Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, for a few more hours, on the West Coast. This evening was the kick-off for the Ask The Question Project in Clackamas County. I was asked if I would be available to be interviews by the local news. I said, “Yes.” Now that I am not as depressed, or anxious, I feel that I am called to share my story as a Suicide survivor. I want to offer others, who are in a dark place, to find hope.
The following is an excerpt from an email I sent to my Mom, Sharon, today about my perspective and experiences. The site that shares part of my personal story as a suicide attempt survivor went live yesterday.
“God gives us each a different journey but with the same promise, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope & a future.” Jer 29:11
If everyone had the same feelings and experiences, there would be fewer examples of how awesome God is. No two journeys, or voices, are the same. Now that I’m here on the “other side” of major depression and anxiety, I don’t have negative feelings about anything that I have lived thru. I lived (after years and years of wrestling with myself), there isn’t anything but positive things that will come from that. For the first time, I can see a future not being held back by the past. I am learning more and more about myself and how my empathy helps, and harms, me. I am a work in progress and need to continue to work on boundaries. “Let it go” is an important tool that I haven’t used like I should.”
Here is the edited interview that I did for the project. This is the link to my interview, with my dedicated hero and husband, AJ, Rebecca’s Interview . Ask the Question project shares first-hand accounts from suicide attempt survivors and their support system in hope that others who are struggling will identify with participants and seek help. The project’s site has resources for suicidal people and their friends and family at Ask the Question Support
All of my parents, my first mom (identified as birth mom in the video for greater understanding for those outside the adoption triad), birth dad and my Mom and Dad who raised me, have made this blessed life of mine possible through their own sacrifices. Words cannot express my gratitude.
Please share or ask questions or leave comments, if you so choose.
Wishing you grace and peace, Rebecca
Our family is wrapping up the summer with an epic scenery and wildlife adventure! Next week, I’ll have my 13 year old son, Logan, as a guest blogger. Together, we will cover nearly 2,500 miles in 7 days. While he is typically a writer of poetry, Logan has a great voice when it comes to stories. This talent has been passed down from his grandma, Caroline. He and I haven’t co-written before, and I am looking forward to trying it out.
Stay tuned for scenery, wildlife and long- car trip stories. I know you’ll read about Bingo and the geography game and more funny antics.
Join us on Monday, August 27th, to read about the 550+ mile drive from Oregon City, Oregon to Missoula, Montana.
Have a great weekend and we’ll catch you next week!
Hello and welcome to my blog. It’s been left to collect dust for quite awhile. I’m not sure that it suits me now. That it’s the right place to share where I’m going. I can’t decide which blanks I want to fill in, which blog posts to retire. My motivation of sharing what I’ve lived, and what I’ve learned, isn’t one of self-importance. I want the struggles I had/have in the dark, and my desire to keep the balance to no less than 51% light, to benefit others. I’d like to be someone that others who are hurting and need hope, can identify with. At this time, my purpose seems to be doing what I can to end the stigma about mental illness and continue to call attention to suicide and prevention methods.
The last year has been the hardest and best year of my life. I have gotten to know and understand myself in a way I never thought possible. It was ugly, painful, beautiful and perfect. Some days I lived minute to minute, never looking further than that into the future. Now, I can see further. I lived and I want to inspire others to do the same.
Love this blog about safety pin wearing for support and solidarity.
People in the US are borrowing a response to Brexit. It’s the small act of wearing a safety pin to show that we are in solidarity with marginalized groups. This is in response to the US having a president-elect who ran on a platform of blatant racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, misogyny, anti-Queer anti-Trans sentiment, and anti-Semitism, whose election was supported, endorsed, and celebrated by the KKK, and who has appointed a white supremacist and a boatload of viciously anti-queer and trans people to his transition team,
As word of this project has been getting around, there have been arguments against it, and a few hundred of you have asked me what I think. I thought I would discuss the major arguments that I’ve seen and then give my thoughts:
The first argument I’ve seen is the idea that you shouldn’t wear the pin unless you have a plan to intervene in any…
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The information and photography in this post is shared with permission from Preston Blackburne. It is our hope to continue to spread the message that Life Gets Better.
Yesterday, I watched my 16 year-old son, Preston, accept his Scholastic Art Award, a Silver Key, that he won for his photo “Into the Digital Age.” The ceremony was held in the Pickney Hall on the campus at Central Oregon Community College in a large auditorium with several hundred people. He stood amongst his schoolmates, while his photography teacher and mentor, Mr. Fox, handed out each award. I struggled to hold back tears. No one knows Preston’s story like I do…
In the fall of his freshman year, he fell into the black hole of a “severe depressive episode”. I learned of how broken he was when he exhibited dangerous behavior and admitted to suicidal ideation that required immediate emergency intervention. He spent several days at our local hospital on a one-to-one psych hold, waiting for an inpatient room to become available in Portland, 4 hours away. Fortunately, time has allowed some of the painful details to fade and the memories are no longer so vivid. I do recall that I kept telling him how much I loved him and I wasn’t upset with him. There was no judgement from me and frankly I was proud of him for being brave enough to save his own life. All of a sudden parts of my own dark, depressed past shifted into place and I knew what to say, when to shut up and how to make the hard decisions to get him the help he needed.
His psychiatrist is an incredible man. Previously, I was personally resistant to using medications for depression and anxiety. During our decision making progress about which modalities to use for Preston, Dr C made a great analogy. He said to me, “If someone is drowning, do you just hand them a life-jacket and hope for the best? Or, do you give them the life-jacket, throw them a life-ring, call the Coast Guard and others with expertise to help?” Obviously the latter. He started medication, which has been modified as the crisis episode passed, that he still has chosen to continue to take. The mundane details of his inpatient hospital stays, he had two of them, aren’t important. Just believe me when I say I’ve seen this kid at his lowest points. One noteworthy moment is when he came out to me as bisexual. I said “So?” It was such a nonissue for me. I want my kids to know love and I don’t care what parts their partner has. I honestly could NOT care less. Despite all the emotions Preston was experiencing, he slowly began to believe, with some testing, that I do love him unconditionally.
At the end of Thanksgiving weekend in 2013, he showed again that he was in crisis and when we met with Dr C on Monday morning, Preston asked to go to residential treatment. That isn’t something you say “No” to. It was overwhelming and took a lot of work to arrange but we did just that and he had to wait, as an inpatient, for the bed to become available. Going to the Children’s Farm Home run by Trillium Family Services in Albany was what Preston needed. I drove the several hundred miles at least twice a week, once to visit and once to participate in family therapy. Through this process, I learned what expectations I had set and behavior that I had shown, that was damaging to Preston’s spirit. I took responsibility. I apologized. I committed to changing. (Other people in his life were unable to take less ownership of their negative contributions and those relationships have suffered.) I rarely yell now and I’ve changed my expectations about school success. Preston knows that we expect him to go to school every day, do his best by completing assignments. We no longer press about getting a specific letter grade. Instead, we encourage him to develop good behaviors and habits that will help him be successful in life.
He has really embraced the life he is building for himself. Preston has a diverse group of friends and shows them the same love and acceptance that I showed him. As a family, we have moved away from concerning ourselves with the gender binary and often have open discussions about the LGBTQ community. Life is open and honest and Preston knows he can show us all of himself. I’ve told him time and time again that I am not scared of his truth. I will be here for him no matter what.
Due to his hospital stays, he ended up without credit for the first semester of his freshman year. It was a difficult hole to dig out of, but within the last two weeks, he has completed the last credit recovery classes and is caught up!!!!
As Preston has grown into his own person, he has started sharing his artistic talent with the world. His artful expression that gets the most energy is his photography. He has some incredible photos that you can see on his website gallery https://prestonblackburne.wix.com/preston-blackburne#!photos/c1zeq . It’s a work-in-progress, but his site shows he is getting his feet wet.
He has some incredible photography mentors that include, but are not limited to; Doug H., Brian Z., and An V. With the encouragement of his photography teacher, Mr. Fox, he entered three photos into the Scholastic Art and Writing Contest for 2016. There were 300,000 entrants nationwide in grades 7-12. His photo, shown here, won a Silver Key. The accomplishment of winning a Silver is admirable in it’s own right. However, when you know where this young man has come from, overcoming the obstacle of major depression and suicidal ideation, it means even more. Just two short years ago, at this time, he was just going back to school after missing 2.5 months of school. Preston was able to go into a grocery store and get our shopping done, without having to rush back to the car in a panic. He’d only just started sleeping in his own bed, alone in his own room. Life gets better. Fast forward to yesterday, he wove through the crowd in the gallery, with his girlfriend of 15 months, to see his own photo hanging on the wall with the rest of the Silver Key, Gold Key and Honorable Mention winners. He was relaxed and seemed 100% comfortable in his own skin. As he told me, artists can dress the way they want so he was wearing jeans and one of his two Millenium Falcon t-shirts. His best accessory was his easy smile. I tried really hard not to be all mushy and cry. I failed. As I sat in the college auditorium, with his younger brother, Logan and my parents down the row, I felt overwhelmed by the feeling that he had ARRIVED! Life has gotten better.
I know that thinking “what if?”, is usually a useless past time. However, I can’t help but thinking what Preston, and the rest of the world, would have missed out on, if he hadn’t made the commitment to save his own life. Regardless of my decisions, which medical providers or facilities he went to, his success at life is because of the pain he walked through, that he faced and dealt with.
I’m so grateful that he has shared his talent and made his photography publicly available. I share his story so that other hurting people can have hope that life gets better.
“Into the Digital Age.” Photo by Preston Blackburne, Age 16, Scholastic Art Silver Key Award Winner 2106.
In my reality, dogs are furry family members from God. They are listeners, protectors, comedic relief, therapy animals and companions of unwavering love. Over 8 years ago, we were reading in our local advertising paper and found something out of the ordinary. Typically you can find garage sales, tools for sale, real estate, that sort of thing. On this day however, there was an add for a 1 1/2 year old yellow lab mix who need a new home. The people said when they let him into their house, a single-wide manufactured home, he would go crazy. We drove right over to see him. When we got there he was in a small wire fenced pen. As soon as he saw us, he started jumping off the ground like a pogo stick. He cleared at least 4 feet. We learned that he was a yellow lab/golden retriever mix and had belonged to the people’s son. He needed us. His belly was full of pitch from being outside and they didn’t let him in the house often and it gets cold at night in LaPine. We said that we’ve love to take him home. One of us told him, “C’mon, load up!”, and he got in the truck right away. I’m not sure after that moment that he tail ever stopped wagging. He and our other dog, Sydney, hit it off and became good friends. They roamed the back-yard together chasing birds and squirrels. Barking would signify that a walker or bicyclist was on the trail in the state park. While the chickens would wander the yard, he’d be right there to eat the poop. YUCK! He was a faster and often could clear the area. Lol. He fit right in with the rest of the gassy family. His bark could scare away a intruder but he was the sweetest dog. He just wanted to love and lick and kiss you. I wish I could say he was a smart dog, that would be a lie. However, he knew when I was cutting up an apple and was always there for his piece. The popcorn maker was his favorite entertainment and always found a way to snag a few kernels. He was always looking for a sneaky way to get a swim in the pond or the kiddie pool.
Right now, in my mind’s eye, I can see his last days, his x-ray, hear his breathing and see his sad, sick face. I have some comfort knowing that as soon as we were aware of his cancer, that we made the right decision to ease his suffering. In time, I won’t keep seeing my two precious children next to the lifeless body of our beloved family member. For now, my heart is bruised and I am said.
I am so grateful to everyone who has reached out to us during this unexpected and difficult time. Don’t take anyone or anything for granted. Love them while you have them. God’s peace, Rebecca