Thoughts on Five To Stay Alive and Suicide Prevention – Part 1

September is Suicide Prevention Month, September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day, and the Sunday through Saturday surrounding that day are considered National Suicide Prevention Week. Organization and individuals the world over spend this time trying to raise awareness, reduce the number of suicides that occur, and get help and hope to those that desperately need it.

Depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts are deeply personal; no two people will experiences them in the exact same way. However, we may share many of the same feelings and issues. There are many misconceptions regarding all three afflictions, and the fact that it is so taboo to speak of them allows those myths to continue. Those that know me personally know of my passion to speak about depression. That has not always been the case. Until 2013, after a high school friend’s death by suicide, I was too afraid to be honest with anyone outside of my close circle about my struggles. Now, I strive to break down the walls of silence that contribute to so much suffering and death. Depression and anxiety ARE manageable. Suicide IS preventable. As long as we are willing to talk, and to listen.

With that in mind, in 2014, I wrote a series of essays I called my Five To Stay Alive posts. They were originally published as Notes on my Facebook page, one for each day of National Suicide Prevention Week. In these essays, I shared my own experiences with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts, as well as the tools I use, tips on how you can support a loved one who struggles, links to available resources, and inspiring stories/videos. I believe these five pieces may be the keys to keeping you or someone you love alive. Who knows? They are just my stories, things that have helped or inspired me, and I don’t want to be silent about this ever again.

I thought it might be beneficial to republish these pieces, here on my blog, during National Suicide Prevention Week. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has a new campaign this year: #BeThe1To. They recommend taking the 5 following steps: ask, keep them safe, be there, help them connect, follow up. Perhaps what I’ve written can help with that. My hope is that my posts might reach someone who needs them, at the right time. Or they might help someone else reach out to someone they love, to let them know they care and they are listening, so that they can be the one. That’s my goal, at least, and I thank you for reading.

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My Experience: I’ve spoken with many friends about my openness regarding my depression. It’s was a coming out of the closet type of thing for me. Perhaps coming out of the darkness would be more appropriate. However you see it, it was therapeutic for me. At the same time, I still held back. In part because some aspects of my depression are embarrassing… humiliating even. The other part is because my depression still tells me I need to hide away. That if people saw me for who I really am… well… that would be the end of friends, love, etc. So I decided to facing those fears head on. I’m not looking for sympathy or for anyone to feel sorry for me. I just want to help anyone who reads these words and recognizes themselves in them. I want to say we’re not alone.

My husband once told me that his mind is a dangerous place to be. That was something I could identify with. I can literally lose myself in my mind. Lose any sense of who I really am, and get sucked into the vicious picture painted of me by my darkness. The only way to stop this, for me, is to talk about it.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline started a campaign called “Suicide is preVENTable”. I think it is fantastic. We live in a world where we are bombarded with advice like, “Look on the bright side,” “Don’t dwell on the negative,” “Count your blessings,” “Complain less.” The list goes on. So many of us with depression retreat. We depress. We shrink and hide and stop sharing ourselves. We believe that no one wants to hear it. Or maybe I should just say I. I feel like that. It’s not the way. Talking, writing, sharing, opening up… it takes me further and further from the darkness and gives me lifelines to hold onto.

Suicide is Preventable

So I’m going to write. Since I began opening up about depression, many of my friends have opened up to me as well. It has helped me feel less isolated. Less alone. Less like a damaged freak. It’s wonderful when you are able to identify with someone else. I recognize myself in others, and it soothes me. My hope is that by writing and sharing with all of you, anyone who is struggling may have the same experience. My hope is also to help myself, because I’m not entirely (or even close to being) selfless.

Today, I want to focus on sadness, and how that is not my depression. Someone that has not dealt with depression may think that I’m a human version of Eeyore, feeling sorry for myself with a raincloud constantly over my head. That’s not my depression. My depression is a Pandora’s box of negative emotions, the strongest of which are fear and self-loathing. I identify with some of the information found on Wikipedia regarding Major Depressive Disorder, “Major depressive disorder…is a mental disorder characterized by a pervasive and persistent low mood that is accompanied by low self-esteem and by a loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities… A person having a major depressive episode usually exhibits a very low mood, which pervades all aspects of life, and an inability to experience pleasure in activities that were formerly enjoyed. Depressed people may be preoccupied with, or ruminate over, thoughts and feelings of worthlessness, inappropriate guilt or regret, helplessness, hopelessness, and self-hatred.”

I’m afraid of making mistakes, making a fool of myself, and of failing myself or others. I know many people have these fears, but mine leave me gasping for air and incapable of moving at times. I have these fears because I don’t believe I’m good enough. I have these fears because I believe I’m a fuck up that is just going to screw it all up. I believe that I am incapable of succeeding in anything. I believe my darkness. This is what it tells me. And my darkness has been with me since before I can remember. It is the voice I have heard more than any other. It’s taken a long time to realize that it lies to me. It’s taken a long time to realize that I’m in an abusive relationship with my darkness/myself. I am a battered woman, and it’s my own punches that have been thrown. In October 2013, Anne Theriault wrote a piece for Huffington Post, Ten Lies Your Depression Tells You that accurately described some of the lies my darkness tells me.

As with many victims of abuse (even self-inflicted), I also have a poor sense of self-worth/self-esteem. I don’t think I’m pretty, I don’t think I’m worthy. I never have…. But I’m working on it. I’m learning to build my self-esteem from the ground up now. At my lowest, I hide away. I don’t want to see anyone or do anything. Before having my daughter, I could stay in bed all weekend. Thus would begin my cycle: stay in bed, avoid everything, lay there and think about all the things I should be doing, start to feel guilty/bad/overwhelmed, go to sleep. Repeat. Not a lot of self-help there, which brings me to…

My Tools: The first tool I ever used to battle my depression was therapy. I was twelve when I first started therapy, and I’ve gone off and on all of my life. However, it was only as an adult, when I made the decision to go myself and I really committed to the process (including finding a therapist that was right for me) that it started to make a difference. It’s not the only tool I use, but I WOULD NOT BE ALIVE TODAY if it wasn’t for therapy. I truly believe that.

How To Give Support: There are wonderful websites and blogs that have tips for giving support to your loved ones. Here are a few of my favorites:

10 Ways to Show Love to Someone With Depression

Suicide Is Preventable

#BeThe1To

Resources: When I began therapy again several years ago, I worried about how I could afford it. Then I found a low-fee clinic with a sliding scale counseling program that serves individual adults and children, couples, and families, through both licensed and intern therapists. There are many community mental health centers, and both the National Council for Behavioral Health and SAMHSA can help you find an affordable one in your area.

Share It Forward: I saw this piece some time ago, and it has stuck with me. I posted it over and over on my Facebook page, to bring the point home. There was a time when I would say I suffer from or struggle with depression. Now I know better. I LIVE with depression. And I’m not ashamed of it. Kevin Breel’s Ted Talk, Confessions of a depressed comic, taught me that.

Thoughts on Unanniversaries and Waves

Although I don’t remember who, after the loss of my son, Josiah, someone sent me a story that touched me in a way I couldn’t fathom at the time. Theirs was one of many hands that reached through the fog of pain and grief to give me an buoy. The story talked about grief as waves. Waves that, in the beginning for me, crashed over me in unrelenting time. I was drowning in them, and just trying to hold on. Eventually, the waves became smaller and I got a longer reprieve between them. After that, I could see them coming at me. I had time to prepare, to hold my breath, to grab a lifeline and not get swept away. At least, that’s what I hoped.

I’ve got a big wave coming at me right now. I knew it was coming; I could see it in the distance. Yet, even knowing it is going to unavoidably wash over me, I don’t know exactly what to expect. I don’t know how large it will be, or if it will be a single wave or a whole storm of them. I don’t know how long I will need to hold on for. I don’t know how to go back to barely being able to move or breath, but I know I can’t escape it.

You see, this Friday, August 25th is the estimated due date for my son, Lincoln. The date to me is significant, and yet complicated. It’s an unanniversary. A day that will never be what it should have been. We are certain that Lincoln would not have been born on this day, and that I most likely would have been induced a week or two before. But with those unknowns and uncertainties, this is the only true date I can hold onto. For me, it marks a finality in this chapter of our loss, and the beginning of our life beyond it.

A picture of Lincoln, 3 days before I went into preterm labor at 19w3d

There are other waves to come, but this is the final “should have been” for me and for us. For the last few months, there have been lots of, “I should have been 32 weeks now,” and “You should have been able to feel him kicking now.” There are an infinite number of them that will all end on Friday, leaving me in a not unfamiliar space of life without, and dreams unrealized. A wide open space filled with dead ends of an alternate life I’ll never have.

As the wave gets closer, I begin to panic a little, wondering how far it will knock me and for how long. Even when I’ve already felt the same pain previously, I just don’t know how bad it will be when it comes around again. The anticipation is its own set of waves right now, unsettling and distracting me. Taking my breath and my courage. Thinning my patience and my resolve to be strong. I find myself thrashing already, lashing out at those around me or isolating myself and becoming very quiet as I resign to be drowned all over again.

When we lost Josiah in 2015, I had a plan. A spot in the horizon to focus on as the wave crashed down. I called it his unbirthday, since he never had the chance to be born. I planned to have his name tattooed on my pelvis, in the area that I felt him move most often. We also planned a memorial, with close friends and family, to honor his brief time with us. We asked friends and family around the world to light a candle with us and say his name. However, Lincoln has a birthday. He was born on April 4, 2017 at 2:39 pm and he lived for 3 hours. It doesn’t seem right to memorialize him on his estimated due date when we have a truly significant date already.

I’m left not knowing what to do, which gets layered onto not knowing what to expect this week and not knowing how I’m going to feel. There’s so much uncertainty, and even more regret. Should I have planned another memorial? Should I have arranged to get another tattoo? Am I mourning the loss of Lincoln less than I did Josiah by not doing these things? Am I marring his memory and belittling his importance in my life? I keep adding to the list of unknowns.

I’m trying to remember that this is a time to be kind to myself. A time to keep my expectations low and only do that which I can comfortably face. I’m trying to remember that my love for my son is marked by the beating in my heart, the tears in my eyes and the sorrow in my bones, rather than acts that will bring me no true peace. I’m trying to accept what is, and not get weighed down by what should have been.

So this wave will come for me, like a predator claiming it’s prey. I will stay home that day, to allow the wave to consume me and steal my breath with unimaginable pain all over again, without the struggle of trying to hide it from others. I will be tossed and unmoored by its power and strength. I will cry and I will grieve. Then, as the wave recedes, I will anchor myself once again. Anchor myself to my loved ones and to this new me I’ve been forced to become. I will tread these unknown yet recognizable waters, continuing to swim and wait for the next wave to arrive. That wave will come, and the next, and the one after that. There will be other unanniversaries, unbirthdays, actual birthdays and small, unexpected moments that will crash over me. There will always be these waves, but at least I now know that for every time they knock me down, they will not take me under. I just have to hang on.

Thoughts on God and Tragedy

When I was younger, I loved the allegory, “Footprints in the Sand”. In it, the narrator is walking along the beach with God. There are two sets of footprints in the sand, and when the narrator looks behind them, essentially looking back on various moments in this individual’s life, they notice that there are, at times, only one set of prints. These moments happen to be one’s in which the narrator struggled most. When the narrator asks God why, in the times of greatest need, He was not there, God responds, “… it was then that I carried you.”

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When a tragedy occurs, people often wonder how God could allow such a thing to happen. Whether it’s an earthquake, a car accident, or an unexpected death, these events can shake a person’s faith and belief. When our son died in 2015, it certainly shook my husband’s. He always believed that God had a plan, but he couldn’t see it through the turmoil our son’s death caused. However, Josiah’s death did not shake mine. If anything, the aftermath of each of our sons’ deaths only strengthened my own beliefs.

I do not believe God makes or allows bad things to happen. Nor good ones. I do not believe God gives one person success, and another misfortune. I do not believe God helps one team win the Superbowl over another, or brings anyone luck. I believe that God is faith, inner strength, community and, most of all, love. So when a tragedy strikes, such as the deaths of my sons, I don’t feel the absence of God. I feel his presence all around me.

When my son, Josiah, died in May 2015, I felt God through the woman who thought to bring us prints from our son’s hands and feet. One of the few tangible things we have from his short time on earth.

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I felt God through the flowers and cards and calls and texts and messages and posts, from those who loved us, around the world, letting us know that they were mourning with us, for us, and holding us in their hearts and hands. Holding us up, when we couldn’t do it ourselves. That so many people would take the time to reach out to us was incredibly moving to me, and made me feel surrounded by love. It helped lift me up, and brought me a small sense of joy, even as the waves of grief crashed against me.

I felt God through the meals that were brought to us, following the deaths of each of our sons. Whether home cooked, or sent by delivery, these meals were morsels of love and care, and a moments to let others look after our well-being while we struggled to find our footing with even everyday tasks.

I felt God through the women who reached out to me, sharing their own pain of loss with me, of babies in heaven, thus connecting us forever through this shared bond.

I felt God through my chance meeting with Amie Lands, Certified Grief Recovery Specialist®, and leader of the Grief Recovery Group that allowed me to actively work through my sadness and pain with an amazing group of women. I learned that Amie and her husband had suffered the loss of their daughter and created the Ruthie Lou Foundation. The foundation provides comfort boxes for parents who must leave the hospital without their child. When we received one of those boxes in April 2017, knowing who they came from was like being held by my courageous friend and knowing that I could get through this too. That… that was when I felt the presence of God.

I felt God through the caring staff at Kaiser, who held my hand and shepherded me through a dark and compounded nightmare.

I felt God through the friends and family who came to the hospital or sent me messages to encourage me as we hoped against hope throughout the night.

I felt God through the fact that I was able to give birth to my second son, Lincoln, and hold him during his brief life with us. Something I was never given with Josiah, it was an incredible and profound gift during an agonizing moment.

I felt God through my daughter and her simplistic view, guiding me as I attempted to guide her through the meaning of death and loss and everlasting love.

I felt God through my husband, who has worked to not turn away from me or our loss, but rather hold my hand and lay beside me to mourn as only a parent can.

I felt God through the dozens of family and friends who, on the day that should have been my son’s birth, lit candles for Josiah and said his name and sent us pictures, so that we were surrounded with light and love and the knowledge that he, like ourselves, would not be forgotten.

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There has not been a time that I have felt that God abandoned me. I have not felt that He allowed my sons to die, or caused my premature labors, to punish me. I believe that God gives me what I need to survive a tragedy, and is not the cause of the tragedy itself. So what I have felt is God giving me strength, through the loving people who surrounded and carried us for Him. And for that, every day, I thank God.

Author’s Note: I understand, and respect, that every individual has their own beliefs or non-beliefs when it comes to religion and spirituality. The words I write are in no way an attempt to influence or sway anyone. They are, as I say, simply my own thoughts. Thank you for reading.

Thoughts on a Suicide Prevention Plan

I’ve thought about writing this piece all week, but the announcement of Linkin Park lead singer Chester Bennington’s death by suicide (https://afsp.org/statement-american-foundation-suicide-prevention-chester-bennington/) has brought me a certain sense of urgency. While I enjoyed some of Linkin Park’s music, I wasn’t a faithful follower, so his death doesn’t impact me as a fan. Instead, it saddens me as someone who lives with depression and experiences suicidal ideation.

I discussed this with a co-worker today, and we talked about the connection between Bennington and Chris Cornell, who also died by suicide earlier this year. Whether by chance or determination, Bennington took his own life on what would have been the 53rd birthday of a very good friend of his. My co-worker didn’t understand why the pain from Cornell’s death would push Bennington to his own suicide. I explained that it’s not always the sadness over that kind of loss, but the hopelessness of feeling that if the other person couldn’t beat back this particular demon, how can anyone else?

In 2013, a guy I went to high school with died. I had always admired Jon Glass, and my heart broke for his wife, Amie (another friend from my school years), and their daughter. I was devastated when I learned that he had died by suicide, and shocked to find that Jon had struggled with depression for years. We were not close friends (we knew each other in high school, but did not hang out much, and we only kept in touch through Facebook), but his death impacted me because I couldn’t help but think, “There but for the grace of God, go I.” I have the same reaction every time I hear of a friend or family member or friend of a friend or celebrity who has died by suicide: why them and not me?

Almost a year previous, in 2012, I was inspired by the death of Junior Seau (also by suicide) to write about my thoughts and experiences with depression and post them on Facebook. However, after Jon’s death, I felt a desperation to talk more about depression and suicide. To understand more about these insidious issues that plague so many of us. Those of us who do so quietly and think that we are alone. I wanted to let others know that they are not alone, and I wanted to know that I was not either.

Yet, even with the honesty and openness that I tried to foster, I still could never discover the key difference between myself and those who ultimately lost their battles with depression. This frightened me because if I couldn’t figure that out, how could I avoid this being my fate? How could I help stop it being the fate of others? During a phone conversation with Jon’s widow, Amie, she asked if I had a plan. I thought she was asking if I had a plan of how I would commit suicide, but instead she wanted to know if I had a crisis plan to prevent it. This was very enlightening to me, and I began to do research on how to develop a suicide prevention plan.

Which brings me back to the past week. You see, I’ve had a house all to myself this week. And I’ve made my jokes about being able to run around naked and eat ice cream for dinner (not so much a joke, since I really did this) and how amazing it’s been to have this time alone. But it’s also been a little terrifying. Being alone also means being alone with my grief. My thoughts, which are not always gentle or kind. Thoughts such as, “With everyone gone, this would be the perfect time to kill myself.”

That’s a scary thought to have. It’s not one that I want to have, and yet it’s exactly what popped into my head as I drove to my therapy appointment a week before my family left. Now, I’ve learned enough about myself and my depression to know that it is a dangerous thing for me to keep those kinds of thoughts to myself, where they can spin obsessively around in my head. So I discussed it at length with my therapist. She assured me that this was very normal for a grieving mom, and especially for one grieving two sons in two years. She told me that it was understandable for me to have these thoughts.

I told my husband as well. It was a hard thing to do, because I have felt so much shame for having these thoughts, and because I hate for others to see how damaged and broken I think I am, even my own spouse. I debated whether I should share this with him before or after he left for a family vacation with our daughter. I didn’t want to ruin his time away with any fears of me hurting myself, but I also didn’t want him to feel as if I was hiding this. We talked about how hard it was going to be for me with them away. Difficult because I would be missing out on memories with my family, and because it was a reminder of what we had lost. A reminder that I couldn’t join them on vacation because instead of being on my maternity leave and looking forward to the impending birth of our son, I was unable to take any more time away from work since I had just spent three months grieving our son’s death instead. Those reminders are crushing for me, and I feel like I’ve been trapped under their weight for more than two years, since the death of our first son in 2015. That weight is tiring, and the thought of relief from that can be tempting. But that’s not what I want.

During our couple’s therapy session, our therapist reiterated how normal these thoughts are, especially in light of all we had endured over the past few months. The past few years. Then she suggested we make a plan. At this point, even after I talked with Amie and researched plans, I still did not have one myself. Nothing concrete any way, just a vague idea of what I would do. That wasn’t enough, and we devised a real one during our session. We agreed that Justin would call me everyday to check in. He promised to not allow me to blow him off with easy platitudes like, “I’m fine,” and I promised to be fully honest with him, and not worry about ruining his vacation. I also made the decision to not drink while I was alone, since that could lead to further depressing thoughts and lowered inhibitions. Our therapist suggested that I make concrete plans with friends, so that I would have limited stretches of time to get lost in my own thoughts. It gave me something to look forward to. I also had friends that I knew would be available at the last minute, if I felt the need to be with someone. Finally, I knew that if I began to have more thoughts of suicide, I could call either my therapist or the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255, which is available 24 hours a day), or, if I was really desperate, I could either drive myself or have a friend drive me to the hospital and let them know I was having thoughts of hurting myself and needed help.

The plan helped me feel better, safer, about having concrete tools to get through this week. You see, I don’t believe I would actually follow through with killing myself. I don’t want to die, I just don’t want to live with these overwhelming feelings all the time. I don’t want to hurt my friends and family. I don’t want to scar my daughter with that kind of loss. I believe I am stronger, and that these ties will keep me here and living. Perhaps that’s what Jon thought too. Perhaps that’s what Chester Bennington, or Chris Cornell believed. It is impactful to see people who walk my path, yet succumb to the darkness of it. I had the same feeling when I learned of the suicide death of Amy Bleuel, mental health advocate and founder of the Semicolon Project. Even people actively involved in awareness and destigmatizing mental health, who ceaselessly talk about prevention, are not immune. https://themighty.com/2017/03/project-semicolon-amy-bleuel-suicide-there-is-still-hope/

I can’t sit back on my belief that I will not harm myself, and think that’s enough. I can’t stubbornly deny the possibilities and what ifs. Some people might say that suicide is not an option, but for me, that isn’t true. It is an option. It’s just not one I want to use. I want to continue to get through these moments, because that’s all they really are. Times when I have been stifled by depression or plagued with suicidal thoughts are still just moments in the grand scheme of my life. What I need is to find ways to get through those moments. Something to bridge between the good, or even great moments that are also a part of my life. I have to remain ever vigilant, because my depression is unrelenting. Having a plan is part of that vigilance. It is my bridge and, hopefully, the key that I’m looking for. The answer to my question of why not me. That answer, this week at least, is that in making my own suicide prevention plan, I made a plan to keep on living.

 

My Suicide Prevention Plan:

  1. Tell others: Instead of letting these frightening thoughts fester inside of me, where I could obsess over them and let them grow, I chose to take away some of their power by speaking with others about these thoughts. Those people included my therapists, husband and brother (who lives with us, and could then be aware while he was home).
  2. Keep the lines of communication open: I knew that I would be checking in with my husband each day, which kept me open and aware of my feelings, rather than hiding from them.
  3. Make plans: Having concrete plans helped me have something to look forward to during the time that I thought I might struggle most. Instead of isolating, I allowed myself to be distracted by something I don’t often get to do and I enjoyed it immensely. Even during the time I wasn’t with a friend, I made sure to reach out and interact with others via Facebook to occupy my time.
  4. Avoid alcohol: Since I don’t use drugs, alcohol was the only concern for me. I don’t drink often, but knew that this would be the best time to abstain altogether for me.
  5. Reach out to friends: I made sure ahead of time that I had friends who would be available during the week, even if I didn’t tell them why. I also made a list of people I would be able to reach out to at any time, such as my friends, Vicky and Sara, if I felt I was struggling at any point in the day, as well as Trisha and Kainoa, night owls like me who I could contact in the middle of the night, without guilt, and talk to about how I was feeling.
  6. Reach out to my therapist: Since my therapist was aware of how I was feeling, we had talked about me contacting her if I needed to.
  7. Reach out to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline: I have often encouraged others to call the lifeline if they needed to, and I knew that I could as well.
  8. Get to a hospital: If all else failed, I would do anything to protect myself, including finding others who will protect me from me.

This plan may not work for me in every situation, and some things may need to be added or replaced or moved around. But the basic foundation gives me something to hold onto and use. If you would like to make your own crisis plan, or help a loved one with theirs, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline website has a great tool: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Brown_StanleySafetyPlanTemplate.pdf

 

 

My Biggest Regret

What is your biggest regret?

I’ll tell you mine: Being so afraid of failing, that I don’t even try.

When I was young, I really enjoyed art. Through a gift giving charity, I received beautiful paints, brushes and canvases for Christmas one year. I was so afraid of wasting it all on something not worthy of what I had received, that I never used them. To this day, they sit in a box in my closet.

Since even younger than that, I have wanted to write. However, I’ve never thought I was good enough, or had enough of a story in me, to write any sort of novel. It’s only been on Facebook that I’ve found my voice, in a way, and learned that although The Great American Novel may not be the path for me, there may be another way for me to write.

And once again, I’ve let fear slow or stop me. For some time now, I’ve wanted to start a couple of blogs. The first is just an opportunity for me to write about the things I’m interested in/passionate about. Depression, anxiety, body image, love, marriage, sex, child loss, etc. A personal blog to share myself and explore my feelings. The second blog is for my other passion, smut/romance books. I love the books and I love the community of writers and readers, and I’d like to write more about those that I love and why. But fear is still sitting in my way.

I worry about screwing it up. I worry about not being very interesting or compelling for readers. I worry about no one reading what I want to say. I try to plan out the best possible approach, the smartest and most successful way to do it all, rather than just jumping in and doing it. I give excuses and reasons, and procrastinate, just to spare myself any embarrassment or failure. I think too much about what others will think of me, rather than what I want and what will make me feel fulfilled.

And so I regret. I’m now at a point in my life, approaching 40 with so many ignored opportunities behind me, that I don’t want to add to the pile. So I’m making myself these promises:

Before I turn 40 in October, I will:

1. Start a personal blog, Being Real with Danielle
2. Start a reviewing blog.
3. Quit smoking for good.
4. Strive to be healthier and feel good about myself, mentally and physically, whether or not we have another baby.
5. Throw myself a 40th birthday party where I can dance all night long.

Fear will still be there. Sitting right beside anxiety and depression. I’m just going to have to step around them.

This is my first step.