The level of bad news this month has a lot of us gasping. I don’t mean to exaggerate at all – I’m serious. June has been an emotional tsunami and we’re only in the third week!
Kate Spade’s Death Hurts
On June 5 we heard about Kate Spade’s suicide. EWN therapist, Emily Becker, wrote a frank post about how this news effected her. All of us in mental health work went on full alert, reviewed our risk assessment protocols, thought about our current clients’ needs. Some of us remembered the people we lost to suicide, professionally and in our personal lives. The helplessness and anger, most of which we processed in our own therapy or supervision long ago, tried to sneak back in. We were all feeling pain and compassion for Kate Spade and her family. A lot of the noise on social media wasn’t helpful.
Anthony Bourdain’s Death Hurts
A few days later, as we struggled to regain our balance, we heard about Anthony Bourdain’s death. Why did the news of a 61-year-old television celebrity chef hit harder than learning of Kate Spade? People say it’s because we were already vulnerable, made ‘soft’ by Kate Spade’s death. And Anthony Bourdain made himself so damn relatable. He appeared to be an Everyman wandering the Earth, sharing street food with the most common of common people, elevating everyone, the cook, the viewer, Bourdain himself, in the process. I wasn’t a die-hard fan of his show ‘Parts Unknown’, but I saw enough that I could appreciate his complexity, the unattractive and the charismatic, so that I had the illusion that I knew him in a way I didn’t know Kate Spade. Like many women who own something of hers, Kate Spade made me happy through her purses. Mine is one that reminded me of my dad’s old-fashioned medical bag, only with a bow on it. On the other hand, I could hear Anthony Bourdain’s voice telling me to try the fried eel.
I knew I Had To Help By Writing
I knew I had to write something about this to try and help others afraid for their loved ones who might be thinking of killing themselves. And therapists who, like me were dealing with the suicides on a deeply personal as well as professional level. But I was stuck, overwhelmed. How does one address suicide publicly in a responsible manner without making it worse?
5 Things We Can All Do to Help Stop Suicide
Thank goodness there are experts who made their knowledge readily available in a practical and digestible form. Dr. Lisa Firestone wrote a comprehensive article 5 Things We Can All Do To Help Stop Suicide, with suggestions for therapists as well as worried loved ones and people haunted by suicidal thoughts.
The days of June aren’t all dark and depressing. The trees are fully leaved, gardens are blooming. People in the Deep North revel in reclaiming their outdoor retreats. Whether a rocking chair the front porch or an umbrella table on a patio strewn with petunias in pots, sweeping out the winter detritus and bringing out the iced tea is joyful. Self-care, that’s the ticket!
Families Separated Hurts
Then we heard the news of children, babies, toddlers, school-age kids and teenagers, being torn from their parents as they were seeking asylum in our country.
The horror that such cruel behavior was allowed by my government brought on another wave of helplessness and anger.
That terrible combination. Do you have to be a parent to be outraged and heartsick imagining your child being taken from you in this manner? When the audio came out of the children crying out for their mamis and papis… I could not. I could not.
The news of what is happening to the children keeps coming in. The trauma the children have sustained may be irreparable. The American Psychological Association, among many, many other professionals, religious and government associations have declared emphatically how legally, medically, ethically and morally wrong this policy is. Even if corrected, severe damage has been done and thousands of children remain orphaned by my government.
Once again I asked, as I’m sure you did, what can I do about it? I’m sick of just tweeting my outrage or sharing another article on Facebook. But I did do those things anyway and did find some comfort there that others were as upset as I was. And I found this article outlining what I could actually do. Yes, I called my representative. Yes, I gave a donation to a relief charity. And I continued to fume.
‘7 Rules For Living Well With Chronic Illness’
In a small way, but personal to me, I had another emotional blow on June 15. The ebook version of, ‘7 Rules For Living Well With Chronic Illness’ was launched that day. Early in the morning, after years of writing and preparing the book for publication, I was beyond excited to click on the Amazon email that came to people who pre-ordered to see what it looked like. Then it hit me. This was not the book I uploaded on Monday! My stomach did a nose dive when I realized that I was looking at an earlier draft from months ago! My fault! I didn’t hit the right buttons to assure that the latest draft was the one that got launched!!! Well, this is embarrassing! I went back and made sure all the buttons to upload the latest draft were properly pressed but there was nothing I could do about the pre-orders. It sucks to be humbled by something I love, technology, and my own ego, in my rush to get the book published.
Three things helped me feel better:
Fathers’ Day, a happy marriage anniversary, going to the barn to smell hay and horses, helped to reflect on all the love in my life.
Lots of rest.
I turned off my devices, not 24/7, but a lot more than usual, quietly meditated in my backyard oasis, and actually cracked open a book!
Sharing with the therapists at EWN.
What an amazing group of people. Each one in their own way helped me process the turbulent emotions when I had difficulty writing about all of this. Each one was generous with her wisdom, compassion, and understanding.
If you are having any trouble yourself, please contact us at 716.308.6683 | firstname.lastname@example.org.
My ebook offer to pre-orders who got the wrong book…
I want to offer anyone who pre-ordered the book an up-to-date edition free! I will send it to you via email as a pdf. Please email me at email@example.com.
Elvira G. Aletta, PhD, Founder & CEO
Executive & Personal Coaching, Individual & Relationship Counseling
Life gave Dr. Aletta the opportunity to know what it’s like to hurt physically and emotionally. After an episode of serious depression in her mid-twenties, Dr. Aletta was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease that relapsed throughout her adulthood. While treatable, the cure was often as hard to bear as the disease. Later she was diagnosed with scleroderma, another chronic illness.
Throughout, Dr. Aletta battled with anxiety. Despite all this, Dr. Aletta wants you to know, you can learn to engage in life again on your terms.
Good therapy helped Dr. Aletta. She knows good therapy can help you. That’s why she created Explore What’s Next.
Today Dr. Aletta enjoys mentoring the EWN therapists, focusing on coaching and psychotherapy clients, writing and speaking. She is proud and confident that Explore What’s Next can provide you with therapists who will help you regain a sense of safety, control and joy.
716.308.6683 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Great, great article Elvira—connecting with others’ pain but offering hope and ultimately uplifting.
Your comment was so welcome, Chris. It makes me so glad that the message I was trying to convey did make it. Thank you.
Thank you for this, Dr. A. It’s been one damned thing after another, so your words are so timely this week. Because even here in Canada we’ve been feeling utterly furious and distraught over the heartless news and images (and those sounds) of children being ripped away from their parents, my girlfriend and I decided we needed a little dose of Mr. Rogers, and off to the movie theatre we went today to see this new documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbour.
It is wonderful! We laughed, we cried (quite a lot, actually) but we were also shocked and stunned watching clips of news footage of the protestors who showed up at his funeral (yes, PROTESTERS at Mr Fred Rogers’ FUNERAL!)
The goons are forever with us, it seems…
Hi, Carolyn, Unfortunately the goons have always been with us. It’s just that before they were deprived of oxygen, for the most part anyway. I heard that the Mr. Rogers movie was an antidote to the horrors of June; a reminder of the power of love. In Buffalo, I went to a Families Belong Together rally last Sunday and felt the same message of love over hate. Today I posted ‘Fight Terrorism by Falling in Love’. It feels like so little but I remember the power in a drop of water, many of which created the Grand Canyon. That, and people like you, gives me hope. Love, Elvira
“Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.