I’m not a psychologist, therapist, or a doctor, but I am a person who has lost someone to suicide. Actually, I have lost two people I deeply loved to suicide.
Suicide has become a four-letter word to me. Almost four years ago, I lost my fourteen-year-old daughter to suicide on November 26, 2016. Although it feels like yesterday, I still live daily with the details of that day in my mind. Gradually, you feel yourself healing a little and you start to do some of the activities you used to enjoy.
The sadness is always there in the back of your memory, but you push forward. Eventually you decide to trust life just a little because you have been through so much and deserve to start living your life again.
Then you meet that special person. The one who brings the light back into your world of darkness. You can feel a happiness growing inside of you, flourishing and making you feel alive again, when before you had felt dead.
He has a special charism and charm about him. His smile is contagious, making you laugh at his stupid jokes. You can’t stop smiling and you have to admit that you are quite smitten with him. Realizing that you have so much in common, you find an instant connection with him, wanting to spend more and more time with him.
Have you ever met that one person who everyone always seems to like, because they reach out to you, talking to you when you may have been hesitant to approach them? That person who can talk to anyone – everyone is his friend. You know that he was obviously one of the popular kids in high school, hanging out with the most sought out students?
He makes you feel special, he makes you like yourself again, he makes you forgive those who have wronged you, because he makes you a better person. You actually like who you are because you have a new sense of peace. You want to smile at strangers, as you walk by them because you are genuinely happy.
But then that one day the sunshine hides behind the cloud, as the cloud becomes dark. A darkness evolves, suffocating the light that once surrounded you. You’re confused because you didn’t see this darkness, it wasn’t there one day and then it suddenly appeared.
The darkness is called depression. Your special person who had been filled with the light of happiness has now been engulfed with the darkness of depression. You try to bring the light back out in him, but he can no longer see it. Glimpses of it appear every now and again, but then the light fades, until one day the light doesn’t come back on. And what you’re left with is only the darkness.
Depression is like a parasite. It feeds off you, taking all your energy and light, until you are left with nothing. You’re tired, exhausted, and weak; unable to fight back. You try to fight back, but it’s all consuming, allowing no light to come back into your world. It has taken over – it now controls you. It has won.
Depression doesn’t only effect those who are infected with it, it affects all those around them, who love them. They plead for their happiness to return…if only they could be happy again then they will be okay. But that’s not how depression works. If you lose control of it, it consumes you like a black cloud, suffocating you until you can no longer fight back, so you give up.
And when you give up, the pain you once endured, is now passed on to the next person in line. And that would be me. I lost my fiancé to suicide on September 5, 2020. It is dark again. And now almost four years later, I am having to heal from two suicides, crawling my way out of their darkness and fighting to find the light that left them; stopping the cycle. I will not pass my pain onto the next person. I know the sunshine is out there, somewhere. Where there is darkness, there is also light. Nothing stays dark forever; therefore, I will not give up on those who love me and myself.
It’s been almost four years since losing my youngest daughter to suicide. I’ve had many sleepless nights to reflect upon the “what ifs”. Since that day, I have been an avid student, wanting to learn all I can about suicide, depression, anxiety, and mental illness. I’ve researched Psychology textbooks, read different books on the subject, watched television programs, and talked to many survivors who have gone through losing a loved one to suicide. All this, to better understand it and why they do it.
I was and still am determined to find a common link to suicide. Studies have shown that sleeplessness desensitizes our brain receptors of an important hormone called serotonin. Serotonin regulates mood, learning, and memory, just to name a few. The lack of this hormone may be detrimental to someone suffering with mental illness.
Subsequently, insomnia is a symptom of hyperarousal. A person is on overdrive with their thinking process, preventing them to fall asleep and/or stay asleep. It is not a broken sleeping pattern, but simply an overactive mind.
Nightmares are another condition research has found to be associated with suicide. Insomnia is a condition where a person has a hard time sleeping, and now you add a nightmare onto it. They finally fall asleep and then nightmares take over. Not only are they suffering with negative thoughts during the day, but now when they do fall asleep, they have nightmares, making their waking hours a struggle, as well as their sleeping hours. No wonder they have a hard time sleeping, besides the fact they are now exhausted. We have all had a sleepless night here or there, but could you imagine not being able to get a good night sleep for days, weeks, or months? Without proper sleep we may feel anxious, overwhelmed, agitated, hopeless, or desperate, feeding into the suicidal ideations.
It is my belief, that knowing this bit of information may be helpful to those suffering with insomnia, as well as mental health advocates, in the hopes to finding a way to conquer insomnia. Perhaps this may be the link to help those suffering with suicidal ideations and thoughts, saving our loved ones from the destruction of completing suicide. However, it is difficult to test this theory because our test patients are no longer with us, but we will continue to strive towards a positive resolution.
Times have been tumultuous lately. Amidst the Corona Virus Pandemic, the Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM) has risen up against racial injustice towards black people stemming from George Floyd’s murder by a police officer. Racism is not a new thing. The BLM movement is not a new thing either. We know as two white women, we cannot even begin to understand what it is like being a black female in the United States. But what we can do is promise you that we will not stay silent, and we will stay open-minded to learning new information and changing anything we thought previously to be true and adapt our thinking to new instances. We will stand with you against police brutality, racial injustice, and overall unfair treatment of our black communities. We will never be able to understand, but we will continuously support you. The Jewels Angels Foundation is open to any color, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, age, or ethnicity and always will be a safe space for anyone struggling.
Congratulations to our Seniors – Class of 2020! We are so proud of you and all your accomplishments. You did it and now it is your time to shine. Your possibilities are endless, especially during these uncertain times. The world needs leadership. We need our young people to stand up to all the wrong in this world and make it right again. Whether you’re going away to college or starting in a trade school or heading out on your own journey, we believe in you. We need you. This world is in such desperate need for some peace, along with new ideas and talents.
We have had so many challenges these past four years. We’ve lost some of our young angels to deadly car accidents, murder, terminal illnesses, accidents, and suicide. We must not forget them, so as you accept your honor of graduation, don’t forget to remember those who should have been standing next to you, but left this earth much too soon. Remember them by their name and give a small prayer for the impact they’ve left in your life and in our world. They will be missed, but never forgotten.
We would also like to remember the parents and families who have raised these wonderful young people and all the sacrifices they have endured to get to this point in their journey. No matter whether they are watching you graduate from their cars with tears in their eyes or praying at your gravesite with tears streaming down their faces; just always remember how very proud of you we are, as both a community, your family, and your parents.
Great news! The Jewels’ Angels Foundation is excited to announce that we received a grant from Walmart to be used towards our funding for the Jewels’ Angels Ranch. Our original start date was this summer, June 2020, but unfortunately it is taking a little bit longer than expected; however, we are still in the process of making Jewels’ dream come true.
We will keep you posted and updated with new information and an opening date.
It seems that within the blink of an eye our entire world has changed. The way of life we once knew has been challenged. We are hoarding things we once thought of as disposable. We are filled with fear; fear for our own health, our economy, our future, and even of each other. It seems to be as if our values have been altered.
As a community we have worked so hard to spread love and kindness to all those around us, but now we are afraid to touch, hug, and reach out to those hurting. We have been forced to isolate ourselves from others in fear of getting sick, and therefore, we are isolating ourselves from those who need us.
Our culture is consumed with panic. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has already affected over a million people worldwide and I’m afraid the confirmed cases are only going to increase within the next few weeks and possibly for the next few months.
However, my biggest concern is within the groups already suffering with anxiety, depression, and suicide ideations. When someone is already struggling with mental illness, having an added stress component of possible financial ruin can send them over the edge. Financial security plays an important role in our culture and some of us do not have the resources or strength to overcome such a devastation, leading to an increase in their mental health symptoms. I just heard about a father who took his wife and child’s life before taking his own, in Riverside County. This is terrifying; this added stress concerns me for our communities’ well-being.
As an advocate for suicide awareness and prevention, I am struggling with the fact that our suicide rates may increase, due to the added pressure that has been laid upon our hearts with the COVID-19. Our country is not equipped with the resources to fully help the mentally ill in a normal world, and now we have this overwhelming issue. Also, the majority of our population does not have the tools to be able to overcome such a devastation of not being able to work. A lot of people have lost their jobs, businesses, and homes.
We may not be able to save the world, but little by little we can make a difference by continuing to find good in people and notice when someone is hurting, especially the people we encounter throughout the day. This is so important. We must continue practicing kindness and caring for humanity. At times it may seem like an impossible task, but we are not the only ones who are going through these uncertain times, the entire world has been affected—so you are not alone.
Mental illness is a chemical imbalance in the brain. The majority of our society does not understand what it feels like to suffer with symptoms of mental illness; including not being able to think correctly. It may seem like such a simple act, but for those of us suffering with mental illness, seemingly simple every day tasks take a toll on us and are not easy. It is difficult to maintain normalcy within a world that doesn’t understand how our brains work.
Those of us with mental illnesses are struggling every day. Always remember to treat everyone with compassion and love. We with mental illnesses are strong by nature, but also broken. It affects us very negatively when we are ignored or treated differently than anyone else. But we can all do our part by helping each other, such as; giving someone who is struggling a hug, or offering a kind gesture. Just something to let us know that we are not alone; by leaning on people who we trust and who we can reach out to when we need them to be there for us.
We all have at least one. One thing that really makes us shake down to our core when we imagine it. These fears are generally thought of as negative concepts; however, they can be turned into something positive.
Step one is learning to conquer this fear, and eventually the feelings of fear turn into feelings of excitement. This is an extremely empowering feeling. Turning something negative into something positive is really testing yourself, because you are slowly learning how to conquer your biggest fear and then you realize how much you can truly accomplish in all other aspects of your life. Conquering something that large for yourself shows how strong you are, and how strong you can be if you set your mind to it. The power of our minds is great, and it is a skill we should truly utilize and learn to grow.
Test yourself today; take small steps to conquer that fear of yours. Everyone has the power to better themselves ❤️