Tag Archives: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

‘Even the darkest night will end’


By Jacki Wood, “That they might have joy” column for the Nodaway News Leader

My mental health has taken a beating over the last year or so.

I have a physical illness that has really been taking it to me, and as a result, affecting my mental health.

I’ve been battling this physical ailment for half of my life. The beginning years were difficult. The middle years were much more tolerable. And the last couple have been the worst.

What makes it even harder for me is I feel I’ve lived two completely opposite lives. The first very active, athletic, outgoing and involved. Now mostly inactive, reclusive and disinterested. There are times when I really miss that first life.

A couple of summers ago, I wrote about my illness, obesity and weight loss. I said at the time, it was the most important thing I’d ever written.

But this might be even more important than that. Now, just a couple of short years since then, I spend most of my time in bed, I’m overweight again and have slipped back into old habits as I struggle to function each day.

That’s when the mental health beating really reared its head. It’s hard to be productive or stay positive or even feel like a human being when you can’t get out of bed.

(Side note: I’ve tried a lot of different treatments. Some have worked for awhile. Some not at all. I frequently get suggestions from people. In fact, I just started something new. And while I appreciate everyone’s concern, that’s not what I’m seeking with this column).

I’ve wondered why this is the load I am burdened to carry and if I will be carrying it my entire life. I mean, why do some people get cancer and some don’t? And even further, why do some people beat cancer and some receive the same treatment and die?

After spending much of the last year contemplating these types of things and feeling sorry for myself, lonely, sad and even angry, I decided I needed to try something different.

For the month leading up to my 40th birthday this summer, I decided to do a #30DaysOfJoy challenge, looking for simple joys in my life and posting them on Facebook.

It was a mostly positive experience. I made some really great memories this summer despite the illness. And I was reminded how much my family cares about me. They’ve really stepped up and took on more responsibilities. They also listen when I need that and are just there when I don’t want to talk. They love me through my nonsense, negativity and annoyance of everything and everyone.

Some days, though, were a real challenge to find any joy at all. I mean, just getting on Facebook and seeing everyone else’s happy, perfect posts made me want to throw up or throw something at the wall. Even worse, I had some really dark days that I’m frankly embarrassed by. Which is really unfortunate, because when I’m at my best, I realize how blessed I am.

But… I’m not always at my best. I’m not always thinking clearly or logically with this illness.

This is not something most of us feel comfortable talking about. Our mental health, I mean. And yet if we would just have the courage to do so, I think we would be far better off.

After someone dies by suicide, people ask why. I think I understand it more now. They’re worn out, tired, exhausted. They want an end to the pain, the hurting, to whatever the problem is. I don’t think most people want to kill themselves. Or hurt those who care about them by doing so.

They just want it to end.

I’ve been there. Even as I write this, I’m in the throes of it all. I don’t want to die. But there are times when I want an end. I want the pain to end. I want my old life back.

And then I realize my old life didn’t include my husband. Or my children. Or the memories we’ve shared together. Or the experiences I’ve gained over the last 20 years that make me who I am and how I am able to write this.

If you’re there with me, if you are just so very tired of it all, don’t give in, don’t give up, don’t quit. No matter how bad it is, just keep trying, for one more day or for just one more moment even.

Get help. Seek professional help if you need to. Or find an outlet like I have through writing.

Talk to someone. A friend, a family member, someone who will listen or just be there. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1.800.273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org where you can chat online.

If that doesn’t work for you and if you have no one else you can to talk to, contact me.

I will listen.


I’m not so good at the phone thing, but I text, email and message really well. My email is jackijwood@gmail.com and you can find me on Facebook at facebook.com/jacki.wood.

In Les Misérables, Victor Hugo wrote: “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.”

That’s been true for me. After every single dark night I’ve ever had, the sun has always risen.

    National Suicide Prevention Week is September 7 to 13. To learn how you can help, visit sprc.org.suicide+prevention+lifeline+with+ribbon

Farewell, O Captain, My Captain

That they might have joy column by Jacki Wood for the Nodaway News Leader


From a very young age, I knew I wanted to be a writer.

There were many along my way who encouraged me. But it wasn’t until English teacher John Keating took to the screen in “Dead Poets Society” that I truly found the courage to do so.

And so, like so many others this week, I was deeply saddened to hear of the tragic passing of Robin Williams, who portrayed Keating in the movie.

The film ranks up there as one of my all-time favorites. Williams’ character was also referred to as “O Captain, My Captain” by his students, from Walt Whitman’s poem about Abraham Lincoln. And that is how I will forever remember Robin Williams.

There were so many other great characters and films, of course.

Aladdin, Patch Adams, Good Will Hunting, Jumanji, Mrs. Doubtfire, Hook, What Dreams May Come and Good Morning, Vietnam. The list goes on and on.

What a tremendous talent. And what a tremendous man.

Williams was also known for his philanthropic work including being an active supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

And, what a tremendous loss.

Much has been written about Williams already and I will not try to add more to what I know little about.

What I do know is that it’s impossible for most of us to imagine what he was going through, what living with a mental illness is like, unless you are dealing with it yourself. Even then, each circumstance is unique.

Following his death, I read a poignant essay from Zach Bloxham’s To the Wonder blog called “On Depression.”

Bloxham writes: “It is a sad symptom of humanity that those whose hearts are filled with so much laughter and love can also be filled with so much sadness and pain.”

He said: “Much more than simple sadness, depression chisels away at your very nature. You do not know why you are feeling what you are feeling, but the inability to find the genesis does not alleviate the depth of the distress. You find logic illogical and family nonfamilial. It is the darkest abyss of the soul. Depression morphs your past, clouds your present and blackens your future.”

Having dealt with these personally, he said: “Within weeks these feelings became inescapable. I wanted nothing more than to find a way to be free from their darkness. My brain began giving me answers I had never before contemplated.”

He continued: “The effects of depression are real and its clutches extend to each and every family you know. Depression is not a sign of personal weakness. Depression is not a condition that can be willed or wished away. Taken to its extreme, it cuts off life itself in horrible abruptness — men and women who should be alive but are not.”

Many times, it is the brilliant minds that are forced to bear this burden, not of just depression, but a myriad of other mental illnesses. Abraham Lincoln, Beethoven, Isaac Newton, Michelangelo, Charles Dickens, van Gogh, Winston Churchill and so many more.

I’m reminded of the words written by former US Sen. Gordon Smith about his son, Garrett, who tragically took his own life at a young age.

He said, “It is hard for me to fathom how anguished and tormented a soul he had become, how hopeless and alone he felt in mind and spirit… If you’ve never been swallowed by that infinite bleakness and hopelessness that accompanies manic depression, it’s almost impossible to imagine.”

Kay Redfield Jamison, a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, who also suffers from bipolar disorder, has said that suicide has the “ability to undermine, overwhelm, outwit, devastate and destroy” people.

It has taken another life. Another life cut short by the savagery that is mental illness.

Farewell, O Captain, My Captain. You inspired me. And you will be missed.

If you need help, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is there for you: 1-800-273-TALK.

It’s time to do our part

“That they might have joy” column by Jacki Wood

One in four…

It’s a staggering statistic.

One in four of us is affected by mental illness.

That’s 60 million Americans.

That’s someone we all know.

And that’s probably someone who hasn’t let us know they need help.

I was watching CBS News last week about the growing number of deaths by suicide. A new CDC report said suicide rates have increased sharply among middle-aged adults.

Suicide rates among adults between 35 and 64 was 13.7 deaths per 100,000 Americans in 1999. By 2010, it had climbed to 17.6 deaths per 100,000 people.

That’s me, my friends, my family members.

And it’s you, your friends and your family members.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness defines a mental illness as a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. It can affect persons of any age, race, religion or income and are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing.

I frequently hear people ask “why” after hearing about a death by suicide. Why? Because they were struggling, feeling alone, beyond hopeless. Probably more hopeless and alone than most of us experience on our darkest of days.

They are dealing with an illness that causes their minds to not function properly like the pancreas doesn’t function properly with diabetes.

And just like diabetes, it is treatable.

But we have to seek help. And we also have to recognize when our friends and family members need help. It’s a burden no one should bear alone. Try and imagine what it would be like to live without help while suffering from an illness like diabetes.

It’s very personal to me. And it should be personal to you, too.

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, a good reminder that it’s time…

It’s time to provide support. It’s time to become educated. It’s time to play our part.

We are one of 60 million Americans. And we should not be alone in this fight.

If you need help, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1.800.273.8255. For more information, visit nami.org.