The Aftermath: Sarah’s Story

These are words from a victim of suicide:

I lost my boyfriend of over four years, Christian, to suicide on March 25, 2017.

His death has affected me in ways I didn’t even understand. He was in the army, so the prospect of death was higher simply given his career, and therefore it was something I did have to think about and determine what I would do if I lost him. I never expected it to happen, especially not the way that it did, but my reaction was definitely unexpected. I always thought I would just go into complete hysterics and not be able to function on a basic level. Instead, shock took over and I just became very logical and rational, making sure that I was busy and distracted every day following his death. In the weeks that followed, I ended up joining the army myself and have been very active in my daily life, filling my time with things to do. I have found that there is a resiliency within me that I was forced to bring out, and that was probably the least expected reaction that I’ve had to this whole situation, but I’m very thankful for it. That’s not to say that everything is peachy-keen all the time. I honestly think there’s still a level of shock that is keeping me together, but I take each day just one step at a time. Some days are great, some not so much. The ways I have learned to cope is to remind myself that I cannot let his death take over my life and stop me from living.

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I remind myself that I’m not only living for myself, I am now living for Christian, and that keeps me going.

For others who have lost someone to suicide, my first and biggest piece of advice is to allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling. At Christian’s memorial service just four days after he died, I gave a eulogy of sorts, and the first thing I said was that it’s okay to not be okay. When someone you love dies, it’s a shock to your system regardless of how they died. To lose someone the way that I did is even harder because of the unexpected nature. What’s important to remember is that you have to let yourself grieve and be a mess. If you go back to work and find that you just can’t do it, don’t become angry with yourself. Allow yourself to go through all the different stages that you’ll inevitably experience because that’s the only way you’ll be able to heal and move forward. Another piece of advice that I still have to give to myself is that it’s okay if you find yourself grieving the opposite way you imagined you would. I never, ever thought I would be so proactive following the death of anyone that I love. But something took over and I just had to accept that I was not the mess I thought I would be. And that doesn’t mean that I’m grieving incorrectly, it just means that I’m letting myself—my mind and soul— do what I need to do without trying to dictate what I think is the right way to grieve and heal.

When someone takes their life, they change the course of the lives of everyone who has ever loved them, without their consent or control. I used to think suicide was selfish, but I realize now that it is so much more complicated than what most of us understand. I could never be angry with Christian for doing what he did. Instead, I am heartbroken that he was in such a place that he felt taking his life was the best and only option. I urge people not to be angry with the person who has taken their life, but instead, I encourage the survivors (friends and family of a suicide victim) to become a voice of hope for others who feel hopeless and for families who have lost loved ones to suicide. There is no reason that anyone should ever feel like they shouldn’t be alive, happy, and healthy.

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DEAR SELF

When I was in middle school my favorite things to wear were my black patent leather sneakers with a thick wedge and Mary-Kate & Ashley blue cream eyeshadow. As I got older I started conforming more to how other girls my age dressed. I wanted so badly to be accepted and liked by my peers. I would even wear clothes I hated just to fit in with my friends. I was terrified of letting people really know me. Impressing my peers wasn’t my only struggle. I had to look like these photoshopped girls in magazines with perfect hair, abs, symmetrical boobs and huge butts. No matter where I turned I had someone or something telling me I wasn’t enough.

You would think now that I am almost 25 years old that I would be able to like myself and stop caring about what the people around me think. As I have gotten older the beauty standards have changed. Now there is the pressure of having surgery to fix everything about you that isn’t perfect. Lips too thin? Lip injections. Butt too flat? Butt implants. Stomach too big? Tummy tuck. The list goes on and on. I’m not saying that having elective surgery is wrong. If you feel better about yourself that is wonderful, but what happens when you find another thing you dislike about yourself. You can only alter your body so much before you lose yourself.

Here is my question for society, when am I going to be enough?

NEVER.

I will never be perfect. I will never look like a model in a magazine. That is a hard pill to swallow but instead of beating yourself up about it might as well embrace your imperfection!

Sometimes the best cure for an unhealthy relationship with yourself is finding contentment.

So, here we go:

Self-Love Goals:

Goal #1: Step outside of your comfort zone. Wear that crazy dress you’re always too afraid to wear in public. Go bra-less! Whatever it is, just do it!

Goal #2: Get that fun hair cut you’ve always wanted! Hair grows back.

Goal #3: Post the selfie. If you are feeling like a goddess POST THE PICTURE. Who cares what people think.

Goal #4: Compliment other people. I think we often forget that everyone is insecure. Even the most beautiful person has flaws. Self-love isn’t only about your outward appearance, being kind is good for your soul!

Goal #5: Compliment yourself. This sounds super weird, but instead of looking in the mirror and saying everything you hate, find one thing you like about yourself. Even write it on your mirror.

Do you accept the self-love challenge? Do it with me using #dearselfchallenge and tagging me on Facebook.

Me, Myself, & I

I am a portrait and wedding photographer in Lexington, Ky.

I have been married for 3 years to my college sweetheart. He is my best friend and the best person in the world.

I went to Asbury University where I majored in Art.

My husband is in his fourth year of medical school. He is going to be a psychiatrist!

I am a dog mom to a perfect german shepherd mix.

I am an avid animal lover.

I have a beautiful niece named Gwen, she is the most precious little girl in the world.

When I was in elementary school I told my friends to call me AshDog.

I was obsessed with the Jonas Brothers in high school. I went to 16 concerts and met them twice. It was an unhealthy obsession.

My papa is the longest reigning mayor in the state of Kentucky.

I am addicted to sweet tea. If you are from the south, you know the struggle.

My biggest fear is sharks. They are terrifying monsters. ‘Nough said.

I love going to the movies. My husband and I go almost every week!

My dream job is to be a fashion photographer.

I am a shopaholic. It’s a problem.

Bingeing on Netflix is my all time favorite thing to do. Anything about serial killers! Send me suggestions!

My favorite food is buffalo wings.

The Beatles are the best band in the universe. That’s a fact.

My mom is my role model.

I have two little brothers. They are my favorite people.

I love to make women feel special and beautiful.

I have one tattoo that says “beauty from ashes.” I have a list of about 5 more I want to get!

I really enjoy making lists, if you can’t already tell.

That’s a little about me!

8 THINGS PEOPLE WITH DEPRESSION HATE TO HEAR

Things people who suffer with depression hate to hear:
1. Just be happy.
2. Your life isn’t that bad.
3. Everyone gets sad sometimes, you’ll get over it.
4. Stop being so sensitive.
5. Just go out and have fun.
6. You don’t look depressed.
7. You have so much to be thankful for.
8. Stop feeling sorry for yourself.


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Depression: major depressive disorder is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.

 


 

 

Here is the truth about depression from someone with depression:
1. Just be happy. Trust me, if it were that easy everyone with depression would choose to be happy.

2. Your life isn’t that bad. Having depression doesn’t automatically mean you have a terrible life. One of the hardest things about depression is knowing it’s not that bad but not being able to shut off everything in your mind telling you that it is.

3. Everyone gets sad sometimes, you’ll get over it. There is a huge difference between feeling depressed and being depressed. Everyone feels depressed when life gets hard. Depression is something that sticks around after hard times end.

4. Stop being sensitive. I am about as sensitive as they come. Ever since I was a little girl I would wear my feelings on my sleeves. Before I was on medication for my depression I would cry constantly. Sometimes to the point where I felt like I was going to pass out from exhaustion. It was such a terrible feeling that I wasn’t able to control or stop.

5. Just go out and have fun. When you are in your lowest points of depression it’s almost impossible to get yourself to go out and have fun. Things you enjoy aren’t enjoyable.

6. You don’t look depressed. THIS. I am extremely good at acting like I have my life together. So much so that I have actually had people tell me that I have a perfect life. I just smile and nod because inside I felt like inside I was drowning. Depression isn’t always something you can see in people unless you really pay attention.

7. You have so much to be thankful for. Again, you can have a great life and still suffer from depression.

8. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. I can’t speak for everyone, but I didn’t feel sorry for myself, I hated myself. I was so angry with myself for “allowing” myself to feel so hopeless.

All of this to say, if you know people who suffer with depression love them and support them. Encourage them to seek medical help.
If you have suicidal thoughts please reach out to someone. You are worthy of life.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-8255