Being a writer can be a tricky profession. It's inherent to wear your feelings on your sleeve . . . much like a musician, painter or any art form. Ultimately it comes down to the way you're most comfortable expressing yourself.
Writing professionally is quite different than the way I would write in a journal or maybe in my diary.
Am I sharing too little?
Am I sharing to much?
Am I ready to open this part of my life to public scrutiny or perception?
Is what I'm feeling relatable and possibly helpful to someone else?
All these questions run through my mind each week before I sit in front of my laptop to jot down my little column. I suppose mood has a lot to do with what I write as well. If I'm down . . . it shows. If I'm happy and feeling a bit cheeky . . . it shows. At the end of the day, you can learn a lot about me through this little piece, even if it can be a bit “Baschwit Crazy” at times. It's ME, it's who I am. I have shared happy times, sad times, times when I struggle to understand the world around me – from empty nesting to health issues . . . family antics, annoying spouses and endearing moments with my grandchildren. All and all, when I sit down, I lay out my thoughts in 1,000 words or less.
So, I struggled a bit this week on just how much sharing is too much sharing. I decided to go ahead and share what's happening in this moment because I don't think I'm the only one going through a rough time. Best case, maybe someone else will know they're not alone . . . worst case, maybe it's cathartic.
This has been a very hard year for me. I've felt a bit lost and emotionally all over the place. Yes, I find joy in daily things but it has been the times when I'm alone in my own thoughts that I have struggled to not get lost in despair. It seems to take genuine effort to find the joyful things that have always come so easily for me. So, when I recently lost another friend to suicide I had a lot of thoughts and unanswered questions consuming my mind and heart. My friend was fairly young and no matter how much I try and wrap my head around “what could be that bad to go to this extreme?” There comes a time that you must accept, that they may not understand themselves. I wish I could have told my friend that this awful feeling will pass . . . that it will get better, that nothing is worth your life. Seems like every other day we hear of another life taken by suicide, or withering away by the effects of drugs used as a coping mechanism.
There are so many things going on today that can bring a dark cloud over a clear sky. Like, being in the midst of a pandemic. Let’s face it, for most of us this is something we've never seen before and we're all trying to navigate our feelings the best we know how. Could be the changes that come with life as we grow and age. I think a lot of it simply has to do with not having the skills to cope with everyday situations that most people have gone through at one point or another in . . . watching the country in such disarray. Or maybe, it's all of the above.
My family has a history of dealing with depression, and no, it's probably not the subject people want to read about, but, it is a very real thing for many people. I have watched so many friends and family struggling lately. We have kids turning to drugs and even suicide because they are not equipped to deal with life.
I grew up being told to shake it off, pull yourself up by your boot straps and carry on because life is simply hard sometimes and we all have to deal with it. I genuinely try to do this because it's the only way I know how. My generation, we didn't get the option to dwell in our sorrow or “hard knocks” stories. I don't know if this was the best way to handle things, to push bad things aside and carry on. However, I don't believe we've done our younger generations any favors in the way we've taught them that everything needs to be addressed and analyzed with a fine-tooth comb either. I fear we have a generation that simply has not been given the proper tools to handle the absolutely horrible days that most of us have faced from time to time – or even just the hard times.
I recently had a young friend who was hospitalized for depression. This friend is a veteran and I only add that to make my next point. After spending time in in-patient care and being with other veterans this friend came out telling me that they were humbled. That after hearing the hardships and quite frankly horror stories of other patients, they realized that their problems were not as bad as they seemed. Or rather, they were not as detrimental as they felt. Now, that does not negate his feelings and struggles, nor is it as cure for clinical depression. It just brings me back to the realization that sometimes our own head is our own worst enemy. I remember years ago, Neil Burk said something I still remind myself of daily. “The worst case scenario is not that bad.” I think it's easy to get wrapped up in the feeling of the moment and forget that this too shall pass.
Unfortunately I can no longer even count the number of friends, family, friends’ kids and kids’ friends who have committed suicide. I'm sure that everyone has been impacted or knows someone who has been impacted by suicide. I don't know the answer other than we have to talk about it. We have to open the conversation and remove the taboo stigma attached to the subject. And we have to help, teach and give our younger generation the tools to cope, to handle bad situations and to navigate life. Because let's face it, life is hard sometimes.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK

Stacey Baschwit works at The Paper of Montgomery County, along with her many other duties, and writes a weekly column about the people, places and events that make up her world.