Friday, October 26, 2018

2 months, 6 days, nothing positive






I know there is no correct way to grieve, there really isn't but still I feel somehow I'm doing it wrong. I feel selfish, I never really check in with anyone else to see how they are doing (except Milah and Tony)
I have no energy, I am so tired. I wrote a list of things I need to do each day and I get like one or two done. I feel miserable. I feel lazy. I feel depressed. I feel broken.

I obsess over Zuka, I try to occupy my mind but little things always remind me of him and I cry. I cry every damn day, I'm still in shock, I can't face the fact he is not coming back. I don't know how to exist in so much pain. I don't know what to do with myself. There is no pain reliever for a pain like this. I'm so angry . I'm jealous of other moms sending their kids off to college and I don't have my son. I get annoyed when people complain about little things, I know it's human nature but I'm dealing with my biggest fear, my worst nightmare coming true. I have to live with this every day, and dream about it at night. I feel like I'm being tortured. I can't imagine hell being worse than this.

I'm not afraid of anything anymore. Not to say I don't have anxiety and PTSD, but I can't think of anything I'm afraid of. I have faced my worst nightmare, I have already been destroyed, I've already seen hell.....what is there to fear?

I feel people get tired of my posts and my pictures of Zuka, I can't help it, he is what I think about most of the time, he and his sister Milah. I have never really openly told the whole story, except to a few close people but I am working on a book about my life which is really nerve wracking, I don't feel like I am a good writer but I need to get my whole story out, even if just for myself.

I wish I knew how to get through this, the psychiatrist and counselors say it's just going to take time.... just trying to live right now is hell.... I am trying to carry on... really every day I struggle to carry on



If you are considering suicide please get help, please don't put the people you love through this hell. I guarantee whatever you are feeling, they will be left feeling 100x worse...

Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) if you are struggling emotionally or thinking about suicide



Monday, October 22, 2018

PTSD and me





PTSD is not the person refusing to let go of the past 
but the past refusing to let go of the person



Post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. For the full diagnostic criteria please click here
Basically when a person has been through trauma, certain events (called triggers) can cause a person to have anxiety, anxiety attacks, or fear. They may avoid situations that may trigger memories, people with PTSD may have nightmares related to the event. It can cause depression, irritability, detachment from others, problems sleeping and problems concentrating..
PTSD is not always an exact replay of the actual event, it's sometimes a replay of the emotions you felt during the event such as fear, helplessness and sadness (Alice Cariv)

I have had PTSD in the past concerning a bad car accident and a violent relationship with my children's father but nothing as bad as Zuka's suicide. When I was in the hospital I was diagnosed with PTSD, I was not surprised, I don't think you can go through something like this and not have PTSD. I had nightmares every night until I went to the hospital and they gave me a medication to help with nightmares. A couple of incidents have happened that caused pretty major anxiety attacks.

The first one happened the first time we went out after Zuka's death, We went with very understanding friends for support. It was really hard going out in public and never knowing what make you break down crying. We had a nice dinner and everyone was heading out but I decided to run to the bathroom real quick. On the way out the heavy wooden door banged behind me....Immediately I threw my hands up in front of my face, I was so afraid and felt like I was in shock, I started crying and ran out of there. PTSD can be embarrassing, all the way home I wondered what people who witnessed that anxiety attack must have been thinking.

The next incident occurred when I was at a get together and a guest (who had no idea what happened) brought in his new shot gun to show everyone, I was nervous but when he racked it, I did the same thing, threw my hands up, I was so scared, I started getting out of my chair to run out but my friend jumped up and yelled at them to take the gun out. I think they thought I was afraid of guns, I tried to explain and I was stuttering. It was a very traumatic experience for me, though no one is at fault!

I have had several other incidents, watching movies, loud noises, I just never know what will bring on flashbacks or anxiety attacks. The bad dreams haven't been about the exact incident but they are about fear and loss.

If you have been through or witnessed a traumatic event that causes reoccurring bad dreams, fear, anxiety, avoidance of situation you may find fear inducing you may have PTSD


Here are some things that may help


  • Seeking professional help from a counselor, psychiatrist or doctor
  • Meditation and practice self soothing
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol which may make the issue worse
  • Talk about it to a supportive friend or family member
  • Medication; anti-anxiety medication may help
  • Take care of yourself, get enough sleep, try to eat healthy meals
  • Journal about the incident that causes the anxiety attack
  • be easy on yourself and do not feel responsible for an anxiety attack, it's not something you can control. 
  • Do some sort of art work or craft to soothe yourself



Check out Kati Morton's Youtube  she has several videos on PTSD and many other mental health videos




Do you have questions, comments or anything you want to share, you can leave a comment below or email me at zukaslegacy@gmail.com










Friday, October 19, 2018

I shaved my legs

I shaved my legs last night. I am sure you all wanted to know that, but here's why I am sharing that with you.  It was symbolic of my commitment to carry on with my life. This passage from "Christian's Red Balloon, Mothering and Angel" really spoke to me

              "She made the distinction between carrying on and moving on as  grieving mothers. This really resonated with me. Her point was that we never move on from grieving our children. We carry on. We carry on raising our living children. We carry on as wives. We carry on as daughters, sisters, friends. Most of all we carry on, while carrying our children in our hearts. We carry on because our deceased children live on through us. Their legacies, messages and light live on through us. That can only happen if we carry on with our life."


Since losing Zuka I had given up on any self care, I showered and combed out my hair but that was really it. I hadn't shaved since Zuka passed, I hadn't done any makeup, perfume, lotion, really anything. I found no joy in anything, I didn't want to try and have fun, it almost felt like a betrayal to my son, to my grieving. So last night I took a long shower, deep conditioning my hair, shaving and just relaxing. I used some of my favorite lotion and painted my nails, my daughter painted my toes. Today I put on a little makeup. Just simple self care.

At bed time I laid in bed and wrote myself a list of physical, mental and spiritual self care; such as meditating daily, reading daily in front of my therapeutic sun lamp, getting some form of physical exercise and working on the book I am writing daily. Just little things that encourage me to carry on, though I know I will never move on. 


I will carry on!


I will Carry you in my heart Always Zuka!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Dear Zuka, a letter to my son

Dear Zuka,


      I haven't talked to you since August 20th, 2018, the day you left us. I have screamed and said 1,000 times "Why Zuka? Why?" Here's what I would say to you if I could.

Zuka I am sorry I couldn't save you. I tried so many time and this time I failed. I wish I had made you get in that car somehow or called the police and told them you weren't okay. I would have done anything to save you, given my life instead.

Zuk I always told you I couldn't go on if you weren't here, and now I am here and I HAVE to be alive and I really want to be with you. I think about you every moment of every day, I cry whenever I am alone. I spend most of my time in your room so I can feel closer to you. Zuka I never thought I would have to live without you, damn it, I love you so much....I can't breathe when I remember you aren't coming back....it's like my throat is closing up....and my chest hurts. I don't know how to do life without you.

I loved you the minute I knew I was carrying you. When I was 9 months I didn't want to give birth to you, as crazy as that sounds, I couldn't always protect you out in the world and I was so afraid something would hurt you. I know I was overprotective of you and Jamilah but I wanted more than anything to keep you safe.... and I feel like I failed Zuk. I feel like I failed you.

There are no words for the pain I feel, it's not something that words could ever describe and only someone who has been through this could possibly understand. Zuk you were my heart and now my heart is in a million pieces, I grieve from deep in my soul, I will never be the same.

I just want one more day with you, I just want another hug and to hear you laughing and playing pranks on me. I would give anything.... God I hope when this life ends you are there to meet me. I love you sooooo much!! I told you every single day. I don't know why you left me....you left us....and we will forever miss you Zukie...

I love you with every single piece of my broken heart Zuka..... forever and always....

Love, Mom







I would have chosen you



My Dear Zuka,


If God had told me, "This soul would one day need extra care and needs," I still would have chosen you...

If He had told me, "This soul may make your heart bleed," I still would have chosen you...

If He had told me, "This soul would make you question the depth of your faith," I still would have chosen you...

If He had told me "This soul would make tears flow from your eyes that could fill a river," I still would have chosen you...

If He had told me "This soul may one day make you witness overbearing suffering," I still would have chosen you...

If He had told me, "All that you know to be normal would drastically change," I still would have chosen you...

Of course, even though I would have chosen you, I know it was God who chose me for you."




(written by Terri Banish)

Zuka's Manifesto in it's entirety (almost)

I got a few requests to add the shout outs that I had removed from the earlier posting of Zuka's Manifesto, I am going to go ahead and post them, though I don't know what they all mean and I'm sure they are inside jokes with Zuk and his friends. I still refuse to add the inappropriate joke....sorry! I hope none of the added portion is offensive to anyone!




Zuka's Manifesto 

I have never truly looked at my life and hated it enough to end it. All of my “suicide attempts ” have been in spite and anger . After a good 9 years of dealing with the consciousness of having mood disorders I have spent time thinking of what truly has caused me to feign my death at my own hand. And using feign as in if really wanted to die, I would actually do it. 0-4 in my tryings shows a sign of not truly wanting to die or Iʼm a fucking superhero. I have no actual reason to end my existence beside what emotions are going through my head at the times of these occurrences. 

But do I actually need a concrete reason ? Does the culmination of what Iʼve experienced in life manifest into my ticket for putting a bullet in my head? Truly the root of all my suicidal thoughts is the connotation in which I hold my memories in. 

To elaborate I actually havenʼt had a sniff of a bad childhood. Never missed a meal unless on my own volition. Yeah I didnʼt have the newest and best shit growing up but was I eating mud as a kid ? I havenʼt been abused and yeah my mother may be not compatible with me as Iʼm becoming my own person but Sheʼs not a horrible person. My fathers a shit head but also thatʼs because of how he views the memories of his life also I donʼt know how good eating mud and witnessing war and his family dying having to flee his own country or be killed is on the cerebrum growing up as munchkin but itʼs all about how you see it. I digress. 

I havenʼt truly experienced anything of any emotional value that you could truly put on the scale and understand why that person took their own life. I now understand that I have a mental disorder and that disorder has shaped how I view my life at different points in time. Like putting different filters on my memories. Saying this as a mentally sound Zuka doesnʼt always mean Iʼll always look at life the same way but now The realization is that no matter what life throws at me , itʼs all about how you spin it. 

And I can stop now with the rawrXD (EMO) shit and not always thinking that I can try death as an out for things when really Iʼm just a fucking stupid kid who thinks they understand what they want is death at times but really itʼs just they need to think of a different way out of whatever shit sandwhich I think Iʼm about to take a bite of. I think this is a piece of me becoming a little bit more well I donʼt think itʼs maturing as a person but becoming more experienced and wiser as a small blip on a dirtball rotating around a ball of gas that is a part of a universe far more vast than to give a fuck about a kid reflecting on him having problems with noggin. 


#somethingebonywellswouldsay Baby jewell has straight fingers. 
Jamal’s asscrack is never visible.
I’m the best DT in the known universe. Tracies head is normal. I’m not black. 
Stephen Billings is smart. And None of this doesn’t even faze me

- Zuka Mabior

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Let me tell you about Zuka!!

I realize that everyone who visits this blog may have not know my son son Zuka so let me share a little bit about who Zuka was....



Zuka was named after his grandfather Zuka Garang Mabior. His father, Garang, was one of the "lost boys of Sudan." If you don't know what that is there are many articles, books and documentaries, here is a LINK for a little more info. Zuka is pronounced "Zooka", he had a lot of nicknames lol, Zooch, Zuk, Zucchini, Bazooka. Zuka has a sister, Jamilah, who is 17 months younger than him. Zuka was born in Portland Maine. When their father and I broke up we moved to the University of Southern Maine college campus with the kiddos. They were the best college roommates ever!

When they were 5 and 6 we ended up moving to Florida to be closer to my parents. Zuka was very close to his grandparents and really enjoyed spending time with them. When Zuka was 8, I married his step father Antonio. At first Zuka was a little upset that this new man was coming into our life and taking my attention, I had been a single mom for so long he kind of got used to it being just the three of us. It wasn't long however that Antonio won him over and soon they were close, Zuk never rally called him "Dad" to his face but when talking to others he referred to him as "Dad." They enjoyed superhero comics and movies and playing video games together. Antonio was a great Dad to him and this summer he shared with me how much he appreciated taking over the roll as his father, when his birth father was never really part of his life.

Zuka lived in Florida until he was around 15 but was very unhappy in Florida, he was bullied and having difficulties with depression and bipolar disorder and moved with my family in Maine. I really felt like Maine embraced Zuka, he had some amazing friends there, he ended up doing track, playing football and he LOVED wrestling. he became state wrestling champ 182 weight class for 2018! I was so incredibly proud of him. We kept in touch daily, by phone, text or Instagram messages. Zuka was blessed with a best friend who was like a brother, Jason. Jason's parents, Heather and Ryan were great with Zuk, one day around Thanksgiving he visited their house and just never left, Until he came down to Florida after graduation. I affectionately referred to Heather as his "Other Mother," as she treated Zuka like her own child.




Zuka was funny, he could always made me laugh. He didn't give a damn what people thought of him when being silly, dancing, dressing wildly and just enjoying his life. When he was up, man, he was up! He lived life! When he came down in June (we went up for graduation and he rode home with us) we had a big party for his graduation, he laughed, danced, sang and tole me it was the greatest night of his life. He did sneak a few beers we didn't know about until he got all lovely dovey, sat in my lap and told me everything in his heart....now I don't encourage or promote teen drinking but I am oddly thankful he drank that night and was able to completely open up to me. He sat on my lap half the night and hugged me and pressed his face against mine.




Another night we took him to a drag show, my girlfriends wanted to go so we dragged my husband and Zuka along. Zuk was super open minded so he didn't care. After the show they opened up the dance floor and we actually danced together, Zuka, Tony and my friends, it was awesome. He had a great night. We got home and he and I sat by the pool smoking butts and really talking. He was so amazing, so open-minded, so self reflective. He seemed so at peace. Man we had so many all night talks over the summer and he blew my mind, he was just an amazing person to talk to. Zuka was literally a genius but his grades never reflected that after junior high. he put his mind into things he cared about, sports and people. That night by the pool he shared with me his manifesto, if you haven't read it, check it out here . His Manifesto gave me hope that he no longer dealt with suicidal thoughts.

Zuka Loved superhero's and comics, he could talk about them for hours! His room has a big superhero poster and one from Rick and Morty. He of course hung up his wrestling brackets and his giant football banner of himself as soon as he got here. His Letterman jacket is on the wall, his state champ jacket safely put in a storage container until we can get a shadow box for it.



Little did I know Zuka was tying up loose ends here in Florida. He asked me to facilitate a talk between him and his sister, Jamilah. In that talk he explained that he would be upset about school and come home and rage and though he never ever would hurt her he understood his actions did hurt and stress her out and he apologized that she got caught in the "cross fire." He told her he loved her and he would always protect her.




He told me the reason he was the worst to me was that I was the safe place, he knew I would never leave him. Which was true, no matter what he did I would always be there for him. he said he never really posted about me on Instagram or social media, he said he loved me most and he thought I didn't need that reassurance because he thought I knew that. I got a little teary and told him even moms need a little reassurance now and then. He told me he loved me most.



He called his father and spoke with him. He contacted people he loved in Maine. He contacted friends and told them he loved them. he promised then he was going to hurt himself.

Zuka had amazing highs and heartbreaking lows. And on the day he took his life he told us he just can't go through this again. I think he felt like a burden, I think he just wanted the pain and sadness to stop. He didn't want to go to the hospital again. He just couldn't do it anymore. That was the day the foundation was ripped out from beneath our family and nothing has made sense since.


If you would like to share a story about Zuka, I know a lot of people sent memories to me, but if you would like to share them on his memory wall please email stories, pics and videos to zukaslegacy@gmail.com

I am going to create a video page today, you can find a photo memory page HERE, I am constantly working on getting those updated.




Zuka and his best friend/brother Jason 
and two of his best female friends Kayla and Madisyn




Dealing With Grief (day 58)



 





Last Thursday I decided I needed some help. I have made and appointment with a psychiatrist 3 weeks ago and I still have another 8 days before I can get in to see somebody. You would think there would be some kind of emergency help for someone who just went through a traumatic loss but, at least in my area, there is not.

Friday morning I went to a psychiatric center and checked myself in. I was so nervous and half way through the intake process I had an anxiety attack and my brain was telling me to run out there. I knew, as scared as I was at the moment that it was for my own good. I was feeling hopeless, I had been barely able to get out of bed. Thursday, I had slept most of the day, I never got dressed. I felt like I would never be able to be happy again. It was hard to see myself living without Zuka. I kept having flashbacks of that night, loud noises gave me panic attacks. Something like a loud slamming door, or a popping balloon would cause my body to freeze up and I felt like I needed to run away, and I cried. That's normal for people who have experienced trauma but for me it was embarrassing because it's hard to explain to bystanders in the middle of Texas Roadhouse Restaurant why you are covering your head and bawling because the thick wooden bathroom door just slammed behind you.

I ended up with my own room and bathroom, which was much needed because I cried a lot! I met with psychiatrists, a doctor, counselors, case managers. All were very compassionate and caring. Several people remembered Zuka from his stay there and I felt like they really cared. Most of my nurses were awesome, I had one that came in my room and spent a lot of time talking to me, she looked up my blog while I was there, you could tell she really cares about her patients! If you are reading this "P" thank you so much!

I didn't really connect with a lot of the other patients until one of the last days there we had a group therapy and I shared my story. Everyone was so very supportive and offered to talk with me if I ever needed someone to talk to. The counselor facilitating really seemed to understand, she got tears in her eyes and again I really felt she cared. After group a young girl came up to me and told me she had tried to commit suicide and that's why she was there, she told me that hearing me talk made her really think about the impact her death would have on her parents and that she would continue to get help to stay safe! That was amazing! That's why I keep telling my story, maybe I made a difference in one life!

That act gave me hope, people have come to me and told me they have shared my story, Zuka's story and how it made a difference in someone's life and right now, that really keeps me going so thank you for that!!


My stay at the hospital I got a medication to help with my nightmares and haven't had a nightmare since I started taking it! I got an anti-depressant and I will continue with my sleeping medication (which they doubled) and also my anxiety medication. I was diagnosed with major depression and PTSD. I am still grieving of course but I feel less hopeless, I feel like I am sleeping a little better. I got up at 5:30 am this morning to cook my family a breakfast casserole I saw on Facebook and some hash-browns. I feel like, yes life is going to be hard but I have the strength and resources to deal with it, to stay. To keep going.

If you feel like you need help, don't be ashamed. I am working on my bachelors in mental health (I will be a senior this fall), I don't know all the answers. Sometimes in life we need that extra help, There is no shame in that! It's OKAY not to be OKAY! but if you aren't okay, please get help. You are not crazy, I am not crazy.... we just need help to get through, whatever it is we're going through.

I am Jennifer and I just spent 4 nights in a psychiatric hospital and I am not ashamed!!!

Stop the stigma!





Thursday, October 11, 2018

Mental Health Awareness

Yesterday was World Mental Health Awareness Day and I did not write yesterday. To be honest I slept most of the day. I just felt exhausted. Today I want to talk a little bout mental health awareness. 

I remember one day I wanted to talk to Zuka about his medications and I asked if he had me on speaker phone, because he normally did, even in front of his friends. He told me not to worry, his friends knew he was on medication and was dealing with depression/bipolar disorder. I was really proud of him that he could open up to people and that he didn't have shame around his struggles. I wish I had been that courageous at his age. 

I started dealing with depression in my youth, I'm not sure I can pinpoint exactly when I became depressed. I dealt with eating disorders, sometimes overeating and other times bulimia and not eating at all for long periods of time. I dealt with some issues around self harm. I always wanted to hide how I was feeling. When I finally admitted to having thoughts of suicide, I did start seeing a counselor and I'm not sure I was even fully honest with her. I was very ashamed, I was afraid of being labeled "mentally ill" or "crazy" 

I remember at one point an adult I was sort of close to rubbed my "mental illness" in my face and told me everyone knew I had "problems." It made me want to hide my depression further. I felt like it was something that needed to be hidden from the world. Though I got "class clown" in high school and was also voted "most bubbly" I was hurting so badly inside.

Here's the thing, People with mental illness aren't scary. The media LOVES to blame crime (especially from certain populations) on mental illness. Every mental illness seems to be combined together in one big scary ball that makes people afraid, and those suffering ashamed. Studies have shown that  only 7.5 percent of crimes were directly linked to mental illness symptoms: of that 7.5 percent, 3 percent to symptoms of depression; 4 percent to symptoms of schizophrenia; and 10 percent to symptoms of bipolar disorder. Given that 1 out of every 5 Americans suffer from some type of mental illness, those statistics are very low. 

Shame keeps people sick. When people are ashamed, they are much less likely to seek help, and therefore much more likely to stay depressed, more likely to commit suicide. 

There is no shame in having a mental illness. As I mentioned above, 1 out of every 5 Americans have some sort of mental illness. For many people mental illness is caused by a chemical imbalance in their brain. For some it's caused by trauma, being abused, or witnesses a traumatic event. Some mental illness is due to stress and anxiety. Whatever the reason, there is no shame. People generally are not shamed of having other natural imbalances in their bodies that they need to take medication for, so an imbalance in the chemicals in the brain should be no different.  

Days like "Mental Health Awareness Day" are very important because they help to break down the stigma around mental illness. You often cannot tell what a person is struggling with by looking at them. Zuka could be the funniest, happiest person to be around and unless you were close to him, you may have had no idea that he struggled with bipolar disorder. Be kind, everyone is dealing with their own struggles and fighting battles you may know nothing about.

If you are struggling please know that there is help out there! You Matter! You are not a burden! There is no shame! It's Okay not to be Okay!!!!


You're never alone. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) if you are struggling emotionally or thinking about suicide



As usual if you have any questions, submissions or topics you would like me to discuss please email me at Zukaslegacy@gmail.com



Sunday, October 7, 2018

I'm not okay, but it's okay





I am not in a great place right now. Losing Zuka seems to be getting harder, not easier. The more time passes the more I feel the need to hide my feelings because I feel like people are worn out from hearing about them. I try to smile, I try to be happy. I truly don't find joy in anything right now. Reality is setting in, he isn't coming back. He is really gone. The one thing that gives me any peace is trying to write, in hopes of helping other's struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts.

I am depressed. I barely want to get out of bed in the morning, but staying in bed makes me feel lazy so I try and get up and do something. I resigned from my job, I just can't imagine trying to go back to work right now but of course that adds the stress of money issues. I just can't seem to make myself okay.

People ask me how I am, I say fine. I don't know what else to say. Do I say, "I am hopeless." does anyone want to hear the truth? People rarely visit anymore, except for a couple friends who have been there and understand what we are going through. I want to reach out to friends but I don't want to worry people, or bother people. And though I know I am not a burden, depression still whispers that in my ear. Everyone tells me I need to be strong for my daughter, I hear that, I am trying my best.

I am seeing a therapist and tomorrow I plan to go to a support group. I am supposed to get outside at least once a day, it doesn't always happen. My happiness is my responsibility and I am trying my hardest to climb out of this hole. One day I hope to be happy again....


I am not okay, and it's hard to admit....but if I can admit it, maybe someone else who is struggling can admit it too. It's okay not to be okay! But you can't stay in that place, you need to seek help... I am seeking help!

Zuka's friends saying goodbye

I need help, Now what happens?

I think one thing that keeps people from seeking help when they are feeling suicidal is the fear of what happens when they seek help, so let's talk about it....


Psych units/ Crisis Units

Whether we called 911, talked to his counselor or called the crisis unit directly, Zuka would go to a Crisis Unit (CSU) when he felt suicidal. I know the idea of a psych unit or crisis unit seems really scary but he found them often to be very helpful. Psychiatric units are not what many movies portray, often there are other people there just like you who can empathize with what you are going through.

When Zuka was feeling suicidal, I went to my doctor who encouraged me to go talk to a particular crisis unit for myself, I was feeling very overwhelmed, though not suicidal. They asked me to stay and I stayed voluntarily. I had been to one before when I was 18 and felt suicidal but still I was scared. When I got there, there really was nothing to be afraid of. You can't take your cell phone in, you cannot have shoes with laces or anything you can hurt yourself on and they will check your bag and make sure you don't have anything unsafe. There are psych nurses, psychiatrists and counselors to talk to. Some units have group therapy sessions, which make you feel a little less alone.

You will meet with a psychiatrist who will evaluate you and together you will decide if you need medication, therapy or both. You can make a list of who you would like to be able to call you and you can make outgoing calls as well. The staff tries to make you feel as comfortable as possible while also keeping you safe. You have regular beds, sometimes in a single room, sometimes with a roommate and usually each bedroom has a bathroom. The mirrors are a little blurry, because they are not made of glass, you of course can shower and use the bathroom privately you aren't ALWAYS being watched.

Not all psych units are the same but from what I have seen they all run pretty much the same way. You will be respected, you will find other's who understand your struggle and you will be kept safe!!


What if someone calls 911? 

If 911 is called the police and ambulance will show up. Sometimes they will call a crisis unit directly and have you brought there. If you have injured yourself you will be taken to the emergency room and generally when you are well enough they will call crisis units in your area and try to find one with an open bed. You will not be "in trouble" for feeling suicidal but it is their responsibility to keep you safe so they will want you to get help.




What happens when I call the Suicide Hotline?

I have very limited experience calling the suicide hotline but I did find this helpful link. I did call once when I was not suicidal just to talk to someone, that's as far as it went because I wasn't in danger of hurting myself. I called just to talk because I was feeling depressed.

Here is a helpful link about calling the suicide hotline "Suicide Hotline, What happens when you call?"



There really is no reason to fear getting help! You will be respected and taken care of. Don't let the fear of the unknown keep you from seeking help!! You are worth it! You matter!


If there is any questions you have or topics you would like me to cover please email me at Zukaslegacy@gmail.com

Take care of you! Keep Going!







MYTH: They aren't really going to commit suicide!







One of the biggest myths concerning suicide that I have often heard is, "someone who often threatens suicide is not really going to go through with it." It's often said if a person really wanted to die they would have done it already. This is a Myth! 

My son Zuka was hospitalized 15 times before he died by suicide. I took each time seriously, I worried, I grieved, I got him help every single time he threatened. In the back of my mind however, especially after reading his manifesto , I believed he would not actually go through with it. Sadly, I was wrong. The truth is, I believe Zuka never really wanted to die. Zuka fought depression what seemed like most of his life, he wanted the pain to stop, he wanted the feeling of being a burden to stop, life was just too much to handle sometimes but he never really wanted to die. 

People who harm themselves, cut themselves or threaten suicide are not looking for attention, they are crying out for help. Let's say they are seeking attention for a moment, is that not still a cry for help if a person needs to seek attention in such a way? Every suicide threat and every suicide attempt should be taken seriously. 

What can you do if someone you care about is threatening suicide? First off you need to listen to the person and take the threat seriously. If you are school age, encourage the person to talk to the guidance counselor or someone they trust. If they are in immediate danger call 911 or the crisis hotline right away (1-800-273-TALK (8255)). You should also tell your guidance counselor or another trusted adult. You aren't "ratting out" your friend, you are trying to save their life!!

For parents please take your child's threat seriously, you can google a local crisis unit where your child can be evaluated for mental health issues like depression, anxiety, PTSD etc... Call a counselor, call the suicide helpline, if they are in immediate danger call 911.

For adults, friends, family spouses, please encourage your loved one to seek help. Listen to them and take each threat seriously. If you believe they are a danger to themselves please call 911 and a professional can evaluate them and see if they need to spend some time in a crisis unit for evaluation.

If you feel like you are in danger of hurting yourself, please don't feel shamed, it is OKAY not to be OKAY, you just need some help feeling okay again. Please talk to someone you trust, a counselor or loved one.

Know this: You are NOT a burden! You are NOT always going to feel like this! You Matter!!

You're never alone. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) if you are struggling emotionally or thinking about suicide

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Sunsets





"People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don't find myself saying, "Soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner." I don't try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds" 

-Carl Rogers



This is an actual photograph of Zuka and two friends done by Brewster's Photos 

Keep Going (to those who feel like they can't)



I have never really been open to discussing my personal experience with depression and suicide but I feel like now is the time to lay everything on the table. As a teen I struggled with depression, I struggled with eating disorders and life often didn't feel like it was worth living. I was overweight and picked on, I never felt good enough in the Christian school I attended, I struggled with bad memories and felt like no one truly understood. I lost a lot of weight due to an eating disorder, I thought maybe if I was thinner I would be happy, but still I hated myself. In high school I was voted class clown one year and most bubbly another year but inside I was falling apart. I stuffed it inside and tried to hide my pain.

After high school I felt I had no future, no purpose. I looked for answers to my depression in the wrong places and bad relationships and when one of those relationships went wrong, I tried to end my life. It wasn't thought out, there was no planning, it was a sudden reaction to having too much pain and that night I went into the pill cabinet and took everything I could swallow. I woke up in the ER having my stomach pumped and, even then, I tried to pull the tube out of my mouth and fought being saved. In my young mind there was no reason to go on, no hope. They saved my life that night and though it took me awhile to be thankful, today I am so thankful they did.

What I know now is that life is not easy, but it's worth it. I have gone on to go to college, meet wonderful people, have amazing experiences. I learned I wasn't alone and there are so many others who deal with the same life struggles. I have learned to LOVE myself exactly as I am. I married a wonderful, supportive man. I had two beautiful, incredible children. I have a family that loves me. I have MYSELF.

I have be thinking since I lost Zuka; If I could go back and erase all my memories of him from the beginning so I would never feel this overwhelming pain, would I? The answer is no. Though I lost him tragically I will always have the memories, he has forever changed me and helped form who I am today. So if it had to end this way, the pain, the loss, is worth it to have had him here for the past 18 years of my life.

I have heard from a couple of young people who have told me they have thought of hurting themselves. This breaks me heart but truly I understand. What I want you to know is I have been on both sides and I know ending your life isn't the way out. There are people who love you, you are not a burden!! That voice you hear, telling you people would be better off without you, is WRONG! That's depression, that's not the truth. If you don't have people in your life that show you love and support, I promise you they are out there. Talk to someone, talk to a school counselor, if you have no one to talk to call the help line, you are never alone. I promise you that you matter!!

I feel like if I could make you see how devastating it is to lose someone you love to suicide maybe you would reconsider. I cannot find the words to express the pain that you feel losing a child to suicide, I could never make someone who hasn't been through it understand, you think you can imagine but I promise you, you cannot. It leaves a huge, unfillable hole in your heart.

I cannot promise you every day will be good, I cannot promise you that there won't be hard days in this life, but there will be beautiful days, and life is worth it, you just have to keep going. There's no shame in needing help, there's no shame in needing medication, there's no shame in taking care of yourself and your own needs. I'm not a writer, my words aren't eloquent and I'm not sure I have said the right things... all I can tell you is that I have been there. I have been in so much pain that I didn't want to go on. I understand what Zuka may have been feeling when he ended his life so I can never be angry at him for that.... I have been there and even after losing my child and having my heart shattered into a million pieces I can tell you that life is worth living, you matter and this world would not be the same without you. Keep Going!!






You're never alone. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) if you are struggling emotionally or thinking about suicide