Almost a year ago, I wanted to make that kind of post, but I always thought it was another basic white girl post complaining about her hard life on social media. We even talked about it with a friend once. We discussed that social media is beautified (fake it til 'you make it, right?), but I dared to say that more and more people have started talking about real-life there also. People post pictures of themselves without photoshop and filters and cry, exposing their stretch marks and excess skin, and so on. What he then said is that he has begun to notice that suddenly everyone is talking about their difficult lives - depressions, and so on.
I then started watching more closely and indeed… Almost on every fancy pancy influencer page, you can find some dramatic story. And some of them sound so extra. So in my opinion a lot is amplified in social media. After that, I began to wonder how many of these stories are true and how many of them are totally made up to gain followers and attention? Then I started to laugh because I'm among those who share life difficulties out loud. At least I can put my hand on my heart and say that my story is real and not exaggerated and share it only to help other people, but strangers can look at my story the same way I just commented.
The reason behind not sharing this post. Just in case. Because I don't want to give the impression that I look for pity and do something that seems to go against my views. My goal behind sharing is to make people aware and educate them about how to move forward… In my case, how to move forward after a stroke specifically. Another pause for thought - a lot of difficulties are shared on social media, but there is not a lot on HOW to get out of this horror and move on. We can read stories about different situations, for example, people say ‘I had depression, no more, take a lesson, do it as well, but there are only a few tips on how to do it - yes, it depends on what you are talking about, but again I tend to talk about the stroke and its consequences because this is my experience.
Some time passed from the idea of making such a post when I had to cry my eyes out because I heard that a friend of mine had committed suicide between Christmas and New Year. True, I wasn't that close to him, but enough to open my eyes again to how important this issue really is. And I just can't write it down without explaining my story - so I have to add a little of my experience.
This person had talked to me a lot during this year of stroke (we didn't talk much before - only when out with a group of friends). After my stroke, however, we communicated much more. That man constantly said that he admired my strength and that he wanted to be as strong as I am. Which is when I always explained that he is and he can, and so on.
Let me interrupt here that this year of a stroke recovery has not been as easy as I may have reported in the media. In Kanal 2 Õhtu I already touched this topic a bit but… THE AMOUNT of work that has been done with me - more mentally than physically. Surprise-surprise - I also had thoughts of suicide in my head. But who wouldn't - such an insane life-changing experience is a mad shock. To this day, when I think about it, I start to shake all over my body and try to hold back the tears, because it's so scary to think that I was sitting at the Christmas table (2020) with my family, they were happy that I was alive and I was looking, sitting in a wheelchair, with my eyes on the table knife lying next to a plate and wondering how much better I would be if I ended my life - 'I'll quietly put that knife under my thigh and go to the backroom and end this horror life' and 'I've heard that a quick death is when you cut the veins along, not transversely’ and ‘I probably wouldn't feel it too, because I don't have any feeling on the right side of the body - wonderful!’
I know. I shouldn't experience these negative emotions over and over again by thinking and talking about them, but I feel that I'm in a good enough place today that they won't hurt me as much as I revisit this moment to help at least one person. And I'm crying thinking about that moment because I know that suicide destroys everyone around us more than it frees that person from torment.
Death leaves a heartache no one can heal.
Fortunately, I quickly found a solution to my dark thoughts with biofeedback, and I dare say that I am still here thanks to that. Having been an activist all my life, suddenly in a wheelchair was HOR-RI-BLE for me, and what do you mean I only have one functioning hand?!
But why did I cry when I heard of the death of a friend who was not that close to me? Because I started blaming myself. It wasn't until after his death that I realized that every time we talked, a cry for help could be read between the lines, but I didn't realize it - I didn't think he would. I have to admit with a heavy heart that sometimes I basically ignored him and answered minimally because I just couldn't. One could talk and talk and just go on about how difficult and negative life is. I also had a hard time and I couldn't deal with anyone else's difficult moments. The more time had passed of stroke the more I shifted myself to a mindset where I had to find something beautiful in every ugly because otherwise, I wouldn't recover. But it hurts now. Could I have helped him? Would he be alive today if I had been there for him ALL the time if he needed it, and not just if I could handle it? Could we have spent the New Year together if I hadn't been so selfish? Would he still be among us if I had already made that post last summer (knowing he read all my posts)?
However, my friend comforted me and said that because her stepfather was struggling with depression, she had read so much about it and could assure me that depression was something we would never know in advance what was going on in a person's head. Sometimes that moment with the family - being in a loving and best environment - gives the depressed person the push they needed to get out of it, OR it's just the peaceful moment they needed to leave this earth in peace.
In two words - mental health. And the important role that our loved ones, our friends, colleagues, and the society around us play in our mental health.
Joe Dispenza said well in his online course: “Most adult-onset conditions are created by the hormones of stress. If you look at the functional brain scan of a person who has anxiety it looks exactly like the person who has depression. Anxiety is worrying about the future, depression is living in the past, it’s the same thing. And most people who have anxiety have depression because they are trying to predict their future based on their past - they are never in the present moment.” For me, it sums it all up.
Therefore. If you are having a hard time, please ask for help! Asking for help is NOT something to be ashamed of, if anything, it shows your strength. And if you know someone struggling, please offer them help and don't expect them to not go that far.
What helps / has helped me:
Attention and awareness of my thoughts. Calling myself out because of the bad thoughts (yes, they still happen) and finding immediate positive factors.
I don't have room in my head for the bad - I've actually removed negative people from my life and unfollowed accounts on social media, where something was negative in my eyes.
Athlete mentality (never give up)!