What’s life without you?

by Kiernan Gallagher, 15 years old
Published with her mother’s permission

Trigger warning: Strong emotional content and suicide method mentioned.

One I never wanted to imagine. But instead, I now live it.

They say it gets easier.

It doesn’t. And I knew that from day one. 

It’s been over a year and I still remember everything. I still feel everything.

On September 26, 2019, I didn’t go to bed until four in the morning. I woke up four hours later just to get smacked in the face — reality check, everything actually happened. I’ve never actually told anyone … Read more...

I am in charge of my recovery from bipolar disorder

by Tammy Ozolins

Tammy is a middle school teacher who contributes regularly to this blog on subjects related to mental health

Being diagnosed with a mental condition called Bipolar Disorder (I do not call it an illness anymore, because my brain is not sick, it is just different) has been challenging at times but it has made me such a stronger person in so many ways.

When I was first getting medical treatment I would go into the psychiatrist’s office and just nod my head, yes, and say Uhm, and not say much, even if I felt like the medicine … Read more...

Happy 26th birthday to my son in heaven

Charles would be 26 on April 26, 2021. It is easier now, almost six years later, than the birthdays were at first.

Looking back

At a time when the only thing normal in my life was the setting on my dryer, the landscape disintegrated to ashes and nothing mattered. Everything was trivial compared to my monumental loss. No problem could meet the enormity of the hole this one left me with and humility found the opportunity to move in and permanently take residence. How could I have missed a hurt so big it would drive my son to end his … Read more...

There is no shame in telling someone you are depressed

by Danny Gautama

Danny

Telling someone is not a weakness but an act of courage that makes you stronger.

So often, people are afraid to tell family members or friends about depression. You did not harm anyone. You did not steal from an old lady or rob a bank. You are facing a problem that is hard for you to deal with alone. It can be hard in the long run if, god forbid, it gets worse.

You are not saying anything offensive to others by telling someone you are depressed. You have the right to express yourself if you … Read more...

Thank you note from a teen in India

self harm safety kit artwork
Ayushree’s artwork

Many times, teens will go to google to ask a burning question. Usually, those questions are of a sensitive nature.

Ayushree is from India. She is very intelligent, cute, and very talented. It was last year when she reached out to me because she was distressed over her habit of self-harming when she was distressed. She knew it wasn’t the right way to cope but she wasn’t sure what to do to break the habit and she had distanced herself recently from a toxic friend group.

We emailed back and forth and the first thing I asked her … Read more...

Which college to choose for a child who lives with mental illness

With suicide being the number two cause of death on college campuses in the United States, you don’t need to be paying tuition at any college that doesn’t support your child’s emotional health. What you want to look for is a university that puts student wellness first and not one that simply does a one-time poster campaign during May mental health month.

What sends students to the counseling centers most often? Anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. That’s because college life means increased workload, stress, less structure, and more focus on peers which can collide with learning and self-esteem issues. A young … Read more...

Pain Turns To Purpose: A Suicide, A Mother’s Grief & A Second Act

Link to the podcast website, links to other podcast platforms, and show notes.

Second Act Stories is a podcast that shares the stories of people who have made major career changes to pursue more rewarding lives in a second act. Each episode examines the “before” and “after” phases of a life/career change and offers lessons learned.

Read more...

Love and let go is the antidote to insanity

We translate a lot of these terms we hear into what we think they mean.

Love and let go to one person could mean kicking a kid out of the house due to his substance misuse. Sometimes it does come to that but that isn’t the definition of the phrase.

Love and let go to another might mean simply seeking to allow a brother to experience consequences instead of loaning money as one did in the past.

When you file through the inventory of all you’ve done due to a loved one’s addiction or mental illness, it’s natural to gravitate … Read more...

The story of Charles’s little toddler cast

I’m thinking about having a memory quilt made which required a visit to the box of my son’s last belongings. Two boxes actually. It’s still hard to believe a whole 20-year life is reduced to two boxes.

My plan is to look through all the clothing to determine which shirts and pants might make good quilt pieces. I smother my face in his little blankie, his scent long gone but the softness of him still wrapped in its essence.

Visits to the boxes can be like knives to the heart, or it can feel like a link to my youngest … Read more...

Free download for teachers and school counselors. Fishbowl game

Looking for a way to create connection in the classroom? This game can help you do that. There is a version that will use 5 minutes of classroom time every time you meet and one that can be used in a broader context with faculty and students. Ideal for middle or high schools.

We know that belonging and inclusion help build a foundation of suicide prevention and this game inspires sharing and serves as an icebreaker for student relationships. This and other icebreakers, activities are used by teachers and school counselors in other schools and are included in the book, … Read more...