Mental Health 2020

This past year has been like no other I’ve experienced. In October 2019, I found out my full-time job was being eliminated in 30 days; it was a week after closing on a cash refinance for the house with intentions to pay down debt and purchase a new car. Needless to say, I became stressed and full of anxiety over how I was going to pay the bills, find a new job, get a new car before mine went kaput, and all the other worries that accompany a job loss. Within a few weeks, I ended up at my physician’s office with a weird rash or hives and it turns out it was related to stress; I had shared the upheaval in my life. She provided two recommendations/forms of treatment to help with a stressful period of time. It only took me until the next morning to decide I would take her up on both. One treatment would be a temporary prescription and the other is on-going talk therapy. I realized early on that I should have taken up her second suggestion years prior and then maybe I could have handled life better, but as a friend told me, “you’re getting help now”. Yes, I am. One of my assigned homework tasks was to read my own book: That’s All I Got! Thrival: A Widow’s Journey After Suicide and I did. It brought back memories and feelings that I haven’t experienced in a long time.

Little did I know there would be a big challenge in my job hunt—the Covid-19 Pandemic, where employers stopped recruiting. Luckily, in May a job I had originally applied for in March, started their hiring process again and I acquired a new job that started three weeks later. Phew! Life is better although there are a few challenges I had to work out. Throughout this series of trials, I have learned so much more about mental health and not only my own.

The year 2020 tests everyone and mental health is taking its toll on people. From job losses to income reduction to being cooped up indoors to mask-wearing to the worries that accompany businesses reopening. All of that leads some to pursue the inevitable: taking their lives to the completion of suicide. The one event that brings together our community to help prevent suicide, to educate, and to support those of us who have a connection to suicide loss won’t be happening in person (as a large gathering) this year. The Milwaukee Out of the Darkness Walk has gone virtual. While they’ve changed it to an experience rather than coming together as a group, it’s not the same. This year, we need to be stronger to support those who might be struggling. Won’t you help me raise funds to help everyone in the coming year and beyond? Your contribution may help save lives as AFSP strives to educate and prevent lives lost while getting others the treatments needed for our mental health.

Walking foRuss/Karen Voss Team donation page

Waking Up to Song

This morning, I woke up to the song, “Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled” written by David Haas, on my mind and the words spilled forth from my mouth. This isn’t the first time the song has come to mind; it showed up on Tuesday night at the Survivors Helping Survivors support group for those who have lost someone to the completion of suicide. While I haven’t attended the group for years, last month I returned for a little extra support. The following words repeat in the song as the refrain and mean a lot to me:

Do not let your hearts be troubled, have faith in God and faith in me. I will go forth to prepare a place for you and I’ll come back to take you with me. That where I am you may also be.

The words and the song have adapted from scripture, John 14:1-14. The choir at my church introduced me and the rest of the congregation to it when they sang the song as a meditation piece. Over time my brain remembered those words and they developed a special meaning and comfort level for me. The choir sings the song at funerals as well so I had them sing it at my husband’s funeral. At Holy Hill Shrine in October 18, I found a ring bearing part of the scripture verse; it’s like it knew that I would take to it and there it was for me to purchase and wear. This year, not realizing another ring I had seen also had part of the same scripture verse, decided it too wanted to share my finger.

Today the song arrived because I lost my husband to the completion of suicide 11 years ago.

I have come a long way since that tragic and traumatic day, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have things that come up for me to work through. My physician has said to the affect, “grief doesn’t fully go away; it changes” and she’s absolutely right. Sometimes you need to ask for help and that’s OK! My friend Riggs told me that “asking for help is the strongest thing you can do. Don’t forget that”. I thank him for reminding me of that.

Life doesn’t end because someone you love lost theirs. It continues, but in a different way.

 

5 Star Review!

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In June, I signed up to participate in the 2018 Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Contest. Today, I was notified that my book has finished its review and received a 5 star rating (in all five criteria). The review is listed below.


BOOK REVIEW

Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers’ Favorite

That’s All I Got! Thrival: A Widow’s Journey After Suicide by Karen E. Voss is the author’s poignant and heartbreaking memoir as she shares her pain through the book and gives readers an intimate look into her life of grief, loss, and betrayal. The book sheds light on the daily struggles of those living with mental illness, and those who deal with the effects of loving and living with someone who has mental illness. The author speaks about reaching out for help during her days of struggles, and how it is possible to live an extraordinary life again. Her journey after her husband Russ’s suicide will touch the hearts of readers in many ways. Her story is one of pain, grief, betrayal, survival, thrival, hope, and recovery.

The author’s words are not only about her trauma and pain; she gives a good perception to readers about what it takes when it comes to living and dealing with people with mental illness. She speaks about her life extensively and intimately, and her moments of despair and difficult times are palpable. The book reaches out to readers through the author’s words and prayers and she calls herself a ‘thriver’, a warrior moving forward after tragedy, instead of a survivor. The book also sheds light on the alternate and holistic types of healing and well being that are helpful when it comes to treating mental illness. Stories like this will touch the hearts of readers – and many of them will be able to connect with the author’s pain and tragedy – but will also help them overcome their trauma and get on with their lives.

 

Post-Traumatic Growth

“I believe that you can have post-traumatic growth. You can find greater meaning.” -Sheryl Sandburg

I read the above quote in the article, “Finding Strength” in Great Loss” from the May 2017 issue of Redbook Magazine. The only other times I have seen the words post-traumatic have been during references of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Post-traumatic growth refers to growth after trauma and following grief. While I haven’t used the words, I too have experienced post-traumatic growth.

In December 2017, nine years passed since my husband completed suicide. Due to the traumatic events, I dealt with, worked through, and overcame PTSD. Since then I have persevered. With tools and resources to assist, I THRIVED!

In order to thrive, one must be able to work through their troubled waters. With the support of family, friends, a wellness team, my faith, keeping physically active, and other programs, I navigated the rough waters and arrived safely to shore. The tools I gathered along the way continue to fuel my journey of thrival.

“There’s bound to be rough waters and I know I’ll take a fall, but with the Good Lord as my captain, I’ll make it through it all”. -“The River”, Garth Brooks

Taking Inventory

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Currently, I have 55 copies of That’s All I Got! in my personal inventory. These copies would like to be purchased (adopted) into your hands or to someone you know who may be interested in this book hands.

Please contact me at kevoss@earthlink.net if you’re interested in owning or gifting a copy of That’s All I Got!.

If you currently own a copy and read the book, please review it on Amazon.com.

Thank You!

K.E.Voss

Published Again!

Thanks to Project Semicolon that chose to publish this book:

 

with Harper Collins, I’m published once again. Project Semicolon called out for contributors to share their story in the book Project Semicolon: Your Story Isn’t Over gearing towards 18-25 yr olds, ages where people are more susceptible to mental illness and contemplating suicide.

For those who know me, know that I’ve been on a journey after losing my husband to the completion of suicide as a result of mental illness. I’m happy to share my story because my motto states: “if I can help one person then I know I’m doing my job.” My story appears within the pages 18-19 of the Project Semicolon book. It shows my name and lists the story as “In Memoriam.”

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Please consider purchasing this book for anyone you know who might find it useful and want to discover stories of courage, strength, and perseverance. Because like the ; stands for; their stories aren’t over yet.

Published Again!

Thanks to Project Semicolon that chose to publish this book:

with Harper Collins, I’m published once again. Project Semicolon called out for contributors to share their story in the book Project Semicolon: Your Story Isn’t Over gearing towards 18-25 yr olds, ages where people are more susceptible to mental illness and contemplating suicide.

For those who know me, know that I’ve been on a journey after losing my husband to the completion of suicide as a result of mental illness. I’m happy to share my story because my motto states: “if I can help one person then I know I’m doing my job.” My story appears within the pages 18-19 of the Project Semicolon book. It shows my name and lists the story as “In Memoriam.”

20170907_202404-1

Please consider purchasing this book for anyone you know who might find it useful and want to discover stories of courage, strength, and perseverance. Because like the ; stands for; their stories aren’t over yet.

Project Semicolon Book for Pre-Order

Earlier this year, a story I wrote based on my journey, was selected for incorporation into the Project Semicolon: Your Story Isn’t Over book. The book, designed towards 18-25 year olds is a welcome read for anybody.

The book synopsis, according to HarperCollins, is the following:
Project Semicolon: Your Story Isn’t Over reveals dozens of new portraits and stories from people of all ages talking about what they have endured and what they want for their futures. This represents a new step in the movement and a new awareness around those who struggle with mental illness and those who support them. At once heartfelt, unflinchingly honest, and eternally hopeful, this collection tells a story of choice: every day you choose to live and let your story continue on.”

Learn more about Project Semicolon by visiting: http://www.projectsemicolon.com

The book doesn’t publish until September 5, 2017, however, it’s available now for pre-order from HarperCollins as well as other locations (listed on their website) in paperback and e-book.

https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062466525/project-semicolon

Project Semicolon: Your Story Isn’t Over!

In June of 2016, I submitted a story through Project Semicolon for publication into a book that’s being designed to relate to young people 18-25 years old. According to the original email before I wrote and submitted my story told us this, “We have joined forces with HarperCollins to bring forth a book with stories and pictures of those who found the hope to continue their story. This book is being designed to be relatable to young adults in the age range of 18-25 years old. We are asking that all stories when written keep that age range in mind”. My story did just that and included the name of my book, That’s All I Got! Thrival: A Widow’s Journey After Suicide, because a lot of young people deal with suicide on a regular basis, especially when dealing with the pressures of college and the military.

I hadn’t heard back from Project Semicolon about my submission that is until Thursday night, February 9, 2017. I received an email from HarperCollins with a subject line of: “Your story has been selected for the Project Semicolon book!”. To quote the email, “Together with Project Semicolon, we are writing to let you know that your story has been selected to be included in our upcoming book, PROJECT SEMICOLON: YOUR STORY ISN’T OVER! HarperCollins is publishing the book on September 5th later this year. We are very excited to be including your submission, and we are grateful for the time and effort you put into creating it—you are helping to spread an incredibly important message all over the world…Please keep an eye on Project Semicolon’s social media in the coming months for more information on publication info, events, where you can purchase a copy of the book, and how you can tell people about this amazing project”.

It’s very exciting news! It’s also proof that patience and perseverance pays off. I’m looking forward to hearing more about the book in the coming months and I’ll share that information. Project Semicolon’s mission via their Facebook page is “Project Semicolon is a global non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and love for those who are struggling with mental illness, suicide, addiction and self-injury. Project Semicolon exists to encourage, love and inspire”. I encourage you to look it up and share its mission.

Thoughts vs Memories

We all have them. We all have thoughts. We all have memories. Having a thought can lead to creating a memory. Reflecting on memories creates more thoughts. Can you have one without the other? Would you choose to? Would you care to?

One day, I had a thought to write a story. After I complete the story, I read it to people and someone thought the story could become a book. I thought, “yeah, right”. I wrote the book. The book contains memories, good and bad, but it also creates thoughts in others. Thoughts that can help other people heal and gain knowledge. When you have knowledge, you have the power to educate and when you educate others you can help change the world and yourself. Now some people think that me writing the book postponed my forward progress when in reality it pushed my progress forward. Writing, That’s All I Got!, promoted healing in a relaxed and therapeutic way. I wouldn’t have been able to write the book if I hadn’t moved forward in my healing. I wonder if the people who think I haven’t moved forward are the ones who haven’t whether they’re attached to my journey or not.

I’ve come to enjoy the song, “The Magic Store” in the finale of The Muppet Movie. The song talks about creating your story with your own ending. If we’re lucky our journey doesn’t end until God calls us home. Keep creating memories that build from thoughts and take your journey far beyond what you think it could be.