September is Suicide Prevention Month

Things to remember this month (and always) when talking about suicide.

Don’t sensationalize it. I really believe we need to talk about it, but it should not be in the form of gossip. We should always promote suicide helplines, websites, chat sites and other resources when we talk about suicide. If you’re writing an article or blog on it, include a couple resources at the end of it.

You don’t need to drum up the method the person used. How someone died should be known by the family and whoever they decide to tell. Of course with celebrity deaths the word usually gets out. If you read something, be careful of what you spread and who you tell. People who have considered suicide are often triggered to think about it when they hear about how someone else did it.

“Committed suicide” implies a crime. I prefer to say “killed themselves” or “died by suicide”.

Don’t be judgemental or jump to conclusions. Especially with celebrities, you rarely know exactly why someone chose to kill themselves. Assuming why someone did it is unfair.

I found this list of hotlines–apologies if these don’t all work, but I hope they do. (Please let me know if they don’t, and if you know of a working number, please let me know so I can update the list.)

Argentina: +5402234930430

Australia: 131114

Austria: 017133374

Belgium: 106

Bosnia & Herzegovina: 080 05 03 05

Botswana: 3911270

Brazil: 212339191

Canada: 5147234000 (Montreal); 18662773553 (outside Montreal)

Croatia: 014833888

Denmark: +4570201201

Egypt: 7621602

Estonia: 3726558088; in Russian 3726555688

Finland: 010 195 202

France: 0145394000

Germany: 08001810771

Holland: 09000767

Hong Kong: +852 2382 0000

Hungary: 116123

India: 8888817666

Ireland: +4408457909090

Italy: 800860022

Japan: +810352869090

Mexico: 5255102550

New Zealand: 045861048

Norway: +4781533300

Philippines: 028969191

Poland: 5270000

Portugal: 21 854 07 40/8 . 96 898 21 50

Russia: 0078202577577

Spain: 914590050

South Africa: 0514445691

Sweden: 46317112400

Switzerland: 143

United Kingdom: 08457909090

USA: 18002738255

Veterans’ Crisis Line: 1 800 273 8255/ text 838255

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The internet is becoming a less friendly place.

I joined Reddit about a week ago, and was immediately reminded of why I hadn’t joined Reddit earlier.

I followed a couple subs of tv shows I watch, a couple psychology subs and a couple horror subs that were recommended by other horror fans. So far so good. I even joined a Facebook group that was spun off of r/sharpobjects (one of the tv shows I watch).

I really do most of my socializing online. I don’t have close “real life” friends but I have “internet friends” who know more about me than anyone else does, except maybe my husband. Unfortunately, it seems like “social media” is becoming more and more hostile.

Being old enough to remember when it first came out, I remember it being a pretty great place for a while. Nobody knew more about it than anyone else, so we were all kind of floundering around, phrasing searches in the form of a question and saying “asl?” to everyone we met in AOL Chat. That was my generation. Then kids started taking it for granted. They were born into it, they don’t know what it was like to get used to doing research on it, or how to phrase a question in a search engine. Now they can basically vomit words into the search and it’s smart enough to figure out what they mean.

So the next generation got cocky, and trolling and pranking became cool.

So, I had made a couple posts in my Reddit groups, and then my son asked me to post a funny screenshot in a particular sub that he’d heard of. I did, and I immediately “caught shade” or whatever the kids are saying these days. They thought it was suspicious that such a new account was posting something in this particular sub. I didn’t really understand the issue, but I think they thought I was my son, who isn’t supposed to be on reddit. I don’t really know. I think they finally realized a kid wouldn’t be in subs about psychology and adult TV shows. Or shouldn’t be, anyway.

Anyway, I got a couple negative karma off of that, but boosted it back up with some other posts and comments in other subs. And I’ve realized that I’m old and uncool and can’t keep up with 20somethings anymore. My son calls me “cringy”.

So, what are some of your favorite subreddits?

 

Are things as good as they used to be?

Pretty frequently, my husband and I will have a discussion about whether things aren’t as good as they used to be, or if our tastes have just changed.

I’ve mentioned that when I was growing up, I didn’t have fast food until I was in my teens. My husband, on the other hand, grew up eating it more often. So when I met my husband, he kind of introduced me to a lot of things I’d never had before. I’d never been to a fast food restaurant. No idea how the ordering worked-it blew my mind the first time we went to a Subway and I could get my sub however I wanted it.

I actually thought Wendy’s was good, and this is the debate we sometimes have. Did Wendy’s use to make good burgers, or did our taste buds change over the last 20 years? Because I remember thinking they were so good, I recommended them to my mother, who was what you’d call a food snob. These days, I don’t even eat them myself, and it’s not just because of the bread aversion. I just don’t think they taste that good anymore.

It’s the same with Kraft mac and cheese, which I used to make at home for the family. I could never get it to taste as good as I remembered it.

If you have a kid, you discover that some things still exist that you thought were gone. Freeze pops, those little “barrels” of juice that were basically sugar water, Warheads and Fun Dip and all that stuff. It’s still out there. I’ve read clickbait articles like “You were an 80s kid if you remember these” and 8 out of 10 of the products still exist. But if you try them again? You don’t feel the same love. I used to think the sourness of Warheads was pretty intense, now it’s just disappointing. Freeze pops aren’t worth the mouth sores the wrapper gives you anymore. And when I tried Hawaiian Punch and Kool Aid, I couldn’t help but think how it might be good with a little vodka.

Nostalgia is a funny thing. You remember something so well you can literally almost taste it. So why doesn’t it taste as good anymore?

Back to School

Classes start again in about 2 weeks for both me and my son.

Normally, I think a lot of people have the common nightmares about school, even if they aren’t taking classes anymore. For years, I had dreams about the public high school I attended for one year. Classic dreams about not being able to find my classroom, not knowing what class I was supposed to be in, and not having done any homework.

I have similar nightmares about cooking jobs–where I haven’t been in to work in weeks, but for some reason I’m still on the schedule, and nobody cares that I haven’t been there, but I have no idea what’s going on anymore and of course I show up in the middle of a very busy shift.

Last night, I had a very similar dream.

The location was unfamiliar now, but in my dream, I knew I was in college. I had two classes that day; math and biology. I am taking biology in September, but not math. I looked at my unfinished math homework in the dream: it was a sheet of simple times tables that I had not completed. I looked at my biology homework; it was some project I hadn’t started that was either due that day or not until later, it was unclear.

Suddenly, I wanted to go back to my dorm room, but couldn’t remember what my room number was. I finally saw a propped open door, but realized this wouldn’t help me find my room! Then I saw Cisco from The Flash, and I think that’s when I realized I was dreaming, and I woke up.

I think symbolically these dreams mean a lot. They’re about the fear of being unprepared, of feeling lost and uncertain. But sometimes they take on a more literal meaning. I’m always afraid I’m not prepared to go to school. I’m fairly obsessive about checking the online notifications about what we need to bring to class, whether the textbook is mandatory (but I still wait until after the first class to purchase it), and the course load. I was so diligent about checking on these things that I was actually better prepared than most, but was still quite anxious about missing something.

I worry that because I’m older than the other students, that I’m missing some innate knowledge they have, that I won’t be able to keep up. But I often find that’s the opposite. Because I’m in a different life phase than a late-teen or early-20’s student, I think I’m more aware of my weaknesses, the help around me, and how to manage my time.

I would really recommend to any non-traditional age person who is considering school, to do it. The nightmares will come, but they are worth it.

Mainely Maine

 

Going into our Maine vacation, as I noted in my previous post, I knew there would be some problems. Us being a very tech-dependent family and being in the middle of nowhere led to some problems, but my aunt was kind enough to let us use the hotspot at her house, so we were able to browse online while we were there, at least. When we left the house, forget about it.

When we arrived, I was honestly astonished by the view. My aunt’s house is on a small lake and she is at the far end of it, so looking out, you see a large expanse of water surrounded by trees. It is beautiful.

However, a view only entertains for so long. And we discovered that my aunt had not planned much for us. I specifically told my husband not to plan things because I thought she’d have plans. So we didn’t know what there was to do around there. The weather was quite foggy and a little chilly. The morning we left was the best weather.

Also, the day we went off on our own was our best day. We went to the downtown area and did a little shopping and I had planned a meeting with one of my son’s school friends who happened to be camping 15 minutes from my aunt’s house. The payoff wasn’t great for that, as we had to wait for his friend to get to the ice cream shop we planned to meet at, and they went to the wrong location. So my son was starting to get very cranky and wonder why we had to sit outside this ice cream shop and wait. But it was fun to see his friend and his friend’s mother.

What I had a hard time with was the vocalization of my son and husband’s unhappiness. It just made me more anxious. Like, as soon as I knew they were unhappy there, it was a lost cause. When they tried to mask it and put on an air of positivity, it was already ruined because I knew how they really felt.

I conveyed to my husband that I felt torn when I go with him and my son to visit my family. I know my chosen family doesn’t really mesh with my birth family and this causes me to feel torn. I want us to enjoy things as a whole family, not just to see my family and have my husband and son tag along.

Of course, there is something to be said for sitting by the water, catching up with family. I think over the past 10 years or so we’ve all grown a little too dependent on internet. We’ve all developed friendships and connections to people in our virtual world, and I think many people who don’t have that kind of connection don’t understand what it’s like to be without it. At the same time, I feel like we should be able to unplug for a couple days, as you would with “real life” friends you might be leaving behind to go visit family. It can be hard when the family you’re visiting isn’t close and isn’t relatable to your lifestyle.

I completely understand sometimes you have to open up and talk about touchy subjects in order to really connect with people, and I’ve been trying to do that. The one time I tried to broach a controversial subject with my aunt was when we went to a restaurant with my aunt and they gave us water with paper straws.

I’d had a conversation with my son not long ago about how paper straws and other environmentally-conscious straws seem like a good idea on the surface but don’t work for everyone, and I tried to explain this to my aunt, but she wasn’t having it. I used to think people who championed things like reusable straws and paper straws had a good cause. But these are people who don’t realize why people need straws and what types work for them. Sure, a stainless steel straw works great for people who don’t actually need straws and just use them for their iced drink, but what about people who need them all the time and drink hot drinks? (I’ll wait while you wince and purse your lips.)

Anyway, I’m recalling back to a topic I already covered, but the point is we quickly realized my aunt didn’t want to have a conversation about her thoughts on touchy subjects, so we tried to stick to safe topics, like what brought her to Maine. We had a conversation that resonated with me about how she connected to the Maine community and made a name for herself. I realize now that when she said she’d lived in Maine for 30 years, that means she moved here when she was around my age. It made me feel a little optimistic to realize that I still have time to make a name for myself.

Being home now, it’s nice to have everything back to normal. I feel like there could be a happy medium for us. Both worlds can be isolating; the one that depends on technology, and the one that shuns it. It’s up to the person to create the world they want within their environment, and it is hard to leave that world and go to another.

There are already talks of “next year” and I hope that if we do visit, we’ll be better prepared to make the best of it.

The Maine Event

Tomorrow we head off to a few days in Maine. My aunt has lived in Maine for many years–she has moved a few times but always stays in the same general area. It’s very far north, and Maine is a huge state.

My husband and I worry about trips to places in New England for a few reasons. Mostly because New England is mainly known for its scenery. If you’re from any of the New England states, you kind of know what to expect, but it can vary from beaches to mountains, and us being from a beachy area, it’s refreshing to visit a mountainous area.

However, we are a very technology-centric family. My husband grew up on video games and still plays them. My son grasps technology very easily especially at his young age of 11, and he enjoys his video games and Youtube as well. And me, I like social media and silly app games. So we are a bit worried about have spotty access to these things, even for a few days.  Plus, it’s supposed to rain.

When I struggle with social anxiety it’s not just about myself. I worry about the people I’m around. I worry my son will be bored, I worry my husband will be anxious, I worry that my aunt will also feel bad if we’re bored or that she’ll feel pressure to entertain us.

So please, if you read this, send vibes for good weather and lots to do!

When is it bullying?

My son gets along with most kids. I had a meeting with the assistant head of school once where she marveled that he so easily crossed the lines between the kids who like sports, kids who are into gaming, and other social groups.

Sometimes he’ll get offended easily and will think that someone was bullying him when it wasn’t intended that way. But one day he’ll say they aren’t friends and then the next week he’ll want to invite them over.

Over the summer, my son went to a day camp at his school. The camp is open to the public as well as current students. He made a friend who is starting at the school in the fall, a grade behind my son. I heard about this kid and how my son wanted to get his phone number. I gave the camp director permission to give them my email address, and his mother messaged me earlier this summer. She was very excited to make a connection to the school.

I told my son that we could invite the kid over and he said: “Actually, he’s kind of mean.”

My stomach dropped. “So why did you want to get his contact information?”

“I wanted to give him a chance.”

While this is sweet and very open-minded, now I’m in an awkward position. What if this kid really is mean and my son has an awful time and never wants to see him again? Meanwhile, the mother is thinking she’s got this new connection and her kid has a new friend.

All I can hope is that the kid just had his defenses up because he didn’t know anyone at camp. Maybe he’s not really mean, but just one of those kids who likes to joke and tease and my son takes it to heart.

Two years ago, my son was asked to kind of be a buddy to another kid who was new to the school. My son was very unhappy about this assignment. He was afraid he wouldn’t like the kid. It turned out he and the kid actually got along pretty well. They ended up getting together a lot after school.

The next year, things took an odd turn. My son said the kid was being a bully. I took it to heart and brought it up with the school. Them being former friends made it awkward, so did the fact that the family is well-known and respected in the community and had other kids enrolled in or recently graduated from the school.

I was relieved when the mother didn’t get too defensive when I talked to her about the issues my son said they were having. She said she was glad I brought it up. It was honestly one of the hardest things I ever had to do–confront someone about their kid while being sensitive and non-judgemental. I never called him a bully but I talked about the behavior my son said was happening.

It turned out that my son finally confessed that “bully” was a bit of an exaggeration. This other kid had taken to jokingly saying “You suck” and being a little rough on the playground. I spoke to his mom and she said they were working on helping him be more sensitive to his friends’ feelings, etc. etc. The conflict fizzled out, my son had him over a couple more times, but they don’t hang out anymore unless they end up on the same online game at the same time.

Kids can be mean, but it’s important to know the difference between aggressive, assertive and a bully. Even aggressive kids aren’t necessarily bullies. But, you should always believe your kids if they say they’re being bullied. Then you have to take the steps to look into the situation and see what’s going on. It may be more complicated than your kid is able to realize or it may be a misunderstanding that will resolve itself.