Online registration, check. Tennis shoes, check. Support from family and friends, check. A clear calendar on the morning of Sept. 8, check. Ready to openly support positive mental health, loss survivors of suicide, and reinforce suicide prevention efforts, check, check, check. Ready to make a difference, check.
A pliable object is something that can be bent or shaped without adding or taking away any other materials. Pliable means flexible, adjustable and resilient to strain caused by external forces. We as humans are most certainly malleable, like a palm tree that survives hurricane gales. We can endure extreme stress, pressure, trauma and uncertainty, and have the amazing ability to adapt and readjust to the form we were meant to take. According to the American Psychological Association, "resilience is not a trait that people either have or don't have.
"Gestalt" is a German word referring to something that is "more than the sum of its parts." As humans, we are made up of much more than flesh and bones; we have a purpose. We have hands that scratch the itch and feet that run when the body is in danger. The mouth is fed when the stomach is empty. Fingers and thumbs work together to nourish and protect the body. The eyes and ears, nose, tongue, and skin all provide sensory information to the brain. We are many parts of one body. We are many bodies in one community.
A conversation began recently in a social setting that required name tags. It was an everyday encounter, one that was pleasant and wouldn't necessarily stand out, which is the point. The dialogue flowed nicely and somehow turned to the topic of mental health. "I have depression, and when I was younger, I had no idea what it was. It wasn't OK to talk about it."
I tripped across a travel journal from a California trip my family took last fall. I was reminded of an open air fruit market that was stocked with ripe, plump, delicious fruit. The aroma was sweet and fresh and the sounds of seagulls and ocean were intoxicating. I had been preparing for this moment and even brought an extra bag to carry my treasured purchases back to the hotel. I bought specialty peaches, plums, giant crisp grapes and bright colored oranges. The prized jewel of the day was a mango that, to me, resembled a dinosaur egg.
On a subzero day several winters ago, I snapped on my cross-country skis and headed outside. I was determined not to let the brutal temperature dictate my agenda. Bundled in layers and wrapped with determination, I took to the ski trail. I wasn't prepared for the ice-covered hill. Coordination has never been my best friend, so when my skis left the groomed grooves in the trail, I panicked. My skis and legs contorted inhumanly, and I felt a snap as I went down. The trudge home was a bit of a blur. I got a ride to the emergency room.
"I can't run." That was a phrase the 23-year-old me used in social situations when athletic people talked about jogging. The truth is, I didn't ever really try. I soon became disappointed with the person in the mirror who claimed only to run if a bear was chasing her. In a moment of determination, I found myself at the public library checking out a book called, "Running for Dummies." In my tatty apartment, I began running in place for short spurts, following the instructions until I was eventually out the door and running through the neighborhood.
Feelings of despair and defeat can deflate our sense of worth. In the event we encounter such darkness, here are a few tips to conquer the beast we call hopelessness. For starters, author Matthew Kelly wrote when we are experiencing hopelessness, "Just keep showing up." It is not by wishing our way out of a deep dark hole that we escape; it's by climbing."
Greetings by our diagnosis or suffering are a normal part of our everyday experience. We are good people who care deeply about each other and will often ask our neighbors and friends, “How are you doing today?” “I’m so sorry for your loss.” or “Are you feeling any better?”
Inside jokes can take us way back to a distinct time and place, to familiar feelings of deep friendship and understanding. One such time for me came around the age of 16, when my best friend was caught calling in sick (and lying about it) to her job so we could go to the mall. Her mother was furious and her words have been the source of our inside joke ever since.