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

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

Reaching 100!

It’s been over a year since That’s All I Got! became reality. Since then 175 books have been in my personal inventory waiting for good homes to readers to inspire and educate. For a long time, 99 books have waited for 1 more to join them out into the world. That day arrived. On May 1, 2015, book #100 found a home!

It took a lot of time and effort to reach this milestone and I began to think it wouldn’t arrive. Here’s proof that patience does pay off. Thank you to everyone who helped make this possible and to those who help share the message the book holds.

There’s too many innocent lives lost to the completion of suicide every year due to mental illness. There’s too many stories that need telling to help prevent another life lost and to educate others about mental illness and suicide. I’m surprised how many people have had their lives touched in some way due to a suicide loss. Just today, I listened as someone shared the story of another life lost to suicide, and this person asked questions that most people don’t due to the stigma still surrounding suicide. Help break this stigma-speak the story/journey-help others-share the message.

Prevent Suicide: A story

Last night I received a phone call from a friend seeking reassurance that she did the right thing.

She had received a message from a friend who threatened to potentially harm himself as a result of a job loss. Not knowing if he was serious or not, she took the initiative and called the police. The police went over to his residence for questioning and later took him to a safe place for evaluation. Because of her concern, he no longer wants contact/friendship with her.

After she told me what happened, she asked if she did the right thing. I informed her that she did. Had she not called the police and he would have inflicted self-harm, she’d carry the guilt for not doing her part to help him.

What’s worse: carrying the guilt around forever or losing a friendship?

I’m proud of her for doing the right thing. She potentially saved another persons life.

She sought me out because I have been on this journey even though I’ve never been in her shoes.

Please,  if you’re contemplating completing suicide or self-harm reach out to a friend, relative, or trusted individual. If you’re the friend, relative, or trusted individual, do the right thing and trust your instincts. You too can help save a life.

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Preventing Suicide

Don’t be quick to judge

A recent Dear Abby post (from Tuesday, August 5, 2014) reminded me of something I wrote in That’s All I Got. The lady who wrote to Dear Abby mentioned that no one outside her immediate family knew she suffered from depression or a suicide attempt.

When Russ and I were dating and then married, we never shared the information about Russ’ mental illnesses with anyone in my family. We wanted Russ treated without judgement, as a regular person and not someone seen as a victim or a special case. This was our mutual decision.

After Russ died and the details started to emerge, I heard or maybe asked about why we didn’t tell and that maybe they could have helped. My first thought was: How? Can you take the illnesses away? When I gave the reason behind not telling, I heard, we wouldn’t have done that (meaning judged him based on him having bipolar disorder and auditory hallucinations). Really? It’s 2014, everyone is quick to judge. How many times have you heard about someone committing (completed is the correct term) suicide and thinking they’re crazy when in reality they suffered from a mental illness known or unknown to someone else. I used to do this myself until suicide affected me. Can you say the same? Do you want to?

Think about it. Don’t be quick to judge.

Available for borrowing!

It’s been a week since I stepped inside the Cudahy Family Library to donate a copy of That’s All I Got. I admit that I’m eager to see when it’s available for borrowing. I went online today to see the progress at either this library or the two purchased from the Milwaukee Public Library System for two separate libraries.

Lo’ and behold I discovered these two entries:

regular catalog That’s All I Got – Karen E Voss

OR

classic catalog That’s All I Got – Karen E Voss

Another step forward on this journey and I’m excited to see how things progress from here.