Tag Archives: Depression

Bullies, Suicide and “13 Reasons Why”

I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I decided to take a peek at “13 Reasons Why” on Netflix. And yes, I am well aware of all the negative commentary surrounding it.

However, one thing I will say, is that I thought the series was well done. The writing, story, acting, and cinematography is superb.

“13 Reasons Why” is about a smart, pretty teenager named Hannah Baker who begins attending a new school, and becomes a target after a guy she liked took a photo of her coming down a slide. He decides to show the revealing photo to his jock buddies, and one of them thought it was a perfectly good idea to text it to everyone in the school.

Credit: Bully | by Jonathon Narvey | Flickr Creative Commons

It was disheartening to watch how these teenagers relentlessly bully her after that photo was sent. She did her best to cope with the cruelty that bombarded her on a daily basis. But things took a turn for the worst, when the same guy who texted the photo, raped her.

After this occurred, as a last resort, she visits with her school counsellor, which unfortunately, made matters worse. It was after this meeting, she decided to take her life. But before she does, she records 13 cassette tapes, leaving messages for everyone she holds responsible, except for one, her friend Clay Jensen.

The critics say “13 Reasons Why” glorifies rape and suicide. But I disagree. I believe the producers intention was to shock people into awareness and create a conversation to propel change.

I understand why some people wouldn’t want their small children watching it. However, I believe it should be viewed by parents and teenagers alike because of its important message.

I understand all too well about triggers, however, there is more violence in “The Walking Dead” than there is in “13 Reasons Why.” So, is it perfectly okay for kids to watch stuff like “The Walking Dead,” but not okay for them to be educated on a real and prevalent issue, such as bullying, rape and suicide?

Statistics say, suicide is the third leading cause of death in America between the ages of 10 to 24. Did you know every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted, and every 8 minutes, it’s a child?

The story of “13 Reasons Why” reminds me of a YouTube video I watched several years ago of a girl who was being bullied. She made this video before she ended her life. Her name was Amanda Todd. She was just one of many who kill themselves because they see no other way out of their situation.

Just recently, I came across a story on Facebook of an eight year old boy from Ohio who committed suicide because of the relentless bullying he endured. Why hadn’t the school stepped in and stopped it? Why is bullying allowed or ignored in our public schools? Why aren’t changes being instituted to insure the safety of our children attending school?

Yet, the critics are up in arms about “13 Reasons Why.” I don’t understand. Don’t they see what is going on? Aren’t they aware of the epidemic? Aren’t they paying attention to what is happening to our children in schools across America?

Yes, the content is graphic, but so is the reality. Parents and victims of bullies need to see and understand the damage it causes. Not turn a blind eye or pretend it isn’t happening. No one can afford to ignore this problem anymore.

Parents, children, principals, teachers…everyone has a part to play. Parents can’t leave parenting up to the schools, because the schools can’t do it. However, I do believe schools need to send a strong message that bullying won’t be tolerated. There needs to be accountability and a better security system in place.

It is a shame our schools have to turn into a juvenile detention center instead of being an institution for learning.

Awareness and knowledge is the first step, and I believe “13 Reasons Why” accomplished that. Now the rest is on us. Instead of protesting, debating and disagreeing about this series, why not use the energy to be proactive in spreading awareness and helping to stop bullying which is claiming the lives of our youth.

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This Quiet Madness

Have you ever wanted to give up? You look around you and everything looks grey? A sense of hopelessness envelopes you, that you can’t seem to shake it off?

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Well, you are not alone. Throughout my life, I have struggled with the torment composed of invisible scars. I’ve danced to the same tune more times than I care to admit.

It’s a combination of hopelessness, worthlessness and despair rolled into one. Unless someone goes through it, they won’t understand. So it’s like you are walking through life, on the outside looking in. Disconnected, disoriented, and in a bubble.

I get it, I do. You wonder when you will ever feel “normal”? Whatever normal is. You try hard to mask the gnawing pain with a smile. Sometimes someone will *see* and a wave of shame will come over you. Pushing you to hide, avoid and isolate even more.

This quiet madness is as real as real can be. No one knows how you truly feel or what you are going through. These invisible whips and chains torture you daily.

The incessant voices inside your head telling you, you don’t matter. You are worthless, you have no value, and you are failure.

Yes, yes… I know all too well what this is about. I’m living it right now.

Are you surprised? Don’t be. Most people don’t know the road I’ve been on, or the suffering and pain I’ve endured.

These invisible scars are hidden from the naked eye, but this silent disability is alive and well. It frames my life, and experiences.

I long for the day where I can truly be free. I envision the day where I can fly. Where I won’t be subjected to people’s opinions, or criticisms. Where I can be me and accepted and loved unconditionally for who I am without judgment. Or perhaps reach the point, where it won’t matter anymore.

This journey of mine has been a long and hard one. There have been times I have wanted to give up. But as hard as it is, by the grace of God, I continue on. I am grateful for the praying friends God has graciously placed in my life who know of my internal struggle.

I am writing this post today for those of you who may be struggling too. Depression and anxiety are real. It’s considered a disability. Please join me in trying not to beat yourself up. Know that you are not alone, that God is with you and somehow, someway, you will heal and overcome. Be encouraged even in the midst of the storm. God promised to never leave or forsake you. I’m gripping on to that word for dear life. I hope you will too.

If you are struggling, please let me know in the comment section below. You are not alone. Let’s pray for one another. There is power in prayer and community.

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A Forgotten Ministry

Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them;and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.
Hebrews 13:3

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A couple of weeks ago, I came across an article about a new book that was released, Black is the Day, Black is the Night by Amy Elkins.

This article fascinated me. Amy Elkins corresponded with five male inmates on death row, which lead to her book of remarkable photographs. She expresses their story in an artistic way.

I have been studying about solitary confinement and prison life for awhile now.

Our entire prison and justice system baffles and troubles me. I have a burden for those who are incarcerated.

Those who have been locked up, forgotten about by family and so-called friends as if they no longer exist.

Let me share an excerpt by Amy Elkins:

“A system that uses long-term solitary confinement and capital punishment is broken. Housing someone in infinite isolation has been proven to be hugely damaging to one’s psychological and physical state. This type of isolation breeds behavioral and emotional imbalances that are bound to cause most to remain in a perpetual state of anxiety, depression and anger. Which means they are set up for failure. There is absolutely no way to rehabilitate in such conditions.  But clearly rehabilitation isn’t what they have in mind.

I have written with one man in particular who has served 20 years in solitary confinement as part of a Life Without Parole (LWOP) sentence for a non-murder related crime he committed aged 16. He has written about going years talking through concrete walls without ever seeing the men he holds daily conversations with. He spends nearly 23 hours a day in a small cell by himself and when he is let out, he is shackled and permitted to exercise in a slightly larger room by himself for an hour. How he’s gone 20 years in these conditions and not gone completely mad is mind blowing.”

I have been writing to inmates off and on now for years. You have no idea how happy it makes them to receive letters.

While sitting in their 6 x 9 to 8 x 10 feet cell, day in and day out, for 22 or 23 hours a day, with no hope of physical contact with anyone other than a correctional officer.

They describe solitary confinement or death row as hell on earth.

You may be thinking, these prisoners are criminals, they deserve what they get. They took a life or whatever, so they need to pay for what they did.

But think about it, how will they ever rehabilitate in a barbaric system like solitary confinement or capital punishment?

The system is flawed.

The Bible admonishes us not to forget about those who are in prison.

Perhaps you don’t want to visit a prison. That is understandable. It’s not for everyone.

But, if you have a burden, you could write to an inmate or two.

Some churches even have a prison ministry. If you a part of or member of a church, you may be able to get involved in their pen pal ministry.

If not, you can do it on your own; just Google inmate pen pal sites and choose an inmate to write to.

It’s best to write to the same sex, however, you may discover you identify and have a burden for someone of the opposite sex.

It is important to be clear about your position and intention in your first letter to them, so they know where you stand. Setting boundaries from the beginning is vital.

They will respect your wishes because all they desire is to be able to communicate with someone, anyone.

Believe it or not, the majority do not receive letters from anyone.

If you are concerned about your safety or of your family, you can always use an alias and rent a P.O. Box.

I highly suggest only using a P.O. Box.

If you are going to begin writing to an inmate, the most important thing to remember is consistency is key.

If you believe you won’t be able to be consistent for whatever reason, it is best not to start.

The reason why I say this, is because it will only result in another let down and disappointment for them.

They are already at a loss and suffer from hopelessness.

The only thing they look forward to is receiving letters.

If you decide to start, please make sure you can stick with it.

Writing to those in prison is a forgotten ministry, but is one of the best ways to demonstrate God’s love in action.

Is this something you would be interested in doing? Do you have any questions or concerns? If so, please comment below.

 

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Why Do You Write?

I enjoy reading interviews of writers and their creative process.

In the past few days, I have been reading interviews of great authors, such as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner and Gustave Flaubert.

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I noticed a common thread in these authors is narcissism.

There seems to be a correlation between creative genius and mental illness.

Ernest Hemingway shot himself. F. Scott Fitzgerald was depressed. William Faulkner was an alcoholic. Actually, all three were alcoholics. Gustave Flaubert’s personal life was a bit ‘out there’.

******

I’ve been lurking behind the scenes and observing writers lately.

Writers seem to be plagued by insecurities, much like great authors were.

Writers want to be known. They want their writing to be read and heard. They want to know their writing matters to others and is making a difference in someone’s life.

Personally, I don’t get many comments or traffic on my blog. Nor do I have a large following, audience or platform.

I have had to come to terms that it may always stay this way.

Occasionally, I’ll get a reader who tells me they enjoy my posts and likes my writing. But, not very many.

Truthfully, the more I write and share what God puts on my heart, the less people seem to like it and thus, I get less traffic.

Which is why I had to ask myself the following questions:

1) Am I writing for God, myself or others?

2) Why do I write in the first place?

3) Will I continue to write even if no one reads it and/or my audience never grows?

My answers:

1) I write for God and myself.

2) I write because I love to write. I love words. I love the artistic expression and creative process. I love reading books and writing.

3) Now this one was a hard one to answer, because as I mentioned above, all writers want to be heard and appreciated. But I’ve come to the conclusion, that I do not want my writing to be about someone else liking or accepting it. I want God’s approval. I want to write what I’m passionate about whether anyone else agrees with it or likes it or not. Other people liking my writing is just the icing on the cake.

I’ve discovered that to continue writing, the ‘why’ has to be bigger than the ‘obstacle’.

If your why isn’t bigger than your obstacle, then you won’t keep at it.

If you are only writing for man’s applause or recognition, you will eventually be disappointed and give up.

Writing for others is the wrong focus and motivation.

Writers have to be comfortable and content  for art’s sake.

Even if no one reads your writing, you should still want to write anyway.

Writing should never be about other people, but about God and you.

This is the reason why I write.

Now it’s your turn, why do you write?

 

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Freefall To Fly by Rebekah Lyons

Hardcover: 200 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Books (April 9, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414379366
ISBN-13: 978-1414379364
Price: $19.99
Purchase: Amazon | CBD | BN

 

 

 

 

 

Description

The Dark Night of the Soul in the City That Never Sleeps.

At first glance, Rebekah Lyons’s life path seemed straightforward: walk the aisle, take the short road to motherhood, and build a family on a suburban cul-de-sac in the South.

But life looked radically different when her family relocated to the heart of New York City. She was forced to navigate a new normal with three kids, two toy poodles, and a minivan. Blindsided by crippling despair, Rebekah wrestled with bigger questions women often ask: Why am I here? Does my life matter?

In a Western culture driven by performance and Pinterest fantasies, her story echoes the rise of loneliness, depression, and anxiety that women are facing at all-time highs. Why are expectations and lifestyles breaking us down in unprecedented ways?

In this beautifully moving memoir of vulnerability, courage, and ultimately transformation, Rebekah shares her journey into the unknown—a thrilling, terrifying freefall that eventually led to flight. Searching for meaning, she stumbled on surrender, discovering that meaning follows surrender.

Rebekah found freedom when she faced her greatest fear, and she invites other women to do the same. For it is only when we freefall that we can truly fly.


Review

As much as I enjoyed Rebekah Lyons writing style, there were certain aspects of her memoir that I found hard to relate or identify with.

I am a working mom and she is a stay at home mom. She is afforded opportunities most working and stay at home moms do not. Which is why I believe her story specifically speaks to mothers or women who are from her same socioeconomic background.

I do understand and can relate to the author’s feelings of angst and her struggles with anxiety and depression. Her struggle with wanting to find her specific calling besides that of being a wife and mother.

However, I have to be honest and say, most moms I know living in New York City do not have the time or luxury to go to someone’s apartment in the morning for bible study, or go on retreats, or even have time to just walk through Central Park while it’s snowing.

So if you are not of that lifestyle or demographic, it’s kind of hard to relate to her story or put yourself in the author’s shoes.

However, the author’s story is hers and I respect her life and experiences. I believe Rebekah Lyon’s memoir was candid, authentic and truthful. She didn’t hide, she exposed a lot of herself and her experiences, which I appreciated. I also find her to be a talented writer, so on that front, I enjoyed reading her memoir.

If there was one word I could use to describe her book, it would be surrender.

Freefall to Fly was about Rebekah Lyons journey to find God and herself. In the midst of it, God delivered her from severe and debilitating anxiety attacks. I found this aspect of her story to be encouraging, but I do not believe this is common.

Most people do not get delivered from anxiety because they cry out to God in desperation. This was the authors experience, which I respect, however, there are many who have to be on medication and that is no indication God loves them any less because they weren’t delivered.

In conclusion, I want to thank Handlebar Marketing and Tyndale Publishers for sending me a complimentary book to review.

Rebekah Lyons is a mother of three, wife of one, and dog walker of two living in New York City. She’s an old soul with a contemporary, honest voice who puts a new face on the struggles women face as they seek to live a life of meaning. As a self-confessed mess, Rebekah wears her heart on her sleeve, a benefit to friends and readers alike. She serves alongside her husband, Gabe, as cofounder of QIdeas, an organization that helps leaders winsomely engage culture.

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When You’ve Lost Your Dream

There was a time in my life where I couldn’t hear, see or sense God. I would pray and it was as if the heavens were brass.

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I thought my life would turn out one way and here I was, recovering from the aftermath of a difficult pregnancy, overweight, post partum, sleep deprived because my son was colic and unhappy.

I can’t tell you how hard life was for me back then. I would look around at my friends who were happy and pursuing their dreams.

But I wasn’t. I was stuck in a new reality that I did not want.

I kept asking God where He was. He didn’t seem like He was with me at all. I felt isolated and alone.

When we are in a difficult season of life, we think it will last forever.

My friends did their best to try and encourage me by saying, God is not over with me yet and He had a great plan for my life.

While I whispered under my breath, yeah right. I couldn’t see it. I felt as if God abandoned me.

I was miserable.

Instead of getting better, I got bitter. I was angry and I was envious of others who were living their lives the way I wished I could.

I honestly did not believe I would ever dream again.

I am happy to report I am dreaming again. I’m dreaming God’s dream for me before I came to earth.

You are probably wondering how long it took to get to this point. The answer is a decade. It was only up until recently I was able to dream again.

So for those of you who are raising babies, don’t know what your dreams are, feel really discouraged and inadequate, this is for you:

God has a plan for your life. He hasn’t given up on you. He hasn’t forgotten you. He hasn’t abandoned you. He loves you passionately. You are in a season right now. It won’t last forever. He is growing you in the process. Keep your eyes on Him, no matter what and He will see you through. You will dream again.

Have you stopped dreaming? Do you think God has forgotten you?

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Book Review: Fully Alive by Ken Davis

Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (July 10, 2012
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0849948428
ISBN-13: 978-0849948428
List Price: $19.99
Purchase: Amazon | BN | CBD

Sample Chapter

 

 

 

Description

Food labels, advertisements, politicians, self-help books–they all promise the same thing: a better life . . . or–as Jesus might put it–life to the fullest.

For millions this pursuit of happiness has captivated , ensnared, and, most disappointingly, it has alluded.  Which begs the question, what is the missing link?  Fully Alive explores the idea that God is glorified when man is “fully and eternally alive,” illustrated by best-selling author and motivational speaker Ken Davis’s most honest and intimate stories.

Ken invites us to walk with him on a journey, along a road of heartache and adventure to a place he calls “the land of the living,” and discover what may be missing in our lives.

A poignant and entertaining storyteller, Davis points out the practical steps necessary to live this way–everything from lightening up to taking a quality of life assessment, to overcoming trials–while also revealing the power of Christ’s resurrection available for each of us.

Get a taste of the beautiful urgency of today and begin moving toward a change in your life that draws from the joy and power that can be found only in Christ.

Review

I admit, I didn’t know who Ken Davis was before reading Fully Alive.  So, it was especially sweet getting to know him by reading his story.

Ken Davis shares his struggles and triumphs in his life’s journey. He doesn’t hide anything.  He is candid and open in relaying details of his life.

Have you felt depressed or unmotivated lately? Have you been thinking about getting back in shape, but think it’s impossible?  Do you feel old and listless? Are you just going through the motions in life?  Have you thought, is this all there is?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, I strongly urge you to get this book.  Fully Alive will challenge, convict, inspire and invigorate you to make positive changes your life.

After reading this book, I realize I seriously have no excuse. Ken Davis shows you how its done. You get the sense that if he can do it, you can do it.

Ken Davis touches on various subjects, such as exercise, diet and faith.  He writes from a holistic standpoint and leaves nothing out.

This is my favorite quote:

“The glory of God is man fully alive: Striving in the midst of all odds.  Never satisfied with the status quo.  Seeking excellence in every area of life.  Because Jesus can raise the dead and because He Himself was raised from the dead, then no matter what my situation, I can know the power of His resurrection to live my life fully alive.” (Page 209)

I don’t know about you, but I definitely want to live fully alive.

Fully Alive will inspire, encourage and enrich your life. I highly recommend this motivating book to everyone.

In conclusion, I want to thank Daniel Decker and Thomas Nelson for allowing me the opportunity to read and review a complimentary copy of this wonderful book.

Ken Davis is one of the most sought-after speakers in North America. He has appeared on television and stage around the world, addressing groups as diverse as the Gaither Praise Gathering, The Kellogg Corporation, Focus on the Family, and Pentax Corporation. Ken provides a unique mixture of side-splitting humor and inspiration that never fails to delight and enrich a wide variety of audiences. Each presentation is carefully designed to fit the diverse needs of his clients. Davis’ daily radio program, LIGHTEN UP!, is broadcast on over 1,800 stations worldwide and spotlights his gift as a storyteller and comedian.  http://www.kendavis.com/

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