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Monday, June 16, 2014

One Moment That Changed My Life

Okay, guys.  This is MOTIVATION MONDAY, which means that I have a brand new episode of the chat show that I am involved in.  It's a little show called MOTIVE4CHANGE, and I'm one of the hosts, along with my friends CARINE, JOSHUA, and JONATHON.  And in this episode, I'm pleased to inform you that this is not like the nine episodes of MOTIVE4CHANGE that you have already seen.

For starters, the episode is only twenty-five minutes in length.  According to our fan base (and yes, there is a fan base for the show!  Yay!) everyone thought that our previous shows were too long.  I have to agree with that sentiment.  Our seventh episode lasted almost seventy minutes - the same length as an episode of "The Good Wife" and a couple of "Sesame Street" segments!  So, by retooling our show and only inserting the relevant parts, we thought it would make a difference.  At the very least, it meant that more people would tune in.  After all, we live in a busy world!

And secondly, the subject of today's blog entry is quite an interesting one.  We talk about the subject of autism, which certainly had a lot of opinions from the four of us.  But we also talk about the one moment in our lives that changed us forever. 

Here's the episode in full length below.  I hope you enjoy it.  In fact, I recommend that you have a listen to the episode before you continue reading the rest of this entry.  It'll make sense later, I promise you.


By the way, check out the new opening segment that details our changeover from MOTIVE2CHANGE to MOTIVE4CHANGE.  It's kind of cool, don't you think?

The first thing that I want to say is that all of us had some really powerful moments in our lives that really affected how we saw the world.  For Joshua, the decision to take music really helped him cultivate his talents and influenced his hopes and desires.  In Carine's case, an accident involving her mother helped her develop a closer bond with her.  Jonathon's story about losing his best friend was one that really broke your heart, but helped him see the value of life.

And, in my case...talking about the time that I almost decided that life just wasn't worth living and then making the decision not to go through with it...well, it helped me realize that nothing in this world was worth dying for.  Sixteen was the lowest point in my life, and it's certainly a year that I never want to revisit ever again.  However, I'm glad I lived through it because since then, I've had some really great things come my way.

But one thing that I didn't elaborate on was why I even got to the point where I suddenly decided that taking my own life was even an option.  After all, we only had a limited amount of time to tell our stories, so a lot got left off the cutting room floor.

Ultimately, that one day in December 1997 in which I was at my lowest, I was feeling extremely alone and I felt as though nobody understood me.  I didn't even feel comfortable talking about it with my family because...well...let's face it, they all had their own problems, and the 16-year-old me thought that if I took myself out of the equation that their problems would magically disappear.

Because, let's face it.  Sixteen was the year of stupidity.

Eventually I did tell them about my thoughts of suicide...some fifteen years later.  And not to my surprise, they were stunned to hear about it.  They literally had no idea that I was even thinking about that.  I suppose that at age 16, I did a pretty convincing job of keeping those thoughts to myself.  I just hid in my bedroom and played video games to numb the pain and to close off any conversations.  You know, looking back on everything, it turns out that the age of sixteen was the year in which I completely isolated myself from everything and everyone because I felt so much shame in the thoughts that I was feeling.  I didn't want anyone to know that I was feeling this way because...I honestly didn't think that anyone would care.

And that all stemmed from previous encounters that I had throughout my formative years.

I certainly didn't feel comfortable telling things to my classmates.  After all, I had so many of them stab me in the back in elementary school that I learned pretty quickly not to confide in them at all.  Imagine telling a person who was supposed to be your friend, sharing your Oreo cookies in the playground at the same time, something very personal that you trusted them enough to understand and keep it to themselves...only to come to school and having everybody in the playground know all about it the following day.  Needless to say, that made it difficult to trust people my age.

It also didn't help matters much that I was quite gullible as a child, and I let some of the kids in the class manipulate me into doing something that got me into trouble.  How was I supposed to know what hand gestures meant in first grade? 

Of course, this also lead me to have a strong distrust in teachers as well.  To me, the teachers that I had were excellent in putting 2+2 together, but were complete disasters in putting "two and two" together.  Just re-read that sentence.  It makes more sense than you might think.

It was frustrating enough to have teachers automatically take the side of your enemies and branding you the troublemaker.  Trust me, I got that a lot when I was in elementary school.  But when teachers actually bully you, belittle you, and make you feel like garbage because you are more unique than the other kids in the class...that's low.  By the time I got into high school, I never confided in any teacher, guidance counselor, or even a custodian because I didn't trust them to have my best interests in heart.  I think that's why I was such a wallflower in high school.  I had absolutely nobody that I could talk to because I didn't trust them at all.

Do you know how much I wished we had a Mr. Belding or a Miss Bliss at my school?  They would have been cautious listeners, and they would have known how to make me feel better, and how to open up, and keep things confidential.  But, to me, those were fictional characters...and the real world was a lot more cruel.

Would you believe that I even called Kids Help Phone and got a busy signal?  Story of my life, I said to myself at the time.  And, again, as I said in the episode, I am not using this to downplay the importance of teen lines.  Kids Help Phone is a wonderful tool for young people to use.  It's just that back in 1997, the resources were quite limited (Internet access was still fairly new in '97), and the busy signals were understandable given that they only had a limited amount of counselors to take your call.

And, to be honest with you, I felt a bit weird calling Kids Help Phone at that time...because to me, I didn't think my problem was that serious.  When you saw the commercials at the time, they all showed young people walking in the rain, calling the line because they were homeless and afraid.  I certainly didn't feel that.  All I wanted to do was see an end to all the pain that I was going through.  By any means necessary.

I guess it was just my luck that at 16, I was so afraid of death that I couldn't go through with it.  And I thank my lucky stars that I didn't overcome my fear that day.  I guess it was that one moment of sanity that made me decide to go on living.  And, well...this blog wouldn't exist if I had made the other choice.

I guess the point that I want to make is that back in 1997, things worked out for the better.  But I had literally no resources to use to help me through it.  That's why I strongly urge all of you out there that there is hope for you.  There are more resources out there than you can even imagine.  Don't keep things bottled up like I did.  Seek out help. 

Here's some numbers that you can use in the meantime.


KIDS HELP PHONE:  1-800-668-6868 (only in Canada)

LIFELINE (N. Ireland):  0808 808 8000

HOPELINE UK: 0800 068 4141

LIFELINE Australia:  13 11 14

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