A few weeks ago my son was rejected from a college. This was the first he had heard from any college and it was a lousy way to begin the process. He was devastated, as was I. It wasn't his first choice school, but that "rejection" be it in your mailbox, or these days on your computer, is one loaded word. My son is a sensitive kid with a sick sense of humor. I share this because in the midst of his anger/fury/sadness/fear he announced that he was going to "drink a bottle of bleach". Although he was kidding, the therapist in me NEVER takes any suicidal talk lightly.
Twenty-four hours later, he was notified that he was accepted into his safety school. Ahhh....relief! He would not be spending the next 4 years in my basement, he has somewhere to go. He was elated, proud and just darn happy.
A week later, he was then notified that he was accepted to the first school, yes, the one that originally rejected him. What? It turns out that he had accidentally made two accounts when filling out his application online. He had called the school and asked them to delete the first account which, unbeknownst to us, they failed to do. His first account with incomplete application was rejected, his second and proper account was accepted. Relief and sanity ensued.
And, yesterday, he was accepted to his first choice school! Joy, joy and all joy! (except for enormous tuition payments).
Back to the bleach. In our lowest moments, some of us resort to "all or nothing thinking". A devastation occurs, a heartbreak, a financial crisis or something equally as traumatic and many teens and/or adults contemplate suicide, some attempt it and tragically, others succeed.
I have tried to make the "bleach" conversation a teachable moment. In one's darkest hours it is sometimes impossible to see that something positive could happen, in my son's case within twenty-four hours. I saw a client a few weeks ago for her first appointment. She was very depressed and felt lost and "stuck". She shared her story with me and I tried to give her some relief from the heaviness that she carried. Later that day on a whim I sent her an email. She responded very positively and said that she had wanted to email me, but hadn't wanted to seem to "needy". We had a few more exchanges and I sent her an exercise to practice until we next met. I kid you not, for her second session the following week, she bounced into my office. She said that she was feeling "motivated" and had taken several concrete steps with her renewed energy to help lift her spirits.
What a gift to be able to witness such a transformation. Not all clients experience change as quickly, but many do get their bounce back and find joy and calm after doing the necessary work to address the heaviness and move forward.
I beg you to know that joy can be had. If you or someone you know is in that very dark place, please get help. Twenty-four hours, a week or a few months can feel like eternity, but the darkness can lift and joy is attainable.
See these resources for immediate help:
Kristin Brooks Hope Center