This was the message I saw written as I entered the bathroom stall on campus:
“Why can’t I fit in anywhere?”
The next day a new message was written underneath it that said:
“I can’t do this anymore. Everyone would be better off without me.”
These messages hurt my heart because I felt helpless to reach out and let this person know that there is someone ready and willing to listen to them. Their voice does not have to be stifled inside a bathroom stall. I know this for a fact because for 18 years I worked as a phone counselor on staff at the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Volunteers and paid staff work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year answering the calls and chat messages from people who are experiencing depression, anxiety, fear, rage, and suicidal thoughts.
I understand the pain and fear behind the words in the bathroom stall because I have felt them myself. I spent most of my life living with anxiety and depression without having a name for them. I grew up experiencing abuse and neglect. I used anything I could find to numb my pain-food, religion, sex, alcohol and drugs. After losing everything and everyone in my life, after becoming someone I hated, after believing all the words that had been said to me over the years, I decided to end my life. I thought I couldn’t take it anymore, and everyone would be better off without me.
One very lonely Saturday night, I tried to drink enough to kill myself with alcohol poisoning. That isn’t an easy task when you are a full-blown alcoholic. I tried cutting my wrist, but I was too drunk to do it. I couldn’t find anything sharp enough to do the job. I was even a failure at killing myself. I tried calling the one person I thought I could count on, and she told me she couldn’t do this with me anymore. She gave me a phone number to the Crisis Suicide Hotline and begged me to call them. I can’t explain why I called them, but I did.
A counselor stayed on the phone with me for close to three hours that night, listening to me cry and tell my story. She gave me some resources for help including the name of a therapist. Someone from the Crisis Suicide Hotline called me the next day to follow up. I did get into therapy, got help for my addictions, and slowly began crawling my way back out of the black hole I knew as my life.
That was in March 1987. I have been clean and sober for 32 years. I worked with a therapist and found that I was one of the people who needed medication for my anxiety and depression. Even now, life isn’t always easy. During the past 32 years, I have been married and divorced, lost jobs, had my best friend and my mother both die unexpectedly, and dealt with all of the things that life tends to bring.
What I have learned is that life is worth living despite all the challenges that come with it. I found ways to deal with all of the craziness in this world. I don’t have to hide from pain; I can handle it with the help of family and friends. There is hope no matter how deep the darkness. My voice is no longer silenced behind all the things I used to numb my pain.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide or dealing with anxiety, depression, fear or anger, there are ways you can help. Learn the warning signs and how you can make a difference in that person’s life. If you are the person who feels their voice can’t be heard, take a chance and call, text or chat with the groups below. Most colleges also offer peer counseling.
September 5-11 is National Suicide Prevention Week.
Here are some resources for help:
To talk, text or chat:
National Suicide Prevention LifeLine 800-273-TALK or Chat online
Crisis TextLine : Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the United States, anytime, about any type of crisis.
IMAlive : IMAlive is a live online network that uses instant messaging to respond to people in crisis.
(This was an article I wrote for OdysseyOnLine in 2016)
Yes, I am angry-pissed off-frustrated-annoyed-fuming-livid and just plain mad. I am sick and tired of road bullies terrorizing others. Let me explain.
I am not going to pretend to understand math and science. Specifically, I am not going to pretend that I can explain physics. What I do know is that physics is a science using math to explain things like motion, gravity, space, and all things over which I have no control. Yet, some of the basic ideas in physics appear to be somewhat logical even to me.
I am also not going to pretend to understand aggressive drivers and road rage. “An estimated eight million drivers admit to more extreme behavior, according to new AAA research. Nearly 80 percent of drivers expressed significant anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the past year, according to a new study released today by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
The most alarming findings suggest that approximately eight million U.S. drivers engaged in extreme examples of road rage, including purposefully ramming another vehicle or getting out of the car to confront another driver.” None of this seems logical to me.
What I do know about road rage and aggressive drivers is that most of them appear to be men in big trucks, mixed with the occasional middle-aged woman in a minivan or large SUV. I have no statistics to prove this, just my careful observation.
The aggressive behavior I most often encounter is tailgating. No, I am not referring to the cookout and beer drinking events before football games and concerts. I am talking about the driver who pulls within less than one car length of your rear bumper in a vain attempt to make you drive faster or get out of their way. I simply want to ask them, “Who elected you king of the road?” or more directly, “What the heck do you think you are doing?”
Back to physics for a moment. Newton developed three laws of motion that can be applied directly to the problem at hand.
*Newton ‘s First Law of Motion:
Every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force.
*Newton’s Second Law of Motion
F=MA Force = Mass Acceleration The force acting on an object is equal to the mass of that object times its acceleration.
*Newton’s Third Law of Motion
To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction; or, the mutual actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal, and directed to contrary parts.
I will be so bold as to interpret Newton’s laws of motion as applied to aggressive drivers who tailgate. When a vehicle tailgates another vehicle it “compels” the other vehicle using external force (hitting it) and changes it action (direction and shape). When a vehicle is tailgating, the size and speed of the vehicle determine how much damage is done to the vehicle it hits. The opposite and equal reaction of being hit from behind by a vehicle they exert a force on each other. People are hurt and vehicles are damaged.
Sheldon from “The Big Bang Theory” explains it best:
Sheldon: Look, you’re not leaving yourself enough space between cars.
Penny: Oh, sure I am.
Sheldon: No, no. Let me do the math for you, this car weighs let’s say 4,000lb, now add say 140 for me, 120 for you.
Sheldon: Oh, I’m sorry, did I insult you? Is your body mass somehow tied into your self-worth?
Penny: Well, yeah.
Sheldon: Interesting. Anyway, that gives us a total weight of, let’s say, 4,400lb.
Penny: Let’s say 4,390.
Sheldon: Fine. We’re traveling forward at, good Lord, 51 miles an hour. Now let’s assume that your brakes are new and the calipers are aligned, still, by the time we come to a stop, we’ll be occupying the same space as that Buick in front of us, an impossibility that nature will quickly resolve into death, mutilation and… oh look, they built a new put-put course.
— Big Bang Theory Series 01 Episode 04 – “The Luminous Fish Effect”
Why am I ranting about this you might wonder? Four years ago, I was involved in a five-car accident that resulted from someone in a larger vehicle following too close at a high rate of speed. It resulted in injuries and damages to all cars involved. After four years, we are still in litigation over this. All because someone was being a bully on the road. Yes, I said bully, because in my opinion drivers who tailgate others are intending to intimidate them to get their way. That says bully to me.
If you should happen to encounter me on the road and decide you want to tailgate me, I will slow down and stare you down from my mirrors until you back off. It is not your road. You do not control how I drive or how fast I go. No, I am not going too slow. I am obeying the LAW that tells all drivers how fast they may go. You are breaking the law by speeding and by tailgating. You are not more important than anyone else on the road…really…you aren’t.
So JUST STOP IT!
One day you will hit someone from the rear. You might be injured and your vehicle might be destroyed. You will certainly cause damage to the vehicle you hit and may cause pain and suffering to the people in the car or cars in front of you. You may lose your life or cause the death of another. For the love of all that is good, just leave a few minutes earlier. Take a deep breath. You will arrive at your destination without creating chaos on the road.
I am going to assume my ranting will not change the driving habits of most people reading this. I only hope that some of you will understand and perhaps think about the way you drive. The next time you are driving and are tempted to pull up close enough to the car in front of you so you can see the eyes of the driver in their rear view mirror, remember Newton’s Laws and South Carolina law.
From the SC DMV Driver’s Handbook: (A ticket for following too closely is 4 points)
Following Other Cars Rear-end crashes are very common at intersections and they can be avoided. The leading cause for these crashes is following other vehicles too closely. When following another vehicle on any street or highway, use a minimum of three to four second following interval. If any unusual conditions exist, such as rainy weather or increased traffic, add an additional second. To give yourself a three to four second following distance from the vehicle ahead of you, watch as the vehicle passes a stationary object such as a sign, pole or tree. Count the seconds it takes you to reach that the same point (“One-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three). If you pass the object before you finish counting, you are following too closely. Always drive more slowly and allow more following distance when pavement is wet or icy and when driving in fog.
Click here to read my post for OdysseyOnLine at Clemson
“I took a quick step back in order to take a second look. I was shocked to see a rat in the bushes. It was not a cute rat like the one I used for this article. That was simply a ploy to encourage you to click and read the article. No, it was a dead rat – yes, dead as a doornail rat.”
I wrote an article about the conversations that have been happening after #MeToo starting appearing on social media.
I admit it – I get a bit nervous about any cosmic event. Read the post in the link above.
Read this post here.
This is my article for OdysseyOnLine. I was reminded of this story during a class exercise. In searching for more information, I discovered the challenges faced by the victims’ families.
You can read the article Life Sentences for Folly Beach Victims’ Families here.
I discovered the International Primate Protection League in Summerville several years ago and love the work they do. They had some damaged in Hurricane Matthew, so I decided to write about them this week in my OddysseyOnLine.
I recently moved my blog site to a self-hosted WordPress account. You can now find me at http://www.cathysvoice.com
I have also started a new adventure writing for an online site called OdysseyOnLine.
Click here to see my author page and posts from the site! Let me know what you think in the comments!