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It’s hard to admit I’m Green

I wonder if Kermit the Frog had the same struggle. My guess is no, but everybody has a story I guess. He is supposed to be green. Frogs are green. Nothing to see here. Move along. Right? There have been two instances where I’ve been confronted with the fact that I’m green in the last 10 days. It’s starting to become a problem because…I’m not a frog. Both moments when I had to face the reality of being Green made me pause…hesitate, think, reflect. I made two different choices in those moments. Why? It’s never for one reason, it’s never a clear reason. It just is. Regardless, it’s been on my heart. So I write to express, process, and hopefully feel some acceptance in the reality of being many colors including Green.

If you have any connection to the suicide awareness and/or prevention community, you more than likely know that you have a color. For me, multiple colors. Depending on your connection to suicide, there is a color that represents that connection. When you go to an awareness walk, to see the rainbow of colors walking around is somewhat magical in a messy sort of way. When I walk up to the table to pick out my colors, the obvious is, I’m Red. Truly symbolic of my primary emotion I have had throughout this journey, but also symbolic that I lost my husband to suicide. Just over three years later, I’m less red in anger, but my connection to suicide will always be bright shiny red first. Moving on down the list, I’m Blue. Well that’s an understatement if there ever was one. Blue symbolizes that you are a supporter of suicide prevention. I’m a licensed clinical counselor; I was a supporter long before everyone else’s story became my story. Being a clinical counselor, suicide prevention specialist, and doing crisis intervention in my daily job only made the shock, the trauma, the grief exponentially more difficult. That’s a whole separate chapter on a whole different day. Moving along. Then, I’m Teal. It’s truly just a different shade of blue; I’ve felt every shade so might as well throw it in the mix. Teal represents supporting someone who struggles or has attempted. Again, as a counselor, everyday at one point in time. As a wife, there were moments. My husband was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. My view of his daily struggles has change through my own healing and believe now he was dealing with unhealed trauma more than anything else. Hurt people, hurt people, and themselves in the process. Our lives were not roses and rainbows even with medication, counseling, and a strong faith. He struggled. We struggled. Though I never thought in a bazillion years, he (nor I) would become a statistic. Da-Nile (aka denial) is a really long river so they say. Finally…as I look over all the colored necklaces on the table, as about I’m about to post all the colors on my social media page, I know in my heart and soul that I’m missing one. I’m Green. It’s hard to admit I’m Green. Green represents the fact that you personally struggle with suicidal thoughts or have attempted suicide.

One would think, including myself, losing someone to suicide and feeling that unimaginable pain would keep you from ever thinking the same. Sadly, the opposite is true. Survivors of suicide loss are at a greater risk for taking their own lives. I’ve had two defining moments, several blips on a radar. One of the significant moments came in year one pretty shortly after that tragic day. The other episode in year two. Year one was because I was struggling to manage my own grief and trauma in the midst of trying to care for two little girls who were also experiencing grief and trauma. My cup was empty, and I felt I couldn’t give them what they needed even as a clinical counselor who made a living helping the hurt. In the second year (often harder than the first), I had decided to not only step down from my job, but also my career as a clinical counselor. Again, my cup was empty. I couldn’t pour into anyone else even if I wanted to. I felt like I had lost everything the following months after quitting my job, letting my license expire, and ultimately leaving my career. In those moments, I had “fleeting” (what they clinically call them) thoughts. I started to think that my girls would be better off. I was “broken.” That record played over and over in my head. Sometimes it still does. The light at the end of my tunnel is always the pain, which sounds contradictory. What I mean by that is the unbearable pain of losing my husband to suicide does in fact keep me from heading down that same road. It doesn’t keep me from having the thoughts because those thoughts can often go right along with trauma, grief, and loss. But the pain, felt to the depths of my core, keeps me fighting every day. Not on my shift!! Not on my watch am I going to lose this battle. Counseling, medication, yoga, faith…throwing everything I know to do right back in it’s face. It’s hard. Healing is hard. Healing is messy. Healing is sometimes Green.

When it came to adding green to my colors on my social media, I hesitated, thought about it, reflected, then I clicked “Enter” to send it into cyberspace. A week later when it came to putting that green necklace on at the awareness walk, I hesitated, thought about it, reflected and just couldn’t do it. It was easier to hide behind the computer screen. It was easier not to have the conversation with my children or with those around me that yes, I too had been to my breaking point. A couple of times. It’s hard to admit I’m Green. Even with sharing my story openly, being the face of a nonprofit that supports survivors of suicide loss, and encouraging people everyday to share their stories, their truth, at the end of the day it’s hard to admit that amongst the red and blues, I’m Green too.