Tag Archives: depression

If Life Brings Lemons, Create a Fun Calendar

Even 18 months later, a tear wells up as Mike Pisarcik mentions his little girl settling too far away to reach quickly. For Mike and his wife Paula, the summer of 2013 brought dramatic change. Their son married, locating 40 miles away in downtown Chicago. When their daughter married that same summer, she settled 1,000 miles away.

Pride, joy and absolute delight for their children came with a parental price. A close family, Mike knew the weddings sealed it. Dinners together would become even more rare. Shared laughter was destined to slip in frequency. Even the hugs, shoulder touches and other comforts of family life would fade.

A sense of mortality, long fought to a mental corner, moved to the center of Mike’s thoughts. It would hurt, he knew, if he didn’t do something about it. So he did.

Mike created the Fun Calendar.

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News coverage of suicide linked to ‘copy-cat suicides’

New academic research shows that placement, tone and level of suicide coverage detail can impact development of suicide clusters, particularly in newspapers and among teens. For reporters and social media writers covering suicides, please consider the implications of the study.

High-profile newspaper coverage of suicide linked to ‘copy-cat suicides’ – Medical News Today.

Suicide Escape Released on Amazon

suicidecoversmallKnow someone dealing with depression? In my newly released “Suicide Escape”, an older hiker spots 15-year-old Clarissa on a remote mountain as she prepares to take her life. The hiker does everything he can to convince the despondent young woman to give life another chance, sharing stories of what he learned about life after he battled through his own severe depression as a young teen. A unique combination of novella and memoir, “Suicide Escape” is a must read for anyone facing or around depression.

Available on Kindle for just 99 cents. Borrow free with Amazon Prime. Foreword written by terrific friend who is a suicide survivor and founder of The C.A.R.L. Project. I am donating $1 for every review posted on Amazon to The C.A.R.L. Project and 50% of profits to mental health charities, including C.A.R.L. No Kindle? Read on your computer using Amazon’s Kindle Cloud Reader.

Buy on Amazon

Clarissa’s Note, Suicide Escape Excerpt 3

Contemplating ClarissaTalking to her father days after the incident, I learned that Clarissa had been a sweet, gentle soul cloaked in a veneer of toughness and independence practically since birth.

A second of inattention left the Colemans scrambling as they spotted their five-year-old new swimmer in mid-jump off the three-meter springboard at a local pool. The next morning, after an early rain, John found Clarissa outside on the driveway, picking up worms and gently placing them back where she had decided each must reside.

John, Clarissa’s father, said he remembered those events because it was the first time he fully realized that life with Clarissa would provide him a continuous pendulum swing between heartwarming pride and heartbreaking fear.

Clarissa had been daddy’s little girl; in many ways the boy the Coleman’s had hoped to add to their family when they decided to have a third child. When John went to the shooting range, Clarissa was usually his lone company. She was the only one of the girls who enjoyed going to work with John on the many Saturdays he spent trying to optimize his latest waste recycling separation gadget. Clarissa, though, spent most of her time creating mosaics and statues out of spare parts and garbage strewn around his lab.

John had required all three girls to join him for a series of survival training weekends as his fears grew for his family’s safety, but Clarissa was the one who flourished in the outdoors. As she transported into her teenage turmoil years, she frequently took off alone on all-day wilderness excursions, causing her parents to panic in the hours between when she told them she was going to a friend’s house and when they tracked her down somewhere between their home and Humphrey’s Peak or some other nearby wilderness area.

Only Clarissa’s proficiency with a tranquilizer gun – and more recently with an odd-looking rifle John had designed and built – had kept them from sending the authorities after her when she snuck out and travelled too far to reach quickly. John chased her down many times tracking Clarissa on her Lifelink mobile device that allowed the Colemans to watch her on satellite at not-insignificant expense until they could escort her home safely. The Colemans never figured out how to punish Clarissa appropriately to keep her from just taking off. When grounded, Clarissa would isolate herself from everyone, disappearing inside the house for long enough that the rest of the family often forgot she was there. All too often, when they went searching for her, she was gone. When, instead of grounding, her Lifelink was taken to keep her from connecting to the outside world, Clarissa would take off into the woods or nearby canyons or mountains with no way to be traced.

In the last few years and particularly in the last few months, John Coleman said he would have given anything to recapture moments of warmth with Clarissa to replace the constant fear barrage that pounded away at his conscience as she isolated herself and became increasingly sullen. Her previously confident disposition had been wilting in recent years, and now seemed completely shredded. Signs of happiness had fallen from occasional to sporadic to now nearly non-existent. John felt helpless to intervene.

Had I really known Clarissa when I first read her suicide note, scrawled out in pencil and shoved inside her clothes in case anyone found her body, I would have felt at least a part of the soul shattering that John clearly felt in his nearly daily panic.

“i’ve had enough already. i mean, seriously. people hatin me. callin me stupid, snake hole, skeleton and way, way worse. everybody dyin around me. Grandpa’s dead. Sarah’s dead. nobody knows i’m alive or even cares. a-holes at school are alive and smilin and happy and tellin me i’m not worth wastin their oxygen. their oxygen. like i don’t deserve any. at least they’re honest, i guess. my friends abandoned me. great friends, huh. thanks for abandoning me girls. you know who i mean. i mean, seriously, how much am I supposed to just take and take and take and take.

“i just can’t do it anymore, so i won’t. it’s better this way. it’s not like anyone’s gonna care, but in case someone finds my body before it’s all chewed up and turned into animal crap, let anyone who asks know that i’m relieved it’s over and done with and i can not have to wake up every morning dreading how f-ing miserable i’m gonna be again and who’s gonna rip on me in front of everyone, or who’s gonna trip me or shove me or grab at me. it’s weird, but those aren’t even always the worst days. the worst days are when nobody even sees me, even knows I’m alive or cares. imagine being surrounded by a thousand people and still being completely, utterly alone. abandoned. empty. that’s my life now. well, it was anyway.

“you’re lucky i hate my life more than other people. i coulda done it too if i really wanted to hurt people, but then i’d be an even worse person than people who make me sick. i know how to shoot. i coulda gotten a bunch of people, but i’d still feel terrible. and I don’t want to hurt people because i know what it’s like to be hurt all the time. this way, no one’s in pain anymore. it’s probably the right way to go, don’t you think. i don’t wanna burn in hell, and i know i’d get sent there if I killed other people. that’s where i woulda ended up, always in the worst place possible. this way, maybe i’ve gotta shot of goin if there is a heaven. i mean, look at how many lives i saved gettin rid of mine. that’s a lot of people to save for anyone. and if there isn’t a heaven or hell, then i’m just gone and nothin hurts anymore. anyway, tell my parents and sisters i’m sorry that i got found. i’d just as soon they just figured i ran away than have to know i’m dead, but, if you see this, it is what it is, i guess.

“at least i don’t hurt anymore. sorry.”

No teenager should have to feel lingering pain that reaches that depth. For that matter, neither should anyone else.

“Suicide Escape” Preview, Part Two

On the first day of freshman football, I measured in at four-feet, 11-inches tall. On as full of a stomach as I could muster, I weighed in at a staggering 98 pounds. With physical presence like that, and zero previous football experience, you can imagine I wasn’t a star athlete. Even use of the word athlete to describe me was a stretch. Perhaps for giggles but more likely because there just weren’t that many boys on the freshman team at Geneva High School in Illinois, the coach would have me practice at offensive tackle some days. I would line up across from the true stud defensive lineman on the team. At double my weight, he would either pound me into the turf milliseconds after the snap or, every once in a while, I would succeed in chopping at his knees. On the occasions my chop block worked, he would get back up and then pound me into the turf angry that I cut his legs again. “Block like a man, you wuss,” he would bark.

After many weeks of this beating, I met the varsity team physician/dealer. He wasn’t actually a doctor or trainer or anything close: just a varsity player with spare time to acquire and distribute pain-reduction therapies. By the end of the season, I was inhaling an occasional dose of weed therapy. As bad as I was at football to start the season, I was even worse by the end. I don’t blame the coaches in any way for my pot and hash use. I would have found a reason to start regardless. It seemed the cool thing to do and I was eager to erase one of few sources of developmental delay I thought I controlled compared to some of my Catholic elementary school classmates.

By the time the next summer came around, after my freshman year, I had been getting high for a stretch already, though I was doing most of my smoking in the back alley behind a restaurant where I bussed tables or stopped off somewhere on the way home from work. I’d started wearing cowboy boots under wide-flare jeans to school, providing a convenient place inside each boot to store some of my stash for far less common mid-day use. I slowed down on the weed a bit during tennis season that freshman year. Having recently crossed the five-foot threshold, I played first doubles on the sophomore tennis team with a sophomore partner who would turn to me at crucial points in almost every match and spout his words of motivational wisdom: “You better not f*#k this up.” I’m sorry for the language, but that’s what he said.

Having finished a painful first year transitioning from Catholic elementary school to even more mind-numbing public high school boredom, I was just days away from turning 15 in the summer after freshman year when the water tower incident happened.

I remember it because I remember all of my failures with an overabundance of precision. Every girl I said no too (I was so lacking in confidence at various points, I figured they must be asking as a joke), treated poorly (there are one or two college girlfriends who rightly should still hate me) or disappointed (I have to guess at this list, but I’m sure there were several). I remember every person I angered, or at least a long enough list that it seems like everyone. The Lutheran preacher I mistreated in the high school newspaper because I didn’t do my job as a reporter properly. The disabled boyhood friends I only visited twice as an adult because I was too busy with my priorities, convincing myself I would see them more when I retired even though they had already far surpassed their life expectancy. People I fired to meet cost-savings targets without what I considered reasonable warning. Far too often, the person I disappointed most was myself, like when I rushed through a last paper while working on my masters. The poor result cost me a level of recognition I badly wanted because I was simply too tired or too lazy to put in the last bit of work. There’s plenty more where these came from, and, believe me, far worse.

If I remembered the highlights in my life as easily, the brief moments we should all live to savor, life would bring more pleasure. But my failures take a disproportionate amount of my memory capacity, even to this day. The only difference is I’m conscious of this now, and combat it by purposely thinking about reasons I have to be grateful. I’ve read that most people’s memory helps them remember events with a more positive spin than how they actually occurred. I wish my mind did a better job of recasting my failures.

I remember the water tower incident, at least after the drug and alcohol-induced unconsciousness passed, because it was the first time I considered killing myself. I wasn’t yet in the depths of depression, but I’d already started a steep downhill slide. From that height, my chances of immediate death if I jumped were high. It might not even hurt that bad since I was still at least eight to 10 hours away from sobriety, but death wasn’t certain. With my luck, I’d leave myself paralyzed from the neck down and lose total control of my life – and death. I decided not to risk it. I was pretty sure I wanted to die, but clearly not yet certain. I’d already learned in football and too many childhood fights that I wasn’t a big fan of physical pain. I didn’t even know whether I hated pain more than I hated myself for hating pain.

So when I spotted what turned out to be Clarissa high up on a mountain north of Flagstaff in June of 2041, I thought again about that day, and many others, even as most of my focus turned to an awkward, gangly girl all alone and off trail, acting strangely not far below the tree line beneath Humphrey’s Peak.

As I walked close to her, my mind turned to questions:

Is she the reason I’m alive?

Is this one of the moments that makes the days, months and sometimes years of struggle worthwhile, or will this encounter be another addition to life’s miseries?

Then I realized that the tall, thin-hipped body bent over a wood stick with ass pointed skyward belonged to a young girl, a teenager in all likelihood. Despite her baggy sweats, it was hard to turn my eyes away until it was clear that this rangy body belonged to a face so young. Even at a distance, something about her was captivating my attention. I didn’t know why. When Clarissa looked toward me, though, I knew she needed me in her life. I couldn’t let her down.

Already on that day, Clarissa had the makings of a beautiful woman. She might not have been a head-turner in high school terms, mind you, where beauty is defined as too much make-up, overly tight clothes, the right weight, perfect hair and other telling signs to a high school boy that a girl might gain portions of her self-worth or her own pleasure from satisfying his spear-motivated desires. Beautiful nonetheless. A pleasant, disarming face highlighted by high cheekbones. The rest of Clarissa was hidden under a baseball cap and overly loose clothing covered in a desert camouflage pattern.

Clarissa’s body didn’t appear to have filled in all of the parts boys seem to care about in tremendous disproportion to their long-term relationship satisfaction value. That, combined with being six-feet tall at an age when she likely looked down at most classmates, meant Clarissa didn’t get noticed the way girls who were perky, busty or smiling happily and frequently were noticed.

It was clear she must be overly thin from the taut appearance of her visible cheek. Still, she was clearly athletic enough to have hiked up here, so can’t be too devoid of physical strength. But anyone could see past Clarissa’s effort to hide inside her own skin that she isn’t too many years away from catching more than her share of attention.

My seconds of evaluation as I ambled toward Clarissa reached conclusions about her solely based on physical appearance, even though this is the least important part of a soul’s worth in this world. Appearance was all I could see at this point. It was all I could initially judge.

When she looked again toward me as I drew near, I spotted more fear and pain in the eye I could see. That eye exposed a despair I fully recognized. Then I saw why she was bent over. It wasn’t a wood stick wedged into the ground. It was a rifle. Her mouth remained over the barrel as her head turned partially so she could look at me with one eye.

Clarissa was reaching for the trigger.