Archive for category Injuries

Suicide and Mental Illness, Part II

I don’t really have anything personal to say about this that I didn’t say the first time about, but this is part II from from my friend about the same event.

Today is the anniversary of Stephanie’s death.

5 years.


While her birthday post is always about how to step up and intervene and do something when you have a loved one that is struggling, I reserve her death anniversary post for those who are medical and health professionals.

I was investigated by a State Agency to determine what my role in her suicide was. You read that right. You should have seen the look on my face when the investigator said that! He said that he contacts all families of individuals who were receiving any State services to determine what may have gone wrong in the system. That part sounded great! I couldn’t wait to talk to him…until he said that.

I learned the “Social Worker” who was assigned her case (this was post most recent suicide attempt, and my attempt to get her some help- because when you are uninsured, unemployed and an adult, it’s not easy). It turns out the woman was not a licensed social worker at all, though she told me she was (I did ask because I was social worker myself). In fact, she did not even have a college degree. She was grandfathered into her job. I would have been ok with that if she had the skills and had not lied and had not had sessions with Stephanie that were far above and outside the scope of her job and ability. She was supposed to be helping with getting her Medicaid, into out-patient programs, housing, etc.

I’m still angry.

The out-patient group therapy met once a week for 4 hours. There was a psychiatrist who would come and spend the usual 10 minutes discussing meds and leave. Stephanie asked for more. She needed more. She lacked a solid diagnosis, which I never understood how someone could be in the hospital this many times for weeks and weeks at a time and meet with a psychiatrist and still not have a diagnosis.

Professionals. Doctors, nurses, social workers, therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists and ALL of you who work in any health care setting or provide any health service….I implore you, do more. Not more of what you do because I know you work hard and long hours in a difficult profession, but step back and look at the whole situation.

Look at the family and what they are trying to do. Family have no resources. No one tells us how to act at home or what to do or say to our family member. You see them for a brief moment, we have them the other 167 hours a week. Give guidance. We are frustrated, scared, mad…all kinds of emotions. Help us too. Do you know what it’s like to be the family member those 167 hours a week you aren’t with the person? Waiting for them to sneak off with the pills, or find some rope or a razor. Worrying that you didn’t supervise them close enough and you will walk into the bathroom and find them. The tension and stress is bad for us and it’s bad for the person trying to get well and feel better. Being the focus of all that stress, worry and anger and frustration will not be solved by your brief session with them.

Professionals- please do more. Think broader. Learn more about what other services are available and make sure you refer people into them. There are 167 hours a week where other services could help. Hold your organizations accountable to have qualified staff. It’s not always about a degree, but make sure they are qualified and supervised.

I am very fortunate to have found a company to work for that helps heal my soul and enables me to be part of the solution. I try to be the person I am asking you to be. I can make a change by doing my part.

Thank you for indulging me twice on this topic,  I hope by sharing parts of our story that it makes a difference. I have come to believe that when you know the details, you understand it better and it makes you want to be part of the change.

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Suicide and Mental Illness

This was written by my friend Jackie about a friend we both had, while she was closer with Stephanie, I did spend time with her and while only a casual friend, she was a good friend. I know that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but not everything I say or think makes a lot of sense, but I think you can understand it even with how esoteric it is.

I don’t have a ton of experience with suicide in general, I can think of 4 people who I have been connected(even loosely) with that have attempted to commit suicide, 2 were successful, 2 were not. The two who were not successful are doing well, I have contact with them randomly, one moved back home with her parents on the Cape and is happy and healthy for now. The other has appeared and disappeared over the years, which has always made me wonder if she was eventually successful, but I recently found out she is doing well and living with the love of her life in Phoenix.

The two who succeeded were Stephanie and my 3rd grade science teacher Ms. Hanlon who I only saw 2 times a week for 40 minutes, but she had the classroom next door and many friends who had her as their teacher and it was hard for them, but I never quite understood it all at the time. Although, she is one of the few teachers who were not my full time teacher who I can actually remember, so maybe it did have an impact more than I think. I can still remember in vivid detail when Mrs. Evans told us what had happened, even with her words vague and muffled with sobs and tears, they still ring out once in awhile at random times in my head, 25 years later.

“Mrs. Hanlon won’t be coming back to teach anymore, she inflicted a wound upon herself.”

I do still feel sadness and regret that I wasn’t aware of everything going on with Stephanie, and I wish I could have helped in some way, either with Stephanie directly or with Jackie and what she was going through. I think one of Jackie’s points is that it’s not something anyone can fully change or conquer alone, but anyone who is connected to someone on a personal level in any way should be made aware of someone’s situation to keep an eye and ear out for anything they might notice to be able to help their friend, sometimes it’s a losing battle, and we lose more than just the friend, but it’s a battle we should all be fighting and aware of, there are silent diseases like depression & anxiety that are killing people before they actually die, we can’t see them so we pretend they don’t exist or we don’t believe “that person” could possibly be depresses, these illnesses deserve and need just as much attention as a broken arm or cancer, and to use an old cliché, they’re “as serious as a heart attack”.


Suicide and mental illness.

Today would have been my friend Stephanie’s birthday, but she isn’t here to celebrate it because she committed suicide.

Every year in January, I post twice about suicide – once on her birthday and once on the anniversary of her death, in the hopes that by sharing my experience it will help save lives and change how we think.

It’s still hard to talk about and it’s been 5 years. For the first 3 years, I was just angry. It took a long time for me to get to the part where I could be sad and grieve her and I notice now, this year, I can talk about her and good memories and miss her.

What happens in our private lives, often our good friends don’t even know what is really happening. Stephanie and I met because she was my kid’s nanny. Until the first suicide attempt. That was shocking. And I hate telling people that I hired someone unstable to come to my home and take care of my children. I know some of you think you are smarter than me- that you wouldn’t make such a poor decision, but people who are either ill or hurting inside don’t always know themselves or they hide it well- that’s called coping. She didn’t have other family, so there was (is) a group of us that she was close to and we were her family and I often felt like her mother, even though she was actually a year older than me.

After her first attempt, the hospitalization and the lack of follow up treatment – because our healthcare system does not have safeguards in place for mental illness or depression…but if she had cancer you bet there would have been a treatment plan and lots of follow up.

Once she was “better” she moved to her home state for a time, and then she came back to me. Unsettled, needed a place until she figured out what she wanted to do next. And while in a meeting in Texas, my phone rang again and again and I knew…attempt number 2. She was supposed to be home with my kids while I went on this business trip. I thought she was better, she seemed fine. I thought I would recognize some signs if she was going to do it again…but I didn’t. My oldest daughter had to drive to pick up my car, a car filled with suicide supplies. She was 19. It’s hard to type this because what mother “let’s” this happen? She seemed better and moved to a new state and a new job.

But she wasn’t better.

I will skip all the details of her life spiraling out of control. She came back to me- again, no place to go. And she attempted suicide again.

My daughter begged me and begged me to please not let her come home to our house. It was too hard. But I didn’t know what to do because Stephanie didn’t have any other place to go. What was I supposed to do? Leave her on the street? My daughter said- you are choosing her over me. I have the look on her face when she said that burned into my soul. And I brought Stephanie home.

This time, she never got better. She promised me one day she wouldn’t kill herself until after Christmas. I was going to kick her out- her erratic behavior was destroying my family.

At the end of January this time she committed suicide.

I have not shared this much detail publicly before – for lots of reasons. It’s embarrassing. It’s hard to talk about. My family wasn’t sad- we were hurt and angry and it hurt my relationship with my daughter and it brought a marriage that was already struggling to an end.

Life changing.

So – I share this because people who are struggling with mental illness still do not have the care and the help needed. Families- just like mine, do not have access to any help or support to know what to do. We, as a society and we, as my many connections on facebook; We are the WE that need to make change happen.

Every year I implore you, if you see someone struggling – do something. Do anything. Call their doctor. The doctor can’t say anything to you, but they can listen. And call again and again. If the person had cancer or a broken arm you would take action. If someone has depression or a more serious illness- just like cancer, just like a broken arm- they need help. Call for help, because they can’t or they won’t.

We change the world by changing the way we conduct ourselves as humans. When faced with a situation, even though it’s really, really hard – call their doctor. If you somehow think it can’t happen to you… did you ever think this would be a story you would hear from me?

If I help save one life. If I make one person pick up the phone and call a doctor then sharing this very personal story will have been worth it.

And to Stephanie’s friends- you know who you are, I know this was hard for you as well and the impact it had on your lives and thank you so much for being there and dealing with this together the best we could.

This was Stephanie, I don’t know if anyone has ever seen these photos besides me, but I took these of her while at the Newport Jazz Festival in 2007.

Steph at Jazz FestPhotos 072

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Foot Update

As I mentioned on Twitter earlier, I am both relieved and slightly disappointed this morning.

My foot is slightly sore, only mildly swollen, and it has not turned any funky colors.

So it’s good that my injury doesn’t appear to be anything close to serious nor long term, I was kind of looking forward to a really funky colored foot this morning.

Even better, it appears as though this won’t have any effect on me being able to play in the double header on Sunday. One thing that does slightly scare me is that I might actually be called in to pitch part of the double header, not sure how that’s gonna go though. I’m just glad I won’t be in the batters box!

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Not a good day for feet!!

Originally uploaded by Nedster78

So this is a photo of my foot…

If you look closely you can see a nice big bump forming about halfway up the top of my foot… it’s light blue with some dark red specks all over it… but that is tough to see on a photo taken with a blackberry.

How it happened.

As many people who know me are aware, I am in the process of some major work being done in my yard in a massive landscaping project I took on last year that started out just as me widening my driveway and it has expanded so much further.

I built a wall out of used railroad ties, however the city had some issues with it and I have had some permit problems and had received a stop work order from the town.

Yadda Yadda Yadda… I now have a permit and can continue building my wall.

Well I decided to change the design of my wall through the process, so I have to take down the wall I had partially built in order to put in the new wall that was approved by the city to be built.

My roommate is going to help me, but tonight I was alone and went out to do some demolition of the wall. I am using the new 5ft pry bar I bought to separate the ties from one another. They are about 9 inches thick, 8 feet long, and are attached to one another with 12 inch galvanized steel nails, they weigh variably from about 300-350 pounds each.

I pry a few off no problem, then I go to pry off another one, and this is where it got interesting, I got 2 of the nails out and was down the end with one final push to get the last nail out and have the tie come down.

Well the tie rolled towards me, so I stepped back out of the way so that it it wouldn’t land on my feet. One problem however was the pry bar, it was in my hand and the tie fell and hit it. When it hit the pry bar it knocked it out of my hand.

Pry bar then managed to hit my foot, normally not a problem, except that the railroad tie was still on top of it, and was falling. While the tie was not on my foot, we can all remember physics class from high school and how all that stuff works.

So the accelerated weight of the railroad tie, was distributed along the length of the whole pry bar, but the problem was that my foot created only 1 of 2 points of contact for the pry bar. One end on my foot, and one end on the ground, unfortunately for me, my foot hurts more than the ground does.

So it hurt, and it hurt a lot. I yelled out a string of profanity that would probably make Quentin Tarantino blush.

Oh a light hearted note, my middle aged neighbor was standing at his garage, drinking his Busch Light after blowing any debris off his driveway. He looked at me, I looked at him and he raised his can as a hello and then pushed his electric garage door opener to close his garage, with him inside. So much for helpful neighbors, glad I didn’t cut a hand off or something with the chainsaw!

I am currently using the 2 sock and duct tape method to keep ice on it. One light weight sock to keep the bag of ice off my direct skin, and then a second larger sock to hold the ice in place, with the duct tape around it to put a little pressure to keep the ice firmly in place and applying cold to the foot.

I’ll repost a photo later if I get some nice funky colors that appear later.

I will be out working on my wall this weekend either way, only thing this really does is put my double header baseball games on Sunday in question… I hope I can play!


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