Lifeline—The Practical Side
A few weeks ago I came home from work, sat down at my laptop to check my email and sat there stunned for a good ten minutes after my computer fired up. On the home page that pops up before I go to my email I saw that Anthony Bourdain had died by suicide. Even though I have never met him, I have watched most of his shows documenting food and culture around the globe and I absolutely love his writing. He has been in my living room (via TV of course) more nights than I can count. This sad news came on the heels of discovering that Kate Spade had also taken her life just days prior. Reeling from the news of the loss of these two creative, talented and smart individuals, I began trying to imagine what they were going through and how desperate they must have felt in their final days.
All of us, if we live long enough, will face dark days. Whether we are “hard-wired” to suffer from things like anxiety, depression or ADHD on a daily basis, or we find ourselves facing major life stressors like death, illness, moving or divorce that are more circumstantial in nature, all of us will encounter trying life seasons.
It is impossible for us to know whether or not Anthony Bourdain or Kate Spade suffered from anxiety or depression on a regular basis, if they were facing major life stressors, or if it was a combination of hardwiring and life stressors that rendered them feeling hopeless and helpless in their final days. What we do know from research is that suicide is a leading cause of death in America. Realizing that people are suffering AND dying is the first step in trying to understand why it is people are hurting. If we are aware of what is happening we can do a better job of keeping people safe so that they can not only recover in a supportive, therapeutic environment, but eventually thrive.
The first step in governing our own mental health is to regularly take inventory of our emotional health. Ask yourself how your mood is most days. Are you able to have fun on a regular basis? Do you have energy and sleep and eat well? Do you feel like things are going well overall or will at least eventually get better? And do you find yourself avoiding negative patterns and habits (like eating poorly, engaging in risky behaviors and/or drinking alcohol heavily)? In short, are you doing the things in life you know are good for you? And do you regularly spend time with others who love, encourage and support you? You may also ask: what are my current life stressors? How am I handling them and could I do a better job managing my stress level? If you regularly take inventory of your mental health you are better able to stay on top of it and reach out early for help to avoid a major crisis.
I will speak more to avoiding crisis in the next blog on this topic. But, for now, take inventory of your mental health to determine where you are excelling and what areas you may need more help with—for example, self-care, life-coaching or coping skills. Your health is the most important asset you have. If you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with a seasoned and trained psychotherapist.