Category Archives: suicide

What Can One Person Do? Book Excerpt #2

Here is part of the first chapter of Your Life Matters. Let me know what you think.

What Can One Person Really Do?

My granny raised my sister and me after our parents divorced. Looking back, I am truly amazed at what she did for us.

Granny took us everywhere, never complaining or griping about it. She simply told us to get in the car with all of our stuff and “let’s go.” I played little league Red Devil football. We practiced three times a week and then played a game once a week in Houston, an hour away.

One time, my game started early in the evening. Granny dropped me off and she and my sister went to get something to eat. On their way back, she turned into the parking lot but missed the entrance and drove into a ditch. A deep ditch. Too deep to drive out of. They had to call a wrecker to pull it out.

They didn’t discuss the mishap in front of me. If my sister hadn’t told me about it, I would have never heard about it.

Granny told me, “Well, Bubba, these things happen. We weren’t hurt. The car wasn’t damaged. No big deal.” She let these things roll off her back like water off the back of a duck.

~

I learned a lot from Granny’s tales. She told me a story she heard while she was in nurse training. It was about a nurse and a little girl.

The little girl, Annie, had been diagnosed as hopelessly insane. They locked her up in the dungeon of a mental institution on the outskirts of Boston, Massachusetts. People said that this young girl was so far gone that there were times when she acted like a wild animal. She would attack anyone who dared to come close to her. They labeled her Crazy Annie.

Other times, Annie would be completely catatonic and wouldn’t recognize anything. She sat, staring at the walls for days on end. No one knew of a treatment plan or had any hope that Crazy Annie would ever get better. They had locked her up and thrown away the key.

But an elderly nurse, a woman of faith, believed God could do what modern medicine could not. She believed and had hope for all of God’s children and Little Annie was one of them.

So, she started with taking the long trek down to the dungeon every day to eat her lunch outside of Little Annie’s cage. The nurse had a deep desire to communicate her love for Annie as well as God’s love for the girl, but she didn’t know how to reach her. She only knew she had to go.

Each day, she ate her lunch beside Annie’s cage and talked to Annie with no response. Some days she sang for her, but Annie didn’t respond to that either. One day, the nurse left her dessert, a chocolate brownie, beside Annie’s cage.

Annie didn’t acknowledge the brownie beside her while the nurse remained, but when the nurse came back the next day, the brownie was gone. Every Thursday, the nurse would bring her dessert and leave it for Annie. When she returned the next day, it would be gone.

Something began to change through these simple acts of love and kindness that no one could explain. After several weeks passed, doctors noticed small improvements in Annie. Then, after a few months, the improvements were so profound, they transferred her out of the cage and moved her upstairs into a lower level of security. Eventually, the staff allowed her to be among the general population.

Finally, one day the doctors told the formerly hopelessly insane Little Annie she was well and could go home. However, she didn’t want to go. She wanted to stay and help others who were diagnosed as she had been.

You may recognize her name. Annie Sullivan. The same woman who later helped Helen Keller walk out of her darkness and into the light of a future. Helen and Annie inspired generations of people.

One elderly nurse, headed toward the end of her career, made a difference by sharing a few words, a little music, and some dessert. The hopelessly insane little girl who experienced love from that nurse, went on to impact a blind and deaf girl who changed the world.

When my Granny told me about the nurse and girl, I didn’t fully understand it. I thought it was a great story, but when she told me the rest of the story, I never forgot it.

Granny said, “This one nurse’s care and compassion had effectively changed the world. Think about it, Bubba. How many people did Ann Sullivan and Helen Keller impact during their lifetimes, and even today?”

_____________________________________________________

So how would you answer Granny? Can you see yourself in this one? Where have you reached out and helped – just because you could?

Let me know what you think and if you would like to see more.

Dr. Cliff

The 800lb Gorilla – aka Depression

Ever experience the 800lb Gorilla? You know… when it feels like it is sitting on your chest and it won’t move. So you stay in bed until there is just know way you can stay another moment.

Or he could be on your shoulders, making you feel like the weight of the world is coming down on you and you can truly relate to Ayn Rands book title – Atlas Shrugged. But you feel like you are about to collapse… and maybe you finally do.

Sometimes depression is circumstance driven – in other words, there is something going on that makes you feel depressed. This could be from:

Loss – losing a loved one, loss of job, a relationship ending, losing a beloved animal, missed opportunity… and many more.

Feeling of Inadequacy- someone said something unkind, a decision you made turned out bad and you feel like a failure, someone said no to your dream, you didn’t get the job, you are being treated poorly, bullied, …. and many more!

That 800lb Gorilla can also be a chemical imbalance that leads to neurotransmitters not firing the way they should. If you cannot point to something that is causing you to feel depressed, then this is probably it and you need to see your medical professional right away.

Truth be told, regardless of the situation, if you are feeling depressed, seeing a qualified counselor should be the minimum that you do. If you need a recommendation, go to counseling.org and the ACA will refer you to some options in your area. I would also seek out a pastor you trust.

Now that we have established a baseline minimum, there are a few things you should know-

1. You have a 100% perfect record of coming through tough times to date. You can make it.

2. God is not punishing you. Bad things happen to good people all the time. Look to Him and He will see you through. In fact His Word tells us to expect tough times and for life to be so challenging at times, it brings us to our knees – but God is there for you, even in the darkest of days.

So… what can you do, right now, to get past this place you find yourself in? First thing I want you to know is that #yourlifematters. Some of my other posts will help you with that topic.

Next thing I want you to do is called – breaking up the narrative. What I mean by that is when you find yourself in a place of depression, oftentimes we can start to spiral down because of how we talk to ourselves and think about it. What I want you to do is physically leave wherever you are and engage in something different, positive and challenging. Maybe it is a work project. Maybe it is walking down the street/going to the gym, reading a funny and inspiring book or talking to a good friend/family member who always has a positive outlook and knows how to make lemonade out of lemons. Break up the narrative.

Then, I want you to go do something positive and meaningful (albeit small/not expensive) for someone who cannot pay you back or maybe doesn’t even know that you did it… but make sure you get to see the joy on their face. And then I would repeat this 2-3 times a week for the next month. Then I would go to once a week but never less. This has been shown to have an immediate impact on your sense of well-being, aka – happiness – equivalent to getting a 50k bump in salary. If you don’t believe me, google “positive psychology “.

Next I want you to either get a journal, notepad or heck, even a scrap of paper will work. Then I want you to write down one thing that you are grateful for – today. Maybe it’s the air you breathe. Maybe it’s something more – keep it simple. Then tomorrow, write down two things that you are grateful for. And the next day, 3. Then follow up the 4th day with 4, until you get to the fifth day and max out at 5. Now don’t make this complicated – you can use some of the same things day after day.

There are more things you can do but these are a good start. I want you to know that you too can defeat the 800lb Gorilla! I have defeated him on a number of occasions doing exactly the things that I am recommending to you.

Stay tuned for more information on this topic. And never forget- #yourlifematters !

God Bless,

Dr Cliff

Love Yourself Enough to…

As I sit here today, and I think about the #YourLifeMatters project, I see people, just like you and they are struggling with –

  • life.
  • Self-Image
  • Time management
  • Financial Challenges
  • Business failures
  • Relationship issues
  • Pain – physical and emotional
  • Loss – relationships
  • Loss – tragedy
  • Health issues – disease, poor choices and accidents
  • AND SO MUCH MORE

It looks like a mountain and it makes us question our value. We see people on social media that seem to have it all together. They go on the best vacations, they are losing weight, they have these beautiful homes or kids that seem to never do anything wrong and marriages that seem to be perfect. They take 5am selfies of themselves at gym or on a sunny day from a ski slope. Nothing appears to be wrong in the world for them – all the while, your world is falling apart.

It simply is not fair. Or so it seems…

What we don’t see is the mess, the mistakes or the mountain of debt. We don’t see the arguments or the drug/alcohol/gambling problems. We don’t see anything but the slice of life that they want us to see and the rest of it is simply not for public consumption. The truth is – they are not that different from you and me.

One of the traps we fall into is that of social comparison. It can be devastating and in some cases, make people feel like they are a failure when they are doing the best that they know how to do. This can lead people to depression and even worse… because they just can’t seem to measure up, they might be led to say, “maybe the world would be better off without them.”

I want to say this right here – The world would be far less without you! Your Life Matters more than you can imagine. And if you are feeling like taking your own life, reach out to a counselor, pastor, suicide hotline – right now. If you can’t get ahold of one of them, call 911.

Most will tell me that they have had those thoughts (if they are being honest). Many have simply sought to try to ignore those thoughts and work through whatever it is and bury in a closet. But it never stays there… does it?

Instead of ignoring or burying it, why don’t we try something else?

LOVE YOURSELF ENOUGH TO DO THE FOLLOWING –

  1. Why don’t we begin by spending a little less time on social media. It has been studied and it was discovered that spending more than 30 minutes a day on social media leads to higher levels depression and anxiety. (I have quoted the source for this in previous writing, if you need documentation. ) I would even suggest a week long social media fasting period. Take the apps off of your phone, if you have to.
  2. In the place of social media, begin to read a faith-based devotional each day, take notes in a journal (notepad or even your phone) and then pray and ask God to help you apply what you have read to your life.

It really is that simple. But let me tell you the benefits –

  1. Increased Brain Health – According Neuroscientist and MD, Andrew Newberg, doing the above practices on a daily basis will reduce stress, strengthen our immune system, enhance memory and increase our capacity for compassion for others – making the world a better place.
  2. It wards off age-related brain deterioration and we live longer.
  3. It helps us to better deal with anger issues, guilt, anxiety, depression, fear, resentment and pessimism.

Guess where I learned this? I was reading my morning devotional and the article was about the real value of having a time of quiet devotion and prayer. I then did a little more reading about Dr. Newberg and some of his research on faith and the impact it has on the brain. Read his book, Born To Believe and Neurotheology, when you get a chance.

I believe that most of us do not love ourselves very much. In fact, we lie to ourselves more than we can even comprehend. But if we will love ourselves enough to begin this basic practice – put down social media and pick up a devotional, the benefits will change your life. God built you for this – your brain and emotions will respond and you will wonder why you haven’t been doing this all along.

The final takeaway I have for you in this post is this – You mattered so much to God Almighty, that He built you for fellowship with Him and provides such amazing benefits, it is hard to fathom. You are loved my friend – now love yourself.

Dr Cliff

#YourLifeMatters – Today

So often, we look down on ourselves and devalue our worth. Many times that comes from outside sources. I will tell you that when an outside input makes us feel like we are less, then we need to be looking elsewhere for our input. Here are some thoughts that I just dumped on a page. I am writing a book about this topic and would love any ideas or stories. There is also a podcast attached this blog – https://www.buzzsprout.com/1624801/episodes/7360324
What does advertising say about us?

  • If we buy this or that we will be cool, attract the right people and get the girl or the guy or the job or the house or everything we want
  • It tells us that we are not enough without the product
  • It creates impossible standards of beauty
  • It’s a lot like pornography and the images it creates about sex
    What does bullying say about us?
  • IF you are the bully it says that you are not enough on your own and you need to tear others down in order to feel like you are important
  • It probably means that you were bullied as a child – most likely at home
  • The one being bullied it makes them feel like they are less and often humiliated
    What does atheism say about the person?
  • You are here today and …. Pushing up daisies tomorrow
    What does creation say about you?
  • That you are unique and special just the way you are
  • That you were created for a purpose that only you can fulfill
  • That there is no one else on the planet like you – you are a one of a kind and we are blessed and honored to know and love you.
    What does how your body was designed say about you and your value?
  • Some are born with diseases that adversely impact their capacity to do certain things. But does this diminish their value? No – I believe that God tells us that we all have a purpose and that purpose is seen in His strength at work through us – not our strength alone. I believe that this means that means that we need to look beyond our greatest challenges and see the gifts
    What do we say about ourselves?
  • That we are not enough
  • That we are stupid
  • That we are poor
  • That we are ugly/fat
  • Not enough education
  • Not enough money
  • Wrong job/no opportunities to improve – stuck
  • No one likes me
  • I’m a bad person
  • No one will ever love me
  • Everyone thinks I am a loser
    Why are these questions important?
    It tells a story about who we think we are. Until we deal with those thoughts that are negative, it makes it impossible to think any different. We create cognitive distortions in our mind that replay like a DVD from hell. It is telling us what the media is saying, what our past is saying, what we think others are saying and what our thoughts about ourselves tell us. We must learn a new way of processing those thoughts and systematically destroying them. The narrative we create in our head or that maybe our parents/peers/media create for us can destroy us or at the very least hold us back from experiencing a life that is beyond compare to anything we can begin to imagine.
    If we are going to make the bold statement – Your Life Matters, then we have to ask the question –
  • What matters about me?
  • What impact do I make?
    • In my own life? § I do things that make me happy § I experience joy by things I do § I provide safety and security § I grow intellectually, emotionally, physically and spiritually § I create a career – a path that I excel in – and this makes me feel good about me – In your home? § Your presence matters – listening § your intelligence and wisdom matters § your capacity to serve your home, even if it is just with ideas and creative input § your caring § your contribution lightens the load of others
      • In school?
        § You create a job for others by being there
        § Your interaction in class and with others makes a difference
      • At work?
        § The product you deliver matters
        § The income you create impacts others/yourself

What about when I am not ok?
o To others

  • I am depressed and no one cares?
    o This is tough because a lot of times people will suffer with depression in silence and they believe that no one cares. The lie we tell ourselves is that no one cares but if we were to reach out and talk with someone about it we would find that there are people who care. There are people who have experienced exactly what we are going through and may be able to help us through it. We may find others who are going through it right now and the fact that you and them are not alone in this struggle any more can be each of your saving grace
  • I am anxious about my future and whether my life really matters and no one cares
    o Your future is full of a lot of unknowns. But what you can do is your best today. You can make a plan and walk it out a day at a time. Make a reasonable timeline based on how long things normally take, like degrees and certifications, and walk it out. Being anxious about the future is common but when we have a plan and a timeline we can reduce it. When we see progress, we feel good about ourselves, that is why a timeline is important. One note – an overly aggressive timeline can be more hurtful than helpful because you will inevitably get behind and this can be anxiety inducing.
    o Progress adds meaning to your life.
  • Why do my choices matter to anyone?
    o Every choice – good or bad – impacts others
  • Why do I matter at all?
    o Every life, no matter how long or short is a complete life and it serves a purpose – it matters
  • Does it matter if I help someone?
    o Think about this for just a moment – You help Joe with a project. It allows him to return home sooner, to spend time with his kids and wife. The happiness that you created by a simple act of assistance cannot be measured. What if it ends up being one of those moments that his wife or kids never forgets because it was something that memorable… What if the fact you helped him and he shares that story with his kids, so they in turn do the same for someone else and the impact becomes exponential. What if Joe in turns helps someone else and it saves their marriage?… The line of impact is beyond comprehension.
  • Does it really matter if I hurt someone?
    o Yes! The same is true but in the opposite direction if you hurt someone instead of helping.
  • What if I hurt myself?
    o Intentional self-harm is an epidemic in this country. When one person hurts themselves by ending their life, it is often followed by several others. When others see us survive a difficult time, it encourages others to persevere.
  • What if I cure cancer?
    o YAY! You are a hero but you don’t have to do something so heroic to matter – small things matter as well
    What if I do nothing?
    No one fails to make an impact. If we were to channel our own inner George Baily, from It’s a Wonderful Life, we would see the truth behind the difference we make. If you are on planet earth, you are doing something and it matters. Even the baby in NICU, who is struggling to be alive is impacting his or her world in ways that we cannot sit here and calculate. So if a struggling infant is making a difference, what does that say for an adult or young person who had a far greater capacity?
    It means that your life matters in ways that we are going to discover. Hang in there with me and let’s explore it. In this podcast/blog, we are going to be hearing stories – some personal and others from people you have heard of and some you haven’t. You are going to hear some statistics and some science, alongside some psychology. Some you agree with, others you won’t and that is ok too.
    But at the end of the day, I want you to know that your life is significant – YOU MATTER!
    God Bless You,
    Dr. Cliff Robertson, Jr.