Book Interview with Rochelle Melander

In January 2020, a fellow Milwaukee author, Rochelle Melander, sent me a message regarding a series of interview blog posts she was working on and asked if I wanted to participate with “That’s All I Got!”. I said yes and while it’s original installment date was temporarily postponed, I had a surprise waiting in my email this morning.

“That’s All I Got!”, and myself are featured in this week’s Writers@Work blog with author and coach Rochelle Yolanda Melander Please check it out! While you’re at it, follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (all handles are listed at the end of the interview).

Read the interview here! Writers@Work: An Interview with Karen Voss

 

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

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.

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.

Out of Storage

For months, the Milwaukee Public Library Tippecanoe Branch (aka the Tippecanoe Library), went through a complete renovation. While a temporary location housed some of the books That’s All I Got! went to an off-site storage location. I’m happy to announce that the Library has completed its transformation and all the books have happily returned to their shelves for the Grand Opening!

Please join the Bay View community in welcoming the books to their renovated home on Saturday, December 12, 2016 from 10am-1pm! See the photos below for more information.

I know That’s All I Got! and her author waits for someone to borrow her (at all three libraries where it lives: Tippecanoe, Milwaukee Central, and Cudahy. We hope to see you there!

 

Seasonal Support

For many people, the holidays aren’t very joyous, but difficult. While normal holiday stresses exist, other not so normal unseen stresses appear. For people who have lost a loved one for whatever reason, grief joins in for the holidays. With winter settling in, the gloomy and cloudy days, SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and depression become part of some people’s days. They require sources that can aid them: books, friends, and support.

Do you know someone who has been or is going through a tragic situation or life event whether or not related to this journey? Do you know anyone this holiday season that would benefit from reading, “That’s All I Got! A Widow’s Journey After Suicide”?

Why not give the gift of healing this holiday season. Why not direct them to sources that may assist in their grieving. Reach out.

Expanding Awareness

Canada this week (May 4-10, 2015) recognizes mental health as part of Mental Health week #getloud. This week has a place on the calendar every year just as the United States has mental health awareness week. The U.S. also has May designated as Mental Heath Month  #MHMonth2015.

Thanks to advice from a friend who suggested that I connect with Tweeters that relate to the book and my cause. I started doing this in the U.S. and Canada since everyone everywhere deals with mental health issues and needs to create awareness on suicide prevention. Last night, I received a notification on my smartphone about tweets regarding mental health week in Canada. I chose to browse the tweets and I found one from a Tweeter that also started following me: Wellness Mindfulness @911well

Instantly, I knew I had to favorite and retweet this message and I chose to add a message: ” Let’s talk about suicide! Stigma surrounds it & we need to break it!

Not only did I choose to share this on Twitter, but also on my facebook page and the walls for the Milwaukee Out of the Darkness walk facebook page and my own event page for the walk.

I didn’t know that the retweet would receive such a positive response. Besides the followers I have the hashtags reached further. Hashtags, universally used, may relate to programs, events, life, and anything you can think of and they’re reused over and over. I chose #suicideprevention because it’s something I believe in. I chose #MentalHealthWeek because that’s what’s happening in Canada this week. I’m thankful that through technology people reach across states, countries, borders, continents…across the world…to share messages. I expanded awareness to many people in another country. To reach out to those in need for hope and promise expands knowledge and knowledge helps prevent and cure illnesses, dis-ease, and innocent lives from being lost to the completion of suicide. I feel blessed to have received the opportunity to change lives.

#breakthestigma #suicideprevention #mentalhealth

Out of the Darkness – Why we walk

Every year since 2009, the Out of the Darkness Community Walk, in Milwaukee leads me to help educate others and prevent suicide loss. In February 2015, I received an email from the walk chairperson announcing the date of the 2015 walk on October 4th. Having a secure date and location early allows more time to create awareness for the walk and promoting what it’s about. Even though more people sign up to walk, it brings a certain sadness for why we walk in the first place.

Before the walk, during check-in and registration, we receive honor beads to wear that represent why and who we’re walking for. Everyone wears blue beads to support the cause. In addition to those, I wear the red beads because I lost a spouse. This morning I realized that this year, I’ll also have purple beads representing the loss of a friend; my neighbor, Michael, completed suicide on February 11, 2015 after years of battling depression and other demons.

Here’s a listing from the Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk for all the honor color beads:

White – Lost a Child
Red – Lost a Spouse or Partner
Gold – Lost a Parent
Orange – Lost a Sibling
Purple – Lost a Relative or Friend
Silver – Lost First Responder / Military
Green – Struggled Personally
Blue – Support the Cause
Teal – Friends and Family of Someone Who Struggles

I discovered on Twitter this week through the National Institute of Mental Health @NIMHgov that “Suicide research is critically underfunded in the U.S.” and linked the Action Alliance Press Release article on the subject. We walk to help fund the research and education about suicide and how to prevent it from happening. Every week we watch the news to hear about another death by the completion to suicide in the U.S. or abroad from a child to an adult as a result of bullying, depression, another mental illness whether known or unknown. We need to step up and support the cause and prevent innocent lives from being lost!

Every year I form the team, Walking foRuss, and every year I walk. I may not have other people walking with me, but I walk with other friends’ teams to offer support and then to receive it. We all for a reason…we lost or know someone who lost someone to a disease still surrounded by stigma. Please help break the silence.

Out of the Darkness walks

Milwaukee Community Walk

Support me and team Walking foRuss

TV Show Relation

It’s amazing how the mind and heart work together or rather with one another.

Over the past weeks, a storyline on the soap opera, Days of Our Lives, has led me to tears more than once. One of the characters died in the arms of his wife as a result of a gun shot wound. While this wasn’t exactly what happened to me, it’s similar in that she lost her husband tragically.

I can relate to the loss of a husband/spouse.

Another storyline revealed how someone lost his wife to the completion of suicide due to a self-inflicted gun shot. She had bouts of depression and consumed too much alcohol

I can relate to the loss of a spouse to the completion of suicide due to mental illness.

I watched a couple of shows last week Wednesday, November 12, that I don’t normally watch (SVU and Chicago PD). I watched them because they became tied to a three show crossover week/event. None of these shows carry a disclaimer before airing their shows. From showing gruesome deaths and injuries by accident or self-inflicted, there’s no warning. Sorry, but I didn’t care for seeing someone shoot themselves in the head nor the gruesome remains of a death. I’m sure I’m not the only one who doesn’t care for scenes like these even IF it’s only TV…in someones life, it’s real. Had I know, I wouldn’t have watched.

I’m guessing disclaimers aren’t required for the real life depiction of this stuff. Common courtesy may choose to display disclaimers.

I won’t watch one of those shows ever again, crossover event or not, with or without a disclaimer.

Re-living a tragedy

“As the world grieves, may more light be shed upon mental illness and the prevention and education of suicide”. -K.E.Voss

It’s been over a week since the world learned of the passing of Robin Williams. Since then we have learned the cause of his death by suicide — he hung himself and had attempted to slit his wrists. I apologize for my bluntness, but it’s not something to hide behind, it’s truth. We also know he had the beginning stages of Parkinson’s Disease, which may have caused his depression or added to it.

There’s so many questions and there may never be answers. He may not even know.

I do know, like many people who have lost someone to the completion of suicide, may have been affected by Robin’s death; I know I have. When I heard the details of how he died, I had an immediate flashback to the moment I found my husband. It sent a wave of emotions into me. Your breath is a powerful tool to calm the mind down. I had a visit scheduled to my chiropractor who doesn’t just assist with physical ailments. Talking about it and getting adjusted, which helped my emotional and mental health as well as physical, made for a better night. Seeking support from friends geared thoughts to other things. This created only a bump in the road for me that became smoother.

Others affected may not have had it as simple as I did. Reliving tragedies isn’t fun especially if you still have fresh wounds. Depending on what you witnessed, it takes a good amount of time to heal and even then the memories can resurface.

Death opens wounds for those affected by suicide

Remember to call upon and check on those who maybe re-affected by worldly or local/national tragedies. Show you care. Be there.