The Question That Could Save a Life

It takes courage to ask for help. Sometimes it takes just as much courage to ask if someone needs it.

Everyone has their ups and downs but if someone you know is acting differently, he or she could be depressed.

The Warning Signs

The warning signs to watch out for are:

  • changes in weight or appetite,
  • change in mood,
  • sleeping more or less,
  • drinking more than usual,
  • mood changes,
  • anxiety,
  • acting more aggressively,
  • making passing comments (or more) about death and dying,
  • disengagement from people and activities that once were enjoyed,
  • no longer seem to enjoy the things they used to,
  • knowing someone who has tried suicide.

More than anything, trust that ‘feeling’ you have that things aren’t quite right. Always trust it.

If You Suspect Someone Is Thinking of Giving Up …

If you think someone might be suicidal, ask the question. And be direct. 

There’s a misconception that discussing suicide might plant the idea, but it just doesn’t work like this. If someone is contemplating suicide, the idea will already be there. If they aren’t, talking about it won’t put the idea into their mind. Suicide isn’t caused by asking the question. Never has been.

According to Dr Scott Poland, one of the major causes of suicide are feelings of isolation and disconnectedness. People who are suicidal are hurting. Knowing  that someone has cared enough to notice and ask the question can interrupt the path towards suicide enough for the person to seek help.

Be direct. To start with, try something like, ‘You seem a bit down lately. Can we talk about it?’ Then, if you suspect, even in the slightest, that the person might be suicidal ask the question directly. ‘People who feel like that sometimes think about suicide. Do you have any thoughts of suicide?’ or just, ‘Are you thinking that you don’t want to live anymore?’

Skirting around the issue by using words like ‘hurting yourself,’ instead of ‘suicide,’ can give the message that talking about suicide is unacceptable and might undermine the conversation. Suicidal people aren’t interesting in ‘hurting themselves’, they’re interested in killing themselves. In indirect question is less likely to bring about a direct response.

And If The Answer is ‘Yes’?

If the answer is ‘yes’, take it seriously and don’t minimise the situation with responses like, ‘plenty of people feel like this but they don’t kill themselves,’ or, ‘it’s not that bad’. If someone is thinking of killing themselves, it is that bad. It’s as bad as it gets. What other people in the same situation did will be completely irrelevant.

Tell them you’re there for them and you’ll get through this together, let them know depression is treatable and help them get help.

An important question in response to hearing someone is suicidal is to ask if the person has worked out how they would do it. If the answer is ‘I don’t know,’ let them know that you’re here for them and help them get help. If the response reveals a clear intention to suicide and a plan, ask about the plan. Dr Pollard suggests to ask questions as though you were asking about a trip the person was going on: – where, when, how. Most importantly, get help immediately (call a national suicide support line or crisis line, take the person to a doctor or hospital, or if they won’t go, call the doctor or hospital for help). Most importantly, don’t leave the person alone.

Sometimes, if somebody has made the decision to suicide, they may seem happier than they have for a long time. This can be mistaken for a sign that the person has worked their way through to the other side of their depression and is feeling genuinely happier. What’s more likely is that the happy change has come about because the person has found a way to end their hurt, and it will just be a matter  of time. In this situation, stay vigilant, stay close and get help.

Talking about suicide is the surest way to keep safe those whose pain feels unbearable. It doesn’t matter is the words you choose aren’t the perfect ones. It’s not about the words – it’s about the connection and anything said with compassion and a genuine intent will not do any harm.

See here for what to say – and what not to say – to someone who’s depressed.

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One of our rituals was in the week before Christmas, we’d go shopping and each kiddo would choose a keepsake decoration for the tree. This would forever be their decoration. To make sure we’d remember who owned what (a year is a long time!) I wrote their name and year on the box. The idea is that when they leave home, they’ll have a collection of special decorations for their own tree, plump with throwbacks (‘Oh I remember when we bought this!).

Then of course there was Christmas morning. Santa would leave a note on the table and bootprints on the front path, which smelled remarkably like talcum powder. So magical the way the snow was under the boot and never melted, even in an Australian summer! But that’s the magic of Christmas, right?!

We often put so much pressure on ourselves to make Christmas magical. Rituals can make this easier. They get the special memories, you get to make the ‘magic’ without having to come up with something new and different each year.

It’s very likely that there will already be Christmas rituals happening in your family, even if you don’t realise it. Ask them what they remember most, or what they loved most about last Christmas, aside from the presents.

They might surprise you with things you’d completely forgotten about, or which at the time didn’t seem to be a biggie. It can be the simplest things. Maybe they loved the way they were allowed to have ice-cream with pancakes at breakfast last Christmas. (Ice-cream at breakfast?! Told you Christmas was magical!!). 

If it’s what they remember, and if it lights them up, let it become a ‘thing’. Maybe they loved the magic ‘neverending carrot’ sprinkles you put on the scrawny carrot you found in the vege drawer (remembering reindeer groceries can be so hard sometimes!)

You’d be surprised what they find special. It doesn’t have to be big to feel magical.

What are your Christmas rituals? Let’s share ideas in the comments.♥️
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Because sales are the best, and Christmas is the best, and helping kiddos find their brave is the very best of all! So, to celebrate the end of the year (because truly, it's been a year hasn't it), and to help you settle brave hearts for next year, or night times, or separations, or, you know, all the things, we're taking 25% off books and plushies in the Hey Sigmund shop.

There's no need to enter a code. The books and bundles are already marked with their special sale prices. You'll find them all there - plushies, books, bundles - doing shopping cartwheels, beside themselves excited about helping your young ones feel bigger than anxiety, and shimmy on to brave. 
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It can feel as though the only way to strengthen them against their anxiety is to make sure they have nothing to worry about, but when their worries are real this might not happen quickly. 

Instead, we need to focus on helping them know that even though those worries are there, they will be okay. ‘Not worrying’ isn’t the antidote to anxiety, trust is. This will start with trust in you and your belief that they will be okay, and trust in your reaction if things don’t go to plan. Eventually, as they grow this will expand into trust in themselves and their own capacity to find their way through challenges to a place of hope and strength. 
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#parenting #parentinglife #parenting #parent #parents #mindfulparent
Strong steady breathing will reverse the fight or flight physiology that causes nausea, butterflies, or sick or sore tummies during anxiety. BUT telling an anxious brain to take a strong steady breath will potentially make anxiety worse unless strong steady breathing feels familiar. Practising during calm times will make it familiar. 

During anxiety we’re dealing with their amygdala, and it wants short shallow breathing to conserve oxygen. It doesn’t want strong steady breathing and will work hard to resist this. 

An anxious brain is a busy brain and it will be less able to do anything unfamiliar. A few minutes of strong steady breathing each day will set up a strong neural pathway to make strong breathing more automatic and accessible during anxiety. 

In the meantime though, you can do it for them. This is the magic of co-regulation. When you do strong steady breathing during their anxiety, it will calm your nervous system which will eventually calm theirs. You will catch their anxiety, and this will feed into their anxiety. Your strong steady breathing is the circuit breaker. They will catch your anxiety, but they will also catch your calm. Don’t worry if this takes a few minutes (and maybe a few more after that). Anxious brains are strong, powerful, beautiful brains working hard to protect. Breathe and be with. This will open the way for that distressed young nervous system to find its way home. And you don’t need to do more than that.♥️
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Needs and behaviour can get tangled up and treated as one. When you can, separate the need from the behaviour. Give voice to the need - let it find a way to breathe - and redirect the behaviour. 

The need might always be clear, especially if it’s being smothered by angry shouting words. If we stifle the behaviour without acknowledging the need, the need stays hungry. Help usher it into the light by making it clear that you’re ready to receive it. Then wait. Wait for the big behaviour to ease, for bodies to calm, and angry voices to soften - but keep the way to you open. ‘You’re a great kid and I know you know that behaviour wasn’t okay. Talk to me about what’s happening for you.’

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