I am continually surprised when I hear of a wildly successful, seemingly-happy-and-put-together person overdosing or committing suicide. The news is alarming, sad and really puts things into perspective.
Money, fame, and "having it all" does not necessarily mean that someone has peace, joy, love and fulfillment. And though some may appear to be smiling and laughing, this does not necessarily mean it's real, authentic or lasting.
It's so important we spend the time to see what's inside, not just judge a book by its cover. The people we interact with may be struggling with something we have no idea about. This is why it's so vital we extend kindness and compassion wherever we go.
So often, brilliant, intelligent, empathic and sensitive people are suffering behind closed doors. Even "successful" people that seem to have everything you could possibly ever want could be missing out on life's great (priceless but free) treasures. And at times, the pressure of keeping up with their reputation, responsibilities and role in life can be downright overwhelming. This is something we may neglect to recognize; we see the results of their hard work and dedication but rarely do we realize the time, energy and sacrifices that go into creating and manifesting their success...and maintaining it.
Hearing the news of a popular wellness professional passing in March, concluded to be suicide, really was an eye-opener for me. A reminder that we are all in this together, we are all one, we are all connected, and we all have ups and downs. No matter what our title, how large our bank accounts, or how popular or famous we are. Suffering does not judge and it is not biased. It can come in many forms, and it can knock on anyone and everyone's door. It's the flow of life... up, down, pain, bliss, up, down, pain, bliss... Like waves in the ocean, they each come and go.
When we begin to attach to pain and suffering, and the thoughts in our mind, we can create an imbalance and disrupt the flow. This is where many get stuck and ultimately end up in despair. Our "problems" seem insurmountable and appear to far outweigh the calm, peace and quiet moments where we can enjoy life. Anxiety, depression, sadness, chronic pain, insomnia, illness and apathy can all take over and bring us to our knees. Some of the strongest people suffer from these ailments, and often times no one even notices because we are so caught up in appearances: the covers of the book.
Ask yourself, do you spend the time reading the inside pages? Do you take the time to try to understand what life may be like for someone else? Or do you make snapshot judgments?
It's easy to judge and condemn someone for being short or snippy with you. But the real question is, why are they irritable? Perhaps they are going through something difficult right now. Maybe they feel overwhelmed and alone. I am sure you can relate; we've all been there at one point or another. We must remember that nothing is ever personal and whatever people say or do is a direct reflection of their own inner state of being. It's like a barometer. We can read what is going on for them by how they are acting towards us. The barometer indicates whether they are acting out of love, or acting out, seeking out love.
Suicide may be an often-overlooked or swept-under-the-rug topic. It's also highly controversial. It makes some people uncomfortable. Others are in denial about it. Sometimes, we feel guilty when we think about someone committing suicide. Sometimes, we get angry. Some people are suicidal and understand this very delicate, confusing topic all too well and personally. No matter what though... it's real. And according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, on average, there are 121 suicides a day.
Think about that number. Think about all the people you know, and imagine that 121 of them died today. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States (according to AFSP), affecting over 44,000 Americans each year.
Sadly, the AFSP estimates "the numbers to be higher. Stigma surrounding suicide leads to underreporting, and data collection methods critical to suicide prevention need to be improved."
Imagine that. Stigma around suffering. Stigma surrounding something so real, so ever-present and something that affects millions of people. According to Scientific American, 1 in 6 Americans Takes a Psychiatric Drug. Antidepressants were most common, followed by anxiety relievers and antipsychotics. We are learning to numb our symptoms, rather than address the underlying issues. We numb our pain, and because of certain stereotypes or judgments, we carry on mostly silent. Mostly alone. How unnecessary is that?
So, for every 6 people you see today, imagine that at least one of them is suffering and trying to compensate and function by taking a prescription drug. Maybe that someone is you.
Remember, we are all on this ride together. We share this adventure called life. And what one person does affects the next... so on and so forth.
So, what can we do? For starters, we can practice healthy habits and make healthy lifestyle choices. The healthier and happier we are, the better we can help others. Mindfulness, meditation, exercise, clean eating, sleeping and resting are all obviously-beneficial practices.
We can be consciously aware that we are all united and connected, and treat others with kindness, love and respect. What we give out comes back to us. Extend love, receive love, and the ripple effect reaches many more. Be open minded and curb judgments wherever possible. You are not the other person, so you cannot really say with certainty what is right, wrong, true or false about them, or for them and their lives. Remember, that your judgment and negativity is a direct reflection of what is going on inside of you. Spend some time reflecting on how you can clean house.
If you are seriously struggling, there are people out there willing to help. We are never doomed or alone, even when we feel like we are. It takes courage to seek out help, guidance or support. But the benefits far out weigh the risks.
We cannot continue as a society to quiet, dismiss or condemn our hurting people. We cannot continue to numb our pain, to silence our inner guidance and the voice within us that says something is not right. The discord we feel is an indication that we are not living authentically and in alignment with our true Essence which is love and light. We are resisting, not accepting, hiding, censoring, changing, pushing, conforming in an effort to fit in or out of fear, conditioning and self-limiting beliefs... at the expense of our own joy. At the expense of our own lives.
We did not incarnate to become zombies walking around high on drugs, low on life. We came to be brilliant co-creators, high on life. This madness dims our sparkle, steals our zest for life and really creates a tremendous amount of pain, suffering and disease in our precious people.
We deserve joy, peace, love and fulfillment. It's our birthright. It's natural to us, and for us. But it's an inside job. And unfortunately, most of us are not trained in real life-skills such as healthy emotional habits, management and spirituality. This doesn't make it impossible, it's available to everyone. It just makes it new to some. And with anything new, there may be some discomfort or growing pains. Just like it took time to become hurt, it may take some time to heal. But, as long as you are still breathing, there is still hope.
Extend a hand today... to someone else, for yourself. But walk around with eyes wide open, seeing the aforementioned numbers as a wake up call that we must come together. Every single person that wakes up to Love benefits the whole of mankind, Mother Earth and her creatures.