Saturday, September 16, 2017

Four Things You Can Do to #StopSuicide

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

As National Suicide Prevention Week comes to a close, I wanted to share a few words. I was once suicidal. I hated myself. I hated my life. I was blind to the love of people around me. I was virtually on the precipice, but stepped back at the last moment because of their love. They mattered to me, and I mattered to them. I remembered that at the moment it would do the most good. I survived that dark period, and other dark periods that followed. I survived, healed, and now I try to help other people as desperately miserable as I once was by opening up about depression, ADHD, and suicide with my writing.

In fact, I wrote a book to #StopSuicide, but helping people doesn’t need to be that elaborate. Just listen and care when somebody is in crisis. Take the time to care. Don’t recoil from the subject. The fact somebody is opening up to you about such a difficult subject is an amazing blessing in your life. Don’t waste it.

The other night I spoke with a gentleman whose boy committed suicide years ago. His pain survives that suicide years later. He felt his boy didn’t mean to do it. That it was an accident. People care. They agonize over these deaths. If you are convinced nobody cares, that’s the suicidal intentions lying to you. This father, like most survivors, was wracked with survivor’s guilt. I could see it in his eyes. It’s a look I’ve seen before. “What could I have done differently?!”, they usually ask themselves. Sometimes there is nothing you can do. The ultimate choice is theirs to make, but you can do a few things to give them a fighting chance:

  1. Ask
    You know what people look like when they are sad. You know what people look like when they are devastated. If you see somebody carrying that kind of cloud over their heads, take a moment to inquire how they’re doing. They will probably tell you they’re just fine, because don’t we all? But you’ve opened a door that they didn’t know was open for them before.

  2. Listen
    If they choose to open up to you, their feelings may be intense, and what they describe may be hard to bear, but persevere. You are their lifeline. Don’t pull it back into the boat before they grab on.

  3. Care
    You may find their reasons for feeling suicidal are insignificant and even silly. I’ve heard it all. People without problems react to people drowning in problems with some form of “What? That’s nothing!” But keep this in mind. Suicidal depression magnifies small events into giant meteors of impending death. Their perception is that there is no hope, no way out except death. You may look and see tiny obstacles that would be easy for you to circumvent, but for them, these obstacles are mountains of impossible height. Don’t berate them for not being you. If they saw their life problems as small obstacles, they wouldn’t be confiding in you for help. Do your best to give them support, perspective, and compassion.

  4. Follow Up
    As the adage goes, out of sight, out of mind. You may pat yourself on the back for a job well done, but they may continue walking around with a cloud over their heads. Check in on them to see how they are doing. Your simple pep talk won’t erase a tsunami of suicidal depression anymore than one moment of sun dries your clothes on a rainy day. Don’t pester them, obviously, but keep at it. Ask them here and there how they’re doing. Let them know somebody cares.

From my own experience with suicide, we don’t think clearly during our bleakest moments. We may even believe that what we are planning is perfectly logical—even a kindness to the people we leave behind. Keep reaching out. Keep loving. It matters.

It’s not our responsibility to make their choices for them. It’s not our fault if they reject us and make that final, horrible choice. But if there is even one chance that a caring ear bent towards their needs could have helped them stop, wouldn’t you want to be the person who saved somebody from their darkest impulses?


Thank you for your support this week. I hope you found my book on fighting suicide helpful, or gifted it to somebody else who might.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Proving You Can't Even Give a Book on Suicide Away for FREE? #StopSuicide #NSPW17

Another year; another National Suicide Prevention Week has passed. This year I thought it would be a good service to the community if I offered my ebook, Saying “NO” to Suicide, for FREE throughout the week. Since I’d never made my ebooks FREE before, I had no idea what an ordeal this would become. I started last Saturday, and soon Kobo reflected the new price. Yes! Excitement! By midnight, Apple’s iBooks was also reflecting the price. This was going to work! But then World Suicide Prevention Day arrived on the 10th, and neither B&N nor Kindle reflected the newer, freer price. This was a problem because I sell most of my books on Amazon’s Kindle (followed closely by iBooks). I decided to hold off making any announcement until all the sellers matched in price.

B&N changed their price on Monday, which was fine for National Suicide Prevention Week, but Amazon was still unchanged. You see, Amazon doesn’t allow sellers to list their items for $0. Instead, you change the price elsewhere and hope Amazon price matches. After all, that’s what all the tutorials say. Would the internet lie?

By Tuesday, I let people know about the sale, and then begged readers to report the price difference at Amazon to get things moving, but that didn’t work. Then on Wednesday, I contacted KDP help and pointed out the new price myself in a plea with customer service. That did the trick! The price was finally FREE on all platforms by Thursday morning with two days left to the week. I tweeted out the announcement again, and hoped that it would reach people in time.

Who would have thought giving something away for FREE would require so much effort? At least everything is fine now. Too bad I just realized a moment ago that I forgot to blog about it. All week. It’s now Friday. The week is a bit over at this point. Nicely done, ADHD.

The drama that I alluded to in my previous blog entry—the drama that has consumed my life this past year—continued this week. Family comes first, so I focused on meeting their needs, but I have to admit I’m a little frustrated that there is so little time left for me at the end of the day. After all, just because I have to be Ms. Frizzle and Dr. Mark Sloan all at the same time doesn’t mean that I stop being disabled. I manage my depression well, but ADHD still lurks behind bushes, popping out for a neat surprise when I least expect it. Mostly, however, my Tourette’s Syndrome takes me out by the end of the day.

So I limp along. Hello, Friday!

Run and get your copy for FREE while you can. Maybe leave me a kind word at the store where you purchased the book if you find my ebook useful. (Ratings and reviews are so helpful for new authors and new readers.) Even if you don’t suffer from suicidal ideation, this is a good opportunity to gift the book to somebody you feel needs it. Or read it for yourself. Each chapter uses one of my suicide themed blog entries and discusses the coping strategy I used. There are also tips for friends & family who deal with somebody who is suicidal. It’s my best work to date and has been well received by people who have read it. I hope it helps you, too.

Meanwhile, I can’t wait until I raise the price to $2.99 on Sunday evening. I plan on keeping that sale going all through National Suicide Prevention Month. What could go wrong? I’m sure it’ll go smooth as oatmeal yogurt.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Life Is a River of Drama

This has been a tough year for me. I’ve kept my struggle mostly secret because the drama that ails me relates a story that I cannot share. The results of it are fairly obvious to those who observe me day to day, however. I’m less cheery; I’m more stressed; my sleep is horrible; I’m way behind in my writing; my finances have thrown up a white flag; I don’t find relief in social media anymore; and my real social life has evaporated like water in the hot, Utah sun. The most unfortunate aspect of the drama is that the more stress I encounter, the worse my Tourette’s becomes.


During all of this, I fulfill all my duties as a dad, and plug forward. There is always a dawn on the other side of the darkness. I believe that completely, but these days I don’t have extra energy or time for writing books or articles.

I thought I had a handle on things, albeit my life was full-time daddy work and no freelance, but then I woke up a few days ago and thought that life would be easier if I removed myself from it. I haven’t had a suicidal thought in years, so that thought shocked me upright. I immediately engaged my coping strategies.

  • Step One: I texted my daughters and let them know I had a suicidal thought.
  • Step Two: I couldn’t set an appointment checkup with a therapist because I can’t currently find one nearby that works with my insurance plan. So I did something proactive instead…
  • Step Three: I went out for a walk in the bright sunlight. I talked to myself along the way, analyzing my thoughts and identifying the elements that had brought me to suicidism again. I made an action plan. I made goals. I chased off that black dog with all the sticks that I could muster.

View from my Walk Therapy

And it worked.

Unfortunately, none of this sadness and worry has anything to do with my clinical depression. I say “unfortunately” because if it was just depression keeping me down, I’d have overcome all this by now. My tool belt doesn’t have anything to offset external forces that dump concrete on my chipper attitude. I can manage the feelings I get after emerging from the wreckage, but nothing I do can stop the unrelenting pressures of family drama delivered by the truckload.

“What on earth is happening to you, Douglas?!” you may fairly shout. “Stop teasing already!” Again, it’s not my story to tell, but I can say that it’s an ordeal I can’t walk away from. After over a year of this, with a crescendo in the past few months, I have to admit that it is time for a new set of coping strategies. I am not writing fiction as I had planned because I can’t justify the time spent on it. I am not writing in this blog except sporadically for the same reason. My New York editor over at ADDitude magazine probably thinks I’m blowing him off because I haven’t submitted work in weeks, but it’s hard to write a humor article when my smile is lost in the chaos. And lastly, I had suicidal thoughts—a clear indication that it is time for a change. Maybe I don’t need to toss out my old coping strategies, but I certainly need to replace them temporarily with something better tailored for the current stresses.

Life changes and we need to change with it. Sometimes, the forces of life that work against us aren’t always internal. We need to have coping strategies prepared for when things become hard to bear. I don’t feel like I’m swimming through turbulent waters as much as I am afloat with my mouth slightly above water as I get carried along in the current. I’m getting air, but I have no control over the direction that I’m taking. Unless I make changes, I’ll simply continue to take damage.

The truth is that life flows on regardless of our swimming skills. Either we adapt, or we get carried under. With that in mind, I’m writing this blog post as a way of casting anchor, but also to let you know that I haven’t forgotten about this space on the internet. I haven’t succumbed. I still win the fight against depression and suicide every day. I’m, also, overcoming my ADHD. I have plenty of attitude; I’m just very, very short on humor.

Ah. Drama calls… Here’s to smiles and peace in the future. Here’s to leaving drama in the past.

I write a lot about fighting suicide as well as depression. It is my hope that you find something here to help you in your battle. I also wrote a book on overcoming suicide that many people have found helpful.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Slay ADHD Tardiness with These 5 Tips

I have to admit. I haven’t been the most punctual of guys. I’ve tried, but I failed a lot. Last Tuesday, I had an appointment to meet a counselor at my daughter’s school. I left on time. I maneuvered through traffic like I was in the Indy 500 (without breaking the law!). I arrived early! Two minutes early! Then I reminded myself to put up the sunshade before getting out. I’ve written before about the effect sun-heated cars have on my noodle. So up went the sunshade. Is this the right way? No, it’s upside down. Wait, I should really put up the side window shades, too. There. Looks great! No overheating for me!
By the time I walked through the door, however, I was two minutes late.
Dang, foiled by ADHD again!
Some of you might be thinking that two minutes is hardly LATE. It’s certainly not the latest I’ve ever been. With my Tourette’s and my super awesome ADHD organization, I’ve been known to push a courtesy fifteen minute grace period into the sixteenth minute and beyond. I’ve broken time and space many a time to race across town just to arrive a hair too late, then be told I’d have to reschedule. It was a way of life. Did This year I’ve been renewing my efforts to be punctual, and lately I’ve been making strides. In fact, I was very early to my appointment the other day. I was one month early. I told a friend online that if somebody were to bet that I’d be late for the true appointment next month, I wouldn’t take that bet because I’d probably lose.
Sometimes being late is a matter of trying to fit four into three when there simply isn’t time for it. Sometimes I’m avoiding boredom by doing as much as I can before the appointed time. Sometimes I get distracted at the last minute. Most of the time, however, it’s just poor planning. Here’s how I’m getting around that these days:
  1. Decide to be on time – I can’t emphasize enough how important this step is. Determination alone cannot prevent ADHD glitches, but it can go a great distance in helping us overcome bad habits. I was a month early because I marked a July appointment for June. Hello, ADHD. But I was “on time” for my supposed appointment because I was determined to change my behavior. Let’s hope I can do that again in July. šŸ¤žšŸ¼
  2. Plan to be 10 minutes early – You’ve heard the tips: Schedule your appointments ten minutes early. Set your clocks forward 10 minutes. The trouble with those tips was that I’d calculate realtime on the fly and be late anyway. My twist on this trick—which was alien to me for so many years—is to want to be 10 minutes early. I’ve turned it into a game. This is how I enforce Tip #1. The reason I was two minutes late for the appointment at my daughter’s school was because I didn’t plan on being ten minutes early, and therefore, I wasn’t. Ten minutes may not be enough, so eventually I’ll push this back to allow for ADHD and traffic congestion.
  3. Verify the appointment – I never remember this step, but I always wish that I did. Many places will send out a reminder call before your appointment. If you haven’t received that reminder call, maybe there’s something wrong with your appointment’s entry on your calendar (app or otherwise). Entering something wrong is an ADHD hazard (Don’t you just love the “careless” mistake?), but sometimes appointments get canceled or changed. If you didn’t hear the call, or it’s sitting in your unlistened-to voice mail, it’s wise to check before you head over. I didn’t get a call for today’s appointment, but I was so hyped up to be on time, I headed over anyway. That was more than a little embarrassing.
  4. Set multiple alarms – I use a mobile app called Fantastical that let’s me set any number of default alarms for every appointment, as opposed to Apple’s default limit of two, to work in tandem with Apple’s Mobile Calendar strengths. I’ve decided I need three alarms for every event. When I schedule a 1pm appointment, I am automatically reminded 30 minutes before the event, one hour before the event, and one day before the event. If I need more alarms, I happily tack them on, but I am leery of alarm fatigue, so I try to keep things reasonable. That 30 minutes alarm cuts things fairly close. It’s intended to wake me up if I’m deep in a distraction. Apple’s Calendar app can calculate travel time, so be sure to add location data for appointments to get those extra reminders on the Notifications screen. Android users can find apps that add similar features like Google Calendar and Tiny Calendar.
  5. Bring plenty to do – One thought process that prevents me from being punctual is ADHD fear of boredom. All that time waiting! What will I do? Make your own Boredom Survival Kit™.
It may seem overly simple, but punctuality starts with the desire to be punctual. Then you build from there. You’ve got this.

If you like punctuality, you should download my book. It will arrive exactly when you expect it.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Suicide Catches Us All Unaware: Lessons from The Passive Voice

I've got a new blog going up soon, but I came across something tonight that I felt compelled to share with you.

Over on The Passive Voice, PG wrote about the turmoil his family has been going through due to the suicide of his son and the death of his brother — both within the same few weeks. Any death in the family can be devastating. I recently stood over the grave of my brother on Memorial Day, teary-eyed with a tight throat, even though its been nineteen years since the car accident. We don't forget those we loved. His son's suicide has pushed PG beyond the limits of his strength. Then he lost his brother to cancer. What a difficult time for his family. And yet, despite all of that, he put together a blog with such fabulous advice, I was in awe of his stamina.

His blog post gives advice on words of comfort, discusses preparation for deaths in the family, and includes a stirring passage on mental illness. I was just thinking today about the need for a will now that I'm 50. PG's blog served as a wake up call while also touching my heart.

My deepest condolences go out to his family, and I thank him for his desire to help us avoid the mistakes and stress that he ran into.

The Passive Voice - Update

If you or a loved one is struggling with suicidism, my book, Saying "NO" to Suicide, may be of use. I share it here because it is my heart's desire that people overcome suicide.
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