Saturday, May 11, 2013

As the song says, "Let the sunshine in!"

I don't personally know the two presenters at the May 16 library workshop entitled "Letting the Sunshine in." But it's one of six mental health sessions sponsored by the Wyoming Department of Health, Stop Suicide Cheyenne, Grace for 2 Brothers and the Jason Foundation under the header of "From Just Surviving to Thriving!" Great organizations all!

Here's a tip from someone who's struggled with depression for most of his adult life. If you are depressed, don't think it will go away if you just think good thoughts or watch cheery movies. They may help. But real depression is not a passing sadness. Watching "The Sound of Music" 20 times will not banish it to the deepest reaches of your reptilian brain. The flyer for the session, led by Jonna Hilzer-Dickie (M.A., L.P.C.) and Jon Baillie (M.A., P.P.C.) sums it up pretty well:
Depression is a serious biological disease that affects millions of people each year. The encouraging news is that it can often be successfully treated. Learn ways to stop the dark cloud of depression and anxiety and let your sunshine in!
"Letting the Sunshine In" will be held on Thursday, May 16, 5:30-6:30 p.m., in the Laramie County Public Library's Sunflower Room on the third floor. It's free, and you may learn a lot. There are two more sessions. On June 20, local musician and founder of Rock for Life James Ednie will address his own near brush with suicide via words and music. He also will "offer some tools to cope with tough situations." James will provide tips "on how to not only deal with sadness, but how to celebrate it."

It is true. You can celebrate sadness but acknowledging that it's a normal part of life. I speak not only as someone with depression but as a writer who often spends time with the gloomy thoughts of his characters. Maybe that's why I write in the vein of tragicomedy. LIfe often is like that, isn't it? It's one thing when it happens in fiction. Yet another thing when it happens in real life.

The final session, "Save a Life," takes on the serious topic of suicide prevention. As you probably know, Wyoming is home to the second-most completed suicides, and WY teen suicides lead the nation. The Jason Foundations has this alarming stat on its web site: "Each day in our nation, there are an average of over 5,400 attempts by young people grades 7-12." And don't forget our veterans. Last fall at the Equality State Book Festival in Casper, soldier-poet Brian Turner noted that each day the U.S. loses an average of 18 active duty and retired military to suicides. During the course of a three-day weekend, suicides wipe out the entire platoon that he led in Iraq.

The "Save a Life" training session will go from 5:30-8 p.m. as Stop Suicide Cheyenne presents the Jason Foundation's suicide prevention program for parents. 

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