A passionate colleague reached out to me and asked me to spread the word about suicide prevention, which I am very happy to do. We need more resources for people at risk and those who want to help.
Why We Need to Talk About Suicide: From http://stopsuicide.info.
It’s something no one likes to talk about, even though we all know it’s a problem: suicide. It’s hard to understand why someone would want to end their life if you’ve never been there yourself, and harder yet to find the words to ask about it. After all, you can’t just ask people if they’re thinking of killing themselves, right? Well, maybe you can. But first, here’s what you need to know.
Suicide in Canada
According to the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, 11 people die by suicide every day in Canada. Another 210 attempt suicide and survive.
Suicide doesn’t only affect the deceased. On average, each person who dies by suicide leaves behind 7-10 loved ones who are profoundly affected by the loss.
Who Is at Risk?
Suicide affects people from all walks of life. However, there are some risk factors that make a person more likely to die by suicide. In addition to previous suicide attempts and a family history of suicide, a mental health disorder is one of the greatest risk factors for suicide. A person who has anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or another mood disorder is more likely to consider suicide than a mentally well person.
Substance abuse, too, increases suicide risk. Not only can drug and alcohol abuse trigger mental health issues like depression, but it also represents a major strain on the lives of the addicted. A person who is living with addiction may struggle to maintain employment and have difficult relationships with loved ones. These factors, combined with the disinhibition and impulsivity of intoxication, make people with a drug or alcohol addiction more likely to attempt suicide.
What Are the Warning Signs?
The Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre of BC identifies the following warning signs of suicide:
Signs of depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues.
Social isolation and withdrawal from activities.
High-risk, impulsive behavior.
Drug and alcohol use.
Insomnia or oversleeping.
A major loss or life change.
Low self-esteem and self-hatred.
Talk of suicide, death, or feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.
Access to means of suicide.
Preparations for death.
Even if someone doesn’t directly discuss death or suicide, these warning signs mean it’s time to get help. If you’re concerned that you or someone you know is at risk of suicide, call the Canada Suicide Prevention Service at 1-833-456-4566 or find a local crisis centre.
How Can Suicide Be Prevented?
The best way to prevent someone else’s suicide is to stay aware of the risk factors and warning signs and speak out when you’re concerned. If you’re worried about someone, talk to them. Ask if they’re thinking about suicide, and if the answer is “Yes,” ask if they have a plan and the means. If they do, call 911 and don’t leave your loved one’s side until help arrives.
Keeping yourself mentally healthy is a different challenge. In addition to treating mental health concerns seriously and working with mental health professionals, it’s important to cultivate <li>protective factors</li> in your life. Build strong relationships with others, connect with your community, abstain from drugs and alcohol, and set goals for the future. Build resilience to stress and crises by developing healthy <li>coping mechanisms</li>: find someone to talk to, take a proactive approach to problem-solving, practice relaxation activities, and live a physically active lifestyle.
It’s something no one likes to talk about, and that’s exactly the problem. When you or someone you know is struggling, it’s time to have the hard conversations. Speak out, ask for help, and you just may save a life—like yours.
One of my favourite Ted Talks of all time. Brene Brown is inspirational in her down to earth way of explaining her learning path around the power of vulnerability.
YouTube link for video clip of Will Smith speaking on the idea of Fault vs. Responsibility.
Recovering from any kind of betrayal can be one of the most challenging tasks for any human being. We are programmed to navigate our world by using our ability to ally ourselves with people we trust and steer clear of anyone we haven’t built a sense of trust with. Without the ability to feel we can read people we feel in danger and alone.
Being in a room of people you have never met before would likely have most of us on a higher sense of alert than lounging on the couch with our partner watching Netflix, right? In reality, most of us only have a small circle of friends and/or family that we consider truly trustworthy, people we find we can completely relax with. So, then imagine you have built trust with a partner based on thousands of experiences with that person, a process whereby your brain gathers information day after day that says this person does what they say they are going to do. Now, imagine this person does something that is way, way out of alignment with the understanding you have in your relationship with them. Its so far from what you thought they were capable of that is blows your mind and makes you question the world as you have envisioned it. Your sense of safety that lies, at least partly, in the belief that you have the ability to predict this person’s behaviours. Now you find that you were wrong, or at least it seems that way, you didn’t have that ability after all. This is extremely destabilizing for the majority of people and makes their world suddenly feel unsafe.
I am including some links with ideas about how we might start moving toward healing but there is a lot of information out there to choose from so don’t hesitate to “google” whatever questions come to your mind.
On the topic of forgiveness:
I generally ask my clients to do a little research on the topic before deciding if forgiveness fits for them. There is a fair bit of research that suggests that forgiveness is correlated with increased happiness.”Higher levels of forgiveness correlated with better health habits, lower anxiety, lower anger, lower depression, and more task coping. In addition, people with higher levels of forgiveness had lower hematocrit levels, lower white blood cell counts, and higher TxPA levels. Lower forgiveness levels were correlated with higher T-helper/cytotoxic cell ratios. In general, results supported the hypothesis that forgiveness is positively associated with indices of good health”. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Physiological and psychological correlates of forgiveness. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232490793_Physiological_and_psychological_correlates_of_forgiveness [accessed Nov 17 2017].
Having said that, forgiveness is not always a good fit for everyone so I am including some links to a few articles that might be helpful in deciding whether or not it would be possible for you.
Ultimately the healing that comes after the betrayal of infidelity will happen differently for each person. In my experience an important piece that I have taken away from helping couples and supported friends through this is to remember that this type of pain is one of the most intense a human being can feel and it will take time to feel better whether the couple decides to stay together or not.
I came across this article today. I have read it before and may have even posted it but I want to post it again because it really touches on a series of important ideas about perfectionism that goes too far. When perfectionism becomes exaggerated or unrealistic it truly diminishes the life of the person wrapped up in it.
This article from DanceSprit says it all and although the backdrop of the perfectionism here is the life of a dancer, other athletes, students and career followers also experience this type of thinking.
Ahh.. David Wolfe, we share so many of the same values. Thank you for having a voice.
Well, Oprah strikes again. Through the years this woman truly has been a part of many of my “TSN” turning points, or a she might say those “Ah, hah” moments. Today this was shared by a friend on Facebook and I immediately sent it to a client who is having a hard time because it gave me some peace.
Oprah’s message in this excerpt from an interview she did is essentially, you are where you need to be at any given moment, on your path of destiny and its okay to make mistakes on that journey.
I really like her 3 minutes of wisdom here. I hope you enjoy it also.
The Importance of Human Touch: Cuddle Therapy and other Alternatives for Meeting This Unquestionably Normal Need
My blood just boils when I think about all of the people in the world who live their daily lives without enough human physical contact and when they try to take an alternative course of action to get that need met they are shamed for doing so. Some examples that come to mind are paying for sex in various ways, using a casual dating website or cuddling with friends and even Cuddle Therapy. A Wall Street Journal article discusses the upsurge in the cuddle therapy business, which makes a lot of sense in the current social environment, which research shows is seeing an increase in disconnection through social media and other forces. That is, loneliness is on the rise.These examples are all situations that are shamed, or at the very least, frowned upon in our society and I find that very sad.
I once had a friend who worked at a hair dressing shop where a single man in his 60’s used to come in once a week to get his hair washed and once a month he would get it cut. She described him as this “kind of weird guy”. When I inquired about why he was weird she said because he just liked to have the girls wash his hair. I thought to myself, wow, that man might get 5 minutes of human touch a week and pays for it but that is seen as shameful. How sad that our society feels that way. If you don’t fall into a certain mainstream category you are not worthy of human touch.
Other experiences in my life have helped me realize that person’s with physical, emotional or psychological disabilities frequently do not have close human contact beyond personal care assistance and lack the natural human ability to forge the relationships necessary to facilitate naturally craved human touch. I think we need to have services that are readily available for anyone who’s physical touch gas tank is low. We need socially accepted shops for people to pop in and get those needs me. Like a Jiffy Lube but for a cuddle.
Now they do have these available but they are very frequently seen as questionable when seen as being used for this purpose but think about it…. Most of us love a good massage, haircut, pedicure, manicure, body mask etc…. I”m sure the list could go on. We don’t necessarily think about how this would naturally feel especially good to someone who has no other physical human contact. Healthy positive hormones that balance the body and feel great are released when human touch is occurring.
Unfortunately many people have a difficult time discerning between the generally lovely feeling of touch and that of sexual touch and with the limits that are placed on us through sociocultural forces I am not surprised. There is so much shame around the idea of touch, arousal, excitement and sexuality that we are not teaching our kids how to be comfortable as touchable and sexual human beings with appropriate boundaries and abilities to voice our boundaries comfortably.
Cuddle therapy, mentioned above, is meant to be personalized platonic touch that openly acknowledges that we all need some compassion and affection sometimes. These services strive to meet these needs for about the same price as a massage. Their codes of ethics at a professional services are clearly outlined and adhered to to protect the clients and practitioners from any uncomfortable or ineffective types of touch.
Human beings thrive from touch. Scientific research shows over and over again that babies thrive through touch, both because it is a form of communication that helps children form healthy attachment styles (attachment theory) and because touch produces hormones that balance the body and its functions. An often cited example in this research tells the story that 70 or 80 years ago babies in orphanages that were given all of the nutrition, cleaning and warmth they needed died at a rate of 70-80% until the caretakers were told to hold the babies.
Articles like “8 Reasons We need Human Touch More Than Ever” help us understand that touch is not a luxury, it is a basic human need that no one needs to be ashamed for wanting or pursuing avenues toward it in their life.
We know that cortizol in our system is stressful (it triggers that Autonomic nervous system to rise to meet perceived threat also called “nervous system arousal”), and loneliness increases cortizol levels (Vaughan Tremmel 2006). Why? Because human beings instinctively seek out companionship. There is safety in numbers and our limbic brain knows that. If we are feeling short on companionship or feeling dis-empowered around creating companionship because of low self-esteem, lack of motivation, a sense of unworthiness or shame then our brain will continue to send us messages motivating us to connect (I feel lonely) but our own beliefs about how we are perceived in the world (I’m not good enough and I will be rejected) can get in the way of us taking actions to get those needs met. Its a circular event of anxiety. Not fun at all for those locked into it. And, of course, the lack of human touch negatively affects our physical, emotional and psychological health which can contribute further to not being able to get those needs met.
Loneliness is also becoming more pervasive in our society (Entis 2016) with a documented climb in the last 20 years. Our culural norms are feeding into a greater sense aloneness than ever before. People sitting behind cyber screens fostering relationships can seem like a step in the right direction for those that are shy but is it really. There is a big component missing in communication over the internet as well as the what is for so many humans the ultimate goal, to be in close physical connection with another human being.
We also know that hugs decrease cortisol levels. Why? Because we feel safe and in companionship. Now companionship doesn’t need to be physical. There are many ways that we can all think of that create a sense of connection, a knowing look from a friend, words that convey you are understood, receiving a message inquiring about how you are from a friend but physical touch beyond all of those others has been shown to almost immediately reduce the amount of cortisol in the bloodstream.
How can we get more positive touching going on. One group has introduced CuddleParty.com which has become a worldwide phenomenon. Maybe this will become just like Tupperware parties one day. That would be fantastic.
In a recent interview Melissa McCarthy was asked how she lost the weight and her answer was simply “I stopped worrying so much about it” and it just started to come off. This was such a pleasant surprise to hear. This is a message I am regularly sharing with my clients. Our bodies are meant to eat when we are hungry and want to stop eating when we are comfortably full, a process we call in the Cedric Method “natural eating”.
I have heard the phrase intuitive eating also bantered about lately and I am thrilled that this idea is catching on. The bottom line is that we live in a time where we can eat not just for survival but as much as we want and food can be very comforting. It isn’t unusual for human being to turn toward food for some soothing and relief because as a client once put it to me, “food is my friend, never talks back to me and is always there for me”.
When we eat to soothe we call that emotional eating. In and of itself this is not the worst thing but when you eat to soothe yourself and then feel bad/guilty for doing so and then reach for more food to soothe that guilt you can see how you may get stuck in a counterproductive cycle. Add purging to that cycle to try to relieve the guilt of eating and then you add the guilt of purging. Whew! Exhausting!
We are told by media, friends and even family sometimes, what good and bad foods are and we take the message that if we eat bad foods we are bad. Nothing could be farther from the truth. There are no good and bad foods. Eating what our body craves (like pregnant women do) is the way for most people to get the nutritional requirements they need. Practicing checking in about how hungry and full you are as well as what you feel like eating and how much will start to make you more aware and able to use these natural skills. Its a whole new language the body is speaking to us and its there if we are willing to listen.
Research on intuitive eating is on the rise and there is evidence based in at least one review of 26 peer-reviewed articles showed that lower BMI’s are associated with intuitive eating. This study also pointed to other positive health factors like improved psychological health, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as improved dietary intake. They are all related to an intuitive eating lifestyle.
I frequently find my clients very reluctant to adopt this idea at first because it sounds too good to be true but once they do they start to find that if they follow their true urges then their over-all cravings for “crap” actually go down and they have a sense of true satisfaction in their lives. After all, they are eating what they want, when they want.
I believe that the cortisol and adrenaline in the system that naturally accompanies the worrying about food and tying our identity and worthiness to what we eat and/or our body shape also helps us hang on to the weight we are carrying as well so that will also contribute to weight loss and maintenance.
Thank you Melissa McCarthy for sharing that piece of your private life (vulnerability-love it!) with us and putting a famous face to the real happiness and health that comes with intuitive/natural eating.