Recently it seems to a be an elevated number of suicides including a record 79 suicides last year right here in Will County according to the Joliet Herald.
You've heard of several well known musicians who took their own lives, Chris Cornell one of my favorites who led Soundgarden and other bands he took his own life back in May and then last week his friend Linkin Park lead singer Chester Bennington took his own life.
I wasn't a big Linkin Park fan but Chester was just two months younger than me and then just this week I heard of a local civil servant whom also took his own life (while battling a severe illness), who was also the same age I am.
Suicides hit me hard because I've been down that dark road and I understand why someone would want to end their life. Those of us who have been "close to the edge" know the fragility of life and the grip of depression.
Please don't look down on them, as my cousin Bryan says "Many of us are a bad day away".
Yes I've been in counseling for months and the New Lenox clinic I attend is always packed and they do a great job working with us over there. Though counseling is not always easy, the homework can be challenging and conversations tough but it always helps.
Let me tell you mental health is a real thing and needs to be taken as seriously as other forms of health.
I've told you that three years ago right after the death of my beloved father, one of his closest friends downstate (where my dad lived), took his own life and ever since then any suicide makes me pause.
True I had issues with my own life prior to that but while trying to come to grips with my father and his friend's passing is when I really understood how dark life can be.
It was then I started to cry a lot and that's okay, I still cry a lot, I laugh a lot too.
Emotions are good and not to be held back.
Which brings me to happiness, look I don't claim to be better than anyone and I struggle as much as anyone but its about "staying above water", sometimes day to day, often hour to hour.
First we have to have realistic expectations and in situations where more is expected of us than we can produce (whether it be professional situations or personal relationships), we need follow the advice of my mother "do your best and forget the rest", she also says "happiness is a choice".
Trust me I've been eaten alive by my own guilt, haunted by my own shortcomings and tortured by the criticisms of others.
Forget all of that and all of them.
In the words of award winning music producer Pharrell Williams "It’s not possible to experience constant euphoria but if you’re grateful you can find happiness in everything".
My man is right, its what folks mean about "the little things".
I've worked hard to get back to the things I enjoy but have to manage both my time and expectations.
I've written here about my return to fishing after years of not being on the water.
This past weekend I also returned to the a local batting cages to take batting practice and continue my love of baseball.
I also keep this blog going and continue to pursue my passion of writing.
I also reach out to friends a lot (thanks to my crew who takes and responds to my many texts), and keep lines of comnmunication open.
In counseling I've been taught about not letting things "be the end of the world" and that is so important.
Think of things in the past that you thought were the "be all and end all". And how they have passed, I think of a gospel song from my youth "The Storm is Passing Over", that has gotten me through a few tough times.
Speaking of that I'm a music maven, I've got a ton of music on my phone, I still keep CD books in my SUV, and I often have jazz playing on my cable service at home, its important to embrace the arts.
I take a ton of pictures, we gotta express ourselves in all kinds of outlets.
All of this is the working progress of happiness, its not one thing, one time or a destination, happiness is a journey that is not always smooth or even makes sense.
Trust me I have constant challenges and still have long days and dark nights but its key to get professional help (and it took me years to admit that, thanks Kace), and help yourself and be your own best friend.
And reach out to people too, I try to speak to as many people I can at work and keep up with friends, you have no idea sometimes how a quick "hello" or "what's up" can help someone because its often made my day.
No matter what's going on in the world we need to try and be decent human beings to each other and live up to the iconic American statement of "The pursuit of happiness."
The picture is from my gym (which working out helps out a lot too), and yes somedays showing up is the hardest part not to mention we need to celebrate ourselves as well, its part of the road to happiness.
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Filed under: Mental Health