opening up : the loss of my sister
It was the day before St. Patrick's day and I remember being at work in a rush to get home. I remember getting to the parking garage and seeing a missed call from my mom. I called her back and she was crying. At that moment, I knew what had happened.
My sister had struggled with anxiety and depression her entire life. She started to vocalize her threats of suicide at a very young age. I remember my dad having to hide every knife, scissor and any sort of medication that we kept at home. At some point in her early years, after multiple attempts of seeing a psychologist/psychiatrist, rehab and being hospitalized, she had given up hope. Imagine believing every “bad” thing teachers, health professionals and even friends had ever told you about yourself. Imagine that was your reality. The stigma attached to mental illness is real. The feelings that my sister felt were real. Her life that ended far too soon, was very real.
Her name was Arielle. She was 27. She was diagnosed with ADD and bipolar disorder, she was gifted. She felt everything deeply, but living in a society where feelings and emotions are considered a weakness, she had a hard time connecting with the world around her. I don’t want to dive too far off topic, BUT we are living in a time of surface level interactions brought on by the growth of social media. We strive to put out content as fast as possible for others to consume. We are equating likes and followers with acceptance and love. We will spend hours watching makeup tutorials, only to find ourselves disassociated from reality. We will do anything in our power to not feel things, because many of us, quite frankly, were never taught how to navigate our feelings in the first place.
There’s a saying floating around: Check on your strong friends. As much as I support checking in with your friends, I’m a huge advocate of people checking in with themselves.
How often are we great at checking in on others, only to divert the attention away from ourselves?
This week I challenge you to really check in with yourself. If you find it difficult to schedule a time to do so, I recommend setting your alarm 15 minutes early so that you are able to journal. Write freely. Know that it doesn't have to make sense, and put this journal in a place where you aren’t worried about anyone reading it. This journal is your safe place.
When you check in with yourself, you’re going to come face to face with feelings that are uncomfortable. Things will surface that you may have forgotten about, that you have repressed. Open yourself up to those feelings and remember that your feelings are valid, without allowing them to fully consume you. Stay present. When I come to a feeling that wants to consume me, I do this thing called grounding. Grounding helps you stay present. Remaining present is key in the healing process. For me and my grounding technique, I prioritize checking in with all of my senses. What do I see? What do I hear, smell, taste? What am I touching? This will help you remember that you are safe and you are not back in the place that has caused these feelings. I am not a doctor, nor am I a psychologist/psychiatrist/psychotherapist, but I am a person who suffers from debilitating anxiety and depression. Grounding is a tool that has helped me in many situations.
I wish my sister was here to see Do Good. I wish my sister was here to do good, but she’s not. She’s not able to join us on our journey of trying to make a difference, but I know she is always with me. I probably feel it the most on my hard days. I can hear her laughing when I tell my dad I’m hopping on a plane to go overseas. Since Arielle isn’t here, I’m going to ask you to help me. I’m going to ask you to check in with yourself. I'm going to ask you to put in the work. Not only for me, not only for you, but for the future.
2020 is the year of unprecedented growth. Are you in?
If you would like to continue this conversation, please leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Do Good team is always here to help.
You are not alone,