Suicide Prevention Week: Reflections & Events

Yale Mental Health Symposium

https://www.theyalementalhealthsymposium.com/

Update: Next week on September 15th, I’ll be joining the Yale Mental Health Symposium on their Hospital Panel. Register to all the events kicking off this week for free! https://www.theyalementalhealthsymposium.com/

This week is Suicide Prevention Week- a time to reflect and heavily outreach around suicide prevention, awareness, and interrupting silence and stigma. This week is usually pretty busy for me and it also feels vey different because of the kind of conversations I’m having. People want to talk more about race and mental health, more communities of color are reaching out to have dialogue and I am grateful and overwhelmed at the experience. I found this incredible graphic by The Depression Project, that really illustrates a lot of the messages I’ve been seeking to uplift.

The Depression Project: The Hierarchy of Suicide Prevention

Yesterday, I kicked off Suicide Prevention Week with a webinar and discussion about race, suicide, and mental health with an organization called MECCA, Multi-Ethnic Collaborative of Community Agencies facilitated by Iliana Soto Welty and Dr. Miguel Gallardo- fantastic humans.

I woke up this morning with a case of the ‘should haves’. A list of all the things I should have said or spoke about. I know you aren’t supposed to “should on yourself” and part of my morning reflection is all the things I wished I said.

I wish I had more time to talk about how racism has deeply impacted my mental health, especially covert racism that uncovers itself over and over through time. This has showed up in work and in personal life. It reminds me why I love the film, Get Out, because of how it stealthily examines micro-aggressions in a nuanced manner. There is something powerful of unmasking racism that comes wrapped in ribbons and having others bear witness to that experience.

I wish I had more time to talk about the beauty of holding spaces for black employees who are processing their grief from a ‘Summer of Charlotesvilles’ and the ongoing violence toward black people. I love seeing black people open up like flowers in bloom about our needs and releasing the idea that we have to carry everything by themselves. I love seeing how much we have in common, even though we aren’t a monolithic group- we have these shared experiences that when we speak, it feels like coming home.

I wish I had time to uplift and challenge the word “resilience”, which like “hope” has been used as weapon to say: “get over it” “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” “so and so had it worse”. That is not what I mean by resilience. Resilience to me means asking for help is a strength, recovery is in community, and we get better together.

I wish I spoke more on the power of our historical healing practices or holding circles that have kept us safe. I get so excited about challenging all the things that don’t work, I don’t always mention the things that are currently working and have always worked.

I wish I spoke more about the joy I experience in my work, yes, JOY. I struggle with using that word because of the pain I’m witnessing, and I experience the tension profoundly.

I want to share an Audre Lorde quote that keeps me grounded as I personally grapple with the ongoing pain and violence toward our community while also intuitively knowing that I must connect with joy for our survival.

Most people only know this piece of the quote,
Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.

But it comes from a larger piece, “A Burst of Light.” She says:  

“Learning to fight despair in all its manifestations is not only therapeutic. It is vital. Underlining what is joyful and life-affirming in my living becomes crucial. What have I had to leave behind? Old life habits, outgrown defenses put aside lest they siphon off energies to no useful purpose?”  

  Her last bit of wisdom is:
“One of the hardest things to accept is learning to live within uncertainty and neither deny it nor hide behind it. Most of all, to listen to the messages of uncertainty without allowing them to immobilize me, nor keep me from the certainties of those truths in which I believe. I turn away from any need to justify the future—to live in what has not yet been. Believing, working for what has not yet been while living fully in the present now.”  

As a good friend of my said recently, “Most people don’t know your whole story. You are more than what is happening to you right now.

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