Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Thoughts on Three Things We Don't Like Talking About: Depression, Bullying & Suicide

I've been treading carefully, as of late, in my work as an Olweus Bully Prevention Trainer.  Hence the reason you haven't heard too much about that area of my life.  Last November, I gathered myself, presented myself brave and headed to Seattle to become one of 750+ Olweus trainers in the US.  It was a draining and emotional five days in the rainy city, yet I was determined to begin making progress in the area that held me down for nearly a decade. 

I was bullied, and it wrecked me emotionally for longer than I like to admit.  It changed me and I was lost in my own story for a long time.  Throughout my healing over the years, it has occurred to me over and over again that quite possibly my greatest work lies in this very sort of prevention--the main reason for Seattle and Olweus.  But just as life climbs and plateaus, so do emotions.

In the winter, I realized I had fallen into a depression.  I'd been avoiding this reality, as I was afraid of falling into such a state, after having dealt with a severe bout of depression when I was eighteen.  I recall the bleak, blankness of my life, the lack of tears, the sleep-filled afternoons; the frustration that I felt was my life.  I felt trapped and misunderstood.  I eventually pulled myself out (I think beginning to live my life without trying to please the ones I wanted to please, helped) and began to feel healthier, emotionally.

Last winter was different.  I can't pin-point for you where the root of depression stemmed, but it took hold and created quite a struggle.  I was tired, emotional, negative, and succumbed to many crying sessions.  I woke every night for hours on end and my heart literally felt heavy at the sight of another rainy morning.  I felt sad; I felt frustrated.

I made mental lists for all the reasons I may have been feeling so blue....
  • our wreck of a new house
  • the rain
  • my low back injury which prevented me from doing the running that I loved
  • being unsure of my work in writing and Olweus
  • my Husband's business partnership splitting
  • taking Brooklynn out of the preschool that she enjoyed so much because the drive was too long
  • feeling the financial strains of Husband starting a new business
  • all of the above making me feel insecure
It was a lot for me, so I had to take hold of it and see my doctor.  I took a step back from the the things that caused me to overextend myself, especially Olweus--the area that requires much clarity and emotional health for me to do the work, and for the last three months or so, I've been feeling myself again. 

As of fairly recently, I've been hit with a handful of reminders and nudges of the work that I so desperately want to do, but I know, I have to be feeling well to do such a heart-wrenching work. 

Did you see the 48 Hours special, Words Can Kill on Friday?  Then just a few minutes ago there was this headline on MSNBC,
 Teen Contributor to 'It Get's Better Project' Takes His Own Life
It reminded me of the recent news stories of two young suicides down at round lake, and when I looked the stories up, it led me to three more names of recent young suicides, bringing the total to five in the area in the since January. 

I'm worked up.  Especially at the thought of people like the administrator that I ran into the other week, who avoided me after our meeting on implementing the Olweus Bully Prevention Program into his school.  He was on board, supportive, told me to call the next month, and then quit returning my emails.  Hassling adults, or administrators, is not my interest, so our correspondence ended there.  But it was awkward when we found ourselves in the foyer of the Human Society together the other week.  I tried to not be seen, he called me by my middle name?, and we made quick small-talk about how we were supposed to meet the year before..."call me anytime," he said.  Yeah.

But then I read daily about my dear friend, Ann, who runs Jeremiah's Hope on Facebook, named after her son, who took his life five years ago or so.  I think of him, and how she works tirelessly to show the importance of this issue--this work, to each and every person she can reach, to tell them about this potential killer that is bullying.  I think of how like me, she doesn't like to public speak, but has a message to share that is so important that she's willing to speak with her voice and hands shaking, and I'm inspired.  I'm filled with hope and care for these kids.  I'm tired of it, and it is time to be part of the change.

Jeremiah Gettis


Shaleign September 21, 2011 at 7:01 PM  

Cassie, I have not had much time for blogging lately with a busy summer schedule and into the start of preschool but when I saw this title I just knew I had to sit down and read it. To start, I have to thank you for the share of the depression you are just getting over, I feel myself falling back into it myself alot lately. I thought I had been doing good but I seem to just keep falling when I think I'm stable. Second, on the suicides, I remember those happening out there at round lake and was just think about the girl who attend Mt View that took her life by walking alot the train track. I didn't know that you had problems in high school, not that we were close, but I do remember things that happen in jr high and I'm sorry that you had a hard time. I never would have thought it. You seemed so put together and strong. Not that my words mean much, I do hope that you get back to work in the bully prevention soon. There are many out there who you could touch and just might save. Good luck with it and remember you got thru it once and it was for a teach and reach out to others. Have a good night. Sorry so long. ~Shaleign

resolute twig September 22, 2011 at 2:25 PM  

Its important and wonderful work you are doing. And I am so happy to hear you are coming out of a dark time.
sending a big hug :)

Sunny Rising Leather September 23, 2011 at 1:33 PM  

Thank you so much for sharing the realities of your challenges - and for preparing yourself to do such important, life-affirming work.


Anonymous September 23, 2011 at 9:12 PM  

I too was captivated by the title (who wouldn't be?!) and knew I had to read it. As humans it still is so odd to me how our own minds seem to work against us at times. Yes, at times, we can be our own worst enemies. And I am convinced that overcoming ourselves--our trials, shortcomings and ultimately our pride--is the hardest thing.
I am so glad that you have found a cause that makes your heart burn inside with a fire that can only be quenched by truly serving and lifting others. How beautiful that is. You have climbed higher up on the ladder of "conquering bullying" than others. They need you to direct some light their way to show them the way in the form of providing desperately needed hope.
You are the one called to the job.
You can do it. You are a superhero in training even though at times you may feel it is you who need to be saved! Ironic, eh?
Thanks for your poignant, intimate thoughts and for you being YOU! I love when we are real with ourselves and with others. It may be scary but, in my humble opinion, gives us oportunities to help others and to grow ourselves.

“You must write every single day of your life... You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads... may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” ― Ray Bradbury
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