Sunday, August 9, 2020

720 days

 

It's been 720 days

1 year, 11 months, 20 days

23 Months, 11 days

It's been nearly 2 years since Zuka took his life. The pain doesn't go away. It's easier to manage most days. I see a therapist, go to group therapy, see a psychiatrist, I'm not ashamed to say. I take medication and I learn to manage...not watching certain movies or listening to certain music, I know what my triggers are for the most part. Sometimes something will hit me that I didn't expect. Loud noises still startle me and sometimes certain triggers are unavoidable. 

It's hard right now. When I'm alone I'm often in tears. I am going through his things, the few items I have left of his. I watch his videos and listen to his playlist. The anniversary of his death brings me right back to that day. It's a day I will never erase from my memory, every single detail fresh in my mind. 

I have seen posts and articles saying that you should never tell a suicidal person to live for someone else. WHY? Living for someone else was the ONLY thing that kept me alive when Zuka died. 

See, I understand what it's like to be a suicide loss survivor. I know how much it changed me, I saw his friends and family deeply in pain and forever change. 

You will never hear me say someone who dies by suicide is selfish, I don't believe that at all. When a person is suicidal they often believe that people around them would be better off without them. They feel like a burden. If I tell people about the pain of losing someone to suicide it's not for sympathy. I don't need sympathy, I need you to understand that if you take your life, you will DESTROY those who love you.

If you can't live for yourself right now, live for the people who love you. I know it feels like no one cares, I know it feels like they would be better off without you...I have felt that too!

STAY. Stay alive. 

Things can and will get better. Your feelings are temporary but death is forever. 

I encourage anyone who is struggling to call for help if you are contemplating suicide. Call the suicide hotline, go to an ER or a crisis unit. Do whatever you need to do to stay alive.

If you are depressed please seek help. Talk to your doctor, seek out therapy, talk to someone you trust. If you are a teen please talk to your parents, school counselor, doctor, or a trusted adult. 

Parents pleaseeee take you child's cry for help seriously. It's better to overreact than to mourn the loss of your child!!

There is no shame in seeking help. 

There is no shame in counseling. There is no shame in struggling with mental health. Depression is often a chemical imbalance and it CAN be managed with counseling, medication, or other treatments. 

STAY.

STAY ALIVE.

Please don't put your loved ones through this kind of pain...looking through your pictures and boxes of your stuff. Counting the days since your death. 

You can be happy again, or happy for the first time. There's a wide world out there. The pain won't last forever... THIS TOO SHALL PASS.

Be well... Take care of you!


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

Friday, July 24, 2020

I don't know how to say this

   
 I have been debating about posting this for months now, I just don't know how to say it. I don't want to deter anyone from getting help and I don't want to seem uncaring so this is difficult for me to post.
    Maybe I opened myself up to this by talking about suicide prevention so much. I want people to seek help when they or a loved one is feeling suicidal. I want you to talk to someone, see a therapist, or call the suicide hotline. I want you to stay alive and keep going. If you need to, I hope you go to a crisis unit and let them help you get stabilized. I just can't be that person.
    I'm not a licensed therapist. I'm not a professional.
     I plan to work in suicide prevention but there's a difference between having set hours to talk about suicide and being messaged at home during my personal time. I'm haunted by the fact that I could not save Zuka. How do you think it would feel if I couldn't save you as well?
     I hate to post this. I feel like I have to for my own peace and emotional well-being. I don't want to hurt anyone but also, I need to take care of myself. Please understand that it hurts me to write this.
    If Zuka's friends or family need help, I will gladly help you find resources!

Please be well! Take care of you and if you need help please talk to someone you trust, or call 1-800-273-TALK or visit the website for more options www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Lots of Love!


Friday, May 8, 2020

The Track, The Field

I walked the track today

I didn't think about it, like most things that hit me out of nowhere. I  rounded the first turn which looks onto the football field and realized THIS is where my son was. This is the track he ran, the field on which he played football The field where he graduated and the field where they had a candle light ceremony for him after he passed!!  

Much of his life, many of his proudest moments happened right here. 

So many mixed emotions. Sadness from missing him, pride from his accomplished goals and a sense of strength came over me. I felt as if Zuka were there cheering me on. I feel so connected to him there... memories play in my head... I want to cry.... I want to see him...to spend one more minute with him.... nowhere do I feel his presence more than I do there. 

I took some pictures, came back to the car to drive home and broke down crying in the car. I pulled myself together and turned on the car, the song "Someone you Love" by Lewis Capaldi was playing....man that song hits me hard and I lost it again... 

He can't be gone...I say the same thing a million times, but it doesn't make the outcome any different....He's gone. forever. 

but a little piece of Him is there.... at that track....in that field....a little piece of him Lives!








Thursday, April 30, 2020

moving forward not moving beyond

I met with my psychiatrist via zoom this morning. Yes, I see a psychiatrist...and no I'm not ashamed to talk about it! We talked about last weeks feeling of falling apart. She said something that struck me, "You move forward but you never move beyond, "

I think I judge myself harshly when it comes to my grief, like I believe I should be doing better than I am. The thing is, I'd never think that about anyone else and judge them for their grief. Why do we expect some much more of ourselves than we do other people? Why do we speak to ourselves in ways that we would never speak to someone else? With grief, and other types of trauma, we will never forget, it doesn't mean we can't continue to move forward.  It's not about "getting over" what is hurting you but waking up each day and doing what you need to do to survive. Sometimes all you can do is hold yourself together and that's okay! You take the next best step, you do what you can do and what you need to do to get through each day.

Your mind and body hear you, when you think negative thoughts about yourself and set up unrealistic expectations for yourself you are harming yourself. It's okay to feel what you are feeling. The more we numb and stuff the pain the more we are going to feel it later. Feelings must be felt. It's uncomfortable to "fall apart" but sometimes it's exactly what we need. Sometimes you need to just break down, cry, scream, stay in bed all day.... do what you need to do to feel that pain and ride the wave through it. Understand that you will not always feel the same way. There will be good days and there will be bad. You can't get stuck in those times, continue to move forward but don't judge yourself for having those times when you are not okay.

Take care of you!!



If things get too tough, remember, you're never alone. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) if you are struggling emotionally or thinking about suicide




Monday, April 27, 2020

I'm falling apart


I don't think there could be a worse time to fall apart. I'm alone in social isolation, can't go visit friends or distract myself with a movie or go out to dinner. Not that I feel like talking much anyway. I have finals and projects this week and next and I can't pull it together. I'm afraid of failing out of school and then all of this would have been for nothing.

The other day I tried on his favorite shirt and it fit. I have wanted to wear his shirt forever. I know people don't understand why, I wish I could tell you. It's just something I needed to do. Who understand the messed up world of grief?

I can't stop crying. The dreams are coming every night. Last night he was a toddler and I was mad at him for playing in my expensive face cleanser. I came in the room angry at him and he looked up at me with his chubby little face and I melted. I scooped him up and held him like a baby, his head on one arm, his feet dangling over the other and I just held him. He showed me his playdough. He smiled, and then wiggled wanting to get down. I didn't want to let him go...I asked him to let mommy hold him for another minute.

He can't be gone. He can't be gone. He can't be!!

I know I should get that, right? Why can't my brain accept  that he's really gone. He isn't going to walk through that door and give me that dimpled smile. If I understand that he is gone, why does it punch me in the gut when these realizations come that he is in fact dead. He can't be dead. Little boys don't die. Not mine!

I'm not okay. I'm falling apart. I can't do this. I can't accept this


You're tired of hearing the same thing from me, I'm sure. I'm sorry. I am trying to be okay, I really am. I don't know why I can't just heal. Everytime I start to grow a little bit of a scab, something reminds me that he's gone and it's a huge open wound and I just can't breathe.

Who wants to breathe without their child? I will love him and miss him for the rest of my life!!! I will be haunted by the flashback of that night. I'm haunted by the memories and little flashbacks of my son, from the day I gave birth to him until the day he left this earth, just four feet from me.

I can't tell you what it feels like, there are no words. Unless you have been there you can't comprehend how much  space in your mind losing your child takes up...at times it's the only thing I think about. I promise I'm not trying to. I try to distract my mind, school, meditation, "happy thoughts" UGH. Yes I'm getting help! Yes I'm doing all the things I'm "supposed" to be doing... It doesn't fucking go away. He's gone and I feel like for the rest of my life I will have one foot in each side....one here and one in death. I feel like my heart will never beat the same. Nothing will ever be the same.

DAMMIT Zuka, I need you here!!! I don't have the option to go... I have to be here and live this life without you....and I'm falling apart... I'm just falling to pieces right now....




Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Questions and Pictures

Yesterday I found pictures of Zuka that I hadn't seen before... it hit me so hard. I had a reaction I never experienced before. My body was shaking and I couldn't stop crying.... when that happens I'm brought back to the emotion of that night... I can't breathe. I called my daughter because I NEEDED to talk to someone who understands...someone who was there.

See pictures are amazing. Especially when they are all you have left... but when you lose someone even the good pictures hurt so damn bad.

My brain still plays tricks on me, like he's away at school...and I'll see him again... but when these things hit me I have to face the fact that he is gone....forever.... I can't fathom that. I can't wrap my head around the fact that the little boy who called me mommy is gone forever. How can that be?? Why did he go?
                              
                                   I'm left with so many questions and pictures...










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

Please don't leave your loved ones with only Questions and Pictures

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Ghost

We lost her that day, though her body walks in this realm, she is now a ghost.

She was his mother, she left the earth when he did. He floated away and she grabbed onto him, unable to keep him, she allowed herself to float away with him.

She never meant to survive without him, can a broken heart beat? can one live without air in their lungs? Bleeding and suffocating she refused to survive.

You will see her, that ghost... she may smile as she floats by, but she will never show you the hollowness inside. She wears a mask of humanity, a shell pretending to exist in this realm but her soul has gone forever.

Rest in peace dear mother, I know the pain was too much and the lure was too strong to keep you here. Rest in peace.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Life Update, Mom Dad and Sister

It's been 1 year, 7 months and 21 days since Zuka passed away.


1.6 years

19.6 months

85.6 weeks

599 days


Funny how a 19-month-old is still considered a baby, but when you are grieving people think 19 months is such a long time.

You don't spend years of your life loving someone and expect the pain to dissipate just like that.

That being said, let me give you an update into all aspects of my life.


I still miss Zuka incredibly, I still have nightmares, I still startle at loud noises and jump easily. I have PTSD related to his death,

I see a therapist to talk about my feelings and deal with my emotions. I think it's important for people to talk to a therapist if they are dealing with any kind of conflict, stress or complex emotions. There is no shame in it.

I see a psychiatrist to help with medication for PTSD nightmares, for sleep (I have insomnia) and to help with my mood, again no shame!

Zuka always wanted me to be healthy. I wondered sometimes if he was ashamed of me because of my weight but if he was he never let me know that and he wanted me to meet his friends. He never made me feel bad about being overweight but he did encourage me to be more healthy. The summer before he died he wanted to be my coach and help me lose weight, unfortunately he never got to see me reach that goal...

I have lost 200 pounds (as of this week!) Yes you read that correctly, 200 pounds. I quit smoking in August and haven't thought of going back. Life is so much easier without the added weight. I just fit in the world better and am much healthier.

 


I wish Zuka could see me, I bet he would be so proud of me


Jamilah:




 (Zuka's sister) is in college in Florida working towards being a nurse practitioner, she's doing awesome in school. She is super strong and wise. She is definitely the other half of my heart!


I think Zuka would be proud of her too. 






Antonio:




 (Zuka's stepdad but his DAD) seems to be doing well. We are no longer together and barely in contact. Last I knew he had lost over 100 pounds!! He is still working as a corrections officer and I believe he just finished his degree also....or is about to? I'm not quite sure.

 I know he misses Zuka as well. I am saddened by the fact that he never received the same level of support that I did with Zuk's passing. He was Zuka's dad from the time he was 6 years old, he loved him and treated him as nothing less than his own son, yet he never received the same support from most people as I did.









I am in college studying Psychology and I have TWO classes left to get my bachelors degree. I am hoping to work in the areas or suicide, grief or trauma. I plan to go for my Master's when the time is right.




I think that's it, so many changes for the whole family. It's been rough but we are all surviving. You know there are things in life you think you would never survive. I'm here to tell you, YOU CAN! I'm not saying it will be easy but you will survive! 


Take care of you! Much Love!






Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Heavy Loads

I've heard it said "Just because I carry it well doesn't mean it isn't heavy." I resonate with this so much.

If you saw me driving to the store today you probably saw me bopping my head to "gimme the beat boys free my soul I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away....."

I greeted everyone at the store with a smile. Except for the lady who was super impatient with me in the produce section because apparently I take to long grabbing raspberries, she got the side eye, but you catch my drift.

I post pictures on social media, always with a crooked smile or what some have teased is a pout, (you know who you are!).

I make stupid videos on Tik Tok and Instagram that only I think are funny.

If you ask me how I'm doing I will likely say, "great thanks and yourself?" That is my go-to and use it 99% of the time.

What you don't see is what lies beneath the surface. Everything you see above is a coping mechanism. It makes me feel better for everyone to think I'm great and that I am handling everything life has thrown at me in the past two years. It's been a lot. I'm haunted by memories and dreams. I'm haunted by old pictures and items that remind me of what I have lost.

You thinking people move on....but many of us don't....or we don't admit that it's taking so much longer than you realize to be okay.

I talk to my therapist, it's one of the few places I cry....besides the shower and in my bed at night. Though it's usually in the morning after a heartbreaking dream.

You can't look a person and judge how well they are doing....it may be how well they hide how they are truly feeling.... and though I can get through more hours or more days without those super dark times, and tears...it doesn't mean it's any less heavy. It's still so much to carry.

I know I have distanced myself from people. Some unconsciously, some accidentally and a few on purpose. Sometimes I'm afraid to care about anyone new. Sometimes I'm afraid of breaking down... I've burned some bridges....some rightfully so and some I wish could be repaired, or new bridges built. Right now though, I just need to struggle and carry this weight and make it look as easy as I can because that's what makes me feel sane...

If you're hurting....please know it's ok to deal with it however you need to. Please find some place that you can reach out, whether it be therapy or someone you can trust and rely on.

 I see you. I see the weight you are carrying....I know it's heavy baby! I see you! If all you did was carry that load another day, I'm so damn proud of you!!!

Keep GOING!!!!!


Tuesday, April 7, 2020

I've got dreams

I've got dreams....dreams to remember...

and that's all I have left...

I dreamed last night that you were a little boy and I had racks full of superhero t-shirts that you were trying on. I got bunches of clothing for you and your sister and you were just so happy and going through the clothes laughing and showing things to your sister, your smiles beaming.

It was good to see you, to be your mom... and for a moment I thought it was real...

Then I woke up and you faded away. The only place I get to see you is my dreams. I don't want to stop dreaming of you and at the same time, it kills me to wake up and remember that you're gone.

Kiddo, you left me with so many questions... what I could have done differently... why did it have to end like that? Why did it have to end at all? What if we had done this or that? Why didn't I watch Moana when you told me to? Why didn't I listen to all your superhero stories? Why didn't I watch teen wolf? What if I had taken more time, said the right things, would you be here today?

I can't stop the questions....I can't hide the tears... though I try, I really try. And I get it kiddo, sometimes I want to give up too... but I can't do that to the people who love me, I can't do that to your sister...and DAMMIT I stayed kiddo!! I stayed! Why couldn't you??

My heart is so broken kiddo, all I have is dreams left.... and memories... and regrets... I wish you could have stayed...

Let's talk about Bipolar disorder and Mental Health

I often hear people talking about Bipolar disorder and clearly, they have no idea what Bipolar disorder is. There are often jokes about someone who is moody or being a jerk (to put it nicely) as being "Bipolar." Your Facebook page, your schedule, your day, your friend who is just and jerk are not Bipolar!

This type of stigma is why so many people are worried about talking about their mental health. People can become afraid to seek help because of the shame and stigma around mental illness.

I encourage you to watch what you say regarding mental health, don't joke about it and please educate yourself.

Here's a tiny bit of a start


Bipolar disorder is not DID:

 In DSM-5 (American Psychiatric Association 2013) dissociative identity disorder (DID) is described as a disruption of identity characterized by two or more distinct personality states or an experience of possession

Bipolar disorder is not Schizophrenia 

Bipolar disorder is not BPD: 
BPD means borderline personality disorder (which has nothing to do with Schizophrenia either) 

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorders are described by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as a group of brain disorders that cause extreme fluctuation in a person’s mood, energy, and ability to function.
Bipolar disorder is a category that includes three different conditions–bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymic disorder.
  • Bipolar I disorder is a manic-depressive disorder that can exist both with and without psychotic episodes
  • Bipolar II disorder consists of depressive and manic episodes which alternate and are typically less severe and do not inhibit function
  • Cyclothymic disorder is a cyclic disorder that causes brief episodes of hypomania and depression

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

One of those days

It's been one of those days... maybe too much thinking? I made a youtube video but it's not even fit to post here... if you're not following Zuka's Legacy Youtube channel, here is the link... 


I have plans to start writing again and finally finish up this book.  I've been letting life get in the way of some of my goals. Zuka deserves to have his story told, he would want that, in hopes to help others...

Hope you are all taking care of YOU! 

Be well, Jenn

Mental Health


I often talk about my son, Zuka's mental health but what I seem to avoid talking about is my own. There is no shame, or there should not be shame in talking about mental health....so let me start.

Dealing with my sons loss has been very difficult, I have flashbacks, nightmares, thoughts that won't leave my mind. I'm sad, I'm heartbroken. I'm dealing with PTSD and depression. I startle very easily, loud noises bother me. I have to be careful about what I watch for shows and movies to avoid certain types of violence and suicide-related material. I see a therapist to help deal with these issues and my own personal issues as well. I see a psychiatrist to manage medications for sleep and anxiety.

I had lost 60 pounds before Zuka passed away and 134 since he passed away for a total of 194 pounds lost. I thought losing weight would fix all my issues, make my problems go away but losing weight has its own set of issues. I don't really know what I look like anymore, I look different and I don't have of sense of my size anymore. It's weird, it plays games with your mind. I often think I am larger than I actually am, trying to put on clothes I wore before and being surprised when they are way too big. I think it affects your self-esteem and sense of self, in both positive and negative ways.

Losing a relationship has also really affected me. I think when someone leaves your life you wonder, "why wasn't I good enough?" or "what could I have done differently to fix things?" Along with a broken heart, there can be so much self-doubt involved. Very similar to when going through the loss of Zuka, I would keep thinking about what I could have done differently. That stuff can really eat you up... at the end of the day, you have to realize that you did the best you could do for the situation you were in at the time. If you live in regret and questioning it will run your life.

Break-ups, divorces, end of friendships are a loss and like any loss, they need time to grieve. I don't there should be shame and stigma attached to that. I have been ashamed to admit that things weren't so easy to just put behind me and that it really takes a lot to get over someone, even when things weren't so good. This has caused me to make some pretty major mistakes, more regret and things that are irreparable but again, everything is a learning experience. All you can do is apologize for how you were wrong and try to do better in the future.

This outbreak has a lot of people staying inside and maybe spending much more time alone than you normally would. I would really encourage you to take time for your own mental health. Perhaps you write daily one thing you are proud of about yourself, or one thing you are thankful for. Take time to meditate or do some type of relaxation. Talk with others on the phone or through video. Get out and take a walk. Please don't allow this time of uncertainty and/or isolation to be a reason to fall back into unhealthy patterns, or make unhealthy choices for yourself. Take care of yourself, however you need to do that!!


 BE WELL !!


and remember....



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