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Canvas Health joins several legislators in asking the Minnesota House of Representatives and Minnesota Senate to appropriate funding this session for Crisis Connection, a telephone counseling program that helps triage, stabilize, and assist callers in reaching a place of emotional and physical safety. The legislation, HF501 and SF776, appropriates $969,000 – or just 17 cents per Minnesotan per year – to keep Crisis Connection operational. Without this funding, Crisis Connection will begin shutting down its operations after May 21, 2018. Crisis Connection serves more than 52,000 callers from across Minnesota each year.

“Crisis Connection is a lifeline for thousands of Minnesotans. These are our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, neighbors and friends – and we all have an interest in keeping this important program running,” said Senator Karin Housley (R-St. Mary’s Point). “Without funding for this life-saving public service, the calls would be routed to already-overburdened law enforcement agencies and emergency rooms. For Minnesotans struggling with mental illness, loneliness, and addiction – and those at risk of harming themselves or others – having access to immediate resources could be the difference between life and death.”

Canvas Health CEO Matt Eastwood explained that until now, the agency has cobbled together funding for the service, which is accessed free-of-charge by callers.

“Even with fundraising and contracts, this service still has run at a significant annual deficit. Crisis Connection is an essential part of our state’s mental health safety net, and it needs sustainable, ongoing funding,” Eastwood said.

For nearly 50 years, counselors at Crisis Connection have offered life-saving support to Minnesotans. The Crisis Connection phone numbers have become a part of the culture of crisis support in the state, and are posted on websites, bulletin boards, and in literature in thousands of schools, mental health clinics, first responder offices, and State and community agencies. Often mental health therapists refer clients to Crisis Connection for after-hours counseling, and a closure would force them to identify an alternative or leave their clients unserved when they are unavailable. Additionally, mental health crisis calls are transferred to Crisis Connection from United Way 211 and 911 call operators. Crisis Connection is the only crisis call center in Minnesota responding to calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL).

If Crisis Connection ceases operations due to lack of funding, a person could still receive crisis counseling by calling the NSPL phone number, but these calls will no longer be routed to an organization based in Minnesota and familiar with the resources available within the state. Instead, they would likely be routed to a call center in another state – one less familiar with resources available in Minnesota. A lack of timely, appropriate care could have devastating consequences for a vulnerable person in crisis.

“People in Minnesota benefit greatly from having this service operated locally. Our trained counselors have developed relationships with local emergency responders and mental health providers, which, along with the robust database that we have built, help them efficiently and successfully connect people in crisis to resources that can provide them with the best long-term care,” Eastwood said. “We’re their neighbors, and we understand Minnesota – from the mental health and hospital systems, to the geography, to the nuances of Minnesota conversations.”

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Help save lives! Ask your legislators to support HF501 and SF776 to appropriate 17 cents per Minnesotan, per year for Crisis Connection, a suicide prevention telephone counseling program that helps triage, stabilize, and assist callers in reaching a place of emotional and physical safety. Without this funding, Crisis Connection will be forced to stop serving more than 52,000 Minnesotans per year on May 21, 2018. Find your legislators here: https://www.leg.state.mn.us/leg/faq/faqtoc?id=47

Download a letter template to send to your legislator here.

Make a donation to support Canvas Health/Crisis Connection.

 

Minnesota Crisis Counseling Line Continues Fight for Survival

Canvas Health joins several legislators in asking the Minnesota House of Representatives and Minnesota Senate to appropriate funding this session for Crisis Connection, a telephone counseling program that helps triage, stabilize, and assist callers in reaching a place of emotional and physical safety. The legislation, HF501 and SF776, appropriates $969,000 – or just 17 cents […]

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Help save lives! Ask your legislators to support HF501 and SF776 to appropriate 17 cents per Minnesotan, per year for Crisis Connection, a suicide prevention telephone counseling program that helps triage, stabilize, and assist callers in reaching a place of emotional and physical safety. Without this funding, Crisis Connection will be forced to stop serving more than 52,000 Minnesotans per year on May 21, 2018. Find your legislators here: https://www.leg.state.mn.us/leg/faq/faqtoc?id=47

Download a letter template to send to your legislator here.

Make a donation to Canvas Health/Crisis Connection here.

Saving Crisis Connection: 17 cents per Minnesotan per year

Help save lives! Ask your legislators to support HF501 and SF776 to appropriate 17 cents per Minnesotan, per year for Crisis Connection, a suicide prevention telephone counseling program that helps triage, stabilize, and assist callers in reaching a place of emotional and physical safety. Without this funding, Crisis Connection will be forced to stop serving […]

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It’s that time of year again: The days are shorter, sunlight is scarce, and the bitter cold weather drives us indoors. For some people, this is an excellent time to hunker down and binge-watch favorite TV shows, but for others, it can be a season that leads to low energy, agitated or depressed mood, overeating, social withdrawal, difficulty concentrating, and changes in sleep patterns.

If you notice a majority of these symptoms that start in the late fall and last through the spring, then you may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is classified as a type of depression that occurs in a seasonal pattern and affects as many as 25 percent of people in the United States, especially those in northern parts of the country.

SAD

While the specific cause of SAD is unknown, it is typically linked to factors such as serotonin levels, melatonin levels, family history, and your personal circadian rhythm. Although some of these you cannot change, there are still many things you can do in order to beat the winter blues. We have put together five strategies to combat SAD.

Light Therapy

One of the main treatments for SAD is the use of light therapy. The purpose of light therapy is to make up for the loss of natural sunlight during the winter months through specialized light boxes. These light boxes utilize 10,000 lux of cool-white fluorescent light, which is about 20 times stronger than normal inside lighting, to mimic the sun and trick the brain into thinking it is outside. Light therapy is typically advised for 20-60 minutes per day and produces best results when used in the morning hours.

Outside Time

Even on cold and cloudy days, stepping outside and getting exposure to natural sunlight greatly increases serotonin levels in your brain, giving you a boost of the mood-lifting chemical. Recent studies have also found that walking through nature can reduce symptoms of depression, another great reason to bundle up and get outside.

Exercise

Another thing to try to help fight SAD is exercise. Exercise, especially aerobic exercise, boosts your brain’s levels of serotonin and keeps them elevated for hours following a workout. Exercise is also an excellent way to relieve stress and anxiety, as well as feel good about yourself.

Medication

Medications called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are typically used to treat SAD. These work by altering the way serotonin is absorbed in the brain, increasing how much serotonin is available. As with any medication, there are potential side effects with SSRIs, so it is vital you talk to your doctor about risks and benefits.

Psychotherapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that is effective for SAD. Traditional CBT provides strategies to help you identify negative thought patterns and gives you techniques to cope with anxiety and depression. Many people see positive benefits from a combination of talk therapy and medication.

The winter months can be difficult for many people, but particularly for those suffering from SAD. While you can’t change the seasons, you can change how they affect you and ultimately beat the winter blues.

Laura Shiff, who contributed this article, is a freelance copywriter from the Twin Cities who specializes in writing web content for software, tech, and medical companies. In her spare time she can be found reading, chasing her toddler, or searching for the best cheese curds in town.

Think you may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder? Our therapists at Canvas Health can help. Our clinics are conveniently located throughout the Twin Cities. To make an appointment today in Cottage Grove, Forest Lake, North Branch, Oakdale, or Stillwater, call (651) 777-5222 For appointments in Coon Rapids or Richfield, call (612) 676-1604.

 

Five Strategies to Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder

It’s that time of year again: The days are shorter, sunlight is scarce, and the bitter cold weather drives us indoors. For some people, this is an excellent time to hunker down and binge-watch favorite TV shows, but for others, it can be a season that leads to low energy, agitated or depressed mood, overeating, […]

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When my dog slipped away at the veterinarian’s office on Tuesday, I felt inconsolable, but knew I needed to pull it together. My son would be getting home from kindergarten soon. When I walked in the door, I wanted to appear normal, to talk with him about our pug’s passing almost matter-of-factly, as though death were a natural thing, a new phase, no big deal, and not something that could flatten you.

So I held Mister Tuppence one last time, stroked his fur, breathed in his scent, told him I loved him, and couldn’t stop crying. I let him know he was the best dog in the world (because he was). Then I walked out, sat in my car, and felt his absence. My head pounded, and I felt like throwing up.

Grieving for Mister Tuppence, the best pug and friendOf course, my son at 5-years-old has keen detective skills. When I walked in the door, he looked at my face, cocked his head, and said, “You’ve been crying. I can tell by your eyes. They’re red and wet. Why have you been crying, Mommy?”

“Did Daddy tell you about Mister Tuppence?” I asked him.

“Yeah, he did,” Charlie said and went back to playing. He told me, not unkindly, that I should go upstairs and be alone if I needed to cry.

And so I went upstairs.

How to talk to children about losing their pet.

That night, I wrote that Facebook post, the one where you tell your friends that your sweet pet has died—the request for consolation. The kind thoughts came pouring in, and I accepted them gratefully, reading all the messages and appreciating them, even though I felt too exhausted to reply.

I’m still processing the death of my little guy, and here’s what I’m learning:

Even though your dog wasn’t a person, he was your family, and his life and death matters. Allow yourself to grieve fully.

If you think it will help, let yourself make that Facebook post, the sappy one that essentially asks your friends to console you. Because they will, and it helps. Loss is a universal, so even if your friends didn’t know your pet, they know the experience. Care and love from your friends always makes it better, even though it can’t take the entirety of the hurt away. And if your friends did know your pet, then a Facebook post can be a really good way to consolidate memories.

Let yourself cycle through memories. The night Mister Tuppence died, I was preoccupied with what was left of him, the empty water dish, his collar and leash (still redolent of his scent), his kennel and dog bed. But when I woke up the next morning at 4 a.m., the memories of his entire life came rushing back. This was a good thing, and also powerful. When I thought about all that he meant to me, I was gasping with tears.

My family was lucky enough to have Mister Tuppence for nearly 16 years, and it floored me to think about all the life events that he had been a sweet, simple part of.

I remember how, in his final days, his doggy dementia had progressed. He would back himself into an odd corner of the house and howl. We would give him food and water, and he would howl; we would let him out, and he would howl; we would pet him, and he would howl. This agitation was new and scary and seemed to happen mostly at night. It reminded me of what my friend Tris, who had worked in nursing homes, had described as “sunsetting,” the agitation that people who have Alzheimer’s or dementia experience particularly once the sun goes down. I Googled to see if that was a thing in dogs. It was. 

But I also remember walking him on a leash for the first time, how he bounded forth so quickly, straining the leash, pure energy. Back then, he seemed to always be saying, “Why walk if you can run?” When we let him out of his kennel every morning, he’d run down the stairs so quickly, his back legs seemed to disappear.

Tuppence and little girlI remember the way he bonded with our first foster child. She was only 10 months old when she came to us, so neither of them had language, per se, but even so, they became fast friends and soon devised a chasing game that gave them both a lot of joy. For one week before she was reunited with her family, that little girl was thrust into a strange environment, but having Mister Tuppence around made her happy and gave her comfort.

I remember a cabin trip we took to Grand Marais in 2016. By then, Mister Tuppence was blind and deaf, but he seemed to enjoy the fresh air and large expanse of backyard wilderness as much as we did. One day, I put him out back to do his business, went inside, got distracted, and forgot about him. When I went outside, he was nowhere, and I panicked. We all searched for him, calling for a dog who couldn’t hear his name. I ran into the front yard and there he was, walking along the shoulder of the road. The funny thing was, he wasn’t walking away from the cabin, but toward it, as though he was returning from a great adventure. For the rest of that vacation, we joked, “Where had Tuppence gone? Had he been partying? What was he doing out there?” Even now, my son will ask me, “Remember when Mister Tuppence walked along the road? Where was he?”

All of these memories.

I remember the joy of meeting my little boy for the first time, smelling his puppy breath, holding him in my arms and loving him instantly and fully—knowing we were about to begin a great adventure.

Betsy Taylor, who wrote this story, works at Canvas Health. 

Learn more about counseling services at Canvas Health.

Saying goodbye and grieving for a beloved pet

When my dog slipped away at the veterinarian’s office on Tuesday, I felt inconsolable, but knew I needed to pull it together. My son would be getting home from kindergarten soon. When I walked in the door, I wanted to appear normal, to talk with him about our pug’s passing almost matter-of-factly, as though death […]

Read Article

On Dec. 1, 2017, Canvas Health will welcome Deborah A. G. Drabick, PhD, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Psychology at Temple University, to speak at its 25th Annual Conference on Psychotherapy and Mental Health. The conference will be held at the Maplewood Community Center in Maplewood, Minn.

Easily Annoyed or Made Angry: Understanding and Responding to Irritability is an interactive workshop that will provide an overview of the nature of irritability and anger across disorders and developmental periods. Participants will consider the roles that these transdiagnostic symptoms play among a variety of conditions and how contextual factors can exacerbate, maintain, or mitigate irritability and anger. Dr. Drabick will discuss effective, pragmatic, and developmentally appropriate assessment strategies, and interventions that can incorporate assessment results across settings.

Pre-approved CEUs will be available from the Minnesota Boards of Marriage and Family Therapy, Behavioral Health and Therapy, Social Work, and Psychology.

Register for the conference here. Early bird rates are available until Nov. 20, 2017.

Earn CEUs at Canvas Health’s 25th Annual Mental Health Conference

On Dec. 1, 2017, Canvas Health will welcome Deborah A. G. Drabick, PhD, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Psychology at Temple University, to speak at its 25th Annual Conference on Psychotherapy and Mental Health. The conference will be held at the Maplewood Community Center in Maplewood, Minn. Easily Annoyed […]

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On Aug. 19, 2017, 80-year-old Richard Collen drove his truck into Goodview Park in Wyoming, Minnesota, and parked alongside the silent auction tent. Hitched to the back was a precious load: a 1938 Allis-Chalmers B tractor. Collen, who lives in East Bethel, had restored the vintage tractor in memory of his great-grandson, Tim Hickerson. The young man died by suicide in 2015.

Collen had donated the tractor to the Stomp Out Suicide 5K silent auction. The yearly Stomp Out Suicide event benefits Canvas Health, which operates the suicide prevention phone and text lines for the state of Minnesota and provides mobile crisis counseling for greater metro residents.

Collen’s goal was simple: He wanted his tractor to save lives.

A shared love of tractors

Collen and Hickerson’s shared love of tractors—and that particular 1938 Allis-Chalmers B tractor—dated back to when Hickerson was just a boy.

In 1996, Collen and his young great-grandson first spotted the orange tractor on the side of the road, half buried in mud. “You should buy it,” Hickerson told Collen. “It could be our project.” Hickerson was only 5 then, but he and his great-grandpa already shared a special bond. They liked vehicles and restoration, taking things apart, learning how they worked, and putting them back together again.

When Hickerson passed away at just 21 years old, Collen felt as though a vital part of himself had been removed, never to be replaced.

“He was my buddy,” says Collen.

Great-Grandfather Donates Tractor in Memory of Tim

A way to heal

Buying the tractor and setting about the work of restoring it gave Collen an outlet for his grief. Donating the tractor to the Stomp Out Suicide 5K was his way of helping prevent another family from ever having to experience the loss of a loved one by suicide. Tractors like Collen’s typically fetch between $1,500 and $2,500 at auction, but there were no bids on the day of the event. So he drove the tractor home.

A powerful story

Boyd Huppert of KARE-11 learned about Collen’s donation and aired a “Land of 10,000 Stories” segment about the tractor on his Sept. 19 broadcast.

Watch Boyd Huppert’s segment.

Chuck Brown of Minnetrista and his wife were sitting in bed watching the 10 o’clock news when Huppert’s story came on. For a few minutes afterward, they sat in silence, too moved to speak. They had lost a dear friend to suicide in May and were still so sad. They hadn’t been able to make sense of any of it.

But buying this tractor, Brown believed, could do some good.

Brown sent an email to Canvas Health, talked with Colleen on the phone, and ultimately purchased the tractor for $2,500. Including the tractor, this year’s Stomp Out Suicide event raised nearly $78,000 to help save lives.

The calls and emails to Canvas Health with inquiries about the tractor began as a trickle and became an outpouring as people shared the segment online. The tractor is sold now, but we hope people will continue to give in memory of Tim Hickerson, and in honor of his great-grandpa, who loved him so much.

The Stomp Out Suicide 5K Walk/Run & Have Fun event was founded by Katie and Sean Haines in memory of their daughter Alissa, who died by suicide at the tender age of 15. The event, which benefits Canvas Health, provides a way for people to remember loved ones and raise money for suicide prevention. Please mark your calendar for next year’s Stomp Out Suicide event, which will take place on Aug. 18, 2018.

Great-Grandfather Donates Tractor in Memory of Tim

On Aug. 19, 2017, 80-year-old Richard Collen drove his truck into Goodview Park in Wyoming, Minnesota, and parked alongside the silent auction tent. Hitched to the back was a precious load: a 1938 Allis-Chalmers B tractor. Colleen’s goal was simple: He wanted his tractor to save lives.

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In making her first phone call to Canvas Health, Katy Steigauf, a nurse, finally decided to give herself the same care and attention she’d always given to her patients.

nurse breaks up with alcohol

“You are not a good influence on me, and I have decided that my life is worth more than drinking you.”—Canvas Health client Katy Steigauf in a breakup letter to alcohol

Katy Steigauf sits down at the café and orders a carafe of coffee. She’s a night nurse, and caffeine provides that little extra fuel to help her keep going.

As recently as last year, she thought alcohol served a similarly useful function. It helped her blow off steam after a long day at work. It had helped her numb the pain of her dad’s cancer and his death, as well as the everyday stress of raising three kids. And besides, drinking helped her connect with people.

“Alcohol was great for coping with every emotion, whether I was happy, sad, or mad. I could make a justification out of everything,” says Steigauf.

Champagne, especially, did the trick. “I always liked champagne because it’s fun, you could go out and have it with your friends. If they served you a mixed drink, it might be watered down, but champagne always was what it was,” says Steigauf, sipping her coffee. “You opened the bottle, and that’s exactly what you got.”

A rocky relationship

But by 2016, Steigauf was beginning to worry about her relationship with alcohol. “I would go out to the garage away from my kids and sneak a drink directly from the bottle because that’s how classy I am,” says Steigauf. “I would think to myself, ‘Am I an alcoholic?’”

Things came to a head last October. “Oct. 4 was a Tuesday, so you know, it was Taco Tuesday. And not only was it Taco Tuesday, it was also National Taco Day, so of course, I was drinking,” shrugs Steigauf and laughs.

Normally, Steigauf went on shift at 11 p.m., but she’d forgotten she’d agreed to pick up a few hours for a coworker. She was expected at 7 p.m. instead of 11—not enough time for the effects of the alcohol to wear off. “I thought I could wing it,” remembers Steigauf. “As it turned out, I obviously couldn’t. I shouldn’t have been drinking.”

Steigauf’s boss suspected she was under the influence and asked her to take a sobriety test. Steigauf failed it. “I should have known better,” says Steigauf, who still feels the shame of that day. “I carry the insurance for my family. I had put them at risk.”

Steigauf was put on medical leave. The next day, she found it hard to get out of bed. “I felt like a failure,” says Steigauf. “I felt embarrassed. I felt despair. I wondered, ‘What am I going to do now?’”

On the second day, however, she made the call to Minnesota’s Health Professional Service Program (HPSP). The HPSP, a nursing governance body, mandated 300 hours of intensive substance treatment for Steigauf before she could potentially come back to work.

Steigauf decided that this was it—she would commit herself to quit drinking. She chose Canvas Health because of its proximity to home and its track record of helping people get sober. For nearly 50 years, Canvas Health has provided services to people struggling with substance use, mental illness, crisis, unstable housing, and trauma.

Moving on

At Canvas Health, Steigauf immediately felt at ease. “The intake person was very understanding and really took the time with me,” says Steigauf. “She told me, ‘This is an illness. Don’t be ashamed of it.’”

Steigauf began having one-on-one sessions with Bob Jones, her Canvas Health counselor, in addition to group meetings. Canvas Health uses a cognitive behavioral approach to treating substance use disorders, asking clients to replace the unhealthy thinking that underlies the drinking with healthier thoughts.

As a nurse, Steigauf had written meticulous notes on her patients, and she approached the work of her sobriety with the same thoroughness.

“Bob started me with a planner from day one,” says Katy, patting the thick notebook beside her. “The purpose is to make us more mindful of how we use our time. First he asked me to document what actually happens in a day. Then he started giving me assignments.”

“I would take notes from each meeting and put it in the binder,” says Steigauf, turning to a page in her notebook. “Here’s a quote from the first night: ‘Many of life’s failures are people who didn’t realize how close they were to success when they gave up.’”

Steigauf and her husband decided to be completely honest with her kids about her drinking and the need to get sober. “The hush thing was what had obviously gotten me into trouble in the first place,” says Steigauf. “I wanted them to feel like they could talk about it openly with me or with their friends.”

Her daughter Abby had been reluctant to attend a family therapy meeting—but she wound up attending all five.

“We have a closer bond now,” says Abby.

Steigauf completed treatment successfully in March, but she still checks in with Jones and attends two support meetings a week. She’s back at work and doing well.

You could say that Steigauf’s life has gone back to normal, but that’s not true—her life is better than before, and it goes deeper than simply not drinking. Through and through, Steigauf feels healed.

“I’m really proud of my mom,” says Abby. “She’s done a good job of staying well.”

To schedule an appointment with a Substance Use Counselor at Canvas Health, or to make a referral, please contact us at 651-777-5222.

A Nurse Breaks Up With Alcohol

In making her first phone call to Canvas Health, Katy Steigauf, a nurse, finally decided to give herself the same care and attention she’d always given to her patients.

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If you’re experiencing a crisis please call your county’s crisis line or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.  If you or someone you know is struggling with this or any issue related to mental health, Canvas Health’s experienced counselors can help. We provide counseling, psychiatry, substance use help, crisis, and other specialty services.

Telehealth appointments are available for most services.

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By Bob Shaw — Pioneer Press —

The first time Chantal Bjorklund tried to kill herself, she was in seventh grade.

One month later, she tried again.

When she was 31, she tried again.

Today, at 34, the Newport woman is a living testimonial for suicide prevention. She speaks at meetings and conferences and works to prevent others from killing themselves.

She says that she owes her life to Canvas Health, an Oakdale-based nonprofit that offers suicide-prevention and other programs.

Listeners find her story revealing. Bjorklund challenges many myths about suicide — including that families are a suicidal person’s best source of support and that suicidal feelings can be cured.

After years of hiding her urges, she is blunt about them today.

“I want to remove myself from the world without hurting anyone. If I could do that, I would,” she said after a recent speech in Edina.

But with her new coping skills and weekly counseling, she says she relishes life.

“I am not ‘happy-oh-so-happy-celebration.’ But I am more content now,” she said. “I can’t imagine wanting to die.”

In 1991, Bjorklund moved from Sauk Rapids, Minn., to Hastings.

She left a school where she was a “big fish in a small pond” for a school where she felt ignored and picked on.

She had low self-esteem and was overweight, problems that dog her to this day.

She was depressed. “It is like being in the deepest dark hole of doom,” Bjorklund said. “Unless you have been there, it’s not something you can understand.”

The 12-year-old girl quietly reached a decision. “I was carrying around that burden that I did not want to live,” she said.

She took 10 Advil pills. She recovered on her own and kept the episode secret.

A month later, she took 200.

A sister found her in the bathroom, and she was rushed to a hospital. After the medical crisis passed, she was moved to a psychiatric ward.

That’s when the consequences of her act began to boil around her. “After two days, I was begging to go home. I was apologizing,” she said.

She was dreaming of home as an inviting place to rest and recover. “I anticipated going home to open arms, to people who would be grateful to see me.”

That didn’t happen.

“The family was absolutely devastated and angry,” Bjorklund said.

“They said, ‘This will hurt us. You can’t do this to us.’ ”

Her family members, she said, were focused on their own pain. They didn’t understand that suicide victims are in such pain that they can’t see pain in others.

Some of them accused her of cowardice.

“I heard people say this is a chicken—t way out of life. They said it was selfish,” Bjorklund said.

“It scared them to not understand. They were worried about setting me off. So I started isolating myself.”

She began “self-medicating” with alcohol when she was 18.

Extreme mood swings plagued her. “It means you can’t cope with normal things. The highs are too high, and the lows are too low.”

As the years passed, she carried a secret — she still yearned for death.

The third suicide attempt came three years ago, in a bar. “I basically tried to drink myself into oblivion,” she said.

“There was no more hiding it. The beast inside was erupting,” she said.

This time, she called a suicide-prevention hotline. Soon, she was at the Oakdale clinic of Canvas Health.

Immediately, she experienced something foreign to her. “From the moment I walked in, I said, ‘What is that feeling?’ ” she recalled.

“Oh. That is hope.”

She began a series of sessions and interviews. “No one was judging me, and no one was looking down. I could say whatever was on my mind and tell the truth with no repercussions.

“I would leave there feeling lighter. I could stand up straight.”

The advice she gives her audiences in her presentations is unequivocal.

“Do not rely on your family. They can’t separate the person from the condition.

“They can’t be objective. They care about you too much.”

She has not been “cured” of her suicidal thoughts, the way someone can get over a cold.

But she has developed ways to cope. One involves a four-second breathing cycle to deal with stress. “Another is doing the opposite of whatever you are feeling. If you feel like shutting the blinds and getting off the phone, then you need to do the opposite.”

She sees a counselor weekly for “maintenance sessions.”

Bjorklund still has bad days, she said, but they seem different now.

“I am not necessarily where I want to be. But I know I am never going back there.”

 

Three suicide attempts behind her, ‘I can’t imagine wanting to die’

If you’re experiencing a crisis please call your county’s crisis line or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.  If you or someone you know is struggling with this or any issue related to mental health, Canvas Health’s experienced counselors can help. We provide counseling, psychiatry, substance use help, crisis, and other specialty […]

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