Yes, It’s Me, Sarah & This Is Not Spam

It came to my attention recently, some people think that I’m posting spam, and then don’t read my posts or share the information I’m posting on social media. I get it. Those who really know me, don’t see me as a person to promote a cause or be particularly political in any way. That’s changed because I have changed…

I found the picture I added to this post, and it reminded me of my husband Keith. His stomach looked exactly like that after a suicide attempt where he stabbed himself so deep, that he punctured his intestines.

The night he stabbed himself we were at home watching Perry Mason, a part of our nightly ritual. At commercial, he got up from the couch and walked into the kitchen. I assumed he was after his favorite night time snacks, bread and peanut butter, but he returned empty handed and sat back on the couch.

The show continued and I happened to glance over to the couch where Keith was sitting, and to my horror, discovered his white t-shirt soaked in blood. There was so much blood gushing from the wound that it was pooling in the creases of his shirt and jeans.

I didn’t have time to panic. I grabbed a towel, applied pressure to the wound and called 911. I continued applying pressure to his stomach until the ambulance arrived, crying and trying to get Keith to talk to me. He said nothing. He just kept watching Perry Mason. Only after the ambulance left with him, did I notice the long, blood covered knife lying on the kitchen counter, and drops of blood on the tile floor. 

After his surgery, his stomach looked just like the featured photo in this post. That incident was his first suicide attempt during our marriage. I did not handle it well. I didn’t know what to do or how to help him. I have issues with mental illness and have had a suicide attempt myself, so you would think I would know exactly what he needed. 

I didn’t. 

The timeline around my suicide attempt is very blurry, and I don’t remember the actual attempt at all, just a fuzzy ambulance ride, and the horrible 2 weeks away from home. I do remember feeling so alone, although the word “alone” doesn’t give the feeling justice. 

The “alone” I was feeling, was like a panic rising up inside of me, akin to how I imagine someone might feel if they were awake during a surgical procedure, but paralyzed, unable to talk or tell anyone they were awake. Once the first incision was made, you found not only were you awake, but felt everything. Then you were screaming, yet no sound emerged. 

That is the “alone” feeling which makes suicide seem like the only option.

Keith made a second suicide attempt. I came home one evening and found him on the living room floor. He had stabbed himself in the stomach again, only that time, he inserted the knife 5 times. 

I handled his second attempt much better than the first, hardly leaving his side unless I had to eat or go to the bathroom. 

Following his release from the hospital, he was placed in an inpatient facility for a few weeks. He jumped off a bridge 7 months later…

I have to live with the fact that Keith is gone forever. Living with the loss of a spouse, or anyone really, is so incredibly difficult. Suicide adds something to the loss that doesn’t make the loss worse than others, just very different. 

Keith had support, love, understanding, and his family by his side no matter what, and still lost his battle. 

I am realistic in knowing suicide, mental illness and addiction can not be eradicated. However, with the most up to date information we have about the effects of trauma during a lifespan, and the reality of mental illness and addiction; I feel it’s incredibly important for those of us who are capable, to speak out about our experiences, to help put an end to the stigma attached to mental illness and addiction. So many people are suffering in silence and dying. 

I have been through the unimaginable in my life, and all while battling mental illness and addiction. It’s hard. The way we look at these illnesses as a society is wrong, and people are dying, going to prison unnecessarily, and families are being torn apart. 

So, no, this is not spam. This is the reality many of us live and the more that is said out loud about mental illness, addiction, and what these illnesses truly are, the more we evolve in mind and spirit. 

Download my app! It is available right now on Android only. It provides easy access to my posts as well as my Facebook Page, also titled, “Inside My Manic Mind”.


The Suicide Moms: Not Your Average Heros

Photo credit: Sarah Jones
In order from left to right: Peggy, Becky, Karen, Mara, Barbara “The Suicide Moms”

My mother-in-law is amazing in many ways. She is intelligent, compassionate, driven, and always tries to understand where someone is coming from; even if that someone is different from her. I admire all of these things about her.

I can now add four more people to the list of women I find truly inspirational and admirable, “The Suicide Moms”.

The Suicide Moms consist of a brave group of women who are all survivors of suicide, meaning they each lost a loved one to suicide. However, these incredible women didn’t just lose any loved one, they each lost their child.

It’s unnatural to bury your child, it’s not the way the universe is supposed to work. Our children are supposed to bury us; add suicide to the equation, and the pain these women must feel is completely unimaginable.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019, marked two years since one of The Suicide Moms’ son, Caleb 18, died by suicide. I went to brunch with The Moms to support Karen, (Caleb’s Mom) and to meet the rest of the group.

They are Karen, Barbara, lost her son Keith 36, Mara, lost her daughter Kara 35, Becky lost her son Adam 22, and Peggy who lost her son E.C. 31.

There were a few tears shed, but they didn’t last long due to the support and love these women doled out for each other, no doubt finding strength in each other’s words and simple presence.

Karen’s son Caleb had made oragami figures and passed them out to his friends on a regular basis. Karen brought adorable oragami birds and passed them out to each of us, as well as dragonfly ornaments that hold significance for her. I was very touched by the parallel gifting between mother and son.

After some catching up, the group discussed their advocacy goals. They are advocating for it to be mandatory in the state of Oklahoma for there to be professional mental health staff on-site in our schools.

There are a few mental health related mandates we could be voting on next fall in our state. The Moms consider any progression toward their ultimate goal as a step in the right direction, but they are pushing for action to be taken immediately so tragedies like theirs happen less often.

Barbara wrote a Dr. Suess-like poem about their advocacy and the pressing need our kids have for mental health care in schools. It was amazing. Before the brunch was over the Moms had made plans to recite the poem together and send it to everyone. I offered to be the videographer. I have to get in on the amazing plight these women are undertaking. Their courage and tenacity is contagious.

I feel so privileged to have met all of The Moms, and I’m particularly proud of one. Barbara amazes me all the time, but I went away today super proud to be her daughter-in-law and so grateful to her son, my late husband, for bringing her into my life.

Although the situations in which I came to meet The Suicide Moms are incredibly tragic, I am grateful to have met them. I feel my own children might be safer knowing The Moms are looking out for them and all of our children who are still here, and giving a voice to those whose memories live on in these beautiful, vivacious women… The Suicide Moms.

Video of the Suicide Moms reciting Barbara’s poem
Barbara advocating for mental health at the Tulsa City Council Meeting

The ACE’s Quiz

My case manager and I were wrapping up a long session of the dreaded “treatment plan” update, when he exclaimed, “Oh, I almost forgot! There is a new quiz we have to do now!”

He was referring to the ACE’s quiz.

A.C.E is an acronym for “adverse childhood experiences”. The quiz was simple, but the questions were very personal and deep even for us and we are close.

It’s said that the higher your score, the more at risk you are for developing certain adversities later in life.

  • risky health behaviors
  • chronic health conditions
  • low life potential
  • early death

It’s important to note that the presence of ACEs does not automatically mean you will have any of the aforementioned adversities. It simply means there is a higher risk.

I took the quiz and answered the incredibly personal questions truthfully, ending with a score of 7. I didn’t know what it meant so I looked it up online. A score of 7 is very high. I read with a score higher than 4, things start to get serious.

Click here to read about ACE’s scores and take the quiz.

I began researching deeper into ACEs after a discussion with my mother-in-law over lunch. She informed me she recently began advocating for schools to hire mental health professionals as well as give the ACE quiz to all students. What a fabulous idea. I love it.

My mother-in-law is a force, and I believe she can accomplish this goal. This particular platform means a lot to both of us especially after losing my husband, her son, to suicide. The idea is that the trauma is dealt with instead of sweeping it all under the rug. Not dealing with the issues, is what leads to the problems later.

My husband didn’t have many ACEs at all. In fact, he had a great childhood. He was just sick. With the inclusion of this quiz in schools as well as the presence of mental health professionals, perhaps even the kids who are ” sick” can get help sooner.

The only question I have about the study is why we didn’t have it sooner. I was under the assumption it was common knowledge that abuse and neglect as children affect people later in life. The main point I always heard was that children from abusive homes are more likely to abuse their own kids.

I also thought it was common knowledge children of divorced parents are adversely affected. Bring on the “daddy issues”. If these were statistics widely acknowledged, why in 2019 do we just now have this quiz?

The study actually began in 1995 with the first recorded results becoming available in 1998. I took psychology in college and never had it mentioned. Isn’t that kind of odd?

I am so proud of my mother-in-law for putting herself into this advocacy for our kids. It’s a big deal. She pointed out that since Keith’s death in 2017, me starting my blog about mental health is my way of giving back. I truly hope someone gains insight or simply no longer feels so alone after reading some of my posts. That is my goal.

Do your own research and educate yourselves further regarding this study, as well as take the quiz. I provided a link above.

The world has come a long way in understanding mental health and the effects of trauma. We still have a long way to go, but we have to start somewhere.