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The Things That Stuck

In honor of September being National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month,

I share this:


When I was a young child, I was known for my tantrums.

As a teen, for my opinionated, pungent outbursts.

Caustic reactions.


I was excluded and shamed.

It impacted my view of self significantly.

It had lasting effects; my entire life.

Particularly, it skewed my ability to understand: self worth.


Today, depending on my surroundings, this can still be a struggle.


For now, and for a long while, I have been in a really great internal and external environment. So, I decided to share a sliver about my personal self. My childhood. A thing I do with a lot of caution. But for this cause, I proceed.


It was only after becoming a parent and a healthcare provider, both roles assumed within the same year, that I began to question my reputation as a Terrible Tantrum'ing Baby. In my early thirties, I started researching, learning, and entertaining a diverse selection of practices and therapies;

for personal and professional pursuits.


I myself, had been struggling with mental health challenges due to extended and complex grief. At this point, my healers and I had not even factored in my childhood. My well established self care and wellness habits completely crumbled and remained as so for several years. I became ill enough inside, that the occasional suicidal ideation that I was unfortunately, familiar with much of my life, became an intrusive and life altering problem.


But.

After years of humility exercised, humbling experiences gathered, huge scarifies made, and via showing up to myself and doing the grueling work,

I dug myself out.

I had support.


I re-established health and wellness balance for myself and then, again, for my family through what I learned.


Fortunately, I have maintained fair to great status among these self-defined, mental health hygiene standards for the longest while ever! I do so with gratitude, reverence and respect for the healing power that these healers, modalities, therapies and practices behold and all the same; gratitude, reverence and respect for the people who supported me in this healing journey.


Through researching for myself, my family and my own career...this is how I discovered that the 'fits' I threw as a child, were actually indications, if labeled, of PTSD-

my therapist would attest.

We do not subscribe to labels.


This most likely resulted due to experiencing repetitive early childhood trauma.

Although not on purpose, as my mother was young and struggling herself, unfortunately the outcome of "trauma" doesn't always consider intention or illness.


*Note: each person's perception of trauma counts.


...


To find out that it was due to trauma.

AND

NOT,

because I was inherently BAD or UNWORTHY.


What a game changer for my mental health.


Looking back now, after all I have done and have learned, here is what I understand and why I work so openly for myself and this cause:


Although I cannot change my history, I do have the ability to modify my perspective, my focus, and my trajectory in life.


If I take daily actions to fight against suicide and what leads up to it, by protecting my own mental health, I can keep moving along. And maybe others can too.


I do this more efficiently if I can act without denying, dismissing, suppressing, compartmentalizing, avoiding or apologizing for what happened,

where it brought me,

and how I got out of that dark space.


Each day I wake, I acknowledge that "it", being trauma, did happen. Then I switch focus. I stare long and hard at the highlights of which brought me out of those horrible experiences and to, shall I say it, a light.


The light in which I now, finally live, long standing, suicide ideation free.


 

Here is one beaming example:


I was fortunate to have certain people in my life.

Then (and now).


These were the women who possessed a certain element of awareness regarding early childhood trauma and what, at the time, to do about it. Which sometimes, is nothing more than sitting together, through the wave.


These are the ones who often caught me before my emotions seized my little body. Sensed and took action. An attempt to prevent the fits that came at times when my nervous system was too small and could not, on a neurophysiological level, register let alone process-

such big events;

especially those experienced when I was alone.


These women were wise.

They knew how to soothe an overstimulated and aching little heart, although only momentarily, it eventually added up to something much more sustainable.

I see now, that they got that way...

wise,

by experiencing similar things to that of which I had.


Specifically, a breach in the mother-daughter connection.

Creating a sever;

a wound so powerful,

if left unattended,

it could ruin a life (or more).


It was the wise women,

some as young as 13 or so,

my cousins or aunts,

some as old as the sky and the moon themselves;

my grandmothers and greats,

who, when they recognized the overwhelm of my wound;


the grief, fear and toxic energy inherited,


experienced;


And,

for no known reason, suddenly and unexpectedly re-triggered...


When they saw that monster taking me over...

they often handed me:


Books.

Wild flowers.

Sticks.

Stones.

"Wishers"...

mine is currently nestled between the -

Leaves in the featured photograph.


Crayons.

Paper.

Stickers.

Or took me to the water's edge.


Those things soothed me back then. (Sometimes now).

They allowed me to slow down inside.

To regulate.

To re-establish internal homeostasis.

To get lost in fantasy away from all the fighting and abuse.

To learn the facts.

To "play a flute" on the stick or chuck my heavy feelings out through the toss and weight of the rock.

To create.

To let it move through and out of me;

for the price I paid was never my debt to begin with.


And then, I wouldn't shake or shriek. I wouldn't cry or scream. I wouldn't wake with sweat and tears, drooling between the gasps, I wouldn't be calling for her. I wouldn't clutch, scratch, kick or pound my body on the floor, I wouldn't beat and bruise the flesh of the person trying to hold me.


I would simmer down. The chaotic energy would balance. The emotions would flow through my creative play.


I became a vehicle.


I was left to Be...

but not unsupervised. No, not by these wise women.

They knew what it was that I needed.


Security.

Quiet.

Some control;

autonomy over my "new life".


One time specifically, before my parental custody was established, I recall being relocated to a "stranger's" home. I remember sitting in a corner playing with a sticker-book adorned with neon colors and well known characters covering the front. My back to the wall and my eyes regularly peaking through the snarls and crevices in the hair that hung over my face; ensuring that nobody could see the angst and vulnerability streaked across it.


The stranger who received me into their home had gifted me this book upon arrival and inside, they had included several sheets of stickers. I still have the book and the stickers to this very day and in the center fold of the album, lives a white dog with a crazy colorful hair style:


Spiked pink, blue and purple. It rides a skateboard and sports some pretty magnificent sunglasses. Something about this sticker screamed, even then before I had any true recollection or perception of states and their individualities - CALIFORNIA!


Eventually I was securely placed with my paternal grandparents.

After that, many years were spent collecting stickers and stuffing them into these pages.


I remember, for a brief, teen-fleeting moment, I had a desire to own a funky little boutique on the coast of somewhere... even though, I had NEVER been on the coast of anything.

In my dreams I saw a storefront of windows. I envisioned that curious and interesting tourists from around the world could pass by or stop in. Onlookers; to see the uniqueness of my crafty, inventory selection. Perhaps catch a peak of a few pieces that I designed and drew myself!


I never did get the windowed storefront and fill it with stickers. But for the time that this dream lasted inside of me, so did my desire and drive to live on.


Still today, when I see any of the simple-soothing tools that my wise women handed me back then, I get an overwhelming sense of calm.

Of being safe, distracted from what ailed me.


Of being worth something.

Back then,

of a sticker book and some stickers

or of a blank space and some ink.

Feathers, flowers or stones.

Seashells were extra - special...given their history and all.


These objects - focal points.

My nervous system remembers.


She cannot forget anything.


I no longer want her to forget...

because then how could I tell others?



 

In the end,

in terms of my childhood and surviving as an adult, the aftershock of reality and what DID actually happen and then thinking, "How the hell did I ever get beyond that?",


it was the simple things that worked,

and the basic principles behind them, that stuck.


Which brings me to the featured photo and its purpose!

These are a few of my favorite soothing tools for both children and inner children alike.


Some stick, some float, some fly and many adhere!

Although I no longer play with stickers, (I am 100% lying),

I do carry these above featured selections back and forth with me between Chicagoland and California now a days.


These above featured stickers were created by a 15 year old female, Chicagoland graphic designer and entrepreneur. I am extremely proud to announce that a selection of Mia's stickers now reside on the shelves of TWO window-front stores on the coast of my beloved Ocean Beach located in Southern California!


She also happens to be a Teen Team No Stigma Volunteer.

Teen Team No Stigma is a subgroup of Team No Stigma of which I belong. It is comprised of local teens who are taking and making strides against the fight against suicide. Hosting simple activities locally - to spread awareness about the importance of mental health wellness and try to speak openly about the topic, so as to de-stigmatize it.


In a combined effort, the teams raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Walk. 2023's walk is being held on October 21 at Montrose Harbor.


Additionally, due to that some of our Teen Team No Stigma volunteers have prior commitments in the community on the day of the Chicagoland walk, thus preventing them from attending, we will be offering an alternative option through Teen Team No Stigma. We will be meeting and walking at a forest preserve locally, on the same day but at a different time, in an attempt to help our teens be witnessed spreading awareness & to observe the importance of the October 21st AFSP walk.

Showing our support from afar!


We are always looking for additional volunteers and participants for either groups!


If anyone wants to support Teen Team No Stigma in their efforts to reach a goal of raising $1,800.00 for the AFSP, please use the link below.

The teens have already raised $1,515.00 since beginning their work in April of this year. Through painting garden rocks to sell, organizing and participating in painting events, inviting others to join in -


and now,


through a selection of "Mia's Stickers", you are invited to help them raise the remaining $285.00 before the end of this campaign season in December! Wouldn't it be great though, if we could help them earn it before the walk?!

By October 21st?!


In an attempt to help this along, I have pre-ordered a selection of stickers as featured above. Supplies are limited. But if you make a donation soon and *while supplies last, I will personally mail you a sticker created by one of our very own Teen Team No Stigma Volunteers! Be sure to reach out to me with your address. *An attempt to honor your choice of design will be made but I am sorry, I cannot make promises.


Stickers can also be picked up in our Palatine chiropractic office.


Suggested donation is $5.

Donations can be made directly on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention site under participant name:

K. Fager



As a member of Team No Stigma, I invite others to reach out about taking action through participating in the walk.


As a mother of teens who volunteer for Teen Team No Stigma, I thank you for your support.


As a female entrepreneur, I encourage you.


And finally, as a woman with a cohesively communicating inner-child;

who once had a "survival dream" of selling stickers in coastal boutiques,

where dogs really do have outrageously rad hair and in fact, can ride skateboards...

I appreciate you.


Thank you Mia for your courage as an artist & for inspiring others!

Much Gratitude.



 

*note that this is separate from the donation option suggested above but if anyone wishes to purchase additional stickers directly from Mia and to further support her business by spreading the word, go here!

QRC below.










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