Editor’s Note: In September 2019, the Army Substance Abuse Program and USAG Bavaria Libraries presented an opportunity for community members to share their writing talents in support of Suicide Prevention Month. A panel of community members read the essays and choose the top three entries to be shared garrison-wide. Thomas’s essay was awarded second place.
If you or anyone is struggling with suicidal ideation, you are not alone. Please reach out and get help by calling the Suicide Prevention Hotline: 09641-83-118, DSN 118 or click here for local resources.
By K.S. Thomas
Everybody handles their own difficulties in different ways, and that is to be expected because we are all unique. Some methods are healthy, while others may be harmful. There are several go-to’s that I apply in my own life to help me handle hard times. At the top of the list is my
faith; although everyone isn’t religious, a large percentage of us claim spirituality in one form or another. Prayer, attending church or temple, reading scripture, meditation or whichever form you choose to find peace for your body and mind is a beneficial step.
Another helpful way I cope — when I’m down and struggling — is to reach out to a family member or friend. I surround myself with people whose love and support I can rely on. And if it’s slim pickings, even a sympathetic ear from one understanding individual can often do the trick. Reaffirming words or actions from someone who represents a safe place for you is paramount, when you need to be heard. It’s easy to forget that we are not alone in our struggles, especially when we feel isolated or vulnerable. An unwillingness to confide in others because you do not want to burden or inconvenience them — though masked as an attempt to spare them — could simply be coming from a place of pride or embarrassment on your part. I know this because it is how I have operated in the past. Don’t rob yourself of that human connection; we all hurt, and we all need each other. The individual to who you reveal your dilemma might be the very person that asks for support from you in the future.
If you have a hobby or some recreational or creative activity that you enjoy, throw yourself into it with vigor! Some suggestions are art, music, reading, writing, baking, sports, working on cars and etc. — just to name a few. One of my top hobbies is crafting jewelry. When I’m feeling discouraged by life events, I will take out my plethora of supplies and make something while music blares in the background. Sometimes I keep the jewelry for myself, and sometimes I give it away. But I usually feel better knowing that I’ve accomplished something, however small.
Physical fitness is another way I combat stress and anxiety, which can arise from the difficulties I encounter. Staying active can produce positive results in many facets of your daily life, not to mention that it is a free mood stabilizer. I personally am not a strong runner, nor am I very athletic, but I enjoy walking and it’s good for me, especially when I need to clear my head by way of a temporary escape.
The final thing I try to do is concentrate on others, when I’m in the midst of my own troubles. It sounds cliché, but the fastest way to minimize your own problems is to focus on someone else’s. This is not said flippantly, and it is not intended to be taken lightly. Pay attention to others, notice their pain and their hardships, and offer your time or help if you can. When you are doing something uplifting for somebody else, you disregard your own worries — even if it’s only fleeting — in favor of performing simple acts of kindness.