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!

 

Why I do what I do

If someone asked me: why do I write? why did I write a book? and why do I share my journey? I’d tell you the following.

Everyone at some time in their lives has required healing. Many people have qualifications to assist in healing. I help to heal from experience.

Some may think it’s difficult to discuss my journey and at first, I thought so too. It took a long time to talk to people without crying or getting into a lot of detail. I remember it took over a year, to utter the word widow and that’s when I was in counseling. The second time I used widow was during a discussion I had with my first chiropractor, Dr. Drew, and he was the first male stranger (at the time) that I shared my struggles with and I didn’t shed a tear. Talk about a milestone in my journey. Even now, while discussing certain topics I may become teary-eyed, but that’s almost always due to memories.

I want to educate others on what I know about traumatic grief. It’s important that I share my journey to reveal there’s a light at the end of a dark tunnel following tragedy. Part of my “job” consists of preventing innocent lives from being lost due to the completion of suicide. I would like other people to learn about mental illness because education is a life line.

The other day, a friend of a friend posted on Facebook about losing a friend to suicide over the weekend. I know what she’s dealing with so I reached out to her. I let her know that she could reach out to me because grief and emotions take a long time to heal.

This afternoon/early evening, I hosted a spot at a health fair sponsored by my chiropractic clinic, along with my book, That’s All I Got!. While I only sold one book, I shared many more conversations. Almost everyone I spoke with knows someone who lost their life to the completion of suicide. Some conversations were about mental illness. A few people knew today is World Suicide Prevention Day or that this week is National Suicide Prevention Week. I shared what today meant with a few vendors and each said, “I should know this” and “why don’t I know this?”. I opened their eyes to something they didn’t know. Yes, I wished I had sold more books, but a conversation I had with my current chiropractor that revolved around what really matters, reminded me why I do what I do. Thank you Dr. Steven for the reminder.

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

Saying goodbye to save a life

Today, March 1st, has been emotionally charged as we said goodbye and bid peace to someone whose life ended too soon from the completion of suicide. He suffered from his own demons, which included depression. I know this story too well, our neighborhood grieves again. In December 2008, the neighborhood grieved the first time after my husband, Russ, passed away from the completion of suicide as a result of mental illness: bipolar and auditory hallucination, which associates with schizophrenia.

My neighbor, Michael, passed away on Wednesday, February 11, 2015 as a result of a gunshot after dealing with troubling times in life. His life has me reflecting back to the date and time of Russ’s death and how far I’ve come since. I not only survived, but I thrived.

As I sat during the funeral, I pictured Russ and now Michael Goetzinger in Heaven sitting in the yard and talking. They’re both released from their pain and looking down on their families and friends giving encouragement and making sure we’re all healing and moving forward. One of the songs played at the service, Wideness in God’s Mercy, hit home because it played at Russ’s funeral six years ago. Even in death we’re all connected.

The service composed of music, readings, and poems that found their place into people’s souls. From the poems, The Journey by Mary Oliver and The Farewell by Khalil Gibran, to music of Landslide by Fleetwood Mac, Everything’s Not Lost by Coldplay and If You Lead Me Lord I Will Follow, and an anointing of essential oils to aid in healing and hope created voices in song, hugs in hundreds, and tears of sorrow.

I’m thankful to all the neighbors who came together to support each other and for making sure that I’m doing alright and offering lots of hugs. Connected by love, connected by sorrow, all of us have a brighter tomorrow. Rest in Peace Michael and to all of people who have lost their lives to the completion of suicide.

Once again we’re reminded that suicide’s real and we must break the stigma that surrounds it. If you’re contemplating suicide, preventing suicide or support others, please see: AFSP.

If you are in crisis, please call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
With your help, we can all save lives.

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

Are people afraid?

On Sunday, September 14, 2014, the day after National Suicide Prevention Week ended, I hosted a table for a Little Free Library Grand Opening. A total of seven authors hosted tables at the event held at a church. The event last for 2.5 hours.

Disappointed came when I only sold one book. While the author next to me matched my one sale, he received more visits to his table. I think everyone had more visits/interests than my book did. I started to wonder if people are afraid of my book?

At the Health Fair a couple of weeks before, people stopped at the table (I sold three books at that event). During a church picnic people barely stopped by. The tables I’ve hosted a couple of my church functions were pretty quiet, but I sold more books. Go figure, then again the parishioners knew me and my journey.

Yes, a stigma still surrounds suicide. Some people won’t talk about it and others believe it’s a selfish act and not caused by a mental illness. People don’t always talk about things they don’t know much about especially if it’s only brought up when tragedy occurs and/or it’s covered in the media.

What are your thoughts? Do you think people are afraid to buy the book due to fear of what they might learn? Are they worried about what other people think if conversation around suicide entails? Conversations don’t hurt people, but sitting around and ignoring an issue that’s affecting more people, that isn’t going away, can hurt people.