. The resulting clash that comes when our functioning meets the tidal wave of “normal behaviour” ends up in anxiety and depression. Does this automatically put NLD people at risk of suicide? I don’t know. I have no answers.

What I do know is the advice to “just reach out” is useless. As someone with NLD there’s a few questions I have about that. Reach out to who? Tell them what? When do I reach out? Is there a guidebook I can consult? Communication is one of the problems people with NLD have. Are the people we’re reaching out to aware of that? If so, do they know how to understand us?

Suicide is a problem and feeling isolated is a part of it. So instead of saying “reach out,” I’ll give some different advice. Go out and learn what your options are. NLD people are great at gathering information. So go out and use that to your advantage. Learn how to access the medical community. Learn how to build a network of support and coping mechanisms.

I don’t have any answers when it comes to suicide and NLD. All I know is what I’ve experienced. If you’re feeling suicidal, please know you’re not alone.

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A Concerned Citizen

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Someone was murdered last night,
I didn’t know who she was.
A bank was robbed,
It wasn’t mine.
The Russians and Americans aren’t talking,
I’m Canadian, though.
Terrorists hijacked a 747,
I don’t like to fly, however.
The workers are on strike,
But I’m unemployed.
A drunk driver killed a little boy,
He wasn’t my son.

As I read the paper
Someone is smoking nearby.
So I stand up
And demand my rights as a non-smoker.
Hell, someone’s got to do something.
After all,
It’s for the good of mankind.

Originally written: June/87

The Loss of Beauty

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It’s so easy to lose your beauty. I’m not talking about that which time steals. I mean the part deep inside that knows magick is real and stares in wonder at the bumblebee landing on the dandelion.

We have it as children but it fades with each “grow up” we hear or every bit of ugliness we see. We become adults who pretend to see beauty but it’s a faded replica of what we knew as children.

Why is it better to know that Santa’s not real and the Tooth Fairy is really your parents? When did believing in fantastical reality become a sin? We laugh at the dad playing tea party with his daughter or the mom throwing a baseball with her son. When did bouquets of dandelions fall out of fashion?

A short time ago I decided to try to find my beauty. Like Frodo, I’m on a wondrous adventure. Sometimes my journey is fill with amazing friends while other times I’m achingly alone. I’m off to conquer Mordor, the burden of a gold ring known as Reason weighs down my steps. I hear “you can’t” or “that’s not reasonable” or “be mature” like arrows tipped with dots of poison.

Each day I scan the skies for the dragons I know are there. I search the honeysuckle tree for my fae friends. The dragonfly whispers its message to me.

“Beauty is there,” he says. “Just look and see.”

A New Day

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I’ve made a decision. I’m starting a new religion because I’m tired of people waving their religions around like a mace and bashing people in the head with it. That shit belongs on the set of Game of Thrones not real life and certainly not in politics. So, I’m making a new religion. One that, hopefully, will let people live and worship in peace. Like any religion, though, it has to have rules so here goes;

  1. Worship as you will. It doesn’t matter what building or park or house or pool or bar you go to commune with your god. It doesn’t matter if you wear a scarf, a colander, a yarmulke or even a stuffed ferret on your head. It doesn’t matter if you kneel, dance, do a jig or wave knives in the air. What matters is your relationship with your god. If that relationship is comfortable (it should feel like two old friends going out for a beer type of comfortable) then you’re doing it right. However, just because you have that level of comfort with your god doesn’t mean you get to force others to believe what you do. Don’t get all pissy because others want to worship their own gods.
  2. Ask questions and seek answers. Your god gave you a brain to use. Stop turning it off and do what you’re supposed to do. Question everything. Keep seeking answers. For the love of all that’s living, keep learning. Respect scientists for it’s their job to ask questions and seek answers. Protect them. Listen to them. Remember that teachers come in all forms and not all of them may be human. It is your job to hear what they’re teaching you.
  3. Reaffirm your connection to the world and the universe. You are a part of a species called humans. Reconnect with your species. ALL OF THEM. You are a part of this world. Examine your world and understand your place in it. Know that you are not the pinnacle of anything simply because you’re bipedal or have opposable thumbs.
  4. Live a balanced life. The Universe loves balance in all forms. Light/dark, good/evil, hot/cold… everything comes in balance. Live your life accordingly. Remember that true balance is not stagnation. True balance is motion and growth. The tree is balanced between its roots in the earth and its branches that stretch to the sky and it is always growing. When you find your balance, and it is unique to you, then you can become a truly aware being and true growth can happen.
  5. Respect your world. Respect the Earth. This is the only one you have. Care for it. Love it. Heal it. For you are a child of the Earth and it is your duty to respect and care for it.
  6. Use the tools given to you. Mankind has created such wonders as science, medicine, technology. Don’t turn your back on them simply because you believe they’re “not natural” or anti-spiritual. The very act of creating is a spiritual act of itself. Respect that. There are many, many tools available in the world. Some come from the Earth itself, others come from humans. Respect them all and use them wisely.
  7. Love. Love yourself and others. Every creature on this Earth has a life and a right to live that life. If you find that you cannot love someone then move on and cause no harm to them. Know that when you love yourself deeply, you will realize what a wondrous and miraculous creature you are. Magick lives within you if you only want to see it.
  8. Live fully. You were given the gift of life. Use that gift to its full advantage. Experience all that life has to give you and let it guide you. Do not waste this life thinking there’s another waiting for you if you only perform the right rituals. This life is here and now. Don’t waste it by worrying about what the future may or may not have.
  9. Be fierce in your protection. Not all in the world is pure and good. Evil exists. Not in some mystical, magical way but in a very real, very immediate sense. It is your duty to protect your world, your loved ones and yourself by speaking out, by making a difference, by doing. Do not assume others will do it for you. Even a small voice can be heard in the silence.

This is my religion. I invite you to follow with me.

Evolution

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2016 has been a horrific year. Between mass murders, deaths, racial tensions and Donald Trump; I keep hoping the gods will jump out and say, “just kidding!!” However, that will never happen. No powerful being is going to pull us out of this one no matter how many prayers you throw at the dead and dying. It’s up to us to change the direction of our destiny.

We have an opportunity here to do something amazing. To be more than we are and we can do it one person at a time but it won’t be easy. Evolving is painful and difficult but if humanity is to survive, we have to do it. Each person can have a hand in it and know they helped humanity to move forward. To evolve.

First I ask you to set aside your religious beliefs for a moment. I’m not saying give them up but, rather, just put them in a box to the side for a bit. Be human before you put on the mantle of your Christianity or Judaism or Islam or Buddhism or Wicca or whatever. Put all that to the side and just be human without the help of gods or written words or holy men. Just, for a second, be human in all its frailties and foibles. Be human in all its glory and wonder. Just be human.

Second, put aside your things. Oh, I know, they’re important things. Houses and cars and clothes and boats and bikes and… things. Just put them aside for a moment. They’ll still be there when you return. I promise. Just put them on the shelf for a second so you can remember your humanity without the burden of things.

Third, the next time you come across a living creature, take a look at it. It might be a person, it might be a butterfly or a dog or a monkey. Just look at them without the tint of religion or the white noise of things. See them. Know that they are struggling to live just like you. Understand that they have as much right to be on this earth as you.

Now look at the world around you. See it for the first time without the noise of society and religion and things. Understand that you’re an intricate part of that whole. That your place in that whole matters. It matters without the religion and the words and the things and society. You matter. You’re important.

The last part that I ask you to do is the hardest. Take up your religion and your things. Now see them as you have the rest of the world. Some will hold up to your scrutiny and some won’t. You have to decide what to do with them.

One thing I will tell you is that once you see the things and the religions without the white noise of what “should” be, they will start to look very different than you once assumed them to be. It’s not that they’re unimportant or wrong but that they may not have the shape and size they once had in your life and that’s ok. It’s when this happens that the truly important things can enter your life. Things like a love of life, an acceptance of that which is different from yourself, respect and love for yourself and others. True love and respect, not the mouthings we voice daily.

I challenge everyone to try this. 2016 should teach us something important; that we matter, that we are part of a whole. Unless man evolves beyond his infantile ways and temper tantrums, we will not survive.

Sunflowers

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I planted some sunflower seeds just off my patio recently. Sunflowers are the perpetually happy flower. Those and dandelions. I don’t know what it is about them but they remind me of smiles and sunshine. When I look at them I can’t help but be happy for the moment.

Which is a good thing because I seem to need it more right now. Events in the world have me confused, scared and sad. It’s hard enough for my brain to wrap itself around normal human behavior but recently my brain has given up completely trying to understand.

When I first heard about Brock Turner from a letter the victim wrote I was outraged. Then I saw postings on social media and I became confused. Why was everyone upset about this when this exact same scenario had been recurring for decades before Turner was even born? This event was nothing new and when the fury dies down from it, it will occur again and again. Why, then, the anger now? Where is the anger for all the other women who have suffered the same situation?

Then I heard about a mass killing in an Orlando gay nightclub and my heart sank. For years the gay community has been trying its best to become mainstream and accepted even as politicians try to legalize hate. The LGBTQ community continues to live in fear and no one seemed to care.

Worse than that, many have cried out for stricter gun laws in the United States for years and the NRA scream that rights are being violated. Guess what? People are dying. That’s more important than your need to play John Wayne. Murder trumps all.

Among all this chaos is Donald Trump spewing hate and inciting his followers to violence. Didn’t we see all this in Nazi Germany? Didn’t we hear the same rhetoric from Stalin? There are others like him, you know but no one wants to see.

I have to believe there’s hope in all this, though. I look outside and see my little sunflowers struggling to survive and dandilions stretching up to catch the sun. It’s then I think about those little bits of happiness that Mother Nature has given me. Maybe there’s a path through all this. I have to believe there is.

Open Letter to Therapists

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Dear Therapists:

I’m here begging you to listen to me. Not just hear my words but really absorb their meaning and intention. I’m tired of getting lip service from you on this score so, for a moment, put away your degrees and books and really understand what I’m telling you.

Please stop.

So many times those of us with mental illness are subjected to the lasted fad in psychology designed to make us all better. You’ve read all the papers and the books and you have the degrees. You’ve published in some of the best papers and been peer reviewed. You’re at the top of your game and we should feel lucky you’re our therapist.

Please understand I’m saying this with the best of intentions. When we walk into your office, can you please put away the books and papers? Can you please not look at us like we’re something to experiment on as you try out the latest fad or new idea? We have something to say and we want to be heard.

You’re our therapist and we need to trust you but that’s a two-way street. You can’t reasonably expect us to walk into your office, tell you our fears and thoughts while you hold yourself apart from us. If you don’t trust us, how can we trust you? If you don’t listen to us and what’s going on in our brains, how can we listen to you?

I know that it’s part of your medical training to stand apart and aloof from your patients. Don’t get involved is the battle cry of the doctor but I’m telling you that hiding behind your education and books prevents you from hearing what we’re really saying. So many times I’ve had symptoms dismissed because it didn’t fit in with a preconceived notion of what the doctor or therapist felt was wrong. I know hoof beats are usually horses but sometimes it really is a zebra.

So when we walk into your office, please give us the same courtesies you expect from us. Beyond the polite conversation, please offer us your trust and confidence. We’ll give you the same in return. Please hear us deeply and don’t twist what we’re saying to fit what you think they should be. It’s hard enough for us to come to you without feeling like we’re tossing ourselves against a wall.

This is our therapy, not your opportunity for career advancement or to indulge in your new fad. Sometimes, we want to talk. Sometimes we want help in getting over a hurdle. Most of all, we want to trust that you have our best interests at heart.

So, I’m begging you. Just please stop.

Sincerely,
A Client

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