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  • Writer's picturealliemacs

Don't lose sight of our humanity.

In the last week, I've heard about two youth suicides in our community and one concerned parent of their child's depression. Sadly, it is just the beginning of depression season. How is that even a thing? I don't want to live in a world where there is a season that we "expect" suicides to happen. But sadly, we do. Mental health problems seem to be more prevalent than ever. Something needs to be done about this epidemic, but what is the answer?

On another note, life is busy right now with the holidays coming up, right? On my to-do list right now: parent teacher conferences, preparation for Thanksgiving, making my Christmas lists for my kids, family and teachers and hopefully in time to get any Black Friday, Cyber Monday deals, and making my 10 Christmas treat boxes for all my husbands contractors he works with. Oh and there's basketball practice, church musicals, small group, and getting toys for the angel tree, and oh yes - I'm going for a girls weekend to Seattle to see the Nutcracker, so when are we going to fit in getting our Christmas tree? And it's the countdown till I have to deal with the Elf on the Shelf. Why, whyyy did I even start with that dang elf? Just another thing to do. Oh - and planning the company Christmas party, and hosting my friend's baby shower. And in the midst of all that, we are trying to find camping spots for our SUMMER vacation? I mean, who knew that you had to freaking plan your summer vacation a year in advance? I'm overwhelmed trying to stay on top of shit and it's not even December 1st. First world problems, I know.

Does any of this really matter? It sure as hell seems to because we all get caught up in the same cycle over and over and over again. But when I get news of a suicide, all my to-do list and worries suddenly seem so irrelevant. And what are we modeling to our kids with all the running around and crazy and being so self-consumed. Have I slowed down enough to see what's going on around me? Would I notice if someone was off or just not quite right? Not even a friend, but even a stranger? In my get 'er done state of crossing off all my to-dos, am I even in a state to stop and notice these things when I am all consumed about everything I have going on? I'd like to think so, but I'm not sure I always am.

Josh and I just got back from the Annual CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) Conference. (The conference is worthy of a whole separate post). The opening keynote speaker, Tony Rostain, gave a brilliant presentation about not losing our humanity as parents/teachers/coaches. It resonated with me and I haven't stopped thinking about the concept. How often when we get so consumed with ourselves do we loose sight of what being a good human is about? We can't let the busy season or any excuse get in the way of showing love, kindness and grace. And sometimes it takes stepping out of our ME boxes for a moment, and to notice what's going on around us. And it really all comes down to living in the present. Now, I'm a busy mom. I get that this is difficult, no matter who you are. But I believe that it takes intention. What would happen if we all were a little more intentional during not only these months, but all the time, to be more intuitive and come from a place of love, kindness, compassion and grace. Would our day to day look different? Maybe not, but I know it's something I could use some help with.

Suicide is absolutely no ones fault, but I think it's a good reminder for us all to slow down and be kind. For students in the hallway at school, instead of having your head down looking at your phone, look up, smile and say hello to someone. The same goes for adults - at Costco or at school pickup or at the coffee shop.

Last year I took the Mental Health for Youth First Aid Class that the Lynden School District has put on periodically (for FREE to the community). Here's the link to sign up for an upcoming sesh. I wrote a post about it called Take Care of Your Mind in the Spring. In the training, we watched a video on a guy named Kevin who was bipolar and suicidal. One day he decided to commit suicide and jump off the Golden Gate Bridge. He got on the bus to head to the bridge and decided that if ONE person asked him if he was okay, then he would not go through with it. He desparately WANTED someone to reach out to him. He didn't want to commit such a horrible act. No one on the bus asked him, so he walked on the bridge. He was sobbing at the bridge and he saw a woman walk over to him. She asked him to take a picture. He took the photo and when she walked away, he threw himself over the railing to his death. But somehow, he survived. He is recovered now and an advocate for suicide prevention and mental health. Here's a shorter video about his experience. This story stuck in my head. He was in a horrible state but he wanted the help.

I hate to even tell this story because I would never want anyone to think it's their fault that someone committed suicide. Because it's not. But the reason I feel it's important to share is because we can all make a difference, one small act of kindness at a time. We can all make a difference by living in the present and not losing our humanity. THAT is the answer to what we can all do about the mental health epidemic.

If someone is crying, ask them if they are ok. If someone seems sad or lonely, go sit by them and make conversation with them. As adults, what do we tell our kids to do if someone is sitting by themselves at the lunch table? Or if someone falls down? Or if someone seems sad? We all know what the answers are, so in reality, we need to be modeling this behavior for them. Not to say we aren't, because I think most of us would do those same things...IF we noticed them. And sometimes I think we are too consumed with what we have going on, with our heads down at our devices, or looking to cross off our next to-do to even notice.

I'm not saying we should throw our devices away, or stop with our commitments or buying gifts or celebrating Christmas. Our intentions with all of "the things" are usually good. But I AM saying, let's not let all our busy-ness get in the way of being a good human. I do believe that there is always good that comes out of the most horrible situations. If these horrific events can teach us to be in the present and not lose sight of our humanity, I think we should all take those lessons and make the world a better place.

XOXO Allie

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