The following blog is from a High School friend Phillip Fokas, who is now a Clinical Therapist 2 at Loma Linda University Behavioral Medicine Center. In addition Phillip is studying Marriage & Family Therapy at Loma Linda University Health. He shared the accounts one of his patients. Her mother gave full permission for this post and photos to appear on FaceBook. As an attempt survivor this touched me so deeply I asked for permission to post it to my blog.
September 12, 2014
I have received permission from the family to share this post.
Her name was Ali she would have been 18 years old. Unfortunately, she lost her battle with severe depression. Today marks a year that Ali made the tragic decision to take her life. For most people it is difficult to imagine a person making that life ending decision. The pain and confusion that follows such an act is devastating to all that are left behind. There hasn’t been a day in the past year that I haven’t thought of Ali and what could have been done differently. As I have reflected on it over and over this past year I have come to realize that it wasn’t one particular event that led to this tragic decision but a number of events over the course of her 17 years on this earth that contributed to the ultimate life ending decision.
Today make an effort to be kind to someone; you never know what they may be feeling like or what they have experienced. For those of you who have children encourage them to be compassionate to their peers. Ali was often bullied at school and called all sort of horrific names such as bitch, slut, you name it, it is sad to me that people don’t think of the consequences their behavior and words have on others.
For the parents, regardless of what happens in the relationship between you and your spouse always be there for your children because the way that you treat them is the way they are going to feel about themselves. Value them and they will value themselves. Ali’s biological father abandoned her when she was very young one lasting memory that she had of him was him dumping a beer over her head. It was difficult for Ali to see her value if the person that was supposed to love her unconditionally treated her like that and ultimately chose drugs and alcohol over her.
This image of herself continued to influence the types of relationships she participated in and the type of information she received about herself from others. She struggle immensely to recognize positive things about herself regardless of the amount of times it was told to her. Ali didn’t need to hear the negative messages from anyone she had already internalized them as her own. Although Ali was smart, creative, and beautiful she could not escape the feelings and thoughts of being less than. I spent many hours with Ali and I can honestly say that deep in the recesses of her mind and soul she felt and thought she did not deserve to be happy.
My reason for sharing this is my hope that perhaps one person can change or alter their behavior which inevitable can effects another’s mood and behavior.
As an attempt survivor, my heart aches for those that are tortured with mental illness. I am now able to speak up and share my story, but that did not come easy, or overnight. I do know that I am susceptible to falling into a dark place again, but I try to take what I have learned over the last few years and simply be more aware and honest about how I am feeling. When I initially shared my story on FaceBook Phil reached out to me, gave me insight, hope and made me feel more confident in my ability to move forward. The mental health world is a better place because he is in it!
Thank you for sharing this story, we all need to be reminded to be kind to one another. We never know what one person is struggling with, or who was like me and just put on a brave face to get through each day.