Saturday, October 24, 2015

Go Jackie, it's your birthday!

Here we are again. Today (October 24th) is my birthday. I'm 33 years YOUNG and so very grateful to be here to celebrate another year on earth. The facebook posts began before midnight. I woke up to 8 birthday texts and at this very moment, 202 people have taken the time to post birthday wishes on my fb wall.
I don't take birthdays lightly. Some years, I lay low and other times, I party like it's....1982? I always spend some time in deep thought about where I've been, where I am, and where I'm headed. In previous years, I've beat myself up for not being where I "should've" been. I made an effort NOT to do that this year. Truth is, I did have plans of things I wanted to accomplish by now but as long as I'm still here, it isn't too late.

As I continued to read the tagged posts and birthday wishes, I became teary eyed. Is this something that happens at 33? I wasn't ready! I can't help but think about my friend, Jennifer who died earlier this year in her early 30's from health problems or my cousin Ashdon who left us at age 14 by suicide. The most recent reminder has been my friend Kiko who committed suicide 8 days ago. At 35, life became more than she could handle. She leaves twin daughters behind.

As a therapist, I deal with suicide more often that I'd ever choose. When I found out about Kiko though, I was shocked, upset, disappointed, and guilty. For a moment, I wondered how I could've failed as a friend AND a therapist and not know she was battling something. I reflected on every conversation, every text, every fb inbox. I combed through every interaction we had trying to find an answer. I know even though there's nothing I can do now to save Kiko I can continue to be who I am and remain passionate about the work that I do to save other women and men like Kiko.

Today, as I celebrate my birthday and smile at every message received, I know I am loved. I never had a doubt but I can't help but think about Kiko. In her moment(s) of hopelessness, despair, depression perhaps, did she know the world was brighter with her here?

Let us continue to speak up and speak out about mental health. If you are dealing with mental health concerns, please tell someone, a friend, a therapist, call the Suicide Hotline at 1 (800) 273-8255 and/or reach out to me via my facebook or email address.

In honor of my birthday, I ask you to donate to the gofundme set up for her here: Kiko.

I need you all to survive and thrive, my friends and readers. Cheers to my 33rd year and beyond.

Big hugs!

And yes that's me in a Mr. T birthday hat! LOL