My Suicide – My Life
Yes, on 6/24/2004 in Sarasota I attempted to kill myself. I know the exact day because I branded and burned it into my arm. 1 week earlier I called to get 911 to get help, I was not in danger, or a danger and I was lucid enough to make the call. I REJECTED – turned away because I was not an “immediate threat to myself or others.” This is when my wife and I made a safety plan, during my moment of clarity we set up the plan that would protect her and the kids if I ever “LOSE IT.” A plan where she would take the kids to an undisclosed safe place and call for help.
A week later that plan went into full effect, I was dragged in the CSU in handcuffs “voluntarily” in Sarasota. My wife and kids fled for their lives… Well, you know it’s a common mental health story. This story ended with me getting help and saved my marriage. Yet, my suicidal thinking, and daily ideations still ran wild. Some meds help, some exasperated the issues. In 2008 I had a “relapse” that led me to Charlotte Behavior Health Care.
I was off my meds for two years- the time my wife Joan Winifred refers to as two years of hell on earth. I was out of control, mood swings and rapid cycling, acute mania and hearing a solid single voice in my head – repeating the same mantra over and over: “your worthless, disgusting– kill yourself – die, die, die (I’m paraphrasing of course – what we really in my head was 1000x worse).”
It was here at Charlotte Behavior Health Care that I first learned that one of my most influential coping tools to deal with suicidal idea and suicidal behavior: art therapy. It was here where I started drawing the Mental Health Humor cartoons. It was here where I found hope.
It was here I stared from with a ZERO Suicide record.
It’s been 5 years next month since I was in the CSU at CBHC. I still have a zero suicide record! I’m saying the term ZERO Suicide for a reason and in my next post I’ll explain it all.
As I pick up my daily paper in my driveway, I notice the sub-title first “JAILS FACE BURDEN OF CARING FOR MENTALLY ILL INMATES“…
I knew this would be one Sunday page to blog about! I took my meds (willing I may add) and started reading, and reading and reading the facts. The facts about our jail systems and the percentages of mentally ill make you sick. With about 700 in the Charlotte County Jail almost 289 have a diagnosed mental illness!
“At any time, we’re looking at approximately a third of our inmate population as… diagnosed with a mental illness”
“Jail is not where these people need to be, We’re not treatment providers.”
Says Maj. Earl Goodwyne Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Detention Commander.
I agree “these people,” people living/suffering with mental illnesses are in need of compassion and understanding, education and treatment. Not just pills and bars. Yet, “those people” as sad as this may sound are in the mental health system. It’s a dwindling system with many people on the outside never getting help and suffer in silence. It’s only the “squeaky wheels” the public nuance types that end up in the jails that are revolving doors.
Capt. Melissa Turney Charlotte Assistant Jail Commander states “Jail is a very short-term solution.”
How True Captain Turney is. If we all understand how the jail system is set-up, do you know the difference between jail and prison?
What’s The Difference Between Jail & Prison?
First by its nature, ALL jails are a “Revolving Door” since they are set up to house and operate on a short-term basis. Here’s what The Broward Sheriff’s Office which has 10th largest local jail system in the United States says:
Jails are most often run by sheriffs and/or local governments and are designed to hold individuals awaiting trial or are serving short sentences (in Florida, inmates serving 364 days or less serve their time in jail).
Prisons are operated by state governments and the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and are designed to hold individuals convicted of crimes.
Jails operate work release programs, boot camps, and other specialized services. They try to address educational needs, substance abuse needs, and vocational needs while managing inmate behavior. Inmate idleness contributes to management problems. – The Broward Sheriff’s Office sheriff.org/faqs
IN A PERFECT WORLD – Jails are set up to help the inmate educational needs, substance abuse needs, and vocational needs while managing inmate behavior…mental health needs. In this first part by ADAM KREGER the Roundtable article (Part Two is due out on Monday February 24th) paints a bleak story of the mentally ill in the jail system. You read how stretched thin many budgets really are and why the term Revolving Jail Door for the mentally ill who are diagnosed really fits the description.
Local Needs – Charlotte Behavioral Health Care
“State funding is shrinking. … The problem we have now is going to get worse.”
Says Jay Glynn, Charlotte Behavioral Health Care CEO.
Where can you go for help? There are places for mentally ill outside of jail. There are programs but as Assistant State Attorney and Charlotte County court chief Ronald C. Smith says they are stretched thin!
“We do have a Drug Court and a Mental Health Court, (Anyone can refer a person to those courts), But it takes a lot of things to get in there, because it’s almost a competitive situation…There aren’t enough openings…(between 20 and 30 people on probation or sentenced in the Mental Health Court at any one time). They are monitored, assisted and treated by Charlotte Behavioral Health Care – People that get that help for their condition won’t go back and commit more crimes.”
Charlotte Sun Newspaper
The following is a direct quote from: The Charlotte Sun Newspaper Sunday, February 23, 2014 Our Town Pg 11.
However Charlotte Behavioral Health Care — a mental health and substance abuse treatment facility in Punta Gorda — has lost more than $1 million in state funding over the past five years, according to CEO Jay Glynn.
“The recidivism rate (for Mental Health Court) is very good,” he said. “It’s a very successful program. The problem is, we don’t have enough beds for it. State funding keeps shrinking.” Glynn pointed out Florida ranks 49th of 50 states in terms of mental health funding. And even that allotted money is about to be cut.
“The problem we have now is going to get worse,” Glynn said. “Florida is now going to managed care statewide. Our area is going to get hit with this starting June 1. Why this is going to make things worse is because our Medicaid contracts are the only contracts we have that we’re making a profit on. Those are all going to be taken over by (health maintenance organizations) next year.”
He said his agency has calculated its estimated additional losses to be around $650,000. Glynn said surrounding counties will suffer too.
Unless things change, jails will continue to face the burden of caring for — or trying to care for— the mentally ill.
Stigma surrounds the subject I want to talk about, I need to talk about; but it’s auspiciously-taboo. Many avoid it for the shear horror of the concept and the idea is incomprehensible! It’s unfathomable and beyond bizarre and illegal in every state. Why would any sane person ever want to kill themselves? That’s insane! Why would I want to die, why did I try to commit suicide?
I want to tell you my story in hopes that through it you may see we are not that far different when it comes to suicidal behavior, and suicidal ideation, and the act and deed. My goal is not to ever glorify suicide –no- rather to help open a conversation. To pull the subject out of the dark and into the light.
What benefit can come for talking about suicidal behavior?
- De-Stigmatizing the idea only weak minded and insane commit suicide (murder/suicide) to help Suicide Prevention.
- Help to identify possible clues and key moments that could help prevent someone from taking their own life (and or those they love with them).
- Create a safe environment where you and your loved one can talk about suicidal behavior.
- Develop a safety net or plan in case your loved one or yourself is in crisis – what to do, who to call, how to get help.
The 4 above points are what saved me. Let me explain, NOTE, this I will not explain what lead me to the point of crisis. This can be very different for everyone, but if you suffer from suicidal ideation, have suicidal seeking behavior and you’ve become a threat to yourself or others then you and I have been in the same boat.
Once we reach that point, the point when we say in our head; “I am done suffering! I want to die!” You don’t have to be insane to want to commit suicide. That is not to say that our thinking is not twisted at times.
From that point on we are the same: everyone who ever committed suicide or attempted it all had that period. It could be a fluid moment, or a rock hard concrete moment.
Our reasons all may be different. Some for love, some for retribution, or to stop the pain, some for honor and the way we plan to do it may be different (no, I am not going to list ways to kill yourself!). Yet, in the moment of YES or NO you and I are the same.
If you said yes and I did and you’re still here among the living: let’s count our blessings! If we keep saying no like I do, are we not glad we have understanding and knowledge that no matter how bad things get…there is always hope things will get better. And they usually do.
For me, How I would get better depends on the willingness for me to visualize myself in a positive way to handle the what life throws at me. This is were identifying possible clues to suicidal ideation, suicidal seeking behavior as just a “SYMPTOM” of my illness was extremely important in my recovery. It took me out of the victim mentality I was in and empowered me to change. But my change would not come over night… Read how I Walked Away Alive in my next post.
Part 2 of 10 things to improve your self esteem…
Learning to look for the positives in ourselves and others can lead to peaceful interaction and harmony. We can stop and take notice of the good. We can stop and notice the positive things we have going on in our lives. Circumstances and unforeseen events beyond our control do not determine our self-worth.
These are my top 10 ideas for building self-esteem: what are yours?Chato Stewart Consumer Peer Ambassador
Here’s a quick summary list and How I Personally Feel it can help Us Improve our Self-Esteem.
Please, feel free to add “your” ideas and make this list your own:
- Positive Self-talk or Acknowledging Your strengths: You don’t have to talk to yourself out loud! However, studies show that you remember more when you hear yourself “thinking” out loud. Say, speaking positive affirmations and positive thoughts will do wonders to build your self-esteem. Try it! Say out loud, “I’m a good person!” Say it till you believe it. Then say it some more.
- Enjoy some “Me” Time: Just a little “Me Time” can be a few minutes that make a world of differance! It can help you cope with stress and anything life tosses at you. That was what I loved about going to France. On my first visit, I discovered that the French have a ”me time” custom that is both healthy and wise. Us Americans would fine it absolutely bizarre… It’s called Siest - a short 10, 20-30 minute nap, rest after lunch. In the village my wife Joan Winifred and I were at (before kids we traveled to France a lot) Vertou (ver-too)… a cute little village north of Paris in Nantes, France. After lunch, I needed to pick up a calling card to call home and the bank and all the shops were closed. With Google maps I found the boulangerie (bakery) that had my wife’s favorite “Pain au Chocolat” (Chocolate Croissants) and the first time I ever seen a sign Siest in the window. It said, in English, “closed for siesta time.“ It is the time many Europeans take “me time.” Joan and I Adopted that tradition instantly. At one point we spent three months in Europe, and we never missed our siesta.
- Show Respect and Receive Respect: My father always said redspect you need to earn, but being respectful to others doesn’t require a coup or tyrannical rule.
- Show Love and Receive Love: We talked about love already in part one, love and showing love and the many forms of love is essential for a healthy relationship. There are four types of love, most common “Philia (Greek: φιλία) is the love between friends or Friendship.” “Charity (Agapē, aγάπη) is the love that brings forth caring regardless of the circumstance - recognized as the greatest of loves.” “Affection (Storge, στοργή) is fondness through familiarity (a brotherly love), especially between family members,” and the one most would guess is recognized as the greatest of loves, but would be wrong; “Eros (ἔρως) love in the sense of ‘being in love’ or ‘loving’ someone.” (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Four_Loves)
- Practice Giving: We’re not always accustomed to give, besides maybe at birthdays and/or holidays which are obligatory. Try giving without purpose, rather desire to please. It is always more joy in giving then there is in receiving. We’re not talking always about financial gifts. You can give of yourself volunteering, or maybe just helping out a friend or an organization. Or even donating gently-used clothing or other items.
Remember the hair commercial of the 80′s, “‘I’m Sy Sperling, President of the Hair Club For Men. I’m not only the Hair Club president, but I’m also a client.’” It’s the beginning 0f generational cross-over…Sy Sperling was doing it with his hair club, RUN DMC and rap music was crossing over into mainstream pop music. But something about that commercial always stood out to me. It was the ability that Sy Sperling had to come forward and announce publicly that he was stigmatized by baldness. Yet, he did not look bald. Being bald can affect how you see yourself. Just like your weight can affect how you see yourself. Just as others can affect how you see yourself. Sometimes we wish this wasn’t the case, that others could have such control over our own self-esteem, but for many of us, myself included, this seems to be the case. Is this the case for you?
Can We ‘Like’ Ourselves and Improve Our Self Esteem?
If so, how can we like ourselves? No, I’m not talking about Facebook likes, while that probably would be the easiest thing to do. You can start with “liking” us here at Charlotte Behavioral Health Care . What would happen to our self-esteem If we walked around with the button on ourselves and people just clicked it? How many ‘LIKES’ would you get? You can count on a “LIKE” from me!
What if we don’t like ourselves we can’t share love with others!“ YES we can, and that’s not a bunch a crackers in cheeses!
I believe we can love others and still hate yourself. You can have NO self-esteem and be a still good Mom or Dad. Might not be the funnest to be around but you’ll share what love you have with your kids. That may be the only deepest truest love you know – every thing else in your life might suck – but not the love for your kids. You may hate your body, hate your-self, and loath your life but have unending LOVE for some one else like our kids… like my kids. So, I know it’s possible, and I know I can be done, it not healthy but little to no self-esteem you can others with LOVE.
Why is this an important point to keep in mind? Love has a covering with self-esteem – the ability to build up, and gloss over our imperfections. The ability to allow us to strengthen our own insecurities when it’s reinforced.
Yes, we want to like ourselves, but the very nature of many mental illness is shame and guilt and self-loathing, yet even when I am feeling at my worst I still have love for my family. It’s important for all of us to consider ways to build ourselves up. All of us take blows to our self-esteem. Here are some practical ways I’ve read that are useful. We need to cultivate and develop skills to increase our self-esteem or at least feel a little better about ourselves, our circumstances and our lives. We shouldn’t let the past negatively affect our future. We can learn from past missteps or misinformation. We can reeducate or unlearn unhealthy habits and learn new ways of doing things. Learning something healthy and new can work wonders on low self-esteem. As we master new skills of healthy survival, we learn many reasons to feel joy about LIKING ourselves.Chato Stewart Consumer Peer Ambassador
The Illicit Synthetic Drug and Drug Paraphernalia Ordinance Ban: Effect
35 WHEREAS,new herbal and/or chemical mixtures are being marketed and sold in
36 Charlotte County which are not necessarily controlled by federal or state law but which are
37 designed and marketed to mimic the effects of illegal narcotics; (Read more of of the Ordinance No. 2013-033 below)
The EFFECT is the real story – country wide the “Bath Salts” and “Herbal Incense” according to the report at the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there were 6138 calls for exposures to bath salts 2011. That was when people started to take notice and bans and/or Ordinances started to go into effect but it was not nation- wide. In 2012, that number dropped to 2691. Why Such a huge drop? I called the Florida Poison Information Center-Tampa information line #1-800-222-1222 and talked to Pam. I asked her why such a huge drop from 6000+ in 2011, 2600 in 2012 and only 994 in 2013? Pam said it was due to the ban, education, and law enforcement taking a proactive move on cracking down on stores selling the products.
The EFFECT you want is not always the Effect you get:
The following are many of the side-effects of taking “Bath Salts” and “Herbal Incense”…
Physical effects: Hypertension, Tachycardia, Diaphoresis, Headache, Bruxism, Hyperreflexia, Nausea, vomiting, Seizure, Anticholinergic effects, death.
Mental effects: Agitation, Aggression/violence ,Unpredictable behavior, Anxiety, Confusion, Acute psychosis, Alteration of time perception, Amnesia, Anxiety Dysphoria, Apathy ,Hallucinations, Paranoia, suicide.
If you’re not familiar with the dangers of the synthetic drugs, consider for a moment the effects it had on one Indiana man who climbed a roadside flagpole and jumped into traffic. They were also linked with a man in Pennsylvania who broke into a monastery and stabbed a priest. And hallucinations had a woman in West Virginia believing something was under her skin and scratched herself “to pieces” over several days. Quite gruesome when you think about the effects of the key ingredient to synthetics/man-made chemicals like mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone, or MDPV, also known as substituted cathinones.
Only time will tell how Charlotte County will fare with this new Ban. By the way, the state of Florida House Bill 1039, which makes possession of “bath salts” a third-degree felony has been on the books since 2011.
Chato Stewart Consumer Peer Ambassador
In November, the Charlotte County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) adopted by unanimous vote Ordinance No. 2013 – 033. a.k.a: Illicit Synthetic Drug and Drug Paraphernalia Ordinance. Up until now, Charlotte County lawmakers did not have any law or ordinance to control the growing “Bath Salts” and “Herbal Incense” abuse of Synthetic Legal Intoxicating Drugs (SLIDs). The issue has been around, but only has seen traction locally the past few years. Read the article by Lucas Seiler, Charlotte County NBC2/ABC7 News SWFL Reporter:
Charlotte County lawmakers are closing a loophole that allows businesses to sell certain designer drugs laced with synthetic compounds. As a result, all synthetic drugs will now be banned, forcing store owners to change the way they do business. : Charlotte County Bans Synthetic Drugs
The Illicit Synthetic Drug and Drug Paraphernalia Ordinance Ban: Cause
Why the need to ban “Bath Salts” and “Herbal Incense”? I can remember when I was 13 years old buying my first 6 pack of non-alcoholic O’Doul’s beer… It’s fake beer! So, why isn’t that being added to the list of products you can’t sell or possess and Fake Weed is on the list? First, if you ever took a swig and drank O’Doul’s beer you would know what pond water tastes like! This stuff was unpalatable even to a 13-year-old who thought he was being cool looking like he was drinking beer. Surely, I was not going to get drunk off drinking the stuff… Although, I did have some digestive issues from its savory flavorings. Unlike nonalcoholic beer – Synthetic Drugs with legally sold “Bath Salts” and “Herbal Incense,” you can actually get a high off them and overdose or the term used is “intoxicating.”
What is the main cause for this ordinance? Comes down to a few key elements. One is the science of developing synthetic drugs to mimic street drugs using legal means as many gaping loopholes that have been exploited. The “cause” is of course money, to get a “natural high” /”legal high.” Also, it seems to have opened up on the whole new Street market for synthetic drugs that have names like:
Chato Stewart Consumer Peer Ambassador
Spice, synthetic cannabinoids, synthetic marijuana , bath salts, synthetic cathinones, synthetic stimulants, or misbranded drugs. Some of the common street names of some the illicit synthetic drugs include , but are not limited to: Bliss, Black Mamba, Bombay Blue, Fake Weed, Gen ie, Spice, Zohai, K2, K3, Smoke, Bliss, Blue Silk, Cloud Nine, Drone, Energy – I, Ivory W ave, Lunar Wave, Meow Meow, Ocean Burst, Pure Ivory, Purple Wave, Red Dove, Snow Leopard, Stardust and Vanilla Sky - (Names from the Charlotte County Convenience Businesses Letter)
Charlotte County Board of County Commissioners ORDINANCE NUMBER 2013-033
AN ORDINANCE OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF CHARLOTTE COUNTY, FLORIDA; CREATING ARTICLE VII OF CHAPTER 2-5 OF THE CODE OF LAWS AND ORDINANCES, CHARLOTTE COUNTY, FLORIDA, ENTITLED “THE CHARLOTTE COUNTY ILLICIT SYNTHETIC DRUG AND DRUG PARAPHERNALIA ORDINANCE”; PROVIDING FOR TITLE AND CITATION; PROVIDING FOR AUTHORITY; PROVIDING FOR LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS OF FACT; PROVIDING FOR DEFINITIONS; PROVIDING FOR POSSESSION, PROVISION, SALE OR DISTRIBUTION OF ILLICIT SYNTHETIC DRUGS PROHIBITED; PROVIDING FOR DETERMINATION OF A PRODUCT AS AN ILLICIT SYNTHETIC DRUG; PROVIDING FOR EXEMPTIONS; PROVIDING FOR THE SALE OF CERTAIN PRODUCTS FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION PROHIBITED; PROVIDING FOR RESTRICTIONS ON BUSINESSES THAT SELL OR DISPLAY DRUG PARAPHERNALIA; PROVIDING FOR SALE OR PROVISION OF DRUG PARAPHERNALIA TO MINORS AND POSSESSION OF DRUG PARAPHERNALIA BY MINORS PROHIBITED; PROVIDING FOR ENFORCEMENT; PROVIDING FOR VIOLATIONS AND PENALTIES; PROVIDING FOR CONFLICT WITH STATE LAW; PROVIDING FOR INCLUSION IN THE CODE OF LAWS AND ORDINANCES, CHARLOTTE COUNTY, FLORIDA : CountyOrdinance2013-033SyntheticDrugs.pdf
“One in 20 adults have depression at any given time. When depression hangs on for a long time and goes beyond just having a low mood, it is called a disorder or disease.”
Depression is devastating! It can make the most vibrant person a vacant void. Living through depression myself, I know firsthand the effects that it has on a mind, body, and soul. Yet, the good news is that it does not have to be a LIFE sentence!
If you are prone to depression, diagnosed with major severe depression, clinical depression, postpartum depression, bipolar depression, acute onset depression, and N.O.S depression or even if it’s mild depression, seasonal affective disorder, mood swings, feeling low: there are things we can do that can help map out a plan for dealing with depression.
Let’s start with the understanding that depression is a mood disorder that can be effected by our environment and stress, life events and relationships, even nutrition, and brain chemical composition.
Moving forward, we need to start mapping out what our personal triggers are that may cause and/or contribute to our depression. Sometimes, there is nothing we can do at that moment to change this trigger. However, understanding and mapping that pinpoint will help us see the bigger picture.
Mary Ellen Copeland PhD writer, author and Peer, best known for her “Wellness Recovery Action Plan” known as WRAP says about triggers; “triggers are external events or circumstances that may produce signs or symptoms that are very uncomfortable. The symptoms may make you feel like you are getting ill or that you are tempted to use an addictive behavior.” In the section under triggers of the wellness plan, you think of some of your triggers and write them down and then consider how you might handle. Being judged or criticized might be a trigger, maybe you might use a wellness tool such as doing stress reduction exercises and so on.
Journaling is another key aspect of mapping out your depression. Some might just jot down a few notes saying how they might feel a certain time during the day. While others have the opportunity to write extensive notes and find it very therapeutic. Writing a journal can also help you map your highs and lows.
Another tool to map your highs and lows are charts for charting. You can download them with daily or monthly plans and then just fill-in your daily emotion for that day. By the end of the month your chart is filled and you’ll have a workable map of your moods.
Other things that can help depression is physical activity. Believe it or not, just getting outside in the sun for as little as 15 minutes a day can also increase your vitamin D level which will as I understand it improve your depression.Chato Stewart Consumer Peer Ambassador
Have you ever felt hopeless , no where to turn, feeling alone because substance abuse is destroying your love one or family? You know time is running out, you’re at the end of the rope and you’re not sure what else you can possibly do…
Today, you’ll find the courage to call the Recovery Center in Charlotte Behavioral Health Care:
Call the Recovery Center,where lives are saved, families are healed and hope is found.